Daily Art Challenge: July 6

Our challenge for today is to use paint sample cards.  These are free from any store that sells house paint.  A few ideas for their use:

  1.  Punch out a shape and use as a tag on a gift.
  2. Use as the covers for mini art journals or pads of paper.
  3. Cut longer ones into Christmas trees, candy canes, stockings, and string together to make a garland for your tree or
  4. use those same shapes +individually as ornaments
  5. Make into jewelry pendants or earrings
  6. make into bookmarks
  7. use to separate recipe cards or as tabs in an address book
  8. use as place cards or name tags at a party
  9. add to foam core in an image for an interesting art piece.  Put in frame.
  10. Stitch to card stock to make an cool card or pocket for an art journal page
  11. use to label your totes or canvas bins

There are lots of ways you can use paint samples in your art practice.



As we all know, I’m all about recycling.  I save most everything and re-make it into something else.  While this has great ecological benefits, as well as financial, it can become an overwhelming thing.

For example, if I save every cereal box chipboard our large family produces, I’ll have a room full in very short order.  Seriously.  We probably go through 5 large boxes per week.  Same with milk jugs.  We use at least two gallons per day-that’s an awful lot of milk jugs in one week.  What about cardboard and plastic?  See where I’m going here?  You can quickly recycle yourself into overwhelm.

It’s alright to actually let your stuff go off to the recycling center.  You don’t have to save everything for your artwork.  Yes, there are times I become to enthusiastic in my “save it to make into something else” passion. Because I see possibility in everything-there is always more that can be made.

I simply cannot keep up with the amount of recyclable items this large family generates.  I must actually let some of it leave-off to the recycling center-as difficult as that is for me to do.  So I offer this post as a cautionary tale:  don’t keep everything.

For example, I am no longer saving every scrap of junk mail.  If it is not of high quality-it’s out of here.  By that I mean interesting brochures on thick chipboard or heavy, high quality paper. I only have a small stack of newspaper.  I have one tote of gessoed cereal box chipboard for journals.

Also, I no longer keep an entire magazine.  I go through, save images and words I want into labeled file folders, and get rid of the rest. Now, on the other hand-I have found removing book pages prior to needing them to be counter productive.  They reside very nicely in the original book, where as removing them requires more bulky storage.  And I ended up dumping those book pages I made using this technique.  That’s because I bought the book for 10 cents for art journaling, didn’t read it (obviously) and there were swear words all over the pages.  I mean, like every single page.  I cannot trust I will cover them all with gesso or paint, as I cannot possibly read every page before I use it to make sure it’s family friendly.  How can I sell art journals to the public with those words all over them?  What if the journal’s a gift for a kid?

Better to toss the lot and start again with family-friendly book pages.

My point is, don’t feel guilty because you can’t use all your recycling in your art.  You can send it off too.  It’s alright.  More will come into your house.

Trust me.


Daily Art Challenge: April 27

Today’s daily art challenge prompt is to use homemade paper in your art work.  What is homemade paper anyway?

Well, for the purposes of this challenge, it’s paper that is has been altered by you.  This could mean you take a piece of cardstock and smear acrylic paint over it.  Or you coffee or tea stain papers, or you use scraps of paper from your stash and collage it all together on a paper grocery bag and use that.  The drop paper you have on your work table that catches all your drips, spatters, testings of markers or paint pens, smears of extra goop and glue-that’s homemade paper.  We’re not talking about making paper from pulp-unless that’s what you want to do.

One of my favorite get-me-doing-something-when-I-really-don’t-feel-like-doing-anything projects is making paper.  This uses up scraps of papers when I collage them onto something like manila file folders, cereal chipboard for journal covers, and over the left over packing paper from my parents move into town.  I find making paper in this way to be extremely relaxing and the results are always fantastic.  Add paper doilies, napkins, wrapping paper, confetti from a paper punch, whatever you can think of can be added to make unique paper.

Another idea is to stamp images over tissue paper.  You can also use a stencil, but I find stamps work better on the very thin tissue.  Use waterproof ink for this if you’re going to be using wet media over top.  Finished coloring pages count as home made papers for this challenge.  Your kids art work can also be used-after you take pictures of it and have their permission, of course.

Making, or altering already made papers, is one of my go-to projects.  It always makes me smile, is a great way to use up my scraps and gives me a huge selection of gorgeous papers to work with at a later date.

Coffee and Tea Stained Papers

Here’s a fun thing to do with scrap paper and old book pages.  Make really strong tea or coffee.  Pour hot into an old pan-I use a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Lay your papers in the hot tea or coffee and let them soak up the color.  Remove and lay on parchment paper in your oven, bake at 200 degrees until dry.  Remove and cool.

When I’ve made all the papers I want, I pour the left over coffee or tea into spray bottles and add more to the pages as desired.  If you want, you can add just a bit of watercolor, food coloring, or fluid acrylic paint to the leftovers to add a hint of color.  I’ve added chocolate brown, yellow ochre, or raspberry pink to the leftover tea/coffee and spattered and spritzed this over the first, baked layer of color.  Although this might seem like a fussy step, it can really add a lot of depth to your background without being overwhelming.

