I had the pleasure last week of filling a custom order for three books for a repeat buyer. Custom orders always provide me with an opportunity to play with new options—options I may consider adding to future listings in my MisterPenQuin shop on Etsy. This order involved two gratitude journals and one password book. These books were different from most of the other books I make because the recipients were men, not women—no paper-crafted flowers for these covers!

The middle book is for passwords, while the two on either end are gratitude journals.
The middle book is for passwords, while the two on either end are gratitude journals.

When I filled the order, I gave my buyer the option of four different cover layouts. The first option was a single design paper for the entire cover, which is what I normally do before adding embellishments. My buyer didn’t use this layout at all.

Layout Option #1

The second option involved matting a design paper against solid card stock, which is a “must” if you deal with glittery or flocked card stock. The paper has a tendency to crack if you fold it, so it’s best used in its flat form. My buyer chose this option for one of the gratitude journals, but gave me free rein when it came to adding embellishments. I adhered a metal word band from the Tim Holtz Idea-ology collection to the bottom of the front cover, and then added a dimensional clock above it. The clock was made from three different components. The face is a digital design from Optic Illusions, while the clock frame is simply a circle punched from another digital design by Digital Stories. The hands of the clock are actually game spinners from the Tim Holtz Idea-ology collection. I “painted” over the clockface with a Sakura Glaze pen to give the “glass” more of a vintage look and feel. I added white faux stitching to the solid navy card stock strip going across the width of the cover with a Uni-ball Signo broad-tipped pen.

Layout Option #2


The third option involved matting two different papers against solid card stock, as shown below. My buyer gave me complete freedom to do whatever I wanted with the password book. I chose Layout Option 3 for it, except that I didn’t divide the papers exactly as described below. I wanted the cover to look like wallpaper-and-wood paneling in a seaside coffee shop, so I covered the bottom half of the cover with woodgrain paper, and the upper half with ship helms—both of which were digital designs from Digital Stories. I used a black permanent marker to add “nails” to the paneling, and completed the look with a metal word band from the Tim Holtz Idea-ology line.

Layout Option #3


The fourth and final option allowed three different papers to be matted against solid card stock. My buyer choose this layout for the second gratitude journal. I turned the layout upside down because the papers seemed to look better that way. The papers come from the Genuine collection by Authentique. The clock was crafted the same way I described for the first gratitude journal, and once more I used a metal word band from the Tim Holtz Idea-ology collection. I painted the band gold with an Elmer’s Metallic Painters pen, but then deliberately distressed it to give it an aged look.

Layout Option #4


My buyer asked me to add “framed” dedication space to the first page in each book so that she could pen a handwritten message. All three of the books also included requested quotations on the inside front cover. The last book in the collection of photos below does not show this quotation because it had not yet been supplied at the time I took these photos, but space was provided for it to be added later.

Inside the Books

I must admit that because of the options I offered my buyer, it was necessary to send messages back and forth more frequently than usual before the order could be confirmed, but the extra communication was not a problem. Overall, this was a fun custom order to fill. In the future, I anticipate I will use the layout options again for custom orders. I may even add an option for a “dedication space” on the first page of all books for a nominal charge. And after completing this order, I am encouraged to add more “gender neutral” items to the Gifts for Guys section in my shop, using some of the ideas from this order.

Custom orders challenge your creativity, so I enjoy them!

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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4 thoughts on “New options for handcrafted books”

  1. Those turned out great! The dedication pages and inside cover quotes were a nice touch. And I love your little metal word bands.

  2. These turned out great and make nice guy gifts. I love the “wood paneling” you created! You always add such fun touches to finish off your books, Judy 🙂

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