Style File


Elsie and Leigh-Ann asked me a while back to contribute to their Style School as a “style feature.” I was happy to share my style inspirations, of course, but I was even more delighted to be so inspired by the class content. One of the projects entails compiling visual inspiration and ideas into a notebook, or “style file.” It’s a great home for the inspiring images I have been collecting, many of which came from the Spring UO catalog.



To make the shell of this little book, I gessoed the cover of a binder from Target so that the style of the notebook could be completely customizable. I’ve mainly been accenting the images with Hambly rub ons and Jenni Bowlin paper. There is much more to come, of course, but I wanted to share my progress so far.



I think I’ll make a book.


So, as you well know, I’ve been doing a bit of collaging recently, which has led me to more of a practical combination of collaging and scrapbooking. Art journaling. I’ve made mini little art journals before, but this one’s big.  The largest page so far is 12×12. I’ve the pages individually from each other, and then I put them together to sit in piles until I have enough for a book. Then, I guess I’ll decide how to put it all together. Not the most practical order of events… oh well.




A Personal Mini Album


Whenever I post about mini album making, a lot of readers express their intimidation of the process. It’s so sad to hear, because I think they’re so enjoyable! Not only are they so much fun to make, but they can be an extremely inexpensive project as well. This post is all about making a simple mini album and letting go of the intimidation.


Here’s what you might need:

1. Carboard from an empty cereal box can be sprayed to achieve archival quality)
2. Magazine clippings from vintage magazines or favorite catologs
3. A collection of interesting paper clippings and scraps
4. Sewing machine with various colors of thread
5. Embroidery needle and thread
6. Adhesive (I prefer archival quality rubber cement)
7. Gesso
8. Various colors of acrylic paint
9. Medium sized artist?s paint brush
10. Black and white Unibal gel pens
11. Letter/font stamps and black ink pad


I prefer to create the covers of my journals before I begin the designing on the inside. This is because I like to pick colors from the cover to repeat throughout the entire book. Also, the cover really sets the tone for the style of the whole book. I made mine with scrap cardboard from a cereal box which I covered in gesso. I then chose a picture from a catalog (Free People), cropped it, adhered it (with rubber cement), and blended it into the gesso background (with more gesso).  The finishing touches were splattering some watered down acrylic paint and cutting and stitching a window for the title, which is actually on the first page of the inside. When stitching the binding for your journal or mini book, make sure the cover folds over on the inside so that you have a place to hide your securing stitches.


I actually learned how to stitch a binding by watching videos on Youtube. It?s quite simple, but a little trial and error was how I learned. Once the pages and the covers were stitched, I chose to cover the folded inside of the cover with a graphic houndstooth paper. This is probably the cleanest part of the whole book!


Beginning a mini book or art journal can be quite intimidating, I know- I’ve been there!  (And I still hang out there sometimes). I like to start with blank spreads of kraft paper or cardboard which serve as the background. Depending on how bulky your pages are, you may want to stack only three spreads for each stitched section, if you are planning to sew the book together at their centerfolds. Seeing all the empty pages is the scary part, but the great thing about messy journals is that there are no rules. I just throw down pieces of paper chosen for their interesting patterns, photography, or textures.

Most of the paper you use should be simple enough to write on. Other papers with busy designs can be stapled, taped, sewn, or glued down as accent pieces.  You can also gesso over them to leave some pattern showing through while also allowing a nice background for journaling.  Sometimes I just spray paint over a stencil or pieces or lace to create a nice effect over just plain kraft paper or cardboard. The key to creating a visually interesting journal is layering textures of paint, paper, and anything you can dream up!

After piling and pasting the spreads of your journal, it?s time to stitch together each stack. You can do this stitching process before designing the pages if it helps you understand how the book will come together in the end. At this point, I?ve been known to let the journal sit empty for a bit before adding more content and design. Every once in a while, I will journal in it immediately, but usualy I prefer adding to the journal depending on my mood. It?s really a lot like concocting a tasty soup. Sometimes the flavors have to simmer for a while.


It?s always exciting to see your book bound, but it?s really not complete until you?ve added lots of personal embellishments. Handwriting is wonderful, but I also love the look of the typewriter. Typing in a journal requires too much planning for my sloppy style, so I utilize a letter or font stamp. I did this throughout my book, but the primary spot was the title page which shows through to the front cover of the journal.

Magazine clippings can be instruments of journaling as well as design. Sometimes they can set the theme for a page, or even serve as the main feature of a page.  I keep a box of magazine clippings that I add to each time I purge my magazine stash.

For this particular journal, I wanted to include photos of those who have influenced my life. Old photos are great, but I would never glue them down to any of my scrapbooks. So instead of gluing them, I thought it would be safe as well as interesting to attach them to the page with paperclips. This method also allows for extra journaling which can hide behind the photos.

Hiding journaling is a fun design technique that I love to use in my journals. It adds a whole new interactive dimension to the book, but also it adds extra room for important thoughts.

There are so many way to personalize a journal. I love hunting for things and using objects that wouldn?t normally be found in a journal, like fabric or steel mesh. Whenever I finish a journal or mini book, I?m amazed at how it developed along the way.


I hope this little tutorial has been helpful and inspiring to you!  Next week I will be posting three different tutorials on decorating the covers of wooden mini books.