Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Book of Cards Mini Album Tutorial by Alison Bomber

Hello all!  It's Alison here from Words and Pictures for this month's tutorial post and, as promised, I'm sharing a handmade book which is a sort of partner piece to my inspiration project this month, Meadow Medley.  The two books have several things in common - the colour palette, the fabulous StencilGirl meadow grass stencils (StencilGirl are our sponsors this month here at Mini Album Makers) - but the most notable "partnership" comes from the ingredients they were made with.

Today I'm sharing one of the simplest possible ways to make a book.  I'm sure others must have done this, though I'm not aware of having seen it anywhere.  My brain came up with it as a really easy way to construct a book, so that I could spend more time on the "artsy" stuff!  Grab a cup of tea or coffee, and off we go.

I got hold of one of those packs of pre-folded cards and envelopes.  You can generally pick them up pretty cheaply.  Mine was a pack of 25 cards + envelopes in a 7 x 7 inch size.  The Meadow Medley was made using some of the envelopes, and this Meadow Meditation was made with the cards themselves.

It really couldn't be easier.  I simply stuck the unfolded cards back to back to build my book.  Well, in fact, they were stuck interior to interior, just in case the quality on the outer sides of the card was better for inking.  You can see the cards standing back-to-back here, pre-glueing.

I think with these particular cards they were the same quality inside and outside, but with some card stock it will make a difference.  And of course if you were planning to cover your pages with design paper as part of the "artsy" decoration, it wouldn't matter in any case.

But I was going for inking/painting directly onto the cards themselves so it was worth just making sure.

One of the great side effects of this form of construction is that you know that one card will form one page spread.  That meant I was able to do my inky stencil printing before glueing the cards, and stay safe in the knowledge that the two pages facing each other would work together.

And for the covers, I simply cut two pieces of 7 x 7 recycled cardboard to glue onto the outside "pages".

So that's the basic idea for the book structure... easy peasy, right?  You'll see more as we go along, but let me also show you a little more about the "artsy stuff" - the stencil printing process, similar to that used for some of the pages in my Meadow Medley, and the making of the cover boards.

For the backgrounds, I used my Gelli plate.  It's a 6 x 6 plate, so I positioned a card below it, so that I could line up my prints each time to get a nice uniform border around each page.

Each page spread had variations on the same set of colours: Stormy Sky, Faded Jeans, Antique Linen, Pumice Stone and Walnut Stain.

I spritzed my Distress sprays directly onto the Gelli plate and took the first print on one side of the card, and then a second print onto the facing side.  This way each double-page spread has its own colour palette.

The first print will be fairly full-on as it picks up the most ink...

... and the second print will probably give you lots of lovely lighter inky splotchy effects.

I then started playing with some stencils.  One is the lovely StencilGirl Nosegay stencil...

... and the other is the small Wildflowers stencil by Darkroom Door, which I was lucky enough to win in a bloghop a while back.

For some pages, I simply blended ink through the stencils in the usual way.  For others, I used a natural sponge to apply Buff Titanium paint through the stencil...

... and then spritzed the painty stencil with water and flipped it over to "print" the leftover paint onto a different page.

I really loved this effect, so I tried flipping the blended ink leftovers too... Not quite as neat and tidy, but still pretty.

I think the paint doubles are my favourites though.

So pretty, and such a cool effect with the paint creating the negative space of the flowers in the inky background.

Next, I added some stamping to the mix, continuing the meadow flowers and grasses motifs, of course.

There are some of Lin Brown's wonderful grass stems for PaperArtsy...

... with some Inkylicious Floral Silhouettes layered in in places...

And a twiggy 6 x 6 background stamp by Hero Arts.

And no meditative book would work for me without some words to ponder on as I wander through the meadows.

So I added some of my own quotes from my EAB Eclectica word stamp collections.

They're gathered from EAB03 Music & Silence, EAB07 Dreaming & Doing, and EAB08 Strength & Courage.

And they're stamped in Archival ink before being embossed with Wow embossing powders to make them pop against the particular background they're on... two in Vanilla White...

... two in Primary Bark - a lovely rich dark brown...

... and two in Earthtone Pepper - a beautiful powder I've just uncovered buried deep in my stash.

Once I was all done with the decorative elements, I simply glued the cards together, doing my best to keep them all beautifully aligned.

So to the covers.  As I said, I cut the squares for front and back from a cardboard box, and lined the edges with masking tape for a neater finish.  But don't glue them down yet!

I chose the same burlap ribbon for the spine as I used for the Meadow Medley, and taped it to the outermost inside pages with a little slack so that it can move as you open and close the book.

The linen ribbon for the closure also needs to be attached before you glue the cover boards in place.  I used some double-sided sticky tape across the centre of the outermost inside pages, front and back.

I decorated my cover boards before gluing them down.  The first step was a rough application of thick gesso to both boards to seal and prepare them for the mixed media to come.

Next, I added a layer of texture paste using a palette knife, so that I could create interesting textures as I went.

Then, once they were fully dry, I applied some more of the texture paste through the Nosegay stencil.  It wasn't quite dimensional enough for my tastes, so I let it dry and then reapplied some more paste, this time the DecoArt Texture Sand Paste, for a more prominent look.

You'll notice I didn't quite line it up perfectly in places, but I'm fine with a looser look.  Then it was time to start applying colour.  I used Distress Paints in the same colours as the inside pages - Stormy Sky, Faded Jeans, Antique Linen and Pumice Stone.

I used DecoArt paints to start adding detail to the NoseGay meadow grasses themselves.

I added more depth to the tones by shading the edges with Distress Crayons in complementary tones.

More layers of paint and some pastel pencil detailing add the final shadows and highlights on the flowers.

