Making Accordion Sketchbooks

Accordion-folds are one of my favourite kind of sketchbooks – especially when handmade. They’re perfect for filling up with a themed project with sketches, notes and collage. You can make them any size you like and customise them along the way. I have an old accordion book made from one small sheet of watercolour paper which I took to Zaga beach one day. One side is filled with drawings of stuff which had washed up on the beach. The other side with paintings of wild flowers growing at the back of the beach. If you’re not a drawer, you can use an accordion book for notes, recipes or as a holiday journal.

The accordions I made here contain blank watercolour paper, so are quite suitable for pen, ink and watercolour paint, as well as a bit of collage. Its best to use a decent quality paper so it stands up to water-based media and a bit of glue.

These book covers were made using old calendar pages, wrapped around cardboard. A few years ago we rather over-estimated our calendar print run, and I’m still finding creative ways of using up the surplus. You can of course use your old, used calendar pages or even thick, good quality magazine pages. You can stick the calendar paper to the cardboard using either double sided tape, pva glue or matte medium. Just make sure you have no air bubbles if using glue/pva/medium.

I wanted the paper accordion to be fairly long, so two sections of watercolour paper were joined together to double the length of these books. They were joined using masking tape, which I then covered with strips of hand-decorated paper using matte medium. For your first accordions, you can start off with a shorter section of paper to get the hang of the process.

Attaching the paper accordions to the covers is the trickiest part. You need to be sure to line them up well. Also, at this stage you can optionally add in a ribbon closure if you like, or just leave them open. The ribbon can be sandwiched in between the paper and the cardboard cover when you stick the cover on. I used a shortish piece of ribbon in the back cover and a much longer one in the front cover. The ribbon from the front cover wraps right around the book and then ties with the piece of ribbon on the back, completely closing the book.

It’s tricky to describe this without illustrations and loads of written detail, so I’m thinking of making a video tutorial on ‘How to make an accordion Sketchbook’ .

If you’d be interested in a tutorial in making accordion books, just let me know in the comments below… or email me.

I made these books as I like to have a selection of one-off, handmade items to sell in the studio-shop. I also had a nice little stack of cardboard pieces which came as padding with a recent order. Plus I love finding ways to improve my accordion-making skills and re-cycle calendar pages and cardboard! These one-off handmade items generally don’t get listed on the website as each one is unique so they’re easier to sell in the shop, but if you’re interested in purchasing one, just email me and I can send you photos of what I have in stock.

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