Friday, June 14, 2013

Making a File Folder Art Journal

As requested, here's how I made my File Folder Art Journal.  I used some signatures already in art-progress that have been hanging around just waiting to become part of something special.


file folders
other papers optional
sewing machine optional
thick metal needle
waxed linen thread
masking tape
duct tape optional

Gather three file folders - this will be a signature.

For these particular art journals, I like to use at least 6 signatures so that the spine is squared like a book (less will give you a more rounded look - like a magazine).  You can also add in other papers - for example: I put two pieces of white construction paper in between the three file folders in some of the journals I’ve made.

optional: sew down the center of each signature on a sewing machine using a straight stitch
Although the sewing machine stitches add more over-all strength to the journal, AND more importantly for me, the stitching is like a seal that keeps the pages separate and stops paint from bleeding through, the down-side is, it also can weaken some paper by making it tear more easily. 

Strengthen any tears with masking tape.

Measuring out the waxed linen thread:  You’ll need one continuous thread the height of the signature times by the amount of signatures plus one.  Holding the circle of thread at the bottom of the signature, grab the end of the thread and pull it up to the top of the signature.  Now grab the thread again at the bottom of the signature and pull out a new section of thread.  Repeat for as many signatures as you have plus one.

Pile your signatures in the order you want your journal.  In pencil, lightly write Top on the tops of each signature. 

Open the LAST signature to the center.  With a pencil, mark the center with a dot.  Mark an inch from each end.  Then mark the center between the center dot and each end.  You’ll end up with 5 dots.  Use this signature for your template instead of marking all your signatures.

Making holes: thread your needle with the wax thread.  This will help you to make the holes.  Instead of trying to push the needle through with your fingers, pull down on both sides of the thread.

Starting with your last/template signature, poke holes from the inside to the outside everywhere there is a pencil mark.  When that signature is done, place the next signature behind your template signature (make sure both tops are facing up).  Put the needle through the pre-made holes and pierce the signature behind in all 5 places.  Do this with all signatures.

When all the holes are made, you’re ready to start sewing it together.

**A word of warning: Be careful how tightly you pull your stitches.  You want them tight enough that the signatures will hold together, but not so tightly that the journal will warp.

**Anytime you have trouble finding a pre-made hole, look inside the signature.  The holes are easier to spot from the inside than the outside.  Re-pierce the hole to make it easier to see.

Again, starting with the LAST signature in your journal, you’ll send the needle and thread through the bottom hole - from the outside in.  Do not pull it all the way through, leave a 2 inch tail.  It is helpful to hold this tail down with some tape so it doesn’t get lost while you’re working.  I used some left over pieces that I left sitting on the rug. 

Now take the needle and thread all the way up to the top hole and go through it from the inside out.  You’ll have a thread going almost the entire length of the signature.

You’ll now add on your next signature (remember to work from the back of the journal to the front).  Put the needle through the top hole from the outside in. 

Now go from the inside top hole to the next hole down, from the inside out.

Now you should be looking at the future spine of your art journal.  Take the needle and go into the 2nd hole (which should be right next to the hole you just came out of) on the LAST signature.

When you pull it through, you’ll see it is on one side of that first long stitch you made.

Go around that long stitch and put the needle back into the same hole it just came out of, from the inside back out.

Working from the spine again, you’ll put the needle back into the 2nd hole of the newly added signature.

inside view (upside down)

This is how these two signatures will be bound to each other.  These steps are only done for joining the last two signatures (we’ll get to how to add on the rest of the signatures later).  Going out the hole of one into the other - wrapping it around the stitch (which will prevent it from being pulled back through) - going back out the hole and then back into the original hole you first came out of.

You should be now working from the inside of the newly added signature. 

Next step, follow the same directions for holes 3 and 4. 

When you reach the bottom hole, instead of going back into the newly added signature, you’ll remove the tape and tie a knot using the tail (do a double knot so it stays).

