Imagine. Create. Enjoy.
I've had this graph paper composition notebook laying around for a while. I use it for planning/drawing comics, making lists, and everything in between, I love sketching on graph paper! However, I never liked the weird, splotchy, black and white covers of composition notebooks. If you also want to add a personal touch to any boring sketchbooks of yours, here's how you can!
Supplies you’ll need:
I forgot to take pictures of the very beginning, but I started by sanding the cover of my book to make it easier for the paint to stick. I also wrapped the pages in paper towels so I wouldn’t get any paint on them. Then, I covered everything with a coat of white gesso.
I sanded this layer again with some really soft/fine sandpaper, then put on a second coat of gesso. After that was dry, I sanded it too.
I’m sanding between every layer to try to minimize brush strokes - while the heavy acrylics and gesso make it easy to cover up the dark pattern underneath in only a few coats, they also leave some pretty big brushstrokes and I want a smooth look. Make sure that your paint is dry all the way through before sanding or you might take little chunks off and make it even bumpier! It also helps to wipe off the dust after with a baby wipe or wet paper towel.
Now for the fun part- the color! I wanted a summery pink, so I mixed blushing, fuchsia, a bit of lemon, and white all right on the page and blended them together. Pretty!
I wasn’t feeling it though, so I decided to mix them first and change it to a more even and lighter color. I also put a few layers of gold on the binding edge strip. Using tape to get a nice neat edge would have been a great idea (if only I had thought of it before tediously painting it by hand…)
Now for the stencils… I think I’m going to use my favorite quasi flowers (from the Quasicrystals series) with gold. I got some ideas for possible future covers while looking through stencils; I think that if I had a darker book, a silver base with celestial in dark blues and purples would look stunning, or turquoise greens with a coral stencil in a contrasting copper…
Using a sponge and taping the edges down is the best way to get a neat edge! I dabbed on more magenta, white, yellow, and gold. The gold smells wonderfully pepperminty. The back, by the way, looks the same, but lighter and I used the infra dots instead.
And now we’re done! Almost. I put a coat of Decoart Media satin varnish over everything to seal it and keep my paint from scratching off or getting dust in it. I also gave it another quick and soft sand to make it a little matte-er after.
Nice. Spice up those journals!
I am back this week to share a more in depth look at how I created the book I shared last time. The book structure is a combination of an accordion book with three-hole pamphlet stitched signatures.
Let's get started!
To start I used a 8.5"x17" piece of kraft colored cardstock and accordion folded it to have three "mountains" and two "valleys". If I measure from the left to the right there is a fold approximately at 1.5", 5", 8.5", 12" and 15.5". Finally I trim down the height of my book from 8.5" to 5". These dimensions will change if you are making a book to fit in a box. Just measure the inside dimensions of the box and decrease it by a quarter or half inch to give some wiggle room for your finished book.
Now is the time to decorate the cover! My first layer is dry-brushing white paint onto the cardstock. Dry-brushing is exactly what it says, using a DRY brush to loosely apply paint to the surface. This is a great way to add texture. Here is a short clip of me showing this technique:
On one side I used an old hotel key card to scrape thin layers of paint swatches across the surface. I then use the Quasi stencil to add more color and texture. The other side of the paper gets a few layers with the Halftone Dots Shadow stencil and one layer with the Quasi stencil.
As a finishing touch I glue down (with matte medium) a few pieces of torn gel printed deli papers from my stash.
Now it is time to create the inside pages! For this I gathers some old dictionary papers, vintage magazine papers, book pages, old photocopies from previous art projects. Just a variety of paper ephemera. These particular papers I have previously colored with acrylic inks. I was very inspired by Rae Missigman's techniques when she creates her signatures for her Pocket Journals. To find out what size I need to make the inside pages I measure my book at the section I will sew the papers onto and find my pages should be about 5x7 inches or smaller. to fit into the area. The following video shows how I tear down the papers to the size I want and then how I organize them into signatures, which is a group of sheets folded down the middle.
The last step is to sew!
I used black waxed linen thread and an embroidery-type needle with a larger eye. If you don't have waxed linen thread then use what you have! Embroidery floss works great! The wax just helps the knots to stay in place. I have even heard of people using dental floss too! This last video shows the entire sewing process from piercing the holes (with a small awl, you could also use a push pin) to stitching all three signatures with a final look at the finished project at the end. The video is 7 minutes long because I chose not to fast-forward it because sometimes seeing things in "real-time" helps create better understanding.
I hope this inspires you to create your own!
“My soul is fed with a needle and thread.”
Are you creatively drawn to the textile arts? Are you inspired by paper patterns and the hum of a sewing machine? Although my sewing skills are those of an enthusiastic amateur, I am fascinated by factory production, present and past.
A local public library and art center are partners in a bimonthly open exhibit. The next theme is “Machines”. I have been sorting through my ephemera as well as trying new techniques with images transfers. Everything I needed for my next Artistcellar project just seemed to fall into place…the perfect stencils, a vintage image of women in a factory, all the colours of the rainbow. I was set to begin.
