Tutorial: Miniature Book Making (Crabby Granny's Book of Herbs)

Posted on September 6, 2016
When I started making Crabby Granny, there was only two things I knew for sure: I wanted to make an old woman and she will have a cane.
At first, she was going to be either an old witch or an old female elf. With my family's vote, she became a witch. As I browsed through pictures of old women, I gradually leaned towards one with beautiful age lines but one, who did not seem too happy with the world.
And from there, her full character started taking forming. Crabby Granny lives in a remote but very cold village. She's a traditional witch in a semi-modern era; she discovers natural cures around her and even though she's generally crabby to everybody around her, she wants to pass her knowledge on. So one thing that's very important to her is her big book of herbs.
This is big leather book – well, big for her size – is where she records the different kinds of plants, their properties, when to harvest them, where to find them, how to prepare the potions and what ailments they cure. It's a work in progress. She studies new ways of preserving the roots and herbs and every time she makes a discovery, she records it in her notebook.
Making the Cover

I took a piece of leather and cut it to the size I determined the book should be. The leather already looked old but I decided to make it even older by giving it a very good beating: scratched, pulled and poured different liquids on it.

Making Inside Pages

I used handmade paper and cut them to the size of a full spread page. I cut them to size by first folding them to the sizes I need then tearing it apart. Tearing gives me those nice, uneven and more organic look to the edges. Each page was the size of a double spread. After I had about 10 pieces (makes 40 pages, front and back) I folded each in the middle. To make sure they fold well, I scored the middle part where the fold goes. Then, using a needle and thread I stitched two double spreads together on the fold. You can stitch more together, my paper was thick so it was easier to do only two at a time.

The folds make the spine of the book. After they were stitched, I piled one on top of the other and applied glue to the spine which I covered with brown paper.
Check out my uneven stitches!
The spine covered with brown paper.
After the glue dried, I took the end pages (front page and very last page) and glued those to the leather cover. I wanted it to look simple and home made, so no fancy folding or decorative scoring on the leather. I only scored lines across the spine of the leather to keep it in shape.

After everything was bound together, I started to age the paper with coffee You can also use watercolors or acrylics. Coffee is just a quick, simple and very accessible material to me since I am always drinking coffee.

It was a simple matter of randomly applying drips or splashes of coffee to the pages, some spots thicker than others. Next time though, I would age the paper before stitching them together.  After the coffee dried, I started painting on the pages and scribbling some notes on it.

Finishing Touches

All bound, it's already a book of herbs but I felt that something was still missing. The book wanted something more from me. So I got my thingamajig out and scorched the image of a small plant on the cover. I think that made Crabby Granny happy. It captured her book of herbs perfectly!

The last detail I added was given by Mother Nature. While out on a walk, catching Pokemons, I found a tiny feather on the pavement. It was the perfect size for Granny's hand. So as soon as I got back home, I made a small pocket for it at the back. Granny wants her tools in convenient places, this helps her find her quill easily if she needs to jot something down.

Up next, more on Crabby Granny's details. This is just the first installment. To check out details of this art doll and her WA State Fair ribbons, please click here.

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