Paint Storage Board - Tutorial

Hello there! 

When it comes to my painting studio, I am always looking for solutions that will enhance my work flow. As I was setting up my studio, I kept coming across the same problem:  where do I put all of my paint tubes? Also, how should I organize them? 

Pinterest was made for us, or perhaps we are the ones who started it! 

Initially, I had them in a little basket but found I was constantly taking them all out to find my desired color before tossing them all back into the basket again. This really slowed down my painting process. Then I tried sectioning them off into color groups within my desk drawer. This allowed me to hunt down the right color, but it did not eliminate having to dig around for it.  

Because I was wasting a lot of valuable painting time dealing with this organizational dilemma, I went on a quest to find a solution that was not only efficient but also aesthetically pleasing for my work space. After scouring the internet and asking a few artist friends, I noticed they were dealing with the same problem. However, a myriad of solutions were being used. Some separated each color group into individual plastic bags. Others invested in small tackle boxes or makeup bags. None of these ideas appealed to me because they seemed to only add a step to the already difficult process of finding the color I desired. I refused to dig for a specific color any longer!  

As soon as I stumbled on the idea to use binder clips to hold the paint tubes, I rejoiced and knew that I had to share this idea with you guys! Building this paint storage board was quick, easy, and very affordable.  It only cost me $15 to make and took about 30 minutes to assemble! Are you in love yet? 

You will need the following supplies:

  • 1 board large enough to display all of your paint tubes. My board measured 23"x25" and was found at Ikea in their discounted section for $5.00 - Score! 
  • binder clips
  • D - Ring hangers (2)
  • nails: 16 gauge 1.25" 
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • hammer
  • power drill

Step 1 - Decide how you are going to organize your paints. I arranged mine into 5 color groups, but you could also arrange your paint by manufacturers. Organize your paints in a way that will make it easy to find your colors and makes the most sense to you. The nice thing about this board is that it allows for flexibility by arranging and rearranging it in any way you please! YESSSS!

Step 2 - Attach your hanging hardware. This needs to be done first because your board will soon be covered with nails, and it will be much easier to drill now while your board is clear. 

Step 3 - Measure out your board accordingly and mark your places for the nails. I liked a comfortable space between each tube so I marked every 1.5 inches across.  

Step 4 - Hammer in all of the nails and subsequently wreck your dominant arm muscles for a week!

Step 5 - Add binder clips to all of your paints.                               Step 6 - Hang your board and your paint tubes.  

Can you believe how easy that was? I don't know how I lived or worked without it for all of these years! I hope you don't take my word for it, but try it out for yourself! 

Happy painting! 


Blog Hop: Bookbinding Tutorial

What is a blog hop you ask?  Essentially, it is a collection of blogs that link to one another in a sequential order.  The first blog links to the next one and so forth.  Each blog links to not only the next one but also the one before it.  Thus, a group of bloggers from the Design Surface Patterns From Scratch class have chosen a topic to share a variety of topics on their own blogs while linking to each other, ideally allowing readers to "hop" from blog to blog.  

For my blog post, I really wanted to share a skill that will help us all move one step closer to becoming surface pattern designers.  Our instructor, Bonnie, described the importance of sharing our work and making it special.  Now that we have our patterns made, we are going to be thinking about constructing a portfolio and filling up multiple sketchbooks.  Binding your own books will add an extra personal touch to your work. 

While there are a myriad of book binding techniques, I'll be sharing my personal favorite:  the coptic stitch.  I prefer this method because it allows the book to lay flat when open.  This is ideal for sketching images and easily viewing one's portfolio.  

Where exactly did the coptic stitch come from?  It was originally developed by the Copts--Christians living in Egypt.  They folded sheets of papyrus together into sections (called signatures). Then, they adapted their technique of interlacing threads in carpet weaving to create a chain stitch to bind the "signatures" between wooden covers.  

Materials Needed:

  • Cover boards cut to desired book size (2)

  • Needles (curved)

  • Wax thread

  • Scissors

  • PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue and junk paint brush

  • Paper for inside and decorative paper for the front and back cover.

  • Pencil

  • Awl

  • Ruler

  • Bone folder 



Design Choices

The very first thing we need to do is decide if we want to make a portfolio or sketchbook.  This will determine the size of the book and the type of paper to use.  The paper will need to be double the desired length of the book since we will be folding the paper in half (valley fold). If you are going to decorate your cover with paper or fabric, you will want to attach that prior to punching the holes. 

You also need to decide how you wish to close your book. Do you want to use a button and wrap a ribbon around it? Or do you want two ribbons that you can simply tie together. You can also adjust your book so that the use of magnets is possible!  You can also add additional features such as an extra ribbon for the use of a bookmark or even a pocket on the inside. The options are limitless!

This is also the time to pick the type of paper you want to use. Do you want colored paper?  Or do you prefer an aged look? Deckled (ripped) edges anyone?

Preparing the Covers

Next, we will need two pieces of cover board for the front and back cover. Mat board, illustration board, or anything sturdy enough can be used.

The cover paper must be cut to provide a 1/2" margin on all sides of the cover board.  For example, the cover paper will need to be 6" x 8" for a 5" x 7" book.  For the sake of this project, 5" refers to the width and 7" refers to the height.  Next, we'll cut the paper for the end pages (Leaves) to be 1/2" smaller on all sides than the cover board. For a 5" x 7" book, the end page will need to be cut to 4.5" x 6.5" to provide the correct margin.

Now we have to glue to the paper to the cover boards.   I use PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue, but it has its advantages and disadvantages.  It is acid free (preferred), but it dries a bit too quickly so I add 1 part water to 2 parts glue to keep it viscous.

Using your junk brush, apply an even coat of your glue to outside surface of the cover boards.

Place the decorative (cover) paper face down.  Then place the cover board (glue side down) in the center of the decorative paper.  Proceed by cutting out squares on all of the corners as noted in the image above (right).  Now fold and glue the excess 1/2" margins over the cover board like you're wrapping a gift.  Lastly, apply glue and layer the end pages in the center of the cover board.

Preparing the Signatures

Cut the paper (used for the inside) to size.  The short edge of the paper needs to be double the length of the inside allowing for a 1/4" in margin on all sides.  For a 5" x 7" book, you will need to cut the sheets to be 9 x 6.5 inches.  After cutting, fold the sheets in half using your bone folder.  The folded sheets should now appear to be 4.5 x 6.5 inches.

Now that you have all of your paper folded in half, you will be combining multiple pages together into “signatures.” The number of pages that go into each signature really depend on the thickness of the paper being used. If you are using a normal weight paper, your signature will consist of 6-8 pages; whereas, a heavier weight paper will likely only fit 4-6 pages. You'll likely average about 5-6 signatures per book.  Obviously, the more signatures you use, the thicker the book will be.

Preparing Covers and Signatures for Binding

We are going to mark the places where we will be making holes for threading. Using a ruler, we will be making landmarks along the center fold starting from each edge.  The number of holes is really up to you, however, the first set of marks should be 1/2" from each edge to maintain the structural integrity of the bindings.  I personally like to place a pair of marks (1/2" apart) every inch as shown above.  

Using your awe, create holes at the previously marked locations.  Now place your signature against the covers and punch holes through the cover using your signature holes as a guide.

Binding your Book

For this portion, I've created a brief instructional video embedded below.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial, and thanks for following along.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below or send me an email.

To blog hop backwards, you can see Nerissa Alford's post about her experience with the Design Surface Patterns From Scratch class here:

Nerissa Alford |

instagram: nerissaalford



Stay tuned tomorrow and check out Allison Sews!

Allison Sews |

instagram: allisonsews

flickr: allison sews


To see all of the posts in the blog tour: 

If you are interested in taking the Design Surface Patterns From Scratch course, you can check it out here.

For a free month subscription to Bonnie's Roost Tribe, follow the link:


All the best,

Metallic Watercolor

Colorific Shimmering Watercolors: No longer available

Hello friends!

