My Creativity-Party Accordion Book I: Turning a Flaw into a Feature

Do not be hasty, that’s my motto. –Treebeard, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Do you ever have a sudden vision of an enticing project and find that you can’t turn your back on it? A project that you don’t have time for but you can’t resist doing anyway? It happens to me all the time and my excitement can cause me to rush. In the case of my party book, my haste to prepare the pages led to an interesting flaw that I decided to make into a feature.

This book was a collaboration made with my friends to celebrate my 40th birthday, back when I was still known as "Kathy"
This accordion book was a collaboration made by my friends to celebrate my 40th birthday, back when I was still known as “Kathy”

The idea came to me moments before the creativity retreat I organized to celebrate turning 40. I wanted a memento of the event and decided to have those at the party contribute to an accordion book. I was learning to make books by hand at the time, so I added watercolor paper and some collage materials to my other supplies. How hard could it be?

Color Me Happy by Kit Dunsmore. My entry in the book. (I was pretty excited about turning 40.)
Color Me Happy my entry in the book. (I was pretty excited about turning 40.)

When I arrived at the retreat site, I started frantically cutting and folding pages so they would be ready for my guests. I made folded double-page spreads with tabs for gluing the pages together after they were done. This way, everyone could work on the project simultaneously.

The collages I got back were fabulous. Even though some of my friends were anxious about “what to do”, everyone found something they could put on their pages. I was thrilled with the results and had the added pleasure of owning artwork by my talented friends.

Go To Bed by Maria DiFrancesco. One of the collages done by a friend.
One of the collages done by a friend.

This being me, it was two years later before I got around to assembling the book. As I began to glue the pages together, I realized something was wrong. Of course, I didn’t stop gluing because I was in a hurry to see the finished product. I had the complete text block assembled before I paused to figure out what had happened. Instead of a rectangular text block, I had a stack of pages that resembled the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Viewed from the top, my pages made a trapezoid, not a rectangle. Fortunately, I was amused by this result.

Party Book as seen from the top. Notice the way it leans...
Party Book as seen from the top. Notice the way it leans…

Along with being hasty, I am often lazy. I saw that in each section the first page was longer than the second and realized my hurried measuring had been inaccurate. However, I wasn’t about to take the pages apart and try to fix things. I decided instead to make it look like my funky text block was intentional. My solution? Fill the empty space along the spine with “danglies” using all sorts of odds and ends. The result was a book that says “Party!” in no uncertain terms.

My Birthday Book, opened out, accordion-style.
My Birthday Book, opened out, accordion-style.

What mistakes have cropped up in your projects? How do you deal with unexpected results? Are you in a hurry like me, finding ways to turn your flaws into features? Or do you prefer to undo things and fix the problem?

Next week, I’ll post instructions for making your own accordion book (the right way AND the hasty way) plus tips for holding your own creativity party.

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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