my new notebook

Covered Notebook by Natalie ParkerCovered Notebook by Natalie Parker

Inspired by Elise’s action book, I purchased a new notebook to keep track of my creative ideas and tasks.  I used to keep ideas for this blog scattered in a bunch of documents and notepads.  My scrapbook sketches were usually done on scratch paper and post-it notes.  Then I would lose things.

I bought a Blueline Business Notebook, which has dividers so I can keep sections on my blog, scrapbook, and other items.  The book has grid paper inside, which is great for making lists and drawings.  As you know, I can’t draw a straight line so I passed on blank page books. I’ve been using it off and on for a few weeks.

Realizing that I’m more likely to use it if it’s pretty-looking, I covered it with some fuzzy paper from Paper Source (no longer in stock) that I had in my stash. I used the same notebook covering method described in this post.

Sort of.  I took a detour.

Since I had been talking about how great Avery glue sticks are, I thought shouldn’t I be able to save time and just use a glue stick for this project?  Wrong.  Just for you, dear readers, I took one for the team and tested it using a glue stick.  It just didn’t do a great job of holding the paper firmly around the sides.  No matter, I was able to fix it by adding Mod Podge (like I was supposed to!) and all is well.

Results so far?  The book is holding up very well and I love having all of my notes in one place!

Covered Notebook by Natalie Parker

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Mail Art Exchange: Words

Mail Art ExchangeI was excited to participate in another volume of Ginger’s Mail Art Exchange!  If you are interested in participating, read more about it on Ginger’s blog here.

The theme was Words.  Below is the awesome piece I received.  Scroll further down for pictures of what I sent.

Alexa’s Mail to Me

Alexa sent a lovely piece of mail to me – very exciting to receive when I got home from China.

Mail Art ExchangeShe used pages from a copy of Modern Manners to create the piece (the tag made me smile).

Mail Art ExchangeI love how she stitched everything!

Mail Art ExchangeInside was a lovely card and other goodies!

Mail Art ExchangeThanks for the nice surprise Alexa!

My Mail to Jemma

I couldn’t believe my luck with the “words” theme.  I still have a ton of leftover book pages from the Book Project/Wall Art.

Mail Art ExchangeI had a lot of fun making the envelope.  I used strips from several different books for a neat effect.  I glued them to a piece of cardstock, then Mod Podged the top.

Mail Art ExchangeAfter it dried, I cut out the envelope.

Mail Art ExchangeInside I included a card with book page butterflies on it.

Mail Art ExchangeJemma blogged about the finished product here.  Thanks again Ginger for hosting the exchange!

Patterned Paper US Map for my Niece & Nephew

Patterned Paper US MapThis map was a Christmas gift to my little niece and nephew.  A combination of canvas, patterned paper and mod podge, it was a little painstaking to put together!  I say painstaking because I like to make things difficult and perfect.

Patterned Paper US MapThis project was inspired by Kate’s Fabric Map over at See Kate Sew.  Kate cut states out of fabric by hand, ironed them onto muslin and then top-stitched them.  I prefer paper and thought it would help me give the project more definition.

Patterned Paper Map Supplies

I cut the states out using my Silhouette SD, but you can do it by hand.  I thought the Silhouette would make it easier, but it was more work than I thought it was and I think both methods are a tie.

Supplies:

  • Patterned paper of your choice
  • Large canvas
  • Scissors or a Silhouette machine
  • A printable map of the US or a map file for the Silhouette
  • Scotch tape
  • Mod Podge and brush

I used a couple different paper pads with sort of patriotic paper.

Patterned Paper US MapPatterned Paper Map Tutorial

First, decide what paper is going to go with each state on the map.  For this process, I printed a small map and used scraps from my papers.  Each paper repeats a few times, but I did not want like papers touching each other.

Patterned Paper US MapSecond, cut out your states.  This is the tedious part and you can do it one of two ways.

If you are doing this by hand, download a US map and print it really big to fit the size of your canvas.  Then, cut out each state and use it as a pattern for your patterned paper.  Kate has really good instructions on how to print and use this method with fabric.  It’s generally applicable to paper, except you will use regular paper and not iron-on.

I used the Silhouette SD and downloaded a US Map and painstakingly split it into 50 separate cut files.*  Why didn’t I just buy each state individually?  One, I’m cheap.  Two, I needed to make sure the proportions and of each state to one another were correct.

Next step, tape sections of states together.  I used plain scotch tape.  Tape big chunks of states together – not the entire map.

Patterned Paper US MapThen, carefully Mod Podge the sections to the canvas.  That’s Mr. P placing all the islands.

Patterned Paper US MapLet it completely dry, then cover the entire canvas with a light coat of Mod Podge.  Warning – the paper may curl or bubble.  Leave it alone.  Usually the bubbles go away when it dries.  Fiddling with it will only mess it up.

Patterned Paper US MapI added a title to the bottom right corner before I Mod Podged the whole canvas.  The font is Lobster.

Patterned Paper US MapLet it dry and touch up if needed.

I really thought I was going to screw this up at some point, but it turned out so cool!

