FRAGILE, a DIY artist’s book

As promised, this week’s post features a DIY version of FRAGILE, my recent artist’s book created for the #areyoubookenough_break challenge on Instagram.

The first step is to print the two pages. Download the file Fragile DIY, and print on card or cover stock. You need something with a bit of stiffness. It is also preferable to use a material with a bit of ‘tooth’. A stock with a slick surface will make assembly more difficult.

Sign and date the colophon on the upper right corner of the second printed sheet.

To establish the horizontal cutting and folding lines, score between the seven pairs of horizontal guides on each sheet. If you don’t have a scoring tool, you can use a butter knife or a non-serrated table knife for the job.

It is important to score the folding lines since you will be folding across the grain. Folds across the grain crumple and look irregular if not pre-creased.

Cut between the three pairs of vertical guides on each sheet.


You will now have two long strips from each sheet.

Cut across each strip on the first, third, fifth and seventh score line.

This will produce six ‘pages’ for each printed sheet.

Mountain fold the two pages printed with the word FRAGILE. Valley fold all the others.

Take the FRAGILE page indicated by the pointy finger above, and flip it vertically so that it is face down. Add three more pages to it —not the other FRAGILE page— so that the assembled pages look like the image below. (The pink pointy finger shows where to add the second page, then work around clockwise.)

Fold the outer flaps into an upright position, then add the four corner pages. Don’t use the second FRAGILE page for a corner. Be sure to maintain the alternating over/under pattern that you established with the first four pages.

Add the last four pages, keeping the over/under alternation. The last one is the trickiest and you will wish you had a third hand. Keeping the parts very loosely in position with the heels of my hands freed my fingers to manipulate the last page into position. I chose to put the second FRAGILE page on the opposite side of the box from the first, but you may choose to do otherwise.

Push the parts firmly together and your box is complete.

The box will break apart if you try to open the flaps on any side.

In other book arts news:

If you have missed going to book arts exhibitions, there are a number  on line.

The Velocity of a Page has a broad range of work, and is worth a look.

In other news:

I finally got my mask made.

I started with the pattern from Craft Passion. To reduce bulk over the bridge of the nose, I trimmed the pattern pieces as shown below. I folded my pieces of fabric in half with the fold running parallel to the grain, then placed the pattern pieces with the straight cut section on the fold. This position for cutting also puts the fabric on the bias, giving the finished mask a bit of stretch.

I used quilter’s cotton for the lining, and a closely woven, printed broadcloth for the exterior layer. After sewing the central seam, I trimmed the point over the bridge of the nose into a smoother curve.  After sewing the top and bottom seams but before top stitching, I also inserted a wire stiffener. (The wire permits the mask to be shaped to conform to the wearer’s face. This is an absolute must if you wear glasses or you will be looking at the world through a fog created by your own breath.) The easiest way to keep the stiffener in position —I used a closure from a coffee bag— was to sew it in place by hand. Here’s a close-up of my less than beautiful but totally adequate stitching job.

The only narrow elastic I had available was lightweight shock cord. I threaded that through the openings at the sides. The portion below the mask sits at the base of my skull and the upper portion goes around the back of my head at about crown height.

After adjusting for tension I tied a knot, slid it into one of the side tubes, then stitched through it to secure it.

To put on the mask I slide the elastic so that the larger opening is at the bottom, then slip it over my head. I then slide the mask along the elastic so that it is positioned correctly on my face and slip the upper loop over my head. The mask is easy to put on and take off, and fits very snugly against my face.

About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than thirty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004. I also create prints and drawings that are frequently text-inspired or text-based.
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