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Hobby vs. Art & Accordion Book Tutorial

Busy Mind Bindery is a blog dedicated to providing instructional tutorials on book-binding while inviting readers to think about themselves and the world around them.

A question that has been in the back of my mind as I make books to share with you every other week is one that I’ve thought about a lot as a person who has always loved crafts, and as someone who counts themself as an artist. And that question is: What distinguishes hobby from art? When does something you do for fun become something with an artistic value, a weight in the world?

The biggest upset I’ve encountered when thinking about hobby vs. art is the fact that it is mostly “women’s work”(sewing, embroidery, scrap-booking, and decorating) that is considered as a hobby. Sculpting, drawing, and painting (things that men have traditionally done) are what “real” art is.

Who said?

Why can’t sewing and quilting and embroidery and cooking and DIY decorations and scrap-booking and book-binding and comics and painting and drawing and sculpture and ceramics all be art?

I think this misogynist determination between what is hobby and what is art is in the process of being blurred- many female artists are taking “women’s work” and combining it with more traditionally accepted methods of art. The only example I can conjure currently is the work of recent UMF graduate, Olivia Vanner, whom I’ve never met, but whose work I saw last Spring in Feint, the senior art exhibition. Her work combined sculpture and sewing, most of her works depicting gruesome scenes of realistic and skinless plush deer. I was drawn to her work because of the medium, something I thought so unique.

Even as I was making the book for this week’s tutorial, I thought “I feel like I’m making children’s arts and crafts. Who will value this?” Why wouldn’t you value arts and crafts?

So, tonight I’ll show you how to make an accordion book. I realized after the Japanese stab-bound tutorial I skipped a difficulty level- if I were to rank the past tutorials as to their difficulty, one being the easiest and five being the hardest, the pamphlet stitch would be a two, the stab-bound is a three, and today’s accordion book is a one. Accordion books are fundamental to book-binding, as there are many more complicated variations on them that can be learned!

Let’s jump right in!



What you’ll need:

  • One piece of paper of the inside of the book (I used scrap sketchbook paper)
  • Pretty paper for the cover (thicker than the inner paper)
  • A ruler
  • An Exacto knife (or other cutting tool)
  • Glue (plain school glue is fine, but as a book-maker I always use archival PVA neutral ph adhesive)
  • Brush for the glue
  • Bone folder
  • Pencil
  1. Cut your paper in half horizontally. Shown below is one half of my paper after it had been cut.

    Fig. 1 One half of the paper

2. Fold this piece of paper in half horizontally.

Fig. 2 The first fold

3. Next, fold each side in half again. This should leave you with an accordion folded piece of paper with about 4 panels.

Fig. 3.1 Folding again; first the top side
Fig. 3.2 Both sides folded back
Fig. 3.3 The end result

4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 with the other half of your paper. Now you should have two accordion folded pieces of paper with 4 panels each. (Please ignore my finger in the shot)

Fig. 4 The two pieces

5. Next, we will be attaching the two pieces together with a hinge. To do this, first cut a small strip of paper the same height as your book.

6. Fold this strip in half vertically.

Fig. 6 The strip folded in half

7. With the glue and a brush, spread glue on one side of the fold.

Fig. 7 The strip all glued up

8. Glue this strip to the edge of one of your accordion folded papers.

Fig. 8 The paper glued to the hinge

9. Spread glue on the other side of the hinge, then attach the other piece of paper.

Fig. 9.1 The other side of the hinge covered with glue
Fig. 9.1 The other paper attached to the hinge, forming a long 8 panel strip

10. Now it’s time to add the cover! Start by cutting two pieces, each the same width and height of your book when it’s all folded up. Mine ended up 2.75″ wide by 4″ tall.

Fig. 10 The folded book block and the two cover pieces

11. Glue the each of cover pieces to the outside of the far panels of the book.

Fig. 11.1 The cover ready to be glued
Fig. 11.2 The cover, now glued to the book

12. Once both covers are on, you’re done! Voila!

Fig. 12 Finished!



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