Personalized Leather Pamphlet, Part I
I got an order just before the Thanksgiving holiday for a personalized leather pamphlet. I actually started working on it when I suddenly realized that I could take some photos during the process and post a “how-it’s-done” post on my blog. This isn’t really a step-by-step tutorial so much as an explanation of what all goes into making one of these pamphlets.
My customer wanted a 5″x3.5″ leather pamphlet with three letters on it rather than the one I normally do. After the back and forth deciding placement, lettering font and size, and how to do the flap-over, I was ready to start. The usual flap-over on this pamphlet is a full-length flap, from top to bottom with a single snap in the middle. We decided to make just a strap in the center of the pamphlet so the closure wouldn’t interfere with the lettering.
First things first, the text block. I jumped right in and tore down some of the white, Utrecht drawing paper I have, folding and putting the paper together in a relatively short time. After putting my text block together, I realized that I’d used the wrong paper. The book isn’t called “Black and Tan” for nothing. So, I found myself repeating the process with some beige colored Canson pastel paper.
I won’t go into pictures or discussions of tearing paper. The only tip I have for a pamphlet is to make sure the outer pages are slightly smaller than the cover and then, every four pages or so, shorten the length you tear so that when you fold and place them all together, you have a pretty even fore edge on the book. I’ve found that with most of the paper I use, two to four pages the same length will lay well together. More than that and the inner pages in the signature begin overhanging the front edge.
Next step is the leather. I use 3 to 4 oz leather for my medium pamphlets, measure it out and cut it slightly large, then I cut it down to 5″ x 9″ (3.5″ per side, 7″, plus a couple of inches for the flap/strap). A pamphlet has a pretty “sharp” fold in the center so, at this point, I’ll carve out a groove on the inside of the cover along the spine so I can get a good-looking fold in the book.
I used to use a v-groove head on a linoleum cutter to carve out the groove but it really isn’t sharp enough for the fleshy texture of leather so I started using woodworking tools. My mom bought me a set of miniature wood carving tools (Dockyard–incredibly good brand) when I was doing miniatures but I haven’t really used them since giving up the miniatures so they were just waiting for another purpose in my studio.
I do a check to see if the fold is nice and sharp. Obviously I needed to deepen the groove a bit after the first round. After cutting, checking, cutting and checking until I get it where I want it, I’ll usually test the signature inside the pamphlet to see how it fits. If I like the way it looks, then it’s time to work on the strap.
This is actually the first strap I’ve done this way. I’ve done fold-overs on all of the other pamphlets I’ve made, so this took a little adjusting on my methods. First to check the fold-over and make sure it’s long enough.
The next thing that had to be done was measuring out and cutting the strap. I started by folding my pamphlet at the groove and marking where the edge fell on the book. This “should” be where the flap will fold over the cover.
I marked lightly along the inside of the cover, measuring out where the strap would fall and putting it slightly below the center of the book height so there would be room for the lettering in the upper half of the front cover.
Once I had it essentially drawn out on the inside of the cover, I cut away the excess flap with an X-acto, leaving just the strap.
Naturally, I had to test it out and found that it worked just fine.
I also had to make sure it would work with my lettering placement. So another check with the template in place to see how it would look.
Obviously, the placement for the letters wasn’t going to work like this so I ended up shifting the letters up slightly higher on the cover. I think it ended up looking better this way.
Which is where I’ll leave this for now. Sunday will be the follow up and, hopefully, conclusion to this exciting leather pamphlet “how-it’s-done.”