Monday, December 30, 2013

Turning my Life Book pages into a book.

{2017 Edit I have now adapted this technique to make it faster and easier to put together. You can find the post and video of this technique here: }

I really like book making so I am sharing how I made my completed book for the Life Book class. I used my version of the hidden hinge system that is used by scrapbookers. If you want to learn a simpler way to do this there are a lot of videos on Youtube, just search for the hidden hinge and they should appear.

I have adapted the technique to make it strong enough for an art journal. You could make a blank book with new paper if you want but I used the pages I had already completed for mine. I suggest you read all the instructions first before you attempt this method of bookmaking. I have used small photos here because there are so many but if you want a closer look click on the photo to make it bigger. I have used strong glue to put my book together but you can use tape if you prefer.

I put all my pages in order and then glued the pages back to back along the outer edge and halfway along the top and bottom of the pages. (You can see how much is glued in Photo 4 below) You can skip this step and glue them together after the hinges are on. I then selected some matching cardstock for each pair of pages. I chose a colour that was close to one of the facing pages. Only a small section of the paper shows in the finished book but I prefer it not to stand out. If I was making a blank book I would just use white. You can see in the final photo how much shows when the pages are open, about 6 mm or 1/4 of an inch. I cut one strip of cardstock  for each pair of facing pages. I don't measure but it is about 5cm (2 inches) wide and is the same length as the page. These are the hinges for the pages.

For the first and last pages I keep the page whole because it will become the inside cover of the book. You can see how this will look in the second last photo below.

I used a scoring board to make two close lines down the center of the strip. The gap between the score lines can be bigger if you want to make bulky pages in your journal.  It doesn't matter if it is in the exact middle or not. I fold the hinge along the two lines.

Photo 4
 Next I glue one side of the hinge to the matching page. I glue the page up to the fold line of the hinge. You can leave a tiny gap there if you want.  I do this to each of the pairs of pages, making sure that I don't glue the edge together yet because another hinge has to go in the gap later.

This photo shows how much glue I use. I try not to put it too close to the edge because I don't want it to seep out when I put it onto the page.

This photo shows the hinge glued to one side of the pairs of hinges.  Make sure the pages are not glued together yet.


Now that I have glued a strip of cardstock to each of the pages I have to join  them all together to make the book.

I use clips on the far edge of the pages to hold two pairs together. I apply glue to the exposed hinge and fold it into the gap, gluing it to the page that does not already have a paper hinge on it. This joins one pair of pages to the next one. I keep going adding one pair of pages on top of the stack of glued pages and gluing the hinge in place.  

I hope this photo makes it clearer. You can see the pages that are glued together on the outside. The unglued side has the hinge. It connects the pairs of pages to the next one.  The first and last pages have the large papers attached instead of a narrow strip to become the inside book cover. When the pages are all attached with hinges I glue the hinges to the next hinge, forming a solid book.You should now be able to open the pages like a book.

I like to add fabric over the completed spine to make it stronger. I fold the ends over and sometimes stitch them to hold it in place. It doesn't matter what colour you choose as only a tiny bit will be seen. It is the same length as the pages and a little wider to go around onto the inside covers. I apply a generous amount of glue to the hinged side of the pages and glue on the fabric.

I used rubber bands to hold the pages together.  I stand the book on the fabric hinge and let it dry overnight on a teflon craft sheet. This makes a very strong spine.

I cut the book covers out of strong cardboard. I used the backs of my art paper pads. I have made the covers the same size as my pages but you can do them a little larger if you want. The spine must be the same size as the completed pages. I used some gel medium to glue the covers to some fabric but you could use paper to cover the book if you wish. You need to leave a gap between the cover and spine to allow the book to open properly. The last photo shows how this works when the book is open. The spine folds back on itself. If you want to use paper to cover your book then a strip of tape on the inside of the paper gap will add strength to this area.

While I was waiting for the cover to dry I made a library pocket to add inside my book. I made it large enough to hold the whimsical bird page. I put washi tape along the pocket edge for added strength.

I folded over and glued the fabric cover to the inside. I forgot to mention that I added an extra piece of fabric to the inside of the spine for strength. I used a silk blend so I wanted to be sure it would be strong. I glued the inside cover to the book cover, one side at a time. After I glued each side I put some books on it to make sure it was glued down well. I didn't put glue along the spine.

 The book will open flatter if you can leave a gap at the spine.

