Craft: Yarn Pom Pom Bookmarks 2.0

Recently, I saw the cutest idea on Design Mom – pom pom bookmarks! It’s a simple idea, but so darn adorable… so I had to try it out. I always have this longing for crafting with practicality and bookmarks are always useful in my book – LOL!

 

I started making a few pom poms from a bunch of yarn I had lying around (it was actually a huge mess because my Westie pup, Vash, got into it!) I quickly realized that the more yarn you use the puffier and tighter your pom poms will ends up. Not to mention you have to trim them nicely to get a symmetrical shape in the end.

 

Then with some other basic materials I decided to upgrade the whole idea. I’ve never liked “string” type bookmarks, not enough foundation for me. I decided to add a solid paper portion that slips into the book instead. With a bit of glue and cardstock I made myself a sturdy base with the pom pom hanging at the top.

I think of it as a  2.0 version of the pom pom bookmark. I also decided to collage over the cardstock with old bookpaper and ink the edges with copper paint. I suppose it doesn’t exactly match with the blue… a bit eclectic!

 

The point is that the idea can be taken further depending on how you like your bookmarks – thinner material or thicker? Different decorations? How about using leather instead of yarn for the pom pom? What else can you add instead of a pom pom? Hmm. For now, I’m pretty content with my lovely little up-cycled yarn pom pom bookmark 2.0. Craft happiness for the week! Enjoy!

Sew and Finish Making A Handmade Journal

Following my previous posts about my bookbinding tools/materialspreparing my journal cover and folding paper for your journal – this week I would like to finish things up! It’s time to stitch up my handmade journal and put it to use. The first thing to decide is how I will sew everything together. That will determine how I should punch the holes in my paper and journal cover.

I decided to just do some simple longstitch binding, but with a continuous string… a bit out of laziness perhaps! Instead of sewing each individual signature and knotting it up, I would just continue weaving in and out all signatures and then backwards, so there’s only one knot in the end. With that decided, I punched holes in all my signatures of papers with an awl and ruler. You can also create a guide for your holes with thick cardstock and use it as a template to punch all your holes. That can help to ensure that the holes are all exactly in the same spot per signature. However, I  just measure and eyeball it…

Once all my paper signatures have been punched, I do the same for my cover. However, instead of punching for each hole and each signature of the journal, I’ve decided to just slit my journal cover. It’s less time consuming and I actually like the rustic look of it in the end.

With all my materials ready to go, I thread my needle and start sewing the paper signatures to the journal cover. I’m using a rusty orange colored string that is fairly thick, so I have to make sure and tighten properly as I weave in and out while sewing.

Although it might seem complicated to understand… you can actually make up your own sewing patterns and create different looks in the bindings of your journals. Try drawing out a diagram and using your pen as the needle to see what would work out. It’s a great way to discover your own method of stitching up your books!

For my journal, it was really important that I kept everything tightened up properly because there are slits in the binding and my thread is so thick and stretchy. BTW, there’s no need to use a curved needle for this project, I just grabbed whatever was handy. In this case it would have been better to use a straight needle! Sometimes when I use really thick string, I might need to use pliers to help push and string the needle through everything…. just depends how skillful you are with your fingers and hands, I suppose!

As I mentioned earlier, doing the longstitch with one long piece of string will result in these criss cross parts on the edge of the binding. I sort of think they are cool, but if you don’t like that you’d better plan up a different stitching pattern for your journal. There are so many different binding methods and patterns possible – the sky is the limit!

Another detail I added to my journal was some velcro closure. I simple glued the velcro bits to my cover, leaving room for a bit of bulk as I might add bits and pieces to my journal papers. Although some find the velcro noise annoying, I like how practical it is! You can also try using a buckle, buttons or ribbon/string wraparound closure as well. It’s all up to your imagination.

With just a little effort, I’ve made myself a lovely leather journal for doodling and experimenting in… how cool is that, huh?

You can see that it looks a bit imperfect and the string is quite thick creating a sort of staggered effect in the binding. I really like the rustic feel of it – I think it matches the coloring of my journal and raw edges of the leather. Just my preference! The cool thing about having a soft leather cover is that the journal opens up flat and it’s very comfortable to write and draw. Of course, I had to pop in a doodle on the first page to welcome my crisp and clean new journal. No surprise that it’s my default girl drawing!

Have you made your own journal before? Hope you will be inspired to make yourself a handy little creative idea keeper – share your thoughts below!

