Living Arts Weekly: Making Treasure Books

August 1, 2021

No matter how old you get, may you always stop to fill your pockets with smooth stones, empty snail shells and other little treasures — Nicolette Sowder

I know I am receiving something quite special when we are outdoors on a walk or playing in the yard and a little one comes up to me with the words, “This is for you!” The phrase is followed by a shy or exuberant extension of a cupped hand and a little treasure of nature held delicately within. The cherished treasure might be a cicada wing, the softest of flower petals, or a snail shell. It could be so many things that their tiny eyes have spotted that so often our eyes miss. Sometimes, of course, the treasures are simply meant to be shown and admired, and then kept by the little collector.

A couple of years ago at Rose Rock we designed a miniature book to display such treasures. My youngest and I decided to make a new one this last week and share the idea with you. It is a simple project that requires very few supplies: ruler, scissors, tape, glue, pencil, cardboard, and paper. We use old watercolor paintings as the background paper but any pretty paper will suffice.

First, we cut paper for our pages. We cut one long strip of any choice height, and accordian-fold it into the width of the pages. Then, we measure and cut two cardboard rectangles the same size as one of the pages. Next, we cut some paper large enough to wrap around our cardboard pieces. You can see our supplies and the first steps in the arrangement here:

To assemble the book, we wrap the rectangles of paper around our cardboard, cutting the corners for easy folding, and using both glue and tape to secure it. The side with glue and tape will be the “raw” side. Next, we glue an end of our accordian-fold pages to each cardboard piece, covering up the “raw” side. After repeating this with the other end of the pages, our book is complete!

As treasures are collected they are glued or sewed in place on the pages. Sometimes we dry and flatten them first, such as the flowers in our pictures, but sometimes they are easier to glue in place while supple. I prefer to sew the treasures onto the books, and find we can attach a wider variety of items when this is done. Often I will secure the thread and reinforce the holes with masking tape after sewing them onto the pages.

These books make a lovely display for the little collector and a darling gift. We hope you enjoy creating, collecting and treasuring!