WIP: DIY Re-Binding Project

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my notebooks and sketchbooks. I also keep a calendar-style scrapbook, using a 9” x 12” wirebound mixed media Strathmore Visual Journal as the substrate. Each two-page spread covers a single month. I glue in decorative paper, photographs, ticket stubs, and ephemera I’ve found along the way.

By the end of 2013, my scrapbook documented two years of my life. It had grown fatter than its spiral binding could accommodate, even after I removed six months’ worth of unused pages from the back of the book. It clearly needed to be re-bound with a larger spine to allow the pages to turn freely.

I decided to re-bind it by hand. I could have taken it to the office supply store and paid them to rebind it for me, but I decided to re-bind it myself. I purchased a pack of wire binding spines and a pack of spiral binding spines from the craft store, pulled out my pliers, and got down to business.

After prying open the existing wire binding, I removed it and inserted the new wire spine into the holes. That was the easy part. Closing the wire was more of a challenge. Machines that can do the job more quickly and with more grace, but I was doing it by hand. I struggled with the first few teeth, but it got easier after I inserted two wooden dowels to use as leverage. (One larger dowel would have worked, but I used what I had on hand.) The result is a little messy and uneven, but the new spine gives my scrapbook pages room to breathe.

I decided to rebind my current scrapbook using the spiral binding and limiting the number of pages to just cover the current year. Spiral binding is much easier than wire to insert by hand — you just keep threading it through the holes as you twist it in, then finish by bending a little tail on each end to prevent it from working itself out. The result is cleaner and looks more professional.

When I do this again (because you know I will), I will definitely use the spiral binding spines.

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding/

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

WIP: Life’s Too Short; Use The Good Stuff.

Have you ever thought about what the phrase “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” really means? It’s another way of saying that you can’t make a high-quality product from poor-quality materials.

Don’t waste your time and money using cheaply made, sub-standard materials; it will only cause you frustration and end with work you simply aren’t satisfied with.

If you want to produce quality product, use quality materials. (If you are patient enough to wait for a sale and/or use the right coupons, you CAN get good materials at an affordable price.)

Take a look at these canvas-covered panels, to which I’ve applied a thin wash of fluid acrylic.

  • The panel on the top is from a store-brand “value pack” made in China and purchased at a big-name craft store.
  • The panel on the bottom is a Utrecht Studio 100% Primed Cotton Canvas Board made with 7oz primed cotton canvas mounted on heavyweight multi-ply board.

See the difference? The value panel resists the paint and creates a weak, splotchy mess, while the quality panel accepts the paint evenly.

Quality does matter. Life’s too short to spend your creative time re-working a splotchy mess. Use the good stuff.

Good stuff on the left, not -so-good stuff on the right.

Good stuff on the left, not-so-good stuff on the right.

I’ve been here before…

It’s no secret that I have an addiction to pens (and pencils and paint). When I see pens on clearance, I’ll test one out to see if it’s one I’d like to add to my collection. Sometimes, the only testing surface available is the shelf tag itself. One day as I uncapped a pen to test, I reached for the shelf tag and realized, to my surprise, that I had Been Here Before.

I've been here before

WIP: Word Stamps

I saw some cute little word stamps in a catalog, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually pay that much plus shipping to get them. So I made my own using inexpensive wooden alpha stamps from the craft store and a couple dabs of glue. My intention was to use them in my art journal, but I’ve also made some to use as a checklist in my daily notebook.

05-28-2014 13984789266_c9466c9968_o

Why rant?

Why rant?

Words

Words

Excuse

Excuse

A dab of glue.

A dab of glue.

My New Business Cards

Last week, I decided it was long past time to get professionally printed business cards. You know what they say: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. I’ve printed my own cards for years, but I’ve never been happy with the quality of inkjet on perforated Avery 10-per-sheet card blanks.

Instead of a traditional size business card, I ordered Moo mini-cards. They’re about half the size of a standard business card — about the size of a stick of gum — with a full-color image on one side and my contact info on the other. I chose four related images to use on the full color side. On the other, I’ve included my name, my tag line (Author, Artist, TV Addict, Geek Princess, Cat Servant… not necessarily in that order), my email address, and my web address (AllisonStein.com).

I received my order on Saturday, and they are dangerously adorable! After years of printing my own cards, I’m excited to have something that looks this nice.

I’ll package one with each piece of art I display at ConQuesT, SoonerCon, and Archon this year. I’ll also keep some handy to use when networking at other events, like Spectrum Fantastic Art Live this coming weekend, and the Campbell Conference in June.

My Moo Cards

WIP: My Notebooks

I keep two notebooks consistently: my sketchbook and my daily notebook.