Folding Paper for Your Journal

Following my previous posts about my bookbinding tools/materials and preparing my journal cover, this week I want to share some information regarding choosing and preparing the paper that will go in your handmade journals. It’s it certainly a personal choice, regarding what type of paper or papers you choose to include in your journal. After all, if you’re making something custom, why not experiment? You can include found papers, printer paper, thicker cardstock, watercolor paper and a variety of other artist papers on the market.

PAPER FOR YOUR JOURNAL

Know that you will need to cut your paper to size, so that when folded in half they make up the size of your journal. A couple of sheets folded and stacked together make a signature and you would usually include several signatures, depending how many pages you want in the final journal. What is important to consider is the thickness of your paper as that will more or less decide how many sheets go in each signature. If you are using regular printer paper, you want to go for at least 6 or even 8 sheets in a signature. That will ensure that the signature is sturdy and can hold up to however you stitch the signatures into your journal cover. If you only had a sheet or two of thin paper, your thread would surely rip through!

On the other hand, if you are using a very thick cardstock, you want to use less sheets per signature. In fact, as you stack them together, you’ll notice that the open edges look a bit diagonal. I don’t mind the inconsistencies, but many folks prefer to stack up their signatures and then trim off the excess so that they have an even edge. It’s up to you!

THE GRAIN OF PAPER

Once you have decided on your paper and cut them to size, you’ll have to fold them in half and stack up your signatures. When it comes to folding paper, there is technically a right way to do it! Paper has a grain to it and you’ll be able to tell especially with thicker papers when you start folding. When your fold paper parallel to the direction of the grain, it will fold nice and crisply. If you fold perpendicular to the grain, you might notice more resistance and a crackly, ragged edged fold. This is because the fibers of the paper are giving you resistance.

However, if you are using regular printer paper, you might not be able to tell much of difference at all. Paper with less fiber and less thickness simply doesn’t resist as much. I usually only run into a problem with really thick 300 or 400 lb painting paper. Normally, I don’t even check for the grain of the paper! Being in the more practical and economical boat, I usually buy white cardstock printer paper in A4 size and just fold in half to make my journals. However, I do use a bone folder to smooth over edges… makes it easy on my fingers. If you don’t have a bone folder, use a spoon! It’s totally works!

CHECK  YOUR JOURNAL

Once you have your paper decided upon, cut them size and folded them into signatures you are ready for the actual construction of your journal. Before moving on it’s really important to put your journal together and take a look to make sure everything checks out. Do you have enough signatures to fill up the journal as you envisioned? Do you need to take away a signature or add more?

If your journal cover wraps around, you’ll definitely have to check to make sure enough room is allowed… you don’t know how many times I’ve simply forgotten about the spine taking up space and thought that my journal could have been much thicker! Here’s a look at my mock-up journal, not yet sewn… but looks good to me so far. Join me next week for the final step of putting it all together!

Why kind of papers do you prefer to put in your handmade journals? I know that junk papers are especially popular for those who will cover up the pages with paint and ink… get creative! Feel free to share in the comments below…

Start An Artful Journal Instantly

Many art journalers don’t decorate the cover of their journals until the very end. It’s sort of a sweeping measure to finish up a long record of artful adventures. However, I personally like to decorate – at least in part – my journal covers immediately.

I want my journal to be inspiring, inviting me in, even if I see it on the shelf or from across the room. An easy way to give yourself an instant journal cover is to use a piece of existing artwork. For this journal, I used Create Fearlessly and you can see the many motivational prints I have in the shop. You can definitely use a copy of your own artwork or even magazine cutouts of imagery that inspires you.

Don’t hesitate to alter and decorate the art to make it your own. Think about collaging different elements together, adding 3D embellishments, and little details with pens and paints. I’ve added a paper-mache glossy heart, with some tulle to embellish the cover and binding area.

Existing imagery can give you a jumpstart, so you can dive into your journal today. How would you decorate your journal covers?

Create Badges of Art

How can you spice up a favorite image and incorporate art into your daily life? I say, make that piece of art a badge that decorates your journal, hangs from your door, or sits on a shelf to inspire every day. That’s what I did with Be Strong – printing it out at a smaller size and dressing it up to be a proud badge of art.

You can do the same using any image that inspires you. Check out my shop for a variety of inspirational prints or use a magazine cut-out or postcard.

Think about adding your personal touch with decoration – just dive into your craft supplies! I covered my entire image with several layers of sparkly embossing powder. Then I sewed a border around it, attached some girly ruffle to the bottom, and framed the whole piece with a thick cardstock paper. Think of what you have around to use. Enjoy!

Decorate and Embellish Your Art Prints

Many people think of the conservation and preservation of fine art prints, but I want to challenge you to involve yourself in the creative expression and USE those prints. Since offering my Girls With A Message as downloadable printables, a lot of project ideas have opened up for me. I think that involving yourself in the art, not just admiring… brings you into the process and message. I think it’ll mean more, because you’ve put your unique touch into it.

I decided to decorate and embellish my art print, adding that glam that makes me smile with delight. I printed my artwork on photo paper, then printed just the bow of her hair onto cardstock and cut it out. BTW, see the color difference between photo paper and regular cardstock prints below?

I took that cut-out bow and covered it with some pink tinsel glitter – super glam and girly! I love it! Funny how it fits onto the magazine page image that I was using as scrap paper under. She looks mysteriously glamorous…

When my embellishment was completely dry, I put a bunch of foam tape on the back, so that I could attach it on top of my full print.

Working on a separate piece of cardstock means that I can experiment a bit, without directly working on my art print. It also adds an extra 3D pop effect and if you used temporary adhesive, you could probably switch out different decorations as well.

It’s a simple decorative element, but adds so much to the life of the print. A personal touch that makes me look and smile.

How can you decorate and embellish up your 2D images? Add some glitter, pop-up elements, put real earrings on her ears… it’s up to your imagination. Have any ideas to try out?

Photo and Art Prints DIY With A Home Printer

After launching my new shop for printable art downloads, I realized that some folks were worried about the process of printing at home. Everyone wants the best quality possible, but very few of us have professional heavy duty equipment at home. I have to say that printing seems to be a whole art form in itself! However, these days the technology available to us, gives pretty fabulous results… and many independent artists selling art prints, actually print at home as well. They aren’t using a specialist lab or anything you can’t access yourself.

 

Most of us are able to print a quick photo at home with our inkjet printers and it works the same for art prints as well. There are many factors that contribute to a beautiful looking print and with a bit of testing and experimentation, I’m certain you’ll find what is acceptable to you – for your particular use at that time.

YOUR PRINTER

To print at home, you obviously need access to a printer. Most of us have all-in-one inkjet printers…the most common for households these days. They have a lot of features and the trick is to inform yourself of what is possible. Of course, the more expensive printers go, the more quality and control comes with it. Artists in the business of printing their own artwork usually have large format printers that accept thicker, speciality papers. They usually have more control over their ink colors as well – 4 to 8 different ink cartridges. It can provide better picture detail and color quality.

I personally have a very inexpensive “home office” Canon PIXMA MP240. It’s nothing special, but does give me a lot of flexibility when it comes to borderless printing at any custom size. It’s not the best out there, but the quality is pretty darn good and more than anything, it’s about understanding how to maximize my printer’s potential. Use what you’ve got!

INK

An extremely important aspect for me to use ink from the same brand as my printer. I know that it costs and might seem like all the same thing in the end. But if you think about it, there’s a compatibility when you use products from the same company  – whatever that company might be. They test and use their own products, so that it works together. When they claim that pigment ink can last up to 100 years, it’s on their paper and using their ink.

I personally don’t know if the generic brands are really the same thing chemically or not. However, instead of fussing around with injecting refills… I always go with the name brand. I think it’s totally worth it and makes a difference. My printer happens to use pigment ink as well, water-resistant when dry and resists fading. There are limits to all of this, but it’s no different than when you get your photos printed digitally at big box shops.

PAPER

Another major component in the quality of your print is the paper choice. I use the same brand paper – everything Canon. And let me tell you, there is  HUGE difference when printing on different types of paper. Not just the quality you get, but the look you are going for. I print on glossy, matte and canvas photo papers from Canon. There’s such a huge difference in the vibrance of the color when printing on regular cardstock versus photo paper. Perhaps you can see in this photo how much more bright and true to color the top sheet is – matte photo paper.

The bottom sheet looks completely washed out by comparison – it’s regular white cardstock. And no, my printer was not running out of ink, I actually printed on the cardstock first and realized my mistake! The reason why photo paper looks so much better is because it’s manufactured to capture vivid and bold colors. The ink doesn’t sink down and become absorbed by the paper and fibers. That’s why there’s always a right side to print on and the back side that has their logo or looks dull. I also print on high resolution paper that is much brighter white to begin with – ever realized how dull and yellowish regular copy paper looks? That aspect also makes a difference in your end product.

Your best bet is to print test prints on the different types of paper you have. Just print a tiny 1inch by 1inch square, something large enough so you can compare. You’ll see the difference in how your paper takes your ink and can make a judgement from there. Otherwise, get the best quality you can afford and go with that.

SETTINGS
A huge tip when printing from home is to set your printer settings on the best quality possible. There is a noticeable difference between high quality and standard quality. Selecting the specific paper you are using also makes a difference. If you think of a putting a puzzle together, when you have all the right pieces in the right spot, your image looks great. When you don’t have them matched up properly, it’s just a mess. Dig into those printer menu and settings! Look through everything and understand what options you have.

I usually print directly from the preview image program on my Mac – simply because I prefer the menu options. Of course, you can print from any graphic program and simply open up your printer settings specifically.

Things to check:

  • What are you printing, how many copies? Consider doing a test first! Can you see a preview?
  • Select your proper paper size
  • Select the proper sizing for your image  – do you need to scale it down? (my girls are 10″x10″ at 300dpi, so you usually will be sizing them down. the even number makes it easy to just enter percentages for whatever size you are going for, 50% for 5″x5″, etc)
  • Select the proper paper type – it makes a huge difference!
  • Select the highest print quality possible

I have certainly run into problems myself when printing at home, but I realized that it simply took a bit of education and experimentation. When I tried all the Canon products together, my prints looked pretty fabulous! I tried all kinds of papers and some did cost a whole lot, but I saw the differences and made my choice. I also regularly print glossy photos at home for my scrapbooking as well – thick photo paper – it looks good! The issue for me in Italy is actually finding those Canon products to buy – we don’t have access to everything!

So give printing at home a try and know that it takes just a bit of experimentation to maximize the use of your printer. These days, the quality is really fantastic. And of course, you can always buy a professional print if you don’t want to bother with printing from home. I should note that if you would like to send the image to print with your photos – that is also an option as well – maybe you use Costco or Target? Anything printed as photo quality looks significantly better!

Let me know if you have any tips and tricks for printing beautiful artwork at home. How you find the process of printing at home? I know that with different equipment and materials, we will all get different results. I also know that some artists cringe at the thought of letting others control the quality of their work. However, I want my girls to spread far and wide and I want people to see them and feel better seeing them! Even if it’s maybe not that vibrant of a print, I don’t think it degrades the worth of the original work and idea. I think that the power of the visual imagery and message, still carries through. So although it’s wonderful to see the high quality prints, I think the not so professional copies still have just as powerful effects. I suppose that in this digital age, it’s no longer about that physical tactile item sometimes. It’s much greater and intangible…

My Bookbinding Tools and Materials

Over time I have learned what my favorite tools and materials are for this lovely art called bookbinding. I thought it would be nice to go through what I normally use when binding books and journal. Nothing really fancy here…I think we might all have these items in one form or another. I’m definitely a very DIY small-time bookbinder…

A self-healing cutting mat and cutting knives – definitely must haves in so many ways. I’ve never found a paper trimmer that I love and much prefer a mat and knife. Also, the measurements on the mat itself are very useful for lining up cuts and projects while crafting in general.

A metal ruler – metal means it will last longer and sits heavier on top of paper to prevent sliding while you cut. Love it!

Bone folder – a must for folding paper and smoothing things over. You can also use the tip to score lines in your paper as well…

Awl – for punching holes! I have a pretty small one that sometimes gives me a handache…one of these days I might  invest in the Japanese screw hole punches… very cool. Just know that you need a way to pre-punch your holes.

Needles – big tapestry needles work great for sewing up books.

Linen thread – I use both waxed and unwaxed linen thread, because it’s super strong!

PVA glue – Vinavil is the brand we use here in Italy and it’s the same glue even bookbinding teachers at workshops use…so I’m cool with it! Really, just any glue will do.

Junky brushes – to brush on the glue – probably more important than the glue, because if you get a nice coat on, it’ll stick! I use hardware store brushes. If it gets junked up, I just toss them out.

Materials from paper to leather – I use all types of materials, even recycled board to create book covers and fill in the pages of my journals. It’s fun to use alternative materials actually.

Those are pretty much all the tools and materials that I use… pretty straight forward. I don’t have any fancy presses or stands. Any other tools you love or suggest? Hope my list can help you get started in bookbinding or you can just hop onto my Etsy shop and pick up a pre-made journal. I think anyone can learn to bind their own books, but it doesn’t mean everyone will want to! I get that!