Unfortunately I am unable to get started with my new sewing machine because I have a bit of a deadline for a new project, which I must at least make a good start on before I do anything else.
Being inspired as always by Jennibellie, I have started making a mini-album entirely from recycled and junk materials. I am really enjoying being in Frugal Mode, and am amazed how good it feels, making art from things that normally find their way into the bin! My ARTHaven is cluttered up with empty cereal boxes and other food packaging and it’s fun to repurpose and upcycle it. Cereal packet cardboard is very good quality and can be used to make all sorts of things.
The foundation for this album is a dried milk box which I cut down to be less tall and more square, to fit the square shaped Christmas cards which were going to be thrown away. Funny how last year, the majority of the cards we received were square rather than rectangular…
To make a book cover from a cereal box or other similar packaging, you need first to take the book apart and lay it flat. You can fold in the flaps and glue them down to make the cover more rigid. The narrow edge of the box opposite where you opened it forms the spine of the book. The box can be cut down to whatever size you want.
To make the signatures (bundles of pages) I selected several of the larger square cards and cut them all to the same size. To each one I added several smaller ones, cut down so that there is a quarter-inch difference in size all round – when painted, these pages will have borders which will be visible outside the smaller pages, which should produce multiple borders by the time you reach the centre-fold of each signature.
I only had enough cards to make five signatures, and these are pretty loose between the covers of the album, but once they have been covered with decorative papers, painted, had photos, journaling and embellishments added to them, they should fit nicely. In my opinion there is nothing worse than an album that is bursting at the seams with too small a spine so that it will not close!
The theme will be steampunk, and I needed more or less to complete the cover before adding the signatures, as it will be much more difficult to do so once the book is assembled. Any embellishments that require brads to attach them have to be attached to the cover before the end-papers are added, as these will conceal the backs of the fastenings.
Jennibellie has made a number of journals where the threads attaching the signatures to the binding become a feature – something to which to attach beads etc. to make a highly decorative spine. However, for this album I don’t want to do this, but to keep to a traditional, old-fashioned book appearance, with the stitching concealed.
I have covered the front and back boards of the cover with faux leather, according to Sheena Douglass’ excellent tutorial on the subject. She uses craft card which is quite substantial and is strong enough to stand alone as a soft “leather” cover for her notebooks, but since I wanted to use the faux leather to cover existing boards, its inherent strength wasn’t an issue, and anyway I didn’t want to use new materials for this. Instead, I had a good rummage amongst my odd bits and pieces of paper and card, and came across some ordinary computer/office card which I had printed some Christmas service sheets on for church many years ago – they were printed on both sides, so I’m not sure why I kept them. I knew this wasn’t terribly good quality card and it might not stand up very well to getting wet, but I had nothing to lose by trying!
After spraying on the glycerine/water mixture, I had to be careful when “massaging” it into the surface of the card because I could feel very quickly that the surface was beginning to break down, so I patted it gently to encourage the liquid to penetrate the fibres of the card, turning it over frequently and working on it gently. I used three applications of the liquid in the end, scrunching it up between each one. I was able to avoid tearing it by taking great care when teasing it apart after it had been scrunched.
Using craft card, of course, Sheena was off to a head start with an existing brown substrate, but being white, mine had to be painted. I used slightly watered down Raw Umber acrylic paint for the first coat – I didn’t want to apply anything too thick because I thought it might cause the card to tear. A second coat of less watered-down paint achieved the result I was looking for, covering up all the white. It immediately took on the appearance of leather, and when dry, even felt like leather! To add a little dimension, I dry-brushed a mixture of Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre acrylic paint onto the raised surface of the card, taking great care to use a gentle touch and not overdo the effect. I decided against embossing the card because a) I didn’t have an embossing folder large enough, and b) I really liked the effect of the faux leather as it was.
I painted the spine of the cover inside and out, first with a coat of black gesso, and then with a single coat of black acrylic paint. I cut the two pieces of faux leather down to size and used them to cover the front and back boards of the cover, taking it right up to the edge of the spine, and folding the excess around the boards, mitring the corners.
I chose a name plate from my stash of Tim Holtz hardware and created the title of the book, cutting a small piece of dried milk box to fit the name plate, and stamping on the reverse side with my alphabet stamp set, lining up the letters with my stamp positioner tool – this is actually harder than it looks, and each time I use it, I have to look up the instructions! Of course, I don’t do a lot of stamping, which probably explains it!!
I used my sepia archival ink pad to stamp the letters, and then took one of my home-made inking pads made from cut-and-dry foam adhered to old wooden blocks left over from when I unmounted my original stamps, and distressed the edges using Walnut Stain Distress Ink. I gave it a quick spray with fixative to preserve it, and with a tiny bead of Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive inside the frame, stuck it into the name plate, ready for attaching to the centre of the front board of the cover. I also selected some metal corners from my Tim Holtz stash, and a Friendly Plastic gearwheel which I cast some time ago, which I may use to form the album closure.
The signatures were all marked and pierced ready for the waxed linen thread to stitch them together and to the binding. I marked with pencil where to pierce the holes for the stitching.
For the end papers, I found a couple of interesting sheets from my folder of decorative papers which once formed the linings of commercial envelopes – these designs were printed on to prevent people being able to see through the envelopes and read the contents. Most of them seem to be blue, but I had a few sheets of brown, and some of these will be used for the end papers, with the addition of some Distress Ink.
This is as far as I have got to date. I am making videos of the process, and I hope you will be encouraged to make art from waste materials too – it makes one think of things differently, and makes one more observant too, as one considers the most mundane things and wonders how one can use them.