Hello, puddin’ pops!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably have noticed I have a tendency to shop for art supplies at the hardware store.  I live in a tiny town with no art supply store (dreamtalking here – I will open one), but there are probably 15 different small-town hardware stores within a 20-30 minute drive.  

Hardware stores are THE BEST.  I figured it was time to do a weekly feature to showcase their glory.  And also to give me an excuse to go wander around in them.  Woo!

This week I want to talk about touch-up paint rollers.  And journals.

I think both Mod Podge and Martha Stewart offer glue rollers for decoupage, but they don’t compare.  Plus they’re twice the price.  I found this one by Shur-Line in the paint department of Lowe’s.

When I made my giant dictionary journal, this thing saved my life.  I filled it full of plain old Elmer’s Glue-All, and it rocked my world.

The most awesome thing about this thing is that it locks closed, so you can keep it full of glue or paint or matte medium or whatever in between uses.  You do need to rinse the roller or, alternatively, throw it away (Daddy Warbucks) and use a new one next time.  They’re actually pretty cheap.  Rinsing takes about 30 seconds, and I am still using the original roller.  Come on, EcoRanger, get it together.  Eventually I’ll get another one for black paint since I use that on canvas panels, but for now it’s my journal partner.

Because it’s my journal partner, I am going to talk about using it to make one.

When you make an altered book journal, you need to do two things: tear pages out and glue pages together.  I started working on a smaller but still huge dictionary to illustrate this point and to give you a quick and dirty altered art journal tutorial. 

First, pick a book.  

I have discovered several things over the last year of making journals – your average Tom Clancy novel, although probably full of fun random text, is not great for binding.  If you can see glue when you look at the top of the spine, toss it back.  You should be able to see each individual signature (grouping of pages), and, when you get to the middle of one and open the book, you will see threads.  No threads, no joy.  If I need to, I will do a demo video of what to use and what not to use, but I think YouTube has you covered.  I realized that, as I’m posting this, my book has a glued binding.  WHOOPS. 

Another thing you need to think about is the paper.  If it’s glossy, it’s going to be a pain.  You might have to sand it before you can gesso it.  Yuck.  If your book has mostly plain paper pages and a few glossy ones, that can totally be worked with.  I have made journals with paper that is 100 years old and REALLY BRITTLE.  It is workable but is totally a pain.  I’d avoid those too, if you’re not a total masochist.

Make sure your binding is in decent condition so that it doesn’t fall apart once you’ve spent two days tearing and gluing.

This seems like a lot of information, I know, but seriously it takes about 30 seconds to look at a book, check the binding, make sure the covers aren’t falling apart, feel the paper, and check for stitches at the center of a signature.  You will probably get weird looks from the volunteers at the library.  Just sayin’.

If you deeply desire an altered book journal and don’t want to go through all of these shenanigans, I list them occasionally in my etsy shop.  Or send me a convo and I’ll hook you up!  I find it thoroughly and strangely rewarding to do all of this tearing and gluing.

OK.  Enough about that.

Go to the second page of your book.  Using a straight edge (I’m using a bias tape cutting ruler.  I have a lot of weird stuff), lay it along the spine and then tear that page out.  Then tear the next page out.

You will have a bunch of little nubby pages from the tearing – those are going to be sandwiched in between two glued-together pages, so don’t stress them!  Or make extra nubby pages with a bigger nub and use them to add in other types of paper, photos, scraps of fabric, whatever.  

Skip two pages and repeat.  Skip two pages and repeat.  Skip two pages and repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Put on a dumb movie.  Repeat.  Keep doing this until you reach the end.  It takes forever, but now you have a bunch of pages that you can Gelli print on, glue in, make into envelopes, whatever!

Once you’ve torn out half of the pages, go back to the beginning and get to gluing.  You can use pretty much anything for this – I’ve used gel medium (works great but wow expensive), Mod Podge, and Elmer’s, and they all work about the same.  Elmer’s is definitely the cheapest – I bought a gallon for about 15 bucks on Amazon.  That’ll get you places.