 I used an awl to poke holes along the edge of the cover and stitched through the book to the inside cover. This will also go through the fabric spine that we applied holding it all together in a very strong bond. If I am using a thinner cardboard or a smaller book I will use a sewing machine to go along that edge of the cover hinge to hold the book together. I added some bead to the thread ends.

Here you can see the stitching on the inside cover. The library pocket is glued into place. I like how the inside cover goes all the way across to the first page.

I bent the spine into a curve so the book opens flat. I also coloured the edges of the pages to match the paintings. This is not necessary but I prefer that look to the white edges of the papers.

I hope this is clear but don't hesitate to ask questions if you get stuck. I will do a simpler version in a few days and blog that as well.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas

I have done a couple of little Christmas projects since I finished the big canvas. The first was a small painting to go in my kitchen. I really like vintage looking Santas. Okay I confess, I may have a bit of a collection of them, lol. This is mostly watercolour and a little coloured pencil for extra shading. I used a piece of canvas paper to paint on, I really like the texture of it.

 This next Santa is a sculpture I made. This one is from a magazine, Holiday Crafts 2009. The design is called Nicknack. The instructions are quite good, I just added some glitter to the snow area for sparkle. I used Crayola Model Magic for the clay.  It was really soft and easy to work with. It started to crack as it dried (after 1 day) so I painted it before it was fully dry to stop further cracking. I wasn't upset about it because I was going for a vintage look but you may want to try a different paper clay if you don't want cracks. The instructions said to use Creative paperclay.

Merry Christmas or happy holidays to all my readers. I will continue blogging, hopefully more often next year as I cut back on classes and create for fun.

EDIT: I was asked about how to make the figurine so I searched online and found the magazine article available at Better Homes and Gardens. The link is 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Another UFO completed.

My son bought a very large canvas to paint for his home but after a while he decided it was a bit harder to paint the image he wanted than he thought. He was trying to do a landscape of an area in the North West of Western Australia. He had visited the gorges up there and had some photos of his trip that he thought would be good paintings.  He asked me if I would take over the painting so I said yes.

I started by applying gesso over the paint he had already applied. I wasn't sure what he used so it was safer to start again and I wanted white as the first layer to show through the reds and browns. It makes the colours seem more intense later on (in my opinion).  I have not worked on such a large canvas before, it was 1.5m x 1m (5ft x 3.5 ft). I would not choose that size again unless I could do it in a larger room. It was very difficult to step back and look at the painting from a distance. I had to keep taking it out into another room and that was not an easy thing to do.

Difficulties aside I just went for it. I painted a scene using acrylics that I have not tried before and I was very happy with the finished picture. My son loves it and my husband wanted to keep it for ourselves.  I really enjoyed trying something different. This second photo shows the size of the canvas, very large!

Two and a half years ago when I first started this arty journey I would not have thought I could paint anything like this at all. All that practice in my art journal has given my the confidence to try anything. If you are hesitant to start painting or even journaling I say DON'T WAIT. Take any classes you can, even watch free videos on Youtube (there are loads of art lessons there). The ONLY way to improve your skills is to make art as often as you can. If you want to draw people you need to draw at least 100 faces. With each drawing you will see improvement. If it takes longer don't worry about it just keep on drawing and the skill will come. Nobody is born knowing how to draw but some people are given more encouragement when they are younger. The rest of us have somebody who says "What is that a picture of? It's not very good." and then we stop. Imagine if you had been drawing since you were little, you would have years of experience by now. Don't wait another minute....START

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An interesting experiment with ink

I was reading a watercolor book called Watercolor without boundaries by Karlyn Holman. There was an article in there about an artist called Cindy Markowski and she shared one of her techniques using real leaves. She puts leaves onto wet watercolor paper and then drizzles on food colors and places a piece of plexiglass on top. After letting it sit overnight she removes the leaves and uses negative painting of the background to make the leaves stand out.

I decided to try the technique with some inks that I had picked up at my local art store. I probably would dilute the inks a bit if I do it again because the leaves came out quite vivid and it meant I was limited with my background color choice. I had to choose a dark color for the leaves to stand out.

This first image is after I left the leaves on the paper overnight.I had trouble seeing the leaf shapes so I outlined them with a pastel pencil that could easily be rubbed off later. I then started to paint in the background making a few more leaf shapes as I went along.  I have not done anything more to the leaves.

