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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Making a Masonite Album

I have been wanting to start an art journal for a very long time. What kept hindering me, was the fact that I could not find a single journal/paper pad that would be able to accommodate all of techniques and mediums I would inevitably want to put in there. I finally realized that the only solution would be to make my own album and slide the pages in there. It was an idea I borrowed from scrapbooking.


Originally I thought I would simply use an existing scrapbook album. Then I was given a whole stack of off-cut masonite boards and my mind started racing. What if I made my own album? I would then have a hardy surface which I could decorate to my heart's content. I loved the idea and immediately set off to put it into action.


It then occurred to me that I could make these albums available in store for those of my customers who were averse to using hardware, or simply did not have the space to saw and drill and carry on. As much as I did not mind making an album for myself, I did not want to do this on a regular basis. Enters Plan B. I approached my teenage nephew and made him a business proposition. I would teach him exactly how to make the albums and promote it in store, if he would undertake to make them as orders came in. He was very keen and the two of us set off to make four different sized albums, A3, A4, A5 and 12" x 12". Only one problem arose, which I only discovered afterward. I became so engrossed in teaching this very handy young man that I clean forgot to take pictures as we went along. This is why you have already seen the decorated results of our handiwork, but have not yet seen how to make the actual albums. You can buy the completed albums from the "Made by Hand" section in the shop. Look for Ruan's Crafts.


Well, it meant that I had to take time out and saw some masonite boards, balancing the camera and saw precariously, trying to take some photos. I admit freely that I did not want to even attempt it with the drill. What you see shows clearly what you are supposed to do, but really I am simply holding a drill bit to the plank. It is almost like photoshop.


But enough with the introductions. Let me show you how to make your own album from masonite.

Making the album:
The first thing is to measure carefully the required size. I opted to allow for a little more space than was needed, knowing well that some papers are slightly out-sized. Here are the measurements I used:
  • A3 - 320 x 470 mm
  • A4 - 320 x 250 mm
  • A5 - 160 x 220 mm
  • 12"x12" - 320 x 345 mm
Use a ruler to draw lines on the wood to indicate where you need to saw. Almost any pencil will do, but you do get excellent carpenter's pencils which has harder grahite/lead and leaves a lighter line. I used a dark pencil to make the lines clearer for the purposes of photographing.


I found that I had a thin strip of masonite left over after the rest was cut to size. I measured this to cut small squares from. These are handy for all kinds of arts and crafts. I'll blog about using these real soon.


It was time to saw. Make sure to stay on the line (although my dad taught me to saw only just off the line, so that you can keep your line in sight). Simply blow the sawdust away to keep the line visible.


When done, fit the two sides of your album together to make sure that they fit exactly. I moved them a little apart to make it apparent that there are two pieces in the photo.


File all around the sawed sides to give a smooth finish.


You now need to measure and mark the spaces for the holes of your album. If you have plastic pockets that you want to use in the album, you need to measure according to the pockets, otherwise any sensible, equally-spaced measurement will suffice. To measure for pockets: Find the centre of the 'spine' of the album. Find the centre of the pockets. Measure from the centre to the holes of the pockets and copy this measurement to the album.


Drill the holes where the markings for the holes are.


You now need to prepare your surface to accept whatever finish you want to give it. I am going to assume you will want to paint it. This means that you need to paint the masonite with two layers of gesso, which is a primer that will help the paint (acrylic or oil) to adhere to the surface.


Some masonite have a white 'plastic' backing on one side of the board. This side needs to be treated with a universal undercoat before being painted with gesso. Most 'plastic'-coated surfaces can be treated with a universal undercoat to turn it into a surface you can paint on. This is brilliant for old laminated kitchen cupboards, making it possible to paint those as well.


Your album really is finished right now. All you need to do is to add some rings to it to secure the two sides in place. I experimented with a few rings and found these plastic clip rings to work best of all. They are easy to insert, pliable and the clip is stronger than I expected it to be at first glance.




You can now decorate your album to your heart's content. The clip rings will make it easy to add papers and projects until the album is full. When that is done, you can easily decorate the clip rings to fit the album, by simply winding washi tape around it, making it even more secure.


Visit A Pretty Talent for great products and ideas.
Most of all; keep on developing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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