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Book done!

Finished the book from Roben-Marie’s free class. I am sure I will use this binding method again in the future! Very simple and effective. I love how the pages open up so flatly and fully.

This is the inside cover on the left, the first signature on the right.

The binding is clever, although I would make a small change next time. Rather than creating the signature (made up of a folded sheet filled with loose-leaf sheets, not additional folded sheets!) and sticking it into the spine, I would stick all the loose sheets in and complete the “signatures” THEN stick them in to the spine. You may just need to sign up and watch the construction to get what I mean – it’s hard to explain!

It is only the outside wrap of the loose pages that gets stuck into the book. The rest of the binding is all tape. Strong, reinforced tape, but tape nonetheless. On one page I did cut the tape in half, thinking I didn’t want to obscure too much of the page, but then forgot to keep doing it. I would def. try that next time. Don’t think I photographed that smaller tape strip either – but the tape is 2.5 inches so cutting it in half lengthwise will work, I’m sure.

Just a few shots of the various junk pages…

The one on the right below is a sheet from the Waitrose newspaper, a desk cover to catch over-spill, with a gesso stamped image or two to brighten it up. I just stuck the two sides together to make it more sturdy – I really like how it looks!

I didn’t add the tape between the stuck signature wraps. I might still go back and do so, not sure yet.

Now the real question is what to do with it? It feels like maybe a Gratitude journal, full of uplifting quotes, might be an idea but frankly, as the election results drag on, and the psycho toddler-in-chief refuses to concede, and my Good As Hell journal page gets delayed again and again, I kinda feel like a RAGE journal is more likely. But there are dozens of pages in this book, and I am just not sure I can sustain my rage for that long.

Who am I kidding? I have FOUR YEARS of pent up rage to let out! LOL!

Time will tell….

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Gotta love a free workshop!

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a free workshop from Roben-Marie. I used to see her videos on YouTube eons ago and she popped into my feed. I wandered down a rabbit hole and found this free class she was offering. I thought Why not? and signed up. It was really fun.

Now, to be fair, her style is fabulous but I could never emulate the artistic restraint she has. All of her pages were bordering on minimal, with plenty of space to add extra tiny little bits of collage or daubs of paint. I would have had to work so hard to make pages like that. But the CONCEPT of the album, and the BINDING technique really appealed to me.

Next problem? The whole thing focused on a gutted book cover. I didn’t have one. I had some really BIG books, but no tiny likkle diddy one that would work. What I DID have was more of the canvas boards that I used for my recent mini art journal. So I MADE a book to use in the same way Roben-Marie used her gutted actual book.

I oriented the canvas boards portrait style rather than landscape, as I did for the journal, and it worked really well!

Lots of clips to make sure I got a good bond. Then I covered the outside with a cover-my-desk mop-up sheet of paper and covered the spine with heavy kraft tape stamped to tie it all together.

How long did I dither about which should be the front and which should be the back cover? Don’t ask!

I collected a bunch of things to use for the pages. There were some old Gelli prints, more mop-up sheets, sheets where I brayered off paint when Gelli printing, spray ink and Brusho over-spray sheets, even some newspaper that I stamped some extra gesso images onto then folded and stuck the two sides together to give them a bit more stability. There were some old collages sheets for a project I abandoned, some brush-off ink splotches and heaven knows what else. I took four of the brayer-off sheets and added some stamping and stenciling to what was there, to unify them more colourwise and used them as the folded signatures that the loose pages fit within. Here are some of the bits:

Now all that is needed is to bind it using Roben-Marie’s clever gummed tape binding. Watch this space!

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Art Journal, cover decorated, mostly

I have finished MOST of the decoration of my art journal cover.

Not the best photos today, but the weather is miserable and the light is rubbish. It is just the usual conglomeration of stamps, stencils and mark-making that you will see on pretty much every art journal LOL! I am very happy with my Rubbermoon stamps, however (most notably the large yellow flowers and the turquoise spirals) and I am sure they will appear a lot. The inside is maybe even better. I was a little more restrained and limited the blue on the spine to a smaller area.