Patterned Paper US Map*Normally, I would make these files available to you for download but my computer crashed right after I finished this project.

Any questions?  Please leave questions in the comments and I’m happy to answer them!

Patterned Paper US Map

Mail Art Exchange

I love mail art.A few weeks ago, I participated in Ginger’s Mail Art Exchange!  I designed a piece of mail for Danielle over at EcoScrapbook.  Danielle already posted the finished product, but I wanted to show you the process!

Mail ArtThe theme was “Earth.”  This was too perfect because I was designing for Danielle, who is very big on using eco-friendly materials.  I was determined to use only what I had in my stash and better yet – I didn’t use anything that was ever purchased new.

I picked up pieces of magazines I had been saving and picked a page from a leftover book from The Book Project (my massive book wall art project).

Mail Art SuppliesI decided it would be even cooler if I sent a postcard.  I used a 5×7″ piece of chipboard that came with a Snapfish photo order.

Mail Art SuppliesI tore strips from the magazine and book pages, hoping for a raw sort of look.  I glued everything down to one side of the card.  I used a black pen to add some text that I thought was really neat.

Mail ArtI decided not to Mod Podge or seal the top.  First, Mod Podge doesn’t do well on glossy paper (it beads up).  Second, I actually wanted the card to get distressed going through the mail.

I kept the front really plain and glued a picture of the Earth that I cut out of a museum brochure.

Mail ArtIf you’d like to participate in Ginger’s Mail Art Exchange, visit here to learn more about it!

Map Coasters and Memories

Picture this: new home, new coffee table. What’s missing? New coasters.

Yes, coasters, very important.

I saw lots of fun coaster tutorials online, but was really struck by these map coasters I saw from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Being me, I couldn’t just use any old map. No, I live for making things more difficult. I decided to use special maps, i.e. maps I had saved from past travels. They were in the closet anyway and free.

It ended up being pretty fun. The husband and I picked out our favorites together which included something from our first trip together, our honeymoon, and several other happy vacations.

Supplies

You will need:

  • Coasters to be covered. Anything coaster-shaped would also work well.
  • Maps
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Scissors
  • Spray enamel

These can be made in any shape using any coasters you can find. I found these monogram coasters in the dollar bin at Michael’s and bought a bunch.

Map Coasters 3

Assembly Line

Start by tracing the coaster shape onto your maps and cutting them out.

Take a moment to lay the piece on top of the coaster and trim off bits of excess as necessary.

Map Coasters 4

Using Mod Podge, glue the shapes to the coasters. I used Hard Coat Mod Podge because I wanted the coasters to be durable.

Important note: spread the Mod Podge on the coaster, then press the shape down. If you put the Mod Podge on the shape first, there is a greater chance of bubbles forming and paper curling.

Map Coasters 5

Using this method, you have a lot more control placing the shape on the coaster.

Map Coasters 6

Leave the coasters to dry for at least an hour. Then apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the top of each coaster. Let that dry for 20 minutes, then add a second coat.

Let these sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

Map Coasters 7

Bringing in Reinforcements

I checked with Amy at Mod Podge Rocks to see if two coats of Mod Podge would make the coasters durable enough. She suggested adding a layer of spray enamel to ensure absolute waterproofing.

Spray enamel is like clear spray paint and can be found pretty cheap at the hardware store.

Spray your coasters using the same sensibility you would to spray paint something: stay at least a foot away and use an even hand or else the spray will puddle up on the coaster.

They’ll dry to the touch in an hour and you can pick them up and bring them inside.  Let these dry for a day inside (to be on the safe side).

Map Coasters 8

Durability Testing

I had to be sure with this. I set an icy drink on one of the coasters for several hours. Victory! They are indeed waterproof.

Map Coasters 13

Troubleshooting

Bowing – If the coasters are thin, they may bow after you glue the shapes to them. Set the coasters under a pile of heavy books for a couple of days and they will return to flatness.

Bubbles – Even when I had smoothed the shape out while gluing, sometimes I would return to find a bubble or two after they had dried. Don’t sweat it. The bubbles mysteriously went away after I added the top coats of Mod Podge.

Trimming – If the shape hangs slightly over the edge of the coaster, trim it before gluing. I’ve not had success trying to press or glue down any overhanging paper onto the sides of the coaster.

When in doubt, leave it alone and don’t touch it. Instead of trying to fix the bubbles, I left them alone and went on with the project. They disappeared and I’m glad I didn’t try something drastic. I sprayed one of the coasters with too much enamel and it looked cloudy when wet. I tried, unsuccessfully, to wipe some of the wet enamel off. Bad decision. It ended up looking okay, but really, leave it alone and it will probably turn out okay!

Tips & Ideas

  • Use any map you have lying around.
  • You don’t have to over complicate it like I did by using special maps.
  • Coasters can be found pretty cheaply – look for cheap seasonal coasters at the store.
  • Glue the shapes to the coasters by spreading Mod Podge on the coaster and then placing the shape (not the other way around).
  • Make sure to use spray enamel (like clear spray paint) to water proof the coasters.