Since we put up a photograph of Tanu Shree Singh’s wire platypus bookmark, we have been inundated by requests for the bookmark. Since we do not have any either, we requested Tanu for a how-to lesson, so that we–and other Duckbill fans–can make our own. Here is her guide, very helpfully embellished by photographs. Thank you Tanu!
We love books. And like every other bookworm on this planet (and others), we love to mark the page that we had to leave to return to the real world. Since dog-earing the pages earns one time out in the dungeons under the library, we prefer receipts, visiting cards, complimentary store-bookmarks, the forefinger in case the interruption is short, and in some rare moments, a proper bookmark – last one was a hand-painted one from Kashmir. My dog, Dobby, found it appetizing. So owing to whatever bizarre circumstances, when we run out of those, we make our own.
This time, I found some wire from one of the boys’ project that never took off. And these were fashioned into bookmarks. They are fairly easy to make, especially if you are not a stickler for perfection in terms of proportion or a dent or two.
Things you’ll need:
1. 18 or 20 gauge copper or aluminium wire
Aluminium is more pliable but difficult to shape without dents. Copper, on the other hand, is slightly harder but holds the shape well. So depending on the shape you want to create, choose the wire. Hardware stores and the wire wholesalers stock these.
2. Needle nose pliers
These would be needed to get the spirals going. It gets a tad bit difficult to give that first turn without these, though I think regular pliers would work just as well, or, for that matter, strong fingers.
3. Pencil, paint brush – anything with a cylindrical body to wrap the wire around.
The zero size brush is ideal to start the spiral loop and the pencil was used to smoothen the wire.
4. A hammer
This is required to hammer the living daylights out of the final wire shape.
Let’s get to it:
1. Cut the required length. This would vary with the shape you choose, the final size of the bookmark, and more importantly the size of your fingers and skill level. Since both of the latter factors do not work in my favour, my bookmarks were slightly larger than life. I cut an 18-inch piece for the platypus bookmark. If you end up making a miniature one, good for you. Do not tag me to the picture.
2. Smoothen the wire by pulling it between your thumb and the pencil.
3. Make the first loop around the zero size paintbrush. This is where you might need the pliers. Also, it is advisable to either sand the cut end of the wire, or just be a bit careful. Getting tetanus shots for making bookmarks is not a good idea.
4. Now simply start fashioning the bookmark according to the shape chosen. Since, I used the duckbill logo as a point for reference, after the loop I started with the hind leg, went on to a slightly plump belly (platypuses should always be well fed), then the front paws, the duckbill, and then the other side.
5. Once you reach where you started, simply roll the left over wire into a spiral and adjust it in the centre. You might have to adjust the whole thing a bit to get as close to perfection as humanly possible.
6. Now the best part. Hammering! It is a better idea to flatten the wire, as it reduces the risk of it losing shape, and after all, thinner the bookmark, healthier the book. While hammering bear three things in mind:
• Hammer on a surface you know won’t crack. Tiled floors, and kitchen slabs are the worst idea ever. Go outdoors. Use the front yard. Or better still, the neighbour’s yard. Just saying.
• Do not let any wire part over lap. In case of the platypus, the first tiny loop overlaps the larger spiral. Gently pull them apart while hammering or else you’d have a maimed platypus by the end of it.
• DO NOT HAMMER YOUR FINGER. Yes that happens. And yes it is extremely painful.
7. Once it is flattened, gently push the overlapping parts back into position.
8. Ta da!
Please note: The dogs are purely incidental, and do not have any technical or aesthetic purpose in the whole thing. And if anyone points out the dents or the imperfect shape, say that they add character to the bookmark, and make a mental note of that person.