Here’s where the technique will change.

Working from the spine, add on the next signature.  Put the needle and thread through the bottom hole, from outside in. 

Go up to the next hole (4) and go out.

Instead of going into the hole of the previous signature, you’re going to stitch around the previous signature’s stitch.  Easy Peesy way - simply put the dull end of your needle in between the last two signatures (or the first two you bound together) on one side of the stitch you previously made. 

Now flip through the pages until you find it and pull it through.

Now put the dull end of the needle in between the signatures on the other side of the stitch.  Essentially stitching around the stitch.

Find it on the spine and pull through.

Final step is to go back into the hole you came out of on the newly added signature. 

You should be working from the inside of the newly added signature.

Follow the same steps for holes  3 and 2 (you’re working from the bottom of the signature toward the top this time).  Out, around, back in.

For the top hole, go out, wrap around the stitch, but instead of coming back into the same signature, this is where you’ll add a new one by going into the top hole from the outside in of the new signature.

Then you’ll go down to hole 2 and follow the same steps: Out, around, back in.  Hole 3 and 4, same.

The only change will be when you get to the bottom, instead of going around the stitch, tie into the tail again

and then add on your new signature by going into that bottom hole.  Then it’s just the same:  out, around, back in, adding on new signatures as you go.

If you use an odd number of signatures, you’ll end by tying to the tail.  But, if you use an even number, as I have, you’ll end at the top with no tail to tie to.  Instead of going around the stitch and back into a hole, simply go around the stitch, leaving a loop,

put the needle in it, and tie it off that way.  I did it twice to make sure it was secure.  Cut off any extra and save it for another project.

Going through the journal, you may see space in between signatures.  This is easily covered up with tape.  I use masking tape.

You can leave the stitches on the spine exposed

or use some of that cool duct tape they have out.

Tips for putting on duct tape: Starting at the top of the front cover, stick tape down and hold it in place.  Pull out as much tape to cover the length of the spine, cut.  Then stick tape to front cover the whole length, then wrap it around the spine to the back.

Please email me with any questions. (see sidebar)

Have fun! 


ps: Noticed some of the insides of my journal look different than yours? Tabs on the inside?? Come back next Friday and see how I made a quadruple opening page using file folders with a bonus pocket! Quadruple opening that really the best way to explain it?  Whatever, you’ll see what I mean. :)

ps:  The yellow, mesh 'stuff' is from the home improvement store.  I can't remember exactly what it is, but I think it might have something to do with walls.  It doesn't stick very good - I would not use it as tape to hold something together, but it's fun to play with.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I am not one of those ‘Popular Girls’.
I bless them.
But I am not one of them.
I am an ‘Un-popular Girl’.
Always have been.
Always will be.
And I’m totally fine with that.

Part of being an ‘Un-popular Girl’ is that you get to mind your own business
and you can be yourself!
Oh God, please don’t ever look at me like one of them.
More likely,
I am one of You.
I’ve just put more time and effort into my art,
because I had time.
Time is a gift of my life.
I am not a Master or an Expert of anything except being Who I Am Right Now and making what I can make and living my life the way I want to live it.

“A face again”
When your inner critic goes silent,
it’s only because it’s busy looking for someone outside of your-self it can speak through.
And in this world, it WILL find one.
Sometimes, several.

My inner critic used to bother me about drawing the same stuff ALL the time.
But ever since I decided what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it,
And then, furthermore,
declared that my dreams were worthy and I was worthy of them,
there awoke in me this sassy, back-talk that I now keep in a holster on my hip
(for a fast ‘draw’ - of course),
my head space has been much quieter.
And my accomplishments, greater.

In response to that inner critic who isn’t yet willing to surrender,
here’s a round of reminders.

