Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Gift Idea

You remember the stick & band binding, don't you? You take a stack of text pages, put a cover sheet on the front, wrap a second cover sheet around the spine onto the front from the back, punch 2 holes in the spine, secure a rubber band around one end of a stick and insert through one hole, then pull the band through the other hole and secure it around the other end of the stick. You're done so fast, it takes much less time to make the book than to read the description.

I recently made this batch of stick & band journals for a local charity, and was reminded once again of how simple ideas can often be very exciting. This book structure is one that I learned in my first hour of study with Shereen LaPlantz, and I've taught it as part of my beginning bookbinding class, Five Easy Pieces, for more than 10 years. When I'm asked to do programs with large, non-bookbinding groups, this is one of my go-to favorites as I know everyone will be successful in making the project. There's just something magical about using a stack of paper, a stick, and a rubber band to make a book.

The simplicity of this binding also makes it a good candidate for those occasions when you need to create a number of gifts quickly and inexpensively. Whether you go to the effort of printing the inside pages first or use plain sheets for a blank journal, most people really appreciate a hand-crafted book, and you can be pretty sure it won't be regifted.

These particular books have deckled interior pages (I used Rives paper) torn down from the parent sheets using one and a half sheets to make 24 pages. The hand torn deckle makes a wonderful soft edge, but you can also cut the pages straight on the paper cutter. Since I used heavier paper, each page is a single leaf, but I have also made this project in thinner weight text and folded the sheets at the fore-edge for a stronger page. You can use your funkiest gnarly papers for the covers, and then there is the thrill of the stick hunt. These came from my backyard, but you can also use chopsticks, pencils, bamboo shoots, hair pins .... you get the picture. Best of all, absolutely no glue, none at all.

If you decide to whip out a number of these beauties at one time, here are a couple of tools that will make the task go faster: a two-hole punch from the office supply store (Office Depot makes the best one), and a crochet hook. The punch will help you center the spine holes and will most likely be able to punch through the entire book at one time. The crochet hook will help you pull the loose end of the rubber band through the second hole if your connections are tight. European Papers, listed on the supply resources at right, has good quality black rubber bands.

These books retail at Chicago galleries/gift shops for about $25; they can be easily made with quality materials for well under $5. Perhaps they will become your go-to gift favorite this year as well!


  1. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the reminder about this lovely, but simple book binding.

    I am hoping to "play" with you at small studio workshops in May.


  2. here's another thank you, i made some mini's tonight :)

  3. Found your blog through Dymphie,,,,wonderful inspiring work you show here...gorgeous mini books here....lovely papers...thanks for the inspiration.