Although I no longer have a child of school age, I treasure memories of the time our son started school each fall. I remember shopping during August for classroom supplies, taking advantage of a tax-free summer weekend when you could save on new school clothing, and scheduling our son for a visit to the doctor for his annual physical. Many of those memories are compressed among photos in shoe boxes, waiting to be systematically organized and transferred to photo album pages. The thought of filling heavy binders with them, though, is daunting and—thankfully—unnecessary to do. The best albums, I think, are the small ones that tell a story. I have decided it’s time to tell a few stories, and to pass them on, little by little, in small albums. So, when Erika of Artful Rising on Etsy suggested a “Back to School” theme for this month’s Blogging Business Artisans Challenge, I knew what I was going to do.

First I had to decide what format my small album would take. Since I’ve been playing around lately with books whose pages are made from envelopes, I decided my pages would form a “Z-fold” created by joining 6-inch x 9-inch envelopes to 3-1/2 inch by 6-1/2 inch coin envelopes. I got this idea after I watched a 2010 YouTube tutorial titled “Z-Fold Envelope Mini Album” by Laura of Following the Paper Trail. I liked the clever way her Z-fold method formed pocket pages—perfect for small photos and memorabilia. Laura spiral binds her pages into a book using her Bind-it-All, but I was concerned about the covers splaying open like a V with all of the tags, photos and embellishments I planned to add. After all, the widest owire I have is only 1-1/4 inches! I decided instead to make a hard cover for the album, and to sew the pages in place.  But I’ll get to that later. Here is what a Z-fold page looks like when you adhere two envelopes together.

The papers I used in my album came primarily from two different paper collections, “Makin’ the Grade” by Little Yellow Bicycle, and “The Grade School Stack by Die Cuts With a View (DCWV)â„¢. I thought the colors and patterns meshed pretty well. I discovered, by the way, that Little Yellow Bicycle has a blog with lots of inspirational ideas you’ll want to check out. The DCWV site also has an Idea Gallery that will get your creative juices flowing.

Makin’ the Grade papers by Little Yellow Bicycle

Once the individual pages were covered with paper, I dug into my embellishments stash. I found a place for my “Playground” adhesive accents from Paper Blissâ„¢, some of the Sticko copper-rimmed circle tags to which I adhered matching Rebecca Sower Nostalgiquesâ„¢ typewriter-style letters, and several Teri Martin “Martinscript” scrapbook stickers from Creative Imaginations. These were all items I had purchased years ago, with great intentions of incorporating them in scrapbook albums that never materialized. I confess that I did buy some canvas stickers from Little Yellow Bicycle that matched the paper; I just couldn’t resist!

Following a tip from Kathy of Paper Phenomenon, I reinforced the spine of the book with difficult-to-tear Tyvek® (available from office supply stores in envelope form).

I covered the chipboard covers with navy blue card stock, and decorated them—front, back and spine—with Little Yellow Bicycle paper. For a final touch, I punched holes in my cover with my Crop-A-Dile™, and then used my Zutter hammer and Pound-it-All (marble slab) to insert a Zutter leather strap and closure. You can dye the leather, but I prefer the natural color.

If you look at the spine of the book, you’ll see how I continued the back-to-school theme with an image of a locker. In my embellishments stash I located a packet of Karen Foster Metals Mini School Tools that included a combination lock. Perfect! But my biggest challenge was finding a way to attach it. I’m sure there is a better way to do this, but I had some split rings that I thought I could join to the combination lock. I riveted the combination (pardon the pun) to the album’s spine, but those little rings nearly made a trip around the world before I got them joined! They kept jumping out of my fingers (is that why they are considered to be a variety of “jump ring?”). In desperation, I enlisted my husband’s help. He has a lot of patience with tiny items, and was able to join the two split rings. Guess I’m not destined to be a jewelry-maker.

The final step of my album involved sewing the individual pages of the album to a pre-punched piece of paper-covered chipboard, leaving 1/4 inch between pages to allow for the fact that the pages are dimensional.

The skeleton of my back-to-school envelope album is now finished, but obviously will be fleshed out with photos, journal tags and bits of memorabilia. Like most moms, I have saved all those wallet-size school photos, the lists of books read over summer vacation, scraps of paper celebrating first attempts at printing, early drawings, and more. It’s nice to know all of these, with the help of a photo scanner, have a life beyond the shoe box!

© 2012 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.



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10 thoughts on “Back to School BBA Challenge”

  1. Adorable! I love the style of book you chose and all the papers and embellishments coordinate perfectly! I’ve never heard of using Tyvek in scrapbooks, but it sounds like such a great idea!

  2. As always, your album is awesome! I love all of the little details. That will be a great keepsake for all of your school memories.

  3. Wow – this is an amazing album. I don’t know how I missed this post earlier in the month but am glad I had a 2nd chance through the challenge. Really wonderful!

  4. that is so cute. What a cute album for school pictures – a great gift for grown and grand children!
    Great use of the challenge! {:-D

  5. Sarah ~ Magnolia Surprise

    All I can say is Wow, Wow and Wow!! That is spectacular! I adore the locker on the side and the swinging combo lock!

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