coverDilemma: The first birthday of our friends’ child was approaching, and little Alaster already had more than enough stuffed animals and blinking, beeping electronic doo-dads.

Solution: Ignore work for three or four days and illustrate a Star Wars-themed take-off on a beloved children’s book instead.

Added bonus: It will also make a great gift for our own forthcoming Little One.

Result: I think the parents liked it more than Alaster, who was probably still reeling from his first sugary birthday cake experience. And I’m not sure, but I may have detected traces of jealousy on the faces of other parents in the room.

However, rather than publish and sell copies of this as was suggested, I’m much happier releasing it freely to the world. The catch: you have to print and assemble it yourself. But don’t worry, I won’t leave you high and dry...following are step-by-step instructions to produce a good quality book with a minimum of fuss.

 

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Step 1: Download. Grab the PDF of the book here.
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Step 2: Print. Burn the PDF onto a CD, or otherwise take it to a decent Kinko’s (not one of the common, mere copy centers) or better yet, your local service bureau/reprographics house, and ask them to make color laser prints (may be referred to as Fiery prints) on 100 lb. paper (the heavy paper is important). I strongly recommend that you see color proofs before the final product, but if you are in a hurry like I was, the PDF is relatively fail-safe enough that you may opt to waive that step. You may also want to print 2 or more copies, so that you have a back-up for every page in case of problems during assembly.
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Step 3: Get supplies. Since you’re already out and about, go shopping for supplies, preferably from your local independent art supply store, although some of the larger office supply store may carry most or all of these items. Online shopping will also work.

  • Dry adhesive, which is easier, cleaner, better smelling, and healthier than spray mount; may come in sheets like these or as a roll
  • X-acto knife and at least a 5-pack of replacement blades. An Olfa snap knife will also do quite nicely
  • A burnisher
  • A nice, metal straight edge or ruler, if you don’t already have one
  • A self-healing cutting mat (optional, but recommended)
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Step 4: Score the pages. Place your straight edge along the dashed-line marks in the center of each page, leaving a millimeter or so of space between the ruler’s edge and the dashed lines. Run a paper clip along the edge 4 or 5 times, pressing firmly. Repeat for each page, ignoring the cover for now. Optional: create an easy-to-hold scoring tool by snipping off the and of a small paper clip and inserting it into X-acto knife in place of the blade. scoring
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Step 5: Apply the adhesive. Take a dry adhesive sheet, peel off the waxy protective overlay, and lay it down on your work surface sticky side up. Place a page face-up on top of the adhesive sheet (so that the back of the page is in contact with the sticky side), then place the waxy sheet over the top of your page. Using your burnisher, apply light pressure over everything, starting from the center and moving outward, using greater pressure with every stroke. Repeat for all pages, including the cover. Save the waxy sheets.

adhesive

Once you have made that first, light, center-to-edge burnish, you may rub back-and-forth in any direction. Be sure to burninsh thoroughly and firmly over the edges and corners of the page, as indicated by the trim marks; this will help hold your book together for many years.

 

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Step 6: Cut the pages. Place your straight edge along the solid-line marks ad the four edges of each page, this time trying to place the ruler’s edge right on the very center of each trim mark. Hold the ruler firmly, making sure not to let the edges of your thumb or fingers hang out over the edge. With light pressure, pull the X-acto or Olfa knife down along the straight edge, stopping before the end of the paper. Repeat the downward motion of the cut (do not go back-and-forth as with scoring) a couple of times until the paper has been fully and cleanly trimmed. Do this along each of the four edges of every page, including the cover. Change the blade of your knife every 3 to 5 pages; as this is 100 lb. paper, the blades will dull fairly quickly.

cutting

Note: By pressing lightly on the blade and repeating the cut until complete, you will be sure to maintain control and make a straight cut. If you press firmly on the blade, you run the real risk of losing control and cutting into the page, and you will have to start over with a new page.

Also, Make sure that you do not cut through the paper, as you will be unable to properly line up your straight edge over the trim marks if you do. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to stop your cutting stroke once the blade reaches into the trim marks.

It helps to keep all pages in order.

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Step 7: Assemble the pages. (A) Starting with the last page, fold the page in half (this is where scoring the pages first comes in handy). (B) Use your burnisher to create a firm crease. (C) Peel away the adhesive backing to expose the adhesive, exposing only the first page (the left half of the unfolded sheet).

Repeat steps A through C for the previous page (if you did not keep the pages in order, you may have to refer to the PDF to find which is the previous page). Instead of exposing the left half of the sheet, however, you will expose the right half.

(D) Lay one of the waxy sheets on top of the exposed adhesive of the last page, leaving about an inch of the adhesive still exposed. Lay the previous page down on top, with its adhesive side pressed against the other’s adhesive side, taking care to line up the edges and corners straight. Pull the waxy “slip-sheet” out from between the two pages, and burnish the two halves together. Again, begin with light pressure, from the center outward. Once it it initially burnished, thoroughly and firmly burnish the entire area, concentrating on the edges and corners.

assembly

By placing a “slip-sheet” between the two adhesive areas, you will be able to make minor adjustments to the positioning of each page when lining them up. Once the entire area of two adhesive sides are placed together, you will not be able to reposition them.

Repeat all of Step 7 for each page, excluding the cover, lining up the adhesive on the back of each page with the adhesive on the back of its opposite page.

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Step 8: Assemble the cover. (A) Using the same slip-sheet technique as before, line up the edge of the front cover with the edge of the first page, adhesive-back-to-adhesive-back, and burnish firmly into place (place one of the waxy sheets over the cover to burnish so that you don’t scratch the print).

(B) Turn the book over, and fold over the back cover so that its edge is aligned with the edge of the last page. Burnish firmly, atop another protective waxy sheet.

(C) Congratulations, your book is now complete! Since you did not score the cover, the spine should naturally curve outward when the book is opened, and lie relatively flat against the pages when the book is closed.

Optional final step: You may also want to place a heavy weight on top of the book (placing another protective sheet between the book and the eight) and let that sit for a few hours. This will help ensure that all pages are firmly adhered to one another.

cover assembly

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Step 9: Read and share. Read your new book to your little one, give one to friends or family who are parents, forward this link to friends and family....or you can horde it for yourself!
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Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
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Many thanks to Wookiepedia for all the reference aid.