When I first saw Dina Wakley’s Ranger Media Journals I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds, I was so blown away. The hefty books don’t just have different types of paper—they include fabric journal pages, made of both burlap and canvas. I was thrilled that Dina, an incredible artist who knows her way around an art journal, had come up with something so brilliant, and I was sure I wasn’t the only one who would think so. But while I knew my way around paper pretty well, I wondered: What could you do with those fabric pages?
So we asked Dina to write an article for the January/February 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors and show us some cool techniques art journalers could start incorporating right away. While I love making books, I hadn’t thought of making one with fabric pages, until I saw Dina’s journals. In “Fun Ideas for Fabric Journal Pages,” Dina shows how to use paint, water-soluble crayons, stitch, and more, to create pages with drama, depth, dimension, texture, and beautiful color. This is one not to miss.
Dina’s journals measure about 8″ x 10″, and have matte black covers (in the photo below, see the bottom book, right). You may recall from a previous blog post I showed how to art up the cover with acrylic paint and stencils (left), and in another blog post, I showed how to make a fabric collage book with pages made from watercolor paper and linen.
Here are the books open; I stenciled the burlap page on the right:
I wanted to try some of Dina’s techniques in my own Media Journal, and decided on a monogram for a focal image. I cut one of the burlap fabric journal pages out of the book and trimmed it into a circle. On a piece of graph paper, I drew the letter J inside a circle the same size. You don’t have to draw the letter on graph paper, but it helped me keep it symmetrical. I cut out the letter and traced it onto the burlap circle with pencil.
Using perle embroidery thread, I filled in the letter with a cross stitch; the open weave of the burlap is an easy grid to follow. These stitches are pretty tiny, and I love the tapestry feel of the monogram. Experiment with the stitching; sew an outline, go abstract—see what you can create with needle and thread.
After I finished the monogram, I primed a canvas page with Dina’s Clear Gesso. She recommends doing this before painting, and clear gesso doesn’t hide the color and texture of the fabric. When it dried, I started painting, pinning the monogram template to the center so I knew how much room I had to work with.
I had no grand plan in mind, other than to do flowers; these roses happened, and I painted them with acrylics in a spring palette, probably a reaction to the lovely sub-zero weather we’ve been having. You can use so many types of color media on fabric pages: water-soluble crayons (try Dina’s Scribble Sticks), pencils, pens, pastels—try your favorites and see what happens! You can also stamp or stencil the fabric journal pages, and Dina’s article includes tons of amazing techniques and artwork, enough to keep you inspired for a long time.
More stitching was added to the painted page; I created French knots in some of the blue dots with yellow thread:
And sewed a running stitch along two corners:
To attach the monogram, I used pink embroidery floss and made some small ‘X’ stitches. Be messy, be neat—it all works, and it all looks beautiful.
This is such a great addition to my journal, and I can’t wait to try Dina’s other ideas for creating windows, pockets, and more with fabric journal pages.
Make 2018 the year you really stretch yourself and try new methods and materials. I feel like I already have a great head start!
Learn how to make the fabric collage book shown above, complete with fabric journal pages, in this tutorial.