Opened Upright from Spine

The Making of a Diary for Someone Who Doesn’t Use Diaries

And That Someone is Me

I gave a sneak peek a little while ago on a project I was working on. Well, I completed it, and have used it for about 6 or 7 weeks. It’s a school diary with a difference, and represents my efforts to get more organised and to manage my time better.

So far, it has been a moderate success—I have actually written in it and made notes and to-dos, which is more than I can say for any other diary I’ve owned in the last 10 years. I however need to move from using it more as a record to using it as a planning tool.

The Design

There were a few things that I considered (not specifically) when I was planning my diary. They were:

  • what I wanted the book to look like, inside and out
  • that I wanted something which would be useful and realistically so
  • and that I didn’t want it completely utilitarian, but a little bit fun.

Form

I designed my diary to look funky and colourful, unlike the drab, monochrome, boring diaries that you buy off the shelf. The look is something that is very important to me, being a visual person. When deciding what colours to use, I used the four process colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black)—the CMYK colour model. Whenever I can’t think of colours to use, or I don’t have anything specific in mind, I end up using CMYK. I used another colour—Orange—for all the writing lines and grid lines etc.

Function

I also kept it functional and focused on its purpose of being a school diary with a difference. I decided early on that I wanted a week-to-an-opening view: being realistic, I knew what I was like with diaries, so I kept it simple. I came up with a layout where the days-of-the-week are on the verso and a space for notes and to-dos is on the recto. The verso is divided into 6 sections: a heading which tells me the term and week-number, and the month, and one for each day of the week. The days-of-the-week are further divided into spaces for each lesson of the day. Also, for a bit of fun, I included some cool ‘days’ like World Migratory Bird Day on the 14th of May (OK it should have been the 12–13th but my diary doesn’t do weekends and the original source I got the date from was wrong!), and Star Wars Day on May the Fourth. I also have a personalised timetable and a larger notes and to-dos section at the front of the book, and an assessment record at the back.

In terms of the binding itself, it is case-bound and quarter covered with Limette Duo book cloth and Kraft paper (I love Kraft). I’m really pleased with the result functionally. The hinges work really well—I was a bit more generous with them this time around, allowing the standard 2-and-a-half thicknesses of board‐and the whole thing is nice and square.

Personality

I just had to express my personality when designing this diary, and make it unique. As mentioned above, I included interesting ‘days’, and I did other things, like put in a photo of me and my wife, and give it a title page: The School Diary of Jacob Degeling. For a bit more fun, I included some grids for when I’m bored during meetings etc.—they are a 2mm square grid and an isometric grid.

Trial by Use

Something that I am very interested in is to see how my binding stands up to everyday use. So far structurally the book is doing well. The only thing I might change next time I bind a book like this is to use a thicker spine hollow (the piece of cardboard that covers the spine) because the thin card I used is deforming at the head and tail, and it shows the lumps and bumps from the sewing and the tapes. The paste I used to attach the Kraft was a bit thin, so some parts of the paper are starting to lift, especially where it overlaps the book-cloth. I’m just going to leave it to see what happens.

There is a little bit of wear and tear on the cover, most notably the Kraft is starting to fray a bit around the edges, there are a few coffee cup rings on it, and the quarter-cloth is getting a bit dirty from me holding the book by the spine. Also, I got some honey from a sandwich I ate one day on it which a mouse has just nibbled off over night taking some of the paper with it.

I’m pretty happy overall with my new diary. And I think I might just get used to having one around.

Thanks for reading, and happy binding!

Jessie’s Sketchbook Slash Notebook Slash Journal

Jess’s Book: Cover and Spine

Have You Met My Sister, Jess?

Well, she recently turned 30. You can read about it on her blog here. I was there: it was a fun party. It was yet another occasion when I made something for someone’s birthday—in this case, it was a very nice sketchbook/notebook/journal (if I do say it myself). She’s blogged about it here. How kind. She said some really nice things about me. I love my sister.

Jess’s Book: Head and Bookmark

When I created this book, I wanted to try to express something of Jess’ personality and her style. We are similar on both counts, so I was pretty sure she would like it. You can see that the book is fairly plain and simple, with blocks of bold colours on the outside, and a little bit more funky on the inside. I guess that is what my sister is like—simple on the outside, but a little bit funky-funk on the inside.

Jess’s Book: Endpapers

Bookbinding Nerd Details

The book is a fairly simple flat-back case binding, with 6 sections of 12 leaves each (made up of 6 sheets folded in half and gathered together) sewn onto two 10mm tapes. I used some nice 110gsm cartridge paper for the text block and some simple Kraft and Chelsea bookcloth for the covers. This is the first book I’ve put a bookmark into, and I really like the result. The endpapers were called Mumbai paper in the shop I bought them from. It’s a heavyish kind of paper that looks a little bit hand-made, though I don’t think it was quite expensive enough to actually be made by hand, and it’s screen-printed. The beautiful yellow headbands were labelled ‘Pre ’50s Headbands’ in the shop I bought them. The are your standard machine-made headbands, but sewn onto a calico strip. I trimmed the boo to size using my trusty finishing-press-and-wood-chisel setup. Nice.

Notes to Self

When casing the book in, don’t use too much paste otherwise it will seep through the paper and possible stain the other side, especially if it is screen-printed Mumbai paper.

Jess’s Book: Section Stitching

I am really pleased with how this book turned out. It was nicely done, and looks awesome.

Sharon’s Sketchbook

Sharon’s Sketchbook: Interior

My wife, Sharon, is a wonderful artist. She makes pottery, she paints, and she draws. Her drawings are mainly done with technical-style-pens: 0.005mm diameter and up. She loves her pens. She also loves nice bleed-proof paper. She had a little store-bought sketchbook that she filled up a little before Christmas. I, being the nice guy I am, thought I would surprise her by making her a new sketchbook. I tried to get it done before Christmas, but because I was trying to make some orange book cloth for the spine, and because I kept stuffing it up, I only managed to get it done just recently.

The first drawing she did is shown above. If you can’t guess, we are expecting a baby—that is the meaning behind the beautiful drawing above.

Bookbinding Nerd Details

The book is a simple case binding, 10 sections of 4 sheets were sewn onto tapes, then the spine was glued, endpapers attached (I made the endpapers from two sheets of Yuzen paper each: I tipped them together), and the block trimmed with my finishing press and plough. The last step in preparing the book block was to line the spine, and glue on headbands.

I then went through many experiments with making some book cloth. I bought some nice orange cotton, and some mulberry paper. After many failures in which the fabric was seemingly glued successfully only to have it come away from the mulberry paper when I tried to glue it to the boards, I gave up and bought some nice orange buckram and used that instead.

After cutting the boards and spine-piece to size and sanding them, I glued on the buckram. I then cut out the design for the cover and glued that to the front board. Some blue momigami was then pasted to both the front and back boards.

After leaving this to dry over night, the next morning, I cased the book in, pressed it with my pressing boards, weighted it, and left it to dry for the rest of the day.

The result is an awesome, personalised sketchbook that should give my wife many hours of enjoyment.

Sharon’s Sketchbook: Endpaper Sharon’s Sketchbook: Cover Detail Sharon’s Sketchbook: Spine Detail I Sharon’s Sketchbook: Spine Detail II