Category Archives: books

More Moo Madness

From this:

To this:

I’m not much for squealing in glee, but I did when these arrived. Just this once. You might even have heard me.

Totally worth it. My little Fuji stamp transformed by the fine folks at Moo into spectacularly well printed tiny stickers. Ninety to a book. Two books.

So pleased.


Lightning quick gift bag repurposing: bag to book

{Wheee! This one got featured in the Whipup newsletter–#3–last week. Thanks, Kathreen!}

My husband suffers from a terrible fear of gift wrapping. Leaving out the gory details, suffice it to say that on his first day of work in his first after school job in a department store in high school, he had to gift wrap a set of football shoulder pads. They were not in a box.

He has never recovered. Because of this, he (thinks he) has dibs on all the holiday gift bags that come into this house. He hoards them so that, come a birthday or holiday, all he has to do is drop in a gift, tuck a piece of tissue on top of it, then go and pour himself a stiff drink to help dispel the horror.

So one of my after Christmas tasks is to gather up and store any nice gift bags that came our way. I was particularly taken with a kraft paper bag decorated with red and white snowflakes, and wanted to save it. Alas, Crispin had gotten into it after the present opening (it had originally contained some homemade goodies) and the bottom corner had a distinct bite mark. Still, I was loathe to throw it away. So last night I did a quick-and-dirty repurpose and now present to you . . . ta daaa:

Gift bag to handmade notebooks (2 thereof) in 5 quick steps

This is the quickest project ever. Gather your gift bag, a pair of scissors, a tapestry needle and some embroidery thread, and some cast-off papers to fill the notebooks with. Plop yourself down on the family room floor and just . . . wing it. I didn’t even measure anything, and eyeballed all the cuts.

Lay your bag on the floor and check it for tears or stains. My bag was great in the middle, a little torn at the bottom and, because it had paper twist handles that had been reinforced with a sort of lumpy bit of reinforcing paper, I decided to discard the section with the handles.

Take your scissors and free the usable middle section:

Stand this section up in front of you. See how each side makes a little letter M?


Cut down the middle of each M so you have two pieces. Each piece will make one notebook–you can probably see them already:

Fold the first one in half with the decorative side out. The flaps on the sides will make the notebook a little sturdier. Repeat with the other piece of the bag:

From the scrap paper, cut pages a little smaller than the size of the open notebook–10 or 12 pieces should be about right, though if your bag is bigger than the one I used you can add more. Fold them in half and nestle the spine of this little sheaf of papers into the spine of the notebook. Use the needle and a length of embroidery thread (or whatever floats your boat) to stitch the papers in place. Use your scissors to trim the thread ends and neaten any pages that need some attention.

Et voila! Here are my two. One has used printer paper as filler (so, yeah, half of the sheets have been typed on), and the other has plain paper bag paper to match the cover.

Total cost? Zippo. Total time? Maybe 20 minutes, and that’s only because my kids asked me to stop rustling papers during Futurama and I could only make cuts during commercials. And don’t you feel virtuous for recycling?



Notepad Tower

You know how Leonard Cohen has his Tower of Song? Guess what I have a tower of.

Okay, it’s not quite as impressive as it looks, but it does represent the work of the better part of a weekend. Yeah, you could certainly print a design off your computer and take it to your local print and copy shop and they’d make nifty little notepads with your design on them, and probably not charge you much and probably do a good job on them.

But, really, I know you. If you didn’t have strong cravings to spend one of the last nice fall weekends cutting out many many many homemade stamps, getting Master Carve bits all over your kitchen and ink all over your hands and clothes and looking at your family members like they’re a few hairs shy of a paintbrush when they imply that they’d like to eat at said table then you’d be reading some other blog and learning how to so something sensible like increase your income potential or give yourself a manicure (it was the ink under your fingers that gave you away) or learn how to make homemade ravioli instead of these:

And I know you wouldn’t think twice about getting all those nice cheap paper shorts you picked up over the months from that nice print shop, making neat little stacks of them all over the kitchen counters and stamping your designs on each page while everyone else goes off to play and your better half is starting to bristle when you say, “Oh, my sweetest darling, could you just run this one to work/pick up that one from a friend’s house/grab a little milk while you’re out because, my heart’s darling, I am sort of right in the middle of something.”

Do I know you? You know I do.

And that’s how I know that you’d like a quick little tutorial on how to make your own fully authentic and artistic note pads that will only take about 40 times longer to make than it would be to pick them up from the copy shop, because making them yourself will make you and the friends to whom you give them so much happier.

So I’m going to give you one.

Only I cheated because I’ve sort of already made them and I sort of forgot to take pictures as I went along.

