Heat + Kraft-tex + Water-Soluble Oil Pastels (Cretacolor AquaStics or Neocolor IIs) + Colored Pencils?

While I prep a few more art journals with gesso, I was thinking … you can heat glossy ceramic tiles, that’s what many bake their polymer clay on at temperatures from 230 to a touch over 300 degrees F, and you can iron Kraft-tex (a commercially made cloth fabric or fabric paper) at even the highest setting, so …

What if I created a Kraft-tex cover with handles (!) for a white, glossy ceramic tile and then slipped the heated, covered tile under art papers or art journal pages so that I could better manipulate, in areas, a combination of water-soluble oil pastels and colored pencils? Of course, I’m thinking of doing this with areas on larger art journal pages, specifically, and only on the right-hand page since I’d fill an art journal left to right. Or I could place papers on heated tiles, create art, cool, cut the papers, and collage in an art journal or on a canvas. The idea is that electic heating pads are bumpy, rice-filled heating bags would be like trying to draw on a small waterbed, MDF boards aren’t a prime candidate to place over them since they contain chemicals that may not be suitable for heating up and holding inches away from your face, but a carefully heated, covered tile might bypass numberous problems. Using a thermometer might be wise and I think I’d want to get it to 130 to 140, careful not to get burned of course. It’d be super awesome if the covered tile could be heated in a microwave. This could be very awesome.

For an idea of why that combination of materials and heat is attractive, you might see the videos on this youtube page, one that belongs to the inventor of the Icarus Board. She pushes the boundaries of materials with her invention. Quite impressive.

If it works, I’ll definitely get back to you on that and update this page. I’d have to keep the thing clean, avoid burns, and make it work. Hmmm…. It might be a while before I report back on this.

Art Journals Prepped or Made by Karen A. Scofield

I’ve Been Making and Preparing Art Journal … What I Will and Won’t Do Again

Art Journals Prepped or Made by Karen A. Scofield

Art Journals Prepped or Made by Karen A. Scofield

Won’t: Glue Together Large, Thin Novelty Papers from off a Roll to Make Larger Pages. Paintable wall paper —  all those yards, at that width, and for that price but it creased, scrunched up, and dented too easy with handling as is. So, I’d thought I’d do what I saw art journal artists do — glue paper together with gloss medium, squeeze the air bubbles out and, viola, you have a thicker, sturdier page. I thought I’d glue pages 14.5″ wide and make an art journal. It curled up like a wild beastie, gloss medium got on the wrong side, it didn’t want to fold nicely at all, and the whole experience ended after two attempts. Poo. Also, it used up way too much gloss medium, making it financially prohibitive — a bad bargain. It’s better to get the right kind of paper in the first place!

Won’t: Search for Old Books that Were Stitched together to Turn Into Art Journals If you’ve used up an entire gallon of gesso on preparing the pages of only two larger art journals, it makes you think twice about having to doctor up old, thinner book paper pages by gluing them together with even more expensive acrylic gel mediums and then also apply a coat or two of gesso. You might as well buy high quality journals for the cost unless if you’re into upcycling and and want to use up some old gesso or house paint or something. Me, life is too short. To each their own.

Won’t: Buy That Gloss Medium at Walmart. It’s about 4 US dollars at the moment, but Daler Rowney Simply Acrylic Gloss Gel Medium  is very inferior to Liquitex, Golden, and other artist grade acrylic mediums. Just no.

Favorite Papers for Art Journal Making/Prepping

  • Canson XL Mix Media — I gesso it right across the perforations if I got it in wire-spiral pad already. The paper buckles a bit but after the pages are dry, I place the journal on a flat surface and then put heavy books and boards on top of it and it flattens satisfactorily. I give the journals cloth covers that make the covers sturdier and that cover up the wire binding. I’ve also gessoed and painted on single sheets of it, like this.
  • Canson Canva-Paper — Ooo-la-la and oh my gosh! This is top notch stuff and has the best canvas texture of allllll the canvas art papers I’ve been feeling up testing for 5 years now. It’s bleedproof too! Now I just have to actually do completed works and art journal in earnest, but I’m familiar with the papers — I’ve read about them, watched hours of videos tested them.
  • Bee Paper Company Professional Series Heavyweight Drawing Paper Super Deluxe — It takes wet media too and barely buckles (less than Canson XL Mixed Media Paper does). For 93 lb. paper, this is great stuff.
  • Strathmore Acrylic Paper 400 Series — Very sturdy, doesn’t buckle, it’s great stuff and has a pleasing canvas texture
  • Canson XL Acrylic — It’s not Canva-paper but it’s pretty good. I could lay down multiple layers and rework areas on this paper. Still, it’s not of the same quality as Canva-paper or Strathmore’s Acrylic Paper 400 Series.
  • Strathmore Mixed Media 400 Series — Doesn’t tend to buckle, pill, etc. and can take a lot of layers and reworking
  • Fabriano Artistico Soft Press Watercolor Paper 140 lb. — It’s inbetween cold press and hot press. Great for pen, ink, acrylics and pencils too.

