Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Typography: Accordion Book with StencilGirl® and Geri Beam

Hey there! So glad you stopped by for this first fabulous post from Creative Team Member Geri Beam! Her full bio is at the end of this post.

Hi! It's Geri.

I was excited to learn the creative team was working around a theme about typography. Making this 6”x6” square accordion book was fun and educational.

Many years ago in Atlanta, I worked for BellSouth. Our team built systems that data-entry people used to create and publish tariffs. Through that job I learned a lot about fonts and spacing.

I decided to make an accordion book to honor typography and bookmaking. The intent of this book is to teach readers about typography using a fun visual approach. Each page has a typography theme which is repeated pictorially on the back.

The Helvetica font plays an important part of the accordion book.

Note: If you want to learn more about typography and graphic design, I recommend watching an interesting documentary titled Helvetica. This film, directed by Gary Hustwit, was released in 2007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the typeface's (Helvetica) introduction in 1957. This influential font was developed by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with input from Eduard Hoffmann.

Because I had never made an accordion book before, I decided use Photoshop to help determine the number of pages, their themes and what would be on the front and back of each page.

I alternated pages between black and white. I self-imposed a limit the number of colors to black, white, red, and gold.

I enjoyed choosing the perfect stencils and determining where they would be used. 

I used my hand-dyed fabric on the front and back covers. I wanted the covers to be flat and not have wrinkles or bubbles. My research led me to use YES Paste Stik Flat Glue and rice paper.

I spread the paste onto rice paper with a Color Shaper tool. I attached the fabric to the glue side of the rice paper. I used a brayer to push out all bubbles and wrinkles.

After the paste completely dried, I squared up the fabric/rice paper sandwich to 7 inches square. This measurement allowed the fabric to wrap around the edge of the 6” square chipboard.

On my sewing machine, I zigzagged a piece of red cording to one of the fabric sandwiches. This became the front cover of the book.

I snipped the four corners of fabric to eliminate bulk on the corners.

I chose the 4”x4” stencil from January 2020 StencilClub by MaryBeth Shaw to be on the front of the book. I used Purple tape to position the stencil.

I chose the 4”x4” stencil from the March 2014 StencilClub by MaryBeth Shaw to be on the back of the book.

I used white gesso on a cosmetic sponge to stencil onto the fabric.

I decided to outline the symbols in black to help them stand out on the fabric. I used a black Uni-Posca Marker.

I attached the fabric to the chipboard with PVA glue. I used a bone folder to crease and smooth the fabric around the edges of the chipboard. To flatten and smooth the covers I used the brayer.

I wanted the front and back covers to be different than the rest of the pages in the book. I started with a tribute to the early printed pages as documented in “The Art & Practice of Typography” by Edmund G. Gress.

To finish the book, I used a font that represented modern times – Dingbats.

I used a glue stick to place the printed pages onto black card stock. In the background, I used the 4”x4” stencil Lost Languages from StencilClub September 2015 by Julie Snidle to place gold Morse code around the edges using a gold Uni-Posca marker. To give the page a vintage look I used Seth Apter’s new product Adaline Izink Ice using colors Whiskey Frost and Iced Coffee. I added more detail with black and gold Uni-Posca markers to tie the page together.

I used a different technique on the back cover. Using a laser printer, I printed the Dingbat font on the center of black cardstock. I ran this page through a laminator with bronze foil which stuck to the carbon from the laser print. I highlighted the page with a gold Uni-Posca marker. I sealed the page with gel matt medium.

I used PVA glue to put these pages onto the backside of the covers.

I placed wax paper around the covers and placed them under a heavyweight until they completely dried. This helped keep the covers from warping.

To make the inside pages I used black and white gesso and stencils to create backgrounds.

Going back to my original plan I determined what pages needed what pieces of paper I had printed with typography images.

Using the same stencils and gesso, I created my own designs on blank white washi tape. These were used to put the book pages and cover together. I made four darker strips that would be used on the covers. I added some hints of red to make them more interesting.

