Altered Tim Holtz Idea-ology Covers

Hello everyone!!  I have some fun binders for you today.  I was at Michael’s recently, ready to spend my Christmas money, and to my delight I found a bunch of awesome things on clearance.  One of those things were these Tim Holtz idea-ology covers, and the plastic sleeves that fit inside.  I’ve been looking at these for awhile, but always had other things going on and never made the plunge.  This time, though, they came home with me and I got to work!!

idea-ology covers with vintage elementsidea-ology covers with flairidea-ology covers with washi-tape

I altered these with the intention of giving them as gifts to some ladies that have been working with the youth in our church and have recently been given other assignments.  I thought it would be a wonderful keepsake to have each of the young women write a note of farewell and gratitude to include in the book, and alter the cover in such a way that I could include a group picture of everyone.

These idea-ology covers come with a design already printed on them, the fabric covers antiqued with lovely hues of beige and brown.  I really wanted to incorporate it in one of the covers, but for the other two, I decided to be a little more colorful.

Each one was super fun to create, and I loved using a lot of elements and learning what tools and supplies worked best in certain situations.  I do have a few tips if you’ll be doing any of these yourselves.

  • If you work with chunks of fabric like I did in the cover above, it helps to stiffen it a little bit with modge podge or gel medium.  Not a lot, just enough to make it keep it’s shape.
  • Don’t try to rush through letting things dry, especially when you’re adding a lot of elements, like the last cover shown.  It’s much easier to continue working when everything is solid than to try to work while things are wet and have to fix things you mess up when you’re not careful enough.
  • I used a color dauber to add the colors on the bottom two covers, but I either spritzed the color with water after I applied it to get it to blend, or I used some plastic wrap to apply the color to the surface.  It makes the colors more random and organic than only using the dauber.

idea-ology coversidea-ology covers with chipboard altered idea-ology covers idea-ology covers

Thanks for visiting!!  I actually am making a video showing the making of the top cover, but I accidentally left my laptop at my sister’s with all my clips and pictures.  She’s shipping it to me though, so I should have it up by the end of the week.

Let me know what you think!!  Have you done these idea-ology covers before?  What tips would you share?

Why it’s Important to Keep an Art Journal

keep an art journal I love history.  Old journals, documents, newspapers… they all tell stories that otherwise would be lost and I’m fascinated by them. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love keeping journals, especially art journals.

Keeping a personal history is important, though I will confess that keeping a personal history was not what I thought I was doing when I began art journaling. In the beginning, I thought of it as a way to practice new techniques, and then it became a means of inspiration to create when I was paralyzed by fear.  Now in hindsight, art journaling has taken on a new meaning for me.

As I’ve been working on making my art journal a daily habit, I’veseen my progression as an artist.  My first pages were pretty terrible and unimaginative as I was trying to figure out the how’s and why’s of what I was doing. I used to be embarrassed by those pages, but as each blank sheet of paper metamorphoses into something colorful and full of texture and layers, I can see reflected in those pages the changes I am going through as a person.

There are a lot of qualities I see in other successful people that I just do not have, but I want to develop. I’m not a morning person.  I am easily distracted, and I give in to my fears way too often, sometimes without even realizing it.  I get frustrated with myself a lot because of these things, but when I look through my art journal, I can literally see my progress- and not just as an artist, but as a person.  As I flip through those pages they serve as encouragement for me on days when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  I am progressing as a person.  I am making changes and I don’t need to be frustrated with myself.  My art journal has come to serve as a reminder for me to have patience with myself and to keep working, no matter what. I still have a long way to go, but I will get there.  It may take me longer than it takes other people, but that’s ok.  I’ll get there. And when I doubt that, all I have to do is look in my art journal.

I know that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by my weaknesses, or frustrated when I compare myself with other artists and come up short.  Were all human, and we all feel this way sometimes, to one degree or another.  But if you keep a record of your progress, you will be able to see how your hard work pays off and it will help you realize that you are making progress.  Even if it’s a tiny step at a time, that’s ok.  We can make our dreams come true!

