“Cut” – a die cut photobook prototype

This was born from the images I took for A1, and the die-cutting of photobooth portraits as an idea for development in A2. Many of the images I took for A1 found their way into a family Blurb photobook, and I found myself wondering how I could add something to the pages. Colour and cut were what intrigued me. There were practical considerations too – how would I put an actual book through a die-cutting machine (think a pasta machine but capable of slicing textures and textiles from paper to leather and thin plastic). Then the by now getting slightly old issue of actually cutting images of someone who’s very dear to you indeed.

I love a book that does something. Stan Dickenson’s reworked Textbook of Physical Chemistry amazes me anew every time I see it. Click here for the literal film of the book (link goes to You-tube and opens in a new tab).

I started by sketching out a layout. I wanted to use plain coloured pages amongst the photographic pages, that I would then cut with the die-cutting machine to give shapes or patterns that would reveal part of the photograph beneath. I wanted the colours to tone with the photo that they “framed”, so I used the sampler tool in Blurb to select a colour from the photo that would show. This colour will always be opposite a different photograph, so needed to work with that image too. I wanted a book that could be read forwards and backwards, though it’s yet to be seen how the same cut-out page can work with photographs both before and after it in the book. I think this prototype will show any changes that I need to make in choosing and placing photographs. I’m also curious about adding texture by embossing – this could be either to the photo pages or the plain colour pages.

I took advantage of a 40% Blurb discount to build and order a book. Because of the need to fold the covers entirely back to get pages into the die-cutter, I decided to choose a soft back rather than a hard back. I’m not quite ready to start constructing books from scratch but I might need to if this doesn’t work. All photos cover the entire page, there are no borders as I didn’t want bits of white poking through the cuts. The book arrived and looks great, the binding is very flexible and the plain coloured pages look like they’re meant to be there. That latter is a relief, I thought they might look a little odd in real life. There is no text in the book at all apart from the cover and title page.

/to be continued

Continuing 13/4. I die-cut the book carefully, I had to bend the front and back back on each other to feed the page to be cut into the die-cutting machine. It worked to a point, but is not essentially an improvement on the uncut book. I think the coloured pages worked well, they provided a break between images and were in sympathetic tones. I did wonder if it work better to cut the photographs with a view through to the plain page, but my coloured pages were in the wrong places to do that. I need to park this one for a while and see if any ideas turn up for improving the execution.

9/5 continuing again

A comment from another OCA photography student reminded me about this work. I made a very rough video. Looking at it makes me think that the work is not as bad as I thought.


2 thoughts on ““Cut” – a die cut photobook prototype

  1. Catherine January 10, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    Can’t wait to see how it proceeds – your idea is so intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate January 11, 2017 / 8:55 am

      Thank you Catherine. I think it has promise, but there’s some way to go. I have a couple of personal projects that are linked in to coursework that I’m going to blog about.


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