Sunday, 18 October 2015

I made a thing! Part One

It's been so long, I really don't have the habit of updating regularly it seems. In my defence I have now entered the final year of my PhD and the resultant panic that comes with that realization... I mean oh my... in about a year i'm going to have a doctorate and be out in the big wide world. Now is also the time I've had to start looking into what I'll do after, I think a Post-Doctoral position would be an excellent choice, but also slightly terrifying!

Anyway, I know this blog is called The Graduate Eats but this post is not about food... well not entirely. You see, I also really like working with my hands to make things. Infact before I set on my path to become an academic I actually wanted to train to be a set designer or prop maker, event's conspired against me however and  I ended up not being able to do that, but I still love it as a hobby. As it coming upto Halloween I set about my tradition of making a gift for my nieces and nephews. Every year I make them something for halloween, filled with sweets and treats. Everything is hand-made and personal to them and they love it. It helps me feel closer to them too since I don't get to see them as often as I'd like. This will be the fourth year since I moved away and started this tradition. The first year I made them little coffins filled with sweets, the second year I made them potions kits filled with all kinds of 'ingredients', last year I made them a potions shop filled with all their potioneering needs.

This year however, I learned that my 10 year old niece loves Harry Potter, which is totally awesome because I'm a huge Harry Potter geek, so my joy at sharing this with her is immense. So, with that in mind I decided to make them spell books from the series and fill them with the traditional sweets from Harry Potter, chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, fizzing whizbees, sherbert lemons and so on. Now I know you can buy papier mache book boxes from most craft stores but boy are they expensive, like seriously expensive. Instead I decided to make my own, since I'm pretty good with my hands and all that I figured it shouldn't be too hard and it's really not. I also noticed that finding detailed tutorials on how to do it is very hard so I though I'd share with you how to make them so you can do them in future. This is the first time that I've ever done a photo tutorial so I hope you'll forgive me any mistakes I make but do ask questions if you want!

How to make a book box:

You will need:
Greyboard, 2.5mm thick
Craft Knife
Metal Ruler
Cutting Board
240gsm Card
White Acrylic Paint
A heavy book

So, to start you need to mark and cut out your pieces from the greyboard  I bought mine from CassArt as it was pretty cheap, £2.95 for an A1 sheet out of which I made 3 of these books. Not bad when you consider one of the papier mache ones this size cost about £6!
So you need to cut out 2 back boards and and 4 side pieces like so:

On the two shorter sides to make the curve, measure 3/4" in on one end and use that as a guide for the curve. This will ensure it fits perfectly on the backboard. 
One one of the longer sides, make sure you trim off 5mm, this is so that it'll fit between the two end pieces since the board is quite thick.

Then on one of the large 6 3/4 by 9 3/4" boards mark a 1/4" border around 3 edges:
Now, glue the edges together like so!
*notice how the curved edge overhangs the back plate and the long edge fits snugly between them. That's why you need to trim the 5mm. 

Ok now dump a book on top to keep it all steady until dry... Voila!
 *yup I love Salvador Dali, his paintings are breathtakingly complex and intense.

While that's drying, get one of your pieces of card and cut like this:

The long thin strips need to be folded in half, these will be your hinges. Then glue the 3 shorter pieces onto you book base like this:

Now it's time to attach the lid. This can be quite tricky, it took me a couple of tries to make sure it worked properly. 
I found it best to line up the lid with the edge of the side board and then fold and glue the hinge onto it like you can see. Make sure you let it dry completely before you try to move it. It may pull away slightly when you close but thats ok, just tidy it up with a little more glue where needed.

Now onto creating that nice curved spine: using the large piece of white card attach it to the hinge at the top on the outside:
Let it dry completely before you try to do this next part.brush some glue over the edges of  the curved board and then along the outside of the bottom hinge. Gently fold over the card so it fits snugly against the bottom:
You may neeed to trim it slightly, just use sharp craft knife for that.

Ok Now using the longer strips of card that you cut early, tidy up the edges like so:
Again, when you do the lid side let it dry completely at an open angle before attempting to move it.

Finally, paint the whole thing with a white base coat! This will just help cover any scuff marks and mess and provide a nice base to paint on top off. And voila, one perfect book box for you to use!

After I reached this stage I then added over a layer of tissue paper and glue to make a beautiful old book texture, it also helped reinforce the hinges so it's a good idea if you want to do it. I finished it off by painting it with acrylics in the design of my nieces favourite books, which will be another post! 

I hope you enjoy this little tutorial and please leave questions in the comments!

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