Friday, June 25, 2010

Adding Stitching, Decorative and Functional

Stitching is a great way to add some interesting texture to your pages, and at the same time, it can be functional -- an alternative to glue in attaching two pages together.
You can use yarn, fibers, ribbon, string, cord, chains....whatever will fit through the holes you'll create (more on that later).

The stitches  can create a border around the edges of a page, or go straight down the middle.  You really are only limited by what you can imagine.

You can hide the stitches on the back of your page by gluing a blank page to the back, or you can use stitching that works well with both sides of the page (you'll see an illustration of that further down).

To start, I'm going back to the pages I did that created pockets for tags.
Remember, I used double sided tape from the points to the center to hold down the pockets.  I've decided to reinforce the glue (and add some interest) with some simple stitching.
First, I'll put my cutting mat under the page I'm working on to protect the pages that come after it.  Using my piercing tool I'll poke holes where I'll thread.
I love my Tim Holtz ruler for this.  It's clear and it has holes in it for perfect spacing!  Of course, you don't need this tool.  You can use a plain ruler and poke your holes at regular intervals.

**NOTE**  If you don't own a cutting mat, a mouse pad will work.  Or a thick piece of corrugated cardboard.
If you don't own a piercing tool, try a sharp nail or tack.  There is always a substitute if you think about it.

After your holes are all done, thread your needle with whatever you decide to use (I've used leftover floss from a needlepoint project here) and sew.  It's as simple as that.
If you leave a long tail at the end of your thread, you can even add some beads and have something cool dangling off the edge of your page.
If you don't add the dangle, finish your sewing with a knot and trim the ends close to the knot.  I then add a tiny dab of clear glue to the knot to make sure it doesn't come loose.  If you are covering the back of your page with something or gluing it to another blank page, you can just tape the end to the back to secure it, as it will eventually be covered.

Here's what the two pages look like now that I've sewn both sides:
Now, the back of the left side of this two page spread is actually a page that I've already done.  Normally, you'd make sure that you have blank pages under your stitching, but sometimes, if you think about it ahead of time, you can plan stitching that will work well on both pages.
Here is what the reverse side looks like with the stitching:
It's that collaged page that faces my niche.  The floss I used works well on both sides.  You'll probably see this page again somewhere along the way, as I do plan to add some more to it.

If you want to use heavier material in your stitching, you'll need larger holes.  There are any number of punches that can create holes or slots for threading many things, including ribbon.  Here are a few that I have:
The next two photos show two different styles of stitching with ribbon.
With these punches you are limited in where you can place them by how far into the paper they'll reach.  If you want larger openings in other parts of your page you can use your piercing tool and work it around to make the hole larger.

Do you like to work with a sewing machine?  Well, obviously you can't sew directly onto your pages with a machine, but that doesn't mean you can't include machine stitching on your pages.
Some time back, I was in a vintage photo page swap, and I created this element by machine stitching a copy of a photo to a dyed piece of fabric:
I had one left over and decided it would be a great addition to my altered book.  First, I looked through my fabric scrap pile and stitched together several pieces to form a patchwork.
Obviously, I am not an expert sewer....far from it!  Good thing I like the rustic, handmade look.  I then took one of the pages I'd originally torn from my book, glazed it with a color that goes with my fabrics, and using my machine, stitched together the three layers:  paper, patchwork, and photo.
I used paper as the bottom layer because I'll be gluing this entire piece into my book, and I thought attaching paper to paper would be easier than fabric to paper.  But this was just a thought.  Sticky tape should adhere fabric to paper quite well.   Before I glued it down, I added some buttons, sewn directly onto the piece.  Here's how it looks in my book:
The photo is of my father with one of his younger brothers, and I stamped the word "brothers" with an alphabet stamp set.
I hope you'll consider adding some stitching to one (or more!) of your AB pages. It's fun, it's easy, and it adds a great deal to a page.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Creating A Niche (Shadowbox) In Your Altered Book

