Thursday, January 3, 2013



I hope that you and your family had a fantastic Holiday Season and a great New Year's celebration!

We are three days into the new year and it is now time to get busy working on those New Year's resolutions that we made with much thought and trepidation.  I hope that one of your resolutions was to make more ART!!!  I know that was one of mine.  Fact is....I signed up to do the Facebook "Art Journaling Calendar Challenge 2013" by Kate Crane.

Kate is a published artist best known for creating the most wonderful calendar pages using artistic journaling techniques.  The Facebook group that she created is a great place for other artists to share their work, techniques and questions.  If you have never joined a  FB group of other artists, you will find that artists are the most supportive, generous and creative people on this earth!  It is a great place to make art friends and to become part of an artistic that shares your art interests whatever you medium of choice may be.

Before I get started on how I am making my Art Journaling Calendar I would like to say that my method is a bit elaborate compared to what everyone else is doing. You don't have to follow my example...there are no set rules!  It is completely up to you how elaborate or simple you make it.  You can make your calendar by using a store bought journal, an altered book or from scratch using watercolor or bristol paper.  If you feel comfortable drawing and holding a paint brush, you can be very artistic and draw or paint illustrations on your pages. Maybe your artistic interests lie more toward rubber stamping or even collages using ephemera or magazine clippings.  This journal is simply a place where YOU can artistically record the events of your day on a calendar page painted, drawn, stamped or collaged by you!  It's your artistic expression so make it using a style or medium that works best for you.

SO...are we ready to get started making an Art Journal Calendar from scratch?

Lately, I have been into making my own journals by cutting watercolor paper to size and binding it by stacking and stitching the pages together.  I started making my own journals because I could control the size and number of pages.  If you are doing a themed journal or in this case, a calendar which will have exactly 12 months of pages, you may want to make your own from scratch.

I got my inspiration for making this journal from the Teesha Moore You-Tube video on how to make a 16 page journal and from the beautiful painted journals by Valerie Sjodin.  Valerie also has a You-Tube video showing a journal with fold out pages.

These are the supplies that I used:

  • 18" X 24" Strathmore watercolor paper, 140 lb.  If you use a different paper, make sure that it creases without tearing.
  • Craft knife or scissors for cutting the paper to size.  You can also tear the paper if you have a long metal ruler and like that look.
  • Bone folder or something to crease the paper.
  • Black Pitt, Copic multiliner, or other permanent black ink pen in extra fine and medium.
  • White pen, fine.  I love Uni-ball Signo but others will do.
  • Ranger Distress ink pad in "Soot" and Ranger sponge or felt dauber to apply ink.
  • Stencils and masks.
  • Dylusions and Ranger Color Wash sprays.
  • Awl punch or tiny spring hole punch.
  • Waxed thread and needle.
  • Ribbon to tie around the journal to hold it closed or velcro.

My journal is 10" X 13" and has seven pages including the cover.  The cover page is 10" X 13" with a 4" flap on one side that I cut into a decorative shape.  The inside pages are 9" X 13" with a 6 " fold out on one side.

Cut one cover page and using a bone folder crease the center fold and flap.  Cut six inside pages and use a bone folder to crease the center fold and a flap on one side.

Now, gather all your paints and stencils because it it time to decorate the cover.  I like to decorate the cover before the journal is assembled because it lays nice and flat for painting with spray inks.

I decided that I wanted to use the silhouette of a girl on the front and birds on the back but I first had to make a mask for the girl figure.  Rummaging through my collection of magazine cut outs, I found a girl that was just the right size and pose. To make the mask I used mylar sheeting and traced the outline of the girl and carefully cut it out so I would create both a mask and a stencil.  For this process, I used both.  If you don't have mylar, you could also use card stock and use graphite paper to transfer the shape.

Before I used my spray paints and stencils to make a pattern, I wanted to add ephemera and a wash of color to the background.   Leave the paper white if you want white paper showing through your pattern.  This wasn't my desire so I painted the whole background with a neutral color, yellow and a very light coat of gesso.  I later covered the paper with so much color that the ephemera didn't show through.  So much for that process.  lol!  This is not the first time this happened. Will I ever learn?

To paint the girl on the front cover, I first positioned the stencil of the girl on the cover sheet and using various stencils and colors of Dylusions and Color Wash sprays, I painted a design over the girl figure.  Next, I placed the mask over the girl figure and did the same for the background.  A word about working with spray mediums...they tend to be very wet and dense in areas...blot with a paper towel. This will rid the painting of the sprayed look.  Don't forget to use that beautiful paint left on the stencils by blotting it on the back cover or a separate piece of paper for use later.  I try not to waste any paint!

