Saturday, February 18, 2012

DIY Pocket Journal

Whenever I think of DIY books, I think of really unimpressive folded paper packets stapled together, like handouts for school, or else something so complicated and specialized that I have about zero chance of ever actually making it.

But, then I discovered these DIY fake moleskines that are both pretty easy and pretty impressive. Yes, they require a slight amount of sewing, but it's of the easy hand-sewing variety.

Trust me. You can make these. And, you likely have everything you need already in your house.

I think these would make for an amazing homemade gift idea. That is, if you can bear to part with them.




DIY POCKET JOURNALS



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1. For supplies, you'll need a thin box (like a cereal box), blank paper, decorative paper, string, and glue.
2. For tools, you'll need a ruler, a craft knife, a big sewing needle, a butter knife, and a cutting board. A corner cutter (the blue thing in the photo) would be good, but isn't totally necessary.
3. Begin by cutting your box into a rectangle.

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4. Fold your cardboard in half, with the ugly side in, using the butter knife to really get that edge flattened. 
5. This folded cardboard will be the cover of your journal.
6. Unfold the cardboard and use it as a template to cut your plain paper. For my journals, I used a stack of 7 or 8 pieces of paper. Folded, this is 14-16 pages thick, with 28-32 pages to write on.

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7. See? A stack of paper the same size as your cardboard.
8. Fold the paper in half too.
9. Trim the edge so that all of your pages will line up flat.

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10. Now use your cardboard as a template to cut out a piece of pretty paper.
11. Glue the pretty paper onto the ugly side of your cardboard.
12. See? Now you have a cardboard cover that is plain on the outside and pretty inside. And, you have a stack of pages. 

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13. Use clips or some other vice-like thing to hold the pages inside the cover temporarily.
14. Using a needle, punch holes through the paper and cover all along the inside seam.
15. This is tedious and it's hard to get the needle through all that paper, but you can do it!

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16. Now, sew a nice little line of stitches through your pre-poked holes. Aren't you glad you made the holes first? So easy!
17. This is what it looked like from the outside.
18. Knot off your stitches however you want. We'll be covering the outside, so don't worry about making it pretty, just secure.

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19. This is what the inside looks like in the center!
20. This is the outside for now. Almost done!
21. If you have a corner cutter, now is a good time to use it!

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22. Cut a little rectangle of pretty paper as long as your book is high, and maybe an inch or two across.
23. Fold it and glue it onto the outside spine to cover your stitches.
24. Marvel at the amazing thing you have accomplished.
25. (optional) Draw or glue something pretty on the front to make it even more awesome.

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Now that I can make these, I can't quite stop daydreaming about the potential of it all! Perhaps I'll make stamps next, strictly to decorate my homemade books...

In other news, I have several new prints in the shop this weekend! Huzzah! If you feel so inclined, click here to visit them and perhaps find something lovely to take home for your walls!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

DIY Recycled Book Mail Folder



I've started to dislike having our mail thrown haphazardly about every available surface in our living room.

What a perfect occasion for the DIY spirit, thought I!

I thought of hollowing out a book to make a box for my papers, but realized immediately that if my electric bill was boxed away quite so snugly, I'd forget about it and get into all sorts of trouble for non-payment.

I needed something a bit more open and visible.

Inspired by those re-purposed book purses I've seen, but lacking in any sort of sewing or pattern-making skills, I grabbed a book, some cloth, and an obscene amount of hot glue and stumbled my way through this pretty hanging folder.

(click on any row for a larger view of the step by step images)

(1.) I recommend using a book that is already damaged. I got my coffee stained Medieval Art book from the thrift store for a dollar. (2.) Using a knife, cut out the insides. (3.) Cut a piece of pretty fabric to cover the inside bit of the book and (4.) glue it on. (5.) Next, place your book cover over a piece of paper and trace the shape of the sides. (6. and 7.) Using the paper template, cut the side pieces out of your fabric, leaving a 1/2" or 1" flap/seam on each side. (8. and 9.) Glue those on by the extra bit of fabric on each side! (10.) Then, attach a ribbon or chain for hanging along the top of the back. (11.) Finally, cover all of your ugly raw seams with pretty ribbon. Yes, I glued the ribbon on too. 

