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Bookbinding on the go and an amazing Altoids tin

Hello everyone!

It's been a long time since my last post – too long! While trying to get used to life in a condo, I'm also actively looking for ways to adapt my "tinkering" to the close quarters we live in.

Recently I stumbled across some YouTube videos showing creative uses for empty Altoids tins, including first aid kits, survival gear,"Essential Urban EDC", and a high-tech solar charger for i-phones. After watching these, my "gears" started spinning, and I thought, what about something to keep one occupied on those long trans-oceanic flights? Or the trans-Siberian railroad? Ha!

Before retiring I used to fly every so often from Europe to the US and back. The trans-Atlantic flight alone usually took around 9 hours, during which I would just torture myself trying to sleep, or watch movies until my eyes glazed over.

I enjoy bookbinding, making journals, notebooks, miniatures and the like, an activity that normally requires a workspace, specific tools and materials and a time of focused concentration. Looking at these items separately, I concluded that the "workspace" in reality can be no larger than the flip-down table on any commercial plane, or roughly 10x14 inches. The required tools, an X-acto knife, a cutting mat, a bone folder, a couple of brushes, some glue and thread, and some book cloth and papers.

The challenge now was to fit all that in an Altoids tin. With some “tinkering” ingenuity coupled with imagination, not only did I fit everything inside the tin, but there was still space for more! So I added some writing implements and ink and it still wasn’t full! Which brings to mind a cute children’s book I used to read to my children, called “The Mitten”, by Jan Brett. It takes place in winter, somewhere in a wood, where a little girl loses one of her knit mittens and a mouse takes refuge from the cold inside of it. Soon, the mouse is joined by a squirrel, then a rabbit, followed by a fox, then a wolf and finally a bear – all inside that mitten!

So to fill up the tin, I added some gilding supplies, and here it is: “The Ultimate Bookbinder’s Traveling Companion.” It should even be TSA approved.

Everything out in the open, clockwise from 12 o'clock: spool of linen thread doubling as needle case, thumbtack used as awl, clip to hold signatures together, toothpick to apply glue in tight spaces, basic pencil, bone folder, two brushes, double-ended embossing tool, (shortened), modified nib holder to fit shortened X-acto knife handle, soda can tab to hold small bottles secure in upright position, bottles for gilding size, PVA glue and ink, book cloth, cutting mat, patent goldleaf, ruler, half pans with gouache.

While the examples I included in the post are rather diminutive, the same kit can be used to craft larger size books, with the addition of appropriately sized materials.

Happy travels and don’t forget your Altoids tin!



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Well, I found it. I didn't know where to look. Very resourceful and creative.


Mar 27

Wow! When will these go on sale? Very creative.

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