A few months ago I picked up some hinged, vintage cigarette tins at a swap meet stall, figuring they would make excellent cases for some bespoke, handmade photo books. Soon after, a project came to mind that would feature photos from a family weekend by the sea, and I planned to use this pale blue tin as it would complement the sea-and-sky colours.
To start the book, I measured the insides of the tin, subtracting a border to allow for the rounded corners, and laid out the pages in Microsoft Publisher. I then cropped the photos to match the page dimensions, before inserting them into the publication document, and added a title page. They were printed on a basic Epson ink jet printer using matte double-sided photo paper, allowed to dry, then trimmed to size. I folded each page in half and attached them along the side edges to form one long concertina. The final part was to attach the end pages to the inside flaps of the tin. The result is a tiny keepsake, to be treasured by the recipient – hopefully – for many years to come.
Given that my paid employment involves handling hundreds of books every week in a public library, it isn’t surprising that book creation is part of my favourite hobby, and is a great way to curate a collection of photos. Over the years I have used Blurb’s and Mixbook’s online on-demand print services, and been very happy with the process and results of each – it’s a method that satisfies my craving for a professional-looking product, and I particularly enjoy the design element.
At other times, a bespoke, handmade book is even more fun, particularly for giving on special occasions. On the occasion of a friend’s recent retirement, I created a tiny concertina book, Looking Down: photographs by Melanie Y’lang, that fits inside a vintage hinged cigarette tin; the tin forms the cover and protects the book entirely, while providing a firm structure for sitting it on a shelf as a sculptural object.
It was a fun and therapeutic process, from measuring up the tin and creating a design on my computer, to printing the pages on watercolour paper with my Epson printer and assembling the book. And best of all, my friend loves it!
Some photos lend themselves to being changed utterly in post editing. This one, taken on a clear late spring day, started life looking quite different to how it ended up after editing with Snapseed app. I thought it suited Dickinson’s writing tone, so added her words to complement it using Pixlr app.
Here’s the original unedited photo taken with Olympus XZ2: