Being a book artist means that I’m always on the look out for interesting books–old books, childrens’ books, blank books, all sorts, really—and especially hand made books.  I picked up a certain second-hand blank journal somewhere, purely because it was blank with lined paper, and could become much more appealing with some altering.  The existing book cover was a light-blue slick plasticized paper printed with a photo of  water and a suspended lily, and the words ‘meditation journal’ superimposed in the center.  Not my style at all.

Recently I found some wonderful old childrens’ books at a local used book store, a couple for my kids, and a couple for me.  One of them, The Animal Fair, by Alice and Martin Provensen, is a large format Golden Book, first published in 1952, and a real treasure of design and illustration.  I originally bought it thinking I might cut out some of the pictures for collages or other paper art, but after a closer read, I couldn’t bear to take the scissors to it.  Casting around for the right-feeling paper to re-cover my journal with, I eyed the Provensen book and flipped through it again, and realized that the full color endpapers would be just the size for my needs, and a delightful ‘theme’ to boot.  Even better, I could take the fly page from the front of the book and the one from the back and end up with the full fair illustration spread for my ‘new’ journal’s cover, and halves of the full spread still lining the covers in the original.

re-covered journal and "The Animal Fair' end pages

re-covered journal and "The Animal Fair' end pages

Here’s what I did:

~With an X-acto knife I carefully cut along the seam where the cover papers were glued down on the front and back covers of the journal.

~Then I used the X-acto tip to loosen the paper all the way around the three edges of the book boards, again front and back.  I found that as I tore the paper away it came off fairly easily because the cover was lined with a heavier paper stock and a very thin layer of foam, and only the edges were glued down to the boards.

~I sliced the paper away at the head and tail of the spine where it was glued underneath the pages or book block.

~With a small piece of sandpaper I sanded away the remnants of glue and foam where the foam had been glued to the board and left lumpy spots behind.

~I cut my two ‘Animal Fair’ illustrations out of the book, and about half an inch bigger than the journal covers all the way around, with one slightly wider to cover the spine.

~I glued the papers up and attached them to the covers, gauging the final placement to overlap just at the bend between the spine and front cover.  The seam is visible but subtle, and overall I’m much happier with the way the book looks now.

the back and the end paper

the back and the end paper

The last step  was to glue down the journal’s fly pages over the flaps of the cover paper on the insides of the cover–here’s a photo of how it looked just before I did that.  Then, afterward, I had what I wanted: a blank page and a clean slate.

closing and opening the door on the book

closing and opening the door on the book

(the printed text on the inside is the oft heard quote about when “one door closes…”   I like knowing the words are underneath the paper, but don’t need to read them.)

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