Hi crafty friends,
So this week I thought I would share this upcycled diary project. Unfortunately I can’t seem to locate the “before” photo of the diary but I can give you a little history of it. Back in 2008 I went looking for an Academic Year diary and as it was September I was a little late and everything was sold out, but in one shop they said they had one in the store room, and then produced this huge desk diary which was not at all what I had in mind but I needed one and it was on sale so I bought it. But of course, you know I never used it because it was HUGE and it wasn’t practical to carry around. So it sat around the house for a few years and every time we had a clear out I almost got rid of it but then I felt like it was such a waste to just throw it out. It was useless as a diary since it was years out of date, but all that paper could definitely be put to good use…
EDITED TO ADD: Found the photo I took of the diary, this was in 2016! It pays to never throw anything away, including digital photos haha
Anyway, fast forward to this year, 11 years later lol, and I had this idea that I could use it as an art journal, and although the paper is quite thin, I could gesso it and it would work, so that’s what I did. I still had no idea what I wanted to do with the outside to make it look better, since it was just a large silver-coloured hardcover diary, that after all these years, was a little scuffed and battered, and of course said 2008 on the cover!
If in doubt – cover it in black gesso!
So I did, but I seem to have mislaid the photo! If I find it, I will upload it later. It sat in my art room for a couple of months while I tried to think about how I wanted it to look and then I had an idea. I had a lot of bits and pieces on my table as I was working on Halloween projects but some of it reminded me of a book series that I read and is now TV show – A Discovery of Witches – and so I decided to make myself a Book of Spells!
So as you can see, I used multiple chipboard elements for my cover! A full list with links is at the end of the post, but I used the decorative tags, the spiderweb shapes, the creepy critters set and the book of spells title. I played around with the placement of these till I was happy with it and then I glued them down – don’t forget to pop out all the little extra bits from the spiderwebs first! Now normally I would suggest gluing everything down before covering everything in black gesso, but I had already gessoed the diary and actually doing it first ensures that you have a totally black base in case you can’t quite get into those little spiderweb spaces. But it was very much a design on the fly kind of project and I was making changes along the way as you will see later, when I made another one!
As there were multiple levels of chipboard involved, I made sure to use plenty of adhesive and to hold everything in place with blocks and heavy weights until it was completely dry.
Then I painted over everything with more black gesso.
It was at this point that I decided that something was missing from my background, so I decided to add some stenciling with paper texture paste, around the edges of the front cover and a full panel on the back cover.
And of course, once it was dry, covered all of it with, you guessed it, more black gesso 🙂
And then it was time to get started on the fun stuff – the painting! I decided to use some Metallique paints and started with this great yellow-green colour.
Then I remembered I had more die cut letters leftover from other projects…
Since this was going to be my art journal, I added “Art Book” to the spine and then I used the rest of the assorted letters and added them randomly to the back and front covers (although if you have read the books/seen the show there is a secret message in there!) I was also toying with the idea of adding the creepy eyes to the OO in BOOK but decided against it in the end, but you can see them in the above photo.
Then I painted all the letters with black gesso and then painted them with the same Metallique paints to match the background. When all the paint was dry, I started working this Old Silver Metallique wax into the letters and the book spine using my fingers.
Must admit, it looks pretty cool sitting on my bookshelves!
Also using my fingers, I rubbed some Burnt Sienna fluid acrylics into the book cover, also applying it with a damp sponge in some areas.
Then I changed to Peacock and Firebird waxes and continued the process of applying them to the covers, especially highlighting the letters and numbers and the book title and decoration on the front cover. I prefer to use my fingers for this as it can be quite hard to clean off brushes and pretty easy to clean off your fingers! It also smells very nice – a bit like furniture polish!
Here’s a close up of how the letters looked after all the waxes were applied.
The finished book!
I do feel that I need to mention that creating this project was very much an organic process with a lot of decision-making done on the fly. If you want a less organic approach, plan everything you want to put on your book in advance, and glue it all down before applying gesso to it. That way the process will be much simpler, quicker and will require much fewer coatings of gesso!
Hope you enjoyed this project and that you will try out a version of it yourself.
Till next time,
You can visit the GSL Cuts blog post here and links to the UK shop are in the Project Recipe below. Links to both shops can be found on their blog.
GSL Cuts – Decorative Tags Large – D92B , Title Book of Spells,- D94P, Spiderweb Shape Set – D156B, Creepy Critters – C40F
Finnabair paper texture paste
Finnabair Metallique Paints
Finnabair Liquid Acrylics
From stash: leftover Tim Holtz/Sizzix alphabet diecuts from various sets, glue,