Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places . . . like credit card junk mail. For a while, I was getting a steady stream of American Express card offers in the mail and frankly I was pretty annoyed with the daily barrage of thick, paper wasting envelopes. One day, I opened up one of those envelopes on a whim and spotted a brilliant piece of printed paper. Part of the campaign was how American Express was my passport to whatever and they included a paper passport full of stamps. I was instantly inspired to use it in my art journal!
- Brown card stock
- various printed papers (maybe from junk mail!)
- tag or tag template
- word stamp
- black ink pad
- brown ink pad
- silver thread
- glass beads
- paper piercer
- sewing needle
- hole puncher
- decorative fibers
- metal tag
- double-stick tape
- small glue dots
- standard tape
- scissors or paper slicer
Layer 1: Foundation
- Measure and cut a brown card stock square slightly smaller than the paper bag journal page.
Layer 2: Word Background
- Using printed paper, measure and cut a square slightly smaller than Layer 1.
- Ink up a word stamp of your choice and fill the square from top to bottom. Tip: Test your stamp on a test paper of the same pattern to see how the ink and stamp look before putting it on your final piece. Also, remember sometimes less is more when it comes to word stamps!
- Attach Layer 2 to Layer 1 using double-stick tape.
Layer 3: Passport Frame
- This where my junk mail makes its artistic debut! Any printed paper, however, will work. Measure and cut a rectangle slightly smaller than the height of Layer 2. Leave about a 1½” clearance along the left-hand side.
- Crumple the paper over and over again, until it starts to feel “soft.” Then, lightly drag a brown ink pad over the whole thing. This gives the paper a worn, antiqued look that really adds some character to the page as a whole. Tip: Memories makes a translucent series of ink pads that work really well for this technique. My favorite for antiquing is a color called, “Sand.”
- Attach Layer 3 to Layer 2 along the right hand side, using double-stick tape.
Layer 4: Quote Tag
- This layer can be achieved by using a pre-cut tag or simply creating one yourself. To make a tag, its as easy as cutting out a rectangle that is smaller than Layer 3 and nipping the top two corners at an angle. Punch a hole in the top and you’ve got a tag!
- Cut a square from printed paper that fits the middle of the tag from edge to edge, but leaves considerable space on the top and bottom.
- Cut a smaller square that fits from edge to edge on the tag and previous square, but leaves clearance on the top and bottom to allow for a framing effect. On this square, pencil in the quote and then go over it with marker. Attach this square to the larger square with double-stick tape.
- Attach quote block to the tag using double stick tape.
- Grab some silver thread and wrap it around the top and bottom of the smaller quote square multiple times. Secure the ends with standard tap on the back of the tag.
- Add metal “wisdom” tag, using glue dots.
- Insert eyelet through the tag’s hole and hammer into place.
- Thread several strands of decorative fiber through the eyelet and secure into place with a simple slip knot.
- Attach tag to Layer 3 using plenty of double-stick tape. Don’t be shy about loading it on pretty thick!
Layer 5: Ribbon and Beads
- Any ribbon will work for this part, but I used a thin silk ribbon because it bends and lays flat with more easily than standard ribbon. Trying to plan this layer is like trying to pour water in a straight line, so you’re better off just going with the flow. Let the ribbon decide where it wants to go and where it wants to bend.
- At each bend or curl the ribbon takes, tack it into place by stitching a glass bead into place. To make this easier, keep a needle pre-threaded (with left-over silver thread, maybe?) nearby and use a paper-piercer to make a hole through all layers so your stitch has an instant place to go. Come up through the hole with your needle, catch the bead, and then go back down through the same hole. Tip: Instead of making a knot at the end of your thread, hold onto the ends and tape them down with standard tape. Knots can tear through paper!
- Continue your ribbon path until you’re happy with how it frames your page. Secure the ends of the ribbon on the back of Layer 1 with standard tape.
- Attach the completed page to the paper bag journal with plenty of double stick tape.
Junk mail has never been more beautiful! Stay inspired!
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