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DIY Reception Ideas: DIY Wedding Guest Books

One of our staff members makes beautiful handmade guest books, which are perfect as guest registers (or photo albums) for your wedding. Here are her secrets!

What You'll Need

  • 1/8-inch-thick acid-free paperboard
  • PVA glue, a special synthetic glue available from art stores or bookbinding suppliers
  • Four sheets of decorative or handmade paper and 20 sheets of white, ivory, or cream paper
  • 1/4 yard of bookbinding cloth
  • Two yards of strong ribbon that won't fray easily
  • Needle with a large eye
  • Hammer and four nails
  • Cutting board and metal ruler

Some of these supplies might be hard to find; you can experiment and substitute more accessible items if needed. Talas Bookbinding in New York City will ship bookbinding supplies, including handmade paper, anywhere in the U.S.; call (212) 219-0770.

1. Cut the 20 sheets of paper to fit your book's desired size (in this case, 11" x 15"). Your book can be as thick or thin as you like, depending on your taste and budget. I chose this size because it's half the size of the paper I bought, so I could just fold the sheets in half and cut along the fold.

2. Cut two pieces of paperboard for the book's front and back covers. Add 1/4 inch to the size you've chosen for the inner sheets (11 1/4" x 15 1/4" in our example). Then, cut a strip from each cover that measures about a fifth of the cover's width. This book is 15 1/4" wide, so I'll cut off a 2 1/2" or 3" strip. You now have two pieces of each cover. The two thin strips will be the binding strips, the area of the cover where the book is bound together.

3. Cut out two pieces of bookbinding cloth that are big enough to cover the binding strip and extend a couple of inches into the other piece of the cover, leaving one full inch all the way around to fold over. Our cloth measures 13 1/2" x 6 1/4."

4. Lay newspaper over your work area. Align the two pieces of board (binding strip and main board) spaced 1/4 inch apart. Glue the cloth to the board, making sure to leave 1/4 inch between the pieces and allow the one-inch border of extra cloth to hang over. Flip the glued board over, neatly fold over the cloth edges, and glue them down. (Tip: It helps to trim the corners for a neat fold.) Repeat this step for the back binding strip and cover.

5. Next, cut the paper for both book covers. The pieces should overlap the point where the bookbinding cloth ends by an inch; leave an inch on the other three sides for folding over (for our book, 11 3/4" x 13 1/2"). Glue the paper to the front of both covers, then fold it over and glue the one-inch edges to the inside. At this point, you have one side of both the front and back covers completed.

6. To make the inside of the covers neat, attach a sheet of decorative paper to hide the folds. Cut two pieces of paper (about 1/4 inch less than the size of the covers), and glue one piece into each cover.

7. Whew! You made it this far -- now it's time to put everything together. It's a nice touch to use a sheet of decorative paper for the first and last book pages. Gather the papers for your book and place them, like a sandwich, between the two covers. Make sure they are neatly arranged. Hammer four evenly distributed holes in the center of the front cover's binding strip. (Tip: Leave a nail in each hole to keep everything lined up.) Tightly thread ribbon, jute, or string through the holes, as simply or as elaborately as you like, and you're done!

Want more? Consult Creating Handmade Books, by Alisa J. Golden (Sterling Publications, 1998) or Making Books and Journals, by Constance Richards (Lark Books, 1999).


-- The Knot

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