While you can put your niche anywhere you like in your book, it is preferable to have it in either the front or the back, so that the book's cover acts as a sturdy bottom.  If you do decide to put your niche in the middle of the book, just glue several pages together, with a piece of cardboard sandwiched inside, to give it the needed strength and stiffness.
To begin......hold the pages you reserved for the niche. Brush the outer edges with gel medium.
Use clamps or binder clips to hold the pages together while the gel medium dries.
If you don't have clamps or clips, put a sheet of wax paper, slightly larger than the book on both sides of the glued pages, close the book and weight it down.  It should take about 1/2 hour or so for the gel to dry.
Remove the clamps and or clips and decide where you want your niche to be, how large you want it, and the shape.  It can be any shape you like, but remember that straight lines are far easier to cut than curves.  For this part of the project you'll need a cutting mat, a craft knife with a fresh blade, a ruler and a pencil.
Place the cutting mat between the last page of the niche and cover (or pages) that will be its bottom.  This will prevent your cutting into the cover.
Draw an outline of the niche, and holding the ruler steady against the drawn line, cut with the craft knife, following the lines you drew.
You will probably be able to remove 3-4 pages at a time.  Continue to cut and remove until you have cut through and removed all of the pages.
Note:   if at any time the cutting seems to be getting more difficult, change the blade to a fresh one.  The sharper the blade, the easier the cutting.
Now it is time to glue the niche to the bottom.  In my book, this is the front cover.  Apply gel medium (or your favorite strong paper adhesive) to the back side of the niche.
Then close the book and press down firmly.  Either re-clamp or put a weight on the book and allow the adhesive to dry. 

Now is a good time to add some color.  I like to give the entire page including the niche a coat of gesso first.  You don't have to, but I think it gives a nice surface for whatever decorating you'll do, plus it will cover the raw edges inside the niche and give them more stability.
I have decided that this page will have a beach theme, so I gather together the papers and objects I think I'll use.  I may not wind up using them all, but I'll have choices.
Looking at the papers I've chosen (beautiful Graphic 45 "On The Boardwalk"), the shells and sea glass and coral, I have a better idea of how to color the page.  I use several shades of light brown distress ink and a blending tool.  I'm going for the look of sand.  In the picture below, I'm adding a little texture by pouncing the blending tool, which has been inked with a darker brown, over some plastic netting.  This is only one of MANY ways to add texture.  Think bubble wrap, sponges, wadded up wax paper, cardboard....
Next I cut a piece of decorative paper to fit inside the niche.  If you save one of the pieces you cut out, you'll have a template.
I add one or two elements at a time.  Don't attach anything until you're sure.  That's part of one of those little paper umbrellas on the top.  The bathing beauty is my mom, taken in the summer of '47 when she was pregnant with me!  Under the niche is a piece of the Graphic 45 paper.  I gave it an aqua tint with some ink to it would work better with the other elements.
 NOTE:  don't use originals of your precious old family photos. Scan them if you have a scanner and use copies you make yourself, or bring your photos to Staples or Kinkos and have them make copies for you.  You can fit many photos on one page and it isn't very expensive.  Also, I think it is easier to work with copies done on matte paper....they glue down better than actual photos and you can alter them with chalks, pastels, etc. without worrying about doing permanent harm to the original.

Now I see another bit of that paper that will go well and add that to the top, along with some text that was also on one of the sheets.
Time to start filling the niche.  I have shells, sea glass, stones, and a tiny glass bottle filled with sand.
What adhesive to use to attach things?  For the photo of my mother, I used some foam dots to lift it a little.  The flat sea glass is attached with glossy accents (you could also use gel medium).  The coral and some of the shells that are far from flat are adhered with some of that super sticky tape.  I also used it to attach the bottle.   Below is how I kind of wadded up the sticky tape to give it some bulk on the underside of a piece of shell.  It really sticks well.

