Monday, March 28, 2011

The American Girls Handy Book - Book Cover

Written for American girls of the Victorian period, one would think The American Girls Handy Book: How to Amuse Yourself and Others would be terribly old fashioned and useless to us modern women.


This book is filled with crafts and activities for girls of all ages and eras. There are activities for every season and holiday, such as crystallizing flowers for spring, how to make a Mikado fan for summer, re-enacting the Pilgrims’ landing for one’s Thanksgiving dinner guests, and creating a home gymnasium for the winter (which is definitely cheaper than buying a treadmill). One chilly, overcast day, we interns decided to amuse ourselves by doing a winter craft — the “Home-made Book-cover.” Our creative process was somewhat inhibited by the fact that we only had office materials at our disposal for this undertaking. But, being the resourceful American girls that we are, our book cover still turned out quite glamorously. Below you can find the instructions for this craft from the Handy Book (with a few personal tips, from us to you, in brackets) as well as a few pictures of our stunning final project.
Take two pieces of heavy cardboard, a trifle larger than the book you wish to cover, [Staples’ shipment boxes are made from cardboard with an excellent thickness for this.], make three holes near the edge of each and corresponding holes in the edges of the book, which must not be too thick—that is, contain too many leaves. [The Beard sisters aren’t kidding about this thickness issue. 20 pages is too much for most 3-hole punchers to handle, as we discovered. Which leads to the question, how did Victorian girls punch holes anyway, without 3-hole punchers?] Pass narrow ribbons through these holes and tie in bow-knots [Rubber bands cut in half and decorated in Sharpie work just as well.]. If the leaves of the book are thin, more holes can be made in the back and the covers laced together with silk cord [Rubber bands decorated in Sharpie also make a good replacement for silk cord.].

These book-covers may be beautifully decorated by anyone who can paint in watercolors [Or by anyone who can draw with highlighters and more Sharpies.], and tinted cardboard can also be used for them. They are pretty, and suitable as covers for manuscripts, poems, or stories, or for a collection of autographs [Might we suggest one of Godine’s lead spring titles — Correspondence: An Adventure in Letters by N. John Hall, available now!].

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