09 August 2015

Made this today.

Art journal station

- folding patio side table
- stool
- backing board from a picture frame (messy surface)
- buckets and bins of supplies, under table and on window ledge 
- sink nearby for washing up

08 August 2015

Art Journal: The meandering journey towards an actual art journal book

I’ve been finding my way towards a full fledged art journal for a little while, it seems.

It should be pointed out that I do not consider myself to be artistic in any way, shape, or form … I can’t draw recognizable stick people, never mind paint lovely pictures. Yeah, I do some neat things with fibre arts but that’s different.

01fcce014463f9feb801611a64da707edb1509894d Okay, maybe not so different.

I like to play with colour, and ink, and words … and with the upcoming trip to Ireland, I wanted a really awesome travel journal. That’s going to involve more than words … and it needs to be more than just pictures glued into an album. I want to really experience this adventure, and to document it in ways that will both solidify the memories for me and also give me something beautiful to hold and look at and share with friends once I am back home. Impressionist journaling, I suppose. The basic idea of a travel journal got me inspired to move towards more non-linear journaling in my every day life as well.  

Using The Book of All Things to write down lists and thoughts and ideas and doodles and such is working really well for all the small bits and bobs of every day life, but then sometimes, I need more space and bigger messes.

The web is full of awesome inspiration for projects like this, and there are lots of craft supplies in my basement so ….

I found this lovely site by Ashley, who shares a lot of really inspiring stuff. I need to quote this from her “about me” page, as this really expresses why this form of journaling is calling to me right now:

The one big turning point for me in my life is when I learned to embrace “the dark side”…..and I did that through journaling. It became a new addiction. I would be on a corporate jet with CEOs of billion dollar companies and I had no problem pulling out my journal and crayons to write down a quote or something I wanted to remember. (yes CRAYONS) I glued bits and pieces of my life into notebooks trying to sort things out and figure out who I was. I turned sadness, anxiety, insecurity, addiction and anger into a creative process. I collected questions, random facts, quotes, people, words, receipts, websites, photos and drawings. I didn’t write in order. I skipped pages. If I didn’t feel like writing I would just draw a map of where I was or write down what I had for lunch.

I slowly became less anxious, I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me. I spoke up and welcomed the consequences. I became more compassionate and I sought out people that were real and interesting. I cut ties with people who were toxic. I became obsessed with memoirs and movies and when I connected with something in them, I wrote it down.

- See more at: http://www.lilblueboo.com/about#sthash.rpUNHSlw.dpuf

Yup, that’s the kind of place I am in. And putting things into books, into pictures, with glue and crayons and paint and markers … it’s working, somehow. I don’t know why. I don’t really get it. It feels very ‘outside my comfort zone’ when I think about it, yet when I am working with the Creative Mess, I just … I just make things. It happens. I doodle and scribble and paint and splash and glue and sit back and go “Yeah. *That* makes me happy!”

So I figure its a good thing. So does my counsellor, actually.

Therefore … I have piles of paper and paints and markers and crayons and am creating books and images and words.

Want some practical how-to, in case you are into this as well? Here ya go:

Find a book you don’t mind damaging. I had picked up an old (very outdated) Child Development textbook somewhere along the way … it’s got a great hardcover binding, and is about the size of a hymnal – pages big enough to draw and create on, but not so huge as to be unweildy. It’s terribly out of date so I don’t feel badly about repurposing it into something else, too … I love books and damaging them always feels a bit sinful, somehow, unless I have a good reason for it!


  1. Rip out about 1/3 of the pages from the existing book (because once you thicken the pages with paint and ephemera, it will be too fat for the existing binding). (I followed this general outline from lilblueboo for how to create the book, .)01b144a3e87053f6de9de498a02bb04c64714f2d05
  2. Prepare the pages: they need to be a little sturdier and the text needs to be washed out to some extent. I didn’t have any gesso on hand (nor any drywall compound, for some odd reason, or I’d have made my own) … what I did have was some off-white latex paint, white craft glue, and cornstarch. Mixed that together with some water and painted it on the pages.  I used a blow dryer to encourage it to dry a little faster so I could do more pages, then I set the book up and let it dry overnight with the pages sort of fanned out between the covers. I didn’t prep the entire book – I’ll do more as the mood strikes, and I may use other preparation materials as things evolve. 014ba459c4c32bcbb2a3e674c230afef3e984aa1eb
  3. Tint the pages: I used watercolours to put a wash on several of the primed pages. Watercolour does some interesting things painted over latex, especially with a blow dryer to kind of spread the paint around, or a bit of salt to add texture. This step is optional, but having pages with different colours and backgrounds all ready to go (and already dried!) is awesome when the mood to Add Things To The Book hits you.

