Make Your Own Copy of Saki’s “The Open Window”

This week I have a seasonally appropriate little drumleaf binding for you to make. (It’s a sort of ghost story.)

Download and print the pdf of The Open Window on lightweight card stock. Please note: the file is designed for 8.5 x 11 inch card stock. If you are printing on A4 card stock you will need to use the “Print to Fit” setting. (You will also need to make adjustments later on.)

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

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

Cut the two page spreads apart along the thin black centre line. (If you are working with A4, the pages will also have a thin black outline. Don’t cut that yet.) The bottom spread on page three 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 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. (Try to match the bottom edges but 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 projects a little beyond 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. Ideally the spine cover should extend 6.4 mm(0.25 in) onto the book block. Cutting the cover strip a bit longer than the spine will make it easier to handle for gluing. (I moved the book board clamp further from the spine for this step.) Let dry. The picture below shows the book with the spine projecting from the edge of the bench for drying.

The next step is drumming the spreads together by gluing the fore-edges 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 black line indicated by the pointy finger is the approximate trimming line. (Note: the picture shows the printed side of the page. Remember to only glue blank side to blank side.)

The book needs an outer spine cover. This is 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 at least 6.4 mm(0.25 in) wide. The centre section should be the width of the spine, and the sections on either side of the spine should be 6.4 mm(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 foot of each cover with the foot of the text block, but make sure the cut edge near the spine is parallel and close 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. It is  important to cut gently through a bit at a time. Don’t try to cut through all the pages at once. Make sure your blade is really sharp.

Trim 3 mm(0.125 in) off the foot. (If you are working with A4, cut just inside the thin black lines. Check the pages to see which page has the line farthest in from the edge and use that to establish your cutting line.) I used the bed of my Kutrimmer to assist in making everything square.

When trimming head and foot, always start your cut at the spine. Cut the head 5.3125 (5 5/16) inches from the foot. (For A4 use the printed lines as you did for the foot. Cut the fore-edge 4.325 (4 1/8) inches from the back edge of the spine. (Again, the A4 is cut just inside the line closest to the spine.)

Note: The cover image was adjusted after the test so your margins will look more symmetrical.

Here’s a shot of a The Language of Flowers from July showing how the spine works.

This is my finished copy. The advantage of a drumleaf binding for a tiny book like this is that the finished book has a nice solid feel despite the small number of pages.

While I was at it, I designed two more Hallowe’en-appropriate books in the same format. I will be making them available shortly.

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

In other book arts news:

You might want to check out one of the current exhibitions at the Getty. Learn more here. Here is an accompanying video about making traditional amate paper.




If you are interested in type design, you might enjoy Steven Heller’s piece VanderLans & Licko Return to Their Bitmap Roots.


I am sorry I can’t attend this event in person. (I am a contributor to the book.) As part of Vancouver Art Book Fair’s Art Book Month, Partial Press will be hosting a virtual reading. If you are interested in joining the Zoom presentation, you can sign up here.


Just a reminder that this presentation is tomorrow!

As part of The Windle-Loker Lecture Series on the History of the Illustrated Book, The Book Club of California is offering an in-person presentation by Tony White.

After Artists’ Books will explore the impact and significance of Diane Vanderlip’s 1973 exhibition artists books, the exhibition catalogue, and how it influenced creative publications that followed, through to the present day.

You can read a bit more and register here if there are spaces left.

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, DIY, free book, free printable, instructions, publishing, typography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Make Your Own Copy of Saki’s “The Open Window”

  1. lcmt says:

    Wonderful! The Open Window was my first Saki story and is still my favorite. Sredni Vashtar and Esme are also dear to my heart.


    • Byopia Press says:

      I don’t remember which Saki anthology I started with —my parents had one— but Sredni Vashtar is still my favourite. It hits all the same buttons as Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child but with a less pat ending.
      ; ]


  2. dinahmow says:

    Saki! It may have been an astute teacher, or a bookish uncle, but someone,many,many years ago introduced me to Saki. (I was much older when I met the “other” saki!)
    Thankyou for this.


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