Notebooks…mmm…

What is it about a new notebook that is just so…I don’t know…enticing? All the unexplored potential it has, perhaps. Or just the invitation to scribble notes for nothing but your own sense of satisfaction. Anyway, for fellow notebook fans, I just wanted to add a couple of links that I found:

Are you a fan of the traditional Moleskine notebook? They’re nice, granted, but do they really justify being at least 3 times as expensive as your average notebook? Well, they do have that handy pocket, and perforated, tear-off pages… Even so, thanks to a couple of very helpful online crafty types, now you can save yourself some money and make your own! Surely not, you ask? But it’s true, I tell you! My favourite is from The Long Thread, and shows you how to make a replica Moleskine Cahier with just a sewing machine and a cereal box (see left).  If you prefer the thicker Moleskine Notebooks, try instead this tutorial from Michael Shannon.

But – and yes, it’s possible! – an even cooler notebook project can be found courtesy of Diane Gilleland over at The Crafty Pod.  This tutorial shows you how to cover a notebook with a wonderfully retro 70s fabric (it would probably work with other fabrics, too but would it still be as cool? 😉 ).  I totally love this tutorial!  It’s not just because I adore these retro patterned fabrics (honest!), but because it actually shows me to how to make something useable with the fabrics I love without having to touch a sewing machine.  Which in my eyes is nothing short of genius.  Sister Diane, I salute you!  😀

Super-cool playing card notebooks

playing card notebooksThey’re notebooks, they’re made out of playing cards, and they’re very cool indeed.  What more is there to say?  Well, plenty, actually.  Check out the full post (including a tutorial for making similar notebooks) over at Diane Gilleland’s Crafty Pod.  Can you resist?  I’m not sure  I can…

The bumblebee flies anyway

combboardweaveAt my local Pound Store, they sell 2 mouse mats for £1. While I try, in principle, to be against unnecessary consumerism, I am powerless to resist the lure of a potentially useful bargain.  By useful, of course, I don’t actually mean practical in ‘normal’ terms; more craft-able.   I bought them a while back, and one (with a comb glued along the top) was used as a very handy weaving loom.  The other is also very useful: I use it upside down (foam upwards) when I’m making zines & booklets to cushion the pin-stabbed bindings while I stab them.

I’ve been thinking for a while about carving a stamp, either out of a carving block, or an eraser, or…something.  I’ve never really been into rubber stamping as a craft, yet there’s something very appealing in the more primitive aspect of a hand-carved stamp.  I’ve seen some very cool & funky designs around on Etsy, and the simplest of designs seem often to be the most effective.  I thought it would be nice to personalise packages I send out with a stamp from a hand-carving, or maybe use a stamp on the cover of a zine, instead of printing.

Anyway, this morning, there is no coffee in the house, and I am having difficulty getting motivated to get on with stuff.  So for some reason, I decided now is the time to try carving a stamp.  No erasers or carving tools to hand, I just cut a chunk from mouse mat #2, and carved my design freehand with a craft knife.  I could have drawn bee-block1 my design first (just as you can’t see the carving too well to the right, you can’t see pencil marks on black foam rubber, but I could have outlined first with the knife); but I just got stuck straight in.  This is why my intended ball of wool is now a bumble bee… 😉 bee-printI also forgot, in my eagerness, that the design would be reversed in the printing, so it quite took me by surprise to see my bumble bee flying in the opposite direction when I lifted the block (no coffee yet, you see).

For my first attempt, I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and will definitely be doing further experiments!  My trial print (above left) went straight onto the corner of one of my stash of board envelopes (I love the idea of using a stamp as an actual postage stamp), so if you buy anything from the Etsy store in the next week or two, you might receive this very bumble bee, in the mail!

In short, I feel my £1 shop bargain has been well-justified!

Re-purposed ‘ideas’ notebook (& more)

One of the things I un-buried in my freak tidying spree was a couple of comment cards from a nice cafe in town, where Corey and I sat and recovered from the hugest cooked breakfast EVER, on a lazy Saturday a few weeks ago.   I picked up the comment cards with no idea of what I wanted to do with them (comment-making being the last thing on my mind); they were just so irrefutably useable.  Look at all those cute little boxes to tick, and questions to answer…  I knew they would be perfect for…well, something.