The signatures are sewn in, and I was limited by the number of sheets of watercolour paper I had to create them. Because the holes for the sewn signatures are slightly farther apart than ideal, I think I will be able to fit two or maybe even three more signatures in if I am careful with my hole-punching. It would have to be a simple pierced hole rather than a punched one, lest it compromise the structural integrity of the spine. See the gap? But then, do I actually WANT more pages?

The closure is a simple one, just a bit of elastic and a button.

I punched a couple more holes in the spine and threaded the ends of the elastic to the inside then knotted them securely.

Oh, and I did use my deckle edge blade to cut the pages. Thanks for the reminder Shaz!

So now the dilemma…do I give it a title? ART JOURNAL yet AGAIN?? Title it with a quote, that might feel like it limits me? Just Art Journal #(whatever) or AJ 2020? BAH!

Here’s a weird thing. I like the making of the journals, a lot. So I am pretty OK with making ones that are not huge, with 60 pages to fill. This one (and the little one from the offcuts) have four signatures of two folded sheets each, or 8 single pages each, for 32 pages (which can be done as double-page spreads if wanted) and that suits me fine. So deciding on a theme or a technique maybe, or even a colour, might be a fun way to do it. At least I will know there are only that limited number of pages to do and not 60+ pages!

I already have a couple others that appeal – a twine binding, that allows for slipping pages in so they could be worked flat before adding them, and one from Roben-Marie that has an odd tape binding, also for small, loose, multi-texture and varied paper type sheets, that fits within a small gutted cook cover. There is a workshop for that – I’ll find the link and add it when I start. I’ll ponder the title a bit longer….

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Art journal from Amazon mailer

Not my idea. I get frustrated by the YouTube algorithm cause unless I save something after watching, I find it hard to find it again, especially if I watch a video in a blog post and not on the platform. My problem, I know, but it would be nice to at least link to the original one I saw. Anyway, I do know my take on it is a bit different so here we go…

I took the basic Amazon book mailer (mine is the 6 inch wide one) and did a minor surgery on it.

VERY minor – I removed the tear-open strip LOL!

The original I saw utilized the flaps that secure the book as pockets. For me, I saw no need for pocket – this journal will not have loose pages and it isn’t a planner style journal. I glued them down flat to make a more solid cover. I cut the little triangle to fill the notch.

This is very much a departure. What I learned from making the first one of these is that the cardboard is more flimsy than you expect. I also think adding layers over the area that becomes the spine to reinforce it makes it pretty stiff and bulky. So I began by lining all the larges areas with cardstock. I used white, but I could have been frugal and used large scraps of scrapbooking cardstock (of which I have PLENTY) instead.

I left the spine area free. In the end I cut out the area I will use to sew in the signatures and replaced it with mat board. I get that this is no less work than creating a journal from plain bits of heavy cardboard (and may be more) but it IS reusing something instead of trashing it or recycling it in a way that requires more resources.

Then I covered the whole of the covers with collaged book pages a PVA. The final coats are first gesso then mat medium – I prefer to use the cheap, strong PVA where it really doesn’t matter!

I also used a circle cutter circle to round flap nicely.

I then covered the spine area and a bit onto the covers with canvas, inside and out, both the replaced spine AND the small area for the flap. That makes it both strong and flexible. A winning combination. I had an old, stained and damaged pre-stretched canvas from The Works that I used for that.

I used both PVA and a bit of the old tape runner to make it really secure!

One thing to check is that the smaller spine, where the flap folds over? Make sure it allows for the thickness of the added signatures. The first one worked cause the pages were very narrow. This one the pages were pretty much the full width. I used watercolour paper from an old pad, A3 size, cut down. You will see I already made a small journal with the offcuts produced by cutting down the full sheets to the right size for THIS journal. See that here. It looks like this:

It’s diddy, only 5 x 6 inches, but I think it will be fun.

