Monday, January 13, 2014

Artsy Monday - Paper Covered Binder

For this week’s Artsy Monday post I thought I would share with you a covered binder that I recently made for my husband. 

A couple of years ago I got him a beer making kit from our local Home Brewers store and he has been making really good beer ever since. Recently, however, he has been experimenting with the recipes; adding his own ingredients, changing things up and truly making the beer his own. I thought it would be really helpful for him to have a binder to organize his beer recipes, a place where he could make notations as to what he added, when he brewed it and how it turned out, basically his own mad scientist journal.

There are not many manly binders or journals in my local stores so I went to a big retail store and found a binder on clearance and then I visited my local scrapbook store and found the single piece of paper that had beer on it. Fortunately my man liked the design on the paper; unfortunately it is a coated paper so it made the project a bit more challenging. (With coated paper you  need to allow much longer dry time which increases the probability of bubbles under the paper)

Tools of the Trade

The first thing I did was gather all my supplies together:

Scrapbook Paper
Foam brushes
Mod Podge Glue/Sealer ( I use Glossy finish)
Sand Paper
Corner Rounder
Paper Cutter
Sticker Remover (If necessary)

For this binder I did not use any additional embellishments though at the bottom of this post there are a couple of pictures of some of my covered composition books which have embellished covers.

Before you start working on the binder you will want to measure the size of the front and back covers as well as the spine. Be sure to get both height and width of all three, just to be safe. Generally both covers will be the same size but sometimes they aren’t! When measuring the spine I do not include the ditch that runs between the spine and the cover. Write the measurements down, you’ll refer to them a bit later.

To begin with you want to remove any stickers that are on the item, whether it is a binder, a cigar box or a composition book, you always want to start with a smooth surface.
Next you will gently sand the entire surface. This removes any leftover adhesive and also ruffs up the surface giving the gesso, paint and Mod Podge a better surface to stick to.  Once you have lightly sanded your surface be sure to wipe it down with a small piece of flannel or a paper towel. I like to use flannel because it is washable and really attracts the dust!


If you read my first Artsy Monday post which detailed turning a picture frame into a chalkboard you may recall the brief comment I made about a paint primer. This time I used one – Gesso.

 Gesso is a fabulous “paint” that primes the surface you are going to paint on. I used the Liquitex Basics Acrylic Gesso to prime the corners of my binder. Gesso is available in more than just the while finish but for my project the white was exactly what I needed.

I applied the Gesso over the areas that I would be painting. As you can see the single coat of Gesso covered quite a bit of the blue binder.

Once the Gesso dried I painted the corners of the binder a golden yellow to coordinate with the writing in the scrapbook paper that I’ll be using to cover it with. Since I chose to use a primer on this project it only required a single coat of paint to give me great coverage. For this project I used undiluted Americana acrylic paint and brushed it on with a sponge brush. When painting the spine, be sure to stand the binder up so that the spine stretches out to its natural shape, otherwise you may end up with the paint buckling in the ditch and peeling away!

Be sure to let your project dry completely between each step!

While the paint dried I cut the paper to size.  Remember those measurements you wrote down, now is when you’ll want to refer to them. My binder measured 10 ¼ tall by 11 ¾ wide. Since I want to leave a ¼ inch band of color on all sides I needed to cut ½ inch off both the height and width of my paper so I cut the scrapbook paper to 9 ¾ x 11 ¼. 


When covering the cover of a binder with paper you can choose to leave the corners square or you can use a corner rounder like I did and round off the corners. If you are a scrapbooker you may even have decorative corner punches which will create fancy designs on the corners of you paper. If you choose to go with this type of corner be sure to paint enough of the binder's edge so that the paint will show through the design of you corner, not the original binder cover.

Once the paint has dried you will paint one of the front panels of the binder and the back of one of the already sized scrapbook papers with Mod Podge. You only want to work on one area at a time because you do not want the Mod Podge to dry before you add the paper to it.  Once you have painted the Mod Podge on the binder and the back of the scrapbook paper you will place the paper, glue side down, on to the binder cover and slide it into place. – Be sure you cover the entire surface areas of both items with the Mod Podge, making sure the edges and corners are covered.

To reduce the amount of air bubble you get you will want to work your paper from the top to the bottom, gently sliding your fingers down the paper to remove any trapped air. I try to line my paper up at the top and then slide it into place using the palm of my hand so that there are less air bubbles between the binder and my paper.  Putting the Mod Podge on both the binder and the paper also helps to reduce air bubbles.

Once your paper is in place you will want to run your fingers along the edges and corners to make sure they are firmly attached. If they are loose, use a sponge brush and dab additional Mod Podge along the edge/corner and press firmly to adhere.

Complete both the front and back covers and the spine in the same fashion. Once all three areas have the scrapbook paper attached you will let them dry and then cover the entire area with another layer of Mod Podge. This seals the binder and adds one more layer or protection to those edges and corners.

Let dry completely!

Once the outside of the binder is dry you can either paint or cover the inside of the binder if you want. I did not paint of cover the inside of this binder.

If you are not going to cover the inside now is the time to decorate your binder. If you are going to add stickers or additional paper designs to the front you can add them using Mod Podge. Always apply a coat of Mod Podge to the item you are sticking things to as well as the item you are sticking.  Then apply a final top coat to seal the project.

Here are a couple of simple composition books that I have covered and turned into journals. As you can see I used a decorative bookplate on one and paper flowers on the other. Both of these have spines covered with velvet paper instead of paint and the decorative paper goes to the edge. 

 Original Composition Book

Tarot Journal


And here is the final binder for my hubby to store his beer recipes in. 

This is a very simple binder, with absolutely no decoration on the cover, but since it will be stored in the man cave I think it will be just fine! 

In a future post I will show you how to cover a composition book like the ones above, using this same technique but adding embellishments and a velvet paper spine.

Thanks for stopping by.

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea....I knew there was a reason why I saved all those binders. I'm thinking I can do these and give them away as a pay it forward. Thanks for the tutorial. Love it. Oma Linda