Posts Tagged ‘How-To’

Accordion Bookbinding Workshop!

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Don’t miss out, there are still a few spots left for this fantastic Accordion Bookbinding Workshop! It takes place Wednesday, March 27, 2013, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm for $50.

Accordion books make beautiful sketchbooks, storybooks or photo albums.  The continuous folded interior can be spread out long to be viewed all at once or flipped through like an ordinary book making the possibilities for it’s uses endless!  In this workshop you will learn the techniques to complete a 4 x 6 inch hardcover accordion book using hand stenciled Japanese Katazome-shi for the cover and pages.

accordion book - flat low res

accordion book - 02 spread low res

accordion book - spread low res

accordion book - front and back low res

Payment is required upon registration for all workshops to guarantee a space. You may register in person at the store or by phone with a credit card. Withdrawal allowed up to three days before the workshop. There are no refunds after that time. Unfortunately we do not have access to washroom facilities at the store. Adult participants only please (unless specifically stated).

Call us at: (416) 703-0089 – 887 Queen St. West, Toronto, On. M6J 1G5





The Invitation Guide: Part I

Friday, March 8th, 2013

So, you’re getting married, congratulations! I’m so excited for you! But I think this means it’s time to have the talk… no, not The Talk, we’re a paper store, not your parents circa your early teens. It’s time to have the talk about…invitationsbYou just got engaged! Over brunch! You know what you should do? Start making wedding invitations! Look, there’s the paper store! NOPE. Back it up, you crazy kids. We know you’re excited; you should be! But go home and bask in it a little bit– indulge in some fantasies about the perfect wedding. Then remember your actual friends and family. Indulge in some fantasies of eloping! Breathe.

Now it’s time to think about invitations.

In this series of blog entries, I will be going over different steps and techniques for creating wedding invitations.*




-What is our style? Look around you, at your homes, your clothes, the films you enjoy. You will find aesthetic choices everywhere. Vintage, antique, deco, whimsical, rustic, minimalist, maximalist, modern, contemporary. Etc. Use this as a reference point. It defeats the purpose of making your own wedding invitations if you make them look like someone else’s. It’s for you. Put yourselves in it!

-What colours reflect our style, choice of venue, the season of the wedding, our personalities? Put together a palette, use paint swatches (convenient and free) this is a great way to build a base for your invites. That said, do not get completely set on these exact shades for envelopes and cardstocks, instead keep it as a reference, a way to layer and arrange colour that can come from other elements—like decorative paper, ribbon or washi tape accents.

-How many invitations are we actually making? This is not how many people you expect at your wedding, take into consideration couples and families, this will cut your number considerably.

-Are we printing at home or with a print shop? There are pros and cons to doing either. I will go into this a little further down.

You should also prepare a list of questions you would like to ask our staff, we would be more than happy to calculate yield for you, make notes, and help you with your estimates.


-Look at style blogs, I would suggest avoiding wedding blogs at first—don’t be influenced from the get-go by someone else’s personal design, get an idea in mind of what you want to say about yourselves first, then look at wedding blogs for suggestions on how to translate your ideas into something concrete.

-In terms of constructing your invitations, work backwards when it comes to size. Be clear on the sizes of envelopes we carry, and make your cards to fit them (in the case of our A7 and #10 envelopes, we have cardstock cut to those specific sizes 5×7 and 3.875×9.25 respectively.

-If you are designing your own print file, and are stuck on the basics, first things first: Pick a program. I use Photoshop because it’s part of my trade, but you can use Adobe InDesign which is a little more friendly to first-time users in terms of setting up a file and placing text and images.

- Look at fonts, websites with a thousand fonts can be overwhelming, first do a search of designers top lists. You’ll find fantastic typefaces tried and tested by design professionals.

-Know your skill level, if you can’t get graphically creative in a digital way, look at decorative papers as an alternative. This way you just do the text work, and leave space to accomodate your layered paper.

-Consider incorporating patterned paper to pick up your palette, we have hundreds of prints that may reflect you and your aesthetic; they can be used as band accents on your invite, envelope liners, and as elements in your place cards, menus and favours.

-If you are doing a pocket fold, know that you will need an envelope. They would seem to perfectly encapsulate all your elements, like an envelope, ready to mail. But I’m afraid not. They’re not sealed on all sides, and so cannot be mailed. Knowing this, if you still would like a pocket fold invitation because they are pretty and nicely cohesive, of course we would be more than happy to help you make one (if you have the time) or order pocket folds and corresponding envelopes from a line we frequently work with: Envelopments.

