Decorating My Art Journal

Several blog posts ago, I mentioned that my black chunky pocket art journal had a bare cover. It’s been bothering me. All of my other art journals have some sort of personalization in the form of stickers of my artwork or some vinyl designs.

I attempted to use my Cricut Joy (mini) to cut out some small vinyl designs, but was having a problem with it my since the last Cricut updates. I can make a bluetooth connection, but after 2-4 minutes I would lose connectivity. It’s an absolute pain when the Joy is in the middle of cutting and it loses connectivity. I’ve had a few vinyls that were cut on the wonky side or unplanned cuts into the middle of the designs. I hope the next Cricut updates will fix this connectivity issue with my Joy as I had this similar issue late last year. It’s really disheartening when I can’t use my cute little Cricut Joy.

I ended up using my reliable Cricut Maker to cut my vinyl decals. Using my huge 12″x12″ mat for my small 2″x4″ vinyl pieces was a bit of an overkill, but it worked flawlessly.

Did I mention how much I love my Maker?! It’s a wonderful machine to use and works brilliantly. Okay, back to decorating my journal cover.

I wanted to dedicate this chunky journal for my pen & ink art sketches. I have a bad habit of reaching for the nearest art journal and start doing my artsy thing and hours later realize that I did a watercolor sketch in my pen & ink journal or vice versa.

I created my design (text & images) in the Cricut Design Space software. I ended up with 5 layers or 5 basic project cuts as I was using different vinyl types and colors. In the following picture, I used my transfer tape to add the vinyl letters (first cut project).

I slowly peel off the transfer tape (at an angle) from my journal cover.

I was so excited about decorating/applying my vinyls and was not paying attention to what I was suppose to be doing. I centered my title on the cover and forgot I was suppose to add a fountain pen vinyl image next to it. Good thing I will be adding some other colorful images to my cover. Maybe no one will notice.

When I was designing my cover in the Cricut software, I forgot to straighten my fountain pen image before cutting the vinyl for it. This represented my second project cut. I took my transfer tape and lined it up parallel with my fountain pen vinyl and removed it from the vinyl backing paper.

It made it easier to position and apply the fountain pen vinyl design onto my journal cover.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to photograph and share pictures of my transfer tape in this blog post. You can see it’s looking a bit abused and had lots of lint stuck to it. I’ve been using this same piece of tape for several projects now and it still has quite a bit of tacky adhesive on it.

I wanted to add some splash of colors to my black journal cover. I cut out some ink splat images (project cut 3, 4 & 5) in different sizes using my metallic vinyl. The vinyl colors reminded me of Diamine Vintage Copper, Subzero, and Pink Ice.

Check out my chunky art journal! My cover no longer looks plain and I can easily identify the use for my pen & ink sketches.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Hardcover (4″x6″)

Vinyl Cutter: Cricut Maker

Vinyls used:

  • Pen & Ink lettering (Premium Textured Metallic Vinyl in Bronze)
  • Fountain Pen (Premium Textured Metallic Vinyl in Champagne)
  • Ink Splats (Paper Studio Removable Vinyl in Metallic Blue, Metallic Pink, and Metallic Copper)

My Cricut World

There’s another hobby I’ve been experimenting with that involves a bit of designing. When I’m not playing with my fountain pens and inks or watercolor paints, I’m spending time with my Cricut machine.

Last year I started out with the cute little Cricut Joy. I used mine mainly for cutting small pieces of vinyls, but many folks used it for cutting fancy cards. I initially purchased about four rolls of the Cricut Joy Smart Vinyl to get familiar with their removable and permanent vinyls. Their Joy Smart Vinyls can be used without a mat and loads nicely into the Joy.

I immediately graduated to the larger and wider rolls of vinyl (save $) and learned to cut and trim my own vinyl pieces to avoid waste. I used my compact Fiskars trimmer to cut my vinyl pieces. This was a valuable tool to have especially when I needed to trim pieces accurately and trimmed the edges straight. The straight edges allowed me to line up and place the vinyl onto my mat.

My Fiskars SureCut with TripleTrack rail system and Titanium coated blade

I never had the need to purchase the Cricut subscription. I already have experience with using Photoshop and Illustrator. It was easier for me to create, edit, or clean up designs and uploaded them into Cricut’s software called Design Space.

I definitely fell into the vinyl cutting rabbit hole.

A few months ago, I bought a Cricut Maker on sale. Basically I graduated to a bigger machine that could do so much more. Compared to my Joy, the Maker is a huge machine. It’s wider and heavier. It took me awhile to get used to my Maker as the mat (12″x12″) is much larger than the one used with my Cricut Joy (4.5″x6.5″).

With my new Maker, I wanted to create my own stickers. I tried out different printable vinyl papers and created stickers of my artwork.

I’ve been busy cutting vinyl for Christmas gifts. I’m not able to post pictures of them right now, but I will share some other projects I’ve been working on.

Recent Projects:

Here’s my Cricut Maker cutting out a design on one of my favorite textured vinyl.

