How to Make a Stenciled Journal Cover

Stenciled-Journal-CoverMargaret Peot’s most recent book, Stencil Craft: Techniques for Fabric, Art & Home, recently hit the shelves and it’s reminded me how much I love the look of a single hand-cut stencil. So with newly-acquired inspiration I decided to dust off my bookmaking supplies and share with you the process I used to make a stenciled journal cover. Margaret shares a ton of information in her book about the best materials and processes to use to cut your own stencils but I’ve had a little pile of hand-cut stencils gifted to me by my dear friend TJ Goerlitz and I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to use one so this all came together perfectly. I’m going to visit TJ next month when I travel to Minneapolis for Art Is You and I thought I’d create this little book to use for collecting memories from the trip.

There’s really great oomph in using just one stencil in a project and Margaret has many very cool examples of this in her book. If you’ve been looking for inspiration to kick your stencil art up a notch, I suggest you get your hands on this book.

Start by cutting your book covers and the book cloth (or paper) you're going to cover them in. For this type of binding, cut 1" (3cm) off of one side of each cover but don't discard it.

Start by cutting your book covers and the book cloth (or paper) you’re going to cover them in. Make the cloth of paper big enough to leave at least 3/4″ ((2cm) overhang on all sides. You’ll leave about 3/16″ (4mm) of space between the spine hinge and the board. For this type of binding, cut 1″ (3cm) off of one side of each cover but don’t discard it.

Tape your stencil where you want it. Here I'm only going to have it on the front cover.

Tape your stencil where you want it. Here I’m only going to have it on the front cover.

Using the paint and stenciling tool of your choice, add paint through the stencil. I used a dabber, but recommend a stencil brush if you have one.

Using the paint and stenciling tool of your choice, add paint through the stencil. I used a dabber, but recommend a stencil brush if you have one.

Ta-da! Remove the stencil and let the paint dry.

Ta-da! Remove the stencil and let the paint dry.

Glue time! Using an inexpensive brush to glue with, apply acrylic matte medium or Yes! Paste to one side of one cover and its spine. Center the sticky cover on the back of one piece of book cloth or paper, leaving that 3/16" (4mm) or so of a gap between them as I mentioned previously.

Glue time! Using an inexpensive brush to glue with, apply acrylic matte medium or Yes! Paste to one side of one cover and its spine. Center the sticky cover on the back of one piece of book cloth or paper, leaving that 3/16″ (4mm) or so of a gap between them as I mentioned previously.

Repeat for the other cover and then notch out the corners, but don't cut all the way to the board—leave about 1/16" (1.5mm)

Repeat for the other cover and then notch out the corners, but don’t cut all the way to the board—leave about 1/16″ (1.5mm). Apply more glue with the brush to the overhang edges and using a bone folder to burnish the cloth to the edges, wrap the overhand around to the back of the board and adhere smoothly.

Cut endpapers just a bit smaller than the size of the covers and glue those to the insides of the covers using more paste or matte medium. With a piece of wax paper between them, place the covers under a bit of weight for a while while they dry completely.

Cut endpapers just a bit smaller than the size of the covers and glue those to the insides of the covers, covering the overhang you just glued down, using more paste or matte medium. Use a bone folder to crease the edges at the gap between the spines and the rest of the boards. With a piece of wax paper between them, place the covers under a bit of weight for a while while they dry completely.

Use a 1/4" (6mm) punch to make two holes in each cover. I stack the covers neatly and punch holes in the front cover, creating a mark on the back cover to punch next.

Use a 1/4″ (6mm) punch to make two holes in each cover. I stack the covers neatly and punch holes in the front cover, creating a mark on the back cover to punch next.

Decide on paper and number of sheets for you text block and cut them the size of your endpapers. Using one cover as a guide, punch holes through the sheets of your text block.

Decide on paper and number of sheets for you text block and cut them the size of your endpapers. Using one cover as a guide, punch holes through the sheets of your text block. In this photo it looks like I’m using book board for paper, but it’s actually a craft-colored cardstock and I used nine sheets.

I used these 1/4" (6mm) black plastic screw posts.

I used these 1/4″ (6mm) black plastic screw posts.

Place the back cover on the shaft halves of the posts.

Place the back cover on the shaft halves of the posts.

Add the text block.

Add the text block.

Finally, add the front cover and then screw in the screw halves of the posts.

Finally, add the front cover and then screw in the screw halves of the posts.

My journal is finished and ready for my trip!

My journal is finished and ready for my trip! Thanks for the cool stencil, TJ!

Seriously, check out Stencil Craft for a ton of info (and great step-by-step instruction!) on cutting and using stencils on a wide variety of projects for wearables, home décor, art and special gifts to others.

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