Handmade Portfolio

For Molly Crabapple’s Silkscreen of the Month project, we decided that we were going to create a series of 12 screenprints, one released each month, and offer them either as a prepaid package or allow people to buy them one by one. For the people who purchased the entire edition at once, we wanted to make a special portfolio for them to store their artwork.

I settled on a simple handmade paper portfolio packaging. I used my favourite paper, French Paper, in 100lb cover Black Licorice. It was in stock in the studio in 19×25″ sheets, so I measured out the best way to wrap it around my stack of prints. I haven’t planned out what every piece in the year is going to be printed on, so I measured a stack of 12 of the Balloons print & rounded up and got that it would be around 1/4″ thick. So when I cut out the paper in the envelope shape, I made sure to add 1/4″ to the flaps so it could be bent sharply into a thin box, rather than going for a V fold that might bend the edges of the portfolio stack.

First, I cut it out the cross shape. The additional white marks are to show the 1/4″ that I planned out for where the folds will go. It’ll make sense as I continue on.From the panels, I silkscreened Molly’s logo in a clear gloss with a touch of black in mixed in to help it stand off the paper. Gloss on black is one of my favourite effects in silkscreen prints.

Once complete, I brought the panels home to do the folding. I whipped out my bone folder to assist in scoring and getting the sharpest edge, my trusty metal ruler & my favourite clear gridded ruler. You can do it with one, but I like switching between the two.

First I started off scoring the inner most edge. This is easy to line up, just put it about 1/16″ inside the line, so the score you make with your folder is perfectly lined up with the tops of the cross sections. To score, use the pointed tip of your bone folder, hold at a 45 degree angle, and slide down along the ruler side as if you were cutting into the paper. It should leave you with a shiny line as it burnishes the paper. My apologies for not having a photo of that at play – I didn’t have a tripod & I couldn’t take a photo while scoring & holding the ruler…

The reason I favour using two rulers is that I can use the gridded ruler to perfectly measure out where 1/4″ is & make sure that my lines are absolutely perfect. I used a white pencil to lightly mark the line, then went back in with the metal ruler for scoring. You need to use the metal ruler, as it has more heft & is less likely to slide as you’re applying pressure. You can additionally find metal rulers with a cork back to absolutely ensure that it won’t slide around.

You should be left with this when you’re done with all sides. The crude drawing makes more sense now, yes?

And now comes the folding part! Thanks to your scoring, it should be clean & easy to fold the paper over your ruler. Use the bone folder on its wide, flat side to smooth the paper into a sharp point. I found it easier to start from the inside out, as with tiny 1/4″ sides, if I did the outer edge first I was more likely to crumple the paper & fold it in on itself.

So sharp!

And voila! You have a lovely paper portfolio to house your prints inside of.

I was in a bit of a crunch, so there were two things that I was unable to do that would be easy for you to adapt. For one, since I’m printing all of these with pin registration, I tried to obtain screw posts to add inside so the artwork would be immobile inside the portfolio. Since it was a final touch, when I couldn’t find any in the city, I didn’t have the ability to go back and change the dimensions to remove the 2″ of extra paper with the hole punches. Secondly, I was hoping to make a button & string closure – like what you see in manila envelopes, or in this tutorial. Surprisingly, there were no grommets to be found in any of the art supply stores I hit up.

Oh well.


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