Neutral Color Scrapbook Canvas

I’ve always been more of a neutral color fan.  I feel like it’s only been in the past year or two that I’ve really branched out and worked in lots of different colors.  I love off-whites and brown backgrounds.  I love black text on beige paper.  I love kraft paper and chipboard, and I love the timeless, sophisticated quality to all of the above.

So, every once in a while, I go back to those first loves and just go crazy.  This canvas blends so many of my favorite things- neutral color paper with text, white and brown accents, text washi-tape, ink-stained muslin, etc.  It’s pretty awesome, in my opinion.  🙂

Neutral Color Scrapbook Canvas

neutral color scrapbook canvas with washi tape and pencil embellishments

What I love most about this layout, is the negative space that’s actually full of text and other images.  I whitewashed the whole thing with Distress Crackle Paint, but you can still see everything underneath.  Yet now, with the whitewash, it’s almost as if everything else is on top of a fresh, clean canvas.  I love that this piece has that look and feel.

  • The first step was to cover the surface with various papers.  Everything piece I chose was covered with text.
  • I darkened it with some walnut ink, and then paint the surface with Tim Holtz’ Distress Crackle Paste, for a crackly, whitewash effect.  Awesome.  🙂
    • Quick Tip- if you use crackle paste, I would recommend sealing it with some gel medium.  It can tend to flake a bit, especially the larger cracks where you used more paint.
  • The sides were a bit rough, with some paper still sticking over, so I took some time and sanded all the edges down.
  • Washi-tape was added to the left side; different lengths in all different neutral colors and patterns.
  • My map stamp and one of my script stamps were perfect to add a few more interesting details.
  • I stained some strips of muslin just a bit with more walnut ink, and added them over the washi-tape.
  • Next it’s time for the background paper, and the picture.
  • A piece of flair goes pretty well with everything else, huh?  And how about those IKEA pencils?!  I knew the handfull I grabbed would come in handy.
  • This piece wouldn’t be complete without a few ink splatters!!

neutral color scrapbook page neutral color flair IMG_3165-compressor

Anyone else out there a huge fan of neutral colors?  I’d love to hear what you think, and see your projects.

Thanks so much for visiting!  I hope I inspired you a little today.  🙂

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.

Click to download

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!!

Don’t forget to subscribe so you can download the printable!

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altered covers- back cover

Design Team Sketch 4-1-15


Let's scrap April 1st sketchAnother sketch to show!  Yay!!

My take on the sketch is only one scrapbook page, but it really put itself together. Between the sketch guiding my hand, and the fact that this paper and most of the embellishments had just come in my Prima order from, this layout was a no brainer.  Just look at this paper!  So yummy!  I absolutely love everything about Prima’s Archivist line.  I am obsessed with everything about it.

Let's Scrap fort sumter scrapbook layout

The rest of the Design Team has some pretty awesome layouts as well, so go check out their interpretations of the sketch and then show us yours!  We’d love to have you play along with us.  

Fort Sumter layout closeup

Gel Medium- The Most Essential Tool for Mixed Media Artists

 It wasn’t until I began to seriously experiment with mixed media art that I discovered Gel Medium.  As I began researching more and more art techniques, I began to stock up on several tools I’d never used before, including this amazing gel.  Since then, I’ve used my Gel Medium in several ways, on a lot of different pieces.  I’ve used it as a glue, a sealer, and to reinforce extra elements, and it works great every time.  It’s also perfect for adding dimension and texture through stencils and palette knives.  Gel Medium can also be used as a resist medium to repel paint and ink.  You can use it to transfer photos and images to wood and paper and also add it to acrylic paint to extend the color.  I’m sure there are even more uses for it that I haven’t discovered or tried yet.
Below are a few projects that show the different and essential ways I use gel medium.  I use it in all my projects, but I can’t include them all here, so here are a few milestones-


quilling mini art

 For this piece, I used it as an adhesive. This was the first piece in which I used gel medium to attach metal to canvas.  I was a little worried at first, but there was no need for that- I’ve since used it for much heavier metal findings on canvas and even cardstock, with no issues at all.    And of course, since gel medium dries clear, the entire painting is still visible even when I’m a bit messy or the gel leaks out from under the element I’m working on.  This stuff is the best!  I know a lot of people like modge podge, but oh my goodness, what a mess!  It’s sticky and thin and goopy and after using gel medium, I’ll never go back.
 trypophobia close up

Gel Medium is the adhesive I use in my quilled paper abstract art.   I use it here to adhere my paper pieces to surface of painted canvas.  It dries clear, almost completely invisible, and is super strong.

add some flair

This altered cover uses fabric, tissue paper and tissue tape, cardstock and thick chipboard as well as several metal pieces.  Gel medium works perfectly on all these different elements.  Most of the time I’ll use the thick gel straight from the bottle, but I’ll also water it down a bit and use it as a brush-on sealer for certain projects.

gel medium image transfer

This is a very basic image transfer I used in my art journal, using some left over photo prints I had on hand.  I was going for a rougher look here- you can get really good transfers using this technique, though I believe it’s better on harder surfaces, like wood.


So, just to recap, here is a starter list of things you can do with gel medium-

  • Extend the life of acrylic paint
  • Adhere a variety of embellishments to various substrates
  • Create texture on surfaces with stencils, palette knives, brushes, etc.
  • Water it down and use as a surface sealer
  • Create a resist pattern for paint and ink
  • Image transfers

Do you have any other techniques for Gel Medium you love to use?