Box to Book – Finished and Given, At Last!

Cover finished 1 a

It took the better part of a year – but I got there and I am so happy and relieved to report to those of you who have so faithfully and patiently waded through posts and photos that it was well received.

These photos were taken late at night on my ED’s birthday after a long and full day of zooming halfway up the Island and back again and a rather scrumptious dinner of mussels and Belgian Beer at The Leuven in Wellington City………. On the phone to her right is YD, partaking long distance in the present opening and without the benefits of mussels and Belgian Beer!



Here once more is the history of the Book of Love to refresh memories.

For Christmas 2012 I received a Spellbinders die cutting machine from my lovely Eldest Daughter.  The box was a biggish, strong, brightly coloured affair that sat in my craft room for a couple of months with me looking at it and wondering what it could be used for.

At some point I had the bright idea it could and should be recycled into a book and given back to the giver of the gift the following Christmas.  I was inspired by a beautiful project I had seen on You Tube and also by thoughts of creating something that looked as if it was really old and well loved from ordinary crafting items.

I wanted to give my daughter something that featured my handwriting and lettering, something that could be opened at random and would hold an uplifting message or thought and something that could reveal, or unveil, more layers every time she looked at it.

I ended up deciding to make all my pages and inserts look like palimpsests and consequently spent many happy hours taking ordinary cream coloured card stock and wrinkling, ripping, stamping, dirtying, writing and shaping it to my requirements.  Whilst not strictly meeting the requirements of old parchment that has been recycled and written over many times, it made me feel happy and added depth and interest to the pages that appeared.

The box was roughly cut up into pieces the same size and covered with papers.  Little pieces of the original box however can be seen here and there so the provenance is not altogether lost. I wonder if you spy any of those odd edges and corners as you go through?

The project took longer to complete than expected – mainly due to me getting back into mixed media painting and opening an Etsy Shop and wasn’t ready for last Christmas – but I was determined to get it completed for ED’s birthday last Saturday.  I made it by the skin of my teeth!

We made a little video of the book before I left to come home with my rattly little camera – it is a bit shaky and ends rather abruptly due to me not knowing how to do fade-outs and such like – but may show some aspects that are harder to see in the photos.  Please forgive the quality.

Here we go – I hope you enjoy  🙂



bday2 bday3 bday4 bday5 bday6 bday7 bday8 bday9 bday10

The eagle eyed amongst you may notice that I’ve somehow lost a photo here – a page is missing.





I had a wonderful week away, we were so busy and so happy and it went by in  flash – and I took almost no photos – completely hopeless!

But here is a photo of Wellington Airport for you Lord of The Rings and Hobbit fans:


Thanks for coming by today – I’m so happy that you did!   🙂

Gift Bags from Newspaper

I love to recycle and re-purpose – if I can figure out a way to make something that would normally be trashed into something useful or beautiful – or both – I’m up for the challenge.

I’ve been thinking about this project for a while now and finally committed myself to actually having a go.  It came about this way…..

Do you remember I made a bunch of small gift bags a while back.  I wanted to make some really big ones, you know, the size of a good shopping bag and I had figured I would need six 12 x 12 sheets per bag.  Using quality specialist paper would have made the cost prohibitive – I mean $24 just for the paper and I haven’t even put the time in yet …. you can buy big gift bags at the moment for $2.50…..

With my creative mojo firing on all cylinders I had the genius idea I could make them from newspaper – the big giant ones.

I used the Otago Daily Times that I stole from YD’s place when I was cat-sitting the lovely Stanley.  [I stole it for this purpose, I don’t read papers – they rarely have anything good or uplifting in them and I don’t want to live with images of all the horrible stuff that the media calls ‘news’]

An open double page measures 80 x 57 cm – I’m sorry I can’t convert that off the top of my head for you non-metric folk…… perhaps someone else might in the comments 🙂  Anyhow, it’s big!

So a couple of evenings back, I covered the floor with more bits of newspaper and hunkered down with a container full of blood red poster paint, a brush and a water jar:


I painted two double page spreads with a thick layer of paint and left them to dry overnight.

