Saturday, August 18, 2012

Personalized Composition Book

Although the design choices kids have in composition books have improved somewhat since I was a kid, there still aren't that many choices.  Besides, kids generally think things are more fun if they can really make it their own.   Kids also tend to take better care of things they've had to put a little effort into creating.  So, especially if the book is to be used for something your child is a little more reluctant about, help your child make the book a little more personal. 

We've used a composition notebook with wide-ruled lines (beginning writer) but you can get college ruled as well as versions with a blank space on top and lines underneath.  This last style can be difficult to find so if you have a choice in the matter (this isn't for school), don't worry about drawing space, because you can also use blank paper or a sketchbook and attach drawings or photos into the book after the illustration is complete.

To make Alice's books special for her, she cut out pictures from some old magazines and glued them all over the outside cover of the composition book.  Decoupage would work for this and the process is similar, but since you will be using this book with kids, (and possibly outside depending on the intended purpose) I've determined that the following steps hold up better and for longer.
  1. Cut out magazine pictures and collage over the front of the composition book (or similar tablet of your choosing).
  2. Let dry long enough that the cover starts to warp and is only tacky to the touch but not "wet". 
  3. Smooth plastic wrap over the cover. 
  4. Gently set a book on top of the composition book and plastic wrap.  To protect the other book you will be placing on top of this next, also lay a piece of wax paper on your creation cut slightly larger than the composition book itself.
  5. Place something heavy on top of the two books and set overnight to allow it to fully dry WITHOUT finishing up warped.
  6. Repeat steps one through five for the backside of the book.
  7. If the plastic wrap peels off, great, if not, leave it.
  8. Trim edges of collage if they stick out over the edges of the actual book cover.
As an alternative for very young kids, you could buy stickers to "collage" with and then skip steps two through seven. It is a less messy and quicker way to have them "make the book their own". 

Use clear contact paper to truly "kid proof" the cover of the book and prevent it from peeling up.  You will want to do this part to ensure a tight and smooth adhesion that will make the cover more lasting. 
  1. Spread a piece of contact paper out that is larger than the book you will be covering so that it is facing sticky side up.
  2. in the center of the contact sheet, carefully align the binding of the book so there is contact paper above and below the book as well as out to each side.
  3. Carefully press from the binding's center outward to eliminate any air bubbles.  Then, working from the binding outward, carefully smooth contact paper over the back cover of the book.  Work slowly, pressing and smoothing out air bubbles as you go.  Leave the contact paper so the excess is loose around the edges of the cover of the book.
  4. Beginning at the binding, carefully smooth the contact paper over the front cover of the book in the same way you stuck the contact paper to the back cover of the book. 
  5. Lay the book open on a table or counter and cut triangles off of the contact paper at each of the four corners so the excess hangs off in a trapezoid to the side of each cover flap of the book. 
  6. Cut out a rectangle from the contact paper above and below where the binding is.  Fold the top and bottom flaps around to the inside of the front cover and starting from where the contact paper meets the book, smooth the contact paper onto the interior of the cover trying to eliminate air bubbles as you go.  Do this for all three flaps of "excess on the front cover.  Repeat for the back cover.
Enjoy the ease with which you will be able to pick out each individual book from amongst others and the special style your child gives to his/her special composition book.

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