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February 16, 2012

I explored a few ideas today in regards to making fake mini books.  Well, faker than the mini books I've been making.  I guess I'm making mini spines?

I have a big box of wooden coffee stirrers that I bought some time back to use as flooring.  The width is about right for books, at least bigger books, and easy to cut with my hand-held strip wood chopper.  Then I conducted a few experiments.  Above are pictures of the mini books I've been making.  Below that, I have the mini spines, covered in paper, paper leather, painted, or shaped.

The shaping appears to be a must, which is easy enough to do with a nail file.  Painting them looks ok, although I need to look up how make a fake leather look.  They definitely need a coat of gesso or something else to make them shiny.  It turned out to be very frustrating to attempt to glue the paper to the rounded strip, but it IS possible.

I can get 8 book spines from a single coffee stirrer.  This saves me a ton of money because I think I paid maybe $10 for that box of stirrers ages ago, and it seems to be neverending.  It would certainly save space.  However, I'm not so sure it would save me any time, especially if I have to fuss over getting paper around the curves.  I can't seem to find any half rounds narrow enough for the project, so I'll have to round off each stirrer.  I may also try gluing a narrower strip of cardstock or some other thick substance - string, maybe? - to the center of the stirrer to force the paper to curve without having to sand.  I suppose if I do the painting and shellacking before cutting it would be, if not quicker, at least less messy.

I'm not actually sure if I've accomplished anything yet.  I haven't figured out if I want to glue the spines to a block to make them booklike, or just glue them to a flat panel made to look like a bookcase.  I suppose it depends on how consistently I can cut them to size.
February 13, 2012

After a long break, my interest cycle has revolved back to miniatures.  I'm STILL pondering the making of mini books and the steampunk library.  It dawned on me that I had a perfect vessel already - a jewelry box I got at Bombay Company that I no longer use.  I'm not sure that it would be big enough for what I'm envisioning, and it's still at my parent's house, so I need to go get it and measure. 

I'm also feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of books I need to make.  Today I cut up two strips of balsa wood, and estimated that from each 1/8" thickness strip, 24" long, I can get about 3" worth of bookshelf space filled, roughly 38 books.  If shelves are 1" tall, and maybe 6" wide, that's 56 books per shelf.  If the bookshelf is about 10" tall, that's 560 books.  and there's two bookshelves on each end, and a much wider one on the back wall.  Maybe 2,000 books total.  And that's just for one project!

There are kits I can buy that usually have about 50 or 60 books in them, about $13 apiece.  The Kendall leather book kit is around $19, but only has 20 books in that kit, but the leather paper is so awesome it's almost worth it.  And then there's the plain pre-made books that are 12 books for around $2.50.  Wanna in El Paso is also planning a new printable book kit soon, by the page rather than by the title. 

I suppose my best bet is to just do spine blocks, but that sounds just as complex as making each book individually.  I know nothing about wood carving, and yet in order to obtain the right amount of realism I think I'd have to learn.  I can always tell the fake books, and I'd be easily disappointed.

I'm sure I could cut it down to 1000 books by just doing a corner of shelves rather than the entire roombox.  Maybe less if I incorporate architectural details.  I need to start thinking about the rest of the room and how to make it Victorian steampunk without going overboard.  I'm the snooty type who thinks if there's going to be gears in it, it had better be functional.