Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Adventures in book binding

With the new LARP season rapidly approaching (our first event is only a few weeks away!) I decided to take a break from my usual crafty pursuits and learn something new. I've been planning to make myself an in character diary for some time now, but it would involve skills that I've never tried before.

Firstly, I had to write the damn thing! I'm not usually all that interested in writing fiction, but thankfully the act of writing up my character's thoughts and experiences from the four years that I've now been playing her was easy, as I was actually recording memories of events rather than having to make it all up from scratch! I started writing it after getting back from an event, so I was still very much inside my character's head at the time. Before I knew it, I'd written over 30,000 words.

To turn my words into an actual, physical book proved to be more of a challenge. I spent a lot of time on the internet, researching bookbinding techniques and trying to decide what I wanted my finished diary to look like. I eventually settled on the long stitch technique, after seeing this tutorial for a leather bound journal. I had in my sewing chest a suede skirt that I've been holding on to for a long time, waiting for the right project, which I decided would be perfect to use as the material for my book cover.

Printing the pages to create the signatures for my book proved to be another challenge. More research online unearthed this fabulous guide to printing Word documents in book format, and after a few trial and error attempts I finally had my pages printed.

I did a test of the bookbinding techniques on a set of signatures that hadn't printed out right, and then launched straight into stitching my actual pages into my actual book. It was really straightforward, although I did manage to stab myself quite a few times with the needle as the suede was quite thick, particularly where there was more than one layer.

I deliberately left the flap that will close the book quite long, as this is going to be a living document that will grow with each LRP event. I have bound in some empty pages so I can jot down notes during the event, and then afterwards I will type up the diary entry and replace the handwritten signatures with a printed version. The more events I survive, the longer my book will get, but there is room for at least twice as many pages before this one gets full.

To close the book, I have added two ribbons, and attached a gorgeous bead I picked up in my local haberdashery. I'm really really pleased with the finished article, and can't wait to show it off at the event in a couple of weeks.

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