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!


Lucky, lucky me

Not really.  LOL!  I’m not a person who thinks of themselves as “lucky” – we’ve had too many bad things happen over the years.  But when a bookbinding group I’m part of set a challenge to make a star book with the theme of LUCK I decided to have a go.

The title comes from a song by the Hank Dogs, Lucky Break. I do so love their harmonies and easy, folky sound. Oh and yes, the YOUR slipped a bit but it’s straight now!



The background is a Gelli print that I made ages ago but had no immediate use for.  The shamrock is ringed by some old (and I do mean OLD) glass/mirror mosaic tiles.  They don’t photo well due to the reflection but love how they work in real life.





The usual star book construction.  Opened out it forms the star shape – but functions as a flat, flip-able book if you prefer:


The footprint is pretty big, as the pages are 6 x 6 for the largest layer. Each black page has two shamrocks cut out (you may have spied them to the side of my WOYWW desk) and I just set up the file in SCAL and cut them all in about 10 minutes. They are all stamped and heat embossed in black with a swirly sort of pattern and the cut outs are backed with Gelli prints on vellum.  The middle layer of pages is white, with s checkerboard just at the top edge – I wanted the white behind the vellum to enhance the prints.



The top edge of the back most pages have a punched border for some additional interest



Maybe you can just see one of the mirror tiles highlighting the word LUCK in each of the quotes.







I dithered about outlining the shamrock (either inside the cut-out or just outside the black) with white pen and I may still do that. Problem is outside it, which I think I would prefer, will have to go over the embossing, which might be a bit tricky.

I was a bit lucky yesterday when DH surprised me with a lovely long lunch out – part Valentine’s day (as we have other commitments on the day) and part celebration of the final wrap-up of a year-long battle we have had with a poorly performing professional that ended up causing us untold stress and expense.  It was a total surprise and much enjoyed.  AND he agreed to watch a movie with me – very unusual, especially since, as he is quick to point out, he loves music, and he loves documentaries, but HATES music documentaries.   We watched  Muscle Shoals – about the recording studio in Alabama.  Too many talking heads and not enough music for his liking but I enjoyed it.  All in all a lovely day, even if it delayed my WOYWW visits.

The Gogozombie font?  Well, not entirely sure what the deal is, but I did find that if I type in all upper case the Os print fine with no need to create a .jpg to make them visible.  Still can’t quite work out why  can SEE them but they won’t PRINT in lower case and it isn’t just Intaglio – Text Edit does the same thing!  The left is the lower case version followed by the upper case and you can see on the right how it prints.



So anyone care to give it a go in some Microsoft software?  I’d be interested!



So , the saving grace is this is constructed from stuff that would otherwise go in the bin or in the burn-box.

I’m happy-ish with it but the spine will always annoy me.  I did suspect it might be an issue, but carried on anyway, and to me fair it really WASN’T an issue till I sewed in the last signature.  The cover is the hodge podge of all leftover bits from my roll-off pad.



The spine I sewed based on a suggestion given to me when I asked bookbinders about multiple signatures sewn thru single holes.  I ended up doing the top five and bottom five as singles, but sewed all thru the same middle hole.



The spine was stuck with thick black duct tape and seems very sturdy – plus it opens really nice and flat.  BUT there is a little dimple on the pages where the last signature was sewn in



The weirdest thing is if I flip the book over, and treat the BACK cover as the front cover there is no hint of  the dimple at all – not on the page that opens the book (like the photo above) and not in the first 4 signature – only in the LAST one can you see it at all.

bizarre.  I’ll def. remember that and start sewing from the first rather than the last signature.

Now I just need to stick the pages two-together to give them a bit more weight.

I must do a bit of research – would it be best to pre-Gesso a lot of pages in this junky journal so when I am rolling off the brayer, soaking up spray ink, scraping off excess paint, etc, the pages are “ready” or will multiple layers of paint be all that these pages need in terms of a base for future journaling??

