Single Page Bookbinding

This past weekend I took a bookbinding class with Lisa Cheney. We learned how to bind single sheets into a book. I was very excited to learn this technique because it can be used to bind different kinds of paper, cardboard, mat board, etc, together.

The workshop was at the newly opened Gem Center for the Arts building off of Vista Ave. Although there was a bit of construction work still in process. The classroom is on the second floor and has lots of natural light.

Classroom at Gem Center for the Arts.

I have lots of old papers from printmaking that did not make the final cut into an edition or were ghost prints to clean off a printing plate. They have accumulated over the years because the paper is nice and I thought that I could paint over them and use them for something else, instead of recycling them. Of course, I have never gotten around to doing that, yet.

I thought this workshop would be the perfect way to turn those papers into something useful. The idea that I can also use recycled materials like cereal boxes, covers from old books, cut up paintings, etc. is very appealing to me because I do try to recycle as much as I can.

With the technique that Lisa showed us, we attached one page at a time, building up the book and binding as we went.

Here is an example of one of Lisa’s books where she created a fold out page. She paints, collages and writes in her handmade books.

Pages from Lisa Cheney’s handmade book.

For my book, I used some plain mat board for the covers (because that was what I had) and cut up various prints and painted papers I had for the pages.


My book with plain cover.

I do plan to decorate the cover at some point in time. Below are some of the pages inside the book. They are not all the same size and some are cut into different shapes.


A page with part of a print cut out and a painted paper.


More leftover cut up prints and a shaped page.

Lisa did explain how we could add a small signature (folded pages) within the single pages. Below I added a small one from a cut up monotype.


A small signature added.


It is always nice to see what other students create as well. Here is a picture of some of the books made in class. Some had record covers used for the book cover, one person had a very thick leather for the cover. I like how one person used die cut shapes for the pages. One participant used a cut up canvas for some pages, as well as scrapbook paper. Others used blank pages so that they could have a journal. My book is open at the bottom left of the picture.


Handmade books


I am excited to make more and use up some more of my leftover papers, as well as try some recycled cardboard from food boxes.

What will I do with my book? When (if) I get around to using it, I plan to paint over some of the pages, collage or add drawings and probably use it to store quotes. Or make one to use as a travel journal. It might also be nice to make a book to use for a daily project.

The nice thing is if you leave a long length of the book binding thread after putting on the back cover (keeping it tucked inside the book), then you can undo the back cover and continue adding more pages as wanted.


6 comments to Single Page Bookbinding

  • kathy loomis

    Gorgeous! I’d love a little how-to, or just a close-up of the binding threads. Wish I were there!

    • Lisa Flowers Ross

      It is a bit complicated to explain in words. Even with the written directions given to us in the workshop, I’m not sure I would have understood them without seeing it and practicing it.

  • I agree with Kathy, it turned out wonderful. I can’t wait to see it.

  • I would love to learn how to do this someday-they look great! How do you make the holes? I should look for a class like that!

    • Lisa Flowers Ross

      Hi Gail, I used a hole punch I had to make the holes (1/16″ hole punch for the pages and a punch I can hammer for the covers). But some people used a hand drill to drill through their cover and pages at the same time. Or a Japanese hole punch.

      You could probably search the internet for single page book binding instructions but I found it was much easier to learn having someone demonstrate then help me if I needed it.