Creating a Mixed Media Book of Letters

This summer has been a busy one!  I’m so excited to share my latest project with you.  It’s taken me months to complete this mixed media book!  But it has turned out so beautifully that I can’t help but share some of my excitement and talk about my process a bit.

Completely DIY Mixed Media Book

This book is a gift for my husband, so I wanted to make it more masculine.  But, I also knew it was going to be a long process to finish it, and I had a tight deadline.  Originally I was going to alter a book and I began creating pages, but I fell into the trap of trying to make each page unique and very different from the next.  It was taking way too long and wasn’t coming together the way I hoped, so I scrapped the entire thing and started fresh.

This time I began with kraft colored cardstock.  I decided I was going to use fabric and stitch on each page to create the backgrounds.  I ripped white muslin into different sizes of squares and rectangles, and used Tim Holtz’ distress stain to color the fabric.  Once I glued the fabric down, I ran each page through my sewing machine several times.  I used several different types of stitches to add interest.

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After the first round of stitching, each page got several strips of neutral colored washi tape.   Of course, then I realized they also needed another round of stitching to secure the tape in place.

These steps sound pretty simple, but they took a looooong time to complete.  Mostly because the bobbin threader on my sewing machine is broken and I had to thread my bobbins by hand every time they ran out of thread.  Man, that got old fast, let me tell ya.  But, the end result was worth the headache.

Once each of my pages was sewn the way I wanted, I glued two pages at a time together back to back.  This created one page, with stitching on both sides.  That’s when I began creating paper collages as beds for my notes (written on vellum).  The notes were attached to the paper groups with more stitching.

Japanese Book Binding

Next up, the binding!  I knew from the beginning I was going to use Japanese binding because of the single pages I was creating.  I used this tutorial to create the covers, and then cut strips of chipboard to place between each page in the spine.  This was important because each page needed extra space because of all the paper and embellishments I had added to each side.  I used a glue stick to glue the pages and chipboard strips together, bound the covers to the pages with binder clips, then drilled holes for the thread.  If you look closely in the video, you’ll see how crooked the holes are on the back.  Drilling holes straight through 1 1/2 inches of paper is pretty tough.  Oh well… it’s still holding together, and as long as you don’t look at the back, it looks perfect!

So, that’s my book!  My first one completely finished and created by me, cover to cover.  Yay!

Don’t forget to respond to my question about making this project an online workshop.  I really need your feedback!

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

Altered Mini Book- a dollar store notepad turned art journal


altered mini book from dollar store composition bookI learn so much from all you artists out there, I just have to say how grateful I am. I would never have thought to look for art supplies at the dollar store, but now that it’s on my radar, I’ve found some pretty cool things.  What I want to show you today is how I made an altered mini book from a composition notebook I found there.  I made a video of the process as well, so be sure to check that out, too!

The store had a set of three of them for a dollar, so how could I possibly pass that up?  Being rather obsessed with notebooks and pens, I couldn’t help it.  Besides, while I certainly buy things without having a clear idea of what I’ll use it for, that was not the case here- I wanted a notebook I could experiment in, one that I wasn’t afraid to mess up.  These certainly fit the bill!!

altered mini book

I recently bought some artist tape and I wanted to see how it would work between the pages of an art journal.  The ink I use regularly leaks between the pages, and I want to see if the tape will help keep each page clean.  Of course, adding the tape between every page made the book about 56 times thicker than normal, but since I know I’m going to be adding all kinds of paste and ink and paper on these pages, I didn’t worry too much about it.


I don’t know how long these pages will take for me to fill, but I’m looking forward to having it be even thicker than it is now.  Then, I’ll start wrecking the next one!

altered mini book


Thanks for reading and for all your awesome ideas!  I’d love for you to subscribe with your email so I can keep sending you my thanks in the form of new ideas, tutorials and videos.

Handmade Vellum Art Book with Stitching

Vellum Art Book

I’m so excited about this art book because it’s so different from anything else that I’ve ever made, and I think it’s pretty awesome.  There are some things I would change- in fact before I get into telling you about this project, I was hoping to get your input- I’m going to be working on a few more projects just like this, but with some modifications.  I was hoping to turn it into a full workshop with videos, tutorials, and maybe even some live sessions.  Is this the type of workshop any of you would be interested in taking?  Is this a project you would like to do?  Please leave me your comments and suggestions- I’m really anxious to hear what you all think!!

vellum art book with stiching

I’m not sure when the idea to create a vellum art book first occurred to me, but I was captivated by the thought and my mind started thinking of ways I could make it work.  I knew I wanted to include portions of old book pages and that I wanted to include a lot of stitching.  The old book I used was a worn copy of “The Ordinary Princess” by M.M. Kaye.  It’s a family favorite, and I have a newer copy, so I wasn’t concerned about ripping pages out of the old one that was missing it’s cover.  I think it’s so neat the way the text and illustrations show through the vellum.

art with holes and stitching

The idea of the holes came a little later- I wanted this book to have a unique, more artsy finish.  Adding the stitching and ripping portions of the pages, then distressing all the edges really added a new level to this project.  I also stitched the cover, long enough to wrap all the way around and overlap the front, so I can tie it shut if I choose to.

I can’t decide if I want to leave it as is, or start writing in it- I think I’ll leave it the way it is for now, and just enjoy it.  Perhaps I’ll display it under a cloche in the living room… it would look perfect in that type of vintage setting!

vellum art book with stitching around holes distressed edges of vellum art book

So, what do you think?  Leave me a comment with your thoughts on this project and if you would ever consider participating in a workshop where this was the subject.  What changes would you make?  What else would you include?  Would you make the cover different?  The pages?  Let me know!


Magic the Gathering Altered Deck

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Here’s to the special people in our life, be they husband, sister, friend, or coworker.

For me, this is the first Valentine’s Day I celebrated as a married woman and I wanted to make something extra special for my husband, so of course I had to do something artsy and cheesy.  🙂

For anyone who knows my husband, you’ll know he’s very much into somewhat nerdy pursuits, the most nerdy of which would have to be his love for a card game called “Magic the Gathering”.  He’s been playing for maybe 4 years or so, and he loves it because of it’s intricacies and the strategy involved.  This is not a game you can learn overnight.  It takes a lot of time, and though he’s been telling me about this game and making me play with him for over a year, he tells me something new every day.  This game is seriously complicated, but he loves that it’s such a test for his brain.  So, what choice did I have for Valentine’s Day than to make him yet another deck?

magic the gathering altered deck album There are many formats to playing this game- the one he plays most of the time is called standard, and it’s a way of playing one on one. To play the game, you basically make your own deck out of whatever cards you choose.

In magic, there are 5 card colors you can choose from- red, black, white, green, and blue.  I used these colors to separate my deck into 5 categories.  Each represents a different aspect of our relationship, like trust, or faith.  Each color has a different land that in the game, is called “mana” and is used as a resource.  You can only play cards if you have the right amount of “mana” to play them.  So, normally each land is one mana.  Of course, I may have altered the cards a bit…
magic the gathering mini album giftMy husband laughed when he saw how I’d altered these mana cards.  Basically, I made them all way more awesome and useful then they are in the game.  As he was reading them, he lamented that he couldn’t really use any of them.  One turn with some of them and he would win, hands down.

The non-mana cards I used to tell him things about him I was grateful for, and ways in which I cared for him.  Totally romantic and cheesy, I know.  🙂015

Ok, now that I’ve thoroughly confused you all with my poor attempt to explain magic, suffice it to say that I had a lot of fun making something for my husband that I knew he would love and appreciate.