Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rainy Day Craft: Recycled Cardboard Matchbook Style Notepad

Recycled Cardboard Matchbook Style Notepad

Today I headed over to my garage studio at my Dad's house. My hubby made a quick stop to work on his bike, so I started messing around with some of my supplies. I didn't stay long enough to heat up my griddle and work on encaustics, so I started poking around at some of my recycled scraps. Before you knew it, it started to pour, so I tried to stay busy until the rain let up.

I've been on a bookbinding kick lately. I've enjoyed art journaling for many years, but never really worked on making my own sketchbooks, journals or notepads. I think it's time to change that! I've been adding ideas to my Pinterest boards on bookbinding and album making (including beloved mini's). There's a lot of overlap, so I feel they're a little disorganized, but I digress. Between Pinterest eye candy and some inspiring YouTube tuts, I was anxious to begin my own DIY journal projects.

Bicycle Box ~ Recycled Cardboard Journal Fodder

Since I'm just getting started, I have very few actual bookbinding materials or tools. I'm also trying to keep things green by using up packaging I already have. My husband has ordered a couple different bicycles in the past several months as he works on motorized bicycles (his outlet for creativity). We were getting rid of the cardboard boxes, but then I started admiring some of the graphics on them. I also thought, "hey, I'm looking at a goldmine of corrugated cardboard for altering, encaustics, etc." I didn't save all of it, but I gathered up a considerable stack of cardboard for future projects.

I saw a couple empty boxes in the corner of the garage for some of the tools Shannan bought. I picked up a grinder box and decided to peel away the shiny surface and expose the corrugated cardboard on both sides. I ended up with a nice strip of bendable, flexible cardboard that I knew would be perfect for a little booklet.

I've been smitten with several designs for matchbook notebooks. I've seen them using anything from paint chip samples to cereal boxes for covers, as well as decorative cardstock. Since I was in a garage, which is half Shannan's man cave, I wasn't in a frilly, scrappy mood.

I pulled out a couple vintage books from my supply shelf. An early 20th century French primer and a mid-century short story anthology. Lots of beautiful words and aged paper. I tried to choose pages that had quite a bit of blank space on them, mostly choosing pages at the end of a chapter.

recycled cardboard sketchbook with french papers
I don't mind that there are still words. This is a rough notebook/sketchbook

I bent my corrugated cardboard strip into a matchbook style. Obviously it's much larger than a matchbook. I began with a strip of cardboard measuring 4.25" x 11.25". I folded my papers just as I would to make signatures, but then I used a straight edge and exacto knife to trim the edges. I eyeballed measurements, placed paper next to cover, and then remade my cuts until it fit properly. I liked the way the torn pages create a bit of interest and deckled edge.

Now a matchbook notepad requires either stapling or a sewing machine. I had neither in the garage, so I began thinking ways of how to bind my paper. If I had thought this part through, I would have left my paper in folded signatures rather than cut them into individual sheets. But I was winging it! So.....

Out came a baggy of rusty goodness. A good while ago, I experimented with aging and rusting techniques. I've used a few objects here and there, including this bulletin board project. I picked through the pile of rusty treasures and saw some of my favorite pieces - rusted paper clips.

rusty goodness fake rust rust love

I considered making some kind of attachment on the front and using the paper clip as a closure, but it didn't seem to gel. Eventually, I decided on attaching a paper clip on each side of the back cover, holding the scrap vintage paper securely in place. I mean, hey, it's just an experiment. I didn't stress over perfection (OK, maybe a little).

rusty paper clip distressed recycled notebook rubber band
The DIY rusty paper clips leave a little residue. I don't mind a bit,
but if that bothers you, you could seal them. 
Next I picked up a rusty rhinestone setting. Well, it had more of a verdigris finish, but it was nicely distressed. I pushed it in the middle of the flap and quite liked it. Of course it was poking out the other side...not so good! I grabbed a hammer and flattened it out on the back. There, that's better. I was happy to see the rhinestone setting stayed secure. It was my first time using them, and I'm sure there are proper tools for that craft, but I guess it, experimenting.

I chose to add 3 more rhinestone settings. I liked the grommet look. It really was looking like something you might find in a garage. Rough, rustic, and a wee bit steampunkish. I hammered the other three settings flat. Now, I still was puzzled how to make the closure.

My vintage rhinestone setting stash, all nice and shiny. I don't do these,
just thought they'd come in handy for something!
I wrapped a good-sized rubber band around the cover. I dug through the rusty bits again and found a half-rusted washer. Perfect! I looped the rubber band end around the washer, and then re-looped it around the cover. I tucked the rubber band in the paper clips to secure it.

rubber band closure rusty chain recycled cardboard notebook

I dug into that magic ziplock bag again and found a piece of rusty, distressed chain. It had a hook on either side. I cut a small hole in a diamond shape and ran the chain through.

