Friday, June 14, 2013

Making a File Folder Art Journal

As requested, here's how I made my File Folder Art Journal.  I used some signatures already in art-progress that have been hanging around just waiting to become part of something special.


file folders
other papers optional
sewing machine optional
thick metal needle
waxed linen thread
masking tape
duct tape optional

Gather three file folders - this will be a signature.

For these particular art journals, I like to use at least 6 signatures so that the spine is squared like a book (less will give you a more rounded look - like a magazine).  You can also add in other papers - for example: I put two pieces of white construction paper in between the three file folders in some of the journals I’ve made.

optional: sew down the center of each signature on a sewing machine using a straight stitch
Although the sewing machine stitches add more over-all strength to the journal, AND more importantly for me, the stitching is like a seal that keeps the pages separate and stops paint from bleeding through, the down-side is, it also can weaken some paper by making it tear more easily. 

Strengthen any tears with masking tape.

Measuring out the waxed linen thread:  You’ll need one continuous thread the height of the signature times by the amount of signatures plus one.  Holding the circle of thread at the bottom of the signature, grab the end of the thread and pull it up to the top of the signature.  Now grab the thread again at the bottom of the signature and pull out a new section of thread.  Repeat for as many signatures as you have plus one.

Pile your signatures in the order you want your journal.  In pencil, lightly write Top on the tops of each signature. 

Open the LAST signature to the center.  With a pencil, mark the center with a dot.  Mark an inch from each end.  Then mark the center between the center dot and each end.  You’ll end up with 5 dots.  Use this signature for your template instead of marking all your signatures.

Making holes: thread your needle with the wax thread.  This will help you to make the holes.  Instead of trying to push the needle through with your fingers, pull down on both sides of the thread.

Starting with your last/template signature, poke holes from the inside to the outside everywhere there is a pencil mark.  When that signature is done, place the next signature behind your template signature (make sure both tops are facing up).  Put the needle through the pre-made holes and pierce the signature behind in all 5 places.  Do this with all signatures.

When all the holes are made, you’re ready to start sewing it together.

**A word of warning: Be careful how tightly you pull your stitches.  You want them tight enough that the signatures will hold together, but not so tightly that the journal will warp.

**Anytime you have trouble finding a pre-made hole, look inside the signature.  The holes are easier to spot from the inside than the outside.  Re-pierce the hole to make it easier to see.

Again, starting with the LAST signature in your journal, you’ll send the needle and thread through the bottom hole - from the outside in.  Do not pull it all the way through, leave a 2 inch tail.  It is helpful to hold this tail down with some tape so it doesn’t get lost while you’re working.  I used some left over pieces that I left sitting on the rug. 

Now take the needle and thread all the way up to the top hole and go through it from the inside out.  You’ll have a thread going almost the entire length of the signature.

You’ll now add on your next signature (remember to work from the back of the journal to the front).  Put the needle through the top hole from the outside in. 

Now go from the inside top hole to the next hole down, from the inside out.

Now you should be looking at the future spine of your art journal.  Take the needle and go into the 2nd hole (which should be right next to the hole you just came out of) on the LAST signature.

When you pull it through, you’ll see it is on one side of that first long stitch you made.

Go around that long stitch and put the needle back into the same hole it just came out of, from the inside back out.

Working from the spine again, you’ll put the needle back into the 2nd hole of the newly added signature.

inside view (upside down)

This is how these two signatures will be bound to each other.  These steps are only done for joining the last two signatures (we’ll get to how to add on the rest of the signatures later).  Going out the hole of one into the other - wrapping it around the stitch (which will prevent it from being pulled back through) - going back out the hole and then back into the original hole you first came out of.

You should be now working from the inside of the newly added signature. 

Next step, follow the same directions for holes 3 and 4. 

When you reach the bottom hole, instead of going back into the newly added signature, you’ll remove the tape and tie a knot using the tail (do a double knot so it stays).

Here’s where the technique will change.

Working from the spine, add on the next signature.  Put the needle and thread through the bottom hole, from outside in. 

Go up to the next hole (4) and go out.

Instead of going into the hole of the previous signature, you’re going to stitch around the previous signature’s stitch.  Easy Peesy way - simply put the dull end of your needle in between the last two signatures (or the first two you bound together) on one side of the stitch you previously made. 

Now flip through the pages until you find it and pull it through.

Now put the dull end of the needle in between the signatures on the other side of the stitch.  Essentially stitching around the stitch.

Find it on the spine and pull through.

Final step is to go back into the hole you came out of on the newly added signature. 

You should be working from the inside of the newly added signature.

Follow the same steps for holes  3 and 2 (you’re working from the bottom of the signature toward the top this time).  Out, around, back in.

For the top hole, go out, wrap around the stitch, but instead of coming back into the same signature, this is where you’ll add a new one by going into the top hole from the outside in of the new signature.

Then you’ll go down to hole 2 and follow the same steps: Out, around, back in.  Hole 3 and 4, same.

The only change will be when you get to the bottom, instead of going around the stitch, tie into the tail again

and then add on your new signature by going into that bottom hole.  Then it’s just the same:  out, around, back in, adding on new signatures as you go.

If you use an odd number of signatures, you’ll end by tying to the tail.  But, if you use an even number, as I have, you’ll end at the top with no tail to tie to.  Instead of going around the stitch and back into a hole, simply go around the stitch, leaving a loop,

put the needle in it, and tie it off that way.  I did it twice to make sure it was secure.  Cut off any extra and save it for another project.

Going through the journal, you may see space in between signatures.  This is easily covered up with tape.  I use masking tape.

You can leave the stitches on the spine exposed

or use some of that cool duct tape they have out.

Tips for putting on duct tape: Starting at the top of the front cover, stick tape down and hold it in place.  Pull out as much tape to cover the length of the spine, cut.  Then stick tape to front cover the whole length, then wrap it around the spine to the back.

Please email me with any questions. (see sidebar)

Have fun! 


ps: Noticed some of the insides of my journal look different than yours? Tabs on the inside?? Come back next Friday and see how I made a quadruple opening page using file folders with a bonus pocket! Quadruple opening that really the best way to explain it?  Whatever, you’ll see what I mean. :)

ps:  The yellow, mesh 'stuff' is from the home improvement store.  I can't remember exactly what it is, but I think it might have something to do with walls.  It doesn't stick very good - I would not use it as tape to hold something together, but it's fun to play with.

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