These two pages are a couple of my first art journal pages ever.  They are pretty terrible, obviously, but I am grateful for them.  They are bricks in the foundation of my art, and represent the time and hard work I put into becoming a better artist.

keep an art journalkeep an art journal

These next two, plus the first one at the top, are the newest pages I’ve created.  I still see a lot of weaknesses in each page, but they also show new techniques I’ve been practicing.  A calligrapher I know on Instagram (colorsofchrist– she’s fabulous!) showed how she uses pearlex powders to create bright colored inks that stand out wonderfully against black backgrounds.  I didn’t waste any time!  I had to try it, and though I need to add a bit more powder to get the same richness of color, I loved adding bright text and splashes to my black pages.

keep an art journal

I created the background for these bottom pages with modeling paste and acrylic paint, but it was still missing something, so I decided to use my calligraphy pen to sketch a bit on the surface.  In some spots I used a lot of ink to create thick, spontaneous lines.

keep an art journal
Thank you so much for reading.  I hope I’ve helped you remember that art is a process, and that if you struggle with fear and frustration like I do, keep an art journal.  It can really help you remember your progress and motivate you to keep working.

Altered Planner Cover- lots of texture!

altered planner

I have a confession to make- I hate planning.  HATE it.  I don’t really know why, but every time I try to get organized I lose interest, and just end up doing- I don’t know- not what I need to do.

Anyway, I recently found a new way of planning that uses bullets on graph paper. It actually seemed like it could work for me, and since I already had an empty graph journal I’d bought for like 2 dollars at Borders and never used, I’ve been working on my planning for the past week.

Of course, the journal I’m using needed a new cover.  Black is just too boring, am I right? Ok, it’s not always boring- I actually like black a lot, but this journal needed something else.


  • I began by sanding the faux leather surface.  I knew I was going to be adding a lot of layers, and I wanted as much for them to adhere to as possible.
  • Then came layers of gesso, cheesecloth, muslin, and texture paste.  I specifically formed the muslin to create a pocket for a pen, so wherever I may take my planner, I’ll have a pen with me as well.
  • I sealed them all with gel medium for extra strength before I added anything else.
  • I used several stamps to decorate my textured surface.
  • Then came lots of metal embellishments, along with a chipboard clock that I cut in two.
  • Once they dried in place, I painted them with gesso.
  • I added ink with a “controlled splatter” technique I learned from a recent video by Mireille Binet- she ink brushed on plastic wrapping to apply droplets of ink to the surface of her project, and I replicated that here.  Thanks Mireille!
  • Flowers and beads came next, with a few splashes of ink for the petals.
  • The last thing was to add the chipboard sentiment.


Hopefully I can become more organized and better able to plan my days with the help of this altered planner.   I think this yummy cover will help, don’t you?

altered planner close up

altered planner cover with mixed media elementsaltered planner cover

altered planner back cover

Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to subscribe for more tutorials and projects- I’m brainstorming a lot of awesomeness for the blog, so stay tuned!!

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.

The ATC Wedding Guestbook

The ATC wedding guestbook

I have a sister who was recently married. It’s become a tradition for me to do some kind of handmade item for each of my sister’s at their wedding, and as I brainstormed ideas, I began to think of the ATC’s I had been making.  I started an ATC art journal not too long ago, and a few other of my projects-in-progress are ATC heavy, so the idea popped into my head to do a wedding guestbook with ATC’s for my sister’s reception.

There are so many guestbook ideas out there, and I’ve wanted to try them all. Writing messages on Jenga blocks, signatures on a super large mat for a wedding portrait, and even polaroid photo booths.  By the way, if you have any unique or awesome guestbook ideas, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!!  I have 3 sisters and a brother who are still single, and I’m going to need some more ideas!