I find, too, that I have the same problem I used to have with scrapbooking – treating the left page as ONE page and the right page (in a two page spread) as a completely unrelated page OR treat the two of them as a single larger page?  I’ve managed to overcome my need for the two pages to “match” in my scrapbook albums, but now I am right back there, same question, AGAIN, with baby steps to AJ play.  Sure, if you have a pretty style, consider your page’s overall design at every step, and like things to be neat, it makes sense.  But it could be a plus that you have a messy page – I tend to think so but that might be because I am drawn to that kind of art.  And I think it is easier to truly PLAY if you aren’t constantly considering how PRETTY it’s going to be in the end.  And for ME – that is what this process is all about. To quote,  Art doesn’t have to be pretty. It has to be meaningful. And I aim for my journal to be meaningful, even if only to me and pretty be damned….


Junk Art Journal

I do enjoy making books, and this idea sprang from a household task, but I think it’s going to work.

We burn anything that has our address on it, so it isn’t in the rubbish readable.  It’s a DH thing.  So we always have a huge bin of stuff waiting around till there is enough to warrant firing up the burner.  When DH and DS took on the task recently, DS found that there were a load of old exercise books that DD had put in the bin – she is always wanting to “move on” and isn’t sentimental about stuff like this.  DS felt we should save it so he set a massive stack aside for me to go thru – nothing to do with avoiding work, I’m sure…


As I was sorting thru them, I noticed that the paper was decent weight and already in “signatures” so I started reducing the bulk by taking out blocks of blank pages.  The idea was to use it as scrap paper or for random Gelli print experiments.



By the time I got done I had quite a stack!



I usually have a paper pad on my desk, where I roll off excess paint from Gelli plate play – I also press paint-covered stencils to the pages, or soak up excess ink there too. Some of the “pages” are rather interesting. Seems a shame to waste the paint and I felt I could do something with them at some point.





I took the signatures and re-stapled them – as the pages are wide, I just opened up the stapler and pressed it to the crease, over a bit f cork floor tile.



Flipping it over, I just pressed the staples closed.



Might be an unnecessary step, as I looked at the stack and thought I could make a journal from them.  I can still use the stacks to soak up excess paint and ink, but then I have a pre-decorated book of background bases, so why not? I’m sure I’ve seen others doing something like this.

I cut some covers from a nice sturdy box (it has a nifty wood-grain effect on it and is just the right size)



I tore up some of those scrap roll-off pages


and collaged them on to the box pieces.



Like making the old serendipity squares idea, I was pretty random – or I tried to be.  But I found myself making decisions about placement and size and colour more than I had planned! But you get the idea.

Just like “composition book” journals, to give the pages greater stability I would need to glue two together.  I need to check into that a bit more – just glue them? gesso them after glueing? depend on the thicknesses of rolled off paint to give them body?  Lots to read up on….

Now, the binding.  I have been trying to research sewn signature spines cause I had the idea to assemble the covers and spine using duct tape.  As I have maybe 6 or 7 signatures, of varying thicknesses, I wondered if I could punch the holes in the signatures as usual, but add just 4 larger-size eyelets to the spine and sew in the signatures so each one is sewn into the spine thru those eyelets. Does that make sense?  USUALLY each signature is sewn to the spine thru individual sets of holes – 6 signatures will mean 6 columns of 4 holes.  I don’t want the spine to be that thick! So as it is basically a “junk” journal, I may just take the plunge and give it a go.  I am also considering separating the signatures and re-grouping them so each is the same number and can be stuck two together without the risk of any leftover or odd pages.

Is this a way to avoid actually working in the journal?  Maybe. But I need the roll-off space before I start working in the “real” journal so I’m going to call it prep work.   Don’t judge me….


Journal done

I finished and it worked out fairly well.  who am I kidding?  I’m over the moon with it.

