Tag Archives: using paper scraps

Made From Scraps: Mini Accordion Books

Many years ago, as one of my Mail Art projects, I used to fold two-inch wide pieces of paper into little accordion books and decorate them with rubber stamps and pieces of paper that I cut out from incoming Mail Art and decorated envelopes. I carved a rubber stamp with a little graphic of a Mail Box and the words “Bits of Mail” to stamp on the little book covers. Before sending them out, I dated and numbered them on the back. I saved one example for my archives and made a few color copies to use later as collage inspirations. While I was getting the color copies made, it came up in conversation with the copy center worker that one of the black and white machines had red toner in it. I made a lot of copies with the red toner because I knew I’d find uses for the copies later!

One of my original mini accordion books from 1998 with some color and red ink copies I made at the time for future collage work.
One of my original mini accordion books from 1998 with some color and red ink copies I made at the time for future collage work.

Some of my old collage papers along with my Mail Archives had been in storage unseen for 20 years or more. I’ve been getting some of them out lately as I move stuff. With fresh eyes, I’m getting some new ideas and inspiration for improving old ideas. I decided to take these old copies and make new versions of the mini accordion books.

First I cut up the copies that weren’t already in strips into two inch wide pieces, the same size as the originals. Then I folded them and glued one red ink copy to one color copy back to back to make longer books.

Old copies with color ink and red ink cut into two-inch strips, folded and glued to make mini accordion books.
Old copies with color ink and red ink cut into two-inch strips, folded and glued to make mini accordion books.

I had a large paper crafting stash by 1998 already because I started making collages in 1985 in my first college design class and I’ve been collecting interesting papers for collages ever since. In the intervening years, there are a lot more paper crafting supplies available and some of them are a lot more to my taste than what was available in the late 1990s. Back in the day I would have said I was a “weird” stamper not a “cute” stamper. I also enjoy sophisticated antique imagery and have a lot of papers from two of my favorite brands, Tim Holtz and 7 Gypsies, in my stash. I decided that the Tim Holtz idea-ology Correspondence paper pad was a good fit for this project and I glued some of the postal themed textures onto a selection of the blank pages of my books. The dominant colors in this series are red white and blue which looks good with the red toner ink on some of my papers and the postal motifs fit the “Bits of Mail” theme.

Next I went through I box of paper scraps that I keep for teaching a card class that I run from time to time on how to make greeting cards from little scraps, rubber stamps and stencils. I took out a selection of papers that I thought would make good backgrounds and glued them in a random fashion to every other page, leaving some blank.

Mini accordion books ready for adding content.
Mini accordion books ready for adding content.

There is an old trick that I learned in drawing class long ago to help get unstuck if you are facing a blank piece of paper with no ideas – draw a quick frame around your drawing area before you start. This helps because it’s less daunting to start drawing on a paper that you’ve made some marks on than a blank surface. I get the same creative boost from using scrap papers for perhaps a similar reason – there is already some content there, however sparse and random, and that is often all I need to get me going in a creative direction.

The little accordion books I’ve made are pictured above ready to add content. What kind of content would that be? There are lots of things I could do with these little books. I could write, draw, stamp or paste in words and/or images to make a finished artistic statement. I could use them as a storage and display folio for tiny works of art such as postage stamps, faux postage stamps or tiny photos and images. I could send them off into the Mail Art network as an “add and pass on” project. What would you make?

tiny books made by various artistsFor additional inspiration, here are some samples of tiny books made by other people that I’ve received through the mail over the years. People of any age and ability level can make tiny books. Why not try one?

