The Pop-Up Guest Book

The pop-up guest book I’ve been working on is finally on its way to my cousin. I have to say, all modesty aside, that I was rather impressed with myself only because it was the first time I’d ever made anything like it. Other than the coming together of painting and paper-crafting techniques, it was a gift that I felt privileged to make.

I mentioned in the previous post that I had come up with the pop-up book idea and I was raring to begin. Raring to begin didn’t mean I already had something to begin. In fact, it took me a couple of days before deciding on what pop-up  to make.

test piece

What did I know about pop-ups? Except for Robert Sabuda and my fascination with anything that moved on a page, almost nothing, really. However, I wanted to make that pop-up guest book so I turned to Google and did a search for tutorials and patterns. I found one by KirigamiArt on You Tube, did a test piece, and satisfied with the outcome, proceeded to work on my pop-up wedding cake.

At this point, I hadn’t quite planned the whole project through. I have to confess that I rarely ever do. I just wanted to make the pop-up and I knew I’d have to use paper or card stock that would withstand whatever I might decide to do to it. The thing with paper is that you have to be prepared for how it might react to anything liquid. It shouldn’t buckle or warp or disintegrate. As I was looking around at my stash, the Aquarelle Arches watercolor block caught my eye. Aha!

Watercolor Paper

After transferring the design, making the cuts (this was a bit tricky because of the thickness of the paper), and scoring the fold lines, I did the folding test. Except for a few cuts which had to be lengthened, my pop-up worked and I was thrilled! The watercolor paper had enough stiffness in it for the card to remain open although that wouldn’t have mattered because it was going to be mounted onto the book cover anyway.

Starting to Decorate

I already had the boards for the cover. A few months ago, I had purchased The Cinch during a sale on HSN and it came with a selection of boards for scrapbook covers. Serendipity at its best!

But first, I wanted to decorate the “cake.” That’s the fun part even with real cakes. It was tempting to get ready-made flowers from Michael’s or JoAnn’s but I decided that the only ones I’d get were the white sprays since I knew I wouldn’t be making anything like those anytime soon. Instead, I made flowers from paper clay and the left over pieces of watercolor paper.

Adding Flowers

Making the Flowers

 Then came the discovery that with the decor, the pop-up wouldn’t be able to close as flat as a pop-up normally would. They’re never quite flat but my decorated cake wasn’t going to come close to pop-up flatness. No matter, I thought. I’d make the book look more like a box or like a cake slice! The cake slice idea was quickly discarded, though, because the proportions would have made for a really wonky looking slice.

Making the Box

I ordered book cloth from Oregon Art Supply after once again scouring the internet. Most of the sites I went to had lots of options to choose from and the prices were almost all the same. However, most of them also charged a bit too much for shipping. The Oregon Art Supply had the most reasonable rates and the book cloth arrived pretty quickly.

Now the idea for the guest book is that when it opens to reveal a pop-up wedding cake, it will also have space for the guests to sign their names. The floor of the box and the lid had lots of space but it wasn’t going to have that TA-DA! factor. So instead, I drew and painted flowers and leaves for the guests to sign and then stick on so that the cake will be surrounded by a kind of flower garden. Much more fun and you can think up of metaphors as you look at it.



I was a bit worried about how the whole thing would hold up in the mail but then one night, we had a thunderstorm and a huge gust of wind blew the opened guest book off my table along with some of the flowers that I had begun to cut. I didn’t know right away that they had fallen so it was with quite a bit of trepidation that I picked up the guest book, ready to repair any damage. It survived the fall unscathed! I just had to do a search for some of the flowers that flew away and thankfully found each and every one.

When all the flowers and leaves were painted and cut out, I packed everything in a box, found some packing peanuts I had put aside (serendipity again–my husband gave me a funny look when I said I was keeping them for “just in case”), tucked in a note with instructions for my cousin, and last Monday, went to UPS to get it sent away. I’m not posting the finished piece. I think the bride should have the first look.

What’s next? Well, there’s the Make It In Design Summer School which is taking care of any MATS Bootcamp withdrawals. It’s free and it’s keeping me going. There are competitions and submissions that I’ve tacked onto my cork board as well as projects with Christmas shoppers in mind. Most of these are not paper related and will probably end up on my other  Blog or website if you’d like to take peeks. I’m still flakey about joining the MATS Global Talent Search. I have until tomorrow to decide, so let’s see!



I’ve had surface design occupying most of my attention these past weeks. Even while working on a few sewing projects (“summering up” my son’s bed as well as my wardrobe), I was rifling through design images in my head. Then there was a voice constantly nagging me about updating my website and portfolio as well as organizing the pattern collections I had already had for uploading to Spoonflower.

Well, out of the blue, a cousin popped me a message on Facebook. Would I be able to help her come up with a simple guestbook for her wedding? And just like that, my brain made space for a new project. 

Because I had been on that surface design binge, the first thing that came to mind was to do something with watercolor. Then I thought about doing something with lino prints. I think I may have gotten carried away because at some point, I had to remind myself that I was making a one-page book that guests could sign. That’s when it hit me. A book! A handmade book! A pop-up book!

This led to looking around the internet for inspiration and my go-to for pop-ups is Robert Sabuda. I first heard about Robert Sabuda from a friend who heads the Philippine chapter of the SCBWI, Beaulah Taguiwalo. She had met him on one of the conferences. I actually emailed him to let him know that I was a fan of his work and that it was Beau who led me to his website. To my surprise, he emailed back! So now I’m a Robert Sabuda fan for life.

The picture below shows a page from his Alice in Wonderland pop-up book. He has about 25 of these pop-ups, some of which are out of print. He also shares templates and instructions on his website which can be found here



During my search, I came across Shawn Sheehy. He also has engaging pop-up books and is a paper engineer. The commercial work he’s done had more to do with “engineering” the pop-ups rather than doing the illustrations. I once saw a video of how paper engineers come up with complicated pop-ups and decided that it was too much for my brain to handle. This is why I appreciate templates that incredibly gifted artists like Robert and Shawn share. I don’t use the design but I follow the folds.

There are hundreds of pop-up cards and books posted on Pinterest so rather than populate this post with more images, it might be more fun if you grab some iced-tea (bubble tea if you can manage it!) and spend some quality time with pop-up eye candy. I, on the other hand, will begin figuring out my guestbook project which will be the topic of my future posts.

Got your drink ready? Then head on to Pinterest and enjoy your Friday afternoon!


On Paying It Forward

Friday is the day I designate for shifting my focus from the work I’ve been doing most of the week to something else that might not be related to it at all. I was consumed this week by a writing assignment for the Chapter Book Alchemist course. This week was all about getting a 60-word pitch submitted. Before I could craft a pitch, I had to make peace with my story. Making peace meant throwing out most of what I had written and reworking the story to give it legs. With the help of my critique group, the story was reworked enough so that the pitch could be posted in the proper document on the Facebook group page.

So today, I decided to put aside the writing (although I the rest of the story is floating around in my head, making endless suggestions) and continue carving out a linoleum block. I also have some bangles to finish up, some of which I will post here because of their paper embellishments.

Before I take the three steps to the work table, though, I wanted to share a wonderful site I found this morning. I was reading through the Publishers Weekly newsletter and noticed a link on the left sidebar. If you were with me on my Painting Words blog, you’d know I love snail mail–sending as well as receiving, of course. Much as I would have loved to actually make every postcard, it just wasn’t going to happen. I do love to scour little shops for good ones and I recently mailed one with the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. But then, here is a website that not only sends you a monthly bit of happy, they also send you a stamped envelope so that you can share it with someone else later on! The only downside to it at the moment is that it’s a USA only service but what’s to stop me from mailing it in another envelope and sharing it with friends overseas? I can still share the happy that way.

If you want to take a look, here’s the link to HOLSTEE. Even if you don’t fancy doing snail mail, I think you’ll enjoy visiting the site so have a go.

Here’s another share: I’ve taken courses with The Children’s Book Academy and each experience was nothing short of magical. The classes are informative, the instructors nurturing. There’s a lot of work to put in but it’s always fun and there’s always loads of support. A new class on writing is coming up. Spring is a great time to learn something new or to hone a skill. There is a special discount until May 5 so if you want to check it out, here’s the link to From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures & Craft of Poetry Techniques.



What’s not to love about paper?

Pages of them can contain all sorts of words and, bound together,

create a book that can transform your world. Or you.

You can take a sheet of paper and draw on it.


You can fold paper and make something useful or just fun.


You can recycle paper.

If you take the teabag you just used for that cup of tea,

you can throw out the tea then wash and dry the bag.

Then you can make something pretty with it.