The next day I turned the paper over and ran wrestled a length of contact paper over the page.  [Contact paper is used to cover books and shelves – sticky on one side and a plasticky / wipeable finish on the other.]  I used this to give the newspaper some strength and durability.


I worked out my score lines for width and depth and top and bottom ……. ooooh headaches!!

And made a pair of bags:


I like that you can still see the newsprint showing through – but the photo is not true to the red I used – think blood red and you’ll be closer to the truth of it.

With the basic bag hanging together quite well it is embellishment time – Hurrah!!

I rummaged through my paper stash and found a 12 x 12 vintage collection that I purchased in a sale a year or two back and have never known what to do with – I chose two different pictures and roughly cut out around the images and stuck one on each bag.


Using white, black and gold pens I highlighted the edges of the cut outs, faux stitched outside the edges and outlined different aspects of the woman.

Lace was hot glued all around the top edges and red organza ribbon employed for the handles


Next I punched out some hearts using off-cuts from the vintage girl paper and shiny metallic gold and layered some:


And stuck ’em on both the front XmasBag5a

and the back of the bags


The hearts were given faux stitching in black pen.

So, looking good you say – finished?

Nope.  Remember, if a little embellishment is good, a lot is better…


The fabric flowers are made from organza and curtain netting – great fun to make as it involves a lighted candle and charring melting ….. 🙂

The beaded flowers I learnt to make from someone on the internet two or three years ago and I’ve completely forgotten who it was – but they too are fun to make.  It’s just beads and twisted wire and they hang freely and move about which adds another layer to the whole thing.

I think they are finished – but there is still three weeks til Christmas, you never know what might happen to them between now and then…..

GiftBag Finished

I think they came out quite well for a first try  – I learned lots and know how to do it now….

Thanks for coming by today – I love that you did 🙂

Storing Dies – Solving a Paper Crafter’s Dilemma

I love dies!  They are a great tool, but there are so many on the market you can go bonkers and end up with a storage dilemma!

I  use lots of Spellbinders and I love the dies that Memory Box, Poppy Stamp, Couture Creations and My Favorite Things put out.  I have some Sizzix too, but not many.  I find the size and thickness of those other Tim Holtz dies too problematic to store, so though I have a couple I no longer buy them.

The dies I do buy are thin.  They may be thin, but they are weighty.

When I first starting using dies, about six or seven years ago now,  I kept them in their packets in a small box.  I kept buying more dies [all paper crafters know it is addictive!] and they graduated to a large shoe box or two, where they got all muddled up and I spent more time hunting for what I wanted then actually die-cutting.

About two years ago they found themselves being fitted onto magnetic sheets and being stored in a purpose built plastic case.  Which the growing number of them soon out-grew. This solution was also problematic – the cases are pricey and the specially shaped magnetic sheets are also pricey.  The cases hold a finite amount of dies and do not hold the larger ones at all [Spellbinders ‘Grands’ for example.]

Their next home was an apartment building of 3 hard cover large ring binders, still attached to their magnetic sheets and each sheet individually encased in a plastic sleeve.

That seemed to work better than any of the previous scenarios, but the weight of the combined dies in each folder made for two problems.

1: hoisting the folders down from their storage shelf and back up again [I’m short and leaning over the work bench and reaching up to the shelf with weighty things can be fraught in a crowded working space – if you drop a folder it breaks stuff!]

2: the weight was tearing the plastic sheets away from the binding holes, making the folders unstable and searching for items more difficult.

There was still also the issue of searching through weighty pages of dies to find the one I was looking for.

Then a couple of weeks ago someone in my local Freecycle group advertised 30 new, empty DVD cases to give away.

I was on the phone like a shot!

When I got to the house to collect the cases the lovely man asked me how many I wanted.  “All of them” I said – meaning ‘all thirty.’ and explained what I wanted to do with them.  He swooped up two boxes and carried them to the car.  When I got home I discovered I had ninety new, empty DVD cases.


Here’s a shot of about forty of them:

Die Storage 2

All beautifully and tidily lined up, labelled and categorised.   Every Virgo’s dream  🙂

Some of the fronts even have a picture of the contents, others just a list.