This is a before-after example of a page that shows the names of parts of a letter. The part is in red and the name of the part is above the letter. I had this on a printed page which I tore up and then glued to the black cardstock. I highlighted with Uni-Posca black and white markers and put the word “parts” in white so that at a glance you would know what the page was about.

Before - layout with paper glued to the background

After - Uni-Posca Black and White pens to create unity

I created a single pop-out element using squares of text on black card stock, white gesso covered by clear embossing powder. I used the 6”x6” stencil Hip to Be Square Small Alphabet by Carolyn Dube.

The last process was putting the book together.

Armed with matt medium, PVA glue, bone folder, washi tape, covers, and pages, I attached each page according to the original plan.

Last, but not least, I made a tie to keep the book closed using some polka dot sari ribbon (thanks to Ephemera Paducah), beads, and the remaining red cord.

Here's a video so you can see my accordion book in a different way.


Supplies Used:
  • 6x6 inches card stock (colors: black - five pieces and white - four pieces)
  • 6x6 inches chipboard – two pieces
  • 8x8 inches of hand dyed cotton – two pieces
  • 8x8 inches of rice paper – two pieces
  • Red cording 24 inches long
  • Gesso (colors: black and white)
  • Uni-Posca Markers (colors: black, white, red and gold)
  • Washi tape
  • Copy paper with printed typography images
  • Adaline Izink Ice (colors: Whiskey Frost and Iced Coffee)
  • Gel medium matte finish
  • YES Paste Stik Flat Glue
  • PVA glue
  • Therm-O-Web Purple Tape or painters tape
  • Brushes and sponges
  • Bone Folder
  • Colour Shaper or credit card
Stencils from StencilClub and Beyond:
Geri Beam's bio:

Geri Beam's love of art was first expressed through participation in high school performing arts programs. Active in Community Theater for twenty years, her commitment led to membership in the Actors’ Equity Association in 2002. Concurrently, Beam explored oil paints, ceramics and fused glass, but found her focus in 2009, after taking textile classes with Laura Wasilowski and Jane Dunnewold. Accepted into Jane Dunnewold’s Art Cloth Mastery Program in 2012, she chose to retire from her ‘day-job’ after twenty-six years of working in the Information Technology field. She is currently a member of several sewing and quilt guilds in California, and devotes her time to teaching and creating art.

Artist's statement:

I am compelled to create. If a day goes by without creative release, dark, mental clouds gather. Making art clears the air, brings light, and relieves the stress of everyday life. My goal is to express my deepest feelings and to help others to do the same. There is nothing so sweet as to see someone experience an ah-ha moment. An inner voice guides me. I work quickly and intuitively - letting myself get lost in the moment of creation. My preferred materials are luxurious natural fibers that feel good to touch. Tactile textures and rich color add the complexity I seek, yet simple lines, capable of expressing movement or feeling, are what I value most. I use sparkle and shine to generate realism; but sparingly! I am currently honing my craft and clarifying my artist's voice. Expanding the tools in my creative tackle box helps avoid boredom. Incorporating computer technology and software programs balances any weakness in manual processes. I continue to create classes and lectures to teach others how to tap into their creative voice. I hope to inspire and influence the lives of others through my art, and through sharing the gifts I have been given.


  1. What a fabulous accordion book, I love how the covers were made, the stencils you selected were perfect for the theme and each page creates a nice tribute, I also love that you kept it in black and white. Awesome work

  2. I love it that the book is not only beautiful to look at, but teaches something too. Your detailed instructions taught me a lot about process and materials. The video was the crowning touch, making the book come alive as well as giving close-ups of individual pages. Well done art! Well done how-to!

  3. love it..you are very talented

  4. Wow! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  5. You are so much talent. Great job and very informative.

  6. As I also love fonts, this accordion book was of great interest. Impeccably done, explained so thoroughly and clearly, and just a beautiful piece of art, this is a gem of a Stencil Girl feature! My compliments; it was a delight to examine!


If you are entering a GIVEAWAY, please add your email address in the event we need to contact you.

To avoid SPAM, please write it like this:

marybeth (at) stencilgirltalk (dot com)

Thank You!