Mixed Media Steampunk Journal

SAMSUNG CSCAfter watching Marion Smith Design’s Ustream Video at least three times, I decided to tackle her journal project, which involves upcycling the cover of an old book and machine stitching the signatures. Although I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into, I can say with utmost certainty that I will never again make a mini album this way. EVER!  In hindsight, I recognize that my choice of papers was definitely not the best. But, that was only part of the problem. Where I got hung up was on attaching the first and last signature pages (leaves) to the inside covers of the book. It just didn’t work for me the way it did for her. Again, I’m certain my paper was at least part of the problem. I tore the front end paper on my first attempt and struggled to figure out how to fix it. So, in my frustration, I left the book sitting, unfinished on the kitchen table for about a week. Since I had already invested so much time and energy (i.e. passion) into creating it, I was determined to make it work. That’s when I showed it to my husband, who without batting an eyelash, saw exactly what needed to be done. And with that, I was able to finish the inside and get to the much more enjoyable decorating of the front cover.

I have not been able to locate the Ustream video to reference, however, once I do (if it’s still available) I will link it at the end. The gist is this; you rip out the guts of an old hardcover book (I chose one with especially brittle pages) and replace those pages with signatures from paper of your choosing. Note: I did not use Marion Smith Designs downloadable papers. Instead, I used what was in my stash. The cover is painted, distressed, decorated and a sealant is applied (I chose a gel matte medium).

SAMSUNG CSCFirst, the papers I chose; GCD Studios Antiquities and Tim Holtz idea-ology Kraft Resist Paper Stash. The Kraft Resist paper was trouble with a capitol “T”. Therefore, I do not recommend it for this type of project, as it tore easily. However, any paper will tear if you don’t treat it right. This is what happened on the inside cover. So, I used 7 Gypsies Gaffer tape to fix my mistake (i.e. manhandling of my papers).


Another area of trouble was using the recommended distress ink (Tim Holtz) on the cover with a wet medium to seal it. As you probably know, distress ink reacts with water or water based products. I knew this, so I ended up going with my Timber Brown StazOn. But, not until after I gave the distress ink a shot. Some of it stayed put but, not much.


Side note: The original cover color of this book was blue.


I created six signatures but, because of the thickness of the Kraft paper, each signature has only three layers. I added mini envelopes (from an old Sizzix die I found at a thrift store) and embellished them with baked black Sculpey polymer clay.




The “speak no evil” bird was made using UTEE in a homemade mold and the gear die-cuts are from Cricut. 

 All in all, I am happy with the final product and it is currently being displayed on top of one of my bookshelves.

Let me know what you think and if you’ve made one of these I’d love to hear about your experience and see your work.