Evolution of a DIY Planner {video}

Creative Business

This one’s for all my planner fans out there, you know who you are!

DIY Planner Evolution

Back in September I shared my Fabric Fauxdori Cover video and promised that I would go more into what’s inside it at a future date. Of course, then October and the Halloween madness struck, and now it’s November and I haven’t fulfilled that promise yet! Allow me to fix that.

(Direct link for the feed readers: DIY Planner Evolution + Clean and Simple Plan with Me November)

The decision to decorate your planner is apparently fraught with peril. As much as I love stickers, I have a lot to keep track of, so I dress my planner up in small ways like with the washi on the page edges. Another benefit of that washi? It reinforces the edges of the paper, making the planner a bit sturdier (at least in my experience). And I’m still absolutely loving my faux-dori planner cover and how easy it is to work with and add things to–I don’t miss ring binders at all!

For anyone still on the hunt for their 2016 planner, the Creative Days Monthly/Weekly Planner is available now in my Etsy shop.

If you want to try your hand at creating your own planner, you can do it in just about any program (Word, Publisher) but I really do prefer InDesign (Scribus is a good open-source alternative). It helps to start by figuring out what you want in a planner–sometimes that means trying out a lot of them or just doodling your own in a spare notebook to find out what sort of information you really need to keep track of. As I said in the video, my biggies are

  • daily to-do lists
  • blog posts
  • menu planning

with fixed appointments only an occasional thing in my life. So all the planners out there that are 50% or more time slots? Not for me. I noticed, back on my hunt for a 2012 planner that started me down the DIY road, that the planners with menu sections were either geared towards moms or had an overly simplified week on a page layout (or other froufrou decorations that didn’t suit me). Of course, had the planner community been then what it is now (or had I known of it), maybe those not-quite-right planners could have benefited from some serious sticker action!

Whatever format you choose to use, I really think everyone can benefit from some sort of time management system. Whether it’s a bullet journal, ongoing to-do lists, even chore charts–whatever takes the guesswork out of the day is going to help you get more done. And it’s not just about making more money and being more productive at work or in your business, it’s about making time for the fun stuff, too. If you check off those boxes for the things you need to do, then you can do the things you want to do with less (or better yet, absolutely no) guilt!

Do you plan? If so, what sort of system do you use? If not, why not?

Is it the Box or What’s Inside?

In The Studio

Or, in this case, the envelope…


I’ve always been a sucker for good packaging and I tend to save up the fun and unique specimens for future projects. I finally put some to good use in today’s Gauche Alchemy project. It’s a fun, quick way to dress up otherwise boring objects–sometimes it’s those little touches that make all the difference!

Drawing of how to make your own tissue bag

Project | Tissue and Washi Gift Bag


This project originally appeared in the July Gauche Alchemy Newsletter. I’ve been writing as part of the Gauche team of Alchemists for 3 months now and am constantly floored by the amount of creativity in the projects I get to write up every week. If you’re ever at a loss for inspiration or want a creative shot in the arm, the Gauche Alchemy blog and newsletter is a sure-fired way to get it!


For Mother’s Day, this year, I found a book full of pretty pictures of dressed-up French Bulldogs that I knew she’d get a kick out of. Wrapping a book is kind of boring, though, so I thought I’d use a package of yellow tissue paper I found in the hall closet (heaven only knows when I bought it, but Mom’s favorite color is yellow, so, score!).

Of course I couldn’t find the tape. Whatever I did with it the last time I used it, I definitely didn’t put it back in my dry adhesives drawer. BUT! I could easily locate my new stash of Washi Tape from Gauche Alchemy and there was a pretty green and yellow floral tape that would match perfectly.

What is washi tape? It’s patterned masking tape, sometimes also called paper tape, that is very fun to work with. I just like using it in place of plain tape for various things around the house (makes the mundane more fun) but it’s great for scrapbooking and general craft purposes, too.

My small collection of washi tape

Or, as Mom put it, it’s makes you look even more artsy-fartsy than you are.

Gee, thanks, Mom!

Anyway, I started out thinking I was just going to wrap it like any other present, but then I started to play, and this is what I ended up with.

The front view of my tissue gift bag

I realize the point of using a gift bag is to make wrapping easier, and that making your own bag out of the tissue paper that’s usually stuffed inside as filler defeats the purpose, but I promise this is really quick and simple while creating major impact.