But because it is you I am going to show you how to make ONE notepad and you, being terribly efficient and clever, are going to extrapolate and immediately see how it would make much more sense and be so much more satisfying to keep at it until you have your very own Tower of Notebook.

Yep, I am going to do this later today.  I promise.

Take heed

This guy (why do we always assume that bare bones folks are all guys?) didn’t quite make it in time to be the Halloween greeting I was counting on, but he was fun to whip up.

The vintage skeleton image came from The Graphics Fairy‘s wonderful blog. You want treasures? She’s got you covered–free vintage and antique images (copyright free!) of everything you can imagine. So that’s that part.

The background is a page from a discarded book on which I’d done some brush paintings of a tea bowl. The painting didn’t really work out, so it went into the scrap pile. At the wonderful ATC party I attended a couple of weeks ago, the pieces all came together.

Linen covered book

Since I raided the local odd lots store last month for about 2 dozen of the linen and cotton kitchen towels they were selling for 50 cents each, I’ve been trying to use them in as many different ways as possible (I haven’t yet used them as actual dish towels, but it may come to that).

This one became the cover fabric for a coptic stitched blank journal I made for a milestone birthday for my sister. The linen was a little on the thick side–great for wiping dishes, not as great for book cloth–but I’m tickled with how it came out. The art on the cover is a watercolored print from one of my hand-carved stamps. The interior pages, which are a creamy white, are from a block of Sennelier “Le Maxi” sketching paper that I snagged on sale (the cellophane wrapper of the block was torn, but the paper was perfect) from my local Dick Blick store a while back.

I made a similar one with a kraft paper cover, red enameled eyelets for the waxed linen thread to go through and a handpainted, hand-carved stamp of a bird for a friend whose birthday was last week, but that one didn’t get photographed. In fact, I was so late in finishing it that I sat at the table in the tea shop where some friends and I were celebrating her birthday and finished the coptic stitching as we chatted over our iced teas on a hot afternoon. She was pleased–said it was like getting a present and a show.

(At least) one more to go, for yet another friend with an August birthday. Jeez, you’d think that December was a cold month or something.

Another notebook project

This one is an ongoing experiment. I came across a video tutorial for making these little perfect-bound notebooks a long time ago, bookmarked it, and put it on the back burner. Today the need for a new notebook arose, as it so often does around here. This is one of those projects that are just as easy to make in multiples, so I made two. It’s a great way to make use of old photos, too.

The tutorial is a good, clear, easy one from PhotoJojo, and making these two notebooks took about half an hour. I’m curious about how well they’ll hold up–perfect binding can be somewhat less than perfect–so I’m giving the candy necklaces one to Second Child and will throw the other in my own bag and we’ll see how they look in a couple of weeks. Place your bets.

Tiny notebook tutorial

This is another tutorial for something that seems rather intuitive, but someone asked how the little notebooks were made, so here goes:

What you need:

  • Backing: A rectangle of cardboard, like the ones at the back of a legal pad
  • Filler paper: 20-30 rectangles of plain paper of just about any kind suited to the use to which you’re going to put your notebook (e.g., printer paper for a notepad, drawing paper for a sketchbook, miscellaneous papers for a funky look)
  • Cover: A rectangle of decorative paper for the front (here I’m using a piece of lightweight art paper on which I’ve used one of my hand-carved stamps)
  • A small ponytail elastic (I like the “non-ouchy” kind without the metal part, but you can use an ordinary one as you like)
  • A small paper clip
  • Something to cut with: scissors, a craft knife and ruler, or a paper cutter
  • A hole punch
  • A stick, wooden sandwich pick, or the like

The first three items, the back, filler paper and cover bits should be the same size. We made our notebooks 4 x 4 1/2 ” (because we needed a lot of them and needed to get an assembly line thing going) but you can use any dimensions that are pleasing to you.

The sticks should be a bit shorter than the smaller side of your notebook, and should not have any splintery or rough edges

Step 1: punch your holes. If you’re using a handheld paper punch, make a template for the hole placement using an extra sheet of the filler paper. Fold the paper in half and punch a hole through both thicknesses about 1/4″ from what will be the top of the notebook and about 1/2″ froom the side. Unfold this paper and line it up with a few sheets of your filler paper–punch holes through the holes you’ve already made. Repeat until you have as many filler sheets as you need. If you’re using an adjustable multi-hole punch, set the placement for the holes using the guides on the hole punch.

Do the same for the cover paper and the backing cardboard.

Step 2: Sandwich the filler paper between the backing and the cover and line up the holes so you can see all the way through.

Step 3: unbend your paper clip as shown:

Poke the small hook you’ve made through one of the holes, working from front to back, and pull through a loop of the hair elastic:

Insert one end of your stick through the loop, then repeat with the other hole, the other end of the same elastic, and the other end of the stick:

All done!