So I re-discovered the comment cards, and it all became clear.  These were, in fact, notebook covers –  how could I not have seen it earlier?  Look:

caffe-nero-from-this-to-this

Inside, I decided to put into effect a concept that’s been bubbling around in my head for ages.  Inside are, of course, recycled paper pages.  BUT these are not just any pages, oh no: these are the pages for an ‘ideas’ notebook.  You see, I have ideas, quite literally, ALL THE TIME.  And yes, almost any notebook will do; but my ideas tend to be a combination of picture/diagram alongside scribbled notes.  So I came up with a whole series of page layouts that allowed various combinations of picture + annotations.  If your brain doesn’t work in the same way as mine (God help you, if it does!), you could use the blank spaces for thread samples, or fabric swatches, or a photo of a project, or – you get the idea.

Anyway, alongside the funky re-purposed cover – that you can, of course, fill in at your discretion in a bored moment – are these cool little ideas pages:

caffe-nero-etsy-inner

The pages are fixed into the cover with a hand-stitched binding.  The only neutral-coloured thread I could find in my newly-tidy study (other than a string too thick for this notebook) was an undyed medium silk, so this is a very decadent as well as very simple binding.  I was saving the silk to dye, but what the hell!

Are you intrigued?  Buy one of these prototype ideas notebooks in my Etsy store!

This notebook includes 2 different styles of ideas pages, but Telaic Fantasy 2 is a dual-purpose notebook & zine, and comes with 6 different layouts of ideas pages for you to sample!  More finished notebooks will be added to the Etsy Store soon, in a range of sizes from mini (A7-ish), to medium (A6-ish), to large (A5-ish).  I’m planning a knitter’s notebook and a stitcher’s notebook with additional custom-printed pages (including craft-specific graph paper), and – while I’m letting cats out of bags – a notebook with a weave-able cover!  I’ll let you know when they’re ready, so check back… 🙂

Tidying (shudder) but finding various stuff & ideas

I am not a tidy person.  I like to have what I need spread out and accessible around me – and still there the next time I sit down to continue.  But I have been so busy lately, and putting together kits and zines in the tiniest corner of my really quite large study made me realise that the ‘essentials’  were spreading out of control.  So I got out some bin liners and set to work…

You see, the problem is that what to most people would be genuine rubbish (misprinted papers, discarded packaging) I can genuinely see uses for.  The cardboard packaging from a random stationery item can generally be turned into some form of loom.  The half-printed papers I can use when I’m experimenting with my own packaging formats, or notebook pages.  I was strict with myself, though, and made boxes for full and partial sheets of paper that I could realistically re-use, and sent the rest for recycling.  I threw away the chocolate wrappers (look, I need energy while I work, okay?).  I was ruthless with the random packaging leftovers.  Admittedly I kept most of the card, but the plastic-y bits, and shrink-wrap etc are gone.  Hurrah!

By anybody else’s standards this room would not look tidy (except perhaps by Corey’s standards – and he at least will never nag me about the state of my study, because his is infinitely worse).  It probably looks like everything has just been pushed out to the edges.  Okay, to an extent, this is what I did…  But I have also slightly organised all the stuff I was ‘saving’ so that it is  actually useable and accessible (findable!), I have thrown away the stuff that really was rubbish (oh my god, 2 bin liners-full!) and I HAVE FLOOR SPACE!   Oh, oh, I also have table space!  It’s really quite exciting (for me, anyway).  So nice to look across from my chair and see carpet, and think I won’t have to nudge everything out of the way to make space when I’m putting the next zine together (watch this space – if I don’t post about TF2 later today, it will definitely be in the next day or so!).