Since I wasn’t planning on this being anything of consequence when I started, I didn’t take step-by-step pictures. Instead,  I drew you some pictures to explain how i made it.

Drawing of how to make your own tissue bag

Start by spreading your tissue paper out and placing the book on one side (figure 1) and folding the other side up to cover it. In order to obscure the book title I had to use all 5 sheets of tissue paper–this was a good idea considering the end result. Then fold up the bottom corners (figure 2) and and the sides into the center (figure3), taping each seam with the washi tape (figure 4).

Fringe the extra paper at the top of the package (figure 5, this was the point when it started resembling a bag, to me) and fold down the outer layers of the fringe (figure 6). Because of the folding there were, essentially, 3 layers of tissue fringe at the top of the package, so folding the outer layers of the front and back left a center section that resembled the tissue fringe usually poking out of traditional gift bags. To keep the folded layers of tissue down, I added a length of washi tape, folded over, along the top edge (figure 7).

Side of the tissue gift bag, reinforced by washi, and strung with a ribbon handle.

The only thing left was to add a handle! Since we’re dealing with tissue paper, here, I thought it would be a good idea to reinforce the ends of the “bag” with 3 layers of washi tape folded over the top edge (so 6 layers of tape, total, figure 8), punch a hole in each side (figure 9), and thread some wide ribbon through each hole and double knot it on the outside of the bag. I wouldn’t say it would hold up to a lot of weight, but it did it’s job admirable.

Back of the tissue bag with a quilt block-style pattern of washi tape

After the bag was made I decided it needed a little dressing up. For the front I kept it simple, just making a square of the tape to frame in the shape. On the back, where the functional taping was, I filled in the “starburst”-style pattern that the first 3 lines suggested, then framed it in with more tape. The end result was a little more like a quilt square.

Of course, when we got to dinner and Mom tried to remove the book without destroying the bag, we discovered it’s a good idea to leave a little wiggle-wiggle-wiggle room when folding the sides (figures 2 & 3). I eventually got the book out without tearing the wrapping, but a little forethought would have made it easier.

You craft and you learn, right?


Once again I’m linking up with:


Collectible Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be!


These past few months being (virtually) around the gals at Gauche Alchemy have really done a number on my creativity.

In the best possible sense of that sentiment!

It’s true, when you surround yourself with creativity in any form–be it people or resources–and are open to it, your own creativity blossoms and blooms all over the place.

Which is why, a little over a month ago, when I heard about the high school student who made her prom dress out of cardboard, I got the idea to challenge the other members of the Gauche Alchemy Design Team (known as Alchemists) to create our own outfits out of supplies from the Gauche Alchemy store.

These didn’t have to be life-size outfits, we settled on dolls for this project, and established a limit of no more than 10% fabric in our creations.

For my doll, I had this “collectible” Bradley doll of Polly Flinders that I got as a young girl.

Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders,
Warming her pretty little toes.

Her mother came and caught her
And whipped her naughty daughter
For spoiling her pretty new clothes.

Cheerful, right?

After many, many moves and a decade or so spent in storage in one garage or another, she was looking a little worse for wear, so I didn’t have much compunction in remaking her as an art doll.

I realize Styrofoam doesn’t easily break down in landfills, but it doesn’t exactly scream collectible to me. When I removed the costume that was pretty much all I found: Styrofoam, glue and a metal armature for the arms. We can do better than that!

Originally I’d planned to make her over as a steampunk dolly, making use of Ouchless Cardboard and lots of aged elements. But I really loved the idea of using this pink-heart punchinella as tights, just for the pop of color. But the pink just wasn’t meshing with the original costume idea and I was debating what else to do when I decided, first, I needed to address the great big crack in her midsection. Filling it with glue helped, but she needed a bit more, so I grabbed some washi tape (a new love) and ended up giving her a pink and black gingham mini-dress in the process.

Steampunk was officially out of the picture, the punchinella tights were in, and suddenly Polly became a circus performer!

