Tag Archives: Thrifty Paper Crafting

ATCs for Valentine’s Day (Sort of)

These are a few of the ATCs I made for a swap. Unlike a lot of crafters who use all those wonderful embellishments found in shops and online, I usually try to work with what I already have.  Most of the materials I used were homemade or from gifts that I’d been given.

The photo of the little girl came from a page of prints that I was given a few years ago.  The frame was photocopied from a Dover book I checked out from the library.  The glaze is Ultra Thick and the letters are rub-ons.  I’ve never had much success with rub-ons but these turned out just fine.  I made this one for my friend Abby, so the A & B were her initials and I affixed the dictionary term “Abbey”.

The background paper was in a tablet I was given for Christmas.  The silhouettes were from a really wonderful tablet of cutouts made just for ATCs that my sister gave me.  The words “courage, laughter and love” were snipped from a sentence in a magazine . The definition of “courage” was torn from an old paperback dictionary and the red heart was one that I stenciled (with acrylic paint) onto the inside of a paper grocery sack, then cut out with decorative scissors.  The smaller heart was in a box of scrapbook paper and cutouts that Cathy and Abby gave me last year.  Through the punched hole I tied a piece of twine.

I’m not a big fan of the popular words like Inspire, Create, and Dream that adorn paper arts.   There seems to be a lot of creating and dreaming going on.  Courage is an admirable trait and has a little oomph.

Cathy is from Georgia, so what could be better for her than Scarlett O’Hara?  The image was from an advertisement for commemorative plates in a magazine.

My sister gave me this beautiful Audrey Hepburn rubber stamp, so I wanted to use it on one of her cards.  The hat band was chalked, then glazed with Ultra Thick.  The earrings are glittered, the dictionary scrap is “chi chi”, and the fiber is from a piece that Fran had given me.  The base is cardstock which had been sprayed with Glimmer Mist.

Here I used another piece of paper from the tablet.  The paper doll and clothes were clipped from an ad in a magazine.  I really like how chipboard pieces add texture and interest to a project, however I rarely buy any.  Instead I make my own with cereal boxes.  The “Toys”piece was glued onto the thin cardboard, the corners were rounded by scissors and the edges sanded.  I raided my grandsons’ crayon box for the Crayola wrapper.  My sister and I both like paper dolls and this one seemed like a good fit.

Perhaps I had the camera too close, because it looks fuzzier than it actually is.

Those dunce caps that are added to old photos seem a little cruel, but one seemed just right for this dancing lady.  It kind of looks like it’s a part of her costume.  Another dictionary page, a “dance” definition, and the dotted paper scrap were added to a Glimmer misted base.  The lady herself is another from a magazine ad.  Edges of the paper were watercolored in green and the pom-pom on her hat is embellished with silver Stickles.

Originally the swap was to be for Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t have them finished before my surgery.  All my good intentions to complete a project ontime were foiled again by procrastination.  Maybe I should do some banners for myself with words that will Inspire! me.  For instance, Punctuality!  Perseverance! Dedication!

ATCs are a fun, quick paper project.  They’re a nice change of pace from card making because you can choose whatever theme you want and unlike greeting cards, they don’t have to fit into stricter categories like Birthday, Thank You, etc.

Have you heard about Inchies?  I started seeing them on the internet a few weeks ago and don’t know much about them but my goodness, an inch??  That’s going to require more thought.

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Filed under ATCs, Crafts, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Free, Using What You Have

House Altered Book, Using What I Have on Hand

My activities are still very limited – mostly to what I can do sitting or lying down. Lying down means reading, watching a video or working crossword puzzles.

Sitting activities are a bit less confining. My ability to concentrate has improved; so I decided to try making an altered book this week.

The theme is a house. I love the look of kitchens from the 1930s – 1950s. Especially with that soft green color. I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I don’t know what it is. If you do, please tell me in the comment section.