And a Quote Chip adds the book "title" to the front cover...

... whilst the back stays nice and plain.

Of course there's plenty of splatter going on.  Every time I used a paint colour, if there was any left on the craft mat, it got a spritz of water and then got spattered onto the cover boards.

I just love how the Distress Crayons heighten all that texture for a really rustic look.

Once I was happy I was done, I peeled back the double-sided tape strips and stuck down the linen ribbon, and then simply glued the cover boards down, front and back, and we're done.

Okay, I think I've probably kept you hanging around long enough, so let me just finish by turning the pages so that you can see each page spread as a whole as you move through the book.

I'm so happy to have found such a simple book construction which allows me to spend time on the bits I really love.  It's even easier than the envelope technique, and that's saying something!

And the card structure also makes a pretty sturdy book - so that you can stand it up for display purposes if you choose.  If you used more cards in your structure, you could have it go open up all the way around in a circle.  It would also be a great construction for doing some "pop-up" elements on the pages... the possibilities are endless.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you might be inspired to try out this technique and come and share your work with us in this month's challenge at Mini Album Makers.

Of course, you don't have to use this method to take part - any handmade book is welcome.  And you could win a StencilGirl voucher to go shopping with!

Alison xx


  1. what a beautiful book, full of gorgeous work! I love your simple colour palette used throughout which really ties it all together.

  2. This is so lovely Alison, those colours, words and pictures work so beautifully together. Stand alone or to add snippets of memories within i'd enjoy flicking through this time after time.
    Creative Hugs Tracey xx

  3. Just gorgeous... The gelli prints and your wonderful stencilling and stamping... Just beautiful peaceful pages. Your quotes are perfect too. Xxx

  4. A truly wonderful book Alison! I first saw a similar binding technique through Birgit Koopsen, but doing it with folded cards is super clever! I also love the idea of using sprays on the gelli, it make for fantastic loose artsy backgrounds. Love how you finished each of the pages too, a really inspiring meditation on paper!

  5. So enjoyed reading the post. Thank you for the step by step on this fabulous book. I have learnt lots and I thank you for the amazing inspiration x.

  6. What an in-depth tutorial Alison, thank you so much. And what a great idea to use those cards for the book - am sure I have some somewhere, not sure on the size or shape but I don't think it will matter.
    Love the techniques you have used - such wonderful effects - just love your work.
    Hugs, Neet xx

  7. I love all about it - that pages, the wording the textures your clever way of putting this all together in just such a simple way and got such an artsy looking Mixed Media booklet ! Wonderful!!Ingenious dear Alison!
    I am totally in awe of this project ! You rock!
    Hugs Susi

  8. Gorgeous album and adore the quotes. The card idea is fabulous and so is that binding! Thanks for the fabulous ideas.

  9. A beautiful symphony of textures and silhouettes, played in perfect harmony. Such a joy to behold! Greetings from Creative Crete, where a cool meadow would be a delightful contrast on such a hot day! Xx

  10. Wow, wow and WOW!!!!!!
    Excellent work!!!! This is such a clever and great idea!
    Thank you so much Alison, for your wonderful tutorial. I LOVE to bits your fabulous book.
    Hugs, Corinne xxx

  11. Such stunning work, every page is gorgeous , in a beautiful fairytale way and I can imagine elves dancing in these half dreamy surroundings, Alison. So fabulous, and thank you for the great idea of the cards.... used to form the book-
    Dorthe, xoxo

  12. A fantastic tutorial Alison and I just love how you put this beautiful creation together, each page is a little masterpiece! Anne xx

  13. awesome album I love this style x tyfs

  14. A fabulous little book! Every page is a treat! Chrisx

  15. OMG, this is soooooo inspiring! Now I know what to do with all those blank cards I have and never use! Using the gelli plate with the distress sprays is genius and I simply adore the embossed text. Your photos are stunning as well, especially the outdoor ones - the darkened edges make them so atmospheric!

  16. This is truly incredible Alison! I can't tell you enough how I love this. The heavy gessoed cover made such a gorgeous textural start for your stencil and ink work. So so amazing and you really brought the prints to life with your details. Always a pleasure! Hugs, Autumn

  17. I love the subtle effects you achieved with the gelli prints on these pages, Alison - beautiful, evocative and definitely meditational. Stunning!

    Cath x

  18. This is so pretty. The colors of ink you chose gives each page an ethereal look. Adding the flower stamps and quotes is pure perfection.

  19. A fabulous book, gorgeous pages and I love the textured covers. Thanks for the process pictures.
    Avril xx

  20. What a fun way to get on with the art making part as soon as possible! I shall have to try this once the puppy decides I'm allowed back into my workroom......


  21. Wow!! This is just stunning Alison!! Fabulous textural cover and the inside pages are amazing!! I love your colour choices and each and every page is a gorgeous work of art! Simple instructions so easy to follow and a totally awesome booklet!! Love the quotes too!

  22. What a wonderful and beautifully created book Alison! With your signature colors and stampings, each page is a delight - and so thought provoking when you turn to a page with an embossed quote! Thank you for showing all the steps - you make it look so easy! xx

  23. WOW! Alison, your colors are just beautiful and work so well with the stencils.Each page has it's own unique pattern and design. So much interest in these pages! Absolutely glorious!
    Jackie xx

  24. Oh, Lordy! This is one stunning journal, Alison! Of course you had me at your brown and blue color combo, but each design speaks to my love of nature! Gorgeous and pinned! Hugs!

  25. Amazing book Alison, beautiful delicate watercolor and details. Love it!! xx

  26. Absolutely brilliant!!! Hugs -- Mary Elizabeth