How to Turn an Art Journal Page into a Pillow

There are lots of ways to incorporate your artwork into your home decor, but here’s an idea you may not have thought of before: turn one of your art journal pages into a pillow! Kim Dellow shows you how in this project from our May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. Go through your art journals, choose some favorite pages, and get started!

Turn an art journal page into a piece of home decor! (Photo by Sharon White Photography)

Artful Home Decor by Kim Dellow

I love the idea of making items for my home with my own artwork. It’s a great way to extend the life of your art as well as make something unique. Art journal pages are perfect for this because even your most experimental or personal pages can be recycled into surface design and printed onto items such as pillows, using a print-on-demand service, and then further embellished by hand.

Choose a finished page and have it printed as is, or make new artwork by viewing your journal pages as parts and elements instead of finished artwork. Keep it simple by using one page as the base in your photo-editing software, and pasting sections of other pages onto the base. You can then build it up as much or as little as you want. For this project I chose a sketched diamond from one of my journal pages as the focal point, and then used other parts of the same artwork to balance the focal point. The options are as varied as the art we all do.


  • Art journal page
  • Camera, DSLR or digital
    • NOTE: DSLR cameras give you the option to photograph in RAW, whereas other digital cameras do not.
  • Computer
  • Photo-editing software (I used Adobe® Photoshop Elements.)
  • Print-on-demand service (I used Snapfish)
  • Printed pillowcase
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic bag
  • DecoArt® Media™ Gesso
  • Palette knife
  • Stencils, or cardstock for making your own stencils
  • Modeling paste, white (I used DecoArt® Media™ Modeling Paste.)
  • Acrylic paint (I used DecoArt® Media Fluid Acrylics™ Dioxazine Purple, Carbon Black, and Titanium White.)
  • Paintbrush
  • Ruler
  • Jacquard® ExtravOrganza Inkjet Fabric Sheets
  • Printer
  • Pins
  • Embroidery thread (I used white.)
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Optional:
    • Glass seed beads (I used a selection of blues, whites, and silver.)
    • Glass beads (I used blue beads in several sizes.)

Prepare the photo

1. Go through your art journals, choose a favorite page or pages, and photograph them. I shoot all my work in RAW with a DSLR camera.

NOTE: RAW is a picture file format that contains the most unprocessed data that a camera can provide, giving you a lot more versatility for enhancing photos later. However, you can use a point-and-shoot camera or your cell phone camera for this project.

TIP: If you want to start making more digital art, a DSLR camera will give you more options and processing power.

2. Open the photos in your photo-editing software, and edit the images to enhance the photos as desired. Try lightening the photo, or increase or decrease the contrast. You are trying to get the photographic image to be as true a representation of the actual artwork as you can. You can also sharpen the photos, but go easy on this tool as it can change the way your art looks. It’s better to take the photo again in good light if it is blurry. If you have been shooting your photos in RAW, it’s very easy to make these changes and you have more range to do so.

TIP: If you have artwork that includes a fold line on the page, you can correct this with editing software, using blemish removal or spot healing brush tools.

NOTE: Photo-editing software offers a variety of options for making new digital art from photos of your artwork. One way is to use marquee tools and the feather option to copy and paste elements from one photo onto a base photo. In Adobe Photoshop Elements the marquee tool is found in the tool bar; other photo-editing software has similar options, but they may be found in different places and perhaps have different names. An online search for the terminology in the software you are using will help. (SEE PHOTO-EDITING TIPS AT END OF ARTICLE.)

3. Set up the files to match any size and resolution requirements for the printing service you are using. Some print-on-demand services give you this information on their website. You may have to contact other companies to get this information.

NOTE: For this pillow I used two art journal pages. (FIGURE 1) I layered pieces of one page onto a square cropped from the other page, using the feathered marquee technique. (FIGURE 2) Once I had the layers how I wanted them, I further lightened them to help the image look like one contiguous piece.

FIGURE 1 (Step-out photos by Kim Dellow unless otherwise noted)

4. When you are happy with the digital art, upload it to the printing service, following their instructions. For this pillow I used the large photo pillow option (17″ x 17″) on Snapfish, and uploaded a JPEG saved at 2342 x 2342 pixels and 468 dpi. As a general rule, 300 dpi is a good resolution for most printing projects.

NOTE: If you want to embellish the printed pillow further by hand, make sure you order a pillow that has a zipper, so you can remove the pillow form.