To get inspiration and some ideas, I did a search on youtube for altered books and I watched a lot of them. All of them had merit, because there really aren’t any rules concerning altered books; they are as individual as the people who create them. Click here and here to watch a couple of my favorites. (Each of these has more than 1 part. After watching, look in the sidebar for the subsequent parts.)

And, as always, I wasn’t exactly sure of how to start, so I simply started anyway.

Usually, it’s difficult for me to begin a new project because I’m not working from a kit, with directions. I think it must be kind of like a writer sitting down to begin a new work and they face the blank page. Knowing that once I get into the project, it will become apparent what works and what doesn’t. But by then, the first ones may not fit in with the rest as much as I like.

The fear of dissatisfaction has kept me from doing many, many things. And now I know
that perfection won’t be obtained this side of heaven, so I feel freer to start.

Hooray! It won’t be perfect!

So after watching the youtube videos for a couple of days, I started gathering my tools (small scissors, decorative edge scissors, gel pen, heat gun, stapler, crimper, glue stick, Tacky Glue, etc.) and my supplies (magazines, decorative scrap paper, ribbon, paint, stamp pad, Ultra Thick, etc.) and an old phone book to use as my base (it works great; when the top page gets too messy or gluey to work on, I simply tear it off and use the next one).

If you’ve been around scrapbook stores or have been to a “party” like Stampin’ Up, my supplies will look totally out of place. Not professional at all, because I like to use what I have instead of spending money that I can’t afford to do it their way. For instance, bone folders are considered a basic necessity. I use an old Kinko’s account card (looks like a credit card) and it works just fine.

The book that I altered for this project is a mathematics magazine (it has regular typing paper-type pages — not the slick kind that most magazines have and it’s bound by staples rather than a glued edge). Since our son has his B.S. in math, we have a ton of these magazines that he no longer wants. Ordinarily, we would recycle them. Instead I use them. I think the current term is re-purpose.

The first step was to prepare the base. Red acrylic paint was thinned down to a very watery consistency on a Corelle saucer (not a store bought paint palette) and painted around the edges of the two pages. After drying, a salvaged gray junk mail envelope was affixed with a glue stick on the left side, and pink construction paper was glued down on the right.

When making altered books I don’t try to use acid-free materials. Since I’m 55 years of age, they won’t have to last forever. I really don’t have anyone to inherit these projects, so it doesn’t matter if they don’t last a hundred years. For things with family photos I’m very strict about using only acid free materials.

Instead of buying packages of that wonderful ephemera for embellishments, I photocopy all kinds of things, enlarging or reducing them, as needed. Magazines, catalogs, junk mail, packaging material are wonderful resources.


For instance, the vases of flowers that border the left and right sides came from a clothing catalog. The pages are nice and thick, which made it easy to tear. Two of the phrases (‘This house is peaceful” and “make your house a home”) were clipped from magazines. The brown dotted paper ribbon at the top and bottom were cut from the cover of a Christmas paper pad.

As I said, I mostly use glue sticks (instead of those proper costly products like the double stick tape). For things needing a stronger fixative (like buttons), I use Tacky glue.

The green medallion was made from part of a green magazine page, which was stamped, glued to chipboard from a cereal box and cut out. Then I dabbed it with a watermark stamp pad, coated it with Ultra Thick, and melted it with the heat gun to make it shiny. It should’ve had a second coat. That was something that I learned by experience.

I had a lot of fun making this book and it didn’t cost me a dime. As I worked on it, I thought about how there are so many different kinds of altered books, using many different types of materials. One of the youtube videos that I listed above used solely commercial materials. They make a great looking book.

And I thought about why I get such fun out of cutting up the magazines and thinking up ways of getting a particular look without having to buy a lot of things.

I think it’s because when I was a girl, my sister and I cut furniture and paper dolls out of the discarded Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs, and this is very reminiscent of those long ago days.

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Filed under Altered Books, Cozy, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Dogs, Ephemera, Kitchens, Thrift, Using What You Have, YouTube