My Valentine’s Day Collage Mini Book

Valentine’s Mini Book (Cover), Collage/Mixed Media, 3.5 x 10 inches, February 2011.

Valentine’s Mini Book (Cover), Collage/Mixed Media, 3.5 x 10 inches, February 2011.

Valentine’s Mini Book (Inside), Collage/Mixed Media, 3.5 x 10 inches, February 2011. Text: Panel 2: “here’s a photo of us”; Panel 3: “filling the space”; “between the stars”; “so bright and constant”.

Valentine’s Mini Book (Inside), Collage/Mixed Media, 3.5 x 10 inches, February 2011. Text: Panel 2: “here’s a photo of us”; Panel 3: “filling the space”; “between the stars”; “so bright and constant”.

Valentine’s Day is approaching and I thought instead of giving the standard “romantic” gifts, why not consider giving a collage mini book!  Mini books are great presents for any occasion.  Last Valentine’s Day I made an accordion style collage mini book for my husband, Kevin.  Being married to this whiny artist for 23 years, he deserves the very best!  I wanted to make him a special quirky memento and a mini book from the heart seemed perfect!  With regards to making a mini book (even a card), I always think it’s better if you know the person you’re making one for well.  Then instead of filling it with goopy, lovey-dovey stuff (after 20+ years of marriage it’s hard to buy into that stuff!), consider themes for your book that revolve around memorable life anecdotes or idiosyncrasies of the person you’d like to give it to; they’ll add a touch of humour and emotional appeal to it.  Let me recount some novel features of Kevin’s Valentine mini book to give you a few examples of what I mean…

The cover of Kevin’s book (above) has an elegant romantic feel; it’s covered with pink and cream velvet embossed paper.  Since I love contrasts and didn’t want it to look too girly, I included the image of a mischievous-faced boy*.  My hubby’s never really grown up and I felt it suited his “inner boy” and also added a sense of playfulness.  Inside I added another fun element that addressed a different facet of his personality with an illustration of deep sea diver in old-fashioned diving gear… I knew he would connect with it immediately because he loves sci-fi adventures like Jules Verne’s: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  On a personal level, this image reminded me of his ability to be totally consumed by the virtual game worlds he immerses himself in every day!  I love to complain about it, but I’ve come to learn that play and exploration are vital components he needs in his life to balance his high-pressure job.  Besides, it gives me more time to work on my art!  So I grin and bear it.  I loved turning this same image into a cartoon with a word bubble that echoed a fragment of a story his late Uncle Archie told me.  Childless, Archie and his wife Kay took great delight in spoiling Kevin as a young boy.  One day they surprised him with a brand new wagon and Archie told me “The first thing that kid says to me is… hey, this wagon’s got a squeaky wheel!”  Just like my Kev, always looking for something to fix!  I found a beautiful long-legged model to stand in for me (ah, the joys of collage!) and added some bits of found poetry to connect the book’s panels.  It was fun collaging these imaginings together.  As usual, I worked intuitively … searching through images until I found bits of my husband’s life I could visualize in them.  The project took me a couple of hours to complete; far less time than going shopping for a gift at the mall!  And definitely less expensive.  Even better, it was a hit!  I was also fortunate enough to receive a hand-made collage card from Kevin himself! – making it a truly special Valentine’s Day.

How to Make an Accordion Style Mini Book:

Mini books are easy and fun to make.  All you need is some art paper, collage papers, a few bits of found poetry, pens, a glue stick and some ribbon.   

– Cut a thickish but flexible art paper into a long strip that you can fold into three or four equal parts (mine’s 3.5 inches high x 10 inches long).  I use 90 lb Stonehenge paper because it doesn’t crack when you fold it into sections with a bone folder. 

– Collage the back and front of your book with found papers, images and poetry text; maybe even a quote from a favourite character or personal memory.  You could title your book, too.

– OR If you like the continuous feel of a book cover, instead of collaging bits of paper, wrap your book’s cover with a piece of thin hand-made paper or wrapping paper.  Start with paper that’s a bit bigger than your book; glue it down and re-fold your panels.  Let it dry, then trim the excess ends off with a steel-edged ruler… this’ll give you a cool fuzzy edge.  If you’re a neat freak, fold and glue the ends onto the inside of the book… then collage the inside.

– I generally fill in the blank or white areas between images with metallic Sakura Jelly Roll pens to give the story inside a continuous feel.  I also like to outline words to make them stand out.  Or add decorative elements (dots, squiggles, etc.) here or there.

– You can keep the book closed with the addition of a satin or velvet ribbon tied in bow around it.  I added a year of the rabbit charm (Kevin’s Chinese birth year symbol) to a pink satin ribbon to personalize it.

Good luck!  I’d love to hear how you do!  Any further questions – just drop me a line.  Many thanks to Peter Farris Manning for taking these beautiful photos of my mini book!

Note: This is a fragment from photographer Jonathan Hobin’s piece: “The Twins”. See Hobin’s website for more information about his work.

Other Related Links:
A Mini Book for Gillian

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