(I'm sure anyone with the least bit of sewing savvy would be horrified to see me use hot glue for all of this. But, I can't sew very well.)

And, I have a pretty little hanging mail folder.
Mission accomplished.


Speaking of mail, I also just received my darling little kitty cat postcards this week for the shop!  They look so nice! Huzzah! I'm trying to resist the urge to keep them all for myself and my own correspondence needs.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Robot No. 4

To celebrate the coming weekend, I wanted to share a sneak peek of my newest painting with you!

I think my marvelously mod little robot looks quite fetching on her super hip red vintage bicycle, don't you?

I started sketching her last spring and never quite got around to making a final painting...until now. I just love the mid-century modern feel of it! She's even painted in fancy metallic silver paint rather than gray, which gives her an amazing luster and pizzazz. Though I adore the effect, I don't use metallics too frequently because of how many coats they require. But, I think it was well worth the effort on this girl!
 
I'm thoroughly excited to acquire prints of her next week to hang in the shop!

Edit: She's now available to take home! Huzzah!
 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Learning To Make Bento Lunch!

I try to pack lunch for me and the mister everyday and some days I wake up a bit more energetic than others. On the most energetic days, I've been playing with learning to make cute bento. I like to make other pretty things; why not pretty food?

Sometimes, it's inspiring to see somebody master something. But, I thought it might be just as inspiring to see someone begin something. This is bento for beginners.


Since most of the cuteness of bento comes from shaping sticky rice, I first had to learn to make sticky rice. Having acquired a bag of legit looking rice from the local grocer, I proceeded to follow the instructions on the bag. They weren't good instructions.



I looked up a recipe in this awesome book from the library...


...and it seemed to work. Victory!


I rested on my laurels for a while. A few months later, I tried to shape the rice for the first time, which is done either with wet hands or plastic wrap. I thought it best to keep it simple, so I made some cute happy dongo family characters from my favorite anime, Clannad.


I got a little braver a few months after that and tried cute penguins. Success!


And, this morning, I woke up at 4:30 and decided it was a sesame chicken and panda day, since the mister has to drive 30 miles in two feet of snow to get to work on a Saturday...


I'm rather proud of my bento lunch today! I even cut up my red peppers, onions, and carrots into little flower shapes this time and tried a new recipe for sesame chicken. A few bits of lettuce made for a nice background, two slices of orange for dividers, green onion for the grass around the pandas, rice and nori for the panda, with a little sesame seed for each of their eyes.

Trying to make certain there are lots of pretty bright colors also ensures that your lunch is fairly healthy and well-proportioned. It's kind of a win-win. Now, if only I didn't work full-time, I'd make these for the mister everyday. Until then, it'll be the occasional super cute lunch-time surprise.

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Recipe for Sticky Rice

Ingredients:
1 cup Short or medium grain rice
1.5 cups Water

Directions:
Put rice in colander and rinse in cool water until the water isn't very cloudy.
Put clean rice in a pot and add water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
Stir it around a couple of times to prevent sticking and then put a tight fitting lid on the pot.
Reduce heat to low/med low and let simmer with the lid on for 8 minutes.
Keep lid on and remove from heat.
Wait about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff.

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Sticky rice is sticky! If you'd like to shape it, try scooping some rice onto a sheet of plastic wrap, then using the plastic wrap to handle, squish, and shape it however you'd like. If you must handle the rice, wet your fingers with cold water first! They sell rice molds if you feel so inclined.

To decorate, get a pair of tiny scissors and cut up a sheet of nori into desired bits. Nori will stick to the rice if it's warm enough. Otherwise, a bit of water on the back of the nori will do the trick. They sell nori punches if you feel so inclined.



When I'm not playing with food, I play with paint! Take a minute to stop by the ol' art shop and keep the dream alive, if you feel so inclined.