Art doll collage

In addition to more punchinella for the tutu (in both pink and orange), pretty much everything in her outfit came from the Pink Parts and Lady Marmalade Orange Mixed Media Color Kits in the Gauche Alchemy store. I added a few things, like the feather in her hair, and a package of little rhinestones that I applied using my new-found knowledge from watching many episodes of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

Her shoes got updated with some leftover paint testers (not from GA, but totally in the spirit of the group) and some pink bows I found in my stash, and her boring wooden base got covered in bits of punchinella, covered in 3 colors of tissue paper and then sealed with Mod Podge. She even has a orange tightrope to walk.

You can see the runway presentation over on the GA Blog and check out the rest of the awesome dolls my teammates (and new friends!) created. They are all spectacular–is it any wonder I’ve been feeling the creativity surge, lately?


We’ll be getting back to the 64 Arts next week, but don’t be surprise if more random projects pop in and out of the Tuesday posts for the foreseeable future 🙂 After all, exploring the 64 Arts is all about expanding your creativity (and my own), so it only seems natural to deviate from the list from time to time!

The list is our net, it’ll catch us when we fall, but until then we’re free to wander, come and go as we please 🙂


2 Link-ups in a row?! Yup!

Front view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op

The Future of the Year


No to be too lofty or anything, that was my prompt as part of the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project.

I received a card with the prompt on it and a Prismacolor marker in leaf green and had to create a project of some sort and then place it out in public to be “discovered.”

With such a prompt as “the future of the year” I immediately thought about a calendar. About pages fluttering in the wind. “Blowing in the Wind” to be more exact. With something like seeds… flowers? something like a dandelion coursing along the wind.

So imagine my delight in finding a little pocket calendar with a purple flower on the cover, reminiscent of dandelions, to use as the base of my project!

Front view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op

I removed the first 7 calendar pages–through the end of 2012–and mounted them to card stock, painted them with watercolors in blues, greens, yellows and a red here and there, and then cut out the swirling shapes. Each side was embellished with the provided Prismacolor pen, the painted fronts with a dot-and-dash pattern and the plain backs with hash marks. Of course, if I’d thought about it earlier, I would have used the Morse code for “the future of the year”, but that was an afterthought.

Close-up side-view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project

The remaining pages of the book were glued together using a Neutral pH Adhesive (altered art friends in the past called it Perfect Paper Adhesive) in groups of 3, then every other section was folded in half to spread out the signature a bit, and secured with washi tape. The extended page groups were painted with green-tinted gesso and edged with more washi tape, the folded groups with purple acrylic. The painted tendrils were attached to the page groups so they looked as if they were crawling out of the calendar.

Rear view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project

The covers were loosely brushed with the same tinted gesso as well as the promt card, which was then glued to the back cover. The plastic sleeve went back onto the covers to protect it, and a pom pom in purple and white crochet thread was taped onto a toothpick with floral tape and inserted between one of the center page groups and the nearest tendril. To “answer” the question the prompt began, I wrote “begins today” on the rear tendrils. Splatters of metallic watercolor paint were added to the entire project, just to rough it up a bit. (Frankly, I think more of the splatters ended up on me than the pages, but that’s the price you pay for playing with paint.)

View of the weighted base for my Art House Co-Op Mystery Project paper sculpture

Because my paper “sculpture” is fairly light-weight, I decided it needed an anchor. Digging through a  box of “alterables” I’ve been collecting throughout the years, I found the lid of a Harry & David truffle container just the right size and practically the right color.  I painted over the label on the top, loosely brushed the sides (again, with the tinted gesso), and then edged the sides in the same washi tape that edged the page blocks. To weight it down I glued some clear glass pebbles into the base, positioning the pages and pebbles in a way to keep them open and secured.

My hidden message on the bottom of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project

Finally, a message was added to the bottom of the base:

I am not litter! I am a public art project in conjunction with the Art House Co-Op. For this project my artist was given a certain color of marker and a prompt: “the future of the year.” She took those elements & created me! Please take me home or put me somewhere else so others can enjoy me. Or contact  my creator: randomactscomics@gmail.com.

I’m still trying to decide where to place my paper sculpture (I have until the end of the month), but it’s my hope it doesn’t find its way immediately into the garbage. Maybe I’ll even hear from whoever finds it if they happen to look at the bottom!


Speaking of the future: I just realized that last week’s post on story-telling brought us to the mid-point in the 64 arts! Are you looking forward to the last half as much as I am?