TIP: Color matching for the printing can be complex. If the colors must match your artwork exactly, choose a printing service that will give you color profile information and match it to the color profile you are using for your screen, software, and operating system. Print-on-demand services don’t always give this information, so allow for slight discrepancies from what you see on your computer screen.

Embellish the pillow

1. Remove the pillow from the pillowcase. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the pillowcase, place it in a plastic bag, and put it inside the pillowcase. Fold or roll the cardboard, if necessary to get it inside. (FIGURE 3)


2. Apply a layer of gesso with a palette knife or a paintbrush to knock back and lighten areas of the printed pillowcase where you want to add paint. Let the gesso dry.

TIP: If you are unsure about how the products you want to use will work on fabric, test them first on a spare piece of muslin or untreated canvas to get a rough idea.

NOTE: I did not use products for decorating fabric, such as fabric paints, but you can easily do so if you plan to launder your pillow.

3. Select 2 stencils to add to your design. I made a stencil with several good-size circles, and also used punchinella. Mix a small amount of paint with enough white modeling paste to fill the larger stencil, plus a little extra. I used Dioxazine Purple paint. Place the first stencil over the dried gesso area on the pillowcase and apply the tinted modeling paste with a palette knife. Hold the second, smaller stencil over the top of the first stencil and run the palette knife over the area again. (FIGURE 4)


4. Remove the stencils to reveal the layered texture. (FIGURE 5) Place the smaller stencil on another part of the pillowcase, and apply any leftover tinted modeling paste through it. Let the pillowcase dry.

FIGURE 5 (Photo by Jenn Guneratne)

5. Measure the size of your focal image. Use photo-editing software to change the size of the image in the photo to match the size of the image on the pillow. Print the image on organza, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Trim the organza to a manageable size, but do not trim it all the way to the focal image.

6. Remove the plastic bag and the cardboard from the pillowcase, and set them aside. Pin the printed organza to the pillowcase, matching the image perfectly. Use embroidery thread to add stitching to the focal image, attaching the organza to the pillowcase.

7. Optional: As you work around the image, add large beads to the thread and, before closing the organza shape, trap some beads between the organza and the pillowcase. (FIGURE 6)

FIGURE 6 (Photo by Jenn Guneratne)

TIP: Match the stitches to the style of the image you are sewing. To get the sketchy look of my drawing, I used a mix of stitches, including a long running stitch and a short running stitch. I also wrapped some of the stitches with thread.

8. Trim the organza to 1/4”–1/2” around the stitched image. Return the plastic bag and cardboard to the inside of the pillowcase and use a thin paintbrush to create multiple circles in black paint around the focal image. (FIGURE 7)


9. Using Titanium White, mix a mid-light and a very light tint of the your main color. I used Dioxazine Purple. Dry brush the mid-tint over the raised texture of the modeling paste and all of the stenciled areas. Let it dry, and repeat with the very light tint. Repeat again, using just Titanium White. (SEE OPENING IMAGE.) Let the painted areas dry completely. Remove the plastic bag and cardboard, and replace the pillow form.

Photo-editing tips

The marquee tool: This is a software tool used to select objects or a portion of an object for editing. Use the feather option to soften the edges of the marquee so that when you draw the marquee shape the edges of the selection look rounded. To do this, click on the area of the photo you want to select and drag the marquee to surround that area. When you copy and paste the selected area in the marquee, the edges blur out to nothing. This allows you to seamlessly merge different photos into a new piece of digital art. For a slightly blurred edge, I set the feather to 10 pixels; for more blur I use 30 pixels. Experiment to get the look you want.

Work in layers: Working in layers means that you can move elements on different layers. This makes it easier to manipulate the images as you work, and place them where they work best. Working in layers also means that you can change the colors, light, contrast, and opacity, or use a filter on just one layer without changing the whole picture.

Kim Dellow, artist, crafter, and blogger, has a passion for sharing her latest art obsessions. She is regularly published in magazines and provides online content for art and craft companies. Self-taught and naturally inquisitive, Kim is never happier than when she is throwing paint around. Visit her website at

Kim’s tutorial inspired our editorial director Jeannine Stein to turn one of her art journal pages into home decor. See what she made in this Studio Saturday blog post!

The May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors is all about using ordinary materials and techniques to make extraordinary art.
Want to explore more ways to incorporate mixed-media techniques in home decor? Don’t miss the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors!
Create personalized home décor using digital graphics and images with this kit from Cathe Holden! The kit includes a video download and some of the materials you’ll need to make your embellished fabric panel pillow.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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