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Making a Jacob’s Ladder Book

Several people have asked me how to make the Jaccob’s Ladders. I’ll try to explain a bit, but it’s really too complicated to describe just in words. I used the instructions in Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings by Alisa Golden. It’s available through Amazon.com or other booksellers.

Here’s my brief explanation.

The “steps” of the ladder are made from “sandwiches” of two  boards. I covered my boards with my marbled paper. The sandwiches are joined together by ribbons and that’s the tricky part. The ribbons weave in and out of the sandwiches and are glued on the inside but not on the outside.  The weaving is not straight down the ladder as the ribbons must loop around the step so that the ladder can move.  If you open the ladder slowly, you can see that the ribbons form an X  between the steps, with the outside ribbons staying parallel to each other and the center ribbon “X-ing” them.

In Golden’s book, she lays out the process in 28 steps with diagrams.  Even with that help, it took me several tries to get the weaving completely correct. Once figured out it is a lot of fun!

Good luck and happy gluing!



Click below for a short video of a Jacob’s Ladder in motion.



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More Ladders

I was so pleased that I finally have the ribbons straightened out that I made a bunch more of the Ladders.  I’m especially enjoying using pages from vintage books.  The way the paper is cut, I rarely have complete paragraphs or even sentences.  It is a mind stretcher to “read” some of them.  They are not really just random words, but more like dream thoughts that never get quite completed.  I’ve cut a bunch more from cookbooks, Shakespeare and even the Bible.  I’m looking forward to putting them together.

In the meantime here are the ones I’ve finished.

All of these are for sale on Etsy.  In other news, I’m still cleaning up from my last marbling session. Marbling is fun, but it does make a mess!

I’m still sorting out the papers and trying to decide which papers to use and which to sell. That’s always a fun enterprise.  More on those papers later … I hope!

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Rainbow Update

Just a quickie to show you what I’ve done with some of my “rainbow” paper. Yes, I know that the rainbow really has seven colors, not six.  These are actually the primary and secondary colors on a color wheel, but rainbow sounds better.  Anyway, here is my newest plaything.

I’ve already cut the paper for a second one and have been marbling a lot of interesting vintage paper to make more.  Now that I’ve finally gotten the ribbons working, it’s fun.  I admit, I still have the 28 step instructions right in front of me every time!


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Not Quite As Planned

My plans for marbling this weekend didn’t quite work out – seems to be a theme going on here.

I did have a great weekend however, even if not as planned.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I was  playing with the ladders and getting a bit frustrated.  I had made the blocks for two ladders, but my first attempt at the ribbons wasn’t right.  I pulled them apart and tried again on one of the ladders and finally had the weaving right, but the ribbons were too loose, some blocks had gotten upside down, and it just wasn’t pretty!

I also had three books that I had started months ago, but had been too busy to get back to them. So I decided instead of creating more paper to join my stash and create more work, I would finish up some things, including mastering the ladders.  So, here are the results!

Ladders Ladders9 Ladders8 Ladders6Ladders4Ladders2


I made four ladders this week, The bottom two in the first photo were my successful ones.  One is made from pages of a 1947 book about Bozo the Clown that I marbled.  The other is regular marbled paper.  The top two are from an old copy of “The History of Western Art”. I was really excited about these as they would form a little “book” snapshot of art through the ages.  Unfortunately they were the ones I messed up.  I still like the idea and think I’ll have to marble some more pages and try again.


Here’s a close-up of two of the blocks from the the art book.

These are the books I finished.  Unlike most batches I make, these are all the same size.  It does make cutting the paper and boards easier, but it’s not as much fun!


I’m very pleased to have finished these and I’ll be putting them up on Etsy within the next week.

Maybe this week, I’ll get started on my new paints and all the marbling ideas that are floating through my head!

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