adornment, ArtistTribe, ArtJournaling, beautiful things, bookmaking, books, creativeteam, embellishment, journaling, meaning, mixed media

Secret Journey Journal and Some Beautiful Trim

What happens when you find an old map that your brother wrapped your Christmas gift in, you are thinking about what to make for the next Artist Tribe project and The Police are singing about Spirits in the Material World and their Secret Journey in the background?

Well, this. This happens. 


What else could possibly have happened? Please don’t answer that question. 

So I got this idea for a map of my spiritual journey. So many spiritual artifacts are ensconced in precious boxes covered with beautiful design. I had just the thing. My old iPhone box. I can never throw them away as they are so well made. I found the bottom right away. It took weeks for me to find the top, but that is another story….

So the map was cut into pages the size that could fit in the box. 

 Gwen Lafleur’s compass stencil was the obvious choice for this project. I wanted to use a color close to indigo, but alas, in my enthusiasm for pink I have neglected variations of blue. What I had, I didn’t have much of. I decided to mix it with black. It actually looks like I used black, but I am happy with the way it came out. 

While pouncing the color onto the page I became transported by memories and stopped paying close attention to what I was doing. The images are not crystal clear as one might imagine, but I decided that gave it a weathered effect that was perfect for this project and moved on. 

Usually, I use a slightly harder cardboard for the cover, but I decided to actually cover the cover. For this I chose a stunning paper from Gwen’s collection. I thought the black and gold suited the project perfectly. The cover cardboard was cut to the exact size of the papers, the cover 1/4 inch larger on all sides. 

Adhere the cardboard to the paper. I used gel medium. 

Trim the corners. 

 Glue them down. 

For the interior cover (also called endpapers for those in the know) I used this beautiful peacock print paper also from Gwen’s shop. It looks so regal. 

Before I bound the book, I cut a piece of Dresden trim and adhered to the cover using gel medium. Lucky me, the Dresden trim was the exact size to get both front and back pieces from. 

I bound the book using the Coptic Stitch. If you are unfamiliar with the process I would recommend watching a tutorial or two on YouTube. It does take some attention, but is fairly easy to do and looks great. 

Once the book was bound, I added bits and pieces of print in different languages – Chinese that came from Gwen’s shop, Japanese and Russian from an instagram friend, French from a biography about the Marquese d’ Sevenge who I was researching last spring, some Italian in the hand of Leonardo D’Vinci (though I have seen it written that he wrote backwards and is suspected to have dyslexia) and Korean (some word from a favorite KPop band, Shinee.) These all reflect travels of mine, with the exception of the Russian and that simply reflects friendship.

If I hadn’t already decided to make it difficult enough, I chose to do all the text in code. I love a good puzzle. I used the code pig pen if you care to have a go at it. 

I carefully assigned meaning to each page spread and made a guide to help me keep on track. I then went through buckets of old pictures, scanning them, resizing them and using an app to make them all black and white. Some looked great when outlined or cartoonized, others were better with simple black and white. I printed them out like contact paper, cut them out and adhered them to the appropriate pages. 

Thanks to Artist Tribe member Jill McDowell, for inspiring me to see things within the stencils. I found visual hints on each page to keep the meaning coming. 

Let me be real here, a book like this isn’t done quickly. It’s really introspective, so I decided to begin and allow myself to continue as I go. Maybe you will see the completion post someday.

A beautiful book deserves a beautiful box, nes pa? Here’s how I turned my iPhone box into a treasure box. 

Gwen sent me this beautiful piece of sari material. These will be available in her shop before long, so make sure you check in. I love this piece and it was precisely the size I needed to cover the lid! 

After folding the material over the box to make sure it would fit I added gel medium to the lid and pressed it on the fabric along one of the lines. Next, I adhered the long edges. Trim the excess on the ends and stick the sides down.  

Silk is lovely, but it frays in an ecstatic, energetic sort of way. I added gell medium around the edges to make sure they did not fray. 

Let’s talk about Gwen’s trim for a minute. This stuff makes you drool. With so much trim to choose from how does one begin? My box side is 2″ high, so I chose a trim that is 1.5″ and it works perfectly. I’m guessing that will help you narrow your choices down a little bit. 

I gave a liberal coat of gel medium on the backside of the trim and carefully adhered it to the box. Clothespins placed at the corners helped to keep it secure while drying. 

So here is the rub. Iphone boxes are snug. Really snug. So I couldn’t get into the box very well once I had covered it. No problem, I wanted to do something to the bottom anyway. I glued a piece of the fabric I used in my Kuchi patch brooch to the bottom of the box. 

