River’s TARDIS Journal (Doctor Who)

Taylor writes:

For the record, Toadvine and myself do not spend all of our time watching anime and making things from it. No, indeed.

Sometimes we watch British cult sci-fi and make things from it.

We also drink rather a lot of tea.

But I digress.

When I saw River Song’s TARDIS journal on Doctor Who, I knew I needed to make one. It’s a gorgeous prop and I love bookmaking, so I decided to construct one just in time for DragonCon ‘11 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The journal visually references the TARDIS and has clearly experienced a great deal of wear and tear.

I was exceedingly fortunate in that the BBC had published a pdf of the journal cover for viewers to wrap around an existing book. When you can find a scale, high-resolution image of a prop you’re trying to replicate, the fabrication gods are indeed smiling upon you. I was also very lucky in that, unlike so many of the anime pieces we make, this existed as a real physical object. No strange changes in size or shape from shot to shot.

Of course, I also did a lot of watching Doctor Who episodes with a finger on the pause button. Such are the sacrifices we make for art.

I decided the journal would be a book first and a prop second: it would be made as a proper book using traditional techniques.

The pieces of paper that make up the pages was torn from large sheets of a high cotton rag paper, then folded into signatures. The signatures were pierced with an awl, and then they were sewn to each other. The whole thing was covered with glue and gauze to secure them all, then left to dry overnight.


The most striking thing about the journal (besides the colour) is the heavy patterning on the cover. Tooling the leather wouldn’t create deep enough shapes, so I decided to build up the shapes with a layer of thinner bookboard on top of the foundation layer. Rough measurements were taken from the BBC pdf.



When I glued the leather to the covers, I was able to press it into the crevices to create the gutters.


The bookblock was then glued into the leather cover and the whole thing put under pressure to dry.

As an extra touch, I added marbled endpapers. They’re not seen in the show, but they’re not *not* seen in the show, and frankly the pattern and colours looked very wibbly-wobbley spacey-wacey to me.


Now I had a beautiful, very *new* TARDIS journal. Time to distress it!

After a very gentle drybrushing with a light blue, the cover patterns were suddenly visible, and the whole thing started to look a great deal older.


I’d show you pictures of the interior pages, but, well…. Spoilers.