Monday, June 13, 2005

Project - Make a Mini Book From Found Materials

At the coffee shop the other day, I found myself eyeing yet another paper coffee sleeve. You know the ones. They're brown cardboard, to protect your hands from the heat, and imprinted, to advertise the business. Most coffee sleeves are either corrugated or embossed with a design, making them perfect for paper crafts. The next time you finish a latte at Starbucks, remove the sleeve from your coffee cup to take home for this project.

A Penny for Your Travels - CoverA Penny for Your Travels - Center Spread
Mini Book From Found Materials

Materials & Tools
A. Basic book construction
  • Brown paper grocery bag, from your favorite supermarket

  • Paper trimmer, like 12" Portable Paper Trimmer Item #95987097 by Fiskars

  • Brown cardboard coffee sleeve, like one purchased with a drink at Starbucks

  • Good pair of comfortable, teflon-like coated scissors, like Velvet Touch Scissors by Armada, or a craft knife

  • Bone folder, for creasing folds in the mini-book's pages

  • Handheld paper punch, like 1/8-inch Round Punchline Punch Item #52400 by McGill

  • Black twist tie, from a bag of bread

  • 1/4-inch hole punch

  • Pencil

  • Metal ruler or straight edge

  • B. Outside Collage (Front Cover)
  • Torn paper scraps

  • White glue or acrylic adhesive, like Perfect Paper Adhesive in Matte by US ArtQuest

  • Small cheap paint brush for gluing

  • Small feather

  • Copper or burnt orange colored glitter, like Ultra Fine Pumpkin #56 by Art Institute Glitter

  • Embossed copper tag, cut from copper sheet or scrap

  • Glue dots, like Craft glue dots by Glue Dots International

  • Earth-toned fibers

  • Faux tooth-shaped beads

  • C. Inside Collage (Pages, Center Spread)
  • Torn paper scraps, again!

  • White glue, once more

  • Cancelled foreign postage stamps

  • Pigment inkpad, like Really Rust Classic Stampin' Pad by Stampin' Up!

  • Brown and gold pigment inkpad combo, like Ultimate Inkpad Paintbox2, in Precious Metals #13010 by ColorBox/Clearsnap

  • Small artistic rubber stamps, like Dawn Houser's Faux Foreign Post Cancellation Marks, by Inkadinkado

  • Black solvent inkpad, like Jet Black by StazOn

  • The Steps
    Click to enlarge images. Click the back button to return to this article.)

    A. Basic book construction

    1. The main items you'll need to make one mini-book project are one cardboard coffee sleeve and (pieces of) a brown paper grocery bag.

    2. Cut pieces of the grocery bag into 2-inch by 4-inch pieces. Make 4 pieces per book.

    3. Use one of the page spreads as a template. Using a pencil, lightly trace the page spread on the smooth side of the coffee sleeve.

    4. Using a ruler and the pencil, draw a border around the page shape just slightly beyond the page tracing. About a 1/4-inch distance should do it, if you have the room. Now trim your book cover. You can see in the photo that I used a pair of scissors. You would get a straighter line with a metal straight edge (ruler) and a craft knife.

    5. Using a bone folder for precise creasing, fold the cover and each of the grocery bag pages in half.

    6. Nestle the pages together. Hold everything steady and punch four holes in the folds. Hint: Punch the pages as a group separately, then use the pages as a guide to punch the cover. You can always try the "grit-your-teeth and punch it all together" technique, but I attempted it and failed, so you've been warned. (smiles)

    7. Cut a black twist tie in half then fold each piece.

    8. Push one tie half into a set of adjoining holes, then twist the ends together on the back of the book spine. Repeat for the second set of holes.

    Your mini-book is now assembled. Now it's time to collage on your "found art" creation.

    B. Outside Collage (Front Cover)
    9. Refer to the finished project pictures (top of page) for layout suggestions. Now select and tear your choice of paper scraps for collage. I chose a palette of earth tones, with beige and brown mostly.

    10. Using a paint brush, apply white glue liberally to the backs of your paper scraps , then apply these scraps to the book cover randomly.

    11. You can use any embellishments you like to collage on top of the paper scraps. I added a small feather, some glue and copper colored glitter.

    12. I embossed a tag, cut from a piece of copper, by burnishing the design with a bone folder and a real penny. I added earth-toned fibers to the tag then tied faux tooth beads to the yarn ends. I adhered the tag to the cover with glue dots.

    C. Inside Collage (Pages, Center Spread)
    13. Refer to the finished project pictures (top of page) for layout suggestions. Tear some paper scraps, again! Open the book to the center page spread then collage these scraps with White glue and a paintbrush.

    14. Select a few cancelled foreign postage stamps and add these to the pages with white glue. I used three stamps, each from a different country. If you can't find foreign postage stamps, you can buy them on eBay.

    15. Rub the rust, brown and gold inkpads onto the pages and postage stamps, until you achieve the desired shading.

    16. Using the black inkpads and rubber stamps, stamp faux cancellation marks on top of the postage.

    Check back often for other versions of this project, or better yet, sign up for our newsletter and I'll include a note when I've updated this page.

    Project Tips
  • Choose pieces of the grocery bag with printing on them, to add some personality to the pages of your book.

  • When tracing your cover , try to align the middle of the book pages with natural folds in the coffee sleeve. This will save you time and frustration when folding the cover in half.

  • Collage isn't meant to be exact, so go with your gut when applying paper scraps and embellishments. Position embellishments at contrasting angles for a less "studied" look.

  • When selecting a black inkpad, choose wisely. For black, I prefer pigment or solvent inkpads, rather than dye inkpads. Hint: Look at the package! I like StazOn Jet Black, even when I don't need a solvent ink for paper, because it's vivid and tolerates lot of ink layering.

    Additional Reading
  • Making Mini Books, by Sherri Haab

  • The Bookmaking Kit, by Ann Morris, Peter Linenthal

  • More Making Books by Hand, by Peter Thomas, Donna Thomas

  • The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books, by Gabrielle Fox

  • Product Resource Guide
  • Buy your craft supplies at

  • Wholesale Arts & Crafts Supplies

  • Most project photos on this page were taken with a 5.0 MP resolution KODAK EASYSHARE DX4530 Zoom Digital Camera

  • Article Description: Millions of paper coffee sleeves are thrown away every day in local coffee shops. Save one to create a collaged handmade book.

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