The problem I’m having is wrinkles.
I’d been binding books for a while when it struck me: doing some collage book covers would probably be really cool. With book binding, I often tried to think of ways to change it up, make books that were a little different, maybe a bit more of a challenge than it would be just to do the same painted covers over and over again ad nauseum. I remembered rd95’s post. It had piqued my interest. I also recalled a summer art class where we had collected images and created a personal journal with a collage front. For my theme I’d chosen eyes. I’d had a lot of fun for a few weeks on Pinterest once, building a board that consisted solely of all “red things.” I liked how collages made one image out of a collection of similar things, but “similar” could be sliced any way that you could want. There was a very flexible potential.
So I collected magazines for some months. When I filled up a box I figured I had enough. While I waited I found my copies of old Martha Stewart Living - October issues. I made two simple Halloween collage-scenes. I really liked how they turned out, and had fun making them. It seemed almost too easy. Decoupage had to need more precision, planning, and deliberate laying than that, right?
Imgur won’t let me rotate this image - the finished covers, glued, glosses, and dried, bound into 2 books with painted/glossed black back covers
detail cover one - before gluing
detail cover two - before gluing
One night I went through the pile of magazines. It turned out most of them were food-related, one way or another. I thought a food collage cover would be so perfect for people to write recipes in. I thought, maybe it was a marketing angle. I thought I should start binding the books with lined paper if I wanted that to really do well. Who writes recipes on blank paper? It’d be way too uneven and messy, unless you were really perfect at writing freehand.
I started to tear out food pictures I liked.
I ended up with enough for two full covers. Both were berry abundant, although the theme was really only pronounced and unifying, I felt, in one. The other cover was more “generic desserts.” I figured it’d be the back cover and wouldn’t matter.
front cover - glued with fixative- some wrinkling visible
After trimming each piece around 3x, I started to glue them down. I used Modgepodge. I smoothed every piece down with my bone folder after I affixed it. If these collages rippled, they wouldn’t be any good as covers. When I put both covers, done, down to dry, they looked flat. Even.
back cover - glued with fixative - see wrinkling
In 6 hours they had permanent wrinkling.
I tried a finishing spray gloss to see if it might even the wrinkles out, but that didn’t work.
I tried making a few collages using a gluestick instead of Modge Podge. I figured it was drier, more controlled, and there wasn’t any real way for me to use too much glue, which contributes to wrinkling. It would give the minimum glue possible, probably.
gluestick animal-themed covers - glued with fixative
Still got wrinkles.
That means now I’ve got book covers I spent a lot of time on that I don’t think are good enough to use. It’s disheartening. That was a lot of time.
I’m a little frustrated, with books or maybe with decoupage. Or both. Do you know how hard it is to glue a tight, aligned fabric cover onto a book board?
It’s hard. (But I’ve figured it out, at least. Now I have a good system.) Decoupage, I haven’t yet. I didn’t glue any more for a long time and I even put off writing this post. It was the frustration. The dead end. The wrinkle problem.
For months, I didn’t do any more collages. But then…
I made this today. It’s the first element of a cover art design I’m making for a short story I’m going to hand-publish and all that jazz. My brother wrote it. I had told him, I had all these skills and supplies for book binding, I had to put them to use, and asked him to send me something I could publish for him. It’s called “An Informal Guide To: Getting Drunk on Valentine’s Day & Contacting Your Exes.” I think the collage I made is perfect.
For this one, I know i’ll be making color photocopies of this design - a lot - so I can mess with it and figure out how the rest of the cover should look. I think, honestly, printed copies will end up the final solution for this one. I need to mass produce them, or at least, “make 50 copies,” which maybe isn’t very “mass” but it’s certainly “recreate over and over.” I just don’t like the texture or durability of paper covers on the book boards. I’m going to still spray a finisher or put a gloss on the covers, which I hope will help a lot with that. I just feel it’s not as cool as painted, cloth, or actual collage covers…But hey. I’ll copy the images all high definition and the cover will still look really cool.
I’m kind of excited about making books again. :)
cover art - glued on paper with stick - paper, no fixative
I have a lot of photos about how to do the fabric covers right so they turn out well, and was going to post about that process in my Bookbinding 2 post, but it's fiddly and I suspect a little boring. So instead, here are just pictures of some of the new books I have finished since my original post.
gold painted wooden letters hot glued on blank covers
Blue = Fabric Cover, Green Flower = Painted/glossed Cover With Fabric Flower Glued On, Dots = Fabric, 2 aforementioned Halloween collages
left and right are fabric covers, center is painted/glossed metallic
all fabric - jean pockets and yellow flowers
So far, I have successfully given about 5-6 books away. LOL. And a maybe goal of getting a booth at an arts festival next fall, if I can get happy with quality. Probably not, maybe probably not worth it, also.
But hey, it's something to do.
rd95's initial decoupage post:
Fuckin' Bookbinding, Yo: