Monday, January 10, 2011

Week 2: Ironic Kindle Cover

Electronics accessories tend to come in one-look-fits-all. Take this black Kindle cover. It's perfectly serviceable, but it's not me. Let's personalize our boring black stuff this week by adding some quirkiness back in. I'm going ironic here by working with a typewriter motif -- you know, the way books used to be written.
start . . .

to finish
What You Need
  • Electronic case of your choice. The cover used here is CrazyOnDigital's leather Kindle case.
  • Laser-printed, magazine, or scrapbook paper. I used graphic45's Communique Collection: Typography.
  • acrylic soft gloss gel (Liquitex)
  • freezer paper
  • small tray
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue
  • Felt shapes or other embellishments. I used Fancy Pants Designs Harvest felt shapes.
  • Dresden trim (

At first glance, a quick and easy way to add style would be to simply glue an image of your choosing onto your background. But, because these cases get a lot of wear and tear, we need to work with durable materials that will hold up when shoved into backpacks, dampened, and squashed. We're going to create an image-transfer gel decal that will not only "melt" visually into the cover, it will also be archival because the paper is removed -- only the image remains.

To get started, cut out an image of your choice. For this technique, you need to use a laser-printed image, catalog/magazine page, or scrapbook paper. Ink-jet printouts don't work because we're going to use water to remove the paper, and ink-jet inks will run all over the place -- they're water-soluble.

Lay down some freezer paper as a non-stick surface to work on (you can find it in the grocery store; it makes a great crafting surface). Brush a thin coat of gloss gel on top of your image and let it dry, which takes about 20 minutes. Then, brush on three or four more coats of gel, letting each coat dry before brushing on the next. This sounds tedious, but it just takes a few seconds to paint the gel on each time - do it when you've got a few seconds of free time here and there over the course of an afternoon.

When your final coat of gel is dry, now comes the fun part. Pour some water in your tray (I use the tray that came with my toaster oven) and dunk your image under the water. Let the water soak in for about half a minute, then pull the image out, turn it over, and rub off the paper. Take it slow, rubbing off the layers of paper gently enough that you don't pull too hard on the gel skin on top of the image.
Gel decal after rubbing the paper off the back
The paper will all fall away with continued rubbing; you can use one of those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to rub off the last bits. You'll see that the ink sticks to the decal, even when the paper is removed. Un-inked (white) surfaces of the paper will render transparent on the decal. Because I'm gluing a dark image onto a dark surface, I left a bit of paper on the back of the decal so that there would be some contrast between the dark image and the dark case.

I glued the image to the cover with the tacky glue, and for some more interest, I kept up with the typewriter motif by stamping a letter onto a felt shape and using that as a "button" on the flap. I added in other felt shapes as embellishments. The felt shapes are thick and sturdy, so they should hold up to repeated use.

almost done . . . but it wasn't quite right yet

I thought I was done at this point, but the cover didn't look quite right. Something was missing here to tie the look together. Dresden trim (also known as German scrap) is a shiny foil trim that works perfectly as a finishing touch. Unlike the rest of this cover, the trim may not hold up over time, as it's paper-based. But it did the trick to finish the look.

And begone, pedestrian Kindle cover!

I brushed only three coats of gel over my image, so the decal was on the thin side when I removed the paper, resulting in some tearing. Take the time to brush on four or five coats so your decal is thick enough to work with easily.

It took a few iterations to finish the cover. Until I added the trim, it didn't have a cohesive look. Sometimes you can be done "enough" to be satisfied, but still search for that perfect element to add in later. When you've reached a stopping point with any piece of art, use it, enjoy it, but leave room for future inspiration to strike.


  1. Aww thanks Jo Ann, for the super-quick (and ego-boosting) feedback!

  2. Wow, so this is the image transfer technique. I can't believe the actually creates a film like that. Very cool. This gives your Kindle cover a much warmer and artistic feel, as opposed to "Office Depot" ;)

  3. Thanks Grace! I know, I'm totally enamored with image transfer. There are many different ways to transfer an image -- this is just one of them -- and I'll undoubtedly be exploring a few more over the course of the year. It's really cool to be able to take a printout of something that's meaningful and affix it to different surfaces so that it looks like it becomes part of the surface.