The weather has been glorious lately, and yet I have been painting away in my little studio.  Even the best of weather can't tempt me to step away from my watercolor!  Instead, I am allowing the weather to come into my studio by opening up the windows. I love feeling that cool breeze sweep in and refresh the space!  Today, I am excited to share with you some of my favorite additions to watercolor:  metallics!  

Watercolor typically dries duller and much lighter than when the paint is first applied.  By adding metallics, your artwork is allowed to catch the light and reflect its beautiful colors. There are many options available on the market to achieve this shimmery look.  

The image shown above is my first metallic watercolor set.  When I was just learning how to paint, my mom found this shimmery set at United Arts and Education.  She knew how much I loved all things metallic, and sure enough I went crazy over this paint set!  Unfortunately, the company no longer makes these beauties. 

Not to fear though, there are many more options from which to choose! 

I was really excited to try these metallics because there are over 21 amazing colors to play with.  The fine glitter that makes up this shimmery watercolor is heavy and tends to sink quickly on the paper while the water floats on top.  This means that it blends poorly and is better used as a glaze over existing dry colors.  When this paint is dry, it gives a more plastic appearance to your watercolor. 

I first discovered PearlEx Metallic Powders at a scrapbooking store.  I was instantly in love!  Originally, I purchased these powders for my photography shoots to style intense makeup and hair. Eventually, they found their way into my watercolors.  After drying, they are less intense in shimmer quality than when first applied, but they give the most beautiful matte sheen to your colors.  I appreciate that I can control the amount of shimmer desired by adding more or less powder to my watercolor paint.  I can even alter colors depending on which color is chosen. 

If you want something magical and extra glittery, Winsor & Newton provide an incredible option.  This medium is excellent for painting galaxies! I prefer to drop it into fairly wet paint and let it travel across the paper as it will.  Used alone or as a glaze, however, it is just too dominant for my style. 

I use the LuminArte metallics the most in my current work.  As shown below, I find they illustrate the iridescence of bird feathers perfectly.  Since I paint a lot of birds, this brand of metallic watercolor is ideal for me.  

Watch me add the metallic paint on this hornbill here

I have also tried...

1. Eyeshadow - can be used similarly to the PearlEx Metallic Powders.  

2. Actual glitter - tends to "flake" off the paper after the paint has dried.  Glitter will get all over your studio and cause such a mess! 

3. Nail polish - don't even try it! 

4. Gold leaf - great if you want a strong separation of gold.  Excellent for pattern work. 

5. Liquid gold - also great for pattern work.

Of course there are many options available that I have yet to try.  You should try everything and see which one is better suited to your painting style.  Add some metallics and let your art shine!   


All the best,

Wedding Invitations - How I found my personal style

When I began the process of designing my wedding invitations, I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of styles to choose from.  To make things more manageable, I came up with a way to weed through the chaos.  Simply by comparing my options, I was able to select my favorites and combine them until my own style was shining through. 

First, I began by determining the overall look and feel we were hoping to express with our wedding.  Wedding invitations are meant to give the invited a taste of the coming event.  It is also a reflection on the couple and their hosting style.  No pressure.  One thing I was absolutely sure of, was that I wanted to create a watercolor painting for the invitations.  Overall, my goal was for the guests to feel as though they were opening a gift when they opened the invitations.

I created the invitations using InDesign CS5, and an original watercolor.  For weddings I am particularly fond of anemones.  I painted these delicate flowers with our wedding color scheme. 

Once I had the layout of the invitations complete, I had my (at the time) fiance help me edit and write in the rest of the information.  His grammar and vocabulary are excellent, and much better than my own!  It was also important to me that he had a clear hand in the invitation process because they are an expression of us both. 

Since I was new to the InDesign program, I needed some help setting up the documents.  My Matron of Honor, Mandie, was gracious enough to set up the documents for me.  All I had to do was play around with type and design.  Thank you friend!  

I had so much fun designing my wedding invitations, and hope to create more watercolor invitations for other brides.  If you are interested in having me create invitations for your special day, you can email me at, or fill out this form.