Self Care Day on the 6th: January 2014

Do you have things on your perpetual “nice to do” list that never actually get done? They may be phone calls you’d like to make — at some point — or craft projects you’ve been wanting to try — someday — or appointments you’ve been meaning to make — eventually — and they get moved from one list to the next without actually getting accomplished?

Well, one of my “nice to do” items has been to make a book out of some of the wads of paper that come packed around fragile things I’ve ordered from the interwebs. It’s usually wonderfully-crinkly, brown, butcher paper that’s been torn off of a roll. It begs me to make something of it rather than wadding it up further and tossing it into the recycling bin.

So, for the past year or so, I’ve been saving these sheets of paper — by either flattening them or rolling them around a paper tube — in the precontemplative hope that they would eventually get transformed.

After my previous adventures in book making, I’d convinced myself that this venture would be a Big Project. And, as with most Big Projects, it kept getting put off until I had the time/energy/space/staff to do it.

And then it occurred to me as I was flattening another six yards of brown paper last night that, hey, Gina! this is mangled wrapping paper that you get by the boxfuls and that you’ve been hoarding for a year, not precious silken threads, hand-dyed by mountain dwellers. And, oh, by the way, you’d have already turned those precious threads into a shawl.

I realized that I had a point. This book thing didn’t have to be perfect and I didn’t even have to follow some design of how books are s’posed to be made.

Folios? Pshaw! Covers? Heee! End papers? Whatever! Purpose? Shrug.

So I grabbed some paper and started folding until it was kind of the size I wanted. I kept folding until it was sort of even. Then I stapled it. Then I folded it some more so that the wonky staples were covered up. Then I stapled it again. Then I took a fork — yes! a fork! — and used it to rip the folded edges so that I could turn all of the pages.

I was pretty darned pleased with myself and passed it around the family for some atta girls and gold stars.

To a person, they said, “What’s it for?”


So I took a nearby Sharpie and did this to it:

It's for whatever it's for! Vol 1

I’ll admit that I sure was proud of myself.

Writing this on the cover didn’t stop the family asking what it was for and what the next chapter would be and what the book would be about, but it reassured me that I didn’t have to know any of that in order to love this crispy, crunchy, deckely creation. I doodled on the cover on and off all evening, and just before bed I wrote this (on the back) because I realized that I was already afraid to tarnish it with the wrong purpose.

Hey, Gina! Quick, write in it before it becomes too precious! (And you can always make another one!)

That didn’t seem to do the trick.

Seriously. I was still a little afraid to use it this morning. So, I made another one.

What better way to lower the perceived value of some precious, rarified (even if made out of stained, wadded up, torn, recycled, brown paper) object than to make it redundant?

I thought maybe you’d like to know how I made this precious thing in case you’re all about brown paper and little books and the like. So I took some pictures of my second go so that you could follow along from home.

First you’ll need some highly-technical tools and well-honed skills. You’re going to need to fold, staple, and fork deckel. You may not be familiar with the last skill because I just made it up. But, I promise, you’re great at it!

Collect your paper, your fork (yes!), and your stapler.

It’s best if the paper has been wadded up and shoved into a box and shipped across country, but sometimes you can’t be picky like that.

Paper, Stapler, Fork

Now, take a look at the paper and decide what size book you think you might want. Or just start folding it. You can fan-fold it. You can fold it long-wise and then into quarters. You can get all precise with it. You like folding thirds? Have at it. It really doesn’t matter. If you don’t like it, unfold it and try it again. The extra creases add value.

What mattered to me is that there was a fold that went all around the other folds to form a spine. So I made mine do that.

Like this:

Folded Paper

See those little uneven edges poking out the side there? Yep. They stick out the side there. And — shhhhh, don’t tell! — there’s a page inside that doesn’t even reach the edge! I know! It’s awesome!

Now, here’s where your technical stapling skills are challenged. Decide which edge you want to be your spine. Now eyeball where the folds end up and staple along one edge so that you catch them all. (If you miss, do something fancy like folding the front page back over the whole shebang and staple the edge again further in.)

If it’s kind of thick, you may have to use your fork to squish down the sharp ends on the back. You can put tape over them if you want. This tape thing is optional.

Stapling Paper

Now comes the fork deckeling. This is why it doesn’t matter how you fold the paper. You’re going to separate all of the layers using your fork. (If you want to use scissors or a screwdriver or a paper cutter or some other such tool, feel free, but you’re on your own.)

You may want to make sure all of your edges are extra creased. You can even use your fork edge to flatten them if you’d like.

Then find an opening at the edge of the paper that’s not the spine, insert a tine from your fork and use it to rip the edge letter-opener style.  There are YouTube videos demonstrating letter openers. I don’t think they show how to use a fork in this way, but they do show how to use a pen. So, you may have to use your imagination to transfer the letter-opening-with-a-pen skill to this tool and purpose.

Fork Deckeling

Depending on how you folded your paper and how thick your book is, this may take some time. It’s okay to get a snack or take a break if you need one.

You might be tempted to rip more than one  fold at a time if there are several sheets nested together. I didn’t risk attempting this advanced skill. Let me know how it goes if you get brave like that.

Don’t forget to fork deckel the top and bottom edges if you have folds there, too.

More Fork Deckeling

Eventually, you’ll rip apart all of the folds along the edges and all of your pages will be free!

Then you can go wild and decorate it with colored markers or pens or stickers or ribbons or macaroni or glitter or any or all of these items.


Or you can leave it blank and just add stuff as you’re inspired.

But be forewarned: if you wait too long, you might decide it’s too precious to use and then you’ll have to make another one.

It's for whatever it's for in two volumes

So, what’s been on your “nice to do” list for way too long? Is perfect the enemy of the good here? If so, maybe giving yourself permission to just do it in some form — not the Big Project form, but a good enough version — will get you past that precontemplation and on to having that self-satisfied feeling that we all enjoy.

Who says you need a reason to make a paper wad into a book? Who says you need a reason to try a new recipe or call up a friend or send that email?

Oh, and if that “nice to do” thing is something you’re never actually going to do, it’s really okay to stop pretending you will.

Who says you need a reason to skip it altogether?

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About Gina Lynette

I have been called a, "PollyAnna, sugar-coated idealist." I like to think of myself as more optimistic than that.


  1. Gold stars! Ten Gold stars!

    I remember when I commented on the fork thing.
    *Sigh* Good times.

    Does whatever a Spider can!

  2. That’s so cool!

    I love art books and notebooks but I have trouble getting started using them because what I write or draw might not be perfect! I need to think again. And I’ve some silk paintings I did on a course that need cutting and making into key fobs and coasters but they might not be perfect…

    By the way, I found your blog through Ravelry. I love your tagline about being a Pollyanna and I haven’t met another Gina online before.

    • I’m so very glad that you dropped by.

      Please use those notebooks and art books! You are worthy! It is a little intimidating to put that first mark into a fresh journal, but its whole purpose for being is to accept whatever you add to it.

      I’d love to see your silk-paintings-turned-useful projects! Please come by and point us to where we can see them.

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