Thursday, September 26, 2019

Celebrate Banned Books Week With These Book Inspired Bookmarks

Hi there, it's Elle (Empire of the Cat) with a gift for book lovers.This week is Banned Books Week and to celebrate I made some bookmarks for my book-loving friends.

Here's how they came together:

I started with this set of XL tags, they are a really good size and will make perfect bookmarks. I used this stamp set for my GOT obsessed friends (and myself!) but you can use any book-themed stamps you have on hand.

Paint both sides of each tag with black gesso and leave to dry.

Gel Printing

For these tags we are going to make a monoprinted background using a gel plate and some metallic pigment inks.

Using the ink pads, cover the gel plate with a thin layer of ink, making sure to keep the colours separate to avoid contaminating your ink pads, and then use the brayer to spread and mix the colours on the gel plate.

Before the inks dry, use a large background stamp to stamp out a pattern all over the gel plate.  Then quickly take a print by pressing a sheet of Bristol paper down with your hands and smoothing it out.  Please note, it is also possible to print directly onto the tags themselves but for these tags I wanted to stamp on top of the printed background and wanted a smooth surface for that, so Bristol paper is perfect for that.

Choose the parts of the print that you want to use, and using the tags for placement, draw around them and then cut them out.


I used two stamp sets, one for the GOT imagery and a book border stamp to stamp along the bottom of the tags using Versamark Onyx Black archival ink.  I used a stamp platform to position the throne image and the word stamps to make sure they were in the same position on all three tags.


Now for the fun part!  Using an embossing ink, cover the entire tag and the dust with a translucent or clear embossing powder.  I am using this mixed media powder that gives an aged, waxy look.  Heat the embossing powder with a heat tool, then repeat the process 2-3 times. Here's a close up of what the tag will look like with three layers of embossing powder.

Finishing Touches

To finish off the tags, make a tassel from some baker's twine and loop it through the hole at the top of each tag.  I used a gold and white twine to match the gold in the backgrounds.

Bonus Project - Pirate Treasure!

I also have a little bonus project for you, since it was also Talk Like A Pirate Day on the 19th and I made these "pieces of eight" for a pirate treasure chest.  This project also uses embossing powder but slightly differently and and lots of fun to do!

Take a pack of Artist Trading Coins and some scrapbook paper, preferably one that has text on it.  Draw around the coins and then cut out the circles from the paper - enough for both sides of each coin.

Glue the papers on to each side of the coins and leave to dry.

Next, cover one side of each coin with clear or translucent embossing powder.  I am using the same powder here as I did with the bookmarks, so it gives an aged look.  Melt the powder with a heat tool, then repeat the process on the other side of each coin.  Each coin should now have one coat of embossing powder on both sides.  Next, you will need a rubber stamp to turn your ATC into pirate treasure.  I have this Tim Holtz skull and crossbones stamp that seemed appropriate for pirate booty!

Ink up your stamp with archival ink, then apply another layer of embossing powder onto one side of your coin and melt it with a heat tool.  While it is still hot and melting, quickly press the inked-up stamp into the hot embossing powder and lift it off.  It will leave the stamped impression and look like this:

I only stamped my coins on one side but you could stamp on both if you wish, just following the process above.  Then to finish it off, make it look more aged, and hide the chipboard edge, roll the edge of the coin along the embossing ink pad and then into the embossing powder and heat it with the heat tool to melt it.  Do one section at a time, holding the coin between your fingers or with tweezers to avoid burning your fingers with melting embossing powder.

For this stage, I used a mixed media powder that had a mixture of gold and green in it, so it made the coins look like they had been found at the bottom of the ocean.

It is possible to add the embossing powder to the rim first and then the sides and you are less likely to burn your fingers, but the effect is better if you work on the flat sides first as the powder from the rim will spread over the sides, making them look crusty and corroded.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you have any questions please let me know.  

Elle - Empire of the Cat

PROJECT RECIPE for Book Lover Tags:

GSL Cuts Decorative Tags XL - Model D92B
Black gesso
Embossing ink and embossing powders (clear or translucent)
Heat gun for melting embossing powder
Gel plate, brayer, background stamp, metallic pigment inks to make background (or use a background from your stash)
Book-themed Stamp set and black archival ink
PVA glue
Baker's twine or ribbon to make tassel

PROJECT RECIPE for Pirate Treasure Coins:

GSL Cuts Artist Trading Coins - Model D81M
Scrapbook paper with old text or script pattern
Embossing ink and embossing powders
Heat gun for melting embossing powder
Stamp Set and black or brown archival ink
PVA glue


  1. Wonderful idea, I can always use a bookmark! I really enjoyed the bonus Pirates coins as well, I bet that embossing feels as lovely as it looks

    1. Thanks Ann, yes it really is awesome stuff, especially after a few coats.

  2. Fantastic posts. I love how you organized it into different sections. Great description of techniques used!!