This was my inspiration: Two French books covered in leather and published in 1895. They were given to me by my mother who purchased them about 40 years ago at the Marche au Puces in Paris, where she used to spend her Saturdays and come home with treasures. I feel so fortunate to have them! The covers are worn out from the time and dust, and I need to have them restored. They may actually be the oldest things I owe and I cherish them deeply.
I would love to have a full collection of those, but in the meantime, I thought I would transform some simple paperback books to kind of look like them, or at least be able to place them side by side.
So I grabbed:
- Some of my inexpensive paperback books
- Kraft paper (which was the inside roll of wrapping paper that I had kept to use for future crafts)
- Gold Leaf Sheets – they are not as expensive: about $ 10 for a pack of 25 sheets and I used only 4 sheets, so I have plenty for another project. Plus with a 40% discount coupon they come down to about $ 6.
- Adhesive for Gold Leaf projects
- Sealer for Gold Leaf projects
- Bone Folder
- Painter’s tape
- 2 brushes
For the cover:
Place your Kraft paper with the nice side down. Place the book in the lower right hand corner of the Kraft paper. Next, using a pencil and a ruler, draw a horizontal line along the top of the book that spans the entire length of the Kraft paper. Now, cut along this line. This will give you the length of your book.
For the width: With your Kraft paper’s nice side down, measure 2 inches from the right, and fold. This will be your inside-back pocket. With the inside-back pocket in place and the book placed with its back side on your working surface, mark two spots on Kraft paper where the back cover ends and the spine starts, one at the top part and one at the lower part. Connect the two dots by drawing a vertical line with your ruler and pencil. Fold on the line. Now, with the inside-back pocket in place, hold the book with one hand with its spine on your working surface and mark two dots on your Kraft paper (one at the top part of the paper and one at the lower part) showing where the other side of the book’s spine ends. Connect the two dots by drawing a vertical line with pencil and ruler. Fold on the line. You have now created the spine of the book on the cover. Last, with the inside-back pocket in place, place the book frond side down, mark two dots on the Kraft paper showing where the front cover ends, connect the two dots with your ruler and pencil with a vertical line. Fold on the line. Measure 2 inches that will be the inside-front pocket and cut any excess paper. To make perfect and crisp folds, you can use a bone folder. If you don’t have one, just fold carefully and press with the palms of your hands.
In the picture above, the inside back pocket has been created, and I am ready to mark the two spots on the top and lower part of the paper, along the spine.
To apply Gold Leaf: Usually there will be instructions on the package. It takes some practice and I wasted about one leaf until I was able to handle it with ease. The trick is to not touch the gold leaf with your bare hand. Apply some wax paper on the leaf while it is in the package and move the leaf to the wanted spot by moving the wax paper – the gold leaf sticks to the wax paper. Wear cotton or wool gloves so that your hands don’t rip the gold leaf.
First, secure the Kraft paper cover on a working surface with painter’s tape on all four sides. Then add painter’s tape forming the spot you want to cover with gold. For this book, I chose to cover the whole spine, so I just applied painter’s tape on the right and left sides of the spine, right on the folds. For smaller parts, just add horizontal pieces of tape on the spine.
With a brush, apply adhesive, then move one gold leaf sheet with your wax paper, position it on the desired spot. Press with your finger on top of the wax paper to make it adhere properly. Remove wax paper and the rest of the gold leaf. Let dry for 5 minutes. Remove painter’s tape. With another brush, apply a thin coat of sealer. Let dry. Use your Gold Leafing Pen to cover any tiny spots you missed or to straighten the lines, if necessary.
I intentionally did not apply gold leaf onto one of the Kraft paper covers. It is fun to make all kinds of different patterns for each book.
Who would ever imagine that mixing 19th century antique books with modern paperback could look amazing?