I recently had need to make a fun portfolio for my Children’s Literature illustrations. This is what I came up with. It’s great, too, for scrapbooks.
1. freezer paper – available from your local butcher, or, I’ve heard Reynolds makes some you can find at the grocery store (sadly, not in Canada). Just make sure it’s dull paper on one side, and shiny (plastic) on the other.
2. x-acto knife and glue stick
3. fabric – big enough to cover your boards. I used an old t-shirt and some cotton scraps from previous projects.
4. paint, acrylic, and a make-up sponge wedge (or clean kitchen sponge, trimmed down).
5. Double sided tape, glue gun and glue sticks
6. A chipboard book kit. I got mine for under $7 at Michaels, in store – and it came with a mini album. I looked online, but didn’t see it, but I’m sure you can find something similar in the scrapbooking section of your local crafts store.
Step 1. Print out a stencil (or draw one) on printer paper. Try Googling ‘Pumpkin carving stencils’ for ideas.
Step 2. Freezer paper. Use a glue stick to attach the stencil art to the DULL side of the freezer paper. Make sure the stencil is firmly glued over the center of the freezer paper area.
Step 3. Now cut that bad boy out! Slow and steady wins the race.
Step 4. Place your cover fabric on an ironing board and decide where you want to put your stencil. Make sure you consider the orientation of your book – how will it open, will it flip open to the left, or to the top? *Important* – make sure you place the shiny side down on the fabric.
Step 5. Iron the freezer paper on. Pay special attention to the edges of your freshly cut stencil. You don’t want paint to seep under.
Step 6. Place a piece of cardboard beneath the layer of fabric you will be painting on to protect lower surfaces. An old cereal box works well.
Step 7. Mix your paint. I just used a black acrylic paint, but feel free to get whimsical. Try not to load the wedge with too much paint. Start out with a little and add as you go.
Step 8. Use the make-up wedge to dab the paint onto the stencil. Use an up and down motion to help ensure that there is no bleeding beneath the edges.
Step 9. No need to wait for the paint to dry. Go ahead and gently peel back that stencil.
Step 10. Admire your handy work, then put it aside to dry.
*TIP* – let your stencil dry and you can reuse it once or twice more.
Step 11. Line the edges of your chipboard outer-book cover with double sided tape. Glue from a glue gun will seep through the fabric, so this is a good alternative to keep the fabric in one place. We’ll use the glue gun on the other side to make sure it’s good and fixed.
Step 12. Once your stencil is dry, place the taped chipboard cover face down on the fabric. Smooth it our with your fingers. Notice how the corners of the fabric is cut. Use the glue gun to adhere the fabric to the back side (the side now facing you) of the chipboard. Make sure you don’t use the glue gun too close to the chipboard edge. We want to be able to cover up any seepage. The fabric should meet at 45 degree angles (ish) at the corners. Stretch knit fabrics are more forgiving than woven for this step. But careful cutting will get you good results with woven fabrics, too.
Step 13. For the inside of the front book cover, I decided to add two handy pockets for business materials. I sewed a smaller square (big enough to fit business cards in, vertically) onto a larger rectangle (for postcards), then attached the whole unit of pockets to the inside-cover fabric. I ironed down the outer edges of the inside-cover fabric and hot glued it to the inside chipboard cover. See below.
Step 14. Above, I did the same (sans pockets on inside, and sans stencil on outside) to the back cover.
Afterwards, I noticed a small stain on my fabric. Oops! Inspect your fabric well before starting.
So I used a Sharpie marker to draw a little doodle. It’s a portfolio for my children’s themed illustrations, after all.
The finished front and back cover, ready to be assembled. As you can see, I glued some other embellishments on the front. Read the instructions in your chipboard book kit on how to insert the rings.
Step 15. Pierce small holes with the x-acto knife, or sharp scissors to open up the fabric – ever so slightly – where you want the rings to go.
The finished product(s)
It seems like a lot of steps when it’s all laid out like this, but it’s really simple. Take your time and enjoy yourself. This took me one afternoon to put together (I had a deadline).
Feel free to ask questions in the comments.