There are paper artists and paper architects who do beautiful things with paper like this one by Debbie of Perfect Papercuts

Jeremiah Papercut 2013

but you can always try something fast and simple too.


Like a simple pop-up. Or a paper doll. Or a book marker.


Paper can be folded, cut, scored, sewn, crumpled, pasted.

Bits and pieces can be thrown into a blender with water and starch to make new paper!

You can create a whole new world of your own with paper (and lots of imagination!).

What’s not to love about paper?



The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight. And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here.

Majo Bautista / Tona Bell Louise Best Cathy Bluteau / Jennifer Bomgardner / Giova Brusa / Lindsay Buck / Beka Buckley / Joanna Caskie / Jonathan Chapman (Mr Yen) / Halle Cisco / Sarah Clare / Cathryn Clarge / Dawn Clarkson / Rhiannon Connelly Jenny D’Fuego / Molly Dhiman / Ian Dudley / Ayisatu Emore / Akmal Farid / Monika Forsberg / Claire Fritz-Domeney / Louise Gale / Chrissy Gaskell / Julie Hamilton / Emma Hawman / Rachel Hazell / Holly Helgeson / Claudine Hellmuth / Kim Henkel / Sarah Hoffman / Joanne Hus / Paula Joerling / Beth Kempton / Julie Kirk / Eos Koch / Katie LaClair / Kristy Lankford / Michelle Manolov / Doreen Marts Rosie Martinez-Dekker / Tori Mears / Maria Mederios / Lise Meijer / Debbie Miller / MaryJane Mitchell / Suzy Naidoo / Grace Noel / Hannah Nunn / Camilla Olsson / Jo Packham / Rachelle Panagarry / Monette Pangan / Melanie Paul Nicole Piar / Jen Pitta / Liz Plummer Julie Reed / Michelle Reynolds / Lisa Rivas Angee Robertson / Natalie Ryan / Aisling Ryan / Elisabet Sapena / Kyrrha Sevco / Jamie Sprague / Elizabeth Steele / Terri Stephens / Juniper Stokes / Mary Tanana / Maike Thoma / Linda Tieu Gabrielle Treanor / Tammy Tutterow / Deborah Velasquez / Jordan Vinograd Kim / Cat Whipple / Brooke Witt / Katie Wood Amelia Woodbridge


The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap!


Last Friday I received an email telling me who my swap partner is! Great timing because I finished the front part of the card yesterday (while listening to The Dogs of Rome by Conor Fitzgerald).

This is the first time I’ve had to make a postcard without using my digital tools. I loved it, of course, as the tactile experience of working with actual materials is always a joy. The only hard part is that the cold rendered my fingers semi-frozen and while tapping on the keyboard or holding on to a stylus doesn’t make that a big deal, trying to hold a needle does.

It’s also the first time I’ve had to stitch a postcard. Since Do What You Love and Paperphilia teamed up for this project, integrating paper was suggested and of course, I jumped at the chance to use my new found fave: used teabags!


I decided to use a dish towel I found in Ikea (it was on clearance!) that already had a cross-stitched design. If you’d read past blogs, you’d already know that I’m a bit of a failure when it comes to cross-stitching. When I found the Ikea dish towels, I knew I had to take them. I also knew I’d never use them for drying dishes. I’m big on serendipity.

Since this year’s theme is CREATE, I thought I’d share the fun of creating something from the teabags. I cut up one of the teabag sheets into four pieces and used one of them to make a tiny tea bag. I filled it up with dried lavender (when you order products from Annmarie Gianni, they always include a little organza bag of dried lavender) so it wouldn’t look like a sad, empty teabag. I also added a half folded sheet and a flat one to sort of show the “evolution” of the teabag from tea-drinker’s delight to crafter’s treasure stash.



You’ll also notice from the picture above that I started out with a rose but later on switched to the daisy stamp. I love making the teabag roses but it proved to be a bit overwhelming. I had no issues about it being too thick because I already decided I’d send the postcard in a container of sorts but it just didn’t work. Instead, I used the daisy stamp (also in place of the rose stamp that’s in the first photo) on the other teabag sheets as well as on the cloth.

I love neutrals and and I also love pops of color so I decided to add the blanket stitch edging in a happy blue aqua-ish color. The copper-colored beads are musts for me. Copper is my metallic color of choice next to an aged platinum. I tend to insert it into paintings and all sorts of projects whenever possible.


