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.

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: Greeting Cards

I don’t buy greeting cards. I make them. It lets me be creative, and I never have to fret about Grandma receiving the same card from us and from one of the cousins. (It also gives me an excuse to horde decorative paper, but that’s fodder for another post.) My cards may not be as sappy or as snarky as the ones you buy down at Walmart, but they do come straight from the heart. About the photos below:

  1. This Hello Baby! card welcomes my new nephew to the family. When inspiration fails, add adhesive alphas and outline them using sparkly gel pens.
  2. I love this “Handmade Card” stamp from Cat’s Life Press Rubber Stamp Company.
  3. Dirty Little Secret #1: The patterned paper on the back of this card hides an unfortunate smudge.

Cards

Cards

Cards

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.

Making glass gem pins…

Ah, there’s nothing quite like the smell of E-6000* in the morning!

This morning I’ve been making glass pins to wear, to donate to the NFPW Education Fund auction next week, and to sell at Archon next month.

I start with a small image of one of my paintings, apply a glob of glue, then squish the gem into the glob and slide it around until the glue is evenly distributed and the image is centered. The photo shows what it looks like at this stage.

After the glue has had time to cure, I’ll trim the edges, glue on the pin back, and then seal the back and edges with a mat varnish.

Alternatively, I could glue a magnet on the back, in which case I’d skip the varnish.

*silcone-based industrial-strength adhesive