Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

September 29, 2009

Tuesday Tutorial : Jenn Shurkus : Handmade MiniBook


This week Tuesday Tutorials welcomes Jenn Shurkus

UPDATE: Jen did a great update post on her blog including info on the stamps in the photo below and more information on the binding. Click here for more info. 

Here's Jen: 


This handmade mini book is a great base for so many projects. This can be an inspiration journal, an artist journal where you can test out different techniques or you can add photos make it a mini scrapbook. 

Materials Used:
Claudine Hellmuth 12×12 Sticky Back Canvas
Gel Medium in matte
acrylic paints
Chipboard sheets
UHU glue stick
paper trimmer
stylus and bone folder
an anywhere punch or japenese screw punch
variety of artist papers (i used watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, drawing, and canvas paper)
variety of scrapbooking patterned papers, single & double sided



1. Start off by cutting your chipboard and sticky back canvas.

For chipboard you will need:
(4) 6×6 pieces(2) 6×1.5 pieces

For sticky back canvas you will need:
(2) 8×8 pieces
(1) 8×3 piece
(2) 5.75×5.75 pieces
(1) 5.75×1.5 pieces
(4) 6×2 pieces

2. Using your UHU glue stick, glue two pieces of 6×6 chipboard together for your front cover, the other two pieces of 6×6 chipboard for your back cover, and your two pieces of 6 x 1.5 chipboard for your spine. This will make it stronger. I don’t use glue sticks often, but when i do I love the UHU glue stick.


3. I love Claudine Hellmuth's Sticky Back Canvas, the possibilities are endless!! Cover the chipboard with the canvas pieces. Use the 8×8 pieces for the covers and the 8×3 piece for the spine. Miter your edges (cutting the corners off of the sticky back canvasas shown in picture) and then wrap the edges around the chipboard. Use the 4 pieces of sticky back canvas that are 6×2 for “hinges” between the covers and the spine.


4. Use the remainder pieces of sticky back canvas to finish off the inside of the book cover so that there are no naked pieces of chipboard showing.


5. To decorate the cover I like to use gesso in thick layers to add texture. As you can see in my picture here I only added gesso in some areas. Play with different texture tools to “draw” into the gesso as well. 


6. While waiting for this to dry, begin preparing the inner pages. Cut all the pages cut 5.5×11. You will want 3 signatures (groups of pages). This is explained more below.


7. To score all of your 5.5 x 11 papers you don’t need a fancy scoring blade. I find that those often rip the paper. I simply use my paper trimmer to measure over to where I am going to score. Then I drag my stylus along the track where the trimmer blade would normally go. This will give you a nice straight score. Use a bone folder after you have scored your papers to get a nice flat fold. 



8. I like to start off by using gesso to cover the areas of my patterned paper that I don’t want to see. I might have a double sided paper I want to use but I don’t like one of the sides or there is a barcode I need to cover up. Once the gesso is dry I then go over it with different acrylic paints. This is when you get to play!


TIP: When using Claudine Hellmuth’s paints I like to scoop out the color with an ice cream stick. I keep one for each color so I don’t contaminate the paint.



9. Play with all kinds of different papers. I like to flip through the book and have different textures and weights. On some of the smoother pages you might want to add some stamped designs or words that reflect the theme of your book. Remember ANYTHING goes!

10. Once the inner pages are all decorated it’s time to get back to the cover. 


11. I tore out the definition for “inspiration” from an old dictionary and used matte gel medium to adhere it to the front. I then used acrylic paints again and played with coloring the whole cover, spine, back cover and inside as well. 


12. Now it’s time to put our holes in our spine. I drew up a template to use for putting the holes in my cover and my signatures. Download Spine template

13. I used some scrap pieces of sticky back canvas to attach the template so it won’t move when you go to punch the holes. I used a Japenese Screw punch to put holes in the spine. I like this tool because it can go through so many layers with ease and no hammering!


14.Sort your pages into 3 signatures. Then using the sample template you used to punch holes in the spine, punch holes into each signature. I do one whole signature at a time.