I don’t like Canson’s Montval Acrylic Paper. If you try to work it at all, it pills right away. I suppose it might be okay if you geso it first, but the paper turns me off. I originally got it because it’s heavier paper. The worst watercolor paper I’ve run across, so far, is Hobby Lobby’s Master’s Touch Watercolor Paper. It’s their house brand, I think. The 140 lb. weight makes it sound like a good candidate for watercolor and mixed media, but no. It has linear ridges on one side and what do you think wet mediums do? Run down the channels of the paper. You might as well try to paint on finely ridged corrugated cardboard. The stuff is garbage and doesn’t take much treatment before its other issues come up. Yech. Maybe it’s okay for little kids or people who will deal with a very limited paper. I don’t want it.

Will: Make My Own Art Journals with Paper Signatures or Canvas boards

Will: Prepare Canson XL Mixed Media Journals with Two Coats of Gesso

Talking More About How I’ve Been Gessoing the Art Journal Pages

I got the gesso for something like $14 or $17 a gallon a while back (used a coupon) and luckily bought 4 gallons (they stopped carrying that gesso, it was Martin F. Weber Prima Gesso). It took about a gallon of gesso to prep just two art journals but the pages feel devine, they have an eggshell-like matte texture, and since they’re all ready to go, I can better art journal on the spot or in favorite spots inside or outside! That’s great because I live right by lack Michigan. It’s so close I could walk. Yes!

Old Masters’ Journals vs. Art Journaling (Phenomonon) Gap

Reclaiming art journaling, hmmmmm. Is that taking it too far?

There seems to be a huge gap between the type of art journals Leonardo da Vinci kept and what mixed media art journaling “is” if you believe all the books, workshops, downloadables, DVDs, and Youtube videos. What an Atelier’s art journal might look like, full of studies and playful sketches put to paper before final works are done, and what most of art journaling “is” (dogmatic thinking alert), as the current overwhelming phenomenon, seem to be worlds apart.

Let me explain. Art journaling, as a thing, as the peculiar way nouns can get turned into verbs in the English language, as what it’s considered to be by most, is about creating glorified coloring books, essentially a form of art that nearly anyone can do. Instead of the lines already being printed on the page, one uses stamps and stencils. A person can gesso, slap down a background, spritz, spray, drip, splatter, speckle, stencil, and pull out such a clutter/hoarding-friendly array of art mediums that cost more per ounce than many fine art mediums (unless they’re using the actual fine art mediums, and many do), if they really get into it.

That kind of journaling seems to be like a double-edged sword — it’s at once freeing and stiffling. You get to do “it” but you might not push yourself to other levels or into another world. Art journaling as a phenomenon has a comfort zone.

It seems that water color art journaling escapes that phenomenon, as might pen and ink journaling, but as soon as you wander into mixed media art journaling, oh boy! It starts.

As you watch many of the popular (usually understood to be mixed media) art journaling videos, they talk about product, product, product. Don’t get me wrong, having decent to excellent art product can be a fine or even necessary thing to many techniques. I’m interested in product too. They’re not all equal. I know that.

A niche, that of contemporary (often understood to be mixed media) art journaling, has become all about branding, branding, branding.  In the case of mixed media art journaling mediums, of course they deal with the psychology and methods of branding. However, many of the workshop and other authors in the market brand themselves. They strongly brand themselves, AKA develop their style, and/or they use lots of brands, making sure that you know exactly which ones. So many (not all, I know) have to have whole rooms/areas, many of them devoted art journaling product alone. Some even start their own lines of art journaling products.

If you go in the art journaling/scrapbooking isles of craft stores and price the specialized paints, inks, daubers, and many mediums, you’ll realize that many of them cost more per ounce than if you bought the more notoriously expensive paints and such from high quality lines.  In many cases, what was done to ink for ink jet printers (one of the more expensive liquids in the world per ounce), has been done to some degree, to varying degress, to many art journaling products from scrapbooking and art journaling lines. Many of these products are not nearly as lightfast as fine art products either. Some have pretty amazing quality. It varies and it’s all thrown into the drink, as it were.

Me? As I get into art journaling, at times such a a focus on an amazing array of product will be markedly absent. I suspect one could keep an art journal fabulously with just a pen and journal, a pencil and journal, or a short list of stuff that’d fit into on one bag. The old masters often sufficed with one or only a few mediums the journals they kep.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be a purist. I have some happy, fun, fun mixed media products and a few stencils.

…But at times I’ll want to inject what I find missing in a lot of art journaling, as it’s come to be more widely known — perspective (as in one, two, and three point perspective) and all the other elements of design and what elevates work into the realms of fine art.

I expect to bounce back and forth between playful, slap it down pages and fine art technique explorations. I want to fill in that gap. I want to constantly push myself out of old comfort zones to new levels or tangents.