If you don’t want to use the handy-dandy paint roller, a brush works.  As does a regular paint roller, one of the small ones for trim.  That’s what I used to use!  It’s super fast and easy too.

Work fast with the glue – I don’t bother covering the entire page.  I do the edges and do stripes down the page and call it good.  I don’t mind wrinkles (it will wrinkle between the glue stripes).  Cover the whole page with glue if you’re manic about wrinkles!

Once you have your glue down, press the pages together and smooth from the spine to the edge to get out any air bubbles.

Using your straight edge here is good too – it’ll smooth those pages out like nobody’s business.

Now put on an even dumber movie and keep gluing.  Sometimes I glue the wrong page and end up with three or even four pages glued together.  NO problem!  Just a thicker, more durable page!  We’re not robots people!

You will probably want to use gesso on the pages before you start journaling, but that’s really up to you.  A piece of masking tape or washi tape with some matte or gel medium along the spine is also a good idea just to keep stuff from dripping down into the binding and making it stronger.  The pages feel SO AWESOME once they have a bunch of layers of acrylic and mediums and papers and whatever on them though, almost like leather.  Just awesome. 

So that’s the story of how a post about a paint roller turned into an altered book tutorial.


See that pretty new painter and refill rollers still in their packages?  They can be yours!  WOooo!  Comment below to be entered to win.  If you share on Facebook?  Extra entry!  If you tweet about it? BOOM one more!  Pinterest?  YES!  Just leave another comment when you share or pin or tweet or gram or MySpace, and you’ll have that many more chances.  I’ll pick a winner with Random.org on Monday, August 22.

Go forth and glue.

Categories: Tutorial


Sarah wants to know how everything works. She also has a short attention span and is addicted to coffee. Those two things are probably not mutually exclusive.


Joys · August 16, 2016 at 3:39 pm

ME ME ME Me Me Me mememememememememe. I need glue assistance for real.

Karen Leigh · August 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Very cool Sayruh!!!!

Wendy Graham · August 16, 2016 at 4:01 pm

This is an amazingly awesome find at the hardware store! Now to convince the Bunny to look for one next time he's there.

Cindy G. · August 16, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Somewhere, I have a roll-a-tac which still has glue in it… which is probably solidified…

So, this is a great alternative to trying to dig out a big hunk of solidified glue! Thanks for the great tip (and, I'm looking forward to more posts in the hardware store series).

Now, if I could figure out a way to manage the use of these in my middle school classroom, it would cut WAY down on our use of disposable glue sticks!

Jenn Dorris · August 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Shared on facebook!

Crystal Meaux · August 16, 2016 at 8:33 pm

I'm commenting.im sharing. I'm also probably going to home depot on Friday to buy one! Thanks for the Intel!

Amy Wright Weaver · August 16, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Love, love, love! thanks, Sarah!

Sharing on FB, btw.


Nikki · August 16, 2016 at 10:27 pm

This was great not only because of the touch up roller/hardware store shoutout, but because I am all heart eyes over the dictionary art journal idea. Thanks!

Ruth · August 17, 2016 at 8:25 am

Oh my gosh!!! Mememememememe! Awesome! Now I gotta try it!

Jean Chaney · August 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm

I just found you while reading my new book Art journaling your archtypes. I fell in love with your work. Since I am here though, it sure would be nice to win one of those neat rollers!

    Sarah Trumpp · August 23, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    OMG that is so exciting! I hadn't even realized that it was out – thank you so much for tracking me down! <3

Heather N. Dietz · August 24, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Ya know, I've been wanting to do something like this for ages and even started a book…it sadly has the wrong binding and I totally screwed up the pages. BUT I have another one I wanted to do eventually that now that I have this knowledge, I'm gonna try again. Thank you SO much for this!!! <3

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