Planning to make more of these when I get home.
Planning to make more of these when I get home.
Up til now, my craft group has met once a month to visit with one another and to work independently on our own projects (usually knitting, crochet or embroidery). But last night my friend, Kris, decided to shake things up a bit by teaching us all how to make journals from paper grocery bags.
The idea and techniques for this journal came from the book, “Art at the Speed of Life,” by Pam Carriker. Carriker calls it the “10 minute journal” and uses a sheet of water color paper to create it.
But water color paper can be costly and feels too precious to scribble on, so Kris has been making her journals from grocery bags instead. Everyone in the group laughingly admitted to at least one untouched fancy journal at home that was just too pristine and beautiful to use. We all loved the idea of reusing an every day item destined for the recycle bin (at best). There can be no hesitation about writing on a paper bag, right? Especially if half the pages already have some type of print on it (it adds personality to the booklet and one can still write or paint right over it).
We all had so much fun making these journals. This morning, I returned to my studio to make three more from our leftover bags. Pics and instructions below for anyone who wants to try this at home:
- 1 brown paper grocery bag (we used bags from Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s)
- Linen thread
- Book binding needle (actually, we used upholstery needles)
- Small bowl of water
- Sponge brush (optional)
- Bone folder (optional; I used a letter opener)
- Cutting mat (optional)
- Remove handles from bag. Be careful not to tear the bag.
- Open the bag and locate the seam. Cut along the seam until you reach the bottom of the bag. Cut out the bottom rectangle. Option: if you prefer the fuzzy look of torn paper, use your finger or a sponge brush to wet the creases about the bottom of the bag and then carefully tear out that rectangle.
- You should now have one large rectangular piece of paper. If the creases bother you, you can use a low setting on an iron to iron the paper.
- Fold the large rectangle in half, lengthwise. You want to fold from top to bottom so your fold is on the top and your open edges are on the bottom. You may want to use a bone folder to make the crease a sharp one.
- Now fold the rectangle in half crosswise. Do this three times. Always fold from left to right. Be sure to make sharp creases. When you are finished, you have what is called a “signature.” One grocery bag equals one signature. This particular signature will have eight leaves which will end up as sixteen pages.
- Open your signature to the center. Mark three spots in the fold: the midpoint, and one inch from each edge.
- Use the awl to pierce all layers at each marked point. Be careful to stay on the fold when piercing through the layers – which is easier said than done… And remember that awl is sharp so keep that point pointing away from you.
- Measure 18 inches of thread, cut and wax.
- Thread your needle.
- Use pamphlet stitch to sew your signature together at the spine (tutorial here).
- Lastly, there is the matter of opening all the pages of your signature. The “cheater” way would be to hold a straight edge where you want to open the pages and cut through with a box cutter. But my craft group & I were in the artisanal mood and opened each page by first wetting the creases, working the moisture in the folds and then tearing the pages open by hand. You may want to use the sponge brush for this step. I found rubbing the water into the folds with my fingers more effective.
A huge Thank You to Kris for sharing this project and for all goofy commentary that had everyone in stitches all night. Book art rocks!
I feel so lucky about my growing circle of crafty friends. Making is always a cool thing… but sharing inspiration, knowledge and skills with others bumps it all to a whole new level. By the way – if anyone wants to join us – November craft night will be something dreamed up by our Crochet Queen, Edita!
Check out what we made today – funky scrap metal guys. Not at all what I’d intended to work on when I suggested pulling out the metal bits. But in the end, ever so much better than what I could have dreamed up.
I wanted to make monster cans like the one I’d seen floating around on pinterest.
Both kids listened when I told them about the monster cans but then declined to follow my lead.
Si told me flat out that making a face-on-a-can pencil holder wasn’t interesting.
Then he picked through all the tiny nuts and bolts. Screwed. Unscrewed. Assessed. Switched a piece here and there and came up with…
A little jousting hero ready for a quest to go out and fight monsters (it must be all those Percy Jackson books we’ve been reading).
Ethan went straight for the light switches (where did those come from?) and copper pieces. He wanted to make a metal man with one giant claw.
In his first attempt to assemble his metal guy, he pulled him together with pipe cleaners. By that time, I was in total agreement with the boys. The can-faces didn’t even come close to being as cool as their metal guys. I wanted in on their vision! I offered to help E rewire his guy with actual wire…
… Here’s how “our” guy turned out. E told me exactly how I was to put the pieces together. When I’d point out my limitations on where I could or couldn’t attach pieces, he’d make the call on how we’d change things.
Working alongside my boys is something I treasure. Sometimes I get frustrated when they don’t want to go along with my original plans. But on a day like today, when they see what I have planned and then take that idea and leap frog right over me… I find it exhilarating and inspiring. Today wasn’t me leading anything. I stayed out of Si’s creative process and just helped E to execute his. In the end, it was my boys leading me.
I have a really neat upcycling project to share with you today – remaking a men’s dress shirt into an apron.
I came across a brief tutorial for this when cruising around pinterest. I thought the idea so clever, I immediately had to make it for myself. As usual, I only loosely followed the instructions. Let me show you what I came up with.
I left more fabric across the front so if you look at my apron straight on, it actually looks like a dress. Cute, huh?
I added two pockets made from the shirt sleeve. They are the perfect size to hold my cell phone, a pen or even a small needle book (‘cuz you never known when you’ll need to whip out needle & thread).
The most difficult part of this project was pinning and finishing the curved edge that forms a big circle from collar, around the front, under the arm and on through until ending up at the collar again.
I’m anticipating wearing my new apron a lot. In fact, I think I’m going to put it on right now. I get such a kick out of this pretty, yet functional piece that it just might make doing tonight’s chores a little more fun (are “chores” and “fun” an oxymoron?).