That’s it for the ‘container’ … now to start putting things in the book.

The removed pages are excellent raw material for further crafting: I used an assortment of paints and inks and so forth to colour the pages I’d pulled out, then cut out shapes or drew on the paper with crayons and markers. The nice thing about working with unbound bits and pieces is that you can really feel free to play: if you like the finished product, you can put it into the book … if it turns out to be less than what you imagined, well, you can use it for something else. Even kindling.

I got some cool stencils at the craft store and practiced with those on one of the pale brown page spreads:


Then I took one of the removed pages and painted over the ink and paint splotches it already had with some pearlescent watercolour, then used crayons and markers to write a phrase (my friend was here and we were discussing how similar the book was to a hymnal … she asked if I had an actual hymn book around, which of course I do, so I grabbed it off the piano and flipped through it for inspiration … and this is what I found). I made a little door with a bright opening on the inside. A bit of trimming and rounding of corners, and into the book it went:


I also got some neat shape cutters, and made flowers from painted pages … along with more stencil flowers and some stencilled text:


Some of the earlier practice words ended up on individual cards. I’m not sure quite what will become of these yet … making them was what I needed to do, and I am sure that at some point, I’ll be told what needs to happen with them.


Much more experimentation is bound to ensue.

If you have any art journal resources to share, please leave me a comment … I’m fascinated by the whole concept right now!

Happy creating!

Art journaling

So apparently I need to play with paper and paint and ink and scissors. 

With the right mindset - just playing with colour and texture and shapes and not worrying about perfection or "proper technique" or anything - it's really freeing. Quick projects, too, unlike fibre arts which (the way I do them anyway) generally take days or weeks or more to finish. 

With a couple of trips to Michael's and a lot of rummaging through the kids' craft stuff, a bit of Web surfing for inspiration and a few tutorials I simply started. 

I'll post more details shortly, but here are a few images to get you pondering:

17 July 2015

Playing with paper

I love writing. I love the feel of a pen (preferably a decent fountain pen in a colour other than plain blue) on actual paper.

Yes, the keyboard is faster … but there’s something lovely about written words.

And recently, I’ve become enamoured of the idea of … well, it’s not quite scrapbooking, not quite art journalling … I’m sure there’s a word for it, but I’ll just call it Writing With Ephemera: keeping bits and bobs from your life and putting them into the journal book you use, not just words, then, but small objects and images from your life and travels.

Of course, preparation for the upcoming Big Trip come fall is where this all begaIMG_1464n. I have spent a lot of time looking at fabulous images on Google of people’s journals, art journals, upcycled books, and scrapbook pages. I made what I think is an improved version of a travel journal today – more pages, more variety in the pages, room to expand, sewn segments, and a custom binding with room to attach dangling charms and such.

Each section of pages is made by folding paper in half and making a booklet. The booklet is then sewn – on the sewing machine, with really long plain stitches – down the centre fold and voila, a stitched booklet. The spine of the cover has strings that run from top to bottom and each booklet is threaded under a string to hold it in place. (In a lot of books this is done with an elastic, but I had a lot of hemp cord and no elastic, so … cord it is.) I left the string loose enough to slide booklets in and out, and the strings are tied at the bottom with sufficient bits leftover to braid into a bookmark.

IMG_1466Here you can see the variety of papers, some random paper clips and a pocket that’s actually stitched onto the backing page. The front and back covers are made of portfolio covers (for some reason I have boxes of these things here) that have built in pockets for holding stuff. There’s even a little organza bag looped to the spine for holding small treasures.IMG_1467







The cover has a bunch of images of Ireland that I cut out of travel booklets and it’s been IMG_1468pseudo-laminated with packing tape. Not elegant, but lightweight and reasonably sturdy. It’s all held shut with a really neat band I got at Chapters a long time ago and never quite found a use for.

