Handmade Books: Easy Inside Pages from Office Supplies

We recently got a new, super-duper photocopy machine at the office. It has so many different functions, I'm surprised it hasn't replaced one of us already. I remember when copy machines just made copies. And if that wasn't exciting enough for you, you could copy things other than documents and images.

mixed media books pages
Kathryn Antyr likes making handmade books with office supplies.

This technique for making inside pages for handmade books brings back the fun and excitement of making photocopies. The technique is quite simple, writes Kathryn Antyr in PAGES magazine: "Collect objects, photocopy them, and paint the copy with watered-down acrylics."

Step 1: Locate a photocopier or laser printer and some paper. You need a copy machine that uses heat and toner to make the copies. If you use an inkjet printer where the pigment is sprayed onto the paper and sits on top, the ink may smear when you apply the paint.

Step 2: Collect found objects. Flatter objects work better than bulky ones because the copier cover and close over them, letting in less light when scanning. Paper clips, shredded paper, brads, pencils, safety pins, and buttons all work well. But use your imagination!

Step 3: Make your copies. Be sure to make several copies of each object so you have plenty of material to play with. Adjust the density to make the image darker or lighter. Vary the size using the zoom controls. Go large!

background page for handmade books
Kathryn made the background for this book
page by photocopying brads under a
spiral bound notebook.

Step 4: Paint! Kathryn says inexpensive acrylics found at most craft and hobby stores work best. Water them down slightly and apply two or more colors in circular motion with a makeup sponge. You are going for a sheer watercolor effect.

Step 5: Layer. Apply another color or a darker shade of paint with a sponge, dry brush, or other tool that will add interest and texture. You can also pounce paint through a stencil (such as sequin waste) and use metallic or spritz paints.


  • If your page gets too wet, it may curl. To flatten the paper, iron it between two pieces of paper towel on a cool setting.
  • Group the same objects to give a sense of repetition, rhythm, and overall unity to the composition.
  • Notice how overlapping the paper clips holds the individual objects together visually. Avoid a scattershot effect where the composition has the objects loosely covering the entire page.
  • Consider the white space when cropping. Crop the pages to include some white space, and think of an asymmetrical balance. These spaces provide great openings for quotes.

Now that you have your pages, you're ready to make a book. You can add writing, collage, and stamping to your pages. If you want sturdier pages, mount them on watercolor paper or matte board. Then bind your book.

If you want more ideas for how to make a book, check out our new eBook, Bound and Beautiful: One-of-a-Kind Handmade Books, now available for download.

P.S. What office supplies would you use for your pages? Leave your answer below.


Blog, Handmade Books, Mixed-Media Supplies


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