Friday, 3 April 2009

Little Journals - other techniques

The little booklets I wrote about yesterday have more to them than patterned scrapbook papers. I incorporated some of my favourite techniques though still sufficiently simple that anyone could attempt them. First, I took heavy watercolour paper and large brown paper bags (which I buy in bulk from our local business supply store). I use acrylic paint to colour these - a few swirls of three colours usually. I spread these at random over the paper, as thinly as possible, scraping with a credit card. Sometimes I squeeze out too much paint and then I blot two papers together, and continue scraping on both. It is easy to create 'mud' but if that happens, I put all those non-descript papers aside for a journal that demands something low-key.

I wanted to introduce the use of napkin motifs to embellish the pages, and chose a selection (to show readers something of the range available, appropriate to a gardening journal).

I explained how to apply the motifs, and showed some pages with motifs glued on (I suggested the use of diluted pva glue, as newcomers to napkin callage might find it difficult to discover a source of gel medium). The pic below shows motifs applied to scrapbook papers and to the painted (acrylic) watercolour pages.

But the ones I liked best were the painted paper bags with napkins applied; they took on an antique, wrinkled effect.

Not content with suggesting the acrylic paint colour technique and the napkin motifs, I went one stage further and explained how to create pockets into which such things as seed packets could be stored, or extra notes, plant tags etc. The method for making these pockets was adapted from one sent to me by Kristin Steiner from South Carolina, and my sketch of how to make this was illustrated in my handwritten notes posted on 9th March - just click on that image to see it at full size.

Had I been making these booklets for my own use, I would have used fabric as well as paper, and a little stitching. I compromised in these samples and added a fabric panel to my 'Vegetable Heaven' notebook - an image transfer of an artechoke printed on muslin, stitched and frayed and then bonded (with bondaweb) to the cover. This becomes almost translucent and you can actually see the cover beneath the image if you look closely. I will adapt this method (one I often use) and experiment so that the image still has an ethereal quality without the background intruding. Finally, I added suede cord to tie the pages together and a couple of engraved bone medallions. I have more books in progress (begun before the article cropped up) and want to use my painted papers throughout, with bound fabric covers and other embellishments.

I know that these little journals do not constitute 'real art', but it seemed to me to be a simple way to introduce magazine readers to the fact that they could quickly create a handmade diary in which to record their gardening activities; and move on from there.


  1. I love the last little jounal...who cares what is "real art".
    We have had an episode here where a little 4 year old submitted her works to a gallery alongside her mothers work, the gallery owner was extremely gracious when he discovered the subterfuge but they went up anyway....and sold....for as much as $2, appears she is having her own exhibition ...a pretty entrepeneurial mother but......

  2. Hello lovley friend I have been trying to leave a comment all week but schol lap tops wont let us any more...I am in awe of these wonderful books and have soooooo many do you print onto muslim and how do you make the eyelets? Polly loves to journal and is preparing a scrap book for our trip to venice but curtesy of QVC and rather a lot of money not a beautiful hand made one like yours..when we get back I desperatly want to try making one...I save brown paper bags.(do you use one side only? ) and collect napkins...I think I have christmas sorted if I can make one and hugs to you from Yorkshire..H

  3. These are looking wonderful.

  4. Very informative and I loved it.. I think its art..

  5. What??? Most absolutely they are "real art"!! I think they are fabulous and can't wait to try making one for myself! Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  6. Wow, what fabulous process photos you always have. These are great.

  7. Ann, Thank you for sharing your process... I love using paper napkins and save all kinds. What lovely garden journals you have made.