I like drawing faces.
I just like to do it.
They make me happy.
Nothing else I’ve ever drawn has pleased me as much.
So, I stick with what I enjoy
because my quota for doing things I do not enjoy is all filled up,
Btw, in case you haven’t noticed, inner critic,  I also like drawing: houses, suns/moons, amongst other various things.
But, back to the ‘draw’ (so to speak) of the faces,
Perhaps it comes from the deep loneliness I have always felt in life.
Perhaps it is my way of creating a world in which I fit and am accepted and appreciated.
Some people dive into other worlds through reading stories other people write.
It just so happens the stories I dive into are in my own head.
And mostly they come out my hands by way of drawing and painting with some words thrown in
‘cause I almost always have something to say.

I have always wanted to draw.
For me, the ultimate was drawing a well shaded face.
Now I’ve arrived at a place in my journey where I can finally do that in a way that pleases and excites me.
I am 40 years old.
If I cannot do what I want now,
When I’m dead
or practically dead?
That is unacceptable.
I am exploring this drawing that I have dreamed of doing deeply and long-ly
......maybe for the rest of this life.
And I’m okay with that because I do my art for me.
And although I share it with the world,
I do not do it for the world.

I must add,
Laurel Burch draws cats.
And more cats.
And many people know her name
and appreciate her expressions of what makes her happy.
‘Nuff said.

What you are seeing me do in these videos is two things all artists should be doing:

Practicing and Exploring.
Nothing more.
I just started art journalling a year or so ago!!
I am such a newbie!!!!
but not an expert.
I have been drawing and painting for a few years,
but decided to begin art journalling simply because I wanted to get better at drawing
and that means practicing drawing
and truly practicing means drawing on an almost daily basis.

I believe in breaks though.
Everyone needs breaks to experience other ways to express themself.
Being a mixed media artist almost demands it!
Naps are also important to the creative process.
Honest. :)
I get my best ideas sometimes while involved in sleep.
That brain is always working.
Even if you’re not actively using it. ;)

Anyways, in the process of practicing drawing,
I fell head over heels in love with Art Journalling!
Creating it from gathered bits and pieces.
The softened, bent edges of the paper after working in it for many days.
Drifting off to sleep while my art journal waited for me on the bedside table.
Waking up and stuffing it into my bag so we could have adventures together.
Seeing 3 or 4 of them stacked on my book shelf, just waiting for me to thumb through their pages, remembering when I drew this or when I painted that.
These books hold dear pieces of me and my life.
OH, what’s not to love??

I also happen to enjoy making videos, so I make videos of me working. 
I am fulfilling one desire by using my ‘sharpening’ of another:
I am creating and producing videos of me art journalling.

I share the process I am going through for one reason:
Because I know how it feels to be searching around on the internet looking for something,
that could JOLT ME Into Art Action.
I wanted to make stuff so bad!
I wanted to be creative so bad!
I wanted to make stuff I Looooved!
And now that I am IN the Art Action,
I am sharing that energy with those of you who want to receive it,
in hopes that you can use it.
Not as the fast burn of sugary crap that has no real girth behind it,
but as a hearty meal that can sustain you until you receive another JOLT to your Inner Artist.
That future JOLT may not come from me.
But it could,
I know I have lots more JOLTS to share.
I feel like I am only in the beginning of What I Can Do.
(Here’s a secret: You are too.)

But in the end, the truth is this:
None of that really matters because I just like drawing faces - Confound it.
And that’s enough.
I am allowed to draw as many faces as I want to.
So Nayh! (as I stick my tongue out)
how’s that for sass?

So, in conclusion,
I am sorry, inner critic, if it bothers you that I am always drawing faces.
Whether it disappoints you
or makes you feel bored
or whatever negative thing it does to you,
my suggestion is,
why don’t you draw and share on video what you want to see instead of throwing a small stone at me???
You wouldn’t dare.
Know why?
Critics are the worse sharers.
They’re always afraid someone is going to say something bad.
Go figure, eh?
So remind me why we ever bother listening to them in the first place?
Oh, 'cause we're silly like that!


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