Die Storage 5

Open one up and take your pick – this is a selection of my favourite embellishment type dies::

Die Storage 3

This is a Sizzix set of stamps and dies – most recently used in the making of the ‘Box to Book’ project:

Die Storage 4


No more hunting through pages of heavy dies – now a quick peruse down the spines and Hola!  there is the one I want to use!

Die Storage 1

I love my little mannequin posed there – he ever so slightly reminds me of C-3PO out of Star Wars ….. Perhaps I should paint him – is it silver or gold, I can’t remember – what do you think?

There is now one remaining large folder housing the  aforementioned ‘Grand’s’ and a couple of extra long lace edge dies from Couture Creations.  Not a problem with just six pages to sort through.

The remaining DVD cases are now being utilised to store acrylic and unmounted rubber stamps – still in progress.

And there we are my friends, one less dilemma in the creative space   🙂  It is working really well and is encouraging me to use my dies more often as they are so easily accessible!

Thanks for dropping by today, I love that you did!

Another Card For Kerry!

Hello there!

ED looked at the previous post, ‘A Card For Kerry’ – “It’s very nice,” she said “but it’s supposed to be blues and purples…”

Nothing happened inside my head indicating information previously given and momentarily forgotten – nope, just a big black hole.  “Oh!” I responded helpfully……….. I always have a slight feeling of panic when this happens – as it seems to do so with alarming regularity – am I losing it – already?

But no, I just wasn’t fully present and some information just went in one ear and out the other – I’m not dotty, I’m just becoming an air-head!

As it happened, I was hoping to for the opportunity to make another, similar card  – and here was that very opportunity.  Quite serendipitous really [this appears to be the word of the week].  Now, do you suppose I did the wrong colour deliberately ……?

Any how, I wanted to make a variation on the theme, using the same techniques I would utilise if I was creating a similar lay-out in my art journal.

I didn’t document the process this time – you’ve seen it once and any way I was much too involved with the creation of this little world to stop and get the camera out.

Here is the front of the card – it is so full of layers and textures that the camera doesn’t always pick up so I’ve included some detail shots.  The house is not brick this time – the reverse of my embossing folder does a wood effect – so we have a blue wooden house 🙂

The Contented Crafter

Blue House Card – front

Not everything has been hand created this time, some of the flowers are from my stash and may be Petaloo or Prima – apologies, I can’t quite remember.  The larger blue and purple flowers are cut from coloured card stock, inked and layered up.  The very small punched flowers, and the strip along the top of the card, are courtesy of some old inked and sprayed wallpaper that has lived in my stash for years.  The ‘glass’ in the window is recycled rigid plastic packaging.

Blue House - detail

Blue House Card – detail

Blue House - detail

Blue House Card – detail

Right at the end, when everything was finished, I went back in and sprinkled a bit of glitter around – just for a wee touch of sparkle – the reality isn’t quite as glumpy as this close-up shot of the butterfly would have you believe …..

Blue House - detail

Blue House Card – detail

And here is the inside:

Inside the Blue House Card

Inside the Blue House Card

The cut-out shapes have been finished with water soluble charcoal shadowing; the side table was some left over exterior wall [wooden this time] as is the lamp – and the book spines on the table ….. no waste!  The floor rug is also a piece of the same coloured wallpaper that contributed to the small punched flowers on the front..

The chair is a Poppy Stamp die and stamp, which has been coloured with Spectrum Noir alcohol ink pens, as has the girl and cat.  The banner is once again made from the discards when the windows are die cut.

The mirror is made from a lightly textured silver paper glued to a slightly larger piece of hand cut black card and has a coat of ‘Glossy Accents’ painted over it.  The mirror frame is made from the same paper but has some ‘Crackle Accents’ over it and a light rubbing of ‘Pumice Stone’ Distress ink to finish.

Inside - right

Blue House Card, inside – right

The window blind and side drapes are cut from paper doilies, another stash inhabitant for many years – I’m not that thrilled with them, must have another try at some stage…….

Inside - left

Blue House Card, inside – left

Blue House Card - inside detail

Blue House Card – inside detail

Blue House - inside detail

Blue House Card – inside detail

And finally, because there is no room inside to write a nice Birthday Greeting to the recipient – the back of the card:

Blue10 back

I hope you enjoyed that little visit to the Blue House!  I just hope I’ve got the colours right this time!

