Handmade Albums

I have been thinking for a while about how to make what I offer you guys completely unique.  Something that caught my eye was making my own albums.  I really wanted to be offer my customers something a little different that is completely personal and unique.  So I set about learning how to make albums.  

I tried several different methods but I settled on coptic binding as the first technique that I would master.  The main reasons being how flexible it is a way to bind books and also how versatile it it allows you to be.  It was originally used by monks to bind bibles and histories before modern binding techniques were developed, so I love the fact that I'm also using a traditional craft and keeping it going in todays mass produced world.

I've been practicing behind the scenes making simple notebooks and fun items for kids. It's been a steepish learning curve and theres been a bit of cursing and lots of tangled binding thread!  However, I decided to get my first album underway using some reclaimed wood to make the cover.

Here's what I started with....

First job on the agenda is folding and shaping the card.

Once thats done and I have created my 'signatures' or pages for the album they need to be stitched together.  I decided to twist up two different threads for a more decorative finish.

Stitching in the first signature to the cover with the aptly named 'cover stitch'!

Some time and some stitching later.....

The next element to think about for me was how to make it personal by adding names, text or decoration to the covers.  I decided in this case to use some pyrography! That basically involves using a heated metal pen to burn your chosen design into the wood very much along the lines of branding.  It means that I can do any text or design on the computer and then transfer that with a steady hand and some patience to the wood itself.

As I will be using this first handmade album to display some of my family photography I decided to go with a phrase that's the cornerstone of my photography in general and how I try to think about life.

I'm really pleased with this technique and the finish it gives to the product, it's a bit nerve-wracking putting the final designs into the wood because there is no going back if you get it wrong.

All thats left to do after that is mount the photos.  There's plenty of options for how to do this.  I used a few different ways with this album.  Filling the whole page to make it flush mount.

Using  a bit of negative space to show off the images.

Or maintaining the flush mount look by pre designing the layouts and printing up flush.

So there we go, my first handmade album. I'm now going to embark on a range of different designs. There are so many different materials and stitching patterns that can be created.  I kept this first one pretty simple but I'm excited about making them more decorative and coming up with new stitching patterns.

What's going to be best of all is working with families and wedding couples to create something completely unique that reflects them.  Theres so much you can do with this and things that you can include, I hope that my photography clients will be equally as excited to have me design and make them something handmade, personal and high quality!

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