altered covers using mixed media techniques

Altered Covers for Journals from the Dollar Bin

I was recently asked to serve with the Young Women in my church.  It’s a big job, but I’m so excited to see them progress in their testimonies!  It has become a tradition in our congregation for the leaders to bake a super awesome, individual sized cake for each of the young women on their birthdays.  This tradition has lasted for years, but as new leaders, we did not want to have to continue doing something that wasn’t really necessary.  And yet, we couldn’t not do anything, either.  So, what did I do?  I volunteered to do some altered covers on some dollar bin journals, so that each young woman can have an altered journal on her birthday.  I have to say, it’s a lot more fun for me than baking a cake, if still a bit time consuming…  🙂

altered covers with texture paste and embellishments

Since I’m going to be doing so many of these, I’ve come up with a quick step-by-step formula so that I can create unique, colorful, beautiful journals quickly and not spend hours on each one.  The part that takes the longest is the drying time for any texture paste or ink.

I created a free printable so you can quickly refer back to these steps if you want or need a blueprint for a quick project.  Click the button below to subscribe and download the sheet, then tack it up to your wall while you work.

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Essentially, you work from flat to raised elements to build up the surface bit by bit.

  • Sand and gesso the surface to prepare it for all the stuff you’ll be adding, and to help cover any crazy printing on the original surface.
  • The first elements to add would be patterned paper/tissue wrap.  Use gel medium to adhere it to the surface. (You can also use modge podge, but I don’t like modge podge.  It’s too sticky. Gel medium is waaaaay better, and worth the extra expense.)
  • Add some texture to the surface by taking some texture or modeling paste and applying it to the surface with a palette knife or through a stencil.  You can also adhere some fabric, cheesecloth, or even paper towels, napkins, or tulle to the surface for some fun texture.
  • This is where I usually add some stamped images, especially script stamps.  I stamp lightly in certain random areas so the stamped image doesn’t show up completely, but compliments the surrounding texture and elements.
  • Time for some color!!  I am such a fan of india ink splatters misted with water.  The ink spreads in such a fun, organic way, and the colors blend in variegated, awesome ways.  Of course, there are so many types of colors and ink out there- anything goes!!  The techniques are literally endless.
  • Time to embellish!  Metal pieces, chipboard, flowers, paper, etc.  Go crazy.  I use gel medium to adhere my pieces.  It’s firm, dries clear, and I don’t worry about anything falling off, even metal.  Be generous.
  • Finishing touches- go over your cover one more time and decide if it needs anything else- more color?  microbeads? a bit more stamping?

And that’s my process!  The longest part is waiting for things to dry, which is fine because I can start the same process on a few of the other journals while I’m waiting.

altered covers with flair altered covers- chipboard altered covers- paper flowers

I hope you’ve enjoyed this altered covers project and tutorial today!!  I’d love to know how you use the process to create some altered covers and if you alter the steps, what steps you add, etc.  Let’s keep inspiring each other!!

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altered covers- back cover

7 replies
  1. Lilliana
    Lilliana says:

    Hi,,,so beautiful…..we do connect because i am obsessed with ink and paper as well….really nice… do you have a video tutorial??

    Reply

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