Hi crafty friends,

Christmas making continues and I am now onto my second notebook – considering I had something different planned (Christmas cards) I somehow managed to produce these notebooks instead!

So here we go!  I decided to make some custom notebooks for a few Christmas gifts in an annual exchange that I’m part of and I thought the notebooks would be easy to post, but a plain black notebook isn’t so exciting just on its own, unless it’s customised of course!

I have quite a few of these ruled notebooks as I also use them for bullet journalling, so I grabbed a couple of them off the shelf and started by painting the covers with black gesso, to give myself a good, primed base.

While that was drying, I sorted through my chipboards and selected a few that I might potentially use, keeping in mind the person for whom they were intended.  My friend likes writing so I decided to make a Writer’s notebook for her using these great quill pen chippies and then planned out what I wanted else I wanted to put on the cover.


All that was missing was some words to add to the cover, so I pulled out my Tim Holtz dies and die cut TELL YOUR OWN STORY using some old cereal box cardboard.  I cut each letter twice and stacked and glued them on top of each other to give them some strength and dimension.  Once everything was glued down, I painted over everything with black gesso – I’m often tempted to leave things just as they are when they are gessoed in black as I love how they look.  You can see in the photo below that there are two notebooks, as I made a few of these at the same time.  However, the notebook on the left is covered in a separate post.

I decided to make the back more interesting by adding some stencilling.  This is one of my current favourites, a big A5 sized stencil of leaf veining that I used with paper texture paste.

Once that was all dry, it was time for my favourite part of the process – the painting!  I chose different colours for each of the notebooks that I was working on, and I tried to tailor each one to colours that the recipient liked.  I used a combination of liquid acrylic paints and metallic acrylic paints.  Then after all the paint was dried I went over everything with Metallique waxes to add highlights and additional colours to each cover.

Here is the cover after being painted with the black and then the gold metallics, and then I sponged on some burnt sienna fluid acrylic paint.



After that, I worked in some waxes using my fingers and rubbing them into the pieces to highlight them, paying special attention to the feathers and around the letters.

Here’s a close up of some of the text.  I really love how the font on STORY looks on this cover, it looks so much like old metal rather than old cereal box lol.

Here’s a photo of the back and front covers together, you can see the stencilling on the back cover adds a bit of texture and interest.

Again I worked very organically on this project, adding elements on the fly and then painting them, thinking up words to put on the covers, then die cutting them etc.  If you want a less organic approach, sketch out a plan for your notebook covers, assemble all your elements in advance, and then glue them down and gesso them all at the same time.  But as I started off with the intention of making Christmas cards, I did not have a plan in place for notebooks but was still able to make it work!

I hope you enjoyed this project and that it has given you some gift ideas for reasonably quick and customisable gifts that can be used all year round, but are perfect now for Christmas gifts that can be tailored to the recipient.

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 – Pen and Ink SetD72D,
A5 clothbound notebooks
Black gesso
A5 leaf vein stencil
Tim Holtz Alphanumeric dies, Handmade dies
Finnabair Metallique Paints
Finnabair Liquid Acrylics
Finnabair Wax
From Stash: cereal box cardboard


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