Friday 19 April 2013

Six Years of Craftiness, in a Book!

When I was making up some books of press clippings earlier this year it got me thinking about other things related to my business that I'd like to archive or document somehow. I've got all my files and photos backed up, of course, and I back up my blog at irregular intervals too... but there's nothing quite like having a scrapbook or album to flick through, is there?

After a bit of research, I decided to try making a photo book. I'd heard good things about the books from Blurb and decided that getting a book printed would probably work out being a lot cheaper and a lot less hassle than going down the DIY scrapbook route (my printer drives me nuts! and the ink costs a blooming fortune!). I thought I'd chat a bit about how I put the book together in case any of you lovely folks are thinking of doing something similar.

Though I'm sure I may have written some interesting (?) things on my blog over the years, apart from my tutorials (which I'm thinking about making up into a separate booklet of some kind - a project for another day!) I realised that I was only really interested in collecting all the photos I've taken over the years. And I decided to stick to crafty photos only (leaving out the more personal home and life-related pics from my blog) as though there's room for personal stuff on my blog I didn't think photos of my old flat, etc, would sit well with the more business-y things like product photos... and now I'm single I have a lot less desire to look at photos of where I used to live :)

Blurb have an easy to use bit of software which you download and then use to create your book. It includes lots of ready-made templates for you to use, with spaces for adding text and/or images, but you can also create custom page layouts which was what I wanted. I made a custom layout with spaces for four square photos on each page, and then I used Pixlr to create collages from my photos and put one collage in each space to create pages jam-packed with images.

Using collages like this was great because the problem with getting photos printed is that you have to have good quality large images or else they won't print well... and though I have some hi res images a large chunk of my photos are really rather small. I take a lot of quick snaps because when they're just going to be used in a blog post or a shop listing, so why bother with a large image size? And I also lost several months worth of original files due to a computer-related disaster a few years ago so there are a whole bunch of pics where the small version I uploaded to my blog is the only one I've got. But you don't need large images to make collages, hurrah! Problem solved.

Your photos also don't have to be perfect, or totally fascinating when they're in a collage... so I could include photos of lots of the "everyday" bits and pieces that make up my crafty life (like photos of posting supplies) as well as my more "pretty" photos and I could include lots and lots of pics on a page... so a) I could fit in more photos, b) this would make it much easier to choose the pics I wanted to include as there was room for so many of them, c) I could fit "everything" in without having to spend loads of money on a whole stack of books and d) hopefully the finished result would be really visually interesting and, well, just fun to look at.

But enough of this waffling - on to some photos of the finished book! :)

I chose the hardback option, with a dust jacket and just picked a few of my favourite higher res images for the front cover and the back...

... the book is a large square (12 x 12 inches / 30 x 30 cms) so a nice coffee-table book size.

Then inside I've got 43 pages of photos, in roughly chronological order from 2007 through until the end of 2012. I chose a slightly glossy paper which looks really nice (but does make it a bit tricky to photograph!)

I was a bit worried about how my photos would print out but - apart from a few pics which I knew would be a bit dark or blurry - they all came out pretty crisp and lovely and bright.

I tried to group similar types of photos together when I was making the collages, so some of the spreads are very busy with work-in-progress pictures and lots of colourful supplies...

... and others are more product-shot heavy with more white space...

... while others are full of tutorials, or my personal crafting projects like all the knitting I did last year. I like how the different pages look and breaking the pictures up into categories helped make the collage-making and the book-layout-planning go much more smoothly than it otherwise might have.

Overall I am thrilled with how it turned out. It was definitely worth the money and the time spent sorting and arranging all the photos. And luckily Blurb do lots of smaller book sizes too so I won't have to wait another six years before putting together a second book!

P.S. Sorry if this post has popped up in your inbox or blog feed twice - I hit the wrong button (oops).


Charlotte said...

I love Blurb books - I've made a few and have always been really happy with them. Yours is great!

Kirsty New said...

such a great idea x

Emm@ said...

Looks fab.

Anonymous said...

ooh Laura it's gorgeous - what a fab idea x

Kay said...

How fab!! This will be a great reminder when you are an old lady, only joking. seriously this is lovely and you should be proud of it.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely idea! great way to display your work x

Unknown said...

This is a wonderful idea. I've seen these books put together for family vacations and such, but never thought of it for projects. Love it!

Swirlyarts said...

Great idea - I've used the Boots version for my sisters wedding and it turned out beautifully :)

jjnkknmkkl said...

This is such a good idea - I love getting photos printed now, it's not often I do it since everything went digital, and doing it this way is an awesome idea.
Did you make the collages from scratch in Photoshop or did you use a web-based editor type thingumy?
Anna x

Indigo Blue said...

Lovely, gorgeous pictures. You must have had a lot of fun putting this together.

I used Blurb a few years ago to log all of the quilt blocks I made for a Quilting Bee swap that took about a year to circulate the world!!
I love the size that you picked.

Leigh said...

Thanks for sharing! The book looks fab and you've definitely inspired me to do some photo sorting.

Silly Little Sheep said...

Nice!! :) My boyfriend uses Blurb for books about his work and they look great too!! Love yours though, it is so colourful!! :)

Jess said...

Wow this is such a lovely idea! I love it!

I adore the idea of having something like this forever :)

Jess x

Anonymous said...

That looks really lovely. I need to do something similar with photos of my son so I'll give Blurb a go.

Christina said...

Fantastic idea & your book/photos are awesome :-)

Jackie said...

This is realy interesting. I'd love to do one. I am wondering how much they cost.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! I was so pleased with how this book turned out :)

Kay - yes, when I am a little old lady and no-one remembers what a blog even is, I will still have this to show people!

Kathy - it's a great alternative to making a scrapbook or portfolio, I think :)

Anna - I used the collage maker option on Pixlr Express (at, it's free and you can choose the layout you want and then upload the pics one by one, re-arrange them easily, etc... and then just save a hi-res version of the finished collage. Very easy!

Indigo Blue - It was time-consuming sorting through all those photos, but lots of fun! I love the idea of making a Blurb book of quilt blocks :)

Jess - Yes! What appealed to me about making a photobook was definitely the idea of having something that would last (in a way that I know my blog is unlikely to!)

Jackie - The cost depends on the size of book you do, how many extra pages you add, what paper you choose, what type of cover, etc. Blurb have a page on their site I think where they lay out all the info so you can see in advance what your book is likely to cost.

My book is the largest size they do and with a hardback cover, some glossy paper and lots of extra pages it came to about £45 plus shipping (though I got a discount off that price thanks to a referral code from a friend)... which I don't think is expensive at all when you think about how much it would cost to buy a nice album and get lots of photos printed etc (or how much printer ink I would have got through trying to make a DIY version!)