At this point I thought I was done with the front but the longer I looked at it (as Commissioner Alec Blume got into more trouble), the more it said it wasn’t. So as I listened to Blume’s conversation with the daughter of a mob boss, I sewed on the rest of the stamped daisies and beads. Then it didn’t look right so I snipped the stitches, removed the beads, and just glued on the daisies.


I turned my attention to the back of the postcard and decided I’d add some outline stitches to simulate the lines you sometimes see on the back of postcards.

postcard_back_blank postcard_edge


I wrote the name and address of my swap partner on strips of teabag sheets and glued them on. The finished post card is now in a bubble envelope ready to be sent out this week. I had a blast making the postcard in spite of the accidental jabs with the needle I gave myself. In fact I loved it so much, I was thinking of making more hand made postcards to send to whoever is in need of a snail mail hello. Another ambitious thought says a little voice running around my brain but well, who knows?




Paper Quilling!

In my family, I was always The Artist. This was actually an inaccurate label although the possession of a certain kind temperament may have led to such a conclusion. My mother used to say that I must have gotten the artist’s gene from my great grandmother but although she was a banker for most of her working life, Mom had a real gift for decorating living spaces. My older sister used to say she had no artistic bone in her body but just like my mom, she too had a wonderful knack for design.

Then there’s my younger sister, Pinky, who also draws and does caricatures. She used to do a whole lot of cross stitching which I thought was easy until I tried it. I think I only managed to complete one project and it was a small one. She also knits and crochets. The fact that she knits scarves in a country where you all you want to do is stay under a shower or in a pool or live by the beach is of no consequence. The whole idea of it is for her to be able to give them as gifts to relatives who live in freezing weather a few months every year. She has her own version of practicality.

A few years back, Pinky started doing paper quilling. That was about the time I was into rubber stamping. The idea of quilling intrigued me, specially since I saw what could be done with all those colored strips of paper. There was no Pinterest back then so what Pinky and I saw were those featured in magazines. The intrigue didn’t last too long in my case. I couldn’t see myself cutting and rolling all those strips of paper! It was different for my sister, though. She found a pack of colored strips and she was hooked. The tricky part was that there were no real craft stores in Manila and there was no abundance in terms of supplies. Still, she managed to decorate scrap books with them. One Christmas, the womenfolk received notecard sets from her and we were thrilled because the cards were embellished with quilling. We knew the kind of work she put in to make each and every card. Then when it was no longer easy to find supplies, she moved on to other interests (like knitting scarves in the middle of summer).

Last week I received an email from her asking me to check out something called a quilling fringer. I wasn’t sure how the thing worked until I watched a You Tube video. I could see why anyone who quilled would love to have one! But then it brought to mind the pieces my sister made so I told her she was going to be featured in this blog. Note that the flowers she made were fringed using scissors–the fringer contraption wasn’t available yet!


What got you into quilling and when did you start? 

I’ve always been fascinated with filigree in any form. The idea of twirling something seemed fun. I also like colors so when I saw the paper strips bonded together in colors of the rainbow on display for quilling I just had to get some for myself.


What materials/equipment did you have?
Initially I only had one twirling tool. Come to think of it I still do! There paper strips that come in 3 sizes, paper glue, dressmakers pins, cork board and a very good pair of scissors. The board with the circle came in last. That helped a lot in making consistent sizes.
You used to do a whole lot of cross stitching. How would you compare your experience cross stitching with paper quilling?
Quilling is kinder to the eyes. Both take a certain amount of patience. In quilling the satisfaction comes from putting the pieces together and seeing the finished design. With cross stitch it was seeing the 3D effect when the gradation of a certain color came to life or, inserting the stiff gold or silver thread or bead, painstakingly perfect- that was it!
Is there a quilling artist who serves as an inspiration or mentor?
No one in particular but there are British and Japanese artists that make beautiful almost mural size designs that are jaw dropping. I saw a Mona Lisa quilled. I still dream of making one for the wall but for now I make blank cards. I practiced by making borders for my scrapbook. At least if it ends up bad nobody has to see it.
What’s your process? How do you come up with ideas?
Again it’s the colors. I get excited when I see the shades. Then my imagination gets moving. But to make Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night in quill is a project that’s been in my head for some time now. However, knitting is getting in the way. Still obsessed with knitting for now.
If you had a quilling “wish list” what would it look like?
I still want a fringer!!! Hahaha!!! Wish list? I still wish we had Michael’s or other craft stores in my country!