The same can be said for a sketchbook. Is it a pile of copy paper stapled with a cover and a name slapped on top? Is it a wire bound blank tablet or a store-bought hard cover? In all these cases, it's not personal, expressive, inviting, nor treasured. Latvian artist, Aniko Kolesnikova, creates magical sketchbooks from polymer clay. You can see her website by clicking the image above, and an article about her work HERE.
I based the size on what I had available for covers -- canvas board -- but you could use almost anything. The papers were stacked and stapled with a heavy duty stapler I found online, like THIS one. We wrapped the end with a little canvas and hot glue. To finish we added my canvas boards for the front and back covers.
Though Aniko Kolesnikova uses polymer clay, I found that the Model Magic I had on hand worked just fine. I am all about using up what I already have without buying more "stuff." I would imagine even a salt clay would do well too. We took a week to make, paint, and create our book covers. Student made covers of their favorite and inspirational images. I had them sketch before getting any clay, to take time and think about what their cover was going to be. Some even looked up imagery and referenced that in their own work.
As an alternative, you might be able to get some discarded hard-cover books from a library, remove the inner pages and add in blank pages with hot glue. Hard cover books can make for a good base for clay work. If the cover is glossy, sanding it will help glued objects stick better.
Now when students work in their sketchbooks, they are treasured. They know to take their time and be thoughtful about their work. In some cases, "judging a book by its cover" can be a great motivator.