CLAMSHELL bookmaking


THERE'S A SURPRISE INSIDE every clamshell box when made to fit something special. Like its giant saltwater clam namesake, this postcard-sized box is firmly hinged along one side, and the remaining edges seal snugly together.

From Plain Jane to sophisticated to over-the-top, a clamshell box is built to protect your precious items during storage from dust, fading, and handling. Once you've completed this handsome little fella, you'll be ready to tackle the next one, tweaking it to show off your personal style.

  • Workshop for 4 to 10 people, age 15 and better

  • $120 each

  • 4 to 5 working hours plus snacks

  • All tools and materials provided

  • Current workshop calendar, or email us to request a date.

Wear comfortable shoes and work clothing. Dress for the weather: we are not air-conditioned and in winter much of the heat rises to the top of our 20-foot ceiling. Bring questions, your camera and a notebook to record your process.

Dive in

This large clamshell box shown here was made for botanical artist MF Cardamone to house a particular series of her prints.

This large clamshell box shown here was made for botanical artist MF Cardamone to house a particular series of her prints.

WITH MOST OF THE MATERIALS PRE-CUT for this workshop, it's easier to concentrate on the actual construction. You'll appreciate our streamlined process for this structure, plus step-by-step physical samples of each stage for ready reference. 

While clamshells can be labor intensive (lots of parts with lots of measuring, cutting and gluing), they also deliver a huge, matching satisfaction factor when finished. Whether you're an artist, collector, crafter, book lover, or you've just been gifted with something special that needs protection (like a family bible or a collection of family photos), you can really sink your teeth into this workshop.


⬆ This photo shows clamshell boxes for 2 well-worn bibles with associated family ephemera which had been jammed in the pages (we left the electrical tape “repairs”). On the right wrapped in red, you can see a Vader-worthy presentation box for a large, Star Wars collectible book.

Workshop content

  • Showcase of examples and production stages

  • Discussion of archival protection and material sources

  • Handout of instructions for reference

  • Step-by-step, hands-on box construction

  • Tips for accurate measuring of materials

  • Use of board shear and craft knife

  • Gluing and trimming tools and techniques

  • Handcrafting of smooth surfaces and tight corners

You should walk out with a finished clamshell and a nicely satisfying "I-made-this" feeling. 


Lead Graffiti clamshells

Below are a few Lead Graffiti clamshells we’ve made for clients and ourselves.


⬆This linen-covered and lined clamshell holds an important book in our collection that has a fragile slipcase and dust jacket.


⬆Shown here is one of six presentation clamshells Lead Graffiti helped create for the Thunder Road fundraising benefit project. The box houses signed hard and soft cover versions of a book that combines the work of British author Bruce Hornby with the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen.


⬆Our Tour de Lead Graffiti deluxe sets of prints for 2013 are each presented in a clamshell box wrapped with our purpose-made paste paper. Check out our paste paper workshop, which is only half a day and wholly fun.


⬆Students in a printmaking group from Anne Arundel Community College acquired a grant to commission a set of 6 presentation clamshell boxes to house a cooperative portfolio of their work. Normally the paste paper would wrap the outer cover, but Lead Graffiti chose to wrap the tray walls instead to emphasize all of the print goodies housed inside.