If you’ve never tried stitching art journal pages before, today is the day! Stitching is a wonderfully creative technique for art journals, and in the hands of one artist that technique is taken to a whole new level. When I first saw Brooke Albrecht’s stitched journal pages I fell in love with her unique folk art style, and knew I had to share them with you. What I didn’t know is how much fun I would have creating my own pages!
Brooke’s new twist on art journaling, featured in the September/October issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, showcases her distinctive approach. A simple running stitch is all you need to get fantastic results, but if you know a few more easy embroidery stitches you can incorporate them as well. The charm of this technique is in the combination of the drawings, the pops of color, funky lettering, and simple stitching. Together, they make magic.
There are tons of types of paper you can sew on, but Brooke works with Nepalese Lokta paper, which is a lightweight but sturdy handmade paper that comes in lots of colors and is perfect for stitching art journal pages. I had a sheet of a pretty coral shade, so I used that. I did a rough drawing in pencil in my sketchbook, then refined it on a sheet of copy paper the same size as my final page. You’ll likely continue to refine and change the artwork as you go, which is okay—take a relaxed approach to this and don’t worry about precision.
I used a light box to trace the design and lettering onto the Lokta paper, then made tweaks to some of the designs. Brooke does the tracing with a permanent pen; I used a pencil, and discovered later that since the paper is very fibrous, pencil doesn’t erase all that well. So best to go with a pen. About the lettering—don’t stress if lettering isn’t your thing. You’re not going for perfection, you’re going for you. Check out Brooke’s artwork to see the different styles of her lettering, and how she changed it up for each piece.
The bright spots of color that Brooke adds with markers and pens make the artwork come alive. She recommends choosing a color palette ahead of time, which is smart. Limiting the colors makes for more focused artwork, and helps emphasize the theme of the piece. I used turquoise, green, and white, which popped against the pink. I tested the gel and paint pens I wanted to use on a piece of scrap paper, and that helped narrow down the field.
The stitching technique is all about being spontaneous and having fun. Brooke offers great tips for stitching on art journal pages in the article, and you’ll get lots more ideas from looking at her artwork. She mixes up how she incorporates stitching, and so should you—add a lot of stitching or a little. Start with no idea of where you’ll end up. I started by making concentric circles with black pearl cotton on the saucer and in the coffee cup, then added straight stitches to the leaves and the word “coffee.” French knots augment the vines, a few starbursts decorate the coffee pot, and there’s a flower done with the lazy daisy stitch.
A little more color was added after that, and I was done! I glued the page into my art journal with glue stick, and I can’t wait to start the next one. Brooke shows how this technique lends itself to creating a series—she gathered her moon-themed pages and made a handmade book for them, but there are tons of other possibilities: You can adhere them to accordion pages, add them to a spiral-bound art journal, create a stab-bound book, or frame several and display them.
Make sure you get the September/October 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, where you’ll find the full instructions for making these fantastic art journal pages. Check out even more great information and instruction for art journaling and mixed-media art with stitch!