The Language of Flowers

As promised a while ago, this week’s post includes the instructions for making a little book called The Language of Flowers. The text is based on a digitized copy of this book:

The book is made with a drumleaf binding, a variation of which was used in the last Byopia Press DIY book project.

To make your own copy of The Language of Flowers, download this file and print it on cover stock or card stock. You will need to use the “fit” setting.

Before doing anything else, you should sign and date the final spread.

Score a line between the two vertical guides on every sheet.

Cut out all the two page spreads along the thin black outline. The bottom spread on page two comprises the front and back covers. The covers need to be separated. Finish cutting them out by cutting along the inner vertical lines indicated by the pointy fingers.

Fold all the spreads, making sure to press the creases firmly. Ideally you should now leave the stack of folded spreads under weight for a few hours.

Setting the front and back covers aside, stack your spreads in the correct order making sure the spreads are all the right way up. Square the spine and clamp it for gluing. (Don’t worry if the head and foot aren’t completely even. You will trim the book later.) I used a couple of scraps of book board and two clothespins to make a press. The spine sits a little above the book board. Apply glue/paste to the spine, making sure to get it into the grooves between the folded spreads. Let dry.

Paste a strip of thin paper over the spine. Japanese papers are ideal, but for this model you can use thin copier paper if that’s what you have. My spine cover was a little stingy since it was cut from a scrap. Ideally the spine cover should extend about 1.5 cm(0.625 in) onto the book block. Cutting the cover longer than the spine will make it easier to handle for gluing. (I moved the book board further from the spine for this step.) Let dry.

The next step is drumming the spreads together by gluing the fore-edges together, blank side to blank side. You need to make sure that the glue extends far enough onto the pages so that it won’t all be cut off when you trim the book. The yellow area in the picture below indicates where the glue should go. The pink dotted line indicates the trimming line. (Note: the picture shows the printed side of the page. Remember to only glue blank side to blank side.)

Here’s an image of a flutter book from another project. It shows the glue just at the fore-edges of the pages.

The book needs an outer spine cover. This is the simplest form, made from thick paper or cover stock. You need a strip of paper slightly longer than the spine of the book. The wider outer sections should be about 1.5 cm(0.625 in) wide. The centre section should be the width of the spine, and the sections on either side of the spine should be 65 cm(0.25 in) wide. Score the strip and valley fold all the score lines. Reverse the two outer folds, then valley fold them again.

Glue the spine cover —glue goes only on the yellow sections in the image above— so that it sits snugly against the spine.

Now glue on the covers. Flush the fore-edge of each cover with the text block, but make sure the cut edge near the spine sits parallel to the fold line. Glue the spine edge first, then the fore-edge. (Again, make sure the covers are right way round in relation to the book pages!)

After the covers have dried, trim the book. I have the option of using either a plough or a guillotine, so I am in the habit of trimming the fore-edge first. I did this little book by hand. Trimming is simple. The important thing to remember is that you want to gently cut through a bit at a time, not attempt to cut through all the pages at once. Make sure your blade is really sharp.

Trim 32 cm(0.125 in) off fore-edge, head, and foot. (When trimming head and foot, always start your cut at the spine.) You can use the printed area as a guide for the fore-edge, but you will need to measure at the head and foot. Use the cover page as your reference and don’t worry if some of the spread edges don’t align perfectly.

Here are my trimmed bits.

Here’s a shot showing the spine in action.

This is my finished copy. The advantage of a drumleaf binding for a tiny book like this is that the finished book has a bit of heft to it.

If you are interested in learning more about drumleaf bindings and spine options, you can read this article by Melissa Jay Craig from The Guild of Book Workers Journal. You might also be interested in an online class offered by Karen Hanmer. (Image below is from Karen’s website.)

If you enjoyed today’s project, you can help support the blog here.   ; ]


I completed my contribution to this month’s Book Arts Community Challenge. If you click on the link you can see all the works made with the theme Margin.

As per the poetry prompt instructions, here are a few sentences.


Here are this week’s ‘dreams’. You can see all of the images so far if you go here.

In other book arts news:

It’s the end of the month, and time to check out the all the new listings for online calligraphy instruction.


I collect instruction books. I focus mainly on the book arts, but I also collect cookbooks and books about culinary history. If you too are interested in books about cooking, you might want to read this piece.

In other news:

Sunflower season is now in full bloom in the garden.


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.
This entry was posted in art, artist's books, book arts, bookbinding, DIY, free book, free printable, instructions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Language of Flowers

  1. Pingback: Seasonal Activities and Some Recipes | Byopia Press

  2. Pingback: A Slide-together Rose Kusudama | Byopia Press

  3. Pingback: Make Your Own Copy of Saki’s “The Open Window” | Byopia Press

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