Summer is good for the soul. It gives us the excuse to slow down and savor life a bit. It can convince you that there’s a more enjoyable way to do things. Stroll through the farmers market instead of barreling through the grocery store. Steal a moment to eat lunch outside and marvel at the fluffy clouds in the azure sky. Run your hands through the mint you planted in the spring. Maybe mix up a batch of mojitos with it and invite some friends over on a weeknight just to enjoy the evening and relish another laugh with them.
While many of us can recall memories from summers past with clear images in our heads (and our hearts), we increasingly find ourselves grabbing our digital devices to capture the current moments in pixels. But face it, we snap the photo and it almost never escapes cyberspace. If it’s lucky, the picture might make its way to social media to pander for a few “likes.” At best, it might make an appearance on our holiday card. Or maybe not. Sniff. Sadly, it might just live out its lonely little life in the digital cloud, never to be enjoyed again.
We were recently searching through our computer files for a specific photo when we found a few that we had nearly forgotten. Sharing the screen, we volleyed comments back and forth. “Whoa, that’s a hilarious picture!” “Ooh, great Halloween costume that year.” “Man, I take a lot of photos of CLOUDS.” We had so much fun scrolling through the images together but also took pity on all those languishing photos. We decided to do something about it, something to remind us to take that summertime head-in-the-clouds feeling along everyday. If life is nothing but a series of moments all strung together, then why leave tokens of them to perish on some old hard drive?
Taking a photograph has always been about capturing a moment, but digital advancements have altered how we preserve these moments once they’ve happened. When was the last time you (gasp) printed a bunch of photos just to make yourself or someone else smile? Well, Thread & Whisk has a little project that will take you back to the tactile qualities of yesteryear, while you move forward with what technology has to offer. Let’s modernize a tradition together.
As we continued to scroll through our digital camera roll, we came to the conclusion that apparently, we have an obsession with clouds. Funny, we can remember all those days when we took our cloud photos. And there are happy memories attached to each one! So we strung them together for this accordion fold “In the Clouds” book. Does your phone (or camera) have an option to take square photos? Many do. There is something about a square format photo book that is pleasing to the eye, so why not make one? Even if your photos are in regular format (as they likely are), you can use your photo editing software to crop them to square. Which seemingly random photos can actually be tied together in your digital photo file? Find them and make a gift for yourself, or for someone you love. Or both.
We originally created this accordion book project to send family photos to our out-of-town moms for Mother's Day. We wanted to create something special that could be mailed without much weight or bulk and could also be carried easily in a purse or suitcase. So we made the books a petite 3" x 3." Since our cloud book is more of a folly for our coffee table, we increased it to 5" x 5." If you have printed photos taken with your phone’s camera before, you will know that sometimes the bigger the print, the grainier the image. But of course, since this is your project, you can make it any size you want.
Choose at least ten photos (this book holds 22) from your phone or computer that you would like to use. If they are not in a square format, use your photo software to crop them to square. Next, print the photos (or have them professionally printed) to a 4” size.
If you are printing photos at home, you can use 4” x 6” photo paper and then trim off the extra edges. You should also seal the ink with a fixative spray to prevent the photos from smearing.
Prepare the accordion fold by cutting a 5” x 60” strip from your thick, foldable paper. If your paper is not 60” long, you will need to cut the strip in two pieces, adding 1/2” to the length of one of the strips for gluing the pieces together. Since our paper was only 45" wide, we cut one piece at 5” x 35 1/2” and the second at 5” x 25.” Next, use a pencil to mark the length of your strips in 5” increments and carefully accordion fold the papers using the pencil marks as your guide.
After you have all the folds in place, glue the two strips together by brushing glue onto the 1/2” flap and laying the next sheet on top of it. Make sure that when you close the accordion, the folds continue in the same direction and that the edges line up. After checking that no extra glue escaped, place the folded pages under a heavy book until dry. We used an old textbook from college, and that brought back memories too.
Meanwhile, make the cover. Cut two 5 1/8” squares from the illustration (or book binders) board. Place those squares on your cover paper (handmade or printed) and cut two squares. Next, brush a thin layer of glue onto your boards and carefully press the cover papers on top. Place these cover boards under a heavy book to dry.
When dry, attach the book covers to the pages. First, lay a cover board on your table right side down. Then, brush a thin layer of glue onto the last page of the accordion. Carefully center and press the glued accordion page onto the cover board. After it is attached, gently close the rest of the accordion and brush glue onto the outside of the first page. Attach the inside of the front cover to the glued paper, making sure both covers are now lined up with each other. Press both covers under books letting the folded pages stand up, until glue dries.
When the glue is dry, use glue dots, 2-sided tape or photo corners to mount your photos to each page. Remember to use both sides of the accordion. Label the photos if you choose. Most importantly, enjoy revisiting the moments you have captured in your book, whatever they may be.