My sketchbook captures ephemeral content from my right brain: sketches, doodles, scribbles, random creative inspiration, and color combinations. This is the notebook I also take to meetings and workshops, where I can let my right brain run loose while the left brain pays attention.

My daily notebook stays with me all day to capture the mundane contents of my left brain before they leak out: lists of things to do and things I did, telephone messages, observations, dates, and deadlines. Sometimes I paste in receipts or ticket stubs or the label from something tasty that I’d like to try again.

I prefer a wirebound Canson Universal Sketch in 9″x12″ for the sketchbook and 6″x9″ for the daily notebook. On the outside, I personalize the covers with decorative paper, washi tape, rubber stamps, and stickers. On the inside, I make marks with whatever happens to be handy: pens, pencils, markers, spray ink, etc.

For a brief moment when my notebooks are new, they are crisp and clean and symmetrical. Soon enough, however, they become rumpled and bumpled with water wrinkles, their edges darkened by spilled coffee and ink over-spray, and their bellies fat with pasted-in ephemera and tabs made from washi tape — all of the things that make them MINE.

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks

WIP: Backgrounds

I’ve neglected my blog for several months, but I have spent the time doing other creative things and taking photos of them as I go.

Here are a few shots that explain how I collage backgrounds for my mixed media works.

  1. On a small canvas board (or canvas) and use tinted gesso or a light wash of acrylic paint to establish the base color.
  2. I tear small pieces of printed scrapbook paper and paper ephemera, which I then attach to the board matte gel medium.
  3. Next, I add a transparent wash of acrylic paint to unify the surface color.
  4. After the wash has dried, I add details using stencils and rubber stamps.
  5. For these boards, I added dabs of fluid acrylic in a coordinating color and a metallic. I usually leave this step for last, after I add the focus image (for me, that’s usually a cute big-eyed critter of some sort).

Materials used: Utrecht canvas boards, Golden fluid acrylics, Liquitex matte medium, various scrapbook papers, various rubber stamps, Studio G stamping ink, plastic palette knife, foam sponge brush, plastic lid.

Collage

Adding paint

Background

Another One Bites The Dust

Last week, one of my favorite local shops for papercrafting supplies decided to close up shop for good. They had a great reputation, an interesting selection of items not carried by the big-box craft stores, and a regular schedule of how-to classes. The staff was very friendly and helpful, even when they were baffled by my questions and quests to use scrapbooking supplies for non-your-typical-scrapbook projects. I always left there with new ideas and sometimes some new products to try. I will miss them.

Tools: Paste and a Palette Knife

Paste

I recently opened my second jar of YES paste. It took me nearly two years (maybe longer) to use up my first jar of paste. A little paste goes a long long way, and it took me a while to learn to love it.

I bought my first jar to use in cardmaking to glue decorative paper to the generic white cards I bought in a value pack. Glue stick was inexpensive and easy to apply, but it just wasn’t working for me; parts didn’t stay stuck, or the stick was globby, or the stick dried out long before I had used it all up.

My go-to girl at the art supply store told me to thin YES the paste with water and apply it with a brush. She even picked out a long-handled, half-inch wide hog bristle brush for me to use. It was not her best suggestion. The half-inch brush was too small a tool for the 5”x7” surface I was covering, and thinning the paste with water caused the pretty paper to buckle … and the cat kept stealing the hog-bristle brush.

As a result, I developed a love-hate relationship with that first jar of paste and only used it now and then …until I discovered the palette knife and an application technique that works for me.

To be specific, the Richeson plastic “Scotty” knife won me over. Now I’m using paste on greeting cards and 9×12 journal pages.

I use the knife like a spatula to scoop a glob of paste out of the jar and spread it on the journal page, scraping and removing globs until I have a very thin, very smooth layer of paste. Then I can apply the decorative paper, roll it down with a dry brayer, and close the book to let it dry flat. The plastic knife is inexpensive, flat, and wide. It’s also easy to clean. The dried paste just peels right off.

Paper Crack

Paper

I am addicted to paper. Some artists “collect” fabric, others yarn. I collect paper. The worst thing that ever happened to my wallet was the day I discovered decorative scrapbooking papers. Put it on sale and it’s like crack for me. I always need more. To be fair, there is so much I can do with it. I glue it to the front cover of my sketchbooks and spiral notebooks. I tape it to empty jars and cans to create upcycled desk accessories. I use it in my art journal. I make greeting cards with it. I collage it to canvas board and small canvases as background for my art. I may have more paper than I’ll ever actually use, but hey — it’s paper. It’s important.