-If you are printing at home, or with a print shop, find out whether your printers can print borderless, meaning right to the edge. If you/they can, it will make the most of your paper/cardstock, if not, it will change your yield and how you will lay out your print file (borderless: move your images right to the edge, less cutting. Bleed edge: move images to the center)




width of paper/cardstock = W
length of paper/cardstock=X
width of invitation=Y
length of invitation=Z

W ÷ Y = V
X ÷ Z = U

Algebra, you guys, I just did ALGEBRA for you, that is how much I care! That said, if you didn’t follow… because it’s been a long time since senior advanced math, which I barely passed (I’m more of a biology/art kind of person) you can always ask one of our associates to work this out for you. In the meantime, here are some visual representations of the most common invitation and reply sizes when working with the most common cardstock sizes:

example 5x7




reply example


square exampleb

example square 2




WE DO NOT PRINT! AT ALL! Sorry, it’s just not what we do, that said, here are tips for choosing your print shop/or home printer:


-Research different local print shops: they must be able to take outside stock. Look around for any special services you may want, not all print shops can do work with metallic or white inks.

-Ask them if they will print on large sheets of paper or cardstock and cut it down for you.

Reasons to go with a print shop: They will do most of the work for you. This alone might be the best reason to do anything.


What to look for in a home printer–whether it’s things you need to know about the one you have, the one your friend has, or the one you are going to buy so you can print your invitations in the comfort of your living room while sitting in your underpants and watching Law & Order reruns.

-Can it print borderless? This will potentially save you time and effort, or, if it can’t print borderless, effect your yield and how much time you need to set aside for cutting.

-Can it print on custom sizes? 5×7? Smaller? On envelopes? If yours can take a 5×7” card, you are SET. And likely if it does, it will allow you to print on envelopes. Life. Saver. Especially true if your penmanship is atrocious.

-Can it print on a shimmer or textured surface? Shimmer papers are not porous, so they don’t dry very fast, it’s important to do a couple of tests or ask a salesperson (not us, a printer sales person, there are hundreds of printers, we… don’t know. Sorry!)

Printers these days are ridiculously cheap. They are also annoying and ink is expensive and blah, blah. I know, I hate obsolescence as much as the next person who has gone through four iPods, but here are the reasons I would suggest working on a home printer:

-You are the type of person who measures twice and cuts once. Or designs twice and prints once. And then figures out you measured/designed wrong both times and just wrecked a dozen invites. Home printers mean you can fix that and no one has to know.

-You’ve come to understand that invites are not all you need– there will be place cards, menus, thank yous and possibly baby shower things in future. It… might be best to invest in a home printer. I swear I am not sponsored by Best Buy. But I would not turn down a free printer if they were maybe reading this. (Canon, plz!)


    1. Lighten your image! Your display is bright, and glowy. Paper can be bright, glowy? Not so much. So lighten your image, including your text. Want a nice bright blue? Go brighter than you think and do test prints. Your paper choice will likewise change the look of your design and colours a fair bit– a vibrant orange will hold on a bright white card, but on ivory will go a little more harvest-rust.
    2. TEST. TEST. Oh, also, TEST. Look, I know it’s a pain coming and going from home to the shop, and adjusting your file, again I am in favour of staying home, but test prints tell you so much about the materials you’re working with. You will not regret it. Or, if you have a home printer… no excuse, test-law-and-order-test-test.
    3. If you’re printing at home, make sure to adjust all your media settings for optimal printing. Check your instructions! (I can’t believe I just wrote that, I have never made it past “Congratulations on your purchase…” of anything, ever. But then I just play with things until I make them go… or break them. Normal people, sane people, read instructions.)


The Screen Alternative. You guys, you can have custom stamps made, not with us, but check Google! But before you commit, you better make sure ALL of your information is correct. Essentially the basics are the same—scale your stamp to fit your invite size—which should already be scaled for your envelope.


How to make invitations with our decorative papers!


*All of these designs were created by me. In my spare time. Probably while watching television. I tried to make them examples of attainable results. Full Disclosure: I have over ten years experience with Photoshop and a visual arts degree. Also: I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.



