make | Book Page Banner

A book page banner is a festive and easy project for any book lover. I made this one, with Tessa's help, to welcome my boyfriend home after 4 months in South America!

Here's how we did it ...

Supplies: an old book, a paper cutter or scissors, a hole punch, a sharpie, and one spool of thin smooth ribbon for every 10 letters of your message. 

1. Select a Book : Old Hard Covers work the best. I like the look of slightly yellowed pages, and a hard cover makes it easy to tear out them out ( in step 2.) Ideally the pages are glued in, not stitched in (like some really old books) because - as anyone who has ever tried tearing a page out of a moleskine notebook can tell you - it's really hard to get a clean edge with out ripping out whole sections or breaking the thread. As the book gets older the glue starts to weaken making step 2 even easier.

I think this project is especially fun if you pick a book relevant to the occasion. Use a love story for "Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary" or a travel memoir for "Bon Voyage". I used an old copy of The Kama Sutra that Tessa and I found in her basement. It's obviously unillustrated (the difference between it being cheeky and just downright uncouth.)

2. Rip Out Those Pages: Open the book up to somewhere in the middle and flatten it as much as possible. Hold the long edge of the page closest to your dominant hand. Use your opposing hand to pin down the other side. You should be able to see the glue holding the page in at the spine. Gently tug on the long edge of the page by pulling outward and down. Pulling from the top edge or just pulling down (and not out) will cause the page to rip, rather than releasing it from the glue.

Rip out one page for each character of your message, and additional pages for decorations or punctuation. You will need an extra page to use as a guide for step 5.

3. Trim (optional): If you've really mastered the tearing technique you can leave the slightly rough edges, and your pages will all be equal in size. But, it always takes me a while to get the hang of it, so I have a few pages that are really jagged.  It looks best if they're uniform - either all trimmed, or all untrimmed - rather than damage control on a few pages.

Pick up a page. Trim the the ripped edge enough so that the tears are gone, and the margin between the new edge and the text is equal to the one on the outside of the page. Use this page as a guide and trim down the other pages. This can either be done with scissors or a paper cutter.

4. Punch Holes: Place your first hole about a 1/3rd of  the way in, and half an inch down on the top edge of your page. The second hole should be at the 2/3rds mark. Use this page as a guide for placing the other holes. It doesn't need to be exact. This page will probably get pretty beat up, so don't use it in the banner.

5. Write:  Now that the holes are punched you can see the work space you have for your lettering. Always completely prep the page before writing, otherwise you will end up punching holes through your letters.

Use a sharpie and write each letter of your message on a piece of paper. Write as big as you can! If you don't like your handwriting you can always use a stencil or trace a font from your computer. We originally tried doing the lettering portion with black paint, but most book pages are soft and absorbant. They wrinkle instantly when they get wet (duh, Sam).

You can use a book-page with out a letter written on it to signify a "space" between words. But, I just pushed the words apart when I strung them in step 6.

6. String : Take you ribbon and unwind enough to hold all the letters, taking into account the space between letters. Now unwind a little more for the ribbon on the ends for hanging. Andddd unwind a little more - since getting all those letters strung and then running out of room is awful. 

Pick up the first letter of your message. Put the ribbon through the first hole, coming up through back of the page. Go out through the front of the second hole. Gently pull the ribbon until the first letter rests at the opposite end you are using for stringing (leaving some free ribbon for hanging). Repeat with each letter.

When they are all on the ribbon, space them apart evenly. Leave extra space between words so it doesn't read like you're drunk and slurring your words : happy50thweddinganniversary.

7. Hang: The banner is really light and can be hung with thumb tacks, if it's inside and isn't going to be blown around too much.  Hanging is a two person job.

It works best against a wall, since it's one sided (book pages are thin and the ink bleeds). If you wish to hang it in an open space simply repeat steps 1-5, and use a spray adhesive to join two pages before stringing. Save the hole punching for last.

Et Voila!

(1 and 2) on film with Pentax k1000 (3) scanned


  1. I love this! You must have been so happy to see your boyfriend after 4 months. South America? How exciting!

  2. i saw a similar one that a gal made for her baby's crib! so precious.

  3. christi : that would be so cute with a children's book!


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