I did the same for the back cover using the bird masks.  To make a black shadow around the girl and birds, I used the Ranger black soot ink and a sponge dauber...protecting the girl and bird images by covering them with the masks.  I pounced the ink away from the figures and lightened it the further it got away.

Now it is time to embellish the stenciled painting.  I always say that paintings go through an "ugly stage" and need to be saved or spruced up with doodling or mark making.  So gather up your pens and maybe a little gesso and lets start making marks!

I like to use both black and white pens because it gives so much more dimension! Your marks don't have to be elaborate...just find the shapes in the stencils and embellish them with circles, dots, hatch marks, or write works following a line.

One technique that I learned from one of Joanne Sharpe's classes is that if you paint over the water reactive inks or paints, the gesso will bleed through and be tinted the color of the paint underneath.  This is the process that I used for the banner with the names of the months.  I first painted the banner with a very thin coat of gesso and then after it was thoroughly dry, I did the lettering.

I kept the flap for the cover simple and painted it with acrylic paint because I thought that it would take the wear better than water reactive paints.

NOW!  Let's assemble this baby!!!

First...decide how you want the fold-outs for the pages to work.  Do you want the fold-out on the right or left or a combination of the two.  If you want a combination, which months do you want a fold-out and which ones do you not want a fold-out?  For my journal, it was important for me to have a fold-out for February, March, May, July, October and December.  This doesn't mean that the other pages won't have a  flap to just means that they will not have a flap folding inward that you can use for the that month's theme.  Another words, you don't want the flap from the 4th of July folding on top of the month of August. Or maybe you do?  lol!!  Anyway. decide how you want the pages to stack and line them up!

Because my journal is so large, I punched 7 holes through the spine.  I first made a template so I would know where to punch the holes.  You can either use an awl and punch through all 7 pages at one time or you can do as I did and punch each hole separately.

Now that the holes are punch, you are ready to stitch this baby up!!  You can use waxed bookbinding thread or make you own like I did.  I found that DMC "5" 100% cotton, 25 ml embroidery thread works quite well and it comes in colors!  I first wax it with beeswax for added strength.  (I find this at JoAnn's.)

Measure a generous portion of thread that equals a minimum three times the length of the journal.  Thread a large eyed needle and start at the top outside hole and go to the inside, then down to the next hole and then to the outside.  (Make sure that you leave a long enough tail on the outside for knotting or even stringing beads later.)  Keep going in and out down to the bottom hole and then in and out back up to the top.  When you reach the top, do not go back into the inside...just tie it with the other outside thread.  I am planning to string some beads on the tail after the journal is finished and somehow incorporate the date so when it is sitting on a shelf, the date will be visible.  Anyone know of any beads with numbers?

Additionally, if you do not want a thread or knot on the outside of the journal, some individuals start on the inside middle hole, go out and in to the bottom, in and out back up to the top, in and out back down to the center and then tie a knot on the inside middle of the journal.  Cut the thread short.

Taa Daaa!!  (Drum roll please!)  We're done!

Coming up next...making the pages for the months!

Until next time!


  1. lol, I haven't even finished reading the whole tutorial, but had to comment because for November and December I used the Teesha Moore journal I made- i love making those. Dinner's done, so I'm going to have to finish reading later- but I wanted to comment before I forgot. (saw your page on the fb calendar journal page) xoxo

  2. me again! Dinner's over and I just got to read the rest of the tutorial- very well written and organized. Loved your tips- the dmc embroidery floss one was particularly invaluable. Also, Its good to know that the strathmore won't crack when bent. Also, I'm loving that decorative flap on the front.

    1. Thanks Laura for your feedback! I am always happy when I can share a useful tip or technique! Also, glad to hear from someone who makes their own journals

  3. Superb tutorial, thank you! I'll be back for another read later :)


  4. Absolutely gorgeous! I love everything about it.

    1. Thanks Marjie! I love working with the stencils and sprays because you never know how they are going to turn out.

  5. Ginny this is a wonderful post showing how you made your calendar journal! What excellent documentation! Your work is always a treat to behold.

  6. Thank you for sharing your techniques with us - I would never have thought to make a mask and a stencil at the same time. I love the colours you've used, and the plain cover flap contrasts beautifully with the rest of the cover.

    Thank you for the inspiration

  7. Ginny, Wow, this post is awesome! Beautiful layering and colors! I love it! Thank you for sharing. I just joined your blog and was sent over to it after reading the comment you left on my post on the 31 day sketch challenge.

    1. Hi Valerie! Thanks for joining my blog. That is a huge compliment to me! You are a super talented artist and have been such an inspiration to me. I linked your blog under my list of "Journal Inspiration."