Indie Publishing, by Ellen Lupton

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Bookbinding is a beautiful craft enjoyed by many. However, what if you not only want to make a book, but also to fill it with stuff? And then make a bunch of copies of that book?  And then get all of those copies into the hands of people who will read them?

indie publishing coverThat’s a whole other ball game, but today it’s no longer just the business of big publishing houses, anyone can do it themselves. If it seems like a daunting task, and you don’t even know where to begin, check out Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce your Own Book.
Ellen Lupton, Graphic Designer, Curator, and Educator, has mastered the art of teaching the essentials of design and production. Indie Publishing is a simple and accessible book, with sections like “Publishing Basics,” “Design Basics,” and “Production Basics.” It doesn’t dazzle you with the intricacies of of fine bookbinding techniques, or the complexity of the book market. Rather, it gives you just enough of just the right information to make a book, to design it well, and to distribute it to your audience.
While there are some folks who have an unpublished novel or a poetry manuscript on their hard drives, this book is not just for them. It’s also for someone who may want to make some photo albums for family gifts, or to commemorate an event, to record their thoughts in a more hand on format than a blog, or even to make a business presentation more attractive. Graphic Design has a thoroughly zeitgeisty status these days, Ellen Lupton demystifies it and make it accessible to anyone.

Paper Potential – Customized Serving Tray

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Decorative paper is a great way to convert something boring and bland into something unique and customized.  I found this inexpensive but uninspired serving tray at IKEA.  It functioned just fine but it wasn’t much to look at, so I decided to give it a make-over.  I choose my favourite Katazome-shi and got to work!

For this project I used Katazome-shi 63W, ModPodge, a paint brush, a ruler, an X-Acto knife, a cutting mat and small Phillips-head screwdriver.

Begin by disassembling your tray.  Choose an end and remove all four screws.  You only need to take off one side to slide out the masonite bottom of the tray.  With the bottom board separate, it will be much easier to measure and apply the paper without getting ModPodge all over the sides of the tray.

Once your tray is apart, measure the size of the bottom board.  I measured mine to be 13×20.5 inches.  Use your ruler and X-Acto knife to cut your decorative paper to size.  Always cut on a cutting mat and don’t forget to use the guide lines on your mat to get an accurate 90 degree angle cut.

With your paper ready, it is time to start gluing.  The great thing about ModPodge is that it is an adhesive as well as a top coat.  It may appear opaque to begin with but when applied correctly it will dry completely clear.

Protect your work surface with some scrap paper or newsprint.  ModPodge can get a bit messy!  Start applying the ModPodge in the centre of the backside of your paper.  Brush the podge outward from the middle towards the edges. The best way to be sure it is fully covered without any missed spots is to go right off the edge with your brush.  Don’t worry about making a mess as the scrap paper you laid down first will protect your work surface!  Once the whole area is covered, apply the sticky side of the paper to the tray board.  Smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles gently with your fingers.  The paper should be completley flat against the board and glued down in every area.

Wait for 5-10 minutes for the glue to dry a bit. Only then will it be safe to begin laying on a top coat.  Apply the ModPodge over the top of the decorative paper in the same fashion as before; start in the middle and brush outwards towards the edge.  Apply the podge thinly and quickly–it is best not to labour over the strokes.  ModPodge drys quite fast and interference with partially dry podge can effect the clarity of the finish.  This is the same reason it is best to do several thin coats instead of one thick one.  Thick podge has a hard time drying and sometimes the lower layer of the opaque wet podge can get entombed and refuse to dry clear.

You must wait for the first coat to completely dry before adding a second.  This will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the conditions of your workspace.  Once you can no longer see any milky strokes, it is time for the next coat.  Repeat the process for at least 4-5 coats.  The more coats you apply, the more durable and glossy your tray will become.  After your final coat has dried fully, reassemble your tray.  It is wise to let your tray cure for 48 hours before use in order to ensure that any moisture will not reactivate the ModPodge.  After that, put your lovely decorative tray to use!

Take something average and make it make it your own.  Instead of using just one paper, you could even create a collage of all your complimentary favourites.  There is so much potential in any artistic situation when you just add paper!

…and now, it’s tea-time!



January Origami Anyone?

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Well hello January! Aren’t you cold and dreary.

I’m sure I’m not the only one dreaming of a beach right now. My plan to battle this grey January is a big cup of tea and a little taste of the beach in the shape of this origami mobile. You could make a mobile using a variety of origami patterns but my thoughts are sea side and these sailboats were just too cute.

I really didn’t need much to get started on this project.


I chose to work with Chiyogami paper because it folds so nicely and there are so many patterns to choose from.

After finding a basic pattern I used a glue stick to adhere two boats together. This created a three dimensional boat to hang down from my frame.

I used a needle to thread some waxed linen through the centre of the boats and hung them from bamboo sticks. That was it!

 With a little persistence it all balanced to create my mobile!