When photographing Angela Liguori's studio last week, I admired a small accordion book among her treasures, propped open to reveal a charming story by her son, Hani. "They're easy to make," she explained. "I could show you how in a few minutes." Yes, thank you!
A master bookmaker, Angela demonstrated for me two ways to make an accordion book: the easy way (hardcover), and the even easier way (paperback). Here are her instructions:
• Step 1:Choose your cover. Angela and I selected one of her own papers, made in collaboration with Moontree Press, as our paperback cover, and a square of English paper that Angela's friend gave to her as our hardcover. For archive quality, make sure the paper is acid free. Places like Paper Source, Kate's Paperie, New York Central Art Supply and Hollanders have a nice selection of fine papers. Origami paper also works very well for smaller books like these.
• Step 2: Determine how big you want your book to be. Ours were 3" by 2.5" (about 7.5 x 6.25 centimeters). For the hardcover, cut a piece of acid free book board to the desired size. Then, using your book board as a guide, trim the decorative cover paper so that it measures about 1 quarter inch (or 1 centimeter) larger all around. Book board or binder's board is available at Hollanders; $1.50 per sheet or $25 of 24.
Above: Step 3 – paste the cover to the board. Place your cover paper on a piece of scrap paper and with a small amount of acid free glue ($4.50 to $65) on your brush ($10.75), start at the center and brush out towards the edges. Make sure you do not use too much glue, which can saturate and warp the paper. Remove the scrap paper underneath, then carefully place the book board in the center of the glued cover sheet and press down.
Above: Step 4 – trim the cover. Trim all four corners of the cover sheet along the diagonal, leaving about two millimeters (.25 centimeters) between your cut and the edge of the book board.
Above: Step 5 – fold the edges of your cover around the book board. Using your bone folder ($4.94), lift one edge of the cover, press it first onto the side of the board and run the tip of the bone folder down the entire edge to make sure it adheres. Then carefully fold the paper onto the back of the board, smoothing with your bone folder. Moving to the next side, first fold the corner in the same manner as you would a package, tucking in the short edge before folding the side up. Repeat until all four sides are done. Then gently tap each corner with the flat of your bone folder, so that they are not too pointy. Repeat so that you have two hardcovers.
Above: Step 6 – folding the inside pages. For the inside of the book, cut a long strip of acid free, text weight paper which are available at most art stores. Ours measured 18 inches long (46 centimeters). The width was about 2.75 inches (versus the 3 inch cover), giving us a small border. Fold the paper in half, pressing the crease with your bone folder. Then take each of you halves, folding each in half again so that the edges meet in the middle, to make four equal sections. Then fold these back on themselves again until you have 8 equal sections.
Above: Step 7 – gluing the pages to the cover. Whenever gluing a book, you want to avoid getting any glue on your work surface which may mark the cover. Therefore it is always important to place scrap paper under the glue surface. Once you have glued the top piece of your accordion pages, center it onto your cover and press. Repeat with the other side, but remember to make sure each cover is right side up!
Above: Taping the paperback cover. For the even easier paperback version (This is the one your kids can do.), simply cut any piece of heavy stock paper so that is only slightly larger than the inside pages. Then lay 1/4 inch, double sided tape around the edge of the cover being careful not to overlap the tape, which may cause a bump in the cover. Then place the inside pages in the same manner as the hardcover, and you're done. Double sided archival tape is available at Talas; $8.74.
Above: The results! Because of the dramatic way that they open, accordion books make wonderful keepsakes. You can use them as mini photo albums or travel journals, or to print a menu or program for an event. Easy to DIY, they make excellent favors for weddings, showers, or even kid's birthday parties.
Above: A collaborative effort between mother and son: "Three Men on a Dig."
N.B. For another fun and easy book project, see our books covers made with antique maps.