August Greetings! I’m sorry for my long absence, life has been very busy, but I’ve lined up a series of posts for the next few Mondays so check back over the next few weeks for some fun new projects. For today we have a relatively simple project that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, lovely paper covered clipboards for organization around the house.
I’ve been spending my summer organizing my apartment and trying to bring the clutter down to a more manageable level, as well as setting up organizational systems so when I go back to teaching in the fall I can maintain order more easily. Enter my new clipboards! I purchased these three clipboards to hang up on a small stretch of wall between my front door and my kitchen, with the purpose of organizing mail. I’m hoping that as new mail comes in the front door, instead of piling up I can store it on my new clipboards and have a place to easily corral business papers for filing, invites for parties or events, and cards that might be keepsakes or that I need to respond to. I’ve tried to write up step by step instructions as clearly as possible, along with some process photos that I shot as I went.
Step 1: Buy materials. You’ll need clipboards, I purchased small ones which are 6×9 inches and the cheap brown composite material, decorative paper which I purchased at Michaels, and glue, I used Elmer’s Gel. You’ll also need scissors or an x-acto blade and I used a paint brush to apply the glue, plus a soft rag to smooth down the paper.
The lovely thing about this project is that you can very easily change it to suit your specific needs, such as using larger full size clipboards and any decorative paper you want. Personally I wanted some fun color and pattern, which is why I went to Michaels because they have the most amazing selection of decorative craft paper, and what is especially awesome is you can purchase it in single sheets. As you can see I purchased way more than the three sheets I ended up using, and part of the reason was that I wasn’t sure exactly which color scheme I was going to go with, and I wasn’t sure which colors would match my hallway which is painted in a baby blue color. For instance I really loved the pale turquoise paper with the cherry blossoms and I found two nice simpler papers to match, but the color just didn’t match my hallway. I also could have done all three clipboards in yellow and gray patterns, but I fell in love with that fish pattern and really wanted to use it for at least one clipboard, but unfortunately couldn’t find any other blues that would match. But I think the yellow fish connect enough to the yellow papers for it to be ok. You could also use old wrapping paper, or recycled paper like books or maps.Step 2: Cut your paper. There are some parts of your paper you will want to cut before you glue, and some that you’ll cut after. I cut my paper into a 6 inch strip so it was the proper width, but I didn’t cut it down to the 9 inches so I had more flexibility as I glued. After cutting the strip I needed to cut out the piece that would fit around the clip. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to purchase clipboards with a nice square piece at the top, so after measure the larger rectangle I had to freehand draw in the small curved piece that would fit around the back of the clip. I recommend testing your cut out piece before adding glue, to make sure you got the shape right. But that is all I cut, I left the 6 inch piece long and I didn’t cut the curved corners of the clipboard, so that I had a bit of wiggle room as I glued.
Step 3: Glue your paper. First, you’ll want to secure your clip in the open position. I used a small zip tie to hold the clip open, but you could probably use a piece of string or a metal twist tie. Then I added my glue, I used Elmer’s Gel but you could probably also use regular Elmer’s or any other craft glue. I just thought the gel might not be as wet and would help keep the paper from wrinkling. I used a small disposable paint brush and slowly brushed glue over the whole clipboard. I tried pouring on a larger glob on the first one, but found it was difficult to spread and resulted in some initial buckling of the paper, so after that I just brushed it on as smoothly as I could. When it is time to attach your paper, make sure you carefully fit the top notch around the clip part before you let the rest of the paper stick to the glue, because once it starts sticking down it will all get much more difficult. Though, the beauty of craft glue is you can usually pull your paper up at least once if you need to. You’ll want to smooth out the paper as best you can as it first begins to dry, I found a soft cloth was good because otherwise I left little gouge marks in the paper. Work your way from the center to the edges, smoothing as you go.
Step 4: Trim the paper. As I said, I cut the proper width of the paper, but left it long, so after I had glued the paper down I went back and carefully used my x-acto blade to cut around the curved corners and cut off the length on the bottom. You could possibly make due with scissors, but some sort of cutting blade is much easier because you can get right up to the edge of the clipboard.
I specifically wanted to glue the paper on with glue only on the underside, in other words I didn’t want to varnish or decoupage the paper onto the clipboard and have a shiny surface. First, I like the look and feel of just the paper, but second I’ve often had issues with projects like this and the mod podge staying slightly sticky even when it’s dry so I didn’t want to risk it. I’m assuming that I will be careful when I use them and won’t destroy them, but if you wanted these for use around children you might find it was better to varnish the full piece to prolong their life. Another decision I made was to leave the cardboard brown edge, but you could also choose to paint the edge either a neutral like white, or a color to match your decorative paper. It would depend on your final use of the clipboards. For now, I can’t wait to get my new clipboards hung and to start using them for sorting mail! I hope they help keep my life at least a bit more organized going forward, at the very least they will make it a bit more cheerful with these fun patterns and colors.
Stay tuned on the next few Mondays for some other fun new projects, including some other organizational projects I’ve undertaken. And I hope everyone has a lovely August!
P.S. Do you remember the Cityscape Drawing project I did a few months ago after becoming inspired by The Postman’s Knock? See the card I have clipped onto the clipboard with the fish? That is a custom drawing I did of my mom and step-father’s house which I then had printed up as blank cards to give them as a wedding gift. So you never know when a project might take on a whole new life! Do you have any projects like that? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
P.P.S. I realized after finishing my tutorial that it sounded a bit like I was being sponsored by Michaels, so I just wanted to say that I wasn’t, I just really like their stores. And so does Basel, he’s been going since he was a tiny puppy and he always finds at least one person to pet him because let’s be honest, the Michaels shopper crowd and the ‘I love dogs’ crowd does intersect quite a bit. Plus, the small shopping carts are the perfect size for Basel to ride around in and then he’s right at waist height, perfect for maximum love from strangers! Doesn’t he look cute? In the photo on the right he’s trying to get the attention of the shoppers who are directly ahead of us in the check-out line…