Make An Adult Coloring Book From Scrap Paper and Stencils

Do you like adult coloring but don’t feel completely satisfied coloring someone else’s designs? Here is how you can use scrap papers and cardstock along with stencils to make custom homemade coloring books that reflect your own creative point of view.

adult_coloring_book

What you will need:

Pencil
Scissors
Glue stick
Paper cutter
White or off-white card stock
Hole puncher
Black ball-point pen
Black Twin Tip Sharpie Permanent Marker – Fine/Ultra Fine
Tape
Bone folder or burnishing tool
Clean scrap paper
Metal ruler
Metal binding rings
Assorted found papers that relate to coloring (pictures from magazines, old books, catalogs, etc.)
Assorted black and white images on paper (scrapbooking papers, found images)
Assorted stencils (hand-cut from your own designs, commercial crafting stencils, or a combination)

Instructions:

1. Cut out two pieces of cardstock 8 1/2 x 6 inches for covers. Select some found images that have to do with coloring and make collages on the front and back covers by gluing these images down with a glue stick. Put a clean piece of scrap paper over your collage and rub well with a bone folder or burnisher to make sure the papers are glued down flat.

2. Cut a bunch of 8 x 5 1/2 inch pieces out of white or off-white card stock or paper. I’ll walk you through using a combination of found papers and stencils to create black and white designs to color in later on these pages. It’s intimidating to have a bunch of blank pieces of paper staring you in the face, so to begin tear some papers with black and white designs or printing on them into strips using a metal ruler a guide. Glue some of these pieces on several of your blank pages in random places and directions.

3. Further build up your designs by using a variety of stencils to draw shapes randomly on your pages. Add black and white collaged images or textures to further enhance the pages.

Coloring pages are very appealing when you use different line weights to outline areas to color. I suggest you proceed by marking some areas with a heavier line first then progressively moving down in line weight as you add more detail.

A. Outline some areas from bold stencil designs using the “Fine” tip on the Sharpie marker.

B. Go back through your pages again and add more stencil designs outlined with the “Ultra Fine” tip on the Sharpie marker.

C. Go through the pages a third time and use yet more detailed stencils to draw on the pages with the black ball-point pen.

As you build your compositions, I suggest laying pairs of pages down on your work surface that will be opposite each other in your finished book. See if you get any ideas from how they look together. Here are some examples of pairs I made to complement each other.

pairing_1

pairing_2

pairing_3

4. If any of your pages are made of thin enough paper to let some of the marker lines bleed through, don’t get discouraged. Redraw the design in reverse on the other side of the paper to disguise the bleed-through and create some accidental compositions that could be very appealing and lots of fun to color.

four_finished

5. Punch a top and bottom hole in the cover pieces and each page and connect with binding rings to make into a book. In order to get the holes to line up correctly, you can trace the holes in the first page you punch onto subsequent pages, or make yourself a template out of scrap chipboard.

6. Have fun coloring your pages. I like to use a combination of colored ball point pens, gel pens, markers and colored pencils. If you experiment with a lot of different media and practice you will develop your own style of mark making. If you would like some inspiration for coloring styles and techniques, I have examples on an Art Journaling Pinterest board that should help you out. The most important things to remember while coloring are to have fun and don’t let expectations of how your work is supposed to look be a damper on your creativity and expression.

My husband Tom and I each colored a page.
My husband Tom and I each colored one of these pages.

Making Greeting Cards From Scrap Papers

Do you have the patience for playing around with lots of fiddly paper bits? If so you might enjoy collecting paper scraps and making them into interesting greeting cards. I’ll show you how gluing small bits of paper to strips of scrap cardstock can give you exciting design options.

Tools and Supplies:
Self-healing cutting mat
Paper cutter
Rubber stamps with greetings and sentiments
Permanent black rubber stamping ink
Clean scrap paper
Bone folder
Glue sticks
Scissors
Metal ruler
Corner rounder
Old food lid to use as a palette
Rubber stamping ink in complementary colors
Rubber eraser with flat sides
Palette knife and/or old credit cards for spreading glue
Yes Paste

An assortment of recycled papers:here are some suggested sources
Gift wrap and tissue
Gift tags
Books
Calendars
Folders
Used postage stamps
Magazines and catalogs
Old greeting cards
Wallpaper samples
Paint sample cards
Attractive product packaging
Scrapbooking paper scraps
Scraps from your old projects
Paper company sample books and promos
Ephemera from travel – maps, brochures, tickets, etc.

I’ll show you two different card designs that you can make by collaging scraps of paper onto cardstock strips.

Make an assortment of collaged strips

1. Cut some strips from plain scrap cardstock that are 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide. Old folders are a good source of scrap cardstock weight paper.

