Making a Concertina Photo Book

A concertina or accordion book is a really flexible format for creating a photo book because you can turn the pages in the traditional way but it can also be extended so that all the photographs can be seen at once.  As part of a charity auction I recently offered to make a concertina photo book of the winning bidder’s photographs. This post shows the various stages and techniques of making the book after the landscape photographer, Steve Forden sent me his digital files of his recent trip to Skye.  I resized them in Photoshop ready for printing on my Canon Pro 100S printer.

The first step is to print all the photographs on small cheap photo paper.P1000174 It’s a good idea to have more photographs available than you need so that you have flexibility when sequencing. I find it much easier to sequence  photographs by physically moving their order rather than doing the same on a computer. The sequence is guided by shapes, colour and textures as well as subject matter and in this book it worked to mix the seascape and landscape images.

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When the sequence seems to work,  I then print the photographs onto fine art inkjet paper.P1000181

I tend to use Fotospeed Natural Soft Textured Bright White 315 or Matt Ultra 240 for this form of book as the paper is sturdy enough not to buckle when the concertina is extended. I also printed a sheet of text, and the paper I used for that is Bockingford Double Sided Watercolour Paper as it’s a good general inkjet paper and is inexpensive compared to fine art photo paper. I’ve used it for an entire photobook with good results.

Now that the interior of the book is printed I assemble the concertina. The book needs to have an even number of pages for it to work as a concertina when attached to the book covers. I’ve found that you can’t fold the thicker fine art inkjet paper because the surface cracks so I make individual hinges from a lighter weighted paper – usually measuring 40mm wide and exactly the same height as the photograph. The hinges are then folded in half. P1000187

By using hinges, you can use a heavier weight of paper and also use a mix of papers to suit the image.  I use a thin strip of Uhu glue for attaching the prints to the hinges and alternate the hinge fold pointy bit facing you and pointy bit away from you to make the zigzag accordion book shape that you can see in the pic below.

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Once the concertina is assembled I make the book covers which were hard backed for this book. Cut the hard book boards (I use a scalpel and metal ruler) to roughly 10mm larger on all sides to the closed concertina, then lay the cover photograph face down with the book board centrally laid on top. Using a small strip of the same book board lay it at an angle to the corner of the book board cover, mark it and do the same with all the other corners. Importantly, draw round the book board too so you precisely where to lay the book board onto the cover. Cut off the marked cornersP1000193P1000195The reason for using the small strip of the same book board is that it ensures the cover photograph will fit perfectly when the corners are cut and folded onto the boards.

Glue the back of the cover photograph with PVA glue and replace the book board to the area that you marked and fold over the flaps. Repeat the same process for the back cover. 20190804_140941 I used book cloth for the back cover of this book.

Finally attach the concertina to the book covers by gluing the back of the first and last pages with PVA glue and fixing them centrally to the book covers.

It’s taken a lot of book making and lots and lots of gluey mistakes to get to a stage where I feel the quality of my books are acceptable and even now many end up in the bin, but it’s all part of the learning process…. she says.

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