Last Christmas, I received an insanely gorgeous leather photo album, and by “gorgeous,” I mean expensive.  (And gorgeous.)  Staring down at the leather, I felt so guilty that I almost blurted out the awful truth: I don’t use photo albums.  Ever.  Even the gorgeous ones get banished to the closet, where they languish in the dark – or did, until the guilt became too much for me.  When that happened, I sat down with a photo album, and I didn’t let myself get up until I figured out a way to make practical use of my gift.   I’m pretty excited to share my solution, because what better thing to do with an expensive photo album than use it to store expensive art  markers?!

Turning an unused photo album into a piece of portable marker storage is ridiculously quick and easy.  In fact, after you make one or two of these babies for yourself, you should make some for all of your bestest art buddies, too.  Here’s why: A commercially-produced marker wallet (as they are known) costs about $25.  This cool, custom, DIY version cost me $1.67.  I don’t mean to get all mathematical on you, but that’s a savings of . . . a monkey ton.  And wouldn’t you rather spend that monkey ton on Copics anyway?

The Supplies

  • A photo album (mine was 6 x 8 )
  • An Xacto knife or box cutter
  • 1″ black elastic (mine was woven)
  • A staple gun
  • Staples*
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Copic or other art markers
  • Decorative paper & Mod Podge (optional)
  • Paint, ribbon, and other materials for altering the outside of the album (optional)

*Staples are measured by height.  For my album, I used 12mm staples, which were pretty tall.  When in doubt, go tall instead of short.  (You want to be able to bend the ends of the staple closed so you don’t jab the artist next to you with staple points, even if she does laugh too loud.)


The Project

Ready to see my album?  It’s from the Museum Store (which I know because that information is embossed on the back):

Although you don’t have to have a 6×8 album for this project, it is pretty much perfect for your Copics.  To get going, follow these steps:

1.  Using your knife or box cutter, remove the pages from the album.

2.  If desired, coat the inside of the album with a healthy dose of Mod Podge and cover it with an attractive paper.  Use a brayer or your fingers to smooth the paper into place and allow the glue to dry briefly.

3. Put something over your workspace – a foam board, a wooden board, etc. – so that you do not staple your album to your table.  (That would radically reduce the album’s portability.)

4. Now you’re ready to staple your elastic into place, one marker slot at a time.  The elastic will run across the center of your album, so staple one end of the elastic to either edge of the book at the center point.  Unless your album is constructed of Kryptonite, the staple WILL penetrate the outside of the album, and that’s okay.  I promise.

5.  Turn the album over and press the ends of the staples into place with the tips of your pliers.  Note: Don’t press straight down from above; that will push the staple right back out, which defeats the whole point.  Instead, press the ends of the staple inward from the sides – or if the ends are long enough, grab them with your pliers and bend them inward, then close the pliers and finish the job by pressing.

6.  Turn the album over again so that you are looking at the elastic.  Take one of your Copics, lay it flat against the album, and press it snugly against the staple.  Pull the elastic over the marker and mark the spot where a staple should go with your fingers.

7.  If you can recruit a partner at this point in the process, fantastic.  Slide the marker out of the way, pull your fingers out of the path of the staple, and tell your partner to use that staple gun.   Once the staple is in place, you should have a “bump” that looks like this from the bottom, except you’ll only have one.

8.  Immediately test the tension of the elastic by re-inserting your marker.  If the elastic is too loose, pull the staple out with your pliers and try again.

If you can’t recruit a partner, by the way, you can do this by yourself, but be very careful of your fingers – or use a pencil to mark the spot.

9.  Repeat steps 5-8 until you have filled the album with Copic glory (skipping the spine, of course).

10.After admiring your work, pull all the markers back out again.  Using your black Copic (or other alcohol-based marker), color the staples black to help them fade into the black elastic.  Run to the bathroom, pour yourself a glass of water, make a crank call, or in short, wait a few minutes and then re-coat them.  The staples won’t disappear completely, but as you can see from the photo, the only ones that are visible are the two that catch the flash.


11.  Close your album and examine those staples you so carefully pressed into place from the outside.  They don’t look so terrible, eh?

If you still want to cover them up, now’s the time to flex those creative skills.  Run a ribbon over the staples, decoupage papers to the album, paint the album, glue buttons over the staples, or do some combination of all of these things.  It’s up to you!  I used a combination of vintage sheet music and ribbon (a little conventional, I know, but I do have musical angels on my cover).  I also distressed my album by scraping it with a key, following up with an application of watered-down black paint.


The Contest

Ready for the best news of all?  You know you want to make one of these anyway, so once you do, take a picture and post it to ourforum no later than December 7 at 5:00pm, at which time, we’ll let our site visitors vote on which one they like best.  If they pick YOU  – and really, why wouldn’t they?! – you will win not only these fabulous Red Riding Hood bookends, but also a coveted spot on our home page, so that you can send all of your friends and some of your 4th cousins twice removed to admire your work on the interwebz.  Nifty, right?

Here’s the prize:



Ann D'Angelo is a dedicated drinker of diet Coke who has never spotted a thrift store she didn't want to visit or an item she didn't want to alter. Check out Ann's shop.


Russell Black · November 4, 2011 at 7:41 am

Having seen this IRL I have to say again – it's so cool and what a handy thing to have around. I don't even use Copic markers and I want to make one.

    AnnDAngelo · November 4, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Thanks, Russell! I have been using mine for a month now, and it really is handy! It works for Prismacolors and any other markers, too; I just think of it as a Copic wallet because I got Copics for my birthday back in September, and I needed some way to carry them with me.

    Thanks for commenting!

sarah · November 4, 2011 at 9:28 am

I can't wait to make one. I've been chomping at the bit for at least two weeks now.. lol!!

I want to win those bookends! Gar!

    AnnDAngelo · November 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

    LOL! Thanks, Sarah! I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about making another one. I think the first one took only 25 minutes (that might have been worth mentioning – derp!), so I might make another one this morning!

AnnDAngelo · November 4, 2011 at 10:41 am

I hear you, Melissa! If you can't find a photo album, I think a hard cover book would also work. Or an old day planner. I might have to run back to Goodwill today for a day planner I've been eying.

Thanks so much for commenting!

    Melissa Reed Hart · November 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Broke down and bought a $5 album at Wal-Mart today. It's the right size for the pens I'm wanting to store, plus it has a window on the front cover. 🙂 Added bonus!

      AnnDAngelo · November 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Nice! I love the idea of a window! And $5 is a pretty good price, all things considered!

Melissa Reed Hart · November 4, 2011 at 11:20 am

Gonna have to check for available photo albums in the house. I have lots of pens and markers that need containing in a way I can toss into a take-along bag!

Aubrey Oddbreed · November 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

OMFG! how did i not see this before? you are the bomb babe, def gonna try this one!

    AnnDAngelo · November 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Aww! Thanks, you sweet thing! I just posted this today, so you're not behind at all. Can't wait to see what you make! It's really fun & easy!

nanner · November 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Excellence from soup to nuts! From leather to Copics! From Red to Wolf!

    AnnDAngelo · November 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you, Miss Nanner! I am so glad you like it!

cindyjob · November 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm

This is such a cool and useful thing and simple enough that even I can make one!

    AnnDAngelo · November 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you, Cindy! I'm excited to see what you post next week! 😀

Crystal Meaux · November 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Hokey smokes, Ann, this is terrific! I got to tell you, I bought a ton of copics after using yours, and I have no cool storage method for them…they are in a (semi -cool) altered paperdoll lunchbox thingy I made back when my markers were Prismacolors. (I also remember back when I had to go with out shoes and eat beans out of a can. Ah the Prismacolor days!)

Anyway, I really need one of these, so I am so excited to make one! Thanks for the great project!

    AnnDAngelo · November 4, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Yay! I am really excited that you are really excited! I made this over a month ago, and I have been squirming with anticipation waiting to post! I can't wait to see what you make!

Deb Schneider · November 5, 2011 at 10:06 am

That is beautiful Ann! Unfortunately (but fortunately) I have so many markers the book would have to be 4 x 5 feet to hold them all (got a great deal on Ebay). If I find a nice photo album in a thrift store, I will try it though. Thanks for the idea!

    AnnDAngelo · November 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Hahaha! Owning too many markers is a fabulous problem to have, Deb! Congrats on getting a great deal, too!

    Thanks for commenting!

Cara · November 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Hmmmm you just gave me an idea I wonder if it will work for tubes of seed beads, I don't see why not. gottta get to the thrift store to get an album!
Thanks for the great idea and the instructions.

    AnnDAngelo · November 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    OMG, what a fabulous idea! Now you're going to make me dig out all my tubes of seed beads, Cara! Thanks so much for commenting – and if you make one, be sure to post a pic to be entered in our contest!

Kacy @ Copic · November 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Very cool, it looks great!

    AnnDAngelo · November 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks so much, Kacy! Just trying to do my part so people can spend more money on awesome markers! 😉

lorienshaw · November 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Although I have the PERFECT storage space for my multitude of Copic Sketch markers, I am gonna make this for my refills, which DON'T have a nice place to live, and need one.

    AnnDAngelo · November 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    That is an excellent point! My refills are homeless, too. Great idea!

nanner · November 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

SO excited to see what you come up with, lovely arteests! I have serious Copic envy, but hoping Santa will overlook the naughty-list this year and say Ho-Ho-How about some COPICS?!

    AnnDAngelo · November 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Nanner, I hope Santa knows about all of the great deals you can get on the 'net and with Michaels coupons! (And if he doesn't, have him call me!) 😀

Aubrey Oddbreed · November 9, 2011 at 10:32 am

im currently using plastic sour cream containers for my marker storage, it works for now but its not convient for on the go arting~

pochadiva · November 29, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I'm almost done with my copic marker storage unit. This was a great project. I had all of the supplies I needed except the staple gun, but it's good to have one anyway so I didn't mind buying one at the hardware store. I hope I can remember how to add photos.

    AnnDAngelo · November 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Fantastic! I am so excited to see it! We can always help with photos if you have any trouble. 🙂

Barb · January 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I had quite a few old photo albums laying around. I used mine to store my art supplies, tags, labels, die cuts, etc. Alll the things left over from projects that were too good to throw away but impossible to find thrown in a box. I got through my albums when I start a project and take what I think I'll use. They can always be returned. The albums look nice on a shelf, are convenient to use and there really is no assembly except slipping the art pieces in the folder.

    AnnDAngelo · January 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Those are great ideas, Barb! And I agree with you: Photo albums look great on a shelf. I do love tidy, attractive storage!

    Hey, if you don't mind my asking, where did you learn about this tutorial? (That is, I know you found it through Craftsy, but how did you come across it over there?)

Comments are closed.