Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Kick-Off: {DIY} Nature Journal

By Deborah Pace Rowley

One fun way to celebrate the start of summer is to create a nature journal or scrapbook to record all of your awesome outdoor adventures. This nature journal is super easy to make with supplies you already have on hand. All you need are: 

A sheet of white tissue paper
A plastic page protector
Some Elmer's glue
A paintbrush
Some leaves and flowers

First you need to gather some supplies from nature. Katie and I just wandered our backyard looking for interesting leaves and flowers to add to the ziplock baggie that I brought along. You want to choose items that are mostly flat. We did flatten our flowers under a book when we brought them in. When that didn't work too well, Katie decided to use each petal individually. You don't want anything too three-diminsional or it will stick out too far and rip the tissue paper. 

After you have selected your materials, you can get ready to arrange them inside the sheet of tissue paper. 
Before you do, place the right side of the tissue paper on top of the plastic page protector so that you do not need to move the tissue once you get everything arranged.  I cut a piece of tissue paper about 11x16 inches so that when I folded it in half, it would be the size of a piece of paper. Remind your children to put the nature items on the right side only as the left side will be folded over top of the items as soon as they are in place.


Fold over the top of the tissue paper so that the nature items are inside. Now prepare your glue mixture. In a small bowl, mix 2 parts glue to 1 part water. This makes the glue runny and easy to work with. Using the foam brush gently brush glue onto the tissue paper. Use more of a gently patting motion than a stroking or painting motion since you need to be careful that you don't tear the tissue. The goal is to add enough glue so that both sides of the page stick together and the tissue paper is pushed down around each of the nature items. You want the tissue paper to look wrinkled and wet everywhere. 

Once you have completely covered the tissue paper, carry the page protector outside in the sun to dry. Our page was dry in about an hour. Then it easily peals off the plastic page protector to create a beautiful cover for your journal. I think it looks a little bit like vellum studded with flowers and leaves. Or like that really expensive art paper that is made of natural items. 

I trimmed the edges in a scalloped pattern because I thought that looked cool. Then I put the nature page on top of a piece of white construction paper. Then I put some plain white paper in the center and added another piece of  white construction paper for the back cover. Everything was hole-punched and then strung with ribbon to tie it all together.

We loved the finished product and I know Katie will be excited to write in it all summer long. You can experiment with different colored backing paper and ribbon. I really like the nature journal tied with raffia or twine because it completes the natural look but I didn't have any on hand right now and I was excited about completing this project for free! This process also makes beautiful handmade cards for father's day or for a grandma or grandpa. You can cut down the tissue paper and use fewer natural items to make a smaller size card. Have fun experimenting with this easy and fun process! 

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