I love the cardboard picture books for my 1 year old. We also have a few foam books that are very durable. I have searched the web for ways to make my own sturdy books, but have only seen kits or blank cardboard books to buy then color or print onto. One day while browsing the isles at my local craft store, I saw the 6 mm foam and thought I could make it into a book :) Here is how I did it:
I started by buying a couple 9x12 inch sheets of the thicker foam (some labels say 6 mm, but just get sturdy foam that doesn't bend when held up). Also, I purchased some full sheet permanent labels for my printer. Make sure to get the permanent adhesive labels so that they stick and never come off.
Then it is time to create your book. I used Photoshop to do it. Each set of pages will measure 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 (you can put two sets of pages on each printer label sheet). My book has a total of 8 inside pages (4 sets), and a front and back cover. For this same amount of pages you need 2 foam sheets and 3 label sheets. Here are the images of my books for some idea:
After finishing your story and adding prints, go ahead and print the pages onto your label sheets.
Then its time to cut the foam. You need to cut the sheets in quarters.
Next you need to cut the printed labels. Only cut these in half, you will leave the two pages attached in the middle (see below).
Then fold the printed label in half so the printed part is in the middle. The seam that you make will be how you line up the pages when you stick it to the foam.
I like to have my corners curved. This helps keep the sharp edge from coming unglued to the book. I just did a quick curve with the scissors while the printed label was folded in half.
Now put two pieces of cut foam next to each other. Line up the center seam of the label with the cut in between the two sheets of foam. Then stick it down!
Continue to do that to all the pages. You will need to use the other cut pieces of foam to keep the pages level when you are sticking down new sheets.
After you get all the inside pages stuck to the foam in order, you will start to see your completed book, but you are not done yet. It is time to add the cover. Start by measuring your book's spine.
When you create the cover you will need the back of the book (4.25x5.5) and the spine (mine was 1 3/8 which is 1.375x5.5) and then the cover (4.25x5.5). This will all be one continuous printed label. Because it will be wider than your 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, you will have to print it landscape and then cut off the excess. Here is my cover and spine design.
After printing the cover label, cut off the excess. From the excess cut a piece of label that is the exact size of the spine (mine was 1 3/8 x 5 1/2).
Make creases in the cover label around the spine. This time with the printed part on the outside.
Take the back off the label over the spine area and the back off the extra piece. Stick the extra piece to the back of the cover under the spine section. You do not want the spine to stick to the book so we are just covering up the sticky part there.
Then line the spine up with the rest of the book and carefully stick the cover to the front and the back to the back.
And you're done. You now have a personalized foam book for your kids.
You could always do the books with line drawings so the kids can color it themselves. Also, I am going to try doing the same thing but using pressed board from the art section of the craft store to see if it will mimic a traditional cardboard book, I have just been too busy with Halloween costumes.
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