The I pulled the rubber band and washer down in a V-shape and hooked the chain ends on the washer. I tested it. One hook needed adjusting (pulled out slightly with a pair of needlenose pliers) so it would unhook more easily.

rusty chain closure journal rubber band recycled cardboard journal


This little experiment took about 10 or 15 minutes, and I felt a little bit like Tinkerbell trying to invent something out of nothing.

I don't know how long the corrugated cover will last, but it wasn't that much work. My wheels are turning thinking of ways to alter the cardboard, possibly sealing it to make it more durable, and maybe adding some extra layers of cardboard for strength. But overall, I'm really pleased with it.

A couple more pics:

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Customized Moleskin Journal Flip

Look what I've won! Thanks to Betty G. Richardson for this lovely journal. You can visit her blog at:

Here's a YouTube video showing the prize I won for Betty's cover art contest.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Inspiration Station Reveal via Jenniebellie's Journal Workshop

A couple months ago, I discovered a treasure trove of mixed media videos by Jennibellie on YouTube. I quickly subscribed and later joined her Journal Workshop on Ning. This lovely creature offers free classes there with Monthly challenges and sometimes a few bonus projects. I enjoy seeing other people's artwork and mingling with other mixed media artists. I encourage you to check it out. (I also have the badge on the right sidebar in case you're interested in joining.)

So, the generous Jennibellie created a FREE workshop called Inspiration Station. She wanted to encourage other artists to create a special place to hold items that speak to them. It could be a combination of special art supplies, personal handmade items, or gifted supplies from friends. 

I contemplated for a while how I wanted to house some of my treasures. I wanted to find the "perfect" container, and so I put the project on hold for a while. At first I wanted something larger and more expensive to hold my items, but I ended up buying a clear organizer from the hardware store. It was on sale for $3.99 on sale at Harbor Freight, and has adjustable compartments to suit my needs. 

I decorated the top with a sheet of "rock star" scrapbook paper, some washi tape (including this fab yellow ruler masking tape), and a few embellies from friends. I stamped INSPIRATION STATION in a rough way on another piece of scrap paper. I adhered it with double sided tape in case I ever need to change out the cover or use the box for something else. 

A closeup

I found this felt bluebird applique at Walmart for a couple dollars. Since I have a thing for bluebirds (I named by Etsy Shop Bluebird Song Cottage, btw), I had to buy it. I was waiting for someplace special to place it, and this fit the bill. 

The bubble gum girl and soda fountain stickers came from a surprise birthday package from Tara McGuire of Denver, CO. They're scratch 'n' sniff! I tucked more of them in one of the compartments. :) The felt cupcake sticker is from Kim Caine, another swap partner. I can't remember who gave me the pinwheel and lazy days tag. The black and white ladies are from 1970's women's homemaking mags. I want to use them in a retro altered journal. (So having them out reminds me)

I used up most of the spacers to arrange the compartments the way I wanted them. I also decided to make a display on the inside lid of some of my ephemera and embellishments. It creates a kind of visual collage. I used masking tape so I could easily remove the images later when I use them in journals and art projects. 

A few of my treasures. Some of these goodies were given to me by swap partners. I have a few tags, some vintage stamps (from swaps), rubber stamps, magazine cutouts (mostly from foreign magazines), stickers, etc. Tiffany of Southern Gals Designs gave me the set of stamps (Vintage, Blessed, and scroll pattern) made by 7 Gypsies.

The luggage tags stickers on the right came from Goodwill. They were on a blank notecard, and I think I paid 99 cents. I hope to put these in a travel journal or mini altered suitcase. The little stitched heart embellishments came from Deborah Dowd from the Sew Special swap. 

I'm pleased with how it turned out. I have so much stuff I technically need to make more of these. A bigger goal is to alter a suitcase to house my special treasures. But that project will wait for another time. I also know that my Inspiration Station will change over time, as I use some objects and add new things. I'd like to be able to house special papers, too, so I know I will outgrow this box. But it's a good start!

The next part of the class is to use some of the embellishments from the Inspiration Station in a zine-making project. I will post my project when I complete it.

Have a blessed and bliss-filled weekend!

Sandra Lee

Kandinsky ATC #4

Kandinsky ATC 4/4 by Sandra Martin, Creative Currents

“Life is a lot like jazz - it's best when you improvise.” 
~George Gershwin

 This is the fourth ATC in the Kandinsky series. I ended up choosing this card for my collection, and sent 1, 2, and 3 to my other swap partners. I love the rainbow colors of this piece, and some of the concepts that rise to the surface.

The bottom shape is alive with buildings and lights, but when I view it another way, it looks like a brain. All the circuity is alive and vibrant with activity.

