DIY Notepads


We have lots and lots of paper scraps in our house.  We jot lists on them (and promptly lose them!) and the Sage draws cars and practices writing on them but that doesn’t put a dent in our paper supply.  (Hello, my name is Salamander and I hoard paper.)  I love making these little notepads.  They can be made of repurposed/ upcycled materials.  All you need is a good glue (elmer’s school glue won’t cut it), paper and bulldog clips or something similar.  A stiff board (cereal box, back of a sketchbook, mat board) is a nice addition.  Knock the papers (and board if you’re using it) down so they are lined up.  Clip them together, spread a generous amount of glue (Aleene’s Tacky Glue is what I use).  Stand it up between two jars so the glue won’t drip and  (this is the hard part) leave it alone until it’s dry.

These would make great stocking stuffers or make small ones to use in place of a card on the gift.  Here are several variations:

Matchbook Notebooks from Design*Sponge.

Notepads from Chocolate on my Cranium.  I use Aleene’s Tacky Glue (the brown bottle at any big box craft store) instead of the padding compound, so don’t hesitate to try this.

Notepads with photo covers  from Photojojo.


Upcycled Journals

I just got a bunch of miscut north Alabama topographical maps.  They have really interesting place names like Bugaboo Mountain and Looney Hollow as well as lovely green and brown patterns.  I try to balance aesthetics, functionality and environmental responsibility when making journals.  One of the lovely things about the topo paper is that when used as interior pages, you can still use both sides of the paper to write on.  Often, only half of the pages in upcycled journals are actually useable.  Very happy I was able to get these.  The fabric I’m using on some of these is also upcycled.  They are samples from a local fabric store.  Too small to be used for much, but great, high quality fabrics for covering books.


Twin Photo Album

Here’s a photo album I just finished for twin baby girls.  It is two books combined into one, honoring their differences as well as their relationship as twins.  Each side opens up to a piece of vellum embossed with the baby’s name and then space for up to 40 photos of each child.  This book was a fun challenge.  I have more books in my ArtFire shop, but please contact me if I can help you with something more customized.










Thumbnail Sketches

Sherrie York over at Brush and Baren has started her 100 Thumbnail Sketches a month project again (you should really pop over and see her amazing prints and watercolors).  It’s a wonderful idea and I really need to be sketching more.  My hope is 2 thumbnails a day, 1 from life and 1 from photos.  I needed a dedicated sketchbook for this, one that would easily fit in my bag or pocket and would fit only 1 thumbnail per page.

It stands up easily on it’s own so I can work from it later.

Book making part 2

My Luddite PDA

My Luddite PDA

Skimming the internet can provide so much creative inspiration.  Ivy Lane Designs has some great handmade books using cereal boxes.  One type of design uses 1- 1 1/2″ square sections of candy and cereal boxes pieced together in a grid to make the cover of the book.  This is a great project to do with a group of kids.  Every kid brings a bag of squares and share.  The focus could then be on design and balance.

Crown Bindery uses simple rings to bind little books together.

I know I am admitting how Luddite I am, but I needed a book to keep phone numbers (from friends to doctors), insurance info, and directions handy when we travel.  I combined Ivy Lane Designs’ upcycled pieced printed materials idea with Crown Bindery’s binding technique to create a handy little 4″ book.  The rings make it easy to flip fully open and to change the pages.


Keeping Business cards handy

Keeping business cards handy

The outside covers are 1″ squares from state park pamphlets acquired over the years.  Three rings, spaced carefully, allow me to punch business cards and insert them.  Every thing has its own section which is separated by part of a state park map.

Inside cover and section divider

Inside cover and section divider

The inside cover is a section of a Blue Ridge Parkway map.  I punched the 3 holes before painting the cover with Modpodge to help protect it because it will get tossed around and beaten up.

Lost Button also provides directions and templates for mini books.

Easy Bookbinding


I really like this book binding method for everyone from adults to elementary age kids (though the younger kids will need a little support).  For an even easier version, requiring only paper and a stapler (or needle and thread) and scissors, check out Plum Pudding’s Paper Pocket Booklets.


