A Brand New Book of Shadows/Journal/Notebook For the Next Year
Welcome to our first project, creating the journal for the next year and a simple but pretty beaded bookmark for it. I thought I'd start with a fairly easy project that invites you to play with whatever supplies you have. I'll suggest substitutions for the supplies I used whenever I think of them.
We're going to decorate a store bought art journal of whatever type you'd like to use and customize it so it works for this class. I would suggest a hardcover journal, but use whatever you like. For my journal, I'm using a small Moleskine sketchbook, but you can use a watercolor journal, art journal, visual journal, sketchbook, writing journal, composition book, etc. Next year, I'll show you how to create a handmade, hand bound journal.
Before I describe how I decorated the cover, I want to discuss the nature of smooth and slippery hardcover journals and notebooks and how difficult they make it for your paint to stick. I learned a little trick awhile back. Collage over the cover with whatever pretty papers you have, whether they're your own painted papers, gelli prints, scrapbook paper, book pages, sheet music, tissue paper, napkins (use only the top layer of the napkin), ephemera (such as ticket stubs, brochures, etc.), or anything else that captures your fancy and isn't too glossy. I suggest adhering and sealing the papers on your journal covers with matte gel medium or some other adhesive that has a matte finish.
A note about decorating the covers: Choose a design or design elements that speak to you. You can choose to do something like what I did. I chose five elements that represent me: 1) I was born in the year of the sheep based on the Chinese zodiac. 2) The alchemical symbol for the element of air is hidden in the upper left of background on the front cover, just beneath the word, art. I feel most connected to the element of air. 3) I believe that all of existence is made up of energy, sound and vibration, so I used sheet music for my collage layer. 4) Turquoisey blue teal is my favorite color. I especially like to combine it with periwinkle and hot pink, as you see in the cover art below. 5) I'm nocturnal and more of a lunar person. There's a crescent moon on the back cover. Another option is to use images and symbols of the person you'd like to become over the next year.
Front Cover Steps:
1. I drew the letters to spell "Wendy's Art Experiments" on two different scrapbook papers and one of my own painted papers. I cut out the letters, ran them through my Xyron Sticker Maker, and adhered them to the cover. I gave all the letters a generous coat of Glossy Accents to give them some dimension. I used iridescent clear Stickles for the punctuation. If you'd like to add your name or a quote in this way to your journal cover, you can substitute Crackle Accents, Diamond Glaze, or something similar. Stickles are basically glitter glue. If you have glue that dries clear and glitter, you can make your own. Don't have a Xyron Sticker Maker? You can use whatever adhesive works best for you.
2. I collaged sheet music over the center of the page using matte gel medium. Mod Podge or Collage Podge would work too. Matte finish is best. Satin finish is second best, but if all you have is glossy finish, use what you have. After it was dry to the touch, I sealed the collage on the cover with another layer of matte gel medium.
Note: At this point I made a mistake, I added clear gesso, which is gritty like sandpaper, before I drew and inked my design. To save you from shredding one of your nice art pens or markers like I did, I'll write the steps in the correct order.
3. I drew the sheep with a Cretacolor Aqua Monolith watercolor pencil in Delft Blue, which is water soluble, so I was able to erase any parts of the drawing with a little water on a brush. Once the sheep looked the way I wanted it to, I use a size 00 round brush that was barely damp to go over the lines to smooth them out. You can use any light colored watercolor pencil, a Stabilo Marks All pencil, or a regular pencil. If you use a regular pencil, make very light marks. If you're really brave, draw with your pen or marker without drawing it in pencil first. After it dried, I went over the lines with a 0.3 Copic multiliner (whose nib was shredded to bits by the clear gesso). You can use whatever pen you want. It's best to use one that is waterproof and permanent. When I work over adhesive of any kind and especially acrylic media, I allow the ink to dry for at least 24 hours. I've had permanent ink come right off my paintings before, so dry time is very important.
A little poem to my fallen pen:
RIP sweet friend!
We explored many drawings together,
My favorite pen.
4. I used Copic markers to color the sheep. I used mostly skin tones and shades of blue teal. Copic markers are alcohol markers. You can use any type of markers or ink. I prefer Copics because they're generally transparent and are also permanent. I wanted the background to show through. With Copic markers, I usually work light to dark. In my opinion, it blends better that way.
5. I drew the alchemical symbol for air and added accents to the sheep with colored pencils. I used Prismacolor Premier, Koh-I-Noor Tritone, and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. The Polychromos are my favorite, but the Tritones are so fun, because each pencil has 3 colors of lead in it. It's always a surprise. I use the Prismacolor Premier white and colorless blender pencils the most, but I'm mostly disappointed with the Prismacolors (except the two I mentioned). Again, use what you have. I'm just sharing my personal preferences.
7. For the background, I went a little crazy with watercolors. I got the page wet and added color here and there, dropping more color wherever I wanted. This isn't really a technique, I just kept adding paint. If you don't have watercolors, you can use spray inks, other paints, ink, pastels, charcoal, Neocolor 2s, or whatever other medium you prefer. It took a very long time to dry. Once it was dry, I used a palette knife to spread a thick coat of matte gel medium over the whole area I painted. I used a palette knife, because it doesn't allow the watercolor to reactivate as much as using a brush would. You can substitute an old credit card or business card for a palette knife. I left it to dry for 24 hours.
8. I used a Tim Holtz layering stencil called "Harlequin" and Dina Wakley Media heavy body acrylic paint in Magenta to stencil the design in small spots on the cover. You can skip this step or use whatever stencils and paint you have.
9. As a final touch, I cut a star out of the same painted paper I used for some of the letters and adhered it to the cover.
For the back cover, I created a custom embellishment using a scrap of mixed media paper and small pieces of 5 different types of washi tape.
A Note About Substitutions: You can use whatever clear adhesive you want, but I prefer matte gel medium. You can substitute mixed media paper with cardstock, lightweight chipboard (such as from a cereal box), or watercolor paper. You can substitute washi tape with patterned duct tape, painted masking tape, tissue paper, napkins (top layer only) or any other thin collage fodder.
Back Cover Steps:
1. Cut a square or rectangle out of mixed media paper/cardstock/lightweight chipboard/watercolor paper that's approximately the size you want your embellishment to be.
2. Place the square or rectangle on a piece of wax paper or scrap paper. a) Cover the square in adhesive. b) Add a piece of washi tape or collage fodder. c) Repeat part a and part b until the square or rectangle is completely covered and you like the look of it.
3) Draw the shape you want your embellishment to be. Cut out the shape out carefully, cutting just inside the lines you drew. Adhere the embellishment to the back cover.
For the beaded/knotted bookmark, you'll need: a long ribbon, cord or piece of yarn; 2 large holed beads. I used a raw silk ribbon (It's about a yard or meter in length), a precious metal clay bead (nest) by Green Girl Studios, and a handmade glass bead I bought in Texas.
1. Open your journal to the middle. Put the ribbon down the middle of the book and close it. At the top of the spine of the book on the outside, bring the two ends of the ribbon together. Pull the ribbon tight and add a knot, leaving only a tiny bit of slack to allow the bookmark to slide out of the book.
2. Take the bead with the largest hole and slide it on one of the strands hanging from the knot. Slide the other strand through the hole, so that the two strands crisscross in the hole of the bead. Knot it a couple of times and maneuver the knots into the hole.
3. Tie a knot using both strands a little way down from the first bead. Pull both strands together through the second bead. Position the bead right up against the knot you just made. Knot each strand individually underneath the bead and flush up against it. Cut the dangling strands to the desired length and you're done. I left mine pretty long.
My bookmark has stretched a tiny bit with use, so that's why I suggested not leaving a whole lot of slack.
Sometime tomorrow, I'll be doing a post about adding pockets inside our journals, as well as what goes into a book blessing. I'll also include steps to make your own artsy book blessing card with just some paper, watercolors, two markers and a white gel pen.
Feel free to share your journal and bookmark by leaving a link in the comments.
Blessed Samhain/Happy Halloween!
© Wendy M. Juhl