Steampunk Junk – Mini Journal Tutorial

Image of Steampunk Junk mini journal front cover laying on table surrounded by steampunk gears and props.
Steampunk Junk – Mini Journal

Hi! My name is Michaela Butterworth, and I’m new to the TCW Design Team in August 2020. I am an Australian artist, teacher, and creator living and working in Topeka, Kansas. Mother Nature’s flora, fauna, textures, and steampunk influences are my inspiration.

For my first project, I wanted to use my favorite TCW stencil that I’ve been using for years to create a project. I recently learned how to make my own hand made journals, and I thought you might like to learn how to make a stenciled fabric cover for a journal today. So here’s a high-level overview of the journal fabric cover I created.

To start, I used a permanent black ink pad and rubber stamps to stamp multiple gear images randomly onto the patterned fabric for my journal cover.

Image showing the clock patterned fabric stamped randomly with multiple gears rubber stamps using permanent black ink.
Patterned fabric stamped with black permanent ink and rubber stamps.

The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.

Next, using a palette knife held at a 45-degree angle, I applied the TCW black gesso through the 6″ x 6″ TCW262 Stencil Gears stencil onto the fabric to create texture and depth. The Black Gesso is much thinner than black modeling paste, so be careful using a palette knife as it can easily seep under the stencils. However, because I was using fabric that is absorbant, I wanted to use the thinner medium.

Image of TCW262 Stencil Gears stencil from The Crafters Workshop store.
TCW262 Stencil Gears

After stenciling, I used my heat gun to dry the black gesso completely. Use the heat gun carefully.

NEXT… I added color to the fabric using water-based color sprays.
If you haven’t tried the TCW Color Sparx deeply pigmented watercolor powders yet, I highly recommend that you do. I have spent hours playing with them; they are so fun to use!

In this step, I added color over the black gesso to bring out the texture and make it more visible, but there’s also another reason why, as you’ll read in a moment. After spraying the watercolors onto the fabric, I used my heat gun to dry the colors completely. I really love how the colors look over the black gesso! However, for this small project, I felt the colors were a little too dark and intense and I was aiming for a bit of a lighter vibe.

Image showing the cover fabric which has now been stamped, stencilied with black gesso, and sprayed with color spray.

In the following step, I used the same stencil again, this time with TCW white gesso over the color sprays. I used the exact same technique that I used to apply the black gesso – see my note above.

White gesso is a water-based acrylic product. The water in the gesso reactivates the color sprays when you apply it over the top of the sprays. This makes for some really cool subtle color effects, as you’ll see in the next photo. After applying the white gesso, I used my heat gun to dry the fabric completely. Now, take a look at those subtle, gorgeous colors!

Image showing a birds eye view from above, looking down at the white gesso, now dried, over the color sprays on the fabric.
White gesso applied over the water color sprays then dried with a heat gun.

I really love the ghostly color effects that the white gesso brought out with the watercolor sprays underneath!

Next, I decided to add a final layer of color by applying random punches of color and definition using some water-soluble wax crayon pastels through the same TCW stencil. In this step, I used a cosmetic sponge to rub and blend the pastels onto the white gesso and fabric.

Image showing close up of fabric with different colored water soluble wax crayon pastels blended randomly over the dried white gesso.
Water soluble wax crayon pastels applied over the dried white gesso.

In the last step, I used the same TCW stencil again with a black acrylic paint pen to trace the stencil’s shapes over the white gesso and colored pastels.
I used this technique to make the stencil’s awesome gear shapes more visible and to stand out a bit more by introducing contrast and line. Here’s the finished cover fabric for the mini junk journal.

Image showing finished design on fabric with black acrylic pen lines for contrast.

After the cover fabric was created, I moved on to creating the rest of the mini junk journal.

Using the same TCW stencil and products, I created two signatures of pages to fill the journal with. I created the internal cover using leftover chipboard from the back of a watercolor paper pad, and some steampunk embossed commercial endpapers. To finish the cover, I lightly brushed TCW matte translucent clear gesso over the fabric cover, inside and out, to preserve the gorgeous stenciling and stop the colors from smudging.

Lastly, I hand stitched the signatures into the cover (which has inside pockets!) and added some charms to the outside for fun and sound.
I’ve posted a gallery of photos for you to see the finished product, below.
Many thanks for taking the time to visit and read my post today!
Happy day!

Michaela Butterworth
The Crafter’s Workshop Design Team Member

If you want to see more of this process up close or more of my artwork, hop on over to my Teal Hare Creations website.

10 thoughts on “Steampunk Junk – Mini Journal Tutorial

  1. I absolutely love this steampunk journal! Way to go Michaela for your first post and I can’t wait to see more of your art. I would not have thought to use clear gesso over the finished fabric. What kind of fabric is it? I also like how you used gesso through a stencil, which is totally cool too! Love the depth and textures.

  2. I absolutely love this steampunk journal cover. Using gesso through a stencil is something I’ve not seen before. The layers of gears make this work and white gesso over the colors? Who knew that could work so well! Such a wonderful first tutorial for you Michaela and I can’t wait to see more of your artistic creations.

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