Some time back, I found a box of library checkout cards at the thrift store. No sleeves, just the cards. Despite having no idea how I could possibly use them, I bought the box, because you just don’t leave behind something that neat. It went on a shelf upstairs and was largely forgotten.
Then not too far back, Monda posted about her love of old bookplates, a nearly extinct item both in use and the art thereof. And then it hit me.
A long time back, a Flickr friend taught me how to do injet transfers. This is like Polaroid transfers, but without the Polaroid. Here’s how you do it: Take one of those sheets of print-your-own shipping labels and peel off all of the labels, so you have only the blank wax paper-like sheet. Put that sheet in your printer shiny-side up and print on it as if it were glossy photo paper (if your image has text, be sure to flip it before printing, or it will come out backwards). As soon as it comes out of the printer, press a lightly dampened sheet of paper over the image. Pretend you’re lifting a comic strip with Silly Putty (the principles involved are actually nearly identical). After several seconds of pressing, gently lift off the paper. The image should now be transferred onto it.
You may have to experiment with your printer’s brightness and contrast settings and the amount of your paper’s dampness until you hit upon a good combination. For me, the process has been hit-or-miss, I think mostly because I’d previously worked with a notebook of homemade paper. The texture is a bit too rough for a good transfer. Which in fact is why I’d never written in that notebook and chose it for inkjet transfer experiments. Some people say that cheapo ultra-glossy photo paper also works instead of a label sheet, but I’ve had better luck with the label sheet. In theory, heavy wax paper ought to also work, but I haven’t tried it.
After reading Monda’s post, I thought, why not use inkjet transfers to make my own bookplates? Naturally, I was reluctant to risk a nice book for a potential transfer disaster (plus, moisture–on a book?! Never!). But then I remembered that box of library cards upstairs. Voila! Last night I ran off a few, until my label sheet finally crinkled and curled from too many times wiping away the leftover ink. Here are the results:
(Click each to see it larger.)
The one on the left was my first attempt. Too small, but not bad. On the right, we see that Aubrey Beardsley works well for this method, but I evidently neglected to dampen the card enough and lost most of the art deco border.
Here are a couple that I made by altering old typewriter advertisements. The one on the left is from an Adler ad, and Remington on the right. I like these two a lot.
I didn’t insert names into any of them because I figure that it would be more appropriate to type or write one’s name on the card.
So there you have it: DIY bookplates. I think I’ve just given away what a few people are getting for Christmas, but oh, well.
(Just watch. There is probably a small collective of library card collectors who are at this moment calling me a destructive heathen for destroying pristine library cards.)