Upcycled Gear Journal

posted in: Art New Wave, ICED Resin | 4


It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me very well that I am an avid journaler and have been doing so since middle school.  My bookmaking journey actually began because I couldn’t find journals that were ME and I couldn’t stand those plain old boring journals that you find in the stores, or they were just too cutesy (blah!).  When I started to make altered books years ago, I found this easy way to create my own journals from old books.


Let me begin by saying that I didn’t “kill” a perfectly good old book LOL  I look at my journal making as giving a book the life that it should have had – more fun and exciting!  In this case, I had purchased a case of books at a yard sale and this water damaged book was at the bottom of the box. To begin making this journal, cut the book block out from the inside of the book, being careful not to damage the spine or cover of the book.  DON’T throw away the book block you just cut out of the book, this can be used for so many different projects and I’ll share one here on the blog at a later date. Next reinforce the spine of the book with bookbinding tape, or a great alternative is hockey tape (I think that’s what it is called) that you can buy at a sporting goods store for wrapping the handles of hockey sticks or baseball bats.

Emboss 2 pieces of heavy weight aluminum foil with the Gears 3D embossing folder. Be sure to use heavy weight aluminum foil, not the regular weight because it will tear when embossed.  I absolutely love using aluminum foil for making book covers – it’s very versatile and makes projects so light weight.  Just remember to use a light hand when working with it though to avoid tearing the foil.


Now it’s time to get out some StazOn inks and color that foil! When using StazOn inks, there’s a two step process to be used when applying each color to avoid ending up with a muddy mess – apply the StazOn color and allow to dry, then apply a protective thin layer of GlazOn.  Kind of like the Karate Kid, “Wax On, Wax Off” or in this case “StazOn, GlazOn.” DON’T try to speed things up and apply two colors at once, you’ll end up with a hot mess. And note about drying time with StazOn inks – it takes approximately 5 minutes for StazOn to air dry but you can use a heat tool to speed things up.  I personally use an old hair dryer on the low setting rather than a heat tool because that I way I won’t overheat the StazOn which can turn tacky when overheated because it’s a solvent ink. FYI GlazOn doesn’t need to heat set, it dries in less than a minute.

Use an InkBlusher to color both pieces of aluminum foil completely with StazOn Orange Zest; allow to dry completely or use a heat tool with light heat.  With a different InkBlusher, apply a thin even coat of GlazOn across the entire surface and allow to dry (do NOT heat set GlazOn). Repeat application of StazOn with GlazOn in the following order, using each color as a highlight to the design: St. Valentine, Spiced Chai, and Ganache.


Now time for some metallic highlights and a little antiquing of the metal using StazOn Metallic Gold, Metallic Copper, Jet Black.


To color the exposed edges of the book cover and spine, use a Jumbo Dauber to apply Brilliance Starlite Black as seen on the left side in image above and allow to dry completely. Then highlight with Brilliance Graphite Black.  Notice that I’m only doing the exposed areas where the metal won’t be covering up the book. For some added texture and color I sprayed the colored areas with irRESISTible Copper. Once the texture spray has dried, adhere the completed gear sheets to front (right in the image) of the book cover on both sides.

Because I use my journals so often, I like to put a protective coat of ICE Resin on them just to make sure they survive my extra loving and abuse.  Following the manufacturer’s instructions, mix the ICE Resin and paint on a light coat to the exposed book cover areas where the metal pieces are not placed.  Be careful not to apply too much resin to the valleys next to each area of the spine or your book won’t close (been there, done that!).  Apply a thicker coat onto the metal areas of the book cover and allow to cure completely.


Now to decorate the inside of the book cover.  I cut a piece of decorative paper approximately ½˝ less than the height of the book cover and ¼˝ less than the width.  The reason why the width doesn’t need to be smaller is that when you lay the paper down, the ¼˝ difference gets taken up by the “valleys” of the book spine.  If you were to cut the width ½˝ less than the cover it would leave more of a margin and not look right.  This has been a simple rule that I’ve used for years to take the headache out of precise measuring and works like a charm every time!

And the binding of this book couldn’t be any easier as well!  Simply take ribbon along with embroidery thread and tie them around the spine of the book, double knotting at the top of the spine.  Create good tension when doing this but don’t pull the ribbon and thread so tight that you pull the ends of the cover and curl them.  Repeat this for a total of three sets of ribbon as shown above – this will be your binding for three signatures.  You can always add more signatures if you’d like.


Cut/score your pages to size to fit inside of the book cover, approximately ¼˝ smaller than the cover. I like to mix up my pages with printed papers, gift wrap, old maps and other paper along with plain text weight paper. And yes, this is a great way to use up some of that old scrapbook and patterned paper that you have laying around!  And if you’d like to make this more of an art journal, add in some heavier weight papers as well. Divide all your pages into three signatures of equal pages (or something close). And here’s the easy part – just tuck the first signature under the left set of ribbon/thread and repeat for the remaining signatures!  How simple is that!?!  If your tension is good, the pages will never fall out.


Here’s a look at the book covers with the binding in place.  I added some great gear charms onto the ends of the ribbons to carry over the theme.  I’ve also left the ends of the other ribbons and thread long so that I can always add more embellishments that I might find on my creative journeys.


I hope this tutorial gets you inspired to create your own journal!


BTW Did you know that there’s now a ArtNewWave Facebook page?  Hop on over and give it a like to stay up to date about the newest projects that I’m working on, craftastrophes/learning lessons/hot messes, a good laugh and from what I’ve been told some great pictures as well.



IMAGINE Crafts/Tsukineko StazOn: Orange Zest, St. Valentine, Spiced Chai, Ganache, Metallic Gold, Metallic Copper, Jet Black; Brilliance: Starlite Black, Graphite Black; irRESISTible Copper, GlazOn, InkBlushers, Jumbo Daubers, Craft Mat

ICE Resin ICE Resin, ICED Enamels Shattered Mica Bronze, Art Mechanique German Glass Glitter Chocolate, Copper Glitter, Art Mechanique Gear Charms

May Arts ribbon

Spellbinders Gears 3D Embossing Folder

Miscellaneous old book, miscellaneous scrapbooking papers, plain text paper, heavy weight aluminum foil, metallic embroidery thread (black and copper), book binding tape

4 Responses

  1. Beautiful work of HEart, John! Thanks for sharing all the details of how your gears are turning!

  2. Oooo, nice! <3

  3. I LOVE this!!!

  4. Blown away!!! This is gorgeous and so simple. I love the colours.

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