I decided that the area around the niche needed a little something more.  I tore up a piece of cheesecloth, attached it to the upper left hand corner, allowed some of it to fall into the niche, and lightly dabbed it with ink.
I'm almost satisfied now.
One last alteration....adding a bit of aqua here and there.

My niche page is complete, and I really love it.  There is one little problem however, caused by my not wanting to plan everything out ahead of time.  The page facing my niche is the one I did to demonstrate collage.  I love it, but the color doesn't work for me, now that it is right next to my beachy colors.
Oh, it's not the end of the world, and I'm sure I could live with it, but....anything that has been altered can be re-altered.  I mixed up some gel medium and turquoise paint to form a glaze, brushed it right over the coppery collaged page and NOW I am really happy.  I also put what was left of that little paper umbrella in the upper right hand corner, which also helps to unite the two facing pages.
When I did the collage page I wasn't sure what, if anything, I'd put on it.  But now I think I know.  Somewhere in my stash I know I have another family photo of someone enjoying the shore, and I think it will work perfectly there.

NOTE:  before you glue anything into your niche, make absolutely certain that it fits well.  Close the book to check that the object isn't hitting the facing page. 
What are some of the things you can put in a niche?   Photos, travel memorabilia, shells, stones, beads, a bit of vintage fabric, dried flowers, small boxes or bottles, ribbon from a valued gift, buttons, charms, small toys, miniature collectibles.....any three dimensional object that fits.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Folding Pages in Your Book

Several people have mentioned that they plan to use their ABs as a kind of scrapbook to hold many of the tags and ATCs they've received in swaps.  I think that's a great idea, so today we'll be doing some folding techniques to create pockets that can store things.  
This would also be great for a travel themed AB, as you will be able to keep your memorabilia safe in the book, and yet be able to remove any of it for a closer look.
For the first technique, you'll need four pages in your AB.  They can be colored for sure, but shouldn't have lots of layers or added embellishments that might interfere with the folding. (You can add those things afterwards).
Here are two facing pages that I previously sprayed with Colorwash and then did some stamping over that.
The page before the two page spread has a color wash.  You don't need any color on that bare page to the right.  It will not be seen.
 The page after the two page spread has the same color wash. 
 Make two diagonal folds (like the start of a paper airplane).  Do that to both of the pages that face one another.  They should look like this after folding:
 Using very sticky two sided tape (some brands include redline, Scor-tape, sticky strips), attach a strip from the point to the spine of the book on the back of each page, like this:
 Remove the top protective layer of the tape:
 And press the folded page down onto the facing page.  Do that for both of the folded pages.  
You now have four pockets for holding items.  Here I've inserted some favorite tags:
You can create a nice big  single pocket, perfect for holding larger items like greeting cards you've received, or postcards from a trip.
First take your metal ruler and begin tearing a page.  But you will not tear it out completely.  You'll just tear down to the halfway mark.
Fold the page in half and use your sticky tape to glue it together. Then attach the tape to the bottom and side to adhere it to the facing page.
 You have made a nice large pocket:
If you're doing a travel AB, for example, you might want to have several of these folded pages in your book to hold all of the papers you collect on a trip...maps, postcards, ticket stubs, menus, even some photographs.   You can decorate the front of the pocket however you like.  Since I don't know yet what I'll be putting in this pocket, I'll hold off on the embellishing until I have a better idea of what I want it to look like.
I also want to point out that not all folding techniques are for creating pockets.  Sometimes you might want to do some folding purely as a decorative element, to add some texture to a page.
Here I just did a bit of accordian folding on two pages and used my good strong sticky tape to glue each fold down.  I then added some color and a bit of decoration with rub-ons.  Don't know yet what, if anything I'll be adding to this page, but wanted you to see another reason to fold.
Looking at my AB from above, I can see that it's starting to get fuller, even after only a few techniques.  Now I know I'm making progress!