It's the end of summer and that means one thing- time to stock up on folders, paper, pens and all the other back to school supplies that are on sale. This craft will turn a cheap composition book into a cool journal with some old magazines and some Mod Podge decoupage glue. Follow these steps to make your own one-of-a-kind creation.
Step 1: Materials
First, we'll need some supplies:
Mod Podge decoupage glue- You don't have to use Mod Podge- diluted Elmer's white glue will work and you can add a bit of varnish to give it a gloss finish- but I use it because it's simple and consistent.
Brushes or foam applicators- I used foam applicators for this project but brushes, sponges and rags can be used to apply the glue. Since the glue dries quickly, try not to use your best brushes as they may be ruined.
Small scissors or a hobby knife- Use what you're comfortable with- we'll be cutting small, detailed pieces of paper to create our designs so use what works for you.
Cutting board- If you use a hobby knife don't ruin your table top! I use old record album covers (because someone donated a ton of old records and we find creative uses for stuff) but any soft material will work. The main point is to protect the work surface while not dulling your blade too quickly.
Old books, magazines, cloth scraps, etc.- I used some old, damaged library books, but you can use anything flat and porous to create patterns and designs.
Sandpaper- These composition books have a waxy surface texture. I used fine sandpaper to give them a rough surface to help the glue stick better.
Wax paper- Wax paper is used to prevent the cover from sticking to the rest of the pages when we apply the glue.
Rags- Disposable rags are useful for wiping excess glue and smoothing out paper layers.
Rubbing alcohol- this is useful for cleanup.
Clear sealer- I used Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel to seal the final project.
Step 2: Preparing the Composition Book
The outer surface of the composition book should be evenly sanded to roughen the surface and help the glue stick better. I sanded the cardboard part of the cover while avoiding the tape on the spine. When the entire surface was sanded evenly I wiped it with rubbing alcohol on a rag to remove any dust build up.
Step 3: Plan Your Design and Cut Out the Paper Elements
Planning is key with this type of work. Cut all your paper elements and plan where they will go before you start gluing. Here I used a cookie tin lid to cut a series of semicircles. These will create a fish-scale pattern for the background. I also cut out two figures for the foreground.
Step 4: Gluing the Background
Before I start gluing I like to put a piece of wax paper between the cover and the pages of the composition book. This prevents the pages from being glued together. Start gluing your pieces back-to-front, with your background first and the top pieces glued last. Apply glue to the area you want to put your piece of paper. Do not apply glue to the top of the paper as this will cause it to wrinkle and get bubbles. Apply the glue and then place the paper down. Use a clean rag to smooth out the paper and let it dry. This should take about 10 minutes. I like to use the drying time to cut out fine details on my other paper elements. Once the piece is dry, you can apply a thin layer of glue to the top and apply your next piece of paper. If pieces don't overlap, they can be applied all at once. (The stripes in the background of the cowboy design were done that way). Overlapping pieces take longer to apply due to the glue drying times, but the create really interesting patterns. Be patient and experiment. As you can see from the photos, I cut my paper elements to line up along the edge of the tape on the spine. I let the paper hang over the open edges of the composition book cover. When they are dry I use scissors or a hobby knife to trim the excess paper even with the book's cover. When all the background parts are attached and dry, I give the cover an even coating of Mod Podge and let it dry completely. I find it helpful to keep a tub of water to throw my used brushes and foam pads in so that the glue doesn't dry and ruin them. As you can see from the above pictures, it's also easier and quicker to open the composition book up to the middle page and lay it out flat so you can work on both covers at the same time. This saves drying time.
Step 5: Adding the Foreground Elements
Adding the foreground elements is the same process as adding the background. It's handy to have a rag to blot excess glue from the edges of any pieces we add and to aid in smoothing out the paper. When it's all done, add several thin layers of Mod Podge to give it a nice, smooth finish.
Step 6: Sealing the Mod Podge
When all the Mod Podge is completely dry, I seal it with a few coats of Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel. This seals the project and protects it from moisture. Since the Mod Podge is water-based, water can make it sticky and it can mess up the surface. The sealer protects it and gives it a nice glossy finish. Let the sealer dry over night and enjoy your new decoupage composition book.
Step 7: Examples
Here are a few examples I made. The one on the right used strips of patterned paper to create a background. these strips didn't overlap, so they went on all at the same time. The center example is the one detailed in this Instructable. The book on the left used a single piece for the background, with multiple, overlapping images in the foreground.