The tea and coffee will mold quickly, so empty the bottle and wash it when you’re finished with this step.  You can put the papers back in the oven after adding more color, or just let them dry naturally.

My papers are stored in a 12 x 12 inch plastic paper storage tote, but once they’re cooled you can store them in anything-a file folder, ziplock bag, plastic shoe box tote, canvas bag, whatever you have available.  These are fantastic papers for collage, ephemera, tags, anything you can think of to use with vintage-y looking papers can be done with these lovely DIY papers.


Use It Up and Get It Out: More Scrap Projects

I have to clear off my work table again.  It is covered with scraps, bits, and pieces from a variety of projects and I thought I’d make some stuff from them. Let’s get started:

  1.  I have several envelopes laying here.  I’ll be using them for junk journals and art journals, but before I do that-
    1. I opened them up so they lay flat.
    2. I grabbed some of my thinner recycled chipboard-from a box of the kids candy- and laid the envelopes over top of the chipboard.  I traced around the envelopes-which are in a large variety of shapes and sizes-and cut out the traced image.
    3. Because the chipboard is sturdy, I have templates for envelopes to use in projects.
    4. I used a hole punch and have added them to my template collection, which I hang from pegboard.  There are other storage options, obviously, but I like my templates out where I can see them or I’ll forget to use them.
  2. I have small pieces of scraps from making inspiration tiles.
      1. First, I went over each scrap with acrylic inks.  I added a drop or two of ROY G BIV colors on each so they can go with any color layout.  I also added iridescent inks for some shimmer.
      2. I’m using the words and phrases I typed up in different fonts for inchies a couple weeks ago.  I altered the font sizes so they’re easier to read on the tiles.
      3. Once the scraps are dry, I’ll add the words and cover with triple thick gloss glaze or a similar sealant.
      4.  I add these sorts of things to tuck spots, into pockets, attach several together and make a mini-book, I use them as photo mats, journaling spots, you can add hand-drawn letters and use as titles. Cut into shapes and use as borders, mosaics, page tabs, die cuts…
      5. You can use a hole punch and thread ribbon,twine, yarn-anything you want will work- through the embellishments for texture and interest.
      6. These are versatile.  Make several in different colors, shapes and sizes.  You don’t need to add any words or details to them, just store them in a container until you’re ready to use them.  You’ll have a large amount of embellishments made from scraps which only takes a few moments.
      7. I add the little ones to my excess book binding thread, which I usually leave on my book spines.  (I like to keep long strands of whatever I have used to bind my books hanging from the top of my book spine.  Fill these longer strings with beads, charms, and embellishments.  They become beautiful decorations on the exterior of the book or can be flipped into the journal and used as book marks.
  3. Next I worked on recycled chipboard journal covers, tabs, tags, and embellishments.
    1. I cover the chipboard with scrap paper, kraft paper, book pages-whatever I have close at hand.
    2. Once these are dry, I either paint the paper covered chipboard with gesso or I choose to leave it as it is.
    3. I usually add my signatures at this time.  It’s easier to add them to a cover which isn’t heavily textured or decorated.  That stuff can easily be added after you’ve put in the signatures.
    4. You can add pockets to the inside covers, which I like to do.  This gives you a place to store memorabilia and ephemera, add tags, booklets, pictures, you name it.  The inside flaps of the covers are very strong and can hold lots of stuff.
    5. I add things like paint spatters, stamped images, stickers, die cuts, torn paper scraps, glitter, you name it-I’ll add it to a journal cover as background.
    6. Once the background for the covers is complete, I add the details.
      1. Let’s say this particular journal is springtime/garden themed.  I’ll add stuff which works for that.  Maybe I’ll add fabric flowers, beads that look like leaves, raffia for grasses, vintage seed packets, old gardening articles or hints-good grief there are so many ways to embellish a journal!
      2. You can mix vintage with current.  You can have a distinct color for each page or choose two or three colors and carry them though out the book.
  4. Next up is acrylic ink stained/painted papers.  These are great scraps to use for all sorts of things.
    1.  I like to use these paper scraps to make inchies, twinchies, ATC’s, tags, tabs, backgrounds for hand painted letters…endless options with these gorgeous papers.
    2. Doodle images over the paper scraps and cut out.  Add to whatever you want.
    3. If you cut a wonky house shape (just as an example, any shape or image will work) from recycled chipboard and add scrap pieces of painted papers to it, you can create some really spectacular looking embellishments.  I like to add several different colored scraps to the same image for interest.  Add doodling over top for details once dried.  I really like using paint pens for this, but gel pens, markers, or ink pens work too.
    4. You can use your punches on these papers.  Geometric shapes, flowers, letters, whatever punches you have will work on these.
    5. Use strips and roll them into beads.
    6. Rip into strips and add to other thin scraps, stitch together and make scrap embellishments.  These are actually some of my favorite scrap embellishments I make.
    7. Make paper dolls and use these scraps as their clothes and accessories.
  5. I have candy wrappers which I’m also using for collage stuff.  Some are really gorgeous and detailed, others are ugly, but have interesting looking textures.  Others look like metal, others look embossed.
    1. Use these wrappers as petals for flowers, as texture on tags and pockets, wadded up to make centers for flowers, twisted into tubes for flower stems or tree branches…
    2. Cover an entire piece of recycled chipboard and use as journal covers.
    3. Cover Styrofoam balls for holiday ornaments.
    4. Cover your kids old plastic animals and action figures for new and unique decorative items for your house or to sell.
    5. cover cigar boxes, cardboard boxes, foam core storage-which is a nice way to freshen up inexpensive storage options for your work space.
  6. I have several paint brushes sitting here which I will be painting up and making into some unique and different Harry Potter inspired things for the Potter in the Park show we’re attending in June.
  7. And finally, I have several toilet paper tubes which I’m making into more Harry Potter inspired stuff.