I covered my illustration board with a light coat of gesso giving it a quick sanding when dry. I built up the warm background colour with both a textured natural sponge and brush using Lemon, Sunny Day and Sunflower acrylics.
My image transfer experimentation has included a variety of papers for the base. Some results have been more successful than others. The Dover image I chose for this project worked better than I could have imagined. It held up to burnishing and repeated applications of water and sponging. The fine lines of the ladies dresses remained as did details on the machines. I attached the transfer to the board with matte medium surrounding the factory workers with bits of the pattern paper.
Using the Artistcellar Steampunk Apparatus stencil was a perfect fit. Just as the gears in a machine are the framework that makes all parts move in unison, so too is this stencil. The Blocks, Halftone Dots, and Quasicrystals stencils added just the pop of colour I wanted, visually depicting the cacophony that factory work can be.
As in the illustration, the ladies all in a row are the genesis of the creative process. Their dedicated and in the past very dangerous work make available the very supplies we need to allow our creativity to fly. And fly it will…if not on fabric then on paper.
“If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank You’ that will be enough.” – Eckhart Tolle
Looking out over our frost kissed lawn has been a not so gentle reminder that Winter is on the way. But rather than curse the cold, I embraced the sparkle and shine as inspiration for my next Design Team project.
Working with my favourite substrate, Illustration Board, I covered the surface with a smooth coat of gesso. The next layer added was an article about the Dada Movement printed on slightly yellowed newsprint paper. There was a little bit of bleed when I covered the print with Matte Medium. I liked the way the ink became bolder in certain areas as it dried. Looking for a bit of texture, I mopped on white gesso with a rough natural sponge. My board took on a white, frosty appearance … exactly as I had hoped it would. Slow to dry completely, I left it out overnight and in the morning I was ready to begin.
I wanted the look of lace for my background. Artistcellar’s Quasicrystal stencil Quasi, was perfect. I applied the pattern with Champagne metallic acrylic. Combined with the white gesso, it gave me the nostalgic effect I was after.
I’ve had the image of the two women kicking around my scrap box for some time, and I knew this was the perfect setting for them. I only wish I knew who they were and the reason for the photo. They do look happy to be sharing time together. Perhaps I could create an interesting history for them with the elements I had at hand.
I surrounded the ladies with beeswax infused art paper, rubber stamped waxed paper, coffee stained gauze, and more homemade Washi tape, inspired by the Halftone Dots and Quasicrystals Infra stencils.
I have been winterizing the flower beds around the house and salvaged a few dried hydrangea blossoms. The colour was perfect and the petals held up well when glued to the board. My finishing touch was the series of jewelry tags, covered in liquid acrylic and a few Halftone Dots.
As the seasons blend one into the other, I know I am guilty of allowing the daily mechanics of “life” to dull the sparkle and shine of living life mindfully. With the celebration of Thanksgiving I am reminded that a simple “Thank You” has the all the magical sparkle we need.
“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” ― Oscar Wilde
Colour surrounds us. It can lift our spirits, enhance a mood, or simply help us to express a feeling without words. For my next Artistcellar project, I decided to use a limited palette of colours I find comforting and see where it would lead me.
I began by covering the illustration board with a light coat of gesso. Once dried, I mixed the Dylusion Squeezed Orange Paint with an equal part of Glazing Liquid leaving the acrylic semi-transparent. I wasn’t very careful when painting over the gesso and let the brush strokes overlap. I was pleased with the texture left behind.
While the board was drying I looked through my collection of ephemera. I have an assortment of old magazines, as I am sure most mixed-media artists do. I ripped out a page from “True Story” published in the 1920’s. The charming text read similar to most of the romances of the period, peppered with lots of “Darlings…” and “longing looks”. I liked the fragility of the vintage paper and the way it was so easy, although not very predictable, to tear.
Next I chose a scrap of Joss Paper. Burned in traditional Chinese ceremonies during special holidays and funerals, the bamboo paper is just delicate enough to hold a layer of foil. I love seeing it in collage work. It really adds a bit of luster and texture. I glued it, and the magazine clipping, to the board with my gloss medium. I also had a few scraps of the yellow round Joss Paper and added it to the design.
Some time ago I experimented with beeswax and a selection of different types of paper. The image I chose for the top of my work was from this session. I’m sure you know this woman’s face well, as it has been added to projects by an array of artists. With her silent gaze I liked the way it mirrored the text. The beeswax gave my stamped paper just the right amount of translucency and a torn edge with a bit of roughness.
I finished the work with my Artistcellar Quasicrystals Stencils. They were perfect in size and design, as I have come to expect from all Artistcellar products. No matter what the project, Artistcellar never lets you down. You will always find just the right stencil to allow your creative spirit to fly. I first stenciled Quasi in gold and then added Infra in a selection of other warm colours from the Dylusion Paint series.
