Monday, December 30, 2013

Turning my Life Book pages into a book.

{2017 Edit I have now adapted this technique to make it faster and easier to put together. You can find the post and video of this technique here: }

I really like book making so I am sharing how I made my completed book for the Life Book class. I used my version of the hidden hinge system that is used by scrapbookers. If you want to learn a simpler way to do this there are a lot of videos on Youtube, just search for the hidden hinge and they should appear.

I have adapted the technique to make it strong enough for an art journal. You could make a blank book with new paper if you want but I used the pages I had already completed for mine. I suggest you read all the instructions first before you attempt this method of bookmaking. I have used small photos here because there are so many but if you want a closer look click on the photo to make it bigger. I have used strong glue to put my book together but you can use tape if you prefer.

I put all my pages in order and then glued the pages back to back along the outer edge and halfway along the top and bottom of the pages. (You can see how much is glued in Photo 4 below) You can skip this step and glue them together after the hinges are on. I then selected some matching cardstock for each pair of pages. I chose a colour that was close to one of the facing pages. Only a small section of the paper shows in the finished book but I prefer it not to stand out. If I was making a blank book I would just use white. You can see in the final photo how much shows when the pages are open, about 6 mm or 1/4 of an inch. I cut one strip of cardstock  for each pair of facing pages. I don't measure but it is about 5cm (2 inches) wide and is the same length as the page. These are the hinges for the pages.

For the first and last pages I keep the page whole because it will become the inside cover of the book. You can see how this will look in the second last photo below.

I used a scoring board to make two close lines down the center of the strip. The gap between the score lines can be bigger if you want to make bulky pages in your journal.  It doesn't matter if it is in the exact middle or not. I fold the hinge along the two lines.

Photo 4
 Next I glue one side of the hinge to the matching page. I glue the page up to the fold line of the hinge. You can leave a tiny gap there if you want.  I do this to each of the pairs of pages, making sure that I don't glue the edge together yet because another hinge has to go in the gap later.

This photo shows how much glue I use. I try not to put it too close to the edge because I don't want it to seep out when I put it onto the page.

This photo shows the hinge glued to one side of the pairs of hinges.  Make sure the pages are not glued together yet.


Now that I have glued a strip of cardstock to each of the pages I have to join  them all together to make the book.

I use clips on the far edge of the pages to hold two pairs together. I apply glue to the exposed hinge and fold it into the gap, gluing it to the page that does not already have a paper hinge on it. This joins one pair of pages to the next one. I keep going adding one pair of pages on top of the stack of glued pages and gluing the hinge in place.  

I hope this photo makes it clearer. You can see the pages that are glued together on the outside. The unglued side has the hinge. It connects the pairs of pages to the next one.  The first and last pages have the large papers attached instead of a narrow strip to become the inside book cover. When the pages are all attached with hinges I glue the hinges to the next hinge, forming a solid book.You should now be able to open the pages like a book.

I like to add fabric over the completed spine to make it stronger. I fold the ends over and sometimes stitch them to hold it in place. It doesn't matter what colour you choose as only a tiny bit will be seen. It is the same length as the pages and a little wider to go around onto the inside covers. I apply a generous amount of glue to the hinged side of the pages and glue on the fabric.

I used rubber bands to hold the pages together.  I stand the book on the fabric hinge and let it dry overnight on a teflon craft sheet. This makes a very strong spine.

I cut the book covers out of strong cardboard. I used the backs of my art paper pads. I have made the covers the same size as my pages but you can do them a little larger if you want. The spine must be the same size as the completed pages. I used some gel medium to glue the covers to some fabric but you could use paper to cover the book if you wish. You need to leave a gap between the cover and spine to allow the book to open properly. The last photo shows how this works when the book is open. The spine folds back on itself. If you want to use paper to cover your book then a strip of tape on the inside of the paper gap will add strength to this area.

While I was waiting for the cover to dry I made a library pocket to add inside my book. I made it large enough to hold the whimsical bird page. I put washi tape along the pocket edge for added strength.

I folded over and glued the fabric cover to the inside. I forgot to mention that I added an extra piece of fabric to the inside of the spine for strength. I used a silk blend so I wanted to be sure it would be strong. I glued the inside cover to the book cover, one side at a time. After I glued each side I put some books on it to make sure it was glued down well. I didn't put glue along the spine.

 The book will open flatter if you can leave a gap at the spine.

 I used an awl to poke holes along the edge of the cover and stitched through the book to the inside cover. This will also go through the fabric spine that we applied holding it all together in a very strong bond. If I am using a thinner cardboard or a smaller book I will use a sewing machine to go along that edge of the cover hinge to hold the book together. I added some bead to the thread ends.

Here you can see the stitching on the inside cover. The library pocket is glued into place. I like how the inside cover goes all the way across to the first page.

I bent the spine into a curve so the book opens flat. I also coloured the edges of the pages to match the paintings. This is not necessary but I prefer that look to the white edges of the papers.

I hope this is clear but don't hesitate to ask questions if you get stuck. I will do a simpler version in a few days and blog that as well.


  1. Hi

    I would like to ask. You attach frontside of the pages but only 1/3?

    Thank you

    1. Yes I only attach 1/3 of the page until I have the hinges in place then I glue the rest of the page to make it strong. Thanks for asking.

  2. A brilliant tutorial! I've bookmarked it for next year. I'm doing the ring binding on my LB this year, but this method is definitely a contender for my 2016 book!

    1. Thanks Zsuzsa. I am happy you found it useful.

  3. LOVE how you did your binding! WISH I understood it well enough to have faith that I could do it for my LIFEBOOK pages this year

    1. Thank you. I have another tutorial using white paper but it is the same method. You may find it easier to understand.

  4. I love this book but I would have to see an actual video to understand how this was done.