15. Your ribbon will be threaded through each signature from the inside to the outside then through the cover. You should put your middle signature in first, then the outside signatures. This makes it easier for your hand to get in there. The middle hole is shared by the top “stitch” and the bottom “stitch.” Once you have all the ribbons fed through tie them into a double knot and trim excess ribbon.


I created my project with a pink/artsy theme. I donated this journal to the scrapbook store I manage (Colorful Creations in Cape Cod) for our Scrap Pink raffle last weekend. All proceeds were donated to the Susan G Komen Fund.

Now its time for you to go get messy and have fun playing! I would love to see what books you create!



Jenn has always been crafty one way or another – from doodling posters for her bedroom as a young girl and writing short stories and poems in high school. It was only natural that she studied graphic design and fine arts in college! Jenn is originally from New Hampshire. 

She has been stamping for over 10 years, and when she isn't busy running Colorful Creations, a scrapbook and rubberstamping studio on Cape Cod, she can be found teaching a wide array of classes weekly at Colorful Creations or for A Muse classes around New England! Jenn is also copic certified and a Ranger certified educator. You can see more of her craftiness, and adventures in life at: {creative chick}


  • 1.
    Sue said…

    I love the mini album Jenn! It’s awesome and something on my ‘to do’ list. Thanks.

  • 2.
    Lara said…

    sticky back canvas!!!! Genius!!! Love this mini!

  • 3.
    mabel m said…

    simply awesome!!!! thanks for this fantastic tutorial!! =)

  • 4.
    Lyndsay Breid said…

    Awesome, Jenn! You’re a rockstar.

  • 5.

    SO ridiculously fabulous and inspiring!!! :)

  • 6.
    dawns said…

    Great tutorial, Jenn! I feel like even I could make this. Beautiful!

  • 7.
    Melissa said…

    LOVE IT!!!! I think I might need to craft one of these up for myself soon :) Great job Jenn!!!

  • 8.
    Tisha said…

    So amazing … sticky back canvas – what a wonder!! Great tutorial!

  • 9.
    Jennifer M. said…

    I love all those stamps you used on the inside pages. Could you tell me which manufacturer makes them? I would love to add them to my collection.

  • 10.
    Stickles said…

    Really nice job, Jenn! WTG!

  • 11.
    CraftyEngineer said…

    Awesome tutorial, Jenn!

  • 12.
    Jen D said…

    This is awesome Jenn!!! Such a cool project!

  • 13.
    Lori Barnett said…

    Wonderful Tutorial!! LOVE all the ideas Jenn. YOU ROCK!!!

  • 14.
    Lee Currie said…

    Oh my goodness, I’m so happy to see Jenn featured. She is so amazing. She has such an exuberance for life and her craft. One of the highlights of my trip from Canada to Cape Cod is going into Colorful Creations and just listening to her! LOVE her talent. Thanks Ali, so much for sharing her and her project with all of us :)

  • 15.
    Chris Dukes said…

    I am kinda confused on how to put the book together with the ribbon. Sorry, I am more of a visual kinda gal. Love the mini book and want to try it but I just need some help on putting the book together.

  • 16.
    Michelle Mathey said…

    This is beautiful!! Lovin the gesso!

  • 17.

    This is so cute! I hope to try it soon!

  • 18.
    Jeanelle said…

    Thanks Jenn!

  • 19.
    Melanie K. said…

    I am not sure what this meant …
    ‘The middle hole is shared by the top “stitch” and the bottom “stitch.” Once you have all the ribbons fed through tie them into a double knot and trim excess ribbon.’
    I have done one like this (I think) … don’t you line up say the middle signature with the middle set of holes, and then the other signatures go with the other set of holes?
    Oh, I think I get what it means now! Duh!

  • 20.
    Cheiron Brandon said…

    This is absolutely fabulous! SO inspiring!