Then I used hot glue to add sari yarn around the edge of the box. This provides a place to grip and also keeps the box from closing completely. As you can see a piece of sari yarn is used to tie the box to complete the look. 

I just don’t know when to leave good enough alone. I wanted to create a secret compartment for my box. I traced the inside of the iPhone tray and cut out a piece of craft foam that size. 

I covered it in the same fabric as the bottom and then attached sari yarn all the way around. Using a button making kit from a sewing supply store, I covered a button with the last scraps of that beautiful sari scrap and sewed it to the middle of the cushion. 

Placing a gemstone bracelet there makes it look like there is nothing else to be seen here. Well, let me dream that is what it looks like. 

The reveal.

The holes in the bottom of the box are wonderful for hiding things. Currently, I have the pig pen code. No, I haven’t memorized it. I also have a stick of Japanese amber incense which makes the whole thing smell lovely. I am sensitive to scent and have trouble with most incense due to an allergy to jasmine, but this works for me. You could use a drop of essential oil, some lavendar flowers or a piece of your favorite soap. 

I’m sure to add more to this “secret” compartment, but I’m not going to share that with you. After all, it’s a secret! 

Be sure to check out the materials I used from Gwen’s shop:

Gwen’s Stencil Girl Stencils – Ornamental Collection – Ornamental Compass 

Black and gold paper is from the Irresistible India Mixed Media Happy Pack

Gwen’s essentials – German Dresden – Borders Assorted Patterns

Chinese paper from Exotic Orient Deluxe Collage & Embellishment Pack

Sari Ribbon from Darn Good Yarn in Twisted Sister 

And this month Gwen’s having a special on trim. Go wild. This stuff is gorgeous. 

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  1. Your journal and box is gorgeous! I am loving that gold and black paper and that sari trim is amazing!!

  2. This is AMAZING Lynda! So many details to discover! I love the book and all of the different foreign language texts, and I love the way you found so many cool shapes in the stencil design! The box is super fun too… I definitely think that it just looks like a jewelry box with the bracelet displayed – love the secret compartment! I can't wait to see the completed journal at some point!

  3. Thank you, Gwen. The details just kept revealing themselves. Frankly, one could go on and on with them. The stencil was so much fun to use. There are so many possibilities in this stencil and I'm really excited to use the other stencils to see where I go with them.

    I'll continue to work on this journal, so it will be fun to see where it goes. So far it has really surprised, and delighted, me.

  4. Thank you so much, Kate! The gold and black paper is luscious, isn't it? Do you ever find it difficult to cut a material you are going to use? That paper was like that for me. The sari trim is gorgeous to work with. I'm so glad you came by.

  5. First, kudos to your wrapping a present in a map, totally awesome! Second, wow! That box is amazing!

  6. Thanks, Sandee! My brother recycles by wrapping things in his old maps. I recycle gift wrapping materials. So the map has been recycled at least twice. Just the way we roll. I'm also glad to know you like the box. I really enjoyed putting it together.

  7. What a great idea to repurpose an iPhone box! Love what you did with the secret compartment

  8. Lynda, this project is sooo awesome. I love how you used the same stencil throughout your journal and then mixed it up with book pages in different languages and then secret code… wow. I have an IPhone box saved but didn’t wow what to do with it. Now I know👏👏. Great post!

  9. Thank, Jill. I'm glad I have given you vision for your iPhone box. Maybe we need to start an iPhone box reclamation organization. People could drop their boxes in the bin and receive a free secret message. They'd have to discover what code we used on their own. Ha ha. There are puzzle people who would love that. The compass stencil seemed particularly appropriate for the project and paired with the map, well, what can I say?

    Can't wait to see what you do with your box. `

  10. Thanks, Linda. It was a really fun project to work on. The only problem was that the ideas just keep coming and so there really is no end to it. Originally I had thought to make a bright vibrant book for the top of shallowness and have the secret spiritual journey be hidden. Then the idea of the padded jewelry box came and stole the show. So many possibilities.

  11. Lynda, I laughed and laughed reading this post!! You are too much girlfriend!! Your words make me giggle out loud-just being real here… heehee

    What fabulous makes!
    First off that journal is gorgeousness!! Love that gold and black and the Dresden is perfect!!

    And now that box…just exquisite!! Amazing I say! serious drooling happening here!

    And to top of the post a secret compartment- again, amazing!!Well done on this spiritual flight! ")

  12. Jackie, it's always a pleasure to bring laughter to people. So glad it made you laugh. The project is certainly one I enjoyed making. Thanks for all the affirmation about the separate elements.

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