Handmade Paper Garden Journal and Bookmarks

Kimberlee Lynch from Denver, Colo., has encountered difficulty with her green thumb in the high altitude of Denver -- so she incorporates dried flowers into her craft projects.

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Materials and Tools:

plastic bucket
pressed cotton sheets for papermaking
blender
large flat plastic tub
dried flowers
framed papermaking screen at least 11" x 11"
large sponge
embroidery stabilizer (interfacing) material
old shower curtain or similar
computer and printer (optional)
pencil, colored pencils or other dry medium to decorate pages
small utility or craft knife
journal templates
2 pieces 10" x 10" decorative or handmade paper covers
9 sheets 8-1/2" x 11" white paper
2 sheets 7-3/4" square coordinating papers for inside covers
3 sheets 8-1/2" x 11" card stock
46 sheets 8-1/2" x 11" coordinating paper
cork-backed metal ruler
cutting mat
large glue stick
two 8" squares single-weight chipboard
1 yard coordinating ribbon
2 large binder clips
hole punch (optional)
tassel

Steps:

1. To make the paper: Tear small pieces from the cotton sheet and place into bucket. The amount will depend on the number of sheets you wish to make. A little goes a long way. Pour in just enough water to cover the cotton pieces. Work the pieces with your fingers to separate the fibers. The cotton should be completely soaked through and separated into very small bits (making a cotton pulp).

2. Pour about a half a cup of the pulp into a blender jar and fill with water about three-quarters full. Blend the pulp until fine bits form. Pour the pulp into the plastic tub and repeat the blending process until the tub is about a third full. Pour three or four more blender jars full of water only into the tub to further dilute the pulp. Add a few crushed dried flowers to the mixture.

3. Douse the interfacing in water and wring it out. Smooth the interfacing flat on a waterproofed work surface. Submerge the screen in the tub and stir the pulp to produce an even distribution. Pull the screen up from the water. An even layer of pulp should cover the screen. If you see holes showing through the pulp, re-dip the screen. The thickness of the pulp will determine the thickness of your finished paper.

4. Press the sponge onto the back surface of the screen to soak the excess water from the pulp. Invert the screen and place it on the interfacing. Continue to press the sponge onto the screen to remove more water from the pulp sheet. Once the water is soaked up, invert the screen again and carefully peel off the interfacing. Allow paper to dry completely. To expedite the process, place screens against a heating vent or simply place in the sun.

5. Run a butter knife along the outside edges between the dry paper and the screen to release the paper. The sheet is ready to be cut and used for the journal. Repeat this process to create other sheets.

6. To make the journal: Draw marks to use as guides for cutting out to measure 7 3/4-inch squares. Draw a design, leaving room to scribe your planting information onto the nine pages, titling each with early spring, spring, late spring, early summer, summer, late summer, early fall, fall, late fall. (Those in warm climates can add the winter season.) Optional: Design these on a computer by drawing them first on paper and then scanning them into the computer. The designs may then be redrawn to produce clean, professional edges. Using the paper chosen for the book pages, photocopy or print out five copies of each designed page. Using the card stock chosen for the two pocket pages, draw vertical marks to use as guides for cutting out to measure 7-3/4" x 11". Draw a horizontal line 7-3/4 inches from the bottom edge of the paper length.

7. To cut the journal pages, place the ruler along the trim marks (penciled guidelines) and carefully slice through the paper with the utility knife. Trim the pocket pages in the same fashion and fold the card stock on the penciled guidelines to form a pocket. Apply glue to the outside edges of the bottom fold in a strip about 1/4 inch wide. Fold the edges upward and press into place, forming a pocket on each page. Place heavy books over the separate pages until the glue is dry. Phone books work great for this step.

8. To assemble the covers, apply the glue liberally to a square of chipboard and center it on the back of a square of decorative paper. Flip it over and smooth out the paper with your hands.

9. Flip it over again and cut a 1-inch square from each of the four corners of the decorative paper. (Folding the uncut corners inward at an angle adds too much bulk to the corners.) Liberally apply the glue to the overlapping paper and fold inward.

10. Cut the ribbon length in half and glue 4 inches of the ribbon to the board, starting in the center and allowing the remainder to hang free over the outside edge. Apply glue liberally to the back of a 7-3/4-inch coordinating square of paper and center it on the back of the prepared board, over the ribbon, smoothing the paper out with your hands. Repeat this step with the second piece of chipboard.

11. Weight the covers (separately) with heavy books and leave overnight until glue is completely dry.

12. Assemble the journal pages consecutively from cover to cover. Place the pocket pages first and last inside the covers, with the pockets facing inward. Line up all of the pages flush with the binding edge, making sure the ribbons are situated opposite the bind. Secure the book with two large clips, one on the top of the journal and one on the bottom. Have the book bound with your choice of binding at an office supply store.

13. To finish the book, draw a design on a 3" x 3" square of paper or design the square onto 8-1/2" x 11" on the computer. Print and cut out the cover decoration. Glue it onto the center of the cover.

14. For the bookmarks, use the same card stock used for the pocket pages of the garden journal. You can design 1-3/4" x 7" bookmarks on the computer and print and cut them out, or precut the strips and draw a coordinating design on each one. Laminating is optional at this point, but it lends the bookmarks a more finished look and heightens durability. Finish them by punching small holes in the center near the upper edges, where tassels can be attached.

Web site: www.coloradocreativeliving.com

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