I sewed the signatures to the spine – I won’t know until I actually use it how effective and sturdy that will be!  I did one signature with a small stitch and one with a bit longer one – I worry that the small stitch will be too weak and in future I think I might use the clear nylon thread or thicker linen thread.  What can I do but use it and see what happens?

There is very little gap between the signatures – I marked and clamped it all carefully to try to keep it all straight.



And the signatures open nicely and pretty flat – certainly at least as flat as a moleskin journal



You can see the stitching but it’s not obtrusive IYKWIM

Cutting the cover pieces to fit was simple enough – I cut the two areas I liked best to size, and stuck the spine to them, front and back, then stuck the leftover bits (just a bit too small widthwise) to sandwich



I added a strip of the bags left over when I trimmed them to size, over the bare bit, both to reinforce it and to cover the gap.


I pressed some drywall tape into gold paint on the Gelli plate.  I often use my smaller Gelli plate as a sort of stamp pad, for lack of a better word.  I find the giving nature of the surface and the fact the paint does stay damp for a bit, works really well  to press in a stamp, get good cover on it, and then stamp. So I thought this would work with the drywall tape.  It did, but to be honest I’m not sure just brayering the paint on wouldn’t have worked equally as well. 

5PBAJmoreI Covered the spine with a bit of the brown bag then layered the gold drywall tape over that. The adhesive on it is not that strong, so I may end up adding a layer of acrylic medium over it – in fact I may end up doing the whole cover, just to make it waterproof too.



I one sense I am dying to get some paint into it, but in another I am scared stiff to mess it up.  I just gotta let go, I think, and have at it!



Paper Bag Art Journal

Funny, isn’t it, how different it was pre-internet?

As ever, a number of things all dovetailed to result in a project I swore I would NEVER try again. Yep. Art Journals.

My track record is appalling, at least as appalling as any attempt at Project Life.  I WANT to do both.  I ENJOY doing both when I do have a go, but I just can’t seem to muster up the commitment.  I see others setting off on this creative journey and I am envious they can follow thru and I can’t seem to.  But having a chat in a UKS thread about AJs, asking others for some input on their trigger moment and what keeps them doing it, it occurred to me that one of the best reasons to do it is you get to make art and KEEP it.  When I make something I really love it can be hard to set it free – even stuff like the things I made at Christmas for DH and DS were in a way hard to part with.

I thought I might begin by seeing if I could create a journal-like thing with the idea that it would be more a place to house arty-farty play, and if at any point I felt driven to journal in it, well that would be a bonus.  But like the 52 BIG CARDS, otherwise it could just be a place to create that  I didn’t have to give away, that would store in a relatively small space (unlike say canvases, for example!) and where I could just play.

So then I thought what to make?  I didn’t want to begin with Gelli prints, for example, as they are busy (or at least mine usually are) and I wanted free rein to try any old thing that appealed to me.  I didn’t want to begin with a ready-made book either, as I just love the whole bookmaking process.  And I wanted something that was a little different.

I thought back – while having my massive tidy-up pre-Christmas, I can across a stash of paper lunch bags.  I think I am over paper-bag books.  I’ve made maybe 10 projects, all variations on the norm, trying out all manner of odd constructions, and have seen a handful of really unique ones by others.  I don’t need any more mini-books, as much as I like making them, so maybe I could use them as the base.

I have the habit of browsing You Tube for videos when I have an idea – I always want to know if it’s been done before – so had a quick look for paper bag art journals.  I did find a few, none that looked quite like what I saw in mind, but not a million miles away.  One video (which I won’t identify) was informative up till the point the filmer knocked the camera off the desk.  There was a part 2 but I felt I had actually gotten the point and didn’t need to watch more.  What stuck with me is she mentioned wetting, scrunching bags, and ironing them, and that reminded me of a faux leather technique that I’ve done before and sounded like just the textural idea I wanted for the bag-base.  I didn’t have much luck finding any sort of video on that so shifted to image display and I found THIS.  What also interested me was the date! 2007.  but totally new to me.  Just what I had in mind, although I was thinking lunch bags, because I had them, and except for Primark I’m hard pressed to think of a place locally that gives out HUGE brown paper bags anymore – or the next time I am likely to buy enough stuff to warrant a huge bag, to be honest.  Not a ton of info but all you need with a few photos.  Perfection.

