Last Christmas, I received an insanely gorgeous leather photo album, and by “gorgeous,” I mean expensive. (And gorgeous.) Staring down at the leather, I felt so guilty that I almost blurted out the awful truth: I don’t use photo albums. Ever. Even the gorgeous ones get banished to the closet, where they languish in the dark – or did, until the guilt became too much for me. When that happened, I sat down with a photo album, and I didn’t let myself get up until I figured out a way to make practical use of my gift. I’m pretty excited to share my solution, because what better thing to do with an expensive photo album than use it to store expensive art markers?!
Turning an unused photo album into a piece of portable marker storage is ridiculously quick and easy. In fact, after you make one or two of these babies for yourself, you should make some for all of your bestest art buddies, too. Here’s why: A commercially-produced marker wallet (as they are known) costs about $25. This cool, custom, DIY version cost me $1.67. I don’t mean to get all mathematical on you, but that’s a savings of . . . a monkey ton. And wouldn’t you rather spend that monkey ton on Copics anyway?
- A photo album (mine was 6 x 8 )
- An Xacto knife or box cutter
- 1″ black elastic (mine was woven)
- A staple gun
- Needle nose pliers
- Copic or other art markers
- Decorative paper & Mod Podge (optional)
- Paint, ribbon, and other materials for altering the outside of the album (optional)
*Staples are measured by height. For my album, I used 12mm staples, which were pretty tall. When in doubt, go tall instead of short. (You want to be able to bend the ends of the staple closed so you don’t jab the artist next to you with staple points, even if she does laugh too loud.)
Ready to see my album? It’s from the Museum Store (which I know because that information is embossed on the back):
Although you don’t have to have a 6×8 album for this project, it is pretty much perfect for your Copics. To get going, follow these steps:
1. Using your knife or box cutter, remove the pages from the album.
2. If desired, coat the inside of the album with a healthy dose of Mod Podge and cover it with an attractive paper. Use a brayer or your fingers to smooth the paper into place and allow the glue to dry briefly.
3. Put something over your workspace – a foam board, a wooden board, etc. – so that you do not staple your album to your table. (That would radically reduce the album’s portability.)
4. Now you’re ready to staple your elastic into place, one marker slot at a time. The elastic will run across the center of your album, so staple one end of the elastic to either edge of the book at the center point. Unless your album is constructed of Kryptonite, the staple WILL penetrate the outside of the album, and that’s okay. I promise.
5. Turn the album over and press the ends of the staples into place with the tips of your pliers. Note: Don’t press straight down from above; that will push the staple right back out, which defeats the whole point. Instead, press the ends of the staple inward from the sides – or if the ends are long enough, grab them with your pliers and bend them inward, then close the pliers and finish the job by pressing.
6. Turn the album over again so that you are looking at the elastic. Take one of your Copics, lay it flat against the album, and press it snugly against the staple. Pull the elastic over the marker and mark the spot where a staple should go with your fingers.
7. If you can recruit a partner at this point in the process, fantastic. Slide the marker out of the way, pull your fingers out of the path of the staple, and tell your partner to use that staple gun. Once the staple is in place, you should have a “bump” that looks like this from the bottom, except you’ll only have one.
8. Immediately test the tension of the elastic by re-inserting your marker. If the elastic is too loose, pull the staple out with your pliers and try again.
If you can’t recruit a partner, by the way, you can do this by yourself, but be very careful of your fingers – or use a pencil to mark the spot.
9. Repeat steps 5-8 until you have filled the album with Copic glory (skipping the spine, of course).
10.After admiring your work, pull all the markers back out again. Using your black Copic (or other alcohol-based marker), color the staples black to help them fade into the black elastic. Run to the bathroom, pour yourself a glass of water, make a crank call, or in short, wait a few minutes and then re-coat them. The staples won’t disappear completely, but as you can see from the photo, the only ones that are visible are the two that catch the flash.
11. Close your album and examine those staples you so carefully pressed into place from the outside. They don’t look so terrible, eh?
If you still want to cover them up, now’s the time to flex those creative skills. Run a ribbon over the staples, decoupage papers to the album, paint the album, glue buttons over the staples, or do some combination of all of these things. It’s up to you! I used a combination of vintage sheet music and ribbon (a little conventional, I know, but I do have musical angels on my cover). I also distressed my album by scraping it with a key, following up with an application of watered-down black paint.
Ready for the best news of all? You know you want to make one of these anyway, so once you do, take a picture and post it to ourforum no later than December 7 at 5:00pm, at which time, we’ll let our site visitors vote on which one they like best. If they pick YOU – and really, why wouldn’t they?! – you will win not only these fabulous Red Riding Hood bookends, but also a coveted spot on our home page, so that you can send all of your friends and some of your 4th cousins twice removed to admire your work on the interwebz. Nifty, right?
Here’s the prize: