Tag Archive | Crafts

Painted Art Journal


I’ve frequently seen these beautifully decorated art journals on Pinterest.  Usually, the artist has used polymer clay.  While I intend to do some experimentation with polymer clay, I haven’t quite gotten there yet.  However, I found a plain black sketch book on clearance, so I bought it with the intent of making it beautiful with paint.  After all, who wants an art journal that has a boring cover?  That’s not very inspiring, is it.

The first thing I did with  my shiny black sketchbook was to give it 4-5 coats of gesso.  Once that was done, I was ready to draw my design.  On one side, I drew hibiscus flowers (a favorite of mine), and on the other side, I used some stencils to draw a bunch of different shapes.  (I wasn’t in the mood to free-hand and keep erasing until I got it right.)

My design sketched out on the gesso-covered cover.

My design sketched out on the gesso-covered cover.

As you can see, my hibiscus drawing isn’t quite perfect.  Seeing the way the final cover photographed, I wish I’d used white paint to cover some of the sketch lines that went through the middle of the flower petals.  While my final product looks good to my naked eye, the extra light from the camera really brings out the flaws, as you will see shortly.

Next, I started painting.  I wanted the sketchbook to have “bling,” so I chose to do one side in flat paint to be covered with glitter later (the flowers), and I did the other side in metallic paints (the shapes).  I had a hard time finding the right color for the background on the metallic side.  I tried to blend some metallics together to get metallic green because I didn’t have any.  That didn’t work out so well, so I wound up choosing metallic blue.

In progress photo of the covers.  You can see I've started painting over the blah green with blue (metallic side).  I had barely started the flower side at this point.

In progress photo of the covers. You can see I’ve started painting over the blah green with blue (metallic side). I had barely started the flower side at this point.

Once I had both sides painted the way I wanted (including adding the glitter on the flower side), I painted both covers with Mod Podge Hard Coat, which is intended for furniture.  I figure if it can protect your designs on furniture, then it surely can protect these sketchbook covers from getting banged up.

Here’s the final product:

The glitter side with the hibiscus flowers.  As I noted above, the photographs show a few of the pencil lines through the paint.  I was using layers of craft paint--I could probably have avoided this with using the thicker artist paint I have, but then I would have needed to mix a lighter color to get a layered effect.

The glitter side with the hibiscus flowers. As I noted above, the photographs show a few of the pencil lines through the paint. I was using layers of craft paint–I could probably have avoided this with using the thicker artist paint I have, but then I would have needed to mix a lighter color to get a layered effect.

The metallic side.  I noticed while editing the pictures that there are a few white edges between paint colors.  Oops!  Oh, well.  I think it's fine for what I'm using it for.

The metallic side. I noticed while editing the pictures that there are a few white edges between paint colors. Oops! Oh, well. I think it’s fine for what I’m using it for.

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Affordable Fabric, Please.


I like to work with fabric, but fabric can get expensive fast, especially when working with a new idea that you’ve never tried before and might mess up.  Back when I watched a lot of HGTV (i.e., I had cable), I had shows to frequently remind me of how to find fabric without spending a lot.  These days I sometimes forget about the various places I can look, so I decided to make a list and share it with everyone:

  1. Clearance and remnants (I’m starting with the obvious here).  The Walmarts that still carry fabric sometimes have some fabrics on clearance for as little as $1 a yard.  Remnants aren’t usually marked down as much as I would like, but I have still found some decent deals with remnants, especially if I do not need very large pieces of fabric.  Sometimes I just collect inexpensive fabric remnants that are      pretty for “someday” use.
  2. Fabric warehouses.  In Phoenix, we have a store called S.A.S. Fabric Warehouse.  You can find a TON of different fabrics there (as well as lace, ribbon, etc.), and many are very reasonably priced.  Check around your area—maybe there’s a hidden treasure like this near you.
  3. Non-fabric clearance and sales.  What on earth does that mean?  What I mean is that sometimes      you can find fabric shower curtains or window curtains on clearance for a really good price.  Then you have this HUGE piece of fabric for way less than you could ever get it at a fabric store.  I have seen large fleece blankets advertised for as low as $2.99, and thought “if I were going to make a fleece jacket, I would definitely check those out.”  I recently found a burgundy colored velvet curtain on clearance for $5.  I’m going to cover my sewing chair with it (I’ll blog it when I do).
  4. Thrift stores, garage sales, and estate sales.  Need a small amount of fabric?  Look at the clothing.  Need larger amounts?  Check out the linens.  I once found a huge piece of fabric I just loved at an estate sale.  I think they charged about $0.25 per yard.
  5. Around the house.  Old clothes, old blankets, old anything—before you donate it or throw it away, perhaps you should ask yourself:  can I make something else out of this?  I have clothing I tore in an irreparable way sitting in my fabric box just waiting for inspiration to strike.  Threadbare sheets can be easily used for trying to figure out patterns (going to do this for our Build-a-Bears) or anything else for which you may want “disposable” fabric for.  (I also pillage old, torn items for other re-usable parts such as buttons, Velcro, zippers, etc.)
  6. Ask friends and relatives.  Recently my mother-in-law found some blue corduroy laying around the house from when her sons were young.  It’s still in great shape, and even if I never get around to making my son pants, I know it will get used for some sort of project.  You never know what other people might have that could be just what you need.

Those are just the ideas I have come up with.  I’m sure there are things I haven’t thought of yet, so if you have great places for getting inexpensive fabric, please share!