Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cafe Doodle Kit

It's tough to not look at a piece of interesting paper or cardboard and not think about transforming it.  This feeling has only been fueled by a short private class I attended on simple  bookbinding a few weeks ago.

Since then I'd been eyeing a large collapsible  pastry box from Coffee Day - I had some plans for it.

Time was when cafes were all about lingering at the melamine covered table  staring into the distance, eavesdropping on conversations albeit inadvertently, trying to figure out who and what the people around you were about, while pretending to be interested in stirring damp sugar crystals into a hot tumbler of coffee. It was about doodling on paper napkins and sneaking them home as keepsakes. Nowadays it's all about figuring out what kind of Italian coffee you want, and getting it to the table and stirring in demerara sugar or artificial sweetener before it gets cold. And it's about finding a table and keeping it. Let alone trying to overhear conversations unobtrusively, you have to do all you can to see that someone doesn't fall on your lap or snatch your chair while you're trying to squint and read the menu. Napkins have metamorphosed into public message boards. And the people are too close to be interesting for an afternoon session of guessing who and what they could be.

In a bid to rewind to those oh-so langorous heady days of cafe culture, I decided to convert this bit of card  into a Cafe Doodle Kit. Paper napkins and cafes are closely linked  in my mind.   I chose to go with a Star Book which was the closest to a napkin's form - this was made from a bit of the card from the cakebox and an old square ruled notepad. This fits into the folder made from the cake box, into which you can fit your pens and pencils, crayon sticks whatever else takes one's fancy. The Star Book pages open out much like a paper napkin does, and glory be, in this present edition, you have two different surfaces, a blank page and a square line page alternately - so you can write poetry or sketch depending on the mood that overcomes you, and what aura you wish to project!  In case anyone's looking of course.

Here's an overview of how it developed.

First, preparing the paper for the Star Book. God is in the details - cutting and folding.

There's a technique of folding each page, and then sticking them back-to-back to get this form. 

The ends of the paper form are stuck onto bits of card. In this case, bits of card cut from the cake box.

Ah, the trusty folder and awl (the latter was not really used for this project, but is just there for effect).

Working on the rest of the bit of cardboard - remove all other unnecessary bits to leave just whatever is needed for a folder. (Just like the instruction to the sculptor - you only need to remove all the bits that are not elephant)

Used a paste to glue one flap into a pocket, my trusty river stones adding their weight to it.

Always good to have closure - use any bits of random string lying around.

My favourite bit -   I went a bit overboard and made my own paper button instead of adding something heavy. I used the reverse of the card to contrast with the busy cover of the folder.

The underside of the button has a bit of remnant card, so it fits into the slit on the opposite side and is glued on.

The flaps are shut and the string fits over the paper button - voila, here is the Cafe Doodle Kit.

A look inside. The pages alternate between square ruled and plain, so you can use it to write poetry or doodle to your heart's content..and in case you come up with a gem of a doodle, you have it all on record. The folder can also accommodate extra paper napkins - last I remember they still give these away quite generously. (Disclaimer: I received nothing for this from the Cafe Coffee Day guys - I just let their logo be because it would have been messy to cover it up. )

Needless to say, it was a quite a bit of fun to make this, partly because of the freedom you get to wing it along the way and just invent stuff - like this absolutely crazy heart shaped paper button. Ah yes, paper (or card for that matter) is indeed a very forgiving material.


  1. Gosh Nami - that is so creative, well written and all around awesome! If i didn't know that it would just lie around or get spoiled by my kids - i'd ask you to make one for me. It is too cute. Esp *heart* the button (i couldn't resist that bit of teen-ism) :D.

  2. Gruesome...I mean awesome. You rock sister! I really need to come over to Mumbai and eat some pastries to get such a box first!


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