Marking where to cut

I thought this post might be useful to those just starting out making artists’ books or handmade photobooks.

When I first started making artists’ books using my photographs printed on fine art photo paper such as those made by Fotospeed and Hahnemuhle etc, when I had marked the scalpel cutting line for the margin with pencil there was sometimes a tiny piece of the pencil mark left on the edge of the white paper. You can’t rub it out or it smudges because of the coating on the photo paper.

Here’s my simple solution. (I’m sure there are others)

Add a 1/2 mm to the measurement – I wanted a 5mm border in this case.
Very lightly mark a tiny spot with the pencil. Continue marking along the edge. I usually make a mark roughly every 100mm.
I’ve made my marks bold so you can see them but they should barely be seen.
Place a metal ruler under your marks as close as possible without touching them.
Run your scalpel blade along the metal ruler to slice off the extra paper. Because you added an extra 1/2 mm to allow for trimming off the pencil marks you will have a perfect 5mm border and no annoying tiny pencil mark on the edge of the photo paper.

This technique is also useful when measuring and cutting any decorative paper used in book making. You can mark the back of the photograph, but you can still end up with a pencil mark and I’ve found the measurement not to be as accurate.


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