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Big initial MThis embossed leather journal came to me by way of my favorite journaler, who is so busy making her own art journals, she no longer needs any of the readymade kind. I grabbed it — not because I am much of a journaler, but because it was made of LEATHER and had wonderful texture: It was stamped with a pattern to look like alligator or crocodile (I can never tell them apart).

Journal-002 resizedI decided to do color blocking in diagonal lines and picked several colors of Lumiere (from upper right to lower left): Metallic Bronze, Pearlescent Magenta, Halo Violet Gold, Burgundy and Metallic Rust.

Frankly, it looked terrible! I’ve included a photo here as testimony to the fact that we all have “great ideas” that flop! The only thing that matters is what we do next.Journal-001

My next step was to remove some of the Pearlescent Magenta paint — and here’s the secret to doing that. Brush on a thick coat of Glitter It glaze — the base only, without the glitter. Let it sit a minute or so while It softens the dried Lumiere. Then you can wipe most of it away with a rough rag.

In this case, the magenta wouldn’t come all the way off because it clung to the texture of the leather — and then I decided to paint a darker color over it anyway. But keep that tip in the back of your mind if you ever need to “erase” any Lumiere. (If you have some Glitter It glaze, just let it sit for a while until the glitter settles and you can skim some of the white-looking base off the top of the bottle. Or you can buy a bottle of the base only, no glitter.)

Journal-003 resizedNow it was time to change the color palette! I kept the Metallic Bronze in the upper right corner, painted over the entire middle section with Burgundy, and painted the lower left corner in Metallic Olive.

I used masking tape to paint crisp, straight lines that continued from the front cover to the back. Once that was done, it was time to add some visual texture back in.

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I did this by brushing on small amounts of Neopaque Black then rubbing most of it off with a rag before it had a chance to dry. This changed the colors to darker shades of themselves and highlighted the texture of the “scales.”

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I liked the result pretty well, but it seemed to me that the upper right corner of the front cover needed… something! I dug through my stash and found a couple of raw brass filigrees I’d gotten awhile back from B’sue Boutiques, a great online resource for unusual metal embellishments.

Raw brass, besides being bright yellow, will darken over time, so I decided to tint the metal using StazOn stamping inks.

Journal-008 resized Stazon mustard padI applied this alcohol-based ink from the stamp pad (you can also use a re-inker bottle, which is a better buy) with a cotton swab. I tinted one filigree in a shade called Mustard and the other Olive Green. Then I dabbed the edges and very center of each with a very little Jet Black.

(I keep a little collection of different colors of StazOn on hand for tinting metal embellishments, buckles, buttons, even cheap earrings. Once it’s fully dry — a day or so — it’s permanent. And if you keep the stamp pad or bottle tightly closed, it will last for years. I think I bought that Olive Green stamp pad in 2007!)

I stitched the two filigrees onto the journal cover using a leather needle, smoke-colored FireLine and a small square bead apiece to serve as an anchor atop the filigree.

Journal-007 resized Whew. This was a bit of an odyssey, but I had fun (except for that little detour with the clashing magenta…). I like the results, and I may give this custom journal to another favorite journaler of mine, Susan Borkin, who has written an impassioned book about using journaling to discover your true self.

Me, my true self has something to do with color, paint and leather! What about yours?

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