Monday, 12 May 2014

Recycled Mini-Album–Finishing the Cover

I wanted to create a traditional look to the cover of this book, so it would have a half-binding over the spine. To do this, I needed some strong material that would be thin so as not to produce too much bulk, flexible so that the book would open easily, and above all, strong, so that the hinges would not wear with use, and eventually split.

In my quest for a cheap (or better yet, free!) supply of Tyvek, I approached the builder who worked on our new house, and asked if he had any offcuts. He said they didn’t use Tyvek specifically, but another brand of roofing felt which had the same properties – a breathable waterproof membrane. I suspected that like Tyvek, this would be a bonded polyethylene material, which would probably melt and distort nicely with heat, and also be very strong. He gave me a nice big piece:

27 Roofing Felt

It is very like the “fabric” type of Tyvek in that it has a pattern on it resembling woven fabric, and has a soft handle, unlike the “paper” type of Tyvek which is a lot stiffer, and with a flat surface. This roofing felt is more suitable for this current project, in any case, than “paper” Tyvek. Close up, this is what the texture looks like:

28 Texture of Roofing Felt

On its own, it is far too flimsy to form the spine cover, which needed to be made from cardboard. I have quite a large supply of small pieces of corrugated cardboard that were originally in some food packaging, and I cut one of these down to the size of the spine, allowing a little extra to create a convex surface.

25 Corrugated Cardboard for Spine

I rolled this piece around my rolling pin to get a nice smooth curve, and glued the edges to the edges of the spine, using Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive.

26 Corrugated Cardboard Glued to Spine

I cut a piece of roofing felt to cover the spine and to extend a little way onto both the front and back board of the book, and allowing for turnings top and bottom, to cover the edge of the corrugated cardboard and to provide a nice neat finish to the end boards of the cover.

This piece was then painted with black acrylic paint. I had to work the paint well into the texture in order to get good coverage.

30 Painting the Roofing Felt for the Spine

The first coat completed, and set aside to dry.

31 Painted Roofing Felt 1st Coat

Obviously I could not speed the drying process with my heat gun, or I would have ended up with this!

29 Roofing Felt Melted with Heat Gun

This was an experiment I did when I first got the roofing felt, to see how well it would melt with the heat gun. It melts just like Tyvek, creating lovely bubbles and holes, and I know I shall be able to use this – I have yet to try ironing it.

As for my book cover, it needed a second coat of paint, after which I was better pleased with it. It had a completely matt surface, which was also slightly rough, and it needed something to finish it. The faux leather also required some extra treatment, to protect it and to give it extra richness.

I took a small piece of roofing felt and painted part of it with black acrylic paint, and then divided it into four sections, in which I tested different finishes: acrylic wax, regular semi-gloss acrylic gel medium, and gloss acrylic varnish. The final section was left untreated. This is what it looked like when dry:

32 Acrylic Finishes on Roofing Felt

It is rather difficult to see the difference on the photo; all three treated surfaces had a greater or lesser degree of gloss, with the varnish being by far the shiniest – this was not what I wanted for this particular project. The feel of each one was greatly improved – less rough, and all of them brought out the texture to a greater or lesser degree. Definitely ahead of the rest was the acrylic wax – I had read great things about this product and was not disappointed.

Like gel mediums, it goes on milky white, having the consistency of thin cream. I brushed it in well, working it into the texture of the roofing felt, and left it to dry. When dry, I buffed it with a soft cloth to achieve a subtle sheen.

As for the faux leather, I took three small offcuts from the book cover and tested them with the same finishes, and again, it was the acrylic wax which won hands down.

After two coats and a good buffing with a soft cloth, I was well pleased with the result.

I glued the half-binding onto the book with PVA adhesive. Firstly I painted the outside of the corrugated cardboard spine with a watered down coat of PVA to seal it. I had a bit of a job getting the roofing felt to stick, but managed it with the aid of rubber bands, paperclips and plastic clips. Once dry, it seemed securely adhered.

I then attached the Tim Holtz embellishments – the book label that I had created with one of the small metal frames, and the metal corners. This is how the cover looks now, and it is the finished result, as I have decided against cluttering the traditional style with the addition of a fastening.

33 Cover with Embellishments

There is more than enough space between the signatures to allow for expansion with the addition of material in the album and I do not think the book will be too fat to stay closed – in fact I shall take great care that it does not, because one of my pet hates is albums that are so bursting with content that they will not stay closed, but splay open all the time!

Here is a detail of the embellishments, which also shows the sheen and texture of the faux leather.

34 Cover Embellishments Detail

I cut the roofing felt large enough to allow for small turnings into the inside of the spine, and inside the front and back cover. Here is a detail of the spine of the book. The edges of the corrugated cardboard are now covered.

35 Spine Detail

Inside the cover you an see the turning of the half-binding, and also the two mini-brads which secure the book label to the front. You can also see the backs of the metal corners where I bent them around the book, and hammered them flat – they are also secured with some Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive.

36 Inside Front Cover

Here is a detail of the turning of the half-binding inside the cover, and one of the corners.

37 Inside Front Cover Detail

The middle of the inside front and back covers needed to be filled to bring it up to the same level as the folded-in faux leather, so that when the end papers were added, they would lie as flat as possible. Also, I did not want the brads to make an impression on the end papers – these are quite thin, being made from recycled commercial envelope paper. I cut a couple of squares of recycled card (the same stuff I used to create the faux leather) to level things out, and stuck these down inside the covers with Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive.

38 Padding the Inside Covers

On the left you can see a little rectangle of paper stuck down – this was to cover one of the brads from the book label embellishment.

Now I was ready at last to add the end papers. Again I used Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive, taking especial care with the edges and the centre fold, to make sure they were well stuck down.

39 End Papers

I trimmed off the excess end paper from the first page of the book. Unfortunately I had not allowed for this when I stamped the music background onto the papers, because it meant that the image on the page that was trimmed was no longer in the middle – the front end paper wasn’t too bad but it was rather more obvious on the back one. Ah well, one lives and learns, and after all, this is a hand-made project and is bound to have one or two slightly “off” bits!

The final thing I did today was to stick together the innermost two pages of all but one signature (made from the smallest recycled cards) down their edges to create pouches for tags, using the ultra-sticky red-backed double-sided tape. The signature I omitted had a larger card in the centre so I thought I would leave that one as it was.

This completes the structure of the book. It just remains to touch up the rest of the pages where they had stuck together, and brush on some talc to prevent this happening again. Then I shall be ready to begin decorating it.


  1. A very interesting post,Shoshi. Your book looks wonderful. By coincidence
    I am starting a much more basic cover today for a new sketchbook I am putting together. I will be posting about it tomorrow on WOYWW.

  2. That's an amazing transformation Shoshi! You are very talented :) Lovely to see your handiwork in all it's various forms. xx

  3. Your book is coming along nicely, I did drop back and read your tutorial, interesting material.

    Have a great week
    Krisha #19


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