One of the little booklets inside (made from a cut down presentation folder) can be taken out for the day of travelling – it’s got a pocket for things collected during the day and some blank postcard sized pieces of cardstock (something else I seem to have in plenty) for writing notes or gathering signatures / comments from people met during the day and so forth. I’ll also add some plain paper for doing rubbings: I think some of the old monuments and so forth would be really great captured with crayon rubbings. That way you can leave the big book somewhere safe and just carry the little portable folder on your adventures.

I expect I’ll do some more decorating on this before we go on our trip, it’s quite fun to work with!

The other project is what people call a fauxdori – a false Midori Traveller’s Notebook. This design originated with a company in Japan, and I can see why they are so popular. They are flexible: the key feature is the elastic loops that hold various booklets or inserts rather than rings and holes like in many traditional planners. You can purchase (or make) inserts for calendars, or to do lists, or anything you can think of – for me, the idea of having multiple “kinds” of journal spaces all in one (much loved) book really appeals to me. I need to write things down – as I’m so absent minded, I IMG_1470need to make lists and check them often, and as a knitter I often need to jot notes as I am designing or modifying something, and as a writer I just need to write sometimes. But I don’t like to do all of that in one place, because some of the information ends up being good for nothing but starting the next fire (to do lists, for instance, or knitting notes that eventually got transcribed into something that makes sense) and some of it is stuff I want to keep (like my actual journal entries). This way, I can still reach for just one book – but have several sub-books inside it.

The cover I am using is from a lovely leather journal that the Small People got me as a gift. I’ve been writing in it, but not as much as I would like because it was reserved for “the good writing”. I wanted to be able to use it more, and to move to a less linear style of journal writing so I disassembled it (it was intended to be refillable) and made some Midori-style inserts. IMG_1472

Each insert is made from a piece of presentation folder (I told you I have lots of them here) surrounding folded sheets of paper. Rather than stitching each booklet then looping the segments under a cord as I did with the travel journal, these are punched through holes along the spine and threaded directly to the book cover. I have four strings and four segments: three filled with paper, one for more of a catch-all. The leather cover already had holes at these locations along the spine, so I opted to just go with that rather than trying to make an elastic type of system … though I might do that in the future. The strings are firmly attached at the top of the spine and then two strands are tied together (around a bead) at the bottom in a knot that can be unpicked fairly easily when I’m ready to replace that section of paper, so it’s still flexible that way.

IMG_1475 The last section of the book has a small folded piece of pseudo-laminated cardstock that holds sticky notes and is sturdy enough to have things paperclipped to it without wobbling. There’s also a business card / photo holder that I repurposed from my old Seven Habits daytimer, and I created a pen loop by stapling a short piece of elastic to the laminated page. This one is not threaded directly with the string: because it is shorter, it loops under the last strand of string and can be removed … but more importantly, things can be slipped under the string, like the little packet of stamps that’s in there now (you can just see the red and white backing paper peeking out).

I’m working on getting this set up to be my Book of All Things: long ago, I used my Seven Habits Daytimer for that, as I carried it everywhere and kept notes for absolutely everything in the various sections. A full blown daytimer is too much for me these days, though: I need the beeping reminders the phone gives me (without an alarm I may forget to go to an appointment, even if I had remembered earlier that day) so keeping a paper calendar isn’t as helpful as it used to be. BesIMG_1471ides, it’'s way too big.

A small and portable book with the bare minimum for categorization and organization is more my speed right now. This book is nice and manageable: each piece of paper is 1/4 of a regular sheet (which also makes creating booklets for it very easy). I’ve added envelopes and blank cards and sticky notes in assorted places, and I’m transcribing information that I’d like to have handy – phone numbers that I don’t know by heart but would need if I didn’t have my phone for some reason, knitting needle size conversions, prayers I like to read over and over, the mailing addresses I need frequently … all those things are being written onto cards that tuck into the various pockets.

The leather tie that it came with was too short once I got all of this packed inside, so I added a Celtic knotwork button and a long cord with a spoon charm on the end to tie everything closed (and remind me to count my spoons).


I love it.

I’ve had such fun making these books … I think I’ll go look at more pictures on Google and see what other ideas I can find!