We artists use colour as a language. What part of the spectrum speaks to you…and how do you communicate the poetry of your soul?
“Postman’s bag is always heavy because it carries the life itself: It carries all the sorrows and all the joys, all the worries and all the hopes!”― Mehmet Murat ildan
Have you ever waited for the postman to arrive? I am sure you have, if you are like me. And do you ever wonder what is in their mailbag? Of course there are bills, and junk mail, which can be a treasure trove for collage artists. But do you ever wonder about the other mail…the messages of delight or passion or longing? And is there still room for them in the age of texts and email?
I recently received a nice collection of acrylics from Artistcellar. They were new to me and I couldn’t wait to give them a go. The Dylusion Paint series is blendable and quick drying, manufactured with journaling in mind. The colours are vivid in the wide mouth tubs. I wondered if they would keep this wonderful quality once applied to my substrate.
I decided to work on illustration board. Rather than prep with gesso, I simply lightly sanded the surface and applied the Squeezed Orange Paint. Coverage was quick and easy, although it didn’t dry quite as fast as I thought it would. But sure enough, the orange kept its vibrant glow after drying. I next stenciled with Quasi from the Artistcellar Quasicrystals Series using the Dylusion Spray in Bubble Gum Pink. Although you can still see the stencil if you look closely, the Paint absorbed the colour. Not what I had in mind for this project, but a finish to keep in mind for the future.
I wanted to put the rest of the colours through their paces, so I sponged them randomly through my Diamond stencil. With the open stencil area it was easy to see how they performed. Again, as with the Squeezed Orange paint, I am pleased to say Vibrant Turquoise, Fresh Lime, and London Blue were easy to work with and held the brilliant colour you can see in the tubs…even after layering paint on paint.
With the background finished I continued by attaching a vintage photo I found in an old magazine. The postage stamps and Priority label just seemed to fit so well with our postman. I found a rubber stamp with beautiful calligraphy. Could the message on the stamp be from a letter in his mailbag? Why not? I inked the stamp with Vibrant Turquoise Paint and stamped on to very fine tissue paper, then attached with matte medium to the board. The final touch was to stencil the Infra image in gold.
Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic, but seeing the postman with his mailbag does pull at the heart strings. And yes, I believe there is a place for "real" mail in the age of texts and email. My question is this: Is there someone who would love receiving a real letter from you? And would decorating it with your stunning art bring joy to you both? Many believe that letters mingle souls. I know I do.
Here are the supplies I used:
My substrate this week originally started as a decorative panel I found at the $ spot at Target. Upon closer inspection I saw that it is some sort of MDF board with a wood type veneer on the surface. To prepare the panel I first gave it a light sanding to remove the glossy surface and then covered the panel in a thick layer of gesso.
While the gesso was still wet I pressed the Penrose stencil all over the surface of the gesso to create texture. Immediately wash off your stencil and wait for the gesso to dry.
Since my layer of gesso was so thick it helped to create a subtle texture to the surface when dry. Next came a few glazes of color and some stenciling along the edges with the Quasi stencil. When the paint was dry I gave it a light sanding which highlighted the texture created by the gesso.
Using the same technique from last time, I used transfer paper to trace my portrait design onto my surface. I chose to make it off center to add more interest to the composition. I used the General's Scribe-All to trace over my lines and since it is water-soluble I was able to establish some shades to build my painting upon which started with a layer of white acrylic.
Then I bounced around the painting creating more color, value and texture by rotating through using Inktense sticks, distress sticks, General's Scribe-All, Faber-Castell Aquarelle Pencils and Dina Wakley's acrylics. Every once in awhile I would give certain areas a sanding to bring back the under texture.
I was also very inspired by our very own Cristin and her magnificent use of drips in her artwork. I tried my hand at it and I am digging the layer of texture (can you tell it is my very favorite thing!) it adds.
The final piece has a much different look than my last composition and I am pleased with how it turned out. I encourage you to recreate a subject from one of your previous artworks with a different media. You might be surprised and pleased at what the new materials will draw out of you!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I purchase a craft supply, because I know it’s cool, but there it sits in my studio. Has this ever happened to you?
Well, today, I am busting out one of those said craft items. It’s the Blue Moldable Foam Block or Blue Moldable Stamp.
As an expressive artist who loves stencils and mark making, having a surface to mold into a unique stamp is exciting!
I have chosen to use the Quasicrystals series stencils for this example.
This process is really as easy as 1-2-3! The directions are included with the Moldable Foam Stamp.
Are you tired of the impression you have on the Blue Moldable Stamp? No problem! Simply heat it again and repeat the process with something new! Hmmm, manhole covers might be neat, but you’d have to carry an extension cord and your Heat It Craft Tool with you! I am sure there are plenty of things around your home or in your art arsenal that would create lovely textures. Give it a try! Tell us about your experiments in the comments below or on the Artistcellar Facebook Page.
Thanks for playing along!
For more art ideas and mixed media art inspiration, visit me over at OrangeSpiralArts.com
Blessings to you,