The finished journal page. I have added some veins to the leaves and shaded them with colored pencil. I tried to use the ink for shading but it wouldn't work so that is why I used the pencils. I have added shadows to create depth.  If I did this again I would not do it in a journal because some of the ink went through to the other page.  It is a fun thing to do and I will try it with food color sometime. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Getting caught up with UFOs

No, not the alien type of UFOs. The crafty UnFinished Objects type.  As most of my online classes are finished now I have been finishing off various items around the house. One thing was to prepare our garden for summer with a lot of mulch. That is done now.  

I have re-upholstered 6 dining chairs for my daughter. They took a bit longer than I thought because the original manufacturer had used about 10 thousand staples that had to be removed to put the new fabric on. She is happy with the way they look now and I am happy that I won't have to do any more.

 I was looking for something on my desk and I found these Santa cutouts that I had started last year and I thought to myself 'I should finish these someday'. Then I had a second thought 'Well, why not finish them today?' So that is what I did. Another unfinished object done. The original pattern for these was in the magazine called Quick and Easy painting, Winter 2009.  It is a design by Monika Brint. They are painted on wood shapes that my hubby cut out for me.

 The next project was to replace the doorstops that I made may years ago. I use them to hold the door open when it is windy. I saw a pattern in the Aussie Handmade magazine that I liked so now we have a trio of owls holding the doors for us.

 The other big project I am finishing is a large painting that my son started and soon lost interest in. The canvas is about 2 yards (metres) long by 1.5 yards high. It may take a while....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life Book pages.

I haven't shared very many of my Life Book lessons lately so I am going to fix that right now.

I used paper napkins as part of the collage papers for the background of this page. I liked the way they looked on the shoulders so I let them show through the painting. This is acrylics with a little coloured pencil.

A lesson with Effy Wild.  This page is more graphic in style than I usually do.  Tissue paper background with acrylics. I used gold pen for the border and outlines.

 The tree is printed onto watercolour paper with my Epson printer.  The ink is permanent so I could then paint right over it. The giraffe is from an online how to draw a giraffe page. I just googled it.

This is a acrylic transfer from images I printed on my computer. I layered them in Photoshop and printed them out before transferring the collage to my painting.  The rest is acrylic and pencil. I coated the finished piece with was for a different look.

 A lesson with Kelly Hoernig.  We did ink blots on deli paper then cut them out and made the page.

A lesson with Rachelle Panagarry. We used mulberry paper as the base for this page. I used brown (it was all I had) so the fibres are visible. I used Rachelle's technique for the hair. This is probably my favourite page so far.

A short lesson with Monica Zunica. We used watercolours and pens for this page. My first time shading a face with only watercolour and I am happy with the way it turned out.

 A lesson with Tam of Willowing.  I got some of my photos out of the Rainbow Honeyeaters and used them to do this page.  The drawing is done with graphite and the back ground is put in later with watercolour. It is a great effect and one I will do again.  Initially I had blue, green and yellow in the background but it looked too busy with all those branches so I went over it with the blue again to mute the colour a little.

I am happy with the work I have done for this course and would recommend it if you like mixed media.  It doesn't matter if you are a beginner because you will learn a lot from the many teachers there and it is such great value for a year long course. I am not doing it next year because I want to try so many other things. I don't want to commit to a year long course but I may return the following year.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A fun journal page

I have not really done a lot of art over the last week or so. I have cleaned my studio, sorted my pile of books and magazines and bookmarked a lot of ideas in my Somerset magazines to try out.

 My page is inspired by this article in Somerset Apprentice Spring 2013 edition.  The original is done on wood and is quite large. I chose to do a journal page instead. I didn't follow the instructions very much. This is how I did it but if you like the original you can get the magazine from Somerset.

 I started by using matte medium to glue tissue paper (yellow), printed tissue (bird cage) and a brown napkin to the page. I put it on fairly smooth but didn't worry about any wrinkles that were there.

Next I used a rubber brayer (you could use a brush here instead) to roll on some white, yellow and pale brown acrylic paint. I applied the colors randomly and let some of the tissue layer show through. It turned out more yellow than I liked so I sprayed on a little brown Starburst spray. It looks a little spotty in this photo because it was still wet. You can see some of the tissue that wasn't stuck down well has wrinkled. I think it adds more dimension so I let it dry like that.

I drew the shapes I wanted onto the back of some scrapbook papers and tore them out. I didn't want white edges so I tore with the back of the paper facing me. I glued the shapes to the page with white glue. I wanted a bit more lightness so I put a little white paint on a brush and lightly touched it to the raised areas of the sun's rays and some of the flowers.  You can see it in the next photo.

