Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Altered Book With Guest Designer Kathy Clement

Hello, Friends! As I write this, our bird feeder is alive with winter birds of all types. Chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, wrens, woodpeckers, cardinals and more are making me smile at their antics. I love birds all year round, but there's something special about winter birds. They provide a spot of cheer against the bleak backdrop of winter. So when I began to ponder what to make for my guest designer spot this week, I had winter birds on my mind.

I dug deep in the Closet of Shame and found a cheap little photo album that I'd picked up at the Goodwill some time back. It had thick chipboard pages with oval and rectangular openings for photos but little else to give it merit. Until, that is, Imagination, Creativity and Whimsy stepped in and transformed it into a gorgeous winter birds altered book. Take a peeky:
 Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 01 

Here's a list of the supplies you will need for this project: From Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts:
Paints and Mediums:
  • DecoArt White Acrylic Gesso
  • DecoArt Crackle Texture
  • DecoArt Emperor's Gold Dazzling Metallics Paint
  • Tatttered Angels Rusty Metal Paint Kit
  • Gold Glimmer Mist
  • Dylusions White Linen Spray
  • Iced Spruce Distress Paint
  • Evergreen Bough Distress Paint
  • Antique Linen Distress Paint
  • Antique Linen Distress Glitter
  • Glossy Accents
  • Stickles Sprinkled Sugar
  • Graphic 45 Botanical Tea 12x12 papers and 8x8 papers
  • Gold Metallic Cardstock
  • Prima Flowers, Berries and Leaves (Victorian Christmas
  • Graphic 45 Metal Staples
  • DREAM key
  • Antique Gold Netting
  • Natural Burlap String
Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 02
Prepping the Chipboard for the Winter Birds Altered Book
I find that Distress Paint works beautifully with Gypsy's Laser Cuts. For the snowflake chain on the cover, I put down a single coat of Antique Linen Distress Paint and gently dried it with my heat gun. Don't hold the heat gun too close, or the paint will bubble, and that is not what you want! When that layer of paint is dry, gently tap the chipboard with Iced Spruce and Evergreen Bough to create a sort of mottle effect on your chippies. You can repeat this process until your chipboard looks the way you want it to. While the paint is still wet, sprinkle with Antique Linen Distress Glitter. For the yarrow, I cut the largest flower blossom off the top of the chipboard. Now I have a piece that looks like a lovely, woodsy pine branch. I painted this as above, but added more evergreen bough and iced spruce than on the snowflakes. Don't add the glitter. Instead, use the Sprinkled Sugar Stickles on the tops of the branches and "needles". This gives them a very subtle shine, like iced branches in wintertime. Set all your chipboard aside to dry.

Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 03

Prepping the Base of the Winter Birds Altered Book

For this part of the process you will need a sharp craft knife. Since I wanted to create a rectangular niche inside my book, I used a ruler and my craft knife to cut out the oval pages. Then I glued the remaining rectangular pages together and clamped them with binder clips until the glue dried. Once the glue was dry, I painted the entire book, inside and out, edges and all with white gesso. To speed up the drying process, I used my heat gun, but again, don't over heat. Keep the heat gun moving over the surface of the book to prevent bubbles from forming. Next, I used a palette knife to spread crackle texture over the front and back cover and the spine. You can let this cure overnight, or if you are impatient (like some people I know) you can use your heat gun and very, very carefully speed that process up. If you let the crackle texture get too hot too fast, it won't crackle well. So be careful...or be patient and let it cure overnight. Once the crackle texture has done its thing (and this is glorious to behold, my friends!) use the Rusted Metals paint kit and spray the front and back cover of the book, following the directions that come with the kit. I like to dry between layers so that the colors don't get too muddy. Now, spritz lightly with the White Linen Dylusions spray and use a brush to kind of swirl that white around. Then, water down some Evergreen Bough and Iced Spruce paints and brush them over the surface. This is all a matter of taste. If you like how it looks, you've done it right! When this part is dry, spritz Gold Glimmer Mist generously over the entire surface. Then step back and clap your hands in glee! That's what I did, anyway! The final thing you need to paint is the inside edges of the front and back cover and the edges of the glued together pages. Use gold metallic paint for this.

Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 04 

Decorating the Winter Birds Altered Book

Place your designer paper on the inside back cover and use a pencil to lightly trace around the edges of the book to create a template. Trace through the "window" of the niche you've created. Use your craft knife to trim out the center panel from your paper. Save the evacuated piece, as you will use the reverse pattern behind your window, and it just happens to be a perfect fit. I glued this down, then used a little washi tape around the edges to ensure that none of the white gesso showed. I painted the front edge of the niche with gold paint to frame my papers, and I really love the way that looks. Now you just need to cover the left hand side of your book, and decorate, using the chippies that you prepared in step one.

Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 05 

I super love the way this little bird seems to be perched in amongst the yarrow, leaves and berries.

 Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 06 
The painted snowflakes are so soft and pretty paired with these papers.

 Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 07 

And gluing the pages together gives you so much depth to work with.

 Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 08 

I used glossy accents on my banner to add stability and a little shine. And this gives you a really good view of the texture and color found on the cover.

Kathy by Design Winter Bird Altered Book for Gypsy Laser Cuts 09 

This is the most fun I've had in the studio in a long time. I was so completely absorbed in this Winter Birds Altered Book that I completely lost track of time. That's always a sign that good things are taking place in the studio! I'm amazed at how much the texture and pattern of these simple chippies transforms the vignette I created here. Who knew that painted chipboard could pack such a punch? Thanks again for letting me serve as your guest designer this week. I hope you were inspired to play with chipboard, paint and paper! To see more projects and tutorials, you're welcome to visit me at Kathy by Design.

Cheerio, Kathy



  1. This is absolutely gorgeous, Kathy. I love birds, too, so this is extra special goodness in my book, no pun intended. So glad you joined us this month at Gypsy Soul! I always learn so much from you.

  2. What a truly spectacular project! I love the use of the book and all the details of this one. The inside is such a surprise!

  3. Thank you so much! This was such a fun project to make, and the chipboard pieces added so much to the design. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to Guest Design at Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts!