September 10, 2010

Skull Notebook Tutorial

Happy Friday, everyone!  I have just finished up a spectacular notebook make-over.  I've been wanting to do something crafty for my son for a while now to celebrate going back to school and incorporate some of the things he loves.  So I put together a little care package with a variety of items that will hopefully be fun for him.  He's really into skulls, so I decided to incorporate that theme into his notebook/journal.

I was inspired by a Pottery Barn knock-off skull print I saw here from a fellow crafter/blogger.  So I went to the Graphics Fairy, saved this to my pics, and printed it out on some lightweight card stock that I had laying around.  I then gathered up my supplies and got to work!  Here's what you'll need:

- a notebook (I used a b&w composition notebook that I picked up for 25cents)
- skull print
- decorative paper
- Mod Podge
- scissors
- exacto/utility knife
- paintbrush (I used a 1" for all of it)
- waxed paper (optional)
- card (credit card-ish, optional) for smoothing out wrinkles/air bubbles

1) Start off by choosing what kinds of paper you want to use.  For this particular project, I used a bunch of different kinds that I scavenged out of my art cabinet; I used card stock for the front cover base, construction paper for the back of the notebook and for the interiors, and watercolor paper for part of the front and for the inside envelope.

Cover the front of your notebook with Mod Podge:
 (you can choose whether or not to go over the spine with some podge- I didn't at first, then changed my mind later)

2)  Lay a piece of card stock (or whatever paper you want to use for this part) over the Mod Podged surface. 

You can use an old credit card (or library card, video card, etc) to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles.  Do this carefully but firmly so you don't tear the paper.  Even if you do get a couple wrinkles, it's no biggie.

*also- I forget where I saw this, but it's a lot easier to put the paper down on the MP'd surface and then cut it to size with an exacto knife after it dries- it's so much better than trying to cut the paper to the right dimensions, then gluing! *

3)  I like to use waxed paper between things when using any sort of adhesive to prevent sticking, so slap a piece of it on top of your cover, weigh down with books, and let dry (I let mine dry overnight).  This step also helps prevent warping of the cover.

4)  Once dry, remove the heavy books, set down on a safe cutting surface, and trim off the excess card stock from the front cover.

(so as not to confuse you guys, my card stock was light grey on one side/top and dark grey on the other/bottom)

and it will look like this:

(see?  I got a wrinkle at the upper right corner, but I'm not sweatin' it- I know it will all work out!)

5)  Gather your decorative papers and your skull print and play around a little with the composition and how you may want your cover to look.  I didn't really measure anything at this point, I just sort of "eyed it" until I saw what I liked.  Then, cut your papers accordingly and start layering with Mod Podge.

Again, I put a piece of waxed paper just inside the cover because I knew this part would get messy!  I started this step by podge-ing the whole cover, then placing the white paper on top.  Then I podged the white paper all over and placed the black construction paper on top.  Then I podged the black paper all over and placed the skull print on top.  Finally, I podged on top of the skull print and left to dry!  Lots of layers, people, lots of layers!

Okay- it looks all funky now, but once it's dry, trust me- it'll look great!

6)  You could stop here, but why?  I didn't like the look of the inside covers of these kinds of notebooks, so I decided to cover the rest (back cover and both interiors) with plain black construction paper.  Now I know that isn't the best or sturdiest of paper, but I figured once it was sealed in Mod Podge, it would be just fine.

But I also wanted to add a little something to the inside front cover and thought an envelope would be perfect for my son to keep secret notes in.  So I went through my stash of Thank You cards and found a cool square envelope to make a template out of.  So here's an easy way to make a template:
a) find an envelope that you like the shape and size of
b) "undo" (tear carefully) the glued parts
c) place deconstructed envelope on plain white paper
d) trace around the edges
e) cut out- and voila- you have a template to use for future projects!

Okay, okay... so now that you've got an envelope template, find some paper you'd like to use and I used another skull image I printed off (from a stencil site that I can no longer find).

7)  Use your template and trace onto your choice of paper (I used a stiff watercolor paper- next time I think I'll use something a little thinner and more malleable as it is kinda' difficult to tuck in the top part)
fold up the envelope, starting with the bottom flap, then the two sides

Now take some glue (I just used plain old white glue like Elmer's or something) and apply only to the sides where it touches the bottom flap

8) Next, I brushed some podge onto the back of my second skull image and centered it (more or less!) onto the envelope.  I stuck a little scrap of waxed paper inside the envelope where the top of the skull image was still wet.  I also later decided to podge over this skull image since everything else was sorta' sealed with it and I thought it looked better that way.

I podged all over the black construction paper that was on the inside cover and placed the envelope on top.  Then I layed books on top and let it dry.

All RIGHT!  Once you have everything where you want it, and everything is Mod Podged down with at least one coat (I ended up doing two on the front), you're FINISHED!  Yea! 

 This particular project took a couple of days only because I decided to do both interior and exterior of both front and back covers (that's a lot of drying time).  But if you just want to start off doing the outside front cover until you get the hang of things, then that's still cool- there's tons of great images out there for kids of all ages. 

This would also be a great guest book for a Halloween party or something.  The possibilities are endless- have fun!


  1. So cute! What a fun notebook this would be for a biology student as well.

  2. Thanks, Amy! Yes- biology- I'm kinda' enthralled by science and have a lot of anatomy images saved, so check back for more crafty goods using these sorts of visuals. Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. I love this - very cool - perfect in time for Halloween! :D

  4. Super cute! Great idea to protect the notebook pages using wax paper! Hope your son appreciates your days of mod podging for him!
    -Allison and Chelsea-
    decor roomies

  5. Thanks MP Amy:) Man, I love the 'Podge!

    Allison and Chelsea- thanks for stopping by!

  6. We just scored a boatload of these for a quarter piece! We'll be sprucing them up soon...thanks for the tut...

  7. Wendy- I've always had a soft spot in my heart for school supplies and these are no different! That's awesome that we both found them for so cheap; I wish I had snagged more at that price. Have fun altering them:)

  8. Great job! I saw this at The Graphics Fairy. This is such a fun image to play with! I also love altering composition books. This turned out lovely.

  9. I am so inspired to use this skull image...somehow! I too love jazzing up a notebook-very cool project!

  10. This is so fun!! And perfect for a guy! Thanks so much for linking this up to Brag Monday.

  11. Thanks, guys! Karen- you are absolutely fabulous and I heart your blog:)