So the last bit is the decorating and adding a closure but cause this is super long already and my patience with the stupid new WordPress editor is at the very end I’ll stop here and show that in another post!


DIY Bookbinding cradle

I can’t even recall where I first saw a bookbinding cradle. I just recall thinking What a great tool! because it looked like it would solve the problem I always seem to have getting the holes for a pamphlet stitch signature right in the crease and all in a straight line. Maybe you are better at that than I am, but I can confirm that since I started using it my signatures are much better aligned.

And since I made it using stuff I had hanging around my craft room, it cost me nothing.

A bit about the stuff hanging around – I have hoarding tendencies. I freely admit it. But the number of times I have seen something and thought Wait. I have that or Wait, I can MAKE that far outweigh the times I stumble over something and think I should bin that.

One of the things I have hoarded forever is blocks. My kids had big bins of wooden blocks. I’ve used them as stamp mounts (back when I mounted stamps on wood) as levelers or supports – like this TV table that sits suspended in the space between my two desks:

Apologies for the blur but you get the idea.  Anyway, I still have a massive tub of blocks, and they came in handy for this little tool. The other things I used are some 1/2 inch thick fun foam, a couple of pieces of mat board and some glue.  

As you can see I ALSO have blocks supporting the small drawer unit on  my window ledge, propping up the overhang. Anyway, I used four half-square triangles, one flat rectangle and two mat board/chipboard pieces.

If I made one change, I think it would be making the chipboard sides LONGER, for when I make a taller art journal, but I was limited in that I only had this one piece of thick foam.  But it’s easy enough to sort that on the fly. I used the thick foam as a base for the cradle – this means when I poke the holes in the signatures, the pokey tool goes into the foam and not my desk.

The triangles-with-a-gap work as supports for the chipboard and the flat rectangle works as a backstop. Once I had it laid out as above, it was just a glue job! The triangles get stuck to the foam, then the backstop to the blocks and the foam on one side – leaving the second end open allows for a larger signature to extend past the cradle.

Adding the chipboard to create the valley is the last step

Maybe hard to see but I have a metal ruler in the middle to leave a very small gap between the two sides. This is where you poke thru. into the foam below.

Yesterday you will have seen (kinda) how it works.  Line up the signature with the creased edge inside the cradle.  Make a paper template to ensure all the holes line up.  Poke thru the template and thru the signature

To punch a longer signature, I just added some extra foam under where the hole will be (if it is just slightly past the chipboard side supports) and poke thru the guide, OR flip the signature and the guide around so the last hole(s) is in the cradle support.

Easy peasy.  If you want to make one, just put diy bookbinding cradle into your YouTube search bar and you will see PLENTY of options, from plain old chipboard versions to proper woodwork ones.  I like my version cause it cost me nothing, took about 10 minutes to make (+ glue-drying time) and works pretty darn well!


In limbo…

Well, the election results are still up in the air. Nothing else to say till they count all the votes.

To keep my mind and hands occupied, I made a little art journal. I have finished the basic construction of the Amazon packaging one, and made the signatures. The watercolour sheets I had were too big, but with careful planning, I was able to get the signatures for that larger journal (pages are 6×10 inches) AND signatures of 6 x just shy of 5 inches so I decided to make a smaller journal too. My plan is for this to be a use-it-up journal , where I can offload extra paint, stencil-stamp, roll off a brayer, etc.

The construction of the journal itself was prompted by some little 5×7 inch canvas-covered boards. I suspect I bought them eons ago for my daughter to paint on and I had a few unused ones. With a bit of canvas I was able to make a cover.

The canvas sheets I had were not big enough so I had to overlap them.

Lots of clamps of many different kinds held it in place – I used strong PVA as the adhesive. 

I used the bookbinding cradle I made for punching the signatures and I have to say I am super happy with how it worked. 

