Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Trash To Treasure with Gelli Arts® by Johanna Lawson

Hi there! It's Johanna here. 

Living in Florida, I am surrounded by beautiful landscapes, seascapes, and all the amazing wildlife they contain. Nature’s constant presence inspires me and my family to try to always put the environment first. This includes, among other ideas and actions, recycling.

Watch my video below to see my process:


For this project, I was inspired to create something using mostly recycled materials. Therefore, the tools and paper were all found in the “trash”. Well, actually, I saved them all from the trash. After monoprinting, I searched through my stacks and stacks of printed papers, ephemera, washi tapes, scraps (you get the idea), and found all the things needed to create a one-of-a-kind “junk” journal. The plan is to give these journals to the people I love for use as commonplace journals.

"A commonplace [journal or] book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do. Some of the greatest men and women in history have kept these books." ("How And Why To Keep A 'Commonplace Book'” by Ryan Holiday)

You have the power to make a difference in the world, one bit of trash at a time. Begin to see your garbage as an opportunity to create art AND aid mother earth by utilizing the resources at our disposal, not driving our cars to buy more pre-packaged stuff from big-box stores. Use this tutorial as a guide and then make it your own! Get creative! For a list of all products used in this project, please see the materials section at the end of the post.

journey to the junk journal….


For the best instructions, please view the video tutorial above. Below are a few extra tips:

1. Dig through your recycling bin or trash to find possible stencils and tools to use during monoprinting. Here are a few examples:

·         bubble wrap of all sizes
·         bits of cardboard
·         eyelash trim
·         punchinella
·         plastic from containers
·         citrus bags
·         toilet paper rolls
·         scraps of paper
·         egg carton

2. Using scrap paper, create a rosette and fan to use as monoprinting tools.

3. Using your gel plate and brayer, spread your favorite color paints and use the tools above as stencils, marking tools, lifting tools, etc.

4. Layer your paper again and again. that is the beauty of gel printing! if you don’t like a print, add another layer.

5. Use a file folder (of any kind) to create your journal cover. choose complementary colors (consult a color wheel) like the blue, purple, red, orange, and yellow cover seen here.

6. Continue printing using various tools and turn the file folder to get the “quilted” look. you can overlap layers or set prints side by side.

7. Use some ink sprays, shimmer spray, and splatter paint to bring the cover together and give it a cohesive look.


8. once you have a good stack of prints and a beautiful cover, rummage through your other scraps, prints, roll out paper, and bits of favorite paper you could never part with to create an inspiration pile for your junk journal. for this single signature journal, I used about 7-8 sheets of copy or magazine papers.

9. Cut, rip, tear, glue, and tape to create a one-of-a-kind commonplace journal.

10. Finish with a simple pamphlet stitch and fill with all your favorite quotes, poems, and stories. or send it off to someone you love 


Head on over to my Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook pages - @smallbatchcards - to see more of my tutorials and art. Order cards, prints, stationery, and other paper art gifts at www.smallbatch-cards.com.

We would love to see what you create with recycled material! Tag your work with #GelliArts and #GelliArtsInpsiration !

  • DecoArt® Americana Premium Acrylic Paint
  • Gelli Arts® 4” Roller
  • 8”x 10” Gelli Arts® Printing Plate
  • 8.5” x 11” cardstock and copy paper
  • magazine for roll out paper
  • ScorePal
  • Scissors/Cutting Tool
  • Jane Davenport Washi Tape
  • Trash!

And now... get 20% anything on www.gelliarts.com with the code: RAINBOWART


  1. Absolutely agree with your thoughts about aid Mother Nature!!! And love the creativity we could find looking inside the "trash"! :D I'm a compulsive hoarder LOL : and I'm inspired so much by the little unused pieces of bits and bobs I see around.
    Your printings are just awesome and love the common junk journal you have created!! Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration!


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Happy Printing!
Gelli Arts®

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