I don’t trust that an artist must develop their personal style should be a good mantra up front, from the start, in particular. What a killjoy! I’m going to explore. A lot. There’s going to be some wild exploration and synthesis of like and unlike things going on across my art journal pages.  If I develop any recognizable style, it’ll be incidental to the journey and it won’t be the case 100% of the time because I’ll always allow myself room to explore and grow.

I won’t be “the” art market’s monkey, as it were, when it comes to putting my personal, recognizable style out there and sticking to it like a mouse in a maze. The art market, as it’s known today, is ruled by the 2 percent in that they define it as a financialized thing. What financialization does to artists and art is a deep topic.

DIY Blank Canvas Board Book to Use as an Art Journal

I Made 11 x 14 Inch Blank Canvas Board Book Pages

Personalized cover is next.

Basic Instructions

I glued and taped only — no cutting (except cutting tape). Two sides board pages are covered wtih canvas paper, AKA acrylic paper. The board “pages” are ready for a cover. The cover will be made out of Kraft-tex fabric paper with something to stiffen the cover (some kind of paper board probably … whatever I find I have on hand). Time to make this portion of my canvas board book? About 30 minutes of hands-on time, give or take ten minutes, I didn’t time it. Making the cover will probably take more time, as I’ll decorate it.


  • 10 of 11 x 14″ Soho Urban Artist Painting Panels
  • 10 sheets of Canson XL Acrylic Canvas Paper (NOT the Canson Montval paper!)
  • Reinforced Duct Tape (the wide roll size)
  • Scissors
  • About 6 or so Scotch Permanent Glue Sticks, the .28 oz size
  • Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue, or something comparative that’s thick but that doesn’t dry too fast
  • Baby powder and and old, clean cosmetic brush, the large kind
  • Large, strong needle with a head wide enough for your string
  • Very strong carpet thread or bookbinding thread
  • Fabric for Cover — I’ll probably use Kraft-tex paper fabric I’ll cut to size, decorate, etc.


On a stable, smooth, and flat work surface, I laid two of the Soho canvas panels side by side in portrait sytle mode — the taller sides will be verticle on my book. That means the book will stand 14 inches call and will be, when open, 22″ wide. The boards will nearly touch each other when they lay open, so I can use two sides of the open book for one finshed picture, save the first and last sides.

For taping purposes, the boards are facing canvas texture side down, with their bare “SpHo” printed backs facing you.

Before taping two boards together, I created a gap large enough so that once the pages are folded, they’ll fold flat without too much slack. This means the finished book will shift around less, making it less likely to come undone. The gap is minutely wider than the thickness of the boards, thus allowing for movement of the pages later.

I taped the pages together with the gap in place, making sure the pages and gap stayed even. I then folded the pages with the canvas paper side of the boards facing each other and the bare sides on the outside. I repeated this process until I had a stack of taped-together SoHo canvas boards. I got my canvas Soho boards from jerrysartarama.com, on sale of course.

Next, I got the glue sticks and bottle of tacky glue out. I got these at Sams Club and Walmart a while back and they need to be used up before they’re not any good anymore. That’s what happens when you buy glue sticks in bulk, I guess. Anyway, I rapidly covered one bare side of one taped set of boards with the glue stick, taking care to cover up to about a 1/4″ from the 4 edges of the board. When using the glue sticks, it helps not to press down to hard or at an angle — you don’t want them to leave clumps of glue all over your board.

Next, I rapidly squeezed out a thread of glue right by each edge and on the duck tape, not on the very edge but right by it, taking care to lay down just enough and not too much. I have previous gluing experience and that helped here.

Without wasting time, I then took one of the Canson XL Acrylic Canvas Paper sheets (which is much better than the Canson Montval or even the SoHo panel canvas panel surface) and laid it onto the glue, with the sheet’s canvas texture side up, facing toward me. I quickly made sure it was positioned correctly.

Using the outer side of a closed fist, I started rubbing the canvas paper into place on the canvas board, rubbing from one side to the other and then around each edge of each side, carefully coming right up to the very edge but without getting glue all over my fingers or hand. Rubbing from one side to the other of the canvas board helps ensure there are no air bubbles and that all areas have made solid contact with the glue below.

Using a slightly damp wet wipe or bit of paper towel, I deftly wiped away the minute bits of glue that were squeezed out during that process. I wiped, folded the wipe over the glue i picked up that way, wiped the next side, and so on. This meant my hands and the canvas paper surfaces stayed free of glue.

I covered only one bare side of each taped set of boards at a time. made sure the boards couldn’t stick together, and then routinely covered only one bare side on each set of taped boards, leaving one bare side for later. I had to go drive my daughter to work while it was drying, so that worked out fine.

I returned to my stack and then closed each set of taped boards so the sticky portion of the tape was peaking toward the outside of each folded set.

It was time for the baby powder. I dusted the strips of sticky tape that were barely showing with the baby powder.

I then poked evenly spaced holes so that the pages are ready to connect them, by way of sewing with the thread, to the cover once that’s done…

As For Sewing the Book Binding…

I had watched several book binding videos like this one. It shows a sewn binding method.