Friday, February 11, 2011

How To Make A Wire Bound Art Journal From An Old Book Tutorial

I like making art journals from old books so here are directions on how to do it. I wanted one with black paper but I usually use acid free drawing paper or watercolor paper. Carefully cut the front and back cover off with a razor blade.

Trim the covers with a paper cutter. You don't want to cut through the thickest part, only cut along it.

Measure the trimmed book cover. This one is 8.5" x 5 3/8".

The paper should be smaller than the cover and life is easier if the bound edge of the paper is cut to the closest 1/2". Cutting the paper in half inch increments simplifies putting the holes in since you don't need to do any crazy adjusting. I cut the paper 8" x 5".

Don't try cutting too many sheets at one time on the paper cutter since you want a nice, crisp line.

What it looks like stacked up.

Punch holes using a book binding machine. You can find them online and there is a craft version called Cinch that does a very nice job. The Cinch is strong enough to punch through a book cover but do it slowly since it's a lot for a craft machine to do.

Now you need to make the holes in the cover. Adjust the binding machine to take into account the book cover being longer. It's a good idea to test the settings with a scrap piece of paper since you don't want to have to toss the cover because it was punched incorrectly.

You need to punch the back cover so that the end papers are facing up. If you try punching the holes with the back cover facing up it's likely that the front and back cover will not match up. It would be a good idea to test this one as well with scrap paper to ensure a proper fit.

Count the number of punched holes and trim the wire to the desired length; cutting where shown.

Put the sheets of paper onto the wire.

Place the cover on top, facing up.

Put the back cover on top of the other layers. The end paper needs to be facing up to ensure the closed wire edge is on the inside of the back cover. You'll flip the book to the correct position after the wire is crimped.

Shift the paper to the center of the wire binding.

Slowly crimp the binding wire using the binding machine. I like to flip the book after crimping and do it again on the other side. I have a tendency to push harder on one side than the other and this ensures a nice even crimp. Make sure the center of the binding wire remains in the center of the press or it will become lopsided. You might want to practice with a wire scrap.

Flip the book covers to the normal position and if you did everything correctly the crimped edge is next to the inside of the back cover.

Voila, you are ready to journal.


  1. Wonderful! Thank you Marie, can't wait to try this. :)

  2. Interesting, I always wondered how it was done!

  3. Awesome! =) And it's so well done

  4. You've made it look so easy ... now all I have to do is get the tools to do it! Thanks so much. nancy

  5. I was waiting for this! Thank you so much.