Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gardening Life File Folder Journal

On Tuesday, I spent a glorious October afternoon filming a few of my latest projects. I can't believe October is almost gone. It is by far my favorite time of the year to photograph. Everything is bathed in a rich, golden light.

Inspired by the golden colors of those fading October afternoons, I created a handmade journal from an old green hanging file folder. 

Gardening File Folder Journal
I cut the metal bars from the top and set them aside. With a couple folds, I created a flap for my journal and a tuck spot. I lay the metal bar against the flap and tore the edge to give it a distressed look. I don't have any distress inks right now, but I plan to ink it up in the future.

To decorate, I turned to the huge collection of images I cut out the night before. As part of fall cleaning in my garage studio, I went through years of collected information on flowers, garden plans, and outdoor decorating. Since most of this information can be found on the Internet, I only kept articles that were memorable, or vintage garden plans that I would be hard pressed to find on the Web. The rest I cut up to use for art. Out of these scraps and clippings from seed catalogs, this little file folder journal was born. 

Magazine Clippings - Gardening Life File Folder Journal

On the front cover, I decoupaged magazine clippings and a crackle paint chip. I found a cute phrase from an article that said "Come see the garden!" I glued a pretty yellow butterfly above it. The flap holds a set of keys which lay over this peek-a-boo message. 


I wanted the file folder journal to serve several purposes. It had to be a place to journal about gardening, whether planning a dream garden in the winter or remembering past gardening experiences. I also wanted some graph paper where I could draw garden plans or add photos. I also added a signature of mixed media paper so I could do some sketching or maybe watercolors.

So for the second signature, I cut to size some graph paper and ledger paper. Since these were single sheets stacked rather than folded sheets, I had to figure out how to hold them together. I didn't want to use the gluing method to bind them, so instead I simply used a scrap of the mixed media paper and folded it in half to create a spine. This was sewn along with the papers right into the folder. 

I hot glued a kraft envelope to the back and added a small handmade notebook. I sewed it straight down the middle. It is also decorated with gardening images from magazines and seed catalogs. The cover was a beautiful calendar page that originally came from Lowe's when I was part of their gardening club a few years back. 

I am very pleased with how it turned out. I am also happy to share the video with you, in case you missed it. 

If you have any questions, let me know. 

Beautiful October Afternoon ~ Journal
Enjoy these golden afternoons while they last. :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Junk Journal #1 ~ Common Threads

I'm pretty excited about my new junk journal. I've been carrying it around for days showing anyone who I think might be remotely interested...OK, well, everyone!

Will you look at my Junk Journal? ;) 
And of course, I made a video to share on my YouTube channel, which was a little more intimidating. Not to mention frustrating. I ran into technical problems with the audio and then a fire truck and ambulance in the background. So I added some music and sped up the video. Besides a few captions, I just let the journal speak for itself as I did with my face-to-face shares. Problem solved. Here's the video in case you missed it:

I wanted to share a few more details on how the junk journal was put together. I mentioned already in the video that I used Easy Twine Binding and reinforced the spine with gold duct tape. I used a combination of machine sewing and hot glue to create tuck spots, pockets, and just add a little visual interest. The sewing element is a big part of the inspiration behind title of my junk journal, "Common Threads."

One of my favorite things about this junk journal was finally finding a home for some vintage photos I had tucked away in a drawer. As a collage artist, I collect ephemera and have also started a collection of "found relatives." The photos in this junk journal range from the 40's through the 60's. When I created the layouts, I began to do a bit of storytelling in my mind. Isn't that what journaling and scrapbooking is all about?

Time Flies JJ layout with "Found Relatives" 

The spread above is one of my favorites in the book. There are a couple of faded photos of families and couples, but I really like the soldier and baby picture. Part of my story for those two is Daddy is off to war, but he always keeps his precious little baby girl close to his heart. She looks like she's gazing up at him in this layout.

The idea of "found relatives" also ties into the "Common Threads" theme in my junk journal. While I've never met any of these people personally, I am honoring their lives and existence in a creative way. We all share so many things in common: birth, marriage, family, war and peace. This journal, which eventually will contain some of my thoughts, stories and photos, is part of that common thread we share. Though I don't have children, hopefully someone will find this journal long after I'm gone and connect to the stories and photos within. At least that's my hope.

Here are a few more pictures from the junk journal. If you have any questions about techniques or materials used, please leave them in the comments section.

Another favorite page with Happy Mail treats. Thanks Kym Murphy for the purple butterfly tag. 

Plain yellow envelope decorated with cover of paper pack. The roses are very glittery. 

Victorian ladies and trim from Lynn L.

Thanks for looking!!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

File Folder Envelope Tutorial - Mail Art Challenge

I had a request to share a tutorial on how I made this piece of mail art for a recent swap. Tiffany over at Southern Gals Designs on YouTube got some girls together who are mail art junkies to participate in this fun challenge. We had to create a decorated envie and incorporate text paper somewhere on the envelope. That was the only rule, other than filling it with at least three items for the recipient.

Here's what I came up with...