Strips of scrap cardstock and paper scraps ready for gluing
Strips of scrap cardstock and paper scraps ready for gluing

2. Lay out a bunch of small paper scraps and glue them down in a row down each strip. You might choose papers at random or try to follow a planned color scheme. When glue is dry enough to handle, use a scissors to trim the strips from the back to make the edges even.

Gluing paper scraps onto the cardstock strips
Gluing paper scraps onto the cardstock strips

3. Choose a color of rubber stamping ink that will help unify your design and squirt a little of it onto an old food lid. Dip the edge of a flat-sided eraser in the ink and apply a line of ink to the edges of your collaged strips. This is a small step that makes a huge difference in the visual appeal of your finished piece.

The strip at the lower left is in the process of having scraps glued to it. The middle strip has been trimmed and the upper right strip has been stamped along the edge with rubber stamping ink.
The strip at the lower left is in the process of having scraps glued to it. The middle strip has been trimmed and the upper right strip has been stamped along the edge with rubber stamping ink.

Instructions to make card design #1:

1. Print a selection of sentiments with permanent rubber stamping ink on strips of light colored paper to use on the card that you make. Select one to use as the main theme of your card.

Rubber stamped sentiments on strips of scrap paper.
Rubber stamped sentiments on strips of scrap paper.

2. Choose a piece of scrap cardstock or heavy paper to use for the base of your card. Fold it in half. Measure the front of your card.

3. Next select a piece of thin scrap paper that would make a good background for the front of the card. Tear out a piece that is 1/2 inch smaller than the front of your card, using the metal ruler as a tearing aid.

For example, if you fold an 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch piece of paper in half, the front of the card will measure 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches and the background paper for the front of the card should be 3 3/4 x 5 inches.

4. Next choose a simple shape to put on the front of the card – you could trace around a found object, use a cookie cutter or a stencil as a source. Trace one copy of this shape onto plain scrap cardstock. Make another tracing on the back of a piece of paper that harmonizes with the chosen colors for your card.

5. Cut out both shapes with scissors. Set aside the one in the harmonious color to glue to your card later.

6. Take the shape on plain cardstock and glue your sentiment across the middle or wherever looks best. Just below the sentiment, glue a section of one of your collaged and inked strips from earlier.

7. Moving from the inside to the edges, glue strips of scrap paper in complementary colors on either side of your sentiment and collaged strip for a striped effect. Cut around the base shape to trim when all covered.

8. Using the glue stick glue the colored shape you cut out earlier to the front of the card.

9. You will probably need some more robust glue to hold the collaged and inked shape since all the layers of paper will have made it pretty thick. Use Yes Paste to attach the striped shape to the front of the card. Trim if needed.

10. If needed, glue plain light colored scrap paper to the inside of the card to make a clean area for writing a message.

Instructions to make card design #2:

This second card design is designed to made from a piece of 4 1/4 inch by 8 1/2 inch cardstock.

1. Fold the cardstock in half and the front of the card will end up as a 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 square.

2. Cut a 3 3/4 by 3 3/4 inch square from plain scrap cardstock.

3. Glue a sentiment, a collged and inked strip and scrap paper strips to the cardstock square.

4. Trim around the square and round the corners with a corner rounding tool.

5. Glue the trimmed square to the front of the card with Yes Paste.

Extra Tips and Techniques for working with paper:
Cover up unwanted parts of found papers by laminating with other paper.
You can get wrinkles out of paper by ironing.
How does one glue down delicate tissue paper? Stabilize by gluing to a stiffer piece of paper with a glue stick and smooth out wrinkles with a bone folder.
When working on other projects, if you have leftover paint or ink use it up on plain paper scraps. Save these scraps and add to them whenever you have leftover art media. In time, you will have a lot of interesting scraps to work with.
If your paper project warps or curls, press it between heavy books with clean scrap paper around it to protect both card and books.

Embellishments that can be recycled and used on cards:
Buttons
Thread, string and yarn
Ribbon and trim
Fabric scraps
Wire
Beads and charms
Game pieces