The cover ended up looking like this – really, there are no amazing techniques here, just paint and water and stencils and stamps.  OK, well there was ONE thing, my substitute for nickle Azo gold, which I don’t have, that worked out pretty well.  I’ll explain in another post.

The little skull beads are from knitting stitch marker making – I have loads of them. The inside looks like so – the first signatures is full of paint leftovers so I never have to begin with a blank page, and all the colours are the same as the cover.

The deli paper prints  on the inside of the covers are from that other page in my big journal.  Still love them! The back cover gives a hit that I am not yet successful in pushing the election out of my head!  The phrase is a riff on the thing they say at the end of campaign ads in the USA, My name is XXX and I approved this message. I thought it was pretty appropriate.

My stamping of single letters wasn’t too bad – ever so slightly wonky but overall pretty good. 

I guess I will have to make more of that deli paper – really, I can’t even say how much  love it and how many ideas I have for how to use it.  And it was so easy too! 

What I used up that was old or has been languishing in my stash:

  • the canvas boards
  • the canvas sheets
  • Pearl-ex in Aztec Gold
  • stamps bought on sale for about £3, never used
  • little skull beads
  • black baker’s twine
  • a Gelli print from at least 5 years ago
  • and used up the last of my deli paper prints from last week
  • needle tip bottle still filled with black paint, still flowing freely

All in all that was pretty good! I have managed to resurrect my bottle of crackle paint, and tested it – it still cracks!  I have four more bottles, all but one still factory sealed, and all dry as bones in the desert.  I will perform the same operation on them and then share how I did it.  I will def. use that on my next cover or page!


I just can’t leave well enough alone…

I have been following the DASH diet, and like it a lot.  It’s not hard to stick to, I feel like I am getting enough food, and food I like (ok, slightly bland without salt, but still, better for me) but the book is frustrating.  I couldn’t cook the recipes without finding a good place to prop up the book so it stayed open, the sections I wanted to refer to a lot were scattered in with other stuff I didn’t care about (like the science of it all) or that I would read occasionally, but not often.

So what did I do?  What any self-respecting crafter would do – I deconstructed the book and made it over the way I wanted it to be.


Yep.  I did. I cut the sucker up.  Once I secured the pages with a few big rubber bands to hold the edges straight, I took a ruler and a box cutter and sliced the pages out.  I thought about using the original cover but was worried the BIA rings wouldn’t be big enough for smooth opening and closing.  I cut up a colourful plastic place mat to make internal dividers and the covers.


I reorganized the order of the book t suit me (good thing too, cause I did actually rip the index pages by mistake – re-ordering the book makes the index a bit useless so no loss there)


and strong tabs mark the sections I know I will g back to every day. I have a stack more tabs to note things I think are important, and to compensate for ruining the index.


I like the internal dividers and think it makes using the book a lot easier.  I did call maybe 4 different UK binding services and none of them said the would cut and rebind a book (like Kinkos and Office Depot do in the States) so DIY was the order of the day.

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Printables, and a near-fail book

I will begin by adding some printables that I made last week, before I got sidetracked by bookmaking.


I think looking at the PDF on my monitor, the text looks fuzzy. I’ve printed them to test for myself and they are actually fine.  There are strips for a 6×4 photo (along the 6″ or 4″ edge) and the 4″ inch ones also fit a 3×4 inch photo or filler card. There are some 3″ ones too.  Just little label-maker style text strips that you might find useful. Grab them here.

Now continuing the bookmaking adventure, I did try the rectangular labels.  Not a total fail but not a total success either.  First, an annoyance.  I was quite pleased with the paper booklet that came as a gift with Crafts Beautiful. Cute patterns, mostly, double-sided and a nice weight for the map folds, not too bulky.


Then I opened it.  WTF?


