Inspired by Carla Sonheim

About a year ago, it occurred to me I needed – okay, wanted  – to update my library of instructional mixed media art books. It had been quite a long time since I’d bought one and I knew there must be a bunch out there I hadn’t seen. One of those I purchased has lingered in my “to be read” pile since then and I just pulled it out a couple weeks ago.

Art Making, Collections and Obsessions by Lynne Perrella is an excellent book and I wish I’d picked it up earlier! It was fascinating to read about what other artists collect, and at least one example of finished work by each of 35 artists is included. So much inspiration! One photo in particular made me go “oooooh” as soon as I saw it. These little sewn journals by Carla Sonheim are just so precious I couldn’t wait to try making one!


Because I was fairly obsessed with rag quilting last year, I have a lot of fabric scraps, and this seemed like the perfect project to use some of those up. The little books are entirely sewn together, even the inside pages. Normally this would intimidate me, as I am not a seamstress by any means! But the loose, scrappy nature appeals wonderfully to my haphazard, imprecise style of creating, and once I tried one, I was hooked!

Carla’s journals feature her own artwork printed onto fabric and are quite appealing in their simplicity. I decided to use a vintage photo as the focus for my first foray, but I just couldn’t keep things simple. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw on a bunch of frou-frou! I managed to avoid glitter (for a change), but couldn’t resist some flowers and bling.

sewn journey journal

The photo, background map and “Artful Journey” were printed onto iron-on fabric sheets (these are the best – very sturdy and opaque and the printing comes out beautifully); the rest are fabrics from my scrap pile. I made a few little “errors” along the way, but I won’t point them out if you pretend not to notice them. Anyway, the free-style, scrappy nature of this process means a little flub here and there can easily be chalked up to artistic expression. 🙂

Of course, I could hardly wait to make another! This time I used my own art for the cover; part of a collaged postcard I’d created a few years ago for a swap. It was a blast picking out fabrics to go with the image. I’m afraid I’ve become a little obsessed with the leopard print! It’s great as a “neutral” for resting the eye from bright colors, while being a bit unexpected.

create sewn journal side

This project is SO MUCH FUN and I cannot wait to make a whole pile of these little treasures!


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