Thanks for coming by today, I am always happy to know you have been 🙂

A Card For Kerry

Hi all!

You may remember this card – I made it for my ED’s birthday back in March

B'day Card front March 13

ED’s sister-in-law liked it very much and has asked that I make something similar for her.

I had the camera sitting on my desk, so pretty much was able to document the process step by step – ergo if you want to know how I make a card, read on! 🙂

I used 2 A4 pieces of white card stock,  one folded in half made the card base, the second went to the die machine and was put to work making all the add ons.  I think all the dies I used – with one exception –  are Memory Box dies and I also used a Martha Stewart punch.

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

I embossed the house wall with my brick embossing folder than rubbed three different shades of reddy-browns in Tim Holtz stains over it.  The die cut window was treated to some white acrylic paint and grey ink to shabby it up.

That done, I turned my attention to the inside.  Wallpaper was added to both sides of the card and another window frame was fitted with some recycled plastic packaging fitted between the two frames to serve as glass, so we have a proper window:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

Next the architraves and floorboards were created.  I used a Couture Creations Die at the top:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

I coloured the floor boards with water colour pencils and am really happy with the result!

Yay water colour pencils!

The next step was to create the cat and the girl – Benson and Kerry:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

They were stamped onto white card stock and coloured with alcohol ink pens:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

Then they were cut out – to you non-crafters this is called ‘fussy cutting’ and takes forever

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

This is where I discovered I’d made an error with my calculations – the window was too far above the floor and the cat couldn’t see out the window – some creative thinking was called for:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

Puss sits on top of the pile of books so he can see out the window:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

I made the flower garden and forgot to photograph that process too – sorry!

Now we are getting to the finishing touches – ‘So, what’s all this for?’ you ask:

‘Well,’ I respond ‘You remember when I cut out the window from a die?  Where the panes of glass go there are little square discards of white card.  When cut in half they are just the right size for some banners….”

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

Did you spot the window blind?  Forgot to photograph that being made – and the presents?

All ready to go!

Here is the finished front:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

And finally, a few close ups for those of you who want a better look:

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

The Contented Crafter

If I ever make another one I think I’ll put a table in, with a cake or some flowers on – or a chair – the room looks a little bare to me ……

I hope you enjoyed that walk through my card making process.

Thanks for dropping by today and I hope you are having a great week!

Go well!

Recycled Packaging Box

Hello Friends!

If you’re someone who has been following my posts for a while, you may remember how keen I am on being able to recycle stuff – especially packaging.  And then, in my last post, I told you how I spoiled myself a little and purchased a host of paints, pastels, crayons, pencils, charcoals and pens for my budding artistic endeavours…….

They arrived in two identical sturdy boxes like this:

Packing Box 1

The boxes have substance, being made of corrugated card laid between the two outer sheets of cardboard and measure 305 x 165 mm.  Which, to my way of thinking, is a size that just has to be useful.

So, yesterday afternoon I said to Orlando, ‘Come, let the ‘repurposing’ begin!’ and off we went to the play room.  I got out the silver ultra-sticky plumbers tape that I picked up on a visit to the local DIY store years ago and which is an ever-so-handy member of my adhesives drawer, a pair of scissors and the tacky glue.  I rummaged through the paper stash and found the left overs from the ‘Le Tres Chic’  30 x 30 papers from DCWV.  The size of these sheets was pretty spot on,  so even though the colours don’t exactly sing to me I figured this is a trial run to see what I can do, so let’s use ’em!

And this is what I did:

Packing Box 2

I ran the plumbers tape all around the edges and along the creases where the box folded  over into its top.  This was for extra strength, protection and because I didn’t want to try wrapping paper around a slightly wonky edged cardboard box.

I cut the paper just short of the box edges and adhered it with the tacky glue.

I did the inside too:

Packing Box 3

Voila!  A new home for my art journals, sketch book and note books

Packing Box 4

And here they are, proud as punch, sitting in the morning sun on Orlando’s table.

Packing Box 5

All up it took me about 40 minutes to make, so I shall probably put the other one together this evening.

Recycling and repurposing is very satisfying!

Thanks for coming by, it’s always lovely to know you’ve been 🙂