November 17, 2010

Workshop Wednesday - Tin & book

A few weeks ago I asked you, my readers, if there was anything that you wanted to see by way of workshops. Donna wondered if I have done videos of work that is in my book, The Artistic Mother. That is a great idea Donna. Thanks. While I didn't get around to doing a video, here is a photo workshop based on an altered tin and handmade mini collage journal that does appear in my book.

Through out my book there are what is called in the publishing business 'beauty shots'. Marissa Bowers, the book's designer, staged art work with props to best show off and illustrate the type of artwork you, the reader, the Artistic Mother, could do. On p 18 is an altered collage tin that houses a little handmade book. Today I am going to show you the steps for making one.

But first, here is a peek inside the one that appears in the beauty shot in my book:


Set up your photos on your computer. I use PhotoShop Elements 8.0. I opened 4 different photos and then choose a new blank document. I moved the 4 photos over into the new document.

Line the photos up, then crop the image in a long strip and save the file as a jpeg.


Open your word processing program. I use Microsoft Word for Mac. Insert your photo onto a new blank document. Re-size your image. Copy and paste it and re-size the 2nd image (smaller), so you have 2 sizes of the image (one will be for the cover of your little book, the other will be art to collage the tin with).


Trim your images. And set the smaller image aside. You will use the larger strip image as the cover of your book.


Fold your strip image loosely in half, this will be your book cover. Find scraps of paper that will fit as pages in the book.

Layer the papers together. The top piece of paper should face the rest of the paper.


Poke a line of holes in the papers. Use an awl to make the holes by holding the point of the awl in place and tapping the back of the awl with a hammer to ensure that the holes go the whole way through the stack of papers. Hold the papers very tightly together before sewing. TIP: Thread your needle before poking the holes, so you are ready to go once the holes are made. Now, sew the papers together. I sewed forward and then back again to make sure the papers were very secure.


Put the book pages (signature) into the cover, fold the front and back signature pages and align them with the cover. Glue the outside of the signature into the book cover. Use your fingers to smooth the signature in place.

To cover up where the fold is, add a little loop of coordinating twine and tie it. Set the book aside.


Next you will want to alter your tin. I used a gift card tin that I got at Michaels, but an Altoid tin will work too. First thing to do is sand the tin. Any grit sandpaper will do, but I used a medium fine grit. Sand everywhere that you want to be painted. You don't have to erase the whole design, but to rough it up enough to receive paint.


Paint your tin with a layer of gesso. Dry it with a craft gun or simply wait 10 minutes for the paint to dry and then paint with acrylic paint. I used Moss Eco-Friendly paint.


 Stamp the tin with Staz On ink. I always use Staz On ink because I end up painting over the stamp. This stamp is called 'Plume' from Linda Schnieder's collection by Stampington & Co.


Over paint the stamps with another color (here I used a little bit of turquoise) and then gesso to soften the color. Rub the paint with a rag to give it that blendy, airy feeling.


Pick out some scraps to collage on the top of the tin, including the smaller printed out version of the book cover photo. Glue them in place.

Put your little book inside your tin and that is it!

I hope you have a go at making one of these. They are quick and simple. Even my kids altered their own tins (of course!!):

If you are a collage artist, why not consider adding your name the collage making directory? As of today there are 95 collage blogs listed! It is a great place to jump from when you need some collage inspiration. Scroll all the way down and leave a comment and you will be added to the list. 


  1. Love the altered tins with the little book. How fun. Thanks so much for the detailed tutorial.

  2. I love making these also. Great gifts! And of course your children must alter their own tin!!! :D

  3. thanks for the tutorial, Shona! i'm thinking these could be amazing gifts to the grandparents for Christmas this year!

  4. What a cute idea! I really sincerely enjoy seeing the things you make. I always get inspired. Thank you!

  5. This is so very fabulous! Can't wait to try it - thank you! xoxo

  6. My kids love me having a studio that they can play in. My daughter always wants to do her own version of whatever I am doing.
    Thanks for the tutorial. On my list of things to do is teach myself something about altering photos with a program, taking better photos and trying to make my blog work better. So I come here for advice and inspiration.
    Where did you do your blog course? I remember reading about it some time ago.

  7. Awesome tutorial...thank you so much. My 8yr old and I love to do things together and this is one that I know we are going to love doing over and over.


  8. Wow Shona, That is just a fabulous tutorial! Thanks for showing us this. I'm burning sausage at the moment (crock pot recipe) so I have to go. But I'll come back to read this more carefully.

    PS. Shona, I wrote my first ever creative essay (actually 2). Just trying it out. One is on boys and bathrooms and the other is childhood memories of less than palatable Thanksgiving day dishes.

    I'll get the blogger meet up tag on my side bar this afternoon. :o)

  9. PS. LOVE the photos of Making the Most of it. Wonderful! The story is great too. :o) Darling video!

  10. totally in love with these ...

    off to fire up Photo Shop!

    xo lis

  11. What an enchanting idea - love it.
    I made a tiny book for my daughter in a tiny tin for her birthday.
    My computer skills aren't great though.
    Thanks so much for your kind tutorial.

  12. I'm so happy to have found your blog and about your book! My sister is children's book author will really love're such an inspiration. found you via the interview by Stephanie Levy

  13. thank you all for taking the time to say hello!

  14. What a great project! I was looking for a gift idea and this is really great--thanks so much for the detailed how-to! Have a wonderful weekend :)

  15. thanks so much for this! headin over to michael's for some little tins today! i see christmas gifts galore here!


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