[Table of Contents] [Search]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [BKARTS] teaching grade 4 kids

Rob -

Don't give up on more challenging projects with the kids - it only gets
easier after the first time.

For sewn bindings with smaller kids, I've found the drill press to be my
best friend. Here's a project that leaves kids with a nice, multi-gathering
book that provides many of the skills you mentioned. I did this with a group
of kids in a "Lewis and Clark" themed program - the youngest was 6 and the
oldest was 12, and we had no tears.

(Of course, it all depends on how much time you have for prep too...)


A couple months before your class, visit the furniture stores in your area
and ask if they will let you have their discarded leather samples. Colors
and styles of leather change quite often and the outdated swatches usually
end up in the dumpster. They're usually fairly large - most often 10" by 6"
or so.

When choosing paper, make sure it isn't so heavy that small hands will have
trouble folding several sheets into the finished gatherings. Fatter
gatherings will minimize the gap between them in the finished book.

When cutting materials to size, I'm usually guided by the natural size of
the leather and/or the paper we've gleened from print shop end cuts. Cut the
paper down to finished size and cut the leather so that the finished wrap
cover will be just a bit taller than the pages and is long enough to
accomodate the spine width of three gatherings and an extra flap to wrap
around the front of the book. (Optional - cut small corners off the flap

Make yourself two drilling templates of mat board, one for the paper (three
or five holes down the center of the page) and one for the leather (three
rows of three or five holes each).

I use a small bit (1/16th) to drill stacks of paper about an inch high at a
time. Even with the small bit, the little shavings that fly around can be
hot, so use caution if drilling indoors or near anything flammable.

When drilling the leather, clamp 4 or 5 covers together between your
template and another piece of mat board to keep them from slipping around.
After drilling, cut two small vertical slits in each flap, about 1/2 inch

Cut 1/4 inch strips of leather 10 - 12 inches long. Cut one end an angle and
add a small slit about 1/2 inch from the end. You can use ribbon, twine or
other material as a substitute for the tie.

In Class:

Have the kids jog up and fold each gathering, preferably with a bone folder.
Secure the gathering on one side with a paperclip so that they can see light
coming through the sewing holes. Use another paper clip to secure the
gathering in place while they sew it to the leather cover with a pamphlet
stitch. While you can design a continuous stitching pattern, three separate
pamplet stitches are the easiest, as working with long lengths of thread can
be a challenge for small hands. I like starting the stitches in the center
of the gathering to create a clean pattern on the spine, but if you want to
embellish the book with doo-dads tied to the ends of the threads, you can
start on the outside.

Of course, any sewing project brings up the challenge of threading needles.
Unless you want to experience what true hell is, don't expect the kids to be
able to do this in class.

Guided by Susan Gaylord's wonderful example, I organize little kits and
everyone gets three threaded (and secured) needles in their kit. (As I
learned from Susan, the kit allows them to return their tools to you in an
organized fashion as well). It seems like a lot of work, but I'm so used to
doing this type of thing while watching a movie, it doesn't seem like much.
If you have one of those old-style needle threaders, it goes pretty quickly.

For the tie, weave the pointed end of the leather strip with the slit in it
in and out of the slits in the flap, starting on the outside closest to the
flap end. Thread the other end through the slit in the strap and carefully
synch down until it's tight. The strap can be wrapped around the book a
couple times and tucked underneath itself or you can add a button or other
fastener of your choice.

Lastly, you can have them paste down the first and last pages of the book to
the leather. It makes the completed book look more finished, but isn't

Older kids might want to glue a thin leather loop inside the flap for a
pencil or add other touches.

While this project doesn't give kids as much basic materials preparation
practice (i.e., tearing down paper and punching their own sewing holes), it
does provide them with a finished book they're proud of and the confidence
to try something more challenging next time.

with best wishes,
Roberta Lavadour
Mission Creek Press / Pendleton, Oregon

     The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist

             For all your subscription questions, go to the
                      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.

                  Both at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]