 I used a neocolor water soluble crayon to roughly outline the flowers. I then used a wet paintbrush to soften the lines. In this photo I have softened everything except the two flowers on the right. You can see the line is harsher on those flowers.

I thought it needed more color so I used some of the paint from the flowers around the border of the page. I also stamped some squares and circles on for interest. I printed the quote on my computer then cut it out and colored it with spray.  I glued it to the page and added a little brown outline. It was a fun technique to try.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Something a little different.

If you have read my blog for a while you will know I like to do many different arts and crafts.  My hubby and I recently repainted several rooms in our home. That has led to a few pieces of furniture needing a bit of attention too.

There was a small cupboard that used to have a painted stained glass style picture on the glass doors. The paint had faded a lot and I decided to scrape off the old picture and do something new.

First I used painters tape to mask off the edge of the glass and make a border on the inside of the door.  I do it on the inside of the door so the outside is still smooth and can be washed.
Next I used gel medium (it doesn't matter what type or brand) with a little white acrylic paint added to it. I laid a stencil onto the glass and used a stiff paint brush to dab the gel mixture onto the glass. When I filled in the whole stencil I carefully lifted it off and let the gel dry. The stencil wasn't big enough to fill the inner area so when it was completely dry I put the stencil down again and used the same mixture to finish off the pattern. Don't do two areas with the stencil at the same time or the first section will smudge. You don't have to use a stencil. I have done it with tape only and made a grid pattern like a paned window.

That is all there is to it. Why don't you try it yourself?

It doesn't matter if the stencilling is not perfect because you don't really notice it when the whole thing is finished. If I get tired of this I can just spray it with water  and use a glass scraper to remove the gel medium.

I have done this technique with plain gel medium on a window to make it look like frosted glass. I used a sponge to apply the gel all over the glass. I tried to take a photo but it doesn't show up well. The reason I added paint this time was so I could partly hide the things in the cupboard.

This cupboard was done in a similar manner. I tore paper to use as a mask so I could get the wavy edge and applied the gel medium with white paint mixture using a sponge.

I then tore strips of textured paper and applied them with wallpaper paste that dries clear. You could also use a watered down acrylic glue (like Elmers or PVA) to apply the paper.

If you stick with acrylic products or glues you can always wet them and scrape them off the glass in the future.

One time I used gift wrap paper to line glass doors in my studio but that has now been changed. The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Watercolor fun

This is another watercolor journal page from a magazine picture. I changed things a little to make it easier to draw.

The paper was cold pressed so that is why it looks textured.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Inspiration from a photo.

When I was looking through a magazine recently I came across an article that was full of flowers arranged beautifully that I was inspired to paint. I have used a lot of those photos in the challenge I did a couple of weeks ago. There were 2 photos that looked complex so I thought I would attempt some larger pages with them because I really liked them.

This is the completed page in my journal. I started with a sketch and was surprised it turned out so well so I finished it off with watercolor.  I used a Koi travel set for this one. The wall was first painted with a creamy color then I used a tissue to pick up the left over paint and dabbed it on to look like texture.

Here is the original photo I was inspired by.  You can see I left a few things out and also spread it out more to fit my landscape sized page. It was great fun to try something like this, a first for me. Think of all those lovely images you have in your magazines. Of course you can't copy another person's  image for an item you want to sell but I think it would be okay for an art journal that is private.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A little more completed art.

These are the last few cards I have done for the mixed media challenge, although I mostly did watercolor. I have finished the challenge but I will continue to fill these watercolour cards with art because I really like the exaggerated landscape format. Also, I have a pack of 50 that I want to use up. I will put them on my desk for those times when I just want to draw something.

The prompt for this one was to use a font. I chose the jokerman font for my quote. 

I used 3 prompts for this card. They were bird, face and cupcake. I have really fallen in love with the idea of many unrelated items on one page. 

This prompt was orange. I used my Peerless paint cards for this one. I love them  because they are all transparent and I don't have to worry about any color being too grainy. They do take a little getting used to because they are staining colors so can't be lifted out.

I didn't have a prompt for this one but I chose to make it about green. I was experimenting with the Peerless paints again. 

The prompt for this one was paintbrush. This is what my peerless palette looks like. I have cut a strip off the end of each card and arranged them by color (not how I have painted it here) on a large sheet of watercolor paper. It folds in half and slips into my A4 size journal. Jane Davenport does something similar in a video on her website.