23 April 2011

Craft Serendipity: Freezer Paper Journal Covers

First of all: have you entered my giveaway yet? You could win a $25 gift certificate to Literary Tease!

Today I'm going to give you the basics on how to make this:
Freezer Paper Journal Cover
But, first, a story: I recently made a lot of sheets of stitch paper as described in Kelli Nina Perkins awesome book, Stitch Alchemy. The fabric / paper fusion material uses large sheets of freezer paper as a base. Instead of throwing away the freezer paper away after I peeled the stitch paper from it, I've been using it as a base for messy art projects. I put the shiny side down on my work table and work on the non-shiny side.

As I was working on my studio tasks for today, I needed to clear my craft table for another project. I looked at the sheet of freezer paper and decided it was much too pretty to throw away. It's covered in bright spray paint splatters, messy paint drips and splatters, and shiny streaks of gel medium, and it's beautiful. I put it off the the side and once my table was cleared, I started on my first project of the day: making a canvas-bound art journal for myself.

Nancy Rafi, of Rafi Designs, makes gorgeous hard-bound journals and I've been wanting one of my own for months. Hers are beautiful, but I wanted a nice blank journal that I could decorate myself. Plus, I like working in 8 x 10 size, and hers are 8 x 8. When I asked Nancy about her source for the book cloth tape, the only thing I didn't have on hand in my studio, she was kind enough to send me a sample. You'll be seeing more of my journal soon, I'm sure, but here's the blank journal I made:

After making the journal, I had leftover strips of Fabriano Artistico paper which were just the right size to make mini journals, 5 x 6.25 inches. I didn't have canvas in the right size and didn't feel like cutting any boards down to size, so I needed something else to make the cover. I turned around, looking for inspiration, and I saw the freezer paper. Perfect!

I tore pieces of freezer paper to fit the cover and headed to my sewing machine to sew the paper onto the first folded page in the journal. Just before I started, I realized that I'd probably want to cover the stitches on the back of the cover and that using the Artistic paper was probably a waste for the cover. (I love Fabriano Artistico hot press 140 lb watercolor paper, but it's expensive, for paper: $4 a sheet.) Instead, I came back to my studio and grabbed a few 8.5 x 11 sheets of cardstock from my printer. This actually turned out to be a great idea!

I used a zigzag stitch to sew the freezer paper right in the center of the page. I considered trying to line up the edges, but it's actually better to have some room around the edges. You can't pin the paper into place, so it might move on you when you first start. I sewed around all the edges, overlapping a little bit at the end. Be careful to stay on the freezer paper when you are stitching. You'll be trimming this later and won't want to accidentally cut the stitches.

Accidentally beautiful scrap!
For the first journal, I then trimmed the cardstock to fit the freezer paper, which I already measured to fit the journal. I folded this in half and will be binding the journal with a simple pamphlet stitch. For the next two journals, I decided that it would be better to coat the whole thing front and back with gel medium (allowing one side to dry before doing the other). Then, I cute a piece of rice paper to cover the stitching and glued it in place with gel medium. I let this dry overnight. Then, I'll trim the cover, fold, and bind. This will give the stitches more strength and make the cover better lasting.

This is pre-rice paper but shows how the journal will work.
You could definitely bind the three signatures together for a chunky, awesome journal, but I think I'm going to leave them as three separate mini journals. Each one has three small pages of watercolor paper folded in half. They will make a great travel journal to toss in my bag before a trip (like New York next month!). If you don't already know how to do a pamphlet stitch, I found this tutorial at Sarah Nielsen's blog.

[Note: I always sew my pamphlets so that the tied ends are on the outside. This way when I'm done working in the journal, I can add beads or other adornments! I don't recommend adding adornments until after you're finished working inside the journal because the beads tend to fall off and/or get in the way.]


  1. Love getting to know you through your blog! You are quite crafty indeed, lol. ( side eyeing the seven sheets of paint, gesso and sprayed on sheets of baking paper in my art journal with new abandon and glee!)

  2. I've just GOT to get my sewing machine fixed, one of these days! Stitching and cutting afterwards - great idea! Thanks for the tip! {:-Deb

  3. Your excellent guidelines will be of great help to many. Nice post. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks!


  4. A very good tutorial, so easy to follow. My only problem is I don't know what freezer paper is. Can anyone tell me? I'm thinking maybe it is an American type of paper and may not be able to get it in Europe. On the other hand, maybe it has a different name over here. Or else I can use a substitute??
    Anyway, thank you! I am learning so much.

    1. Freezer paper is paper that is coated with a waxy surface and is used for wrapping foods to be stored in the freezer. The difference between freezer paper and wax paper is that wax paper is thinner and has wax on both sides of the paper. Really, you could use any paper you have on hand! You don't want to use the thinnest paper you have, but something slightly thinner than watercolor paper or cardstock might work well?


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