And I brought up a pot of hyacinths from downstairs, so every now and then I get a lovely waft of their rich scent.  Mmm…

I fully accept that I should not have allowed my ‘creative disorder’ (okay, mess) to get quite so out of hand; there’s just always so much more important stuff to do than tidying…  It has always been and will always be my nature, and I’ve accepted that.  It is also possible that it took me slightly longer than perhaps necessary to tidy up this time, as I kept re-discovering things I had accidentally buried.  Yes, it was necessary to spend 10 minutes staring at & contemplating a small packet of needles.  It was!  When I bought it, it was just an ordinary packet of needles, and I honestly thought nothing more about it – but look!  I made this:

needle-packet-notebook

Yes, I know the picture labelled ‘front’ is actually a different packet of needles to the finished notebook, but I’d finished making it before I realised I should probably have taken a ‘before’ picture.  You get the idea, anyway.  I just cut some pretty (recently unearthed) handmade paper embedded with petals to size, and attached to the centre panel of the opened-out needle packet (see below).  I used a dab of glue to fix the bottom piece of paper to the packet, and stitched the little stack of papers into place.  (I could just have easily have used a staple, but I’m kind of into stitched bindings, at the moment.)  Just a slightly different spin on the matchbook notepad concept, really – and slightly more appropriate to needleworkers.

needle-packet-notebook-inner

(I should really remember to add in a darker-coloured backing when I scan in white/pale blue things; sorry…)

Woven bookcovers

Why didn’t I think of this? The notebook covers are made from corrugated cardboard (leftover packaging) and the covers are woven with scraps of fabric. The tutorial shows you step-by-step how to do it all!
Click here for this very cool project.

woven-book

Mini Magazine Notebook (with pockets!)

I was thinking about how to present the next issue of ‘Telaic Fantasy‘ (just because I have a model that works doesn’t mean I can leave it at that – that’s just not the way I am!).  I wanted a cover with integral pockets, so I played about folding a piece of paper in various ways, and found something that worked.  It’s slightly smaller than I would have preferred, so whether it will actually be the model for the next TF remains to be seen (although I can always add extra pages, to compensate).

Front, back & inner of a readable notebook!
Front, back & inner of a readable notebook!

But I had some magazines lying around in my room, and I used them to experiment with the format rather than using up my printer paper.  I thought the combination of pretty pictures and random text worked really well – I love the idea of having a notebook with something to read on the cover, when you get bored!

Rather than have a roomful of empty prospective zine covers, I stapled some blank paper in the middle of the prototypes to make mini notebooks.  Okay, so I thus used up some of my printer paper, anyway, but now it’s in handy notebook form, so justifiable!  Notebooks are like bags (no, really!) – you can just never have too many.

Click here for the how-to & template to make your own notebook out of the page of a magazine (or whatever).

Front cover, inner & back cover of 2 notebook prototypes
Front cover, inner & back cover of 2 more notebook prototypes

Jelly Packet Matchbook Notebook

I don’t know why. I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, when my mind flickered to the uneaten packet of jelly sitting in the kitchen cupboard.  I wasn’t hungry, but it wasn’t leaving my mind – suddenly, I could visualise the potential of this innocent little packet of jelly.

So I got up, found the jelly, removed the actual jelly,  and took the box upstairs.  A bit of glue, 2 small snips, 1 piece of paper and 2 staples later, and I had a funky re-purposed matchbook-style notebook.  I scanned the process (only 4 steps) as I went along, and have written up instructions to make your own as a PDF freebie.

The only thing I would change if making another (& why wouldn’t I?  My husband loves jelly, so I know he won’t complain!) is to position the paper slightly higher before stapling.  I think this is such a cool notebook!

Jelly Packet Matchbook Notebook
Jelly Packet Matchbook Notebook

N.B.  I also noticed that this kind of jelly packet is exactly the right size to store ATC cards.  You can’t tell me there’s not potential there…!

Envelopes!

There must be so many uses for these cool small envelope designs (not least as seed envelopes, as intended!).  Check out this link for some lovely floral & foliage decorated envelope templates & utilise them in your preferred crafty manner.  Some additional templates are simply folded into shape, and require no cutting or gluing at all!

This site has some different envelope templates.  You can buy special envelope-sealer glue (apply to an edge so it dries, then moisten to seal envelope at a later stage) here.  You can probably get it other places, too, but this is the first place I’ve seen it…