Zine Re/Production: Part II

Note: This is the third of a five-part workshop I am doing for a class on community writing this semester.

Last week we talked about the design-cost ratio which states that the more you invest in the design of your book or zine, the more costly it will become — either in terms of $, labor, or time. This principle makes it difficult to make your zine stand out. Although letterpressed or embossed covers look beautiful, access to those tools can be a challenge for the everyday maker.  That said, there are some straightforward, inexpensive ways to make your zine look one-of-a-kind and these moves often involve designing an attractive cover. In terms of cost, these methods take little $ but lots of time, depending on how many zines you plan to reproduce. As you think about your cover, draw from one of these strategies — or better yet combine them.


  • glue sticks, spray adhesive, Modge Podge
  • Brayer, acrylic paint, paint brushes, Mylar paper, cardboard
  • card stock, copy paper
  • knives, cutting mats
  • stamps, stamping ink
A variety of colors on card stock.

Colored/heavy paper. Rather than use standard, white, 20-pound copier paper for your cover, choose 60+-pound color card stock. If you plan to run this card stock through the copy machine, that’s okay, but consider how black ink might show up. You can also use a knife to cut shapes or letters in the cover and make the title page poke through (just remember you have to repeat this process for all covers).

Layered collage. Cut out your title from another sheet of  paper and paste it to the cover using Mod Podge or spray adhesive. This will be more durable if you’re using a card stock cover. You can also use Modge Podge to give it a gloss shine. Use a paintbrush and spread Modge Podge over the cutout until you get the sheen you want.

A DIY block stamp made from linoleum.

Stamping. Buy stamped letters or images,  make one from a photo at your local printing shop, or carve your own from a linoleum block. Although this option has more of a start-up cost than the others, when it comes to reproducing quality, color-inked covers, this method is hard to beat.

Stencil cut from Mylar paper

Stenciling. Buy stencils (letters, images, etc.) or make them by cutting silhouettes on Mylar paper. Then, attach to your cover using masking tape and color it in using crayons, markers, or acrylic paint. If using paint, try a brayer:

Another way to make your zine stand out is to use a saddle-stitch binding instead of a stapled one. We’ll conduct a workshop on this next week.