Aug 292013

I received a special request recently for a lined journal, something that I have not yet offered at MisterPenQuin. Because the journal will be used for a sorority celebrating its 100th anniversary, I was asked to use the sorority’s colors, azure blue and white. I accepted the order, never dreaming that azure blue paper for the cover would be so difficult to find. After visiting four stores this past weekend, I finally found solid-colored paper in the desired shade of blue, but it was, to say the least, uninspiring. What could I do to fix that? I browsed through my block stamps and found a few that might be good possibilities for over-stamping the blue paper. My buyer liked this idea, and chose a Stampabilities “Swirls & Curls” design to be stamped in Moonlight White Brilliance pigment ink from Tsukineko®.


I cut the cover paper and thick chipboard to size, and rounded the corners. Using the right tools for this job makes all the difference. I have discovered that the Zutter Round-it-All cuts through heavy-weight chipboard like butter, but doesn’t do a very neat job on card stock. The Crop-A-Dile Corner Chomper from We R Memory Keepers, on the other hand, does a crisp corner cut on card stock, but can’t slice through thick chipboard. (We’re talking about 1/8 inch thick chipboard here; thinner varieties will probably work.)


For the first and last pages in the book (the end papers), I decided to add texture to the paper by embossing it with a Fiskars “Dots” plate. Because the Fiskars texture plates have designs that measure six inches by six inches, the same dimensions as the book I was designing, they were particularly appropriate to use. If you are unfamiliar with how to emboss with Fiskars texture plates using a Big Shot, read one of my previous posts, Embossing with Fiskars texture plates and your Sizzix® Big Shot.


While I waited for the glue to dry after I adhered the blue paper to the chipboard, I made a layered paper flower. I sprayed it with Perfect Pearls Mists from Ranger to give it a little dazzle. The doily on which the flower rests is not part of the book, although I did crochet it.


Before I bound the book, I punched the inside pages with my Cinch from We R Memory Keepers, which made things very easy. If you have a Zutter Bind-it-All, this works equally well, but the holes will be rectangular instead of round, and there are a few more steps to the punching process because it is a narrower gadget.


The finished book, I thought, looked tidy and definitely more interesting than the plain azure blue paper with which I started.

Finished Journal

Have you ever had to change directions when the supplies you wanted to use weren’t available?

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Aug 222013

In this day of electronic reminders, I still like to keep a few of them in paper format. I guess it’s very similar to the feeling you get about a card someone sends you in the mail versus an electronic greeting. You’re more likely, I think, to store the former as a keepsake over the latter. At any rate, in keeping with my preference for certain reminders to be in paper format, I am introducing a “Save the Date Notebook,” a few of which you’ll find in my Mister PenQuin shop on Etsy. The five-inch by five-inch book is divided into 12 sections for the 12 months of the year, and each month you’ll have 84 opportunities to enter a special date for a birthday, baptism, anniversary, graduation, bar mitzvah or something else.


I used BoBunny’s Flutter Butter “Breeze” paper for the above book. The papers in this collection are so cheerful that I couldn’t resist combining several of them in one cover. I joined together different sizes and shapes of the paper, patchwork-style, using a combination of straight and zig-zag stitches from my sewing machine. Really fun!


I also made an aquamarine-colored Save the Date Notebook from the same Flutter Butter collection. There’s something about this color that just makes me happy!


How do you keep track of important, recurring dates?

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Aug 162013

I was browsing through YouTube videos recently, when I ran across a silent video about a Jacob’s ladder. A Jacob’s ladder is a folk toy made of wooden blocks, connected by strings of ribbon. When you hold aloft a stack of the blocks, and then let go of all of them except the first block, the blocks appear to tumble down like a waterfall. For this reason the toy is also known as “tumbling blocks.” The term “Jacob’s ladder” comes from a Biblical allusion in the Book of Genesis that refers to a ladder to heaven. In any event, the toy is a lot of fun for children and adults alike, especially since you can do tricks with it.

For some reason the image of a Jacob’s ladder wouldn’t leave my mind. I began thinking about how I might be able to create a book whose pages tumbled in the same way that the blocks of a Jacob’s ladder do. It wouldn’t be exactly the same, but I was convinced I could make it work.

“What in the world would anyone do with a book like that?” asked my husband. “It would be as thick as a hamburger.”


My Jacob’s ladder-like book, instead of individual blocks, has three sections for three types of paper: blank, grid (or graph) paper, and lined pages. The three types of paper represent three ways of thinking, since the book is designed to be a “Creative Ideas Accordion Notebook” where you can capture all of your ideas, inklings, or designs—no matter how they occur to you—in words, pictures, symbols or numbers.

3 Types of Paper

Like a Jacob’s ladder toy, you can extend the book vertically, and its components come tumbling down.

Jacob's Ladder Drop

You can also play visual tricks with the sections in the book, just as you do with a real Jacob’s ladder.




This particular Creative Ideas Accordion Notebook is a prototype, but there will be more to follow in my Etsy shop, Mister PenQuin. It’s odd how ideas get started, don’t you think?


© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.