Finished File Folder Envelope ~ Mail Art Challenge
And here's the back:

I took pics along the way to show a bit of the process, but hadn't originally intended to make a full-blown tutorial. Since I didn't document everything fully, if anything is unclear, just pop me a question in the comments below.

Step One: Gather Materials

  • Text Paper
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Embellishments/Images
  • Manila File Folder
  • Envelope Template (I used an old greeting card envelope)
  • Sewing Machine & Choice of Thread
  • Paint, Pens, etc. 

To fulfill the challenge to use text paper, I chose a couple sheets from this handy dandy vintage typewriting manual. I thought it was appropriate since so many of us mixed media artists love our typewriters and vintage ephemera. This one is from 1951, a treasure I found when helping an older gentleman clean out his storage shed. I got a sweet blue typewriter as well (I will show pics soon!).

Front Cover ~ 20th Century Typewriting Course

I just love the images and typewriting exercises!

Inside front cover 
On the inside front cover is a series of "finger gymnastics", designed to help you warm up. It's tough banging away on those keys! No. 6 looks a bit like a Vulcan peace sign.

I also found these jumbo postage stamp images on a piece of junk mail featuring vintage stamps from the 1950's. I thought it went well with the 1950's typewriting manual.

Who said junk mail can't be useful? Fodder for mail art!
I opened a large greeting card envelope and laid it flat. I traced it on a dog-eared manila folder that still had some life in it. You can also use a fancy envelope punch or Google some printable envelope templates to find the size and shape you like best.

Flattened manila folder envelope
OK, obviously the pic above is well into the process. I had already collaged everything and did the sewing. But you can get the gist of what the envie looked like before folding. This is the inside.

The next step was collaging the images and scrapbook paper to the envelope. I ran out of Mod Podge, so I used a homemade decoupage (roughly 50/50 Elmer's Glue and water). This part was tedious and a little messy. I had to be careful since I was dealing with delicate vintage paper. I kept the layers of glue thin by scraping over the top of each paper with a credit card. I used my hair dryer (heat gun) to quickly dry. I believe I also let it hang out a while and finish drying, but I can't remember for sure. Of course, the edges curled up a bit as you can see in the pics, but once I began scoring, folding, and sewing, I beat them into submission.

Front of file folder envelope in process
I like the smooth texture the homemade decoupage provides. I'm not sure the overall archival quality of it, but it works well when you are trying to save money. The various scrapbook papers were leftover bits from other projects. They were cut into scallops, pennants, etc. to add a little interest to the edges and flaps of the envelope.  I used one of the typewriting diagrams for the main focal point, and then glued Tiffany's initials to the top of the typewriter. I also cut out the letters to spell PRACTICE. {Thanks to Lynn Lassen for the alphabet letters!}

I used my sewing machine to sew along the edges. I used a fancy little embroidery stitch as well as straight stitching. It's all a little imperfect, but that adds to the charm. I also sewed along the top of the alphabet letters to add texture and to make sure those little guys stayed secure.

Everything was creased by hand and by using the back of a pair of scissor handles to keep the folds fairly crisp. Here is the envelope beginning to take shape. I enjoyed the way the vintage stamp images overlapped to create a flag or bunting effect.

File Folder Envelope Sewn
As you can see here, the envelope is nice and thick. I've added the little gifts inside. I used hot glue to glue the envelope back together. I will explain more about this in a minute.

Thick sturdy file folder envelope
Practice Makes Perfect - True in Typing and ART!

Fun postage that kept true to the color palette of Black, White and Red
I added some details with thinned acrylic paint. This including grunging up the typewriter paper on the front and flicking some black and white paint splatters here and there. It reminded me of ink splats or little drops of White-Out Correction fluid. ;-)

I kept some plastic sheets that once contained punch-out labels to use as a stencil. I wanted to create a place to write the addresses on the front and back. I used the thin white paint to keep it semi-transparent. I did outlining with pens (regular ballpoint and micron, I believe) and also a dark sketching pencil.

Hot Glue Seals this Handmade Envelope

Once I was done, I was ready to close the final flap of the envelope. I was stumped at first, because I wanted to make sure Tiffany could still open the envelope, but since it was thick and bulky I knew the glue or tape had to be strong enough to hold it shut. Since my choices were limited, I decided to continue on with the hot glue.

I added a drop of glue in the top corners and another along the middle of the flap. I finished it off with a large circle of glue at the "V". That flap wasn't going anywhere! It reminded me a little bit of an old-fashioned wax-seal, but on the inside. I sent Tiff a message about how I sealed it. I told her to just take something sharp like a metal palette knife to scrape under the dabs of hot glue. It looked like it would open with minimal damage to the design.

Well, that's basically it. I am pleased with it and hope to make more envelopes like this. I still have tons of that yummy typewriter manual paper to use, and I have ideas for other envies that will help me use up some of my stash. The thickness and durability of the envelope makes it appealing. With an added layer of mod podge or other sealer, these could also make nice storage envelopes.

I wanted to add that I was also inspired by some delicious handmade envelopes by Yoliebean, which I watched before making mine. Here's the video that got my wheels turning when trying to figure out the substrate for my project. Her work is beautiful!

Never hesitate to ask any questions~~~
Sandra Lee