Printed right on the paper!  DOH. Careful placement of the dies just barely worked


Some of the edges look a little nibbled.  The real problem is that there is a formula for doing the map fold on a rectangle.  Width – Height / 2 (width of paper across minus the height of the paper divided by 2)  and that number is where you would mark for your diagonal score lines.  But because of  the shaped edges I was struggling to get it right.  Technically that is 9 1/2 wide minus 6 high = 3 1/2 divided by 2 = 1 3/4 inches.  But every time I did it, it seemed to fold just slightly differently.  And sometimes the folds had to be adjusted so the finished unit had neat edges.




I found doing one side perfectly then adjusting the other so the points matched, worked best.  And making a template for the point to fold the side in to helped as well.



The construction is pretty much the same, although I made the covers from the biggest size (same as the pages) then the inner cardstock dividers from the next size down.  It made for an interesting book.


Go back to the previous posts here and here for more detail on the map-fold books. This post talks about folding directional papers.

I am madly folding pop-up boxes, from my better designed .svg, to finish off the handful of ATCs before Wednesday.  Bank holiday tomorrow and we may actually get out for the day, so doing laundry too.  Blech. After spending the entire day disassembling DS’s Stompa bed OMG! what a job) and filing a mountain of paperwork, and prepping an enormous amount of  meat for the BBQ (enough to last the week for sure) and to populate the new freezer, I could use a day out….


A new Art Journal from envelopes

My existing AJ is starting to get full. It wasn’t too big to begin with so that isn’t surprising – although *I* am surprised I’ve managed to make more than 2 pages and haven’t abandoned the process yet.   LOL!

Anyway, if you read here often you know I like making stuff from scratch.  I had an idea t make an AJ that shared some of the properties of a paper bag book, in that it included areas to stash stuff.  When at Staples, looking for something totally unrelated, I found these massive envelopes.


I thought there was an idea there.  I’ve started my folding each envelope in half, up to the edge of the fold-over flap


Note they are called “manilla” when in fact they are more like heavy paper bags.  That is what I keep banging on about – the UK manilla isn’t like the US manilla..oh would that it was.  I knew they paper was likely to allow bleed thru so I decided to gesso the pages before constructing the book.


Some of the pages got scraped gesso, some got brushed gesso, and some got either one, then folded together and pulled apart to produce texture, then left to dry.

But another serendipitous thing – while at the grocery store I grabbed a cheap kid’s dough modelling toolkit. It had a pizza cutter in it so I used that as a texture tool.  It is blunt so should also work fab on the Gelli plate!


See how simple, but cool, are the marks?


And there is a wavy scallop as well!


I think having the pages ready to go will mean no more fear of the blank page.

The whole toolkit was so cheap and in addition to the pizza cutter and the wavy cutter there are some other useful items – the paddle scraper is handy, the little hard brayer might be interesting with some wire or rubber bands wrapped around it, and the little interchangeable tools I’ve not yet thought much about, but I’m sure they will make some interesting marks. Check out that price…


So I’ll be Gesso-ing like made while the sun shines and the pages can dry outside with the laundry. I’m thinking that a series of sewn signatures (maybe two envelopes each, with the flaps one side, then reverse the envelope for the other side) with a hard matboard cover (maybe even stuck inside a folded envelope?  not sure of that) will make a nice sturdy book.  The size is good, and I imagine I could stash all manner of bits inside the open envelope (loose pages, written or even typed journaling, photos or magazine articles or newspaper clippings that have been annotated by me…) so long as they aren’t bulky.  It’ll be interesting to see how it works out/IF it works out…

LOL!  Probably doomed to failure, if I were superstitious, as this is my 1300th post….


A Valentine star book

DH look away now!

I have a tendency to get a bit OTT with Valentines.  I am not overly sentimental, but I seem to become more so today.  Something to do with it being the anniversary of DH asking me to marry him?  Perhaps.

Anyway, being in a star-book mood, due to the challenge, I thought to myself that it would be fun to make another one instead of just a Valentines day card. clearly I also have the bad habit of waiting till the last minute….

I love this poem.  It’s romantic, but not in an overly sentimental and squishy way.  Here is the cover:













and a shot from above…



Happy Valentine’s Day!