My work table is less covered with stuff.  I managed to make several projects just using the scraps I found on my work surface.  I guess we can call this a fairly productive day, all things considered.

Dive into your scraps and see what cool stuff you can make with them.  Have fun, there is no pressure when making things from scraps.  It’s just a use it up and get it out sort of thing.

Daily Art Challenge: March 26

Today’s daily art challenge is to make a junk journal.  This uses recycled junk mail, envelopes that bills come in, advertising brochures, clothing tags, stuff like that.

When making an art journal, we make the pages pretty.  Junk journals just use the stuff as it is, without alterations.  Here is a post about art journals.  I have several posts with details on making journals from all sorts of materials.  Take a look around and you’ll find all sorts of interesting stuff.  Here’s how to make a junk journal by recycling junk mail:

  1.  Folio– a one paper sheet folded in half.  This gives you four pages-two pages on the front of the paper, two on the back of the paper, divided in half.  You can use heavy weight paper or cardstock
  2. Add together as many folios as you choose to make one signature.  I normally use 4 to 6 single pages (folios) folded in half and laid on top of each other.  These are sewn into the cover.
  3. Add envelopes for pockets, three fold brochures that open up to make larger pages.
  4. Tip outs can be added to any page with glue, tape, by stitching them onto the page.  They fold outward, lift up or expand that pages usable space in some way.
  5. If the pages you’re using are sturdy, you can add all sorts of things to them-belly bands, tuck spots, waterfalls, photo mats and journaling spots, just to name a few.
  6. Use sturdy advertising junk mail or very heavy weight booklets as your covers if desired.  I like to use the larger folder sized ads cut to whatever size I want.  If you don’t have appropriate junk mail for your cover, use cereal box chip board or file folders.
  7. The cover can hold as many signatures as you want.  It’s good to remember you’ll be adding stuff to the pages as you work in the journal.  This means they will need space to expand.  I normally add 5 signatures to a 2″ spine.  Less for a smaller spine, more for a larger spine.
  8. I usually add the signatures with a three hole stitch.  One in the center of the cover’s spine and then one on each end, equal distances from from the end of the spine.
  9. I add the holes to the signature by marking the necessary spots that line up with the holes in the spine.
  10. Open a phone book and place the signature in the gap between the open pages.
  11. Use a pokey tool and a hammer and put holes into the signature where marked.  Go through all the pages of the signature.
  12. Put the holes in all the signatures you’re adding to the cover.
  13. I add the signatures to the cover by stitching them in a figure 8 pattern, weaving in and out of the signature holes as often as is necessary to make them secure.
  14. You can use twine, book binding waxed thread, floss, yarn, ribbon, shoestrings, rope, dental floss-anything at all can be used to hold your signatures into your cover.
  15. I really like to leave long strands of whatever I’m using to stitch in the signatures at the top of the journal and add beads to them.  They become bookmarks or pretty dangling details.

I like having several journals going at the same time.  Currently I have a gratitude journal, a techniques journal, a weekly challenge journal, a daily challenge journal, the monthly challenge word journal, a quotes and phrases journal and a women of strength journal.  As you can see, journals can be used for many different things.  It is helpful for me to have several pre-made for those times I have a new idea I want to work out or maybe I want a different theme.

Use a junk journal in the same way you would use any art journal.  Each type is fun to make and fun to use.

Daily Art Challenge: March 23

My day was spent walking through a huge truck show in Louisville, KY.  Amazing trucks, accessories, safety seminars and equipment. And lots of brochures, hand outs, books, and glossy photos.  It’s a recyclers dream!  I will be able to make art journals from this stuff for years to come!

Because I’m all about reusing junk mail and business advertising, this is our challenge prompt for today.  Use some type of recycled stuff in your art.  That could be newspaper, book pages, tags from clothing, ripped apart jeans, egg cartons-whatever you can make with whatever you recycle.

Have fun and play with your very frugal art supply.