I have quite a few books. That’s not to say I didn’t get rid of many before I moved, two years ago. As such, I downsized from four book cases to only two, and those hold both my remaining books and my Mother’s. I take great pleasure looking over my books and I love paging through them gleaning fresh information I somehow previously overlooked or long since forgot. I wish my favorite books were hardcover, some are, but sadly many are softcover and I fear won’t last as long. Therefore, I seldom lend out books, but when I recently offered to lend one to a group of trustworthy people, I thought it best to put my name in it in case we all forgot later. The thought of writing on a book doesn’t appeal to me and it always feels wrong highlighting and jotting notes, even in a textbook. Furthermore, address labels seem as much a defacing as taking a pen to it, and relocating would nullify the label requiring a replacement. But then I thought about all those beautiful book plates I see in older books. They become part of the book and say, I’m special to my owner.
I searched online and found a ton of bookplates. The range of bookplates is vast and vary from beautiful, macabre, Gothic, coats of arms, family crests, silly, whimsical, colorful, black and white, ornate, and some are very simple. I found some sources for free bookplates and poured through them. However, I didn’t find any that truly appealed to me. I don’t even know if my family has a crest or coat of arms. I thought about images that do speak to me such as Teutonic lore, spirituality, spinning, and weaving. I came across an image of the Norns or The Fates, and I’ve always had a fascination with them. First, I copied three images of them, which didn’t appear to have copy-write restrictions and I saved them to my computer. I wanted images that weren’t overly colorful as I didn’t want to run through all my toner. Secondly, I opened a new Word document where I pasted the image. Next, I typed in the obligatory (and cool) “Ex Libris”, which is Latin for “from the books (of)” above the image and my name below. Then, I downsized the image, copied it, and pasted it three more times in one document to fill the page. After testing a print on plain paper, I printed it onto some decent card-stock.
To use the bookplate, I used a rotary cutter (a blade I use for paper), a mat, and ruler to cut the plates as evenly as possible. I found three other books I wanted to plate and I got to work. Secondly, I measured the inside cover to find the best position for the plate, and I lightly marked it with pencil on the inside of the line. Then, I mixed some PVA glue (most white glues) and water, so it was thin but still gluey, perhaps 40%water and 60%glue. Next, I placed the plate face down on a page of plain paper to protect the surface and brushed a generous amount of glue, starting in the center and working out to the sides. Since the toner for ink jet printers is water-soluble, I had to avoid getting the image wet or soaking it so much it bleeds through. Then, I placed the plate right side up 🙂 between the marks, straightening it by sight, and running a clean dry finger over it to ensure contact. Lastly, I used the edge of the ruler to LIGHTLY burnish it and push out excess glue and air. Using a napkin, I removed extra glue and it kept my fingers glue free and dry. I Allowed it to sit undisturbed over night. As a side note, I learned a valuable lesson on the only book I initially intended to plate. I positioned the plate where I could see the pencil markings and smeared them when I burnished. I had to use some white paint to cover the smears as I couldn’t remove all of the marks. Thus, I placed all my other pencil markings where the plate would just sit over it. I have another plate I like a lot and I may use for books in a different genre. Now, I have plates in five books, and I look at my remaining books with renewed interest.