Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ralph's Birthday Book-A Tutorial

This was a book I put together for my husband for his 40th birthday. I have seen variations of this idea online.
I wanted a special, sentimental gift to mark his 40th birthday. In addition, I knew we would not have a party for a couple months as I was only 5 weeks postpartum at the time of his birthday. Our families are back in OH, CO, ND, and MN. None of them would be able to make it regardless of when we had the party. I wanted them to be involved if at all possible.
Knowing one of my husband’s “love languages” was “Words of Affirmation,” I collected letters and notes from people who know and love my husband. Turns out that is a lot of people. These included family, online friends, friends he grew up with, friends from back in OH and friends from here in WA. I decided to put them all into a book for him. Initially, I thought I would make it a printed book. whenever you are trying to collect things like this from a large number of people, it’s hard to get it collected in a timely manner. As the submissions got later and later, I decided to make the book by hand. The following is a step-by-step on how I created his book.

Step 1.
Contact everyone you can who knows and loves your spouse. I started an event page on Facebook for all our mutual friends and family. Then I privately messaged every friend he has on Facebook that I was not friends with.  The only people I could not figure out how to include was his blog community on Tumblr AND keep it a surprise. I may include them now, though.

Step 2.
I took an old book from a thrift store. I glued 2 pages together, cut out the next two pages to make room for the adjusted thickness, and repeated that throughout the entire book. Save the cut out pages for use later.

Step 3.
I then “painted” all the pages with writing with Gesso. I left the pictures in the book to add detail and character. Gesso is a primer for canvas, plaster and hardboard. It will accept oil and acrylic paint, pastels, charcoal, pencils and crayon. It leaves a bit of texture as well which adds to the character of the reclaimed book. I would paint two pages at a time and let them dry (approximately 30 minutes or so) before moving on to the next two pages.

Step 4.
I debated a bit on this step. I was running short on time so I used watercolor pencils. They are colored pencils that can be used as colored pencils or add water and they are watercolors. I colored all the gesso-ed pages with a different color pencil and then brushed with water. They dried quite quickly. If I had more time, I may have used acrylic paint to add more texture. The acrylic paint would have added extra drying time.

Step 5.
Most of the messages I received were via Facebook or e-mail. I printed them out onto solid colored card stock paper. I used several different colors. The only one that didn’t work well was a navy colored one. The ink did not show up well on that color. I then used scrapbooking scissors to cut out each message in various shapes with fun edges. For those messages I received as notes or letters, I made envelopes. I printed out an envelope template I found online onto the pages I had cut out of the book. I then made and glued the envelopes into the book to hold the notes/letters.

Step 6.
I used Mod Podge Matte (because that is the one I had on hand) to glue all the messages into the book. I loved the fact that the Mod Podge would hold the messages there permanently plus add texture. It turned out great. I left the cover as is. I picked one with a cover I liked as is but thought I could always mod podge something on to the cover if I wanted.

The only thing I would have loved to include but didn’t have and didn’t think of in time, was a picture of my husband with each person who sent a message. I think that would have really added something extra!
P.S. Ralph took all of the “after” pics of the book!  

The gals over at Dating Divas are running a fun contest that I submitted this book to. I'm excited to hear if how it goes!


  1. Great job Stacie and Wonderful ideas! You are an inspiration!!

  2. A great job Stacie. It is wonderful. You are such and inspiration!

  3. Love,love this such a special gift! Turned out great and your tutorial was nicely done!!

  4. Wow Stacie! What a labor of love! How in the world did you find the time? Such a sweet idea!