I love this quote by George Gershwin. I admit that I don't always live my life as spontaneous as I would wish to. I have this inner artsy alter ego who would dress crazy and relish living in the moment wherever she goes. Someone not afraid to appear foolish or flamboyant in public. I tend to be calm and serene, but when I create those wild colors pour out on the canvas or art journal. I can't seem to restrict myself to a limited palette. When I paint spontaneously, I open up the color palette and allow the color room to breathe, to mingle with the other colors and have lively conversations. 

I love jazz, Celtic music, opera solos, and musical numbers to play in my studio. I also enjoy spontaneous worship music at times when I want to create a peaceful atmosphere in my art space. As the worship artists improvise, it opens up new depths of creativity in my heart, which comes out in my art. Each stage is a process of discovery.

I hope you enjoyed peeking at this series. Here are links to the others in this series in case you missed it:

Kandinsky ATC Reveal (intro)

Kandinsky ATC 1/4

Kandinsky ATC 2/4

Kandinsky ATC 3/4

Sandra Lee

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kandinsky ATC #3

Kandinsky ATC 3/4 by Sandra Martin, Creative Currents

Invest yourself in everything you do. There’s fun in being serious.

~Wynton Marsalis
In my third artist trading card paying homage to Kandinsky, I used a couple of my favorite color combos, coral and turquoise. I intermixed them with quite a few primary colors, too. 

I think this card is probably the most feminine of the four. Lots of fun shapes...the pearl-like circles, the paisley-like shape, and a little red heart peeking in the top right corner. The atmosphere is fun and light, fitting perfectly with Wynton's quote. 

The blue circle on the bottom right reminds me of the earth. There are also a lot of interlocking circles which remind me of the vesica piscis from sacred geometry, symbolic of birth. This is one I don't want to interpret too deeply, but just enjoy the dance of colors and shapes. 

Next, I will share about the last card in the series, number 4

To view the others:

Sandra Lee

Kandinsky ATC #2

Kandinsky ATC 2/4 by Sandra Martin, Creative Currents

“That’s the thing about jazz: it’s free flowing, it comes from your soul.” 
― Billy Crystal
In my second ATC in the Kandinsky series, I filled the space with a busy array of shapes and colors as I listened to jazz music. Most of the music flowing through Pandora was mellow, like this piece called Stardust by Wynton Marsalis. Some of that was captured in the light purple section on the left.

I enjoyed paying homage to Kandinsky in this free flow work. I tried not to stress over mimicking him exactly. But at times I tried to echo the many-layered circles he is known for. Much of the time, though, my own style and mark-making shines through. 

Billy Crystal's quote about jazz is equally true of spontaneous art. In that place of free flow and letting go, our soul is revealed. Things seem to bubble to the surface on their own accord.

When I look at this piece, again with some distance now, I see a story revealed in the seemingly random marks. The "Kandinsky circles" remind me of cells in the body, dividing and forming new life, thoughts, and ideas. I see a leaf emerging...another symbol of life.

Some of the symbols I was conscious of as I created, but I didn't overthink things. I simply recorded. There are three crosses at the top, symbolic of my faith. In the top right corner is a word balloon. This is a picture of the dialogue between the artist and that which inspires him or her...whether that is God, a piece of music, or their environment. 

The word balloon is also a slight nod to the Peanuts comic strip, which as many of you remember was animated in the 60's and 70's. And the Peanuts theme and other music on the soundtracks were composed by none other than the great jazz musician Wynton Marsalis. 

Keep Creating~
Sandra Lee

Kandinsky ATC #1

Kandinsky ATC 1/4 by Sandra Martin, Creative Currents

“Jazz is the music of the body. The breath comes through brass. It is the body’s breath, and the strings’ wails and moans are echoes of the body’s music. It is the body’s vibrations which ripple from the fingers. And the mystery of the withheld theme, known to jazz musicians alone, is like the mystery of our secret life. We give to others only peripheral improvisations.” 
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 5: 1947-1955

This is the first of a series I created for an ATC swap last month, which you can see here. One requirement was to use a resist technique. The bottom layer was created with rubber cement, a spiral dot stencil, and acrylic paints thinned to a watercolor wash.

I turned on the jazz on Pandora and began playing with shapes, color, and recording my emotions. I remember towards the end of the creation of this piece, I saw how much the abstract shapes reminded me of a city, particularly New York City. There seems to be a great deal of traffic, blinking lights, and buildings compressed in this busy abstract landscape. I even see a river and lines which remind me of bridges.

Looking at it with fresh eyes today, I also see anatomy as well. This often happens in my abstract work. It's as if the inner workings of the body are put on display. I see a windpipe here, which also resembles a city street. It runs at a diagonal. There is a funny purple and red shape near the top right which looks like puckered lips. The lips are releasing little red shapes which I see now as music notes! This sound is going forth over the city skyline below.

It sometimes feels odd explaining my abstract pieces. But this is truly how I see my work. I don't always have to be conscious of what I am painting or drawing. But these forms always carry meaning and there's usually a story.

What do you see happening in this piece? Feel free to share you thoughts below.

Sandra Lee