Saturday, August 30, 2014

First Order, Then Chaos...

It's really pretty amazing the lengths a papercrafter will go to to organize their supplies before actually MAKING something with them.

It's like artistic nesting, sort of.

It happens to me all the time. I buy something new and I'm simultaneously enthralled and paralyzed by it. I know that there's NO WAY I can bust it open and start using it until I've bought JUST the right organizational system for it so that it looks pretty and neat on my shelves when I'm NOT using it -  which is supposed to come AFTER using it - but that's not how it works.

Enter stage left - Peerless watercolors. These are a super fun, very different watercolor product - they come as sheets loaded with pigment instead of in tubes or pans, and so they are great portable watercolors for anyone with an aquapainter and a nomadic soul.

But since they come in loose sheets, you have to find a way to store them before you can start painting. I bought the watercolors MONTHS ago and then used creative avoidance to NOT paint with them because I was indecisive about how to store them.

Then, I saw an awesome video by Jennifer McGuire on a new storage idea - a little photo album that she slipped swatches into the pockets of. Then she stuck the actual watercolor sheets to the top of the pockets. GENIUS. I loved that the swatch was protected while the paint was accessible.

However, I wanted something larger which would lie flat when it was open, because I like to paint outside a lot, and I wanted a bit more room and a flat palette. So I thought maybe a regular page protector would work for my swatches.

Then I had to find the perfect notebook for my page protectors. God forbid I use some boring plastic notebook from Office Depot. That's completely irrational. If you think that's what I should have done, I worry about your soul.

Instead, I decided to alter a beautiful kraft notebook I got from Jam Paper for this sacred task. It's a 1" Designders® binder, and some of you will probably be horrified that I altered it, because the kraft by itself is so pretty. Stifle yourselves and just wait for it.

It's uncoated, so I knew I could paint it, stamp on it, or do any number of things, but I started to get a little obsessed with one of our recent Splitcoast tutorials and decided to cover it with aluminum foil tape.

First, I die cut a bunch of letters from Whisper White cardstock with my Little Letters Framelits, and arranged them NOT so randomly on the front of the binder. You'd be amazed how many (not very desirable) words you can accidentally spell while being "random". After much censoring, I glued the letters on with Tombow Mono Multi. Please notice the absence of vowels. This is critical to not embarassing yourself, trust me. Where there are vowels, there are vulnerabilities.
Then, over more than a few episodes of Dead Like Me and NCIS, I applied cut pieces of aluminum tape, and burnished them with paper stumps. The paper stump part is super important - the tape won't bond completely or lie flat over time if you don't take the time to do this. What I noticed about this binder while I was doing this is it does NOT show fingerprints - which is really different from most kraft paper surfaces. Love that. If I weren't altering it, that would be super important to me. It also takes the tape really well because it's a matte surface, so your tape will really be stuck down and won't lift.

I then took just a fine black gel pen and pierced dots into each letter for a little bit of detail. The back of the binder doesn't have letters. This is because I wanted to make it easy on myself - I wanted to quickly know which was the front and which was the back. You'll see why in a minute.

Here's what it looked like with the burnished tape. It's already pretty cool in this state.

Next - I painted the whole notebook - front, back, inside - with black acrylic paint and wiped most of it off with a paper towel. This aged it and defined the places where the tape overlapped, as well as the letters.

This was cool enough, but I can't really leave things alone, so I needed to add color. 

Out came my Viva Decor Inka Gold - in Green/Yellow, Orange, and Steel Blue. You probably knew I was going to say that since these are my go-to colors in any medium.

Maybe you can see why!
OMG isn't that awesome!??? I truly wasn't expecting how much life those colors would add and I LOVE it!

Here's what the inside looks like - instead of doing a lot of small pieces - the outside took a LONG time - I settled on just strips of tape, overlapped. Wiping the paint off with the paper towel is what created those differences in texture you see. So cool. 

Oh - but what are those pages in there, you ask??

Well those are my Peerless Watercolor pages!!

I cut 8.5 x 11 sheets of hot press Fabriano watercolor paper to go inside the page protectors.

Here's where the OCD skills really come into play.

The set I ordered is the bonus pack - which is 40 colors in 2x2 squares. The colors are listed on the package, but they aren't in ROYGBIV order. So I took them out and painted tiny swatches to put them in the one true order. Then I numbered them - the swatch and the square. Then, I put the swatches in ROYGBIV, and used the numbers on the swatch & squares to help me build my book with the page protectors.

You Virgos know how important this is. We cannot create beautiful, haphazard and chaotic art until our colors are in order, am I right?

MMMM. Makes me happy.

Hard to believe this all started with a 3-ring binder, eh?

Here's a little slideshow of the process, complete with a cat butt photobomb.

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Now that this is done, I can actually watercolor this weekend, so watch out! :)



  1. AWESOMENESS!!!!! Love how your altered binder looks. OK.... now to see if I can make something like it.... You are such an inspiration!!!

  2. Great post. Beautiful storage! You know I totally get a kick out of the cat photo bomb!

  3. Incredible!! What a fun technique with gorgeous results!! You, Lydia Fiedler, are an artistic genius!!

  4. What a gorgeous binder!! I love the term artistic nesting LOL!

  5. "Stifle yourselves and wait for it"... you kill me!! ;)
    your binder turned out WICKED cool- love love it! can't wait to see your paintings!
    i too am lovin' the cat photobombed slideshow ;)

  6. Lydia, have I ever told you how much I love that you link to Amazon for everything possible? I've been a member of Amazon Prime since it started and they actually lose money on me! We buy SO much stuff on Amazon. I was so disappointed when a bookstore I loved actually went out of business and I couldn't imagine why... Then I realized that I hadn't been there in years because I was buying my books and music on Amazon! I felt a little guilty...

    Anyway, more to the point of your wonderful post, I just love this journal that you made! I was able to get some Inka-Gold at Michael's for cheap awhile back - on clearance! I got a few colors - I wonder if that yellow/green is one of them? And I don't have the Peerless Watercolors yet (and if I could buy the whole shebang on Amazon, I definitely would have them by now), but I did buy the Kuretake something-or-other that Jennifer McGuire reviewed. I love her videos, and I *especially* love her organization videos! We crafters have an ever-evolving, always-changing system of how we organize (or don't organize) out stuff. And I have to tell you that I'm like you in that I don't rip into new stuff right away to create with it - at least that's the case with the contraband stuff. I started subscribing to SSS's Monthly Card Kit and would you believe I haven't made ONE card from any of the 3 kits that I have?! Maybe that would be a good thing to do tomorrow!! Thanks, as ALWAYS, for your inspiration, Lydia! :-)

    Susan, aka Soozie4Him on SCS
    moot96 AT aol DOT com

    1. Hey Susan! I'm glad you like that - it's such an easy place to find everything! I think they lose money on me too :)

  7. Lydia, you said there are no vowels on your binder... ("Please notice the absence of vowels.") The first letter I noticed was an A. An A is a vowel, Lydia! I can't believe you told an untruth. You just wobbled off your pedestal! (sob). I shall try to continue following your blog, but it will never be the same. (I do love the binder though)

    1. HAHA no I did not say there are NO vowels. There are, in fact two. I said "notice the absence of vowels" - I had to keep removing them as I saw words spelled I did not like. It started out as about 50/50 :)

  8. Love your fab new organisation system - trés artsy! I can certainly appreciate the need for order before crafting can commence. Glad to see it gets the kitty seal of approval too ;) Rx


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