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Challenge Yourself!

Creativity in all its forms involves challenging yourself to make something that didn’t exist before; to think about something differently; or to express emotions and ideas through various outlets. And the best thing about creativity is that it’s supposed to be uniquely you!

Challenging yourself to make something that’s not found online or in a craft book is the most fun kind of creativity, and unlike lots of other things in life, when you create something, you get to do it your very own way every time. If there are any rules or guidelines, it’s ones you choose as part of the creative process – or not any at all.

The Challenge

For this project, I started with knowing I wanted to make a journal that could be written in and that would be interactive for the owner.

I gave myself the following conditions to see what I could come up with for the journal, as follows – all supplies for it had to be either something I already owned or made specifically for it, with the exception that I could acquire one – and only one – new thing for it.

The Idea

Like most everything I do from cakes to artwork to crafts, I start with colors. And for this one, I wanted to use turquoise, blue and red. That’s all I had to go on, but it was time to get started!

Combing through my arts and crafts supplies, I found a set of 1/8″-thick vintage Bingo cards I’d had for a couple of years waiting for just the right project. I decided the cards would make the front and back covers for the journal, as well as dividers inside. I also had a handful of antique wooden Bingo numbers (in red, no less) and these could provide a three-dimensional effect.

As for the inside pages, I had lots of patterned papers in my stash to choose from, and I also decided to hand-make some of the pages with acrylic paints and water-soluble crayons. Rubber stamps with inks in my color scheme were available in my supplies. My die cutting machine and shaped dies would provide colorful elements to add throughout the journal, and I also remembered I had a set of small, replica Bingo cards with a beach theme and in turquoise.

Things were starting to come together in my mind!

So, at this point, I have my colors, Bingo cards (both types, including one about the beach), papers, and decorative elements – but it needed something to take it up a notch, and besides, I hadn’t used my option for one new thing. I sketched and I thought back and forth, and finally I knew what else I wanted.

Vintage photographs are a popular crafting item, and with my chosen colors and beach elements, I thought of using black and white photographs of ladies in old-fashioned bathing suits – and this would be my new item to acquire! I purchased some downloadable photographs, and NOW I could see the project in its entirety.

Time to make it happen!

The Process

The Bingo cards (actually boards) were authentic and had a great feel to them, yet they needed color added to the standard brown and white. I used water soluble crayons to add paint randomly, and then used a bit of white molding paste to add to the muted colors. Finally, distressing inks were rubbed in with tiny sponges to add interest and continue the vintage theme.

For the downloaded photographs of nostalgic, bathing-suited ladies at the beach, I wanted them to feel like photographs and not flat paper when turning the pages of the journal, so I printed them on photo paper. Here are the ones I downloaded as my options.

Some of the journal pages would be hand-painted in the color scheme, and I used different techniques. It was especially fun to cover a piece of bubble wrap in red paint, and then lay it onto a page to get a dotted effect.

Let’s just say I have a lot of patterned papers … and finding ones in this color scheme was not a problem! The blue paper covered in bold numbers was a great find, and you’ll see these numbers used on some of the pages in the journal.

This journal would need a LOT of decorative elements throughout since I’d decided it would be as opposite from a professional planner as one could get! There would be no page numbers, no dates, no standard templates on which to write. Every page would be different – and die cutting many of these elements gave me a lot to work with for the pages.

The Journal and its Front Cover

On a scale of enjoyability, this project was off the charts! It took weeks to make, grabbing little pieces of time as always around my busy career, but it was worth it. I just kept making pages whenever I could find time, and ultimately the final journal had a total of 162 pages (81 fronts plus backs). Of these, 145 are writable, with 17 pages containing the photographs and a few pieces of textured papers that can’t be written on.

While we’re on numbers, the journal is 5 1/2″ wide by 7 1/2″ tall. I used brown, metal rings that open and close to hold all the pages together, and this type allows the journal to lay flat when using it.

The front cover has the antique Bingo game pieces, along with a fish cut out of cork paper (and smartly wearing red glasses).

And if you guessed the journal weighs 1.6 pounds, you would be correct!

The Pages

Making the journal pages was so much fun! All kinds of techniques and supplies were used, including rubber stamps with ink; dry embossing (see the Bingo card I embossed on the light turquoise paper); the nostalgic photographs; fabric ribbons; die cutting for decorative elements; and my favorite, lots of little pockets and envelopes with paper inserts on which you can write.

And, just to be clear, in accordance with this “no rules” journal, any and every surface can be written on (except the photographs)! While there are some lined pages, there are more non-traditional places to write inside this journal – in fact, wherever you’d like!

The Front and Back Covers

Here’s what the front and back covers look like with the open journal.

This was a great project for using all aspects of your creativity – and I challenge you to take the same challenge I gave myself with it! No matter what you make, use supplies you already have – but give yourself the option of acquiring one new thing for it.

And now as I’m writing this post about the journal, I’m wondering what other things I could make from all the supplies I already have on hand. Stay tuned – it could be the subject of a future post on The Daily Artisan!

Have you created something from supplies already on hand? What did you make? What might you want to make with this challenge? Be sure to comment below!

January 15, 2022



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