Monday, September 18, 2017

Gwen's Gems - Using Stencils to Prep a Travel Journal

Hi all, it's Gwen back with the September edition of Gwen's Gems! If you've followed me for a while, you probably know of my love for travel. Every year, if I'm able to, I like to do some kind of fun and cool international trip to see a new part of the world. I've been very blessed in all that I've been able to see and do, and this year is no different! 

Of course, when I go on my trips I like to take a travel journal - it's something I started doing back in 2008, and I love coming home with a book that's bursting with stories, photos, and ephemera! The structure of the book itself has evolved as I experiment and learn what I like. Over the last few years I've found that I like to have a hard-bound book with stitched signatures. I also like to make sure it's tall enough for brochures, wide enough for postcards, and yet small enough to fit easily in my carry-on. This year, I'm going to India, so of course I made a travel journal, and I'll show you how I used my stencils to customize and decorate the covers and some of the pages.

Here's the finished journal, ready and waiting to be filled!


I make the book itself from scratch using binder's board, book-binding tape, and various types of papers to make the signatures. In this case, I used some patterned scrapbook papers with an Indian theme, Indian cotton rag paper, hand-printed papers, and drawing paper (this is usually for my journaling.) I make the spine quite a bit wider than the text block and then I bind the whole book together - loosely, so it has room to expand, and then I decorate the covers.

I like to put the location and the year with dimensional lettering - in this case, I used my Art Deco Alphabet stencil to spell out "India," then used Seth Apter's Number Drips stencil to add the year - all done with molding paste. I also like to add some dimensional decoration, so I used half of the medallion from Jessica Sporn's Namaste stencil along the edge of the front cover.


Once all of the dimensional elements are dry, then I add a coat of paint. In this case I used shades of raspberry and magenta to start to echo the colors of India right from the start. When the paint was dry, I used a gold wax to highlight the raised letters and design. Then I used a black Stabilo All pencil and a water pen to add shadows and make all of the depth stand out even more.

After that was done, I added some gold metal corners to the covers (super helpful when your journal gets kicked around in a suitcase - lots of wear and tear on these trips!) and then I added some beautiful trims from India along the covers and spine to really dress is up.


With the outside done, it's time to work on the inside! 

For a trip to India, of course I had to go back to my collection of stencils by Jessica Sporn! On the title page I used her Lacy Lotus Repeat stencil with Archival Inks - I'll probably add some black lettering over top once I decide what to say!


In the middle photo above, you can also see where I used Jessica's Paisley Floral Repeat stencil with some Distress Oxide Inks to make a fun page where I'll add photos or ephemera during the trip. For the last photo above, I had added different papers as inclusions in each signature - this was a sheet of screen-printed paper from India, and I used my Ornamental Circle Clusters Screen stencil with gold embossing powder from Emerald Creek to decorate the back side.

For the inside of the covers, I used Jessica Sporn's Shiva Deity and Krishna Deity stencils with gold paint. I did that on a purple painted background that tied in with the colors in the beautiful India-themed washi tape I'd used along the edge of the text block.


I don't like to go too crazy decorating the pages ahead of time because I'm never sure what I'll find when I'm traveling. This trip is a craft-focused trip - we'll be touring a paper factory and taking all kinds of artisan workshops, so I wanted to leave even more pages blank than normal so I can add goodies from the road.

Of course, that doesn't mean I can't prep a few other pieces to be ready to use... I always like to have little pockets ready to add to the book where I can insert ticket stubs, receipts, business cards, and that kind of thing. I pulled out five different pockets and envelopes and stenciled each one of them with a hamsa from Jessica's Five Hamsas Stencil (one of my favorites!) Some were done with ink, some painted, some heat embossed... I wanted each one to be different.

I also had a large red envelope that fits perfectly in the book that I can use to hold pamphlets or larger pieces of ephemera, so I stenciled the back of that with the words and mudras from the Namaste stencil. I'll attach that during the trip when I know where it needs to go.

Here's a little overview of all of my stenciled prep work:


I added some more washi tape in a few places, but this is pretty much how it will look when I carry it onto the plane! 

For the kit to go with it, I'll take a few rolls of washi tape, a tape runner and refill, a travel watercolor palette using Peerless watercolors, a waterpen, pen (ballpoint - the paper eats up my Microns,) pencil, a mini stapler, and a pair of small travel scissors with blunt tips so I can carry them on the plane (some countries will take them from you for sharp tips, even though the blades are only about an inch long, so these work best for international travel.) I also take some pre-made labels with destinations from our itinerary, date stickers, and a Fuji Instax printer (I load photos onto my iPad and then print my favorites on the go and add them into the book.)


That's it! My travel journal is ready and prepped with lots of stencily goodness. Now I just need to pack my bags and get on the looooong flight to India and I'm ready to go!

Until next time, happy stenciling!

20 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I am going on a girls trip to New Orleans next month and want to take a small travel journal. Any ideas or tips? :)

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    1. Thanks Christine! I've found that it works best if I do as much as possible ahead of time so that all I have to do on the road is journal and add in any photos or ephemera. I think it really depends on your personal style and what you think you'd like to include. I print out photos before I start journaling for that day and then add them as I write (Instax,) and use washi tape and envelopes to add anything I collect along the way. Depending on the trip I may do some sketches and watercolor, but it's really just up to you. It took me several trips before I figured out what worked best for me, but think about size - if you're going to collect brochures or anything larger, make sure your journal is large enough to include them. I also like to make sure I leave plenty of room for the book to expand as I fill it in - usually I make the spine at least double the thickness of the blank pages so the book doesn't fan when it's done. Hopefully that helps out!

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  2. Love to talk to u abt India. I'm going in January...

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    1. Sure! I went to Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi, but I went with a tour company and we had a lot of things that were craft related, so it wasn't as much of a sight-seeing trip as most of them are and I didn't do any of the planning. But let me know if you think I could help.

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  3. Gorgeous, and delicious colors and textures! Can't wait to see pix of your trip and journal upon your return! PS: i love Jessica's lacey lotus stencil too

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    1. Thanks Linda! Yes - that's such a fabulous stencil design!

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  4. Wow Gwen! this travel journal is outstanding!! I absolutely love how you prepped it and the choice of stencils-just perfect!
    Gorgeous colors and the sequined trim on the edge is divine!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Jackie ")

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    1. Thanks Jackie! Jessica has so many stencils that were perfect for this theme that it made it really easy to pull together!

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  5. Beautiful! I'm just getting into book and journal making and love seeing all your techniques and ideas. Have a wonderful trip!

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    1. Thanks so much! I love to make books... I'm probably just an adequate book binder, but it's fun to make my own and they hold up great and do the job, so I guess that's all that matters!

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  6. Very cool journal, I just got your deco art letter stencil and I can't wait to use it!

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    1. Thanks Sandee! The Art Deco Alphabet stencil actually comes in handy for lots of themes... can't wait to see what you do with it!

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  7. You're incredibility talented, Gwen! Love love love!! I know who to contact if I ever go east! Your techniques are so creative! All that glam! ♥

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    1. Thanks so much Anna! This was a fun one for me... I got to use lots of sequins! LOL.

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  8. So exotic and colorful. It's so you Gwen. I can't wait to see it once it's filled with memories.

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    1. Thanks Jill! I actually estimated the pages for this book almost perfectly, and I just need to finish up the last day and maybe print out a few more photos. Hopefully I'll actually get around to sharing this one!

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