Mat board scraps or other stiff board (cereal boxes aren’t sturdy enough, but you could try gluing two layers together if you can’t find anything thicker).

Paper to cover the outside (60-80 pound cardstock/scrapbook paper works well.  Typing paper is way too thin.)

Paper to cover the inside (can be thinner than the outside paper, but regular typing paper is still to thin to handle the glue.)

Paper to make your pages from (Now you can use typing paper or any other thin papers.  And remember, all of the pages don’t have to be the same type or color.)


Glue (plain white glue works well but do not use ‘school glue’)

Scrap of mat board or other stiff board to spread glue with (1/2″ – 1″ wide by 3″ long works well)

Hole punch (Make sure your hole punch can punch mat board before starting the project.  I just bought the Crop-a-dile and love it.)

Ribbon (12-18 inches per book)


Heavy books or other weight

Popsicle sticks, optional

Step 1 and 2

Step 1 and 2

Step 1: Cut 4 pieces of mat board 2 pieces that are about 1 inch long and as wide as the book and 2 pieces that are about 6 inches long and as wide as the book (4 inches wide works well).

Step 2: Cut 2 pieces of paper that are 1/2 – 3/4  inches larger in each direction than the mat board (see photo).

Step 3: Drizzle glue over the back of one large piece of mat board then use a scrap piece of mat board to evenly and very thinly coat the mat board.  (I lay the mat board on a flattened cereal box to spread the glue.  I then move the box aside to have a clean space to work with the paper.)  Position the gluey mat board on the paper, turn over and rub gently from center to edges with the flat side of the popsicle stick (or another scrap of mat board).  Place under a pile of heavy books for a few minutes while you repeat the process with the other large mat board piece.

Step 4 and 5

Step 4

Step 4: Spread glue over one of the little mat board pieces.  Line a ruler up next to the big, already glued piece to help position the little piece.  Tightly wedge 2 popsicle sticks (or 2 pieces of mat board) between the large and small pieces.  This creates a necessary gap so that the cover will hinge and open without tearing your papers.  Remove the ruler and popsicle sticks and carefully place under heavy books.  Repeat with other cover.

Step 5 and 6

Step 5 and 6

Step 5: Snip off the corners of the paper, leaving a little more than 1/8 inch of paper extending beyond the corner.  If you cut off too little it will be hard to fold the paper over the corners.  If you cut off too much, the mat board will peep through on the points.

Step 6: Fold the edges over the cover, creasing them with the popsicle stick or bone folder as you go.  Then spread a very, very thin line of glue on the edge of the mat board.  Use your popsicle stick to help press down the paper as you fold it over.  You may have to glue 2 opposite sides then let it sit under your heavy books for a minute before doing the other 2 opposite sides.

Step 7

Step 7

Step 7: Cut the end pages to go inside the cover.  They should be 1/8-1/4 inch smaller in every direction than the book cover.  Spread glue on the end pages as you did above then carefully position on the inside of the cover.  Put under a weight for a few minutes.  Before it is completely dry, run the popsicle stick in the crack between the large and small sections to make a crease.  This will help it open more easily.  Press under weights until completely dry.

Step 8: Cut the pages for the book the same size as the end pages or slightly smaller.  A stack of paper about 1/2 inch thick is good for this size book.

Step 9: Punch holes in everything.  I usually make a template that I hold over the covers and each section of papers to know where to punch the holes.  About 1/2 inch from the short end and 1 inch in seems to work well.  To make the template, get a scrap of paper the width of the book, measure carefully where you want your holes then punch them through the template.  Use this to punch holes through the cover then trim it down from both ends to match the smaller size of the pages.  Make sure everything is lining up well before you punch all of your holes.

Step 10: Use bulldog clips to hold everything together in it’s right place then tie it all up.  Thread the ribbon through the cover (make sure it is smooth on the back), the papers and front cover then tie.  I usually do a double knot and then the bow.

Finished book

Finished book