  • 21.
    Amy K-P said…


  • 22.
    sherryc said…

    Woo Hoo! This was fabulous! thanks for sharing Jenn’s talent with the world Ali!

  • 23.
    Kirsten said…

    This looks like lots of fun. I love mini-albums.

  • 24.
    Kristin said…

    I love this! Its perfect how it can be customized for each individual taste and style. I love things like this that are frugal, creative, and unique. Well done!
    I featured this entry on the Facebook Fan page for Reclaiming The Home

  • 25.
    ScrapMomOf2 said…

    Wow! Seriously . . . wow! This is just fantastic!

  • 26.
    Michelle said…

    Love it Jenn!!

  • 27.
    John said…

    Lovely! I’ll try it soon. You might as well want to know the range and quality of scrapbooking papers I found at Christina’s Crafts. Worth Checking!

  • 28.
    hennyLee said…

    Lovely, Jen.
    Thanks, Ally.

  • 29.
    Joan Mowers said…

    Whoo Hoo, Jenn!
    Great job!
    I’ve seen this in person and it is awesome!
    Joanie M

  • 30.
    Gwen said…

    I too don’t really understand how it goes together. Its a great project but want to make sure I can do it before I get started. Maybe a picture showing the finished pages attached?

  • 31.

    **chiming in**
    i think what jenn means by…
    ‘The middle hole is shared by the top “stitch” and the bottom “stitch.” Once you have all the ribbons fed through tie them into a double knot and trim excess ribbon.’
    …is that you line up the signatures with the holes in the spine. one ribbon goes through the center of the signature at the top hole and the middle hole, through the spine, and ties in a knot on the outside of the book. the next ribbon is threaded through the middle hole and the bottom hole then tied on the outside of the spine the same way. that would be why she says the top and bottom “stitches” share the middle hole.
    is that what people seem to be confused about??
    SUPER yummy, texture filled project that is SO inspiring!!

  • 32.
    jenn shurkus said…

    thank you so much everyone for the fabulous comments!!
    i have a full day at the store, but will try to post a visual on my blog later tonight to help in the stitching.. i’m a visual person too… so no worries!!
    i will also try and list some of the stamps i used.. its many years of collecting, so not sure what is still available….
    stay tuned.. on my blog :)

  • 33.

    thanks Jenn for such a super amazing project!!!

  • 34.
    EJ said…

    Thanks Jenn and Ali for such a WICKED project. I too have see it in real life and it is just yummy! WTG

  • 35.
    Mary M. said…

    Love the this tutorial! Tks!!

  • 36.
    jenn shurkus said…

    just posted some more details on the stamps i used and the binding.. hope this helps guys!!

  • 37.

    Love the blog as always, Ali, but I ESPECIALLY love Jenn!! Congrats, Shurkus!!!

  • 38.
    kte said…

    I do not understand why “groups of pages” are called “signatures”. It’s confusing. Why not just say state there are three different sections? Is signature a scrapbooking term? Does not make any sense! Thanks.

  • 39.
    Tanya said…

    Great job Jenn.. You old clever clogs. I totally love this and I hope to come visit you soon “on Cape” and drag Susan in with little Emi for more shopping!!
    Thank you Ali for featuring Jenn’s project!

  • 40.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Hi Kte – “signatures” are a bookbinding term. Found a reference here, “A “signature” is the
    name applied to a folded sheet, several of which go to make up
    the inside of a book.” via this link:

  • 41.
    kte said…

    Thank you very much, Ali. I really appreciate your taking the time to explain a signature and post a link. You are so very nice. Love you blog, love your inspiration. Happiness to you today! xo

  • 42.
    Jennifer said…

    What a post! Thank you so much!!!!! :) I really must get into more mini albums and such!

  • 43.
    Marie Edouard said…

    Love your work. Where do you purchase your binder mechanism?

    • ….
      jenn shurkus said…

      if you are asking about the hole punch. it is a Japanese screw punch – most art supply stores that have book binding materials have it :) its not cheap (a good one runs $40ish) but it’s worth it!!

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