After this fancy vinyl is cut, you can barely see the design.

Once I adjusted the angle of my desk light, you can now see the image that was cut.

I prefer not to waste my favorite vinyl. You can see from the pieces (below) there’s more than an inch of vinyl that can be reused for smaller projects.

I trimmed my cut vinyl pieces down with my Fiskar trimmer and make sure I do not cut into the design.

Here are the leftover pieces that can be reused for future projects.

Now I’m ready to weed my vinyl. For my initial weeding process I removed what I call the main background.

Some intricate designs required additional weeding. Here I removed the vinyl from inside of the turtle design.

There might be an opportunity to reuse the weeded out vinyl. I grabbed an old backing sheet and placed the discarded portion of the vinyl for future reuse. You can see the hibiscus flower on the turtle’s body (right) was just too pretty to throw away.

Here’s a picture of my discarded vinyl pieces from my weeding process. This went into the trash.

The next step was to apply the transfer sheet over my vinyl designs. I used my squeegee scraper and scraped the transfer sheet down over my vinyl design. The white sheet of paper shown below is my parchment paper. It’s amazing that my transfer sheet and vinyl does not stick to this paper at all.

I also used my squeegee to scrape the backside of my vinyl or backing paper. I then carefully and slowly peeled away the backing paper from the transfer sheet and vinyl. You can see from the following picture that I pulled from a sharp angle versus pulling straight up. This is an important tip I’ve learned and have not had any issues.

For the next step I needed to clean the surface of my metal mug before I applied the vinyl.

I used rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and cleaned the surface. Here’s my plastic container I picked up from the Dollar Tree. Underneath the lid is a pump-like surface where I place my cotton pad and press down for the alcohol to come up and wet the pad. Yes, I had to add a vinyl label. Isn’t it cute?!

Once my mug had dried, I placed my vinyl and transfer sheet over my mug. I also placed a piece of parchment paper on either side of my vinyl to protect the vinyl designs I already had on either side of my mug.

I used my squeegee to scrape down the vinyl onto my mug.

I gently pulled the transfer sheet away.

Another tip I learned was the ability to reuse my transfer sheets. I placed it on the backing paper it came off of.

I used a piece of parchment paper to cover the vinyl and gave my mug a good scrape to make sure the vinyl stayed in place.

Here’s my hibiscus turtle.

I also added one to my hubby’s mug.

Here’s a design I used on my hubby’s water bottle.

I added another vinyl for a pop of color.

I will typically let the vinyl cure for about 3 days before using my mug/bottle.

Cricut Machine: Cricut Maker using Premium Textured Metallic material setting

Vinyl: Cricut Premium Vinyl Textured Metallic Permanent Glossy

Transfer Sheet: Cricut Strong Grip

Mat: Cricut Light Grip

I’m Here!

It was 28 days ago when I last wrote an entry on my blog. Since then I’ve been radio silent and you were probably wondering what I’ve been up to. Right? Maybe? Hahaha!

For the whole month of September I felt like I’ve been running non-stop. I had appointments, projects, and deadlines to take care of. I had out of town relatives stop by for a visit and ended up needing my assistance and staying a bit longer. As always, it was great to catch up and spend time with them. The next thing I knew September came and went.

On the creative side of life I have been keeping up with my artistic hobbies.

I have been busy practicing my not-quite Copperplate handwriting using my Opus 88 Omar with the lovely Stylosuite EF Xwing Harpoon nib. I’ve noticed my hand and arm movements are more free flowing and not as jerky as before. I’m now dabbling into creating my own style of writing and adding flourishes.

I’ve been keeping up with my pen and ink wash art. I’ve been practicing and creating sketches of grapes. For some reason grapes have been tripping me up. In the past, I’ve started my sketches and never finished them. I decided to break down my “grape picture” I’ve been working on and just focus on a few grapes versus huge clusters of them surrounded by vines and leaves.

Here’s my pen and ink wash version:

While I was on this “grape” adventure, I decided to break out my watercolor paints and see what I could do. It’s still a work in progress and I need to tackle the leaves.

My watercolor grapes took a few hours to create as I was working in layers of colors. Each layer had to dry completely before I could add another layer of color on top. I love watercolor painting, but I rarely have blocks of hours to devote to a painting. I think that is why I enjoy using my fountain pens and inks for sketching as I can quickly get bold and vivid colors and instantaneous results.

Before I forget, I found a new toy. I managed to snag a fantastic deal on a Cricut machine. So now my baby Joy has a big sister the Maker.

I procured some sample paper packs and I immediately created some stickers from my artwork. This is still a work in progress as I’m testing out different brands and types of papers. Can you tell? I’m having way too much fun!

I’ll be back with more artwork, new inks, and other interesting finds that I forgot to mention. Be well and stay safe!

Blueberry pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Tokyo Blue Denim, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Thunderstorm

Grape pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Sydney Lavender & Melon Tea. Van Dieman’s Ink Beetroot Relish and Eucalyptus Regnans. Jacques Herbin Amethyste de l’Oural and Vert Atlantide.