Instagram YouTube Pinterest Facebook
Looking to redecorate your home? Crafting for the holidays? Need a fun idea to do with the kids? We have craft ideas for all occasions and experience levels! From simple home decor projects to personalized giftable items, we are sure you will find projects that inspire. Be sure and share any projects you do with our products using #decoartprojects for a chance to be featured.

Thoughts and Theories Journal

By: Bumblebees and Butterflies
August 10, 2017

print Pinterest
Thoughts and Theories Journal
Pinterest Logo

I was excited to be asked to contribute to the release of a brand new journal die by Eileen Hull and I got hooked on them. I have always enjoyed making albums, altered books and my own handmade versions and I ended up making several of these journals in quick succession and all using DecoArt products. This one is definitely an Andy Skinner style version where I have used lots of his techniques and given you links to find them on the internet.

Items needed:

  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Burnt Umber
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Sap Green
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titan Buff
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Payne's Grey
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Quinacridone Gold
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Phthalo Blue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Yellow Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Crackle Paint - White
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Texture Sand Paste
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Gesso - Black
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Gesso - White
  • DecoArt Media Varnishes - Ultra-Matte Varnish
  • Metallic Lustre 1oz - Lavish Green
  • Weathered Wood 8oz - Weathered Wood
  • Assorted Brushes
  • 300 gms White Cardstock
  • Strong double sided tape
  • A piece of greyboard
  • Andy Skinner Stampendous Skulldogery Stamp Set
  • Andy Skinner Andy Skinner Industrial Elements Bolts/Washers sheet
  • Items for embellishments
  • Journal and papers
  • A Quote Chip
  • Crackle Stamp
  • Black Archival Ink


Cut and make two cover panels using Andy's mega crackle technique (link to Andy's tutorial here) using DecoArt media fluid paints and mediums. Just look at the MEGA crackles that appeared.

Instruction #1 - Photo step 1
Pinterest Logo

Take a piece of card big enough to take the skull stamp and dip it in watery washes of Sap Green, Titan Buff and Burnt Umber drying between each layer.

Instruction #2 - Photo step 2
Pinterest Logo

Stamp the skull and I just had enough room for the specimen plate as well.

Instruction #3 - Photo step 3
Pinterest Logo

Take a piece of greyboard cut to size to fit the journal panels and draw where the cut out skull and specimen plate will go. With a palette knife add some texture sand paste around the edges and across the middle. Let it dry although it can be helped along with a heat gun.

Instruction #4 - Photo step 4
Pinterest Logo

Then paint over the whole piece with black gesso.

Instruction #5 - Photo step 5
Pinterest Logo

Now take a stiff bristled brush and dry brush with white gesso - you can see here where the stamped pieces will go.

Instruction #6 - Photo step 6
Pinterest Logo

Repeat with yellow iron oxide but keeping it to one edge all the way round.

Instruction #7 - Photo step 7
Pinterest Logo

Repeat with sap green and phthalo blue...

Instruction #8 - Photo step 8
Pinterest Logo

....and lastly some quinacridone gold.

Instruction #9 - Photo step 9
Pinterest Logo

Now for some random watery washes, the first is Sap Green mixed with Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide...

Instruction #10 - Photo step 10
Pinterest Logo

...the second is Burnt Umber mixed with straight Yellow Oxide.

Instruction #11 - Photo step 11
Pinterest Logo

Go back to the stamped pieces and add some watery quinacridone edges and paint a little inside the skull to help it blend in with the plaque you have just made.

Instruction #12 - Photo step 12
Pinterest Logo

When the stamped pieces are dry glue them to the plaque and give it all a coat of ultra matte varnish.

Instruction #13 - Photo step 13
Pinterest Logo

Back to the mega crackle panels, dabble watery washes of the same three colours used on the stamped pieces and spritz the areas with water before drying each colour separately.

Instruction #14 - Photo step 14
Pinterest Logo

Make a dirty glaze to seal the surfaces using one of Andy's recipes - find it about 3/4 of the way through this video here.

Instruction #15 - Photo step 15
Pinterest Logo

At the same time edge a quote chip with quinacridone gold and seal it with the glaze.

Instruction #16 - Photo step 16
Pinterest Logo

Make some rusty bolts using the pieces from the bolts and washers sheet and apply the technique shown by Andy in his video here. Also paint some card in the rusty colours and die-cut a decorative element for embellishing.

Instruction #17 - Photo step 17
Pinterest Logo

Go back to the journal covers overlap and stick the spines together with strong double sided tape and give them a coat of white gesso. When dry stamp the crackles using black archival ink and then repeat the steps of dabbled washes and dirty glaze (see above).

Instruction #18 - Photo step 18
Pinterest Logo

Sand the edges of the panels, ink them with ground espresso distress ink and adhere them to the covers and assemble the elements on the front cover of the journal.

Instruction #19 - Photo step 19
Pinterest Logo

Cut papers to create inside panels and also cut and score a thin one to cover the inside of the spine. Add elastic to hold page inserts.

Instruction #20 - Photo step 20
Pinterest Logo

Make up three little ’booklets’ of papers and pockets to tuck under the elastic.

Instruction #21 - Photo step 21
Pinterest Logo

Insert some elastic to create a closure and you’re done.

Instruction #22 - Photo step 22
Pinterest Logo

Thanks for stopping by and if you are interested in seeing the other versions of this journal I made you can find them here and here.

Instruction #23 - Photo Staged Ending64
Pinterest Logo


Just AWED. It seems to me like this could be REAL... or at least an incredible prop in a archaeological dig movie Brenda. Your work with DecoArt Media products is FABULOUS. Xj.


August 10, 2017

Hi Brenda...totally love your fabulous journal covers...amazing crackle detail and I love the colours and texture around the stamp xx TFS and best wishes Annie x

Annie G

August 10, 2017

Brenda, I am in awe of this project! The crackle stamping works so beautifully with the real crackle and I'm so impressed at this beautiful detail! I love the inserts with lined paper and the amazing imagery. Stunning work! Hugs, Autumn


August 10, 2017

OMG, Brenda! You totally outdid yourself here! These are AMAZING! Andy would be so proud!


August 10, 2017

Wow!! I am in awe of this!! I'm bookmarking so I can try these techniques!! This is spectacular!!

Lisa F

August 10, 2017

Love it Brenda. Great techniques too. Happy crafty weekend, Angela xXx


August 11, 2017

Wow Brenda! I love this journal. So cool!


August 11, 2017

Oh wow Brenda, this is incredible! I love the mega crackle and your watery washes have brought out the best in it and the skull looks fabulous on the wonderful plate you created for him. An absolutely stunning journal!! Anne xxx

Anne R

August 12, 2017

Amazing crackle and paint effects, Brenda - this is a stunning journal, showing off all those fab DecoArt products and techniques to perfection. Alison x


August 12, 2017

Thanks for your lovely comments everyone xxx

Brenda Brown

August 12, 2017

Yikes Brenda - what a great cover you created with these products! you sure know how to use them to great advantage - wonderful colors, textures and stampings! Julia xx

Julia Aston

August 12, 2017

This is so super cool!!! I love the theme too.

Lisa H

August 15, 2017

Exquisite Specimen Brenda!! xo

Jackie Neal

August 16, 2017

Love your journal. The crackle is great. Thank you for all of the reference links. You taught me a lot.


August 17, 2017

Leave a comment: