Saturday, 22 November 2014

101* alternative crafty supplies + where to find them. [*There probably won't be 101 ... but hey, I tried!]

Hello, hello.

If you're here, reading this, then I'd guess that either messing about with paper and glue is currently your cup of tea ... or you'd like it to be and have landed here looking for inspiration. Either way this list of 101* items you could use in collage / mixed media / general paper-crafting must contain at least one thing that sparks your imagination and gets you reaching for something new.
And it will demonstrate that:
  • there are plenty of less obvious - but still inspiring - supplies and sources out there;
  • that you don't always need to spend a lot of money on the latest trends;
  • and that there are many creative alternatives out there just waiting to be discovered and incorporated into your next project!
*But before we begin, I'll confess that it's more like 101-ish materials and ideas. Give or take a few ...

... so I'm hoping that you will contribute your own ideas in the ... comments then I'll add them to the list! [What? You didn't think I'd be doing all the work did you?]

And, even though I was inspired to write the list now as part of my altered book and collage adventure, the ideas behind it are universal and can relate to any kind of collage/mixed media project.

So, let's begin our search for new supplies shall we?

I've divided the list into the various places in which you'll find them and you may be pleased to hear that for many of the categories, you won't even need to leave the comfort of your house/pyjamas!

Let's start by going as far as your front door and, if you are in your pyjamas, it's probably best if you stray no further than that for now ...

(a)Supplies you might find in your hallway:

1. Junk mail: OK, yes, it is annoying when you see all the mail on the mat, begin to feel important and loved, and then realise it's actually all take-away menus and offers to quote you to cut down trees you don't have. But, before you drop it into the recycling bin, scan your eye over it for any interesting images, colours, textures or phrases you could snip out and keep. Think of it as a free collage-supply delivery service.

2. Security envelopes: One of the few pleasures of opening official-looking mail is in finding a new print inside the envelope! I know it's not just me! Here's an art journal page I made featuring a security envelope:
... and also a scrapbook page - one of many postal themed projects in my Going Postal series. Similarly ...

3. Wording / phrases from envelopes: such as the 'Printed Matter' snippet on this page:
 Other fun slogans that can come in useful on journal pages include: 'Fragile' and 'Do Not Bend'!

4. Postage stamps: there's always something vaguely romantic and nostalgic about those perfectly petite and colourful rectangles that drop on to your door mat. If you don't receive much stamped mail then seek out a vintage pack. [Again Going Postal featured lots of projects using stamps such as this scrapbook page.]

5. Magazines: Once you've read them ... take the scissors to them!

Is your coat and bag hanging up in the hall? Then go and check them for:

6. Train tickets 
7. Car parking tickets
8. Bus tickets
9. Receipts
Not only can these make interesting backdrops in their own right - because of the specific details they contain  - date / location/ what you bought etc - they're great for using on pages that document a particular event / moment in time. Here's an art journal page of mine where I used a bus ticket and receipt.

10. Paper bags from your purchases: when you come home and dump your shopping in the hall ... take a look at the paper bags before throwing them away. I keep pretty much all of mine - and while the small ones make useful pockets for junk journals [like in my summertime Junk Journal] the full size bags make perfect full-size journals/scrapbooks in their own right. [If you took the Christmas craft class '12 Days' which I hosted with Kirsty Neale a few years back there's a full tutorial on how to make one - dig out your class notes!]

11. Price tags / hang tags: while you're there, sorting through your purchases so you can keep the bag ... remember to save those hang-tags too. Some of those are a work of art in themselves and make fun additions to pages. [I made a whole mini book from hang-tags too].

12. Packing paper: I don't know what it is about brown paper packages that I find so attractive[let's blame Julie Andrews shall we?] ... and part of me can't bear to throw it away. When a parcel was delivered to me containing lots of paper as wadding inside, I kept it and made a journal with it! Check out the instructions here.

13: Cardboard boxes: Ah, where would my junk journals be without a good old cardboard box?!
Cardboard covers can easily be decorated and disguised entirely ... unless you like cardboard / packing materials so much you want to keep some of it on display [yes, of course, I fall into the latter category!]

OK, with all your supply-hunting, you've probably worked up a thirst by now so let's grab a cuppa ...

(b)Supplies you might find in your kitchen:

14. Tea bags: yes, the actual tea bag ... not the paper bag it comes in - Anna Dabrowska / Finnabair created this lovely page from tea bags!
15. Individual tea bag packets: some of these have pretty designs / prints - in fact a whole craft technique emerged form them [tea-bag folding!!] but you can equally use the prints in scrappy style collage.
16. Tea bag labels: I used one of these in the background to this messy journal page a while ago.

17.Coffee filters: they're papery and textured ... so they're fair game for painting/inking on!

18. Deli paper: this can be tricky to get hold of in the UK but it's nice stuff to paint on / use with a gelli-plate if you can get hold of it.

19. Kitchen roll: yes, the stuff you mop up spills with. But if your spills are pretty, inky, ones then try my step-by-step 'faux alcohol inks' tutorial with them!

20. Patterned napkins: pretty, affordable [especially if you just 'save' one from the lunch table you find yourself at ...] and, when you separate the layers they're very easy to glue to any surface [like a canvas]. Here my friend Kirsty Neale shows, step-by-step, how you can up-cycle a stool using napkins!

21. Food packaging: It's always worth casting a creative eye over the boxes and packets in your food cupboards ... you just never know when a font, graphic or print will leap out at you. Here's a breakdown of a journal page I blogged during my 'Rubbish Week' series - featuring food packaging:
 22. Egg boxes: Yes, I have used an egg box as a junk journal cover. What? I was a nice one...

23. Recipe cards: I bought a pack of these. I hardly ever refer to a recipe. Therefore ... they became collage fodder!!

(c)Supplies you might find in your office:

24. Lined paper: Boring? Only if you don't love stationary!! [Who doesn't love stationary]. I like to use it as a base for journaling with my typewriter. 
25. Graph paper: What can I say? I took CDT [Craft, Design & Technology] for my GCSEs ... and there was a lot of tech-drawing involved .. maybe this is where my love of it came from. But all in all, graph paper does have a charm of its own - maybe a geeky one - and it looks great in collage.

The same goes for any old lined / gridded etc school books you might have in the loft, or ones you find in junk shops/car boot sales. Slightly aged paper is my favourite to work with. [I'm a sucker for authenticity!].

26. Sticky notes / Post-its: If you need a splash of neon [and, let's face it, everyone needs a splash of neon sometime], them reach for a sticky-note. Sorted!

27. Desk pad: Y'know, those pads of paper you can doodle on etc while you're working / browsing Pinterest? Occasionally I find I've doodled / written something particularly nice / interesting ... and I tear it off for future use!

28. Index cards: I use these a lot in my junk journals, again, they're great for typing/stamping on to.
29. Postcards: new blank ones are just as useful as index cards for making quick journal pages.

30. Diary pages: any unused pages in old diaries fit into the same category as lined peper etc: all good collage / journaling materials. It's a reason to hang on to all those promotional ones / freebies on the front of magazines that you get inundated with at Christmas and New Year.

31. Laminator sheets: I once made fashion accessories by heat-laminating patterned papers ... so I see no reason why you shouldn't!

32. Print outs: I also once used a water-stained computer print out as the base for a journal page:
Well ... printer ink is so expensive, you might as well set it to work for you! Same goes for ...

33. Bad photo prints: Again, ink is so expensive ... plus I like a challenge. Why not re-use any imperfect prints you've made? Visit my full tutorial here:
34. Wrapping paper: ... is not just for Christmas /birthdays, it's for playing with all year round. so many colours and prints you'd be a crazy print-neglecting fool not to save some scraps for your collage/journal pages.

(d)Supplies you might find in your craft room/cupboard:
If you're a more traditional card maker or scrapbooker and have been joining in with my altered book and collage adventure, or if you've always wanted to try something a little messier, more freestyle, more collagey/art-journally/ mixed-media-ish then you might be put off by thinking that trying a new style would automatically mean a whole new set of supplies.

Well ... I'm happy to say there's absolutely no need whatsoever! It's like when Dorothy discovers in the Wizard of Oz that she had everything she needed all along! And. to paraphrase Bananarama [who'd have thought that would be a phrase you'd find yourself reading today?] 'It aint what you use it's the way that you use it' as so many seemingly traditional crafty supplies can be transformed when incorporated into collage etc. Here are a few ideas ...

35. Patterned papers you've had for years / papers you no longer love: Maybe these will look better snipped into small strips and used in abstract collage? If not have a session where you lay them all out and paint over them / knock-back their colours with gesso. They can then become backgrounds or snippets.

36. Origami papers: some of these have really pretty designs so are worth snipping and experimenting with even if you never plan to fold them!

37. Tissue paper: Perfect for covering canvases or for layering up under painted layers to create texture.
38. Crepe paper: Again ... nice base textures - also nice to die-cut.

39. Handmade papers: More texture! Lovely to paint on too and they absorb inks nicely too. Similarly ...
40. Watercolour paper: If you've dabbled in painting then you might have a pad of this laying around. It's great for using with inks [as well as paint] and, the beauty of my favoured style of collage [where I chop papers up fairly small] is that, I can experiment with inky /painty techniques on the paper then snip it up and use it in an abstract design purely for its interesting colour / pattern etc.[The image at No.41 features some pale inked designs on watercolour paper].
41. Corrugated card: I think this one extends on from my love of packaging supplies and textures. Snip, staple, enjoy!

42. Vellum or parchment: Call me the Emperor's new collage artist but I enjoyed adding a translucent layer to some of my recent pages [you can just make out where I stapled it]:
Plus, the more grainy parchment paper was nice to type on - as I did here [above] with my journaling.

43. Acetate: OK, yes, this is even more see-through than vellum but it can be used for more than shaker cards! Paint on it/ alcohol ink it / Promarker it. Chop it up, punch holes in it, stitch through it ... combine it with No.19 'Kitchen Roll' to make faux alcohol ink effects!

And while we're on the topic of translucent materials ...
44. Mica tiles: Like me, you might have some of these languishing in the back of your cupboard! For a long time I wondered what on earth I was meant to do with these so, as with most things in life, I added paper to them and felt better immediately! Here's one of my experiments.

45. Washi tape: Use it to add quick colour to a collage / page, use it to make a collage in its own right. Use it as a 'hinge' to add extra layers / flaps. Edge your pages with colour and print  just like I did in my altered book:
And even make patchwork embellishments with your off cuts!

46. Alphabet sticker sheets: when you realise you're never going to use up every letter in a full sheet of alpha stickers simply chop up the entire sheet and use it or its surrounds as a page in a junk journal
47. Sticker sheet surrounds: The same principle applies. I tend to use stickers and labels etc on my more traditional projects, such as my magazine work, then keep the surrounds to add interest to slightly edgier / more relaxed projects. I simply peel off the outer surrounds and use them as a layer on my page.

48. Die-cut outers: Like with the surrounds of the sticker sheets I like to use the outer shape left behind when I've been die-cutting. I think I take a perverse satisfaction from using the bit I'm not 'officially' mean to. [In the history of great rebellions this one is, I grant you, somewhat minor ...].
49. Punched shapes: OK so yes .. sometimes I even use the shape as it comes, direct from the punch! My point is ... just because you might use your dies and punches in your card making etc ... don't think they won't work in a more relaxed / arty / edgy style. They do! If in doubt ... staple the shape to the page ... stapling always make me feel I've done something a bit more radical!!  Again .. small rebellions ... ;-)

50. Stamped images: If a stamped image comes out imperfect and not fit for the job in hand ... save it for your messier work. Maybe chop it up or punch a shape from it, enjoy it as a background design without it needing to be recognisable.

51. Embossed paper: embossing folders may not immediately strike you as the most avant garde supply in the crafting world but embossed designs, snipped up into smaller sections, make really lovely, textured, additions to collage.

52: Heat embossing: Another of the overlooked / old-school supplies that you really can rehabilitate and use in a freer manner. I wrote a few 'How Tos' on the subject a while back here: 

53. Cross stitch fabric: I recently had some tiny scraps of this hanging around ... and they found their way nicely on to a page. Another texture, another way to use white. It doesn't need to make any 'sense' as such ... so long as it works on the page! Same goes for off-cuts of:
54. Fabric: Use it just as you would use your patterned papers.
55. Mesh: Whether it's a light netting fabric or a plastic mesh, it can all come in useful when layering up interesting textures on a project.

OK, you've done a lot of rummaging around in cupboards so, in case you need to sit and put your feet up for a while,  let me offer you a few easy alternatives to seeking out all your own supplies ...

(e)Supplies you can find in my shop!: I  know, you're quite right, it is shameless self-promotion .. but if you knew how long this post has taken me to compile ... you'd let me off the hook.

If you like the idea of dabbling in some alternative supplies but you'd prefer someone else to all the searching, unearthing, sifting, sorting, curating and delivering for you ... then that's what my shop's there for!

56. Challenge me to create a custom 'Plundered Pages' or 'Ephemera Bits' kit: If there's a theme you've been thinking of working with and would like a ready-made pack of papers that fit - without you having to source them all - then pass the job on to me. My recent commissions have ranged from 'Graffiti style' to 'Shabby Chic' and 'Roller Derby' to 'Inside Santa's Grotto'! So, if you have something in mind .. we can chat about it.

Or else just have a more general browse around as I also sell ...
57. Retro map packs: these contain sections from a selection of different old maps and make lovely backgrounds / areas of colour on a collage.
58. Numbers and Diagrams: Absolutely one of my all time favourite supplies to use is sheets of number text .... not sure why ... maybe it's because it doesn't compete too much with any wording on a page.
Whatever it is ... I like it!

59. Vintage sheet music: always a nice backround design, and always looks great used with inkes and watery paints.
60. Foreign Language text packs: Only 'foreign if you don't speak it of course .. but they always make for interesting snippets on pages. [Pages are available in various different languages - Italian, German, Russian, Polish ... and more ...and  if there's anything I might have that you fancy, just ask!].
And a more recent addition to my range is:

61. Collage scrap packs: These are small boosts to your existing supplies made up from all kinds of snippets, off-cuts and chopped up treasures leftover from my own projects. Because someone else's 'bits' are always more intriguing than your own! ;-) 

But ... if you don't want to do any of that [I'll try to not take it personally ... ] then ...

(g)Other places to source inspiring / unique supplies:
62. Ebay: But beware ... you can drop in there looking for something as innocuous as envelopes ... and come away with 20kg of vintage Christmas cards. Ask me how I know ...
63. Car boot sales: Can be hit and miss, but when it's a hit ... ahhhhhh ... it's worth it!
64. Charity shops: Off-set the guilt of buying yet more supplies with donating to a good cause! Win win!
65. Junk shops: Genuine, rummagey, old-tat, shops are getting fewer and far between. Whenever you see one - go in! You never know if it will have been replaced by a takeaway the next time you're passing!

66. Things that drop out of old books! Once you start buying the occasional old book you'll begin to find all kinds of things inside them! I've found notes, postcards and homemade bookmarks amongst other things ... for more on the interesting things left behind visit Forgotten Bookmarks - a site dedicated to just that!

67. Your own loft: Do you really know what's in there? There might be all kinds of things you've fallen out of love with over the intervening years .... now you can happily chop it up!!
68. Someone else's loft: ... with permission  ... naturally! But who knows ... one man's trash ....

69. The children's sections of craft shops / supermarkets: Kids supplies can actually be pretty inspiring mainly because they 're not the kinds of things we're so used to seeing in regular more 'grown up' sections! [You don't see many stick-on googly eyes in the latest arty-chic scrapbooking ranges do you?].  Plus, things like masks / stencils can be a lot cheaper when manufacturers are aiming them at children ... I got this stencil set for under £1!
70. The children's section in charity shops:  Many of my favourite vintage pages are those which began life as children's books [so much so that I actually have a collection of children's illustrated dictionaries that I don't cut up! Imagine that!].

Similarly ... continue in the mindset of looking in places you wouldn't normally consider and try this ...

(h)Look where the specialists look!:
Just because you're a paper-crafter with a full and intimate knowledge of every craft shop in a 50mile radius [plus a dozen or so online stores in your Favourites ... ] it shouldn't mean you limit yourself to only using supplies which are connected to your hobby: broaden your horizons ... and go steal the best bits from other people's hobbies!

71. Use pages from science books, technical manuals, medical books etc: Old books from other fields often have really interesting and inspiring illustrations:
72. Postcard collections: If you spot an old collections of postcards being sold off at a car boot sale,  vintage market etc] then snap it up! I used lots of them in my '30 Postcards to Myself' journal:
73. Stamps: Same as with postcards - if you see a stamp collection going cheap, buy them! I snapped up a whole collection in a charity shop a while back and it's kept me in colourful little nostalgic rectangles ever since!

74. Sewing patterns: Make use of both the retro designs on the packets and the tissue patterns inside.

75. Patterns inside old craft magazines: When you come across a pile of old crafting magazines at a car-boot etc, don't be put off by the fact you don't actually want to make the items they have patterns for. The patterns themselves are printed on thin, matt, paper then simply use the pattern iself to add an interesting design to a page! Here's one I made earlier ...
76. Playing cards: Old playing cards often have attractive designs on the reverse.

77. Collectors cards / cigarette cards: These are getting harder to find at an affordable / 'I'm-not-worried-about-cutting-up-collectables-that-might-be-worth-something' price. But if you can find them, snap them up. The vintage illustrations on them really do make special additions to mini albums / journals etc [Like the illustration in the centre below]:

(h)Supplies you can find while you're out and about:
78. Flyers: You never know when there'll be an interesting image / phrase on one. It's occasionally worth allowing the flyer hander-outers to thrust one into your hand. A flyer that is ...

79. Brochures + free newspapers:  Again, they're free and worth a glance. When I'm working on campus there's often a lot of brochures, leaflets etc laying around ... some of which make their way home with me.

80. Paint colour cards / wallpaper / fabric / any commercial samples: Once your redecorating's all done, these can come in useful snipped up and stuck down somewhere other than your living room wall!

Supplies you can find with the help of the 'crafting village':

You know the African traditional phrase that 'It takes a village to raise a child?' well, my friends and I have a saying that it takes a crafty village to make sure a fellow crafter has everything they need!

We generally apply this to the times we're at our monthly crop for example ... if you find you've forgotten a supply you need, or it runs out mid-project ... you're welcome to just yell out and someone will gladly share theirs with you. [We're nice like that.]  Or if you go away with us for a crafting weekend and you forget every craft tool you own because you left your crafting tote behind your front door and didn't see it when you were packing the car ... [but who, who, would do such a stupid thing ... ahem ... ] then someone will make sure you don't go without.

So for my final suggestions I'm going to encourage you to get a little bit social with your supplies:

81. Join in a swap: It could be an official, organised swap [there's often one happening somewhere online, a blog, website, Facebook group] or organise one yourself!

82. Swap with friends / local craft group: Again, this is something my crafty cropping friends and I do. This month we brought items to the crop that we wanted to sell and I cleared out some old stamps I no longer wanted while someone else got something new and inspiring at a bargain price. Next time round we're bringing things we want to swap or give away for free!

83. Someone else's 'bit boxes' and leftovers: My friends and I do this as well: share each others bit bags, offer up any leftovers to whoever wants them before they head for the bin, generally just take advantage of what's a bit 'been-there-done-that' to the original owner ... but which becomes the newest favourite supply to whoever claimed it!

It's like I've always said ... someone else's 'bits' are always more interesting than your own ...


Right then ... while we're in a sharing mood, I'm going to prevail on your community spirit to reach the goal of '101 alternative crafty supplies + where to find them'!!

I've managed 83 ... now I'm opening up Nos.84 - 101 to your suggestions ... leave your idea in the comments and I'll add them to the list afterwards.

If you've found anything in this post useful [goodness knows I hope you have ...or else you're exceptionally hard to please!!] then it would make my day if you could SHARE, PIN, COMMENT or OFFER A SUGGESTION. Thank you!

Julie :-)

If you've missed any of my earlier posts in the collage + altered book adventure, you can catch up here:
The 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' Itinerary:
  • Part 1: Prep notes and supplies list
  • Part 2: Introducing a themed focus into your altered book / journal
  • Part 3: Turning an old book into a new home for your collage
  • Part 4: 101 alternative crafty supplies ... and where to find them

  • Wednesday, 19 November 2014

    Are you planning to document 'the most wonderful time of the year'? - then how about a *Festive junk journal* & some *Christmassy Bits*?

    Hello hello.

    2014 has really been the year of the junk journal in my Etsy shop but also in my own crafting:
    And if, like me, you like the idea of recording the moments, lists, details, photos, thoughts etc of the season with a relaxed creative project ... then take a look at the 'Festive Junk Journal' packs I've put together and see which one rings your [jingle] bell.

    Oh and, if you need any more persuading ... these kits are truly unique as each pack contains a selection of 5 original, unused, Christmas cards from the 70s/80s!! If you're of a certain age [like me] then you're likely to even recognise some of them ... they're an amazing blast from the past!

    Over the 10 different designs of pack there's a colour-combination to suit most tastes and there are  'Christmassy Bits' embellishment packs to coordinate with them too: 

    [A] Some are bright / modern / pink / purple/ eclectic ...
    [B] ... while others are red / blue / green and full of character:
    Above: 'Rockin Robin'; 'Rockin Around the Christmas Tree'; 'Baby It's Cold Outside', 'Thomas at Christmas';  Blue + Red Christmassy Bits.

    [C] ... then there are those in typical traditional deep reds / burgundy / fir green:
     Above: 'The Holly & The Ivy'; 'A Partridge in a Pear Tree'; 'Rouge & Turquoise' Christmassy Bits.

    [D] And finally ... something soft / vintage / romantic / neutral:
     Above: 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing'; 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'; White Gold + Ice / Gold Christmassy Bits.

    And there a few more on the shop shelves too. And here are a few more details on the journals:
    *FESTIVE JUNK JOURNAL* bits packs contain 25+ items including ...
    1.  5 **unused** ORIGINAL Christmas cards from the 70s/80s in shades which compliment the pack. You can use these as pages in your book [I have in mine!] or else to send to loved ones - it's entirely up to you. [Please note that, as the cards are over approx. 30years old some may be imperfect around the edges].
    2. approx. 25 colour-co-ordinated items including pockets, patterned paper pages, labels, tags etc
    3. something a bit sturdier to use as a cover plus a section of corrugated card to use as a book spine [complete with link to a tutorial].
    4. plus approx. 1 metre of coordinating twine.
    Book rings are not included but are available separately here.


    If you've got any questions about the packs, then ask away [either here or on my Facebook page]. I'm sure I'll get around to sharing photos of my own journal at some point but, until then, if you need inspiration of what to do with a pack like this then just browse back through my other journals of 2014 as the principles exactly the same .... just less festive!

    Julie :-)

    p.s: I'm planning to offer some more of the original retro Christmas cards for sale singly - not in packs - so if there's any that have caught your eye then hold that thought ....

    Friday, 14 November 2014

    How to turn an old book into a new home for your collage: 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' Part 3

    Hi there.

    Thanks for the feedback you've left on the series so far - it means a lot to me to know that the posts are inspiring you to find and old book, choose a theme and start preparing to embark on a collage adventure with me!
    Seeing as you've, metaphorically and practically speaking, got your creative bags packed and ready to go I thought it was about time I shared the itinerary ...

    We've already meandered through:
    And if we're here today then this must be :
    Then, further down the road, we'll be stopping off at:
    • Part 4: 101 ideas for what to use as collage materials ... and where to find them *COMING SOON* [Well, I say '101 ways' because it sounds good but, if we're being honest it's unlikely to be 101 ...].
    • Part 5: Using abstract designs as well as figures in your collage *COMING A BIT LESS SOON*
    • Part 6: The finishing touches. Including adding wording, gilding and more. *COMING EVEN MORE A BIT LESS SOON* [You'd never guess I had an English degree would you?]
    For now though let's look at how you can breathe new life into an old, unloved, neglected, never-to-be-read-again hardback ...
    Turning an old book into a new home for your collage:
    So, you've raided your bookshelf/loft/charity shop and found a suitable old book to alter .. what now? Well, as is often the way in life, before we can build something better ... we have to tear down the old!
    Or, in our case tear out the old. Pages that is.
    [Please note: This is where you might need to blindfold and gag the good child in you who was brought up to have a reverential attitude towards books! Just treat it like it was one of your siblings instead ...]. 
    You might wonder why we're going to tear out pages to make a book ... when there's already a perfectly good book-shaped book in our hands. But you will need to tear out a certain amount of pages in order to make space for the additional layers of papers you're going to add via your collages.
    I know that it seems a bit strange, that a sheet of paper is so thin how could it possibly fill up the book? But when you're adding something to every page it soon starts to bulk up.
    For a rough idea of how much space inside the book your collages will take up try this quick, visual, experiment:
    • Pick up even just a selection of the papers you've set aside to use in this project and tuck them inside your book.
    • Now try to close it.
    • You'll see that already the book has become wedge shaped; with covers that no longer run parallel!
    • And it's only going to get worse the more work you do inside.
    Look ...basically what I'm saying is: there's no way around it, you're going to have to get tearing!
    But before beginning the deconstruction process... you first need to decide how many sections you want/need.
    • If you're following along with something like Ali Edwards' 'December Daily' or Shimelle Laine's 'Journal Your Christmas' or indeed any festive type project of your own or a meme etc you've found on social media you might want to have anywhere between 25 - 35 sections [depending on whether you plan to add something every day of the month or not].
    • If you're just creating a more general project, you might want to judge the number of sections based on how large your book is - how many sections could it comfortably be broken into?
    • Also take into consideration the depth of your chosen supplies: if you're planning to use lots of textures / fabrics / chunky embellishments then remove more pages to allow yourself more room.
    • And do ask yourself if you want the book to close completely - or will you be OK with it heaving open slightly? Take that into account when you decide how many pages to remove.  
    I divided my book into approximately 32 sections: one each for the for the days in September [remember mine was to house my daily thoughts throughout September as part of the 'Learn Something New Everyday' project.] plus a couple of extra pages for an introduction.

    I also had to make space for 30 mini envelopes, one for each page, plus 30+ sheets of notepaper onto which I wrote the journaling that I then hid inside the envelopes! You won't be surprised to learn that, despite removing over 300 pages ...
    .. .with all those additional supplies inside my book no longer closes fully!

    **PLEASE NOTE: I'm talking here about the number of SECTIONS you need and not the number of pages!

    My book has 32 separate sections but these are made up of several pages glued together! Don't tear out all but 30-odd pages, as that would leave you with a very thin book indeed! 

    Where to begin:
    Once you've decided roughly how many sections to divide the book into open it up and look at how it has been bound.

    Is it broken up into 'signatures'?
    • Those are the segments of a book where larger sheets of paper are stacked on one another, folded over and then stitched through the centre fold with thread.
    If so, then you'll need to:
    1. Find the centre fold of each segment.
    2. Decide how many pages from each fold to remove.
    3. Do NOT cut the thread holding them together!!! You don't want the whole signature to drop out!
    4. Carefully tear out the pages but be careful NOT to pull too hard at the thread or it may snap.
    5. TIP: hold a ruler along the centre fold and tear against that rather than pulling against the thread.
    6. Repeat this step for each signature until you've thinned down the book to the size you wanted.
    Here's my book at this stage. Notice how I've thinned it our evenly right throughout the book:
    Gluing the pages together: 
    Gluing 2 or 3 pages together will create nice, sturdy bases on to which you can collage. Even if your paper is thick, it won't hurt to double or triple-up. And if you intend to use paint, ink, wet glue etc on your pages then the stronger they are, the better.
    • Go through the book gluing around 2-3 pages together [or more if your paper is very thin].
    • To do this I used a regular glue stick [I like good old Pritt, but I'm sure you have your own favourites] as it was easier than spreading a wet glue. Remember I had to repeat the process 60 or more times to create 30 sections ... so I was happy with any available short-cut!
    You can see here that I kept track of how many sections I'd created using paper clips and sticky-notes:
    If any of the threads binding the pages did tear when you tore out your pages [some of mine did - it's an old, brittle book] then simply plaster down the loose ends of the thread with a wet glue.

    And if you find you have any loose pages anywhere in the book simply stick them to the next page along.

    • This might be a little trickier ... but with plenty of glue you'll probably get away with it!
    • Tear out the pages carefully 
    • Brush some glue down directly into the spine - along the space left behind from the pages you've removed.
    • Hide the 'gappy' areas by gluing together the pages either side of the gap.
    TIP: Hang on to all those pages you've torn out as they'll come in handy for future projects:
    • paint on them / use them with a gelli-plate
    • die-cut from them
    • use them as backgrounds for cards and scrapbook pages 
    • make mini-envelopes
    • and even mini books ... and lots more!
    Let the RE-construction commence ...
    Once you've finished the destructive elements you should now have a hardback book filled with new double/triple thickness pages ... and it'll probably be feeling a little bit like a shadow of its former self!

    So it's your job to start breathing life back into it with whatever creative methods and styles you choose.

    As I planned to add wording to my collages I wanted to subdue some of the distracting background print of my pages; so I used a brayer to apply acrylic paint over the text area of each page:
    I chose to use the brayer as it was really quick and easy - you can see how the roller is the same width as the text so it was idea to just speedily add the paint over it. If you don't have a brayer a paintbrush or sponge will do!

    The NEXT STEP ... is to begin adding in all those lovely papers and images you've set aside to match your theme!

    Here's another of my completed pages:
     Once your book is there, ready and waiting to be filled, you'll probably be eager to get started ... so go for it!!

    As the itinerary [above] shows, I do have plenty more ideas and inspiration to share regarding sourcing supplies and ways to add interest to your collage pages but if you're all set to begin - don't hold back just make a start ... and see where you go!

    From now on I'll be sharing lots more finished pages from my book [I didn't take any 'in progress' shots] so it'll be more of a dose of eye-candy than any strict 'tutorial' or step-by-step.

    But, if you do want to hang fire, or you just haven't had chance to prepare your supplies yet, then by all means take it slowly, enjoying the scenery alongside me, before making a start on your own ...
    There's plenty of fresh content down the track ... so please bear with me while I get it all written up!

    Julie :-)

    p.s: if you're finding anything in the series useful then please consider sharing it with like minded creative via whatever method you share things [Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest ... speaking ... semaphore...]. Thank you in advance!

    Sunday, 9 November 2014

    Memory keeping: 'Fake christmas' the story behind the layout

    Hello there.
    I'm taking part in the 'Frosty Festivities' blog event hosted at Jennifer Grace Creates today so, if you've hopped over to here from there, then welcome, welcome!
    1. Jennifer is a long time supporter of my blog and Etsy shop ... and in a vast virtual world familiar faces and friendly connections are worth looking after! And ...
    2. Despite it being a frosty themed event ... she hasn't tried to get me to dress up as, or sing like, any character from Frozen. So how could I refuse?
    For more of the craft-related details on my layout ... 
    ... then do drop by my post at Jennifer's place.

    But I thought that here I'd share more of the story which the page is based around: the story of 'Fake Christmas'.

    Funnily enough I've already had 2 'fake' Christmases so far this year:
    1. when I worked on festive magazine projects in June, July and August, and ...
    2. then when my friends and I had a Christmas-themed crafting weekend in the countryside in October.
    And yet this page documents neither of those because there are even more fake Christmasses in my life, in fact, this one in particular is becoming something of a tradition ...

    So here's the full story of the 'real' Fake Christmas ...  [complete with typos and mistakes. Apparently there's no 'Delete' on a typewriter keyboard ... who knew?]
    I'll write it out here too - in case you can't view the photos:


    Fake Christmas is held each year at some point in between real Christmas and New Year. It's hosted by Janet who doesn't seem to mind ... or maybe she just doesn't know how to keep us out. (Unless that's what her dodgy doorbell is all about ...)

    There's tea, chocolate and cake involved and sometimes we take crafty things and act like it's not all about the cake and presents. But mainly it's all about the cake and presents. Speaking of which ... when it's time to open presents this has its own strict code which must be adhered to:

    1. Only one person may unwrap a gift at any one time.
    2. Then the person next to them takes their turn.
    3. If gifts are wrapped individually, only 1 gift may be opened per turn. [I think I've actually got this wrong ... but, like I say ... no 'Delete' on a typewriter! And no way was I going to type it all out again!!!]
    4. This continues until all the gifts are opened.
    5. There will then be an assessment of which scraps of wrapping paper, which tags, which ribbons, twine etc. must be salvaged by one or other of the group.
    6. Any interesting tags and cards will be analysed for creative ingenuity and filed away for 'future reference' (i.e. to copy later).
    7. There may, at any given point, be a zebra making an appearance. Or a sheep, bird etc. Whatever your chosen 'thing' is. We're on part friendship group and one part menagerie.
    8. If there's anything that will even vaguely fit on you head, it should be put on your head. (Although, to be fair, this custom is not just for Christmas).

    With all this in mind I'd like to wish you a very merry - fake - Christmas and a Happy New Year! (That's just called 'New Year'. We don't have a special name for that. Yet ...
    So, there you have it, if you've been thinking about setting up your own Fake Christmas for some time now but haven't known how to go about it ... well, now you do.

    Feel free to use our rules and customs to create your own opportunity to milk the festive season - and your friends - for all they're worth [but leave out the zebras. They're mine.] 


    Don't forget to hop over to Jennifer Grace Creates to catch up with all the other 'Frosty Festivities' and my post ...

    ... and I'll see you back here soon. [We're altering a book next week don't forget!]

    Julie :-)

    Friday, 7 November 2014

    Variations on a *theme*: introducing a focus to your collage adventure. 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' Part 2

     Hello again.

    In the first post in this series I shared a list of some of the practical supplies you might need if, like I've done, you were planning to alter an old book and fill its pages with collages. Now today I'd like to add to that by suggesting there's something else you might also need to find before you begin; only this time it's not something as concrete as those items on the list ...
    This supply might take a little more pondering, a little more philosophical musing, a little more creative energy than it took to reach out for the glue-stick or scissors. But I would argue that this element is going to be just as useful to your project in the long run:

    **You're going to need a theme... and a purpose.**

    The PURPOSE...
    • This aspect of the project is all in your mind!
    • It's is the thing that's going to persuade you to get out those supplies, to make the effort, to see the project through.
    • It'll be what will keep at bay the guilt of "why am I sitting here cutting up paper when there's an ironing pile in danger of creating a landslide in the corner?"
    • It's the thing that can give a shape to how you think about the project.
    • For example "I'm making this to ... have a beautiful place to use up my favourite supplies" / "I'm making this to ... document this time in my life" / "I'm making this to ... store all my favourite song lyrics" etc etc - whatever it is that means something to you right now.
    • My own purpose was to create a book to be home to 30 collages documenting my Learn Something New Everyday lessons during September 2014. This was ideal for me as it had both a clear purpose ... and a clear end date [it helps to know the project is going to be completed!]. 
    Naturally, like any of the creative tips I offer here, this one's born from my own experience. It's what works for me when I set out to make a very focussed project such as this one. But I'm well aware that this style of working may not work for you. And that's fine! It's not a deal breaker. We can still be friends.

    In fact, I only tend to apply such clear boundaries when I 'm working on such a narrow project like this one. It's not how I approach my general messy art-journal and collage fun, the stuff I dip in and out of whenever the mood strikes.

    And maybe if you're just going to try out making an altered book, or a collage, for the first time, you might prefer to have no expectations and simply play and experiment at first. But equally ... a bit of structure and purpose might help there too!

    And so ...

     The THEME ...
    • This is what will inform the style of papers you choose, your colour-scheme, your imagery etc
    • It's what will help to narrow down your choices from all the papers in the world!  
    • It can be linked to your purpose ... eg. if you're making a book about travel then your papers / ephemera might be travel themed too / maps / tickets etc.
    • Or  .. it might have nothing whatsoever to with your purpose ... it can just be a colour-scheme you choose, a set of papers you want to work with, a method you want to try out.
    Does that make sense? The 'purpose' is kind of the 'why bother making this?' ... while the 'theme' is kind of the 'what am I going to make it with? / how am I going to get these ideas out of my head and onto a page?'

    ** BTW: if you need any help sourcing imagery or text to fit your chosen theme - drop me a line either by email [link in sidebar] or via an Etsy convo - and together we can curate a bespoke pack of Plundered Pages and/or Ephemera bits to suit! [Whatever the theme is ... I like a challenge ... ]

    OK, enough explanations ... let me illustrate. My purpose was to create a cohesive book in which to keep my daily lessons meanwhile my theme was inspired by the Wes Anderson film 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'.

    Why? Well initially it was because my base book was bright red with gilded lettering ...
    ... and while the size was ideal, and the pages were nice and thick, the colours and style of the book were not at all the ones I automatically think of when starting a project. Until ...

    ... until I remembered how much I loved the look of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' which features the same gold and lipstick red that I was struggling with but in a most perfectly striking combination with icing sugar pinks, Imperial purple and snowy white:
    [BTW: it's an absolute delight of a film too ... even if you don't want to mine it for artistic inspiration!]

    And suddenly, by 'borrowing' from Anderson's greatness I had myself a colour-palette to work from!
    And, believe it or not, rather than making extra work for yourself finding things to match ...

    ... selecting supplies with a clear theme and/or colour-palette from the start can actually save you time later on:
    • Once you have a particular colour combination in mind you can sift and sort through your collection of pages and decorative papers looking purely for colours that matched and even images that fit in.
    • You give yourself a clear guide on what to select and - equally importantly - what to leave out.
    • It removes all the pressure of decision making / paper shuffling that can slow a project down.
    • It releases you from the tyranny of choice! Too much freedom can be harder to deal with than too many restrictions!
    • When you get stuck for what to do, or are tempted to just stop, having some clear parameters in place means you can turn to them for inspiration. [You just make another page using the same colours / imagery / theme ... and your creativity gets flowing again.]
    Here's how it worked for me:
    • In basing my scheme on The Grand Budapest Hotel I collected together papers in shades of purple, pink, white, red and neutral.  
    • I painted my pages with a base layer of acrylic paint in various shades of 'icing sugar' pink and cream.
    • I also used envelopes [to store my hidden journaling] in matching shades.
    My pages from Day 1 demonstrates this perfectly:
    Here I combined all the colours of the palette while illustrating my lesson for that day which was 'A Run Can Be Lovely'. [Who knew? But that's the word that came into my head after a morning run. It was a short run ... hence feeling 'lovely' and not 'close to passing out'].

    As well as taking inspiration from the colours of the film I was also drawn to using imagery of impressive buildings too as seen here on Day 3:
    That's a very Grand Budapest style building isn't it? How could I not use it?! 

    The lesson from this page notes that: 'There are people who will sell you a rainbow' after I passed an Estate Agent's window and noticed they were selling one house using a photo - not of the house itself - but of the view from its windows: the view of a beautiful rainbow over the beach!! As if the rainbow was part of the deal!
    Day 5 saw more imposing buildings and more candy pink:
    While Day 15 borrows dusty whites and pale pink [with a mountainside chalet thrown in!]:
    But despite being guided by a large over-arching scheme ... I did manage to make my pages personal and relevant to each day's lesson too as this one all about my Facebook page sale illustrates:
    And my final example for today is another which gives a nod to the soft pastel shades and vintage European style of the film:
    Day 10 'I'm not quite the full clematis':
    That day I'd been inspired by the tenacity of the plant as I tried to prune it.

    Now then ... I'm not trying to suggest that anyone who didn't know that I'd based my book on the Grand Budapest scheme could have guessed at the fact simply by looking at the finished pieces ... but that wasn't the point.

    Having my theme / colour-scheme:
    • set me up at the start
    • helped me select my supplies
    • inspired my page designs
    • and kept me on track while I made 30 of them!
    And it's given the finished book a nicely cohesive style too with each page remaining individual yet contributing to a harmonious whole.

    So, once you've collected together those practical supplies take a little time to pull together the creative essentials too.
    • decide your purpose for making the book ['to enjoy the process' / 'to cut up nice paper' is reason enough!]
    • then set about curating your supplies based around a theme or colour-scheme
    ... and see where it leads you. Remember the mantra of this series ... fortune, and geese, favour the bold!

    [For the record: I've got no idea if geese actually do appreciate your inner confidence; it would be nice to think they do appreciate creative boldness... but let's not take any chances people. I won't be held responsible ... ].


    What to do once you've chosen your supplies:

    • Keep them all together in a bag or box of their own. 
    • Then, each time you come to work on the project, you know you're only going to be using what's inside.
    • This cuts down on your pondering and new supply-seeking time ... which can totally distract you from simply getting on with the 'doing'! [Ask me how I know ...]
    • A simple thing like restricting your supplies to those you set out at the start both gives you more time to create but also more focus on using them creatively.
    [For lots more examples / tips on how to organise yourself for a self-contained project, similar to this one, then visit this 'behind-the-scenes post of mine].

    And to keep track of all the posts in the 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' series then you can follow [or simply visit] the Pinterest board I've made for the series here.

    In the next post of the series we'll start the making part and you can start getting your hands dirty / painty / gluey. We'll be dismantling/altering that book to make a home for all those scrappy collages but, before then ...

    ... you need to find a purpose, a theme/colour-scheme and a bag to throw them all into! So I'll leave you to it.

    See you soon.

    Julie :-)