Since my whole family, including the bride, traveled from out of town for the wedding, I decided to make something simple.  This ATC wedding guestbook was perfect!

ATC wedding guestbook in action

ATC’s, or Artist Trading Cards, are tradtitionally cards that are 2 1/2*3 1/2 inches- the size of a baseball or playing card.  Artists will create unique paintings, designs, and mixed media from these cards and trade them with other artists.  The name Artist Trading Card has come to mean any card of this size that is used for any kind of project, and not just for trading.

ATC full wedding guestbook album

My sister’s wedding colors were rainbow and black.  She had 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, each with a different color, so I didn’t worry about shades or color combinations when I created these cards.  I used drops of india ink sprayed with water to create these unique patterns and color blends.  I’m sure you can imagine how long it took for me to individually color 200 cards, especially since I had to spread them out as I went so they could dry.  (Hint: it took several days)  Also, paper has a tendency to curl and warp when you spray it with water, so once each card dried, I stacked them together as neatly as I could, and flattened them under several large, heavy boxes overnight.

ATC wedding guestbook with pictures

Since these cards are the same size as baseball cards, it’s easy to find plastic sleeves for them.  I found most of these at Office Depot, though they are available at art stores like AC Moore, as well.  The final touch was adding full page sheet protectors so I could add a few photographs throughout the album.

I will admit, I was nervous about this.  You never know how things will work out at a wedding, but this album was perfect.  Everyone loved it!  They chose the colors they loved and took their time writing heartfelt messages to the bride and groom. Once everyone’s cards were displayed in the pages the album was a burst of color, and I know it will be a wonderful keepsake for my sister and her new husband as they start their life together.

ATC wedding guestbook for writing messagesLet me know what you think in the comments!  How do you use ATC’s?  Do you have a unique wedding guestbook idea to share?  How would you alter this project?  Let me know, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Daily Art Journaling- Keep a Blessings Journal

Thanksgiving is only a week and a half away, so I thought this would be a good time to share some more of my art journal.  I’ve been doing daily art journaling; focusing on one good thing that has happened every day.  It’s strange- for the last week or so, I’ve been struggling to forget the bad and remember the good.  I don’t know why, but I’ve just felt a little down off and on lately.  Just another reason why this blessings journal is such a… well, a blessing.  Making sure to write down something that I’m thankful for every day has helped me to feel better.

Part of the reason I began this journal was to experiment with different techniques- to find out what works and what doesn’t.  I’ve learned a lot so far, from using alcohol ink for the first time (use the felt pads on the inking tool- the foam ones soak up too much of the ink), to figuring out that I prefer to use distress inks on plain paper as opposed to paper that’s been gessoed first.  It takes too long to dry and smears far more easily when you use it on top of a layer of gesso.

I’ve learned that not all acrylics are created equal, and that your fingers get raw if you do too many image transfers.  Still, despite the fact that not every page turns out as well as I would like, keeping a daily art journal is well worth the effort.

 daily art journaling

If you are struggling with overcoming fears concerning your art, this a perfect way to combat that.  You should make a habit of daily art journaling, so you won’t be able to spend a lot of time on them.  Some days you’ll have more time than others, but even if you have just a few minutes, you can do a quick doodle or use your favorite stamp.  Don’t be afraid of making a crappy page- you’ll have tons of individual pages by the end, so use your time and talents to try new things.

Daily art journaling means some pages won’t be great, and that’s ok…

daily art journaling for practice

  • Set a goal for the time you want to spend on your page, and then set a timer so you don’t exceed that time.  Push your limits- see what you can create in just 20, 15, 10 minutes.
  • Choose specific tools to use, and don’t use anything else on your page.
  • Go through your stash and find something you’ve been hanging onto for a long time, and design your page around it.
  • Pick a shape, and decide how to work your page using just that shape.

There are endless ways for you to stretch yourself though keeping a daily art journal.  Try it for a month and see where it takes you.  🙂

daily art journaling- keep a blessings journal

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!