Saturday, July 14, 2012

DIY: personalized kraft notebooks for take-home wedding gift

the completed project

This was truly a project of love.  Partially because it was personalized, and partially because it was a bit of a hassle.  But with some instruction, perhaps it will be easier for you!

I wanted something special and personalized for the take-home wedding favors.  I was inspired by a photograph in a wedding magazine of a couple huddled in an embrace on Baker Beach on a very foggy San Francisco day.  The bride wore black Wellies with her white wedding gown and the groom held a black umbrella.  

Because you actually can barely see the bridge in their picture so I Google imaged pictures of the bridge from Baker Beach.  

I sketched the view of the bridge (I fully admit to tracing a large portion of the bridge details), and then free hand drew "the couple".  My husband is 6'2" and I am 5'4", so I tailored the image with a taller man and shorter woman with long dark hair so that it looks like my husband and I.  I also put the woman on her tip toe ( en relev√©); I used to be a dancer so I frequently stand on my tip toes especially to hug from my husband while he usually hunches down.  

The sketches took time; I started with pencil and used a Pilot black ink pen to finalize.  I cut and pasted (old school style with actual scissors and scotch tape) the small figurines into my sketch of the bridge.  The photocopied it several times to have everything lined up and shaded just right.

Once I got my sketch, I used and scanned my picture to make a custom rubber handled stamp.  The biggest challenge was figuring out the size to fit the kraft notebooks.  I ended up with a 5" x 8" stamp for $68.00.  I also bought an Archival Ink #3 Pad in Jet Black for $12.00.  It was the largest ink pad I could find at 4.25" x 6.25".  My stamp was larger than the ink pad but this ink pad is raised so that you can move the stamp around with ease.  I also had to later buy extra ink so I suggest you do so right away.  I got a Ranger Archival Ink Stamp Pads jet black 1/2 oz. bottle for $5.59 on Amazon.  A 1/2 ounce is plenty; when you need to refill, just lightly put the tip of the ink bottle and squeeze as you move around the ink pad.  

I had to make some extra cuts with an Exacto knife once my stamp came because if I pressed too hard, ink spots would show up.

It took lots of trials to figure out exactly how to get a perfect stamp.  And even once I "figured it out", there were still a few duds in the pile.

The technique I found to work most of the time:  
1. press the stamp onto the ink pad holding for 3-5 seconds in different positions so that you get every part of the stamp.  Use the palm of your hand to create evenly distributed pressure.
2. checked to make sure every part is saturated
3. carefully line up the stamp onto the kraft notebook, and press down on each section of the stamp, holding your palm firmly in place for about 5 seconds each time.
4. lift and admire!

I bought the kraft notebooks on Amazon for $10.36 for a pack of 3 with free shipping.  I did a lot of research and found this to be the best deal because of the free shipping.  I bought the Large sized, plain paper (no lines) Moleskin Cahier Journal.  I ended up using a large red Sharpie marker to color in the umbrella.  I tried several different markers and found this to be the easiest and best looking.  I made about 130 of the notebooks, and used a small custom stamp with our names and date of the wedding on the back as well.  

This labor of love was worth it in the end but took up a great deal of time because of the sheer number of notebooks I had to stamp and color in.  But I think it was worth it in the end.  =)


  1. Love all of your DIY projects so much! Your feature on SMP is amazing.

    Question: where did you find the gold shepherd's hooks?

    Thanks so much!


    1. Hi Emily! Thanks so much -- Jacin, Kristy and everyone did such an amazing job. I really had so much fun at my own wedding, which as my #1 goal! =) I think I got this screw in hooks at Fredrickson's Hardware on Fillmore St (and Union St) in SF. Or it may have been at Discount Builder's Supply Discount Builders Supply at 1695 Mission St. (415-621-8511)! Hope that helps!