SO I took what I learned, matched it with what I had on hand, and started.

First I cut open the bags – that produced a “sheet” of about 12 x 20 inches by cutting up the back and then removing the box-bottom fold

Then, following Judy’s soaking and scrunching technique, I found wetting the bags made removing the glued strips a piece of cake.



Rather than laboriously trimming them all, I just peeled them all away after their soak.

6PBAJI hung them all up in the warm kitchen, where I had a massive pot of chicken soup on the go, and let them dry.

5PBAJThen a quick iron and they came up so lovely and textured.  I did find the trick was to barely skim the surface of the bags, so the heat made them contract, I guess, rather than ironing them like you would a shirt.  Enhance the wrinkles rather than press them away.



Now, the big arty pieces I showed for WOYWW actually will be too small for this.  My plan had been to fold them (actually I showed only one, now I think about it, but actually made two) and slip signatures inside.  Well the base watercolour paper was NOT 20 inches, more like 15, so now I just have to consider how to put it all together – and if where I am now (two signatures of 5 folded sheets or about 20 pages) is the right number.  I think it is, as much bigger and it will be far too daunting and any smaller and it’ll be full too fast!

I’ve been fiddling about with two front and back cover pieces and am considering something I did mention ages back, when I was making the torn paper “fabric” book, and simply machine stitch the signatures to a spine piece then attach the covers to that, but I’m just not ready to take the plunge till I maybe make a mock-up to see if it opens flat enough to work in.

Then we’ll see…will I bail? fail? forget? or will I actually manage to make a few things in it, with or without words?  What do you think?





Apologies in advance for the shockingly bad photos.  I took them in the dark this morning just before shoving DS out the door for the long train ride back to Uni. I only add them to show the better design placement based on the actual action of one of these flexagon circles.  I also show the method I used to close it – not sure what else you COULD use other than a band or a loose tie.

Normally I would choose to have the opening run top to bottom, but the images I had to work with forced the cover-split to run side to side.  That is another tip if you make one.  I think opening like a book is the expected and forcing the opening the opposite feels odd.

Another thing worth noting is that it is a bad idea to make the circles thicker – by that I mean the areas that are scored should be one thickness.  My last experiment with this will be to see if I can get a template from a scrap version.  That way the BASE of the flexagon is free to move, but the decorative paper can get stuck on to the base without affecting the folding and then the flipping.  I was rushing last night to get it done so took the short cut of printing two faces and sticking them back to back for one of the pairs rather than trying to work out how to lay out the files for printing one, then printing the other bit (perfectly aligned) on the back so they appeared the right way round as you flip.  But doing it that way showed me that what I suspected was in fact true! Make the base structure out of single layers then decorate within, not overlapping, the score lines.

I have SO much to do to catch up but don’t feel in the least bit guilty – time spent with DS is a fair tradeoff for falling a bit behind on other things.  I STILL have a handful of WOYWW visits to get back to – OK that one I do feel a little guilty about.   Also on my list is finishing another hat for DD!  Turns out she loves the one from Christmas and wanted another so we shopped for the yarn (how is it the stuff she loved was just about the only yarn in the shop NOT on sale??) and she picked the pattern (and how is it that she picked the only pattern we saw that uses one of those infuriating symbol charts rather than written instructions?? Actually, worse than that, it uses a chart for the first 10 rounds then SWITCHES to a written list of stitches for the rest – ARRGGHH!!) so this one is totally her “design” and she is asking about it every day.  My desk is a disaster and I have at least three projects I am dying to get to.  I’ll just bet you are the same, so I’ll stop whingeing and just get on with it…..