Category Archives: Making

DIY: Homemade Washi Tape

If you are not a crafter, you may not be familiar with washi tape. It is a decorative tape used for a variety of crafting purposes. I used purchased Washi Tape to create Ali Manning’s Washi Tape Journal.

There are a variety of tutorials for creating your own tape. This one from Randomona at Instructables starts with masking tape, which has a similar texture to real washi tape, and offers ideas for decorating the tape with various media from watercolor to colored pencils.

My idea was to recycle magazine pages for the tape, using double-sided tape as the base. I was able to try it out today, and the experiment was semi-successful. Washi tape is able to be moved around a bit before adhering completely. Double-sided tape is completely unforgiving: it sticks the minute it touches the background material.

I decided to add a challenge to the journal cover by taking one image and slicing it into washi tape wedges, spacing them out across the cover. It mostly worked although, as you can see from the pictures below, one of the pieces of the bridge doesn’t quite line up. I was so worried about the tape that I forgot about the alignment. I experimented on the back by putting down wider pieces of the background but it really didn’t work. The strips of the picture aren’t evenly spaced.

Here’s my bigger picture thought about this in terms of learning: part of me was disappointed as there are issues with the cover. But, I *learned* a lot and am already planning to try again tomorrow, applying a bit more precision to the widths of the background pieces. This is the process that should undergird performance based assessment: generating an idea, trying it out, reflecting, tinkering, trying again, reflecting, rinse and repeat as much as possible. It is messy, not easy to assess, but a process that opens a whole host of learning opportunities.

Critiques aside, I am actually happy with how it turned out. I put in an order for removable double-sided tape and am heading to my craft staff to see if I have any masking tape. I seem to be able to picture a box. Wish me luck.

As I dig around, you can check out the cover pictures below. I’ll make a single signature and sew it together later.

Homemade Washi Tape

Muddling Through Monday

When my father retired, I gave him a hard time as he still got up every Monday morning but instead of going to his office, he went to the church where he helped out with tracking attendance data from the day before. I told him that when I retired, I would most definitely not do anything resembling work at least until noon on Monday.

I have mostly stuck by that vow, puttering around in my pajamas, enjoying a second latte, doing some general weekly planning. Some Monday mornings, I even take that second latte back to bed with my current read. It feels deliciously decadent after decades of having to face the outside world much too early on Mondays. I apologize to those of you with real jobs who even now are looking forward to lunch time for triggering any envy or sadness. Your time will come. Meanwhile, feel free to live vicariously through me.

In my former life, Mondays were WORK days as I figured the more I got done that day, the easier the rest of the week would be. I still have that philosophy and right now am facing a pretty brutal grading deadline for one of my seven-week courses. My workload, however, is such that I can wait until the afternoon to get started. Truth be told, I was curious to see the projects from my class and have already graded two of the early postings. It didn’t really feel like work.

I made another book this weekend. It’s a pamphlet stitch journal that incorporates weaving into the long stitches that make up the binding. It is the October book project for Ali Manning’s Handmade Book Club. I attended the new member welcome meeting last week, and we were strongly encouraged to share our books no matter how inexperienced we were. So…I did. I am a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of both sharing the pictures with other more advanced bookmakers but also just generally getting involved in an online community. It seems like a safe place, however, and I have already learned a lot and created more than I have for a very long time.

I wanted to use materials I had around the house to complete the book. The back and front covers are made from some handmade paper I bought. I used coloring book pages for some of the signature covers. The ribbon and buttons were part of my stash. There is an option to add some kind of closure, but I think I like this the way it is.

Woven Pamphlet Stitch Book

It’s Been a Minute

Teaching online and face to face as well as developing a new seven-week course that starts next week has been keeping me busy. A bit of stress has been keeping me distracted. Both added up to a bit of writer’s block.

It may seem silly to talk about stress when you are semi-retired and living a simple life like I am, but it still happens. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to you young people out there who are looking forward to all that stress-free living the retirement communities promise. Sure, they fix your plumbing but can they keep you from saying yes to a project without asking enough questions?

I have been, for the past 18 months, volunteering for a local project that has become a time and energy suck without making any progress. It is time to walk away. Actually , it WAS time to walk away in June, but I hate giving up so gave it a bit more time and effort. Hence, the stress. I am still conflicted as I respect the vision and the work of the organization. But, I’ve done as much for them as I can and need to pivot to other priorities.

One priority is to build my bookmaking skills. I participated in a second Vintage Page Designs challenge last week, learning to create a Coptic Stitch Gratitude Journal. I am pretty happy with how mine turned out.

I also created two other books: a hardcover Coptic stitch book from a kit that has been lurking around and a Washi tape journal via Vintage Page Designs.

Ali Manning, owner of Vintage Page Designs, hosts a private Handmade Book Club, and I accepted her recent invitation after being on the waiting list for awhile. The club holds a variety of events, provides access to a large library of tutorials, and gives general information about bookmaking including information for starting your own business.

I’m not sure I am ready to start a business, but I already have a stack of six completed books and plans to tackle a hardcover journal next. I’m going to have to do something with them make beyond gifting, I think. I have also been making greeting cards, and they are starting to pile up. Finally, I have a tub of completed crochet projects along with the usual works in progress and plans for future projects. At the least, a business would be an excuse to buy more stash for these various hobbies.

And, let’s not talk about the books that seem to be piling up all around me. I have *always* wanted to own a bookstore and I just might be able to do that.

As I daydream away, enjoy a few pictures of recent books and cards:

Washi Tape Journal

Blue Book

Coptic Binding

Fun with Circuits

I love hands-on learning and creating, and I don’t think teachers always get enough opportunity to experience this kind of making. For the past few years, I have done Scrappy Circuit workshops as regular breakout sessions. They are always been fun but a little overwhelming in terms of preparation and execution. Getting 25 people to tear apart tea lights, build bricks and get their LED to light all within 45 minutes can be a challenge.

I decided to redesign the session as a playground where people can tinker with either pre-made bricks or try building the original Scrappy Circuits from scratch. I finished up building my bricks and worked on the handout that will guide playground visitors in creating their circuits. Next is what I think of as the most fun part: doing some of my own inventing to show off examples of what you can do with these very easy circuits. I’m also going to show how this basic knowledge can then be used with other supplies and devices.

For now, here is the handout I created:

Bookmaking

I love working with paper and have dabbled in bookmaking over the years, making mostly simple one signature paper-backed journals and small Japanese bound books. I have always wanted to learn more so I signed up for Ali Manning’s Handmade Book Club, a week-long course that takes you through the step-by-step process of making three cloth bound, multi-signature books using three different stitches for the binding.

I have finished the first book. It uses the chain stitch for the binding. I was surprised at how easy it seemed as it looks complicated, but I think it is a testament to how well Ali presents the process.

I trimmed the pages of this book so the edges were straight but don’t think I will for the other two as it creates some waste. I am trying to come up with an idea for what to do with all the 1/2 inch strips of white paper. I was also left with a strips of the cork fabric I am using for the covers so made a Japanese bound book yesterday afternoon. I think it turned out well so I may start making the books in pairs of a large one and a small one. The small ones are meant to be whimsical and interactive with different types of paper including a coloring page.

Click the picture to check out the full gallery:

Chain Stitch Book