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Dream Journal Project
Projects : Painted Dream Journal Project

Altered Book Painting & Polymer Clay Creativity

Painted Dream Journal Project

Alter a book and record your dreams, write your desires, or sketch your art.

By Chris Dunmire

Painted Dream JournalNeed a whimsical place to record your night-time dreams when you wake up? Want a special journal to write in at a local coffee house? Desire a personalized place to sketch your art ideas or collage fragments of your imagination? If so, consider making yourself a one-of-a-kind Painted Dream Journal. The creative process in making one of these journals is rewarding and you'll treasure the outcome. (See Juicy Journals & Wild Words and Visual Journaling by the Seat of Your Pants! for more creative ideas.)

My Painted Dream Journal project is creative fun to make for yourself or as an artful gift to give away (even as found art). It's easy: simply start with a blank book, apply paint and glue polymer clay accents to the cover, and the journal is magically transformed into an inspirational outlet for artistic expression, aspirations, dreams, writing, and collage.

Learn how to make a Dream Journal with clay accents by following my step-by-step instructions below. Don't like clay? Use beads, or coins, or feathers, or felt, or anything else you like instead. Look at this as a starting off point and adapt your own imaginative creations to the format. And if you like the idea of using books as artful elements, visit Creativity Portal's Altered Books and Collage pages for more inspiration!

Project Materials & Tools:

  • Blank book canvas.Blank book* canvas
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint applicator (brush, sponge, your fingers)
  • Polymer clay
  • Craft glue
  • Curling ribbon
  • Scissors

* You can find blank books with white covers at educational stores and outlets that sell teaching supplies (like Let's Learn). Also, you can use other non-painting techniques (markers, graphic pens, etc.) on the book cover instead of paint. This project is just a starting point for the endless possibilities that exist between you and your imagination. Run with the endless possibilities!

Project Instructions:

Paint the dream journal.1. Paint the dream journal book cover.

The first step is to paint the cover of your book. Be creative in your design and technique — make it abstract or representational or make it dreamy!

To preserve the clean pages inside the book, I kept the book closed and painted one side at a time in a sponge-like fashion, alternating between drying times. If you're careful, you can paint the whole cover at once by opening the book up and laying it down flat. Be sure the paint dries completely before adding your clay accents in step 2.

Painting Tip: The book cover will warp if you apply too much wet layered paint. If this happens, you can gently encourage (slightly bend) the book cover inward after the paint dries completely.

Create clay accents.

2. Create and bake your clay accents.

Assuming you're going with the clay, now's the time to create your clay accents or decorations to glue to the cover of the book. Be sure to make and bake the clay according to the package directions before adding it to your work of art.

Clay Tip: Decide on the shape, size, and color of your clay based on what your painted canvas looks like. Match the colors or create something with a contrasting flair.

I made simple heart decorations to glue to my covers, making sure the side to be glued was completely flat before baking. They worked out great.

Glue on clay accents.

3. Glue on the clay accents.

After your accents bake and cool, position and glue them on your book covers. Be sure to let them dry before adding finishing touches. Make sure they don't fall off either.

Finishing touches.

4. Finishing touches for gifting away or found art.

Finish off your Dream Journal by securing it with colored curling ribbon. This classy touch not only looks nice, but it will keep the journal closed and the pages clean until you give it to that special someone. •

© 2004, 2008 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

More with Chris Dunmire

ColorCreativity Portal™ founder Chris Dunmire inspires artists, writers, teachers and children with her creative prompts and writing activities. She's trained as a creativity coach with both Eric Maisel, PhD, and Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching™ founder Jill Badonsky, MeD. Her sense of humor and witty wordplay is woven throughout the corridors of Creativity Portal where she encourages others towards engaging in deeper, more meaningful levels of artistic expression and playful creativity, sustained in part through the support of Creativity Portal Access Pass Holders. Please sign up — your support counts and is appreciated!