Sunday, July 31, 2016

Host It, They Will Come!

Back when this was a blog that no one read, I mentioned a secret dream of hosting workshops to talk about Bible journaling.  That's become a real thing lately and I couldn't be more excited to be sharing about what God has done in my life since I starting journaling.  I had a session with almost forty women in July and have two more planned for August with about sixty people currently signed up.  One hundred people who want to talk about Jesus and learn about Bible journaling.  I couldn't have dreamed there would be so much interest so quickly!
The first class of Draw Near 101
I learned so much by jumping right in and having to plan big...locations, setup, copying (don't use a big box store...), supplies, crying in front of people and general awkwardness... I couldn't have asked for a better group, full mostly of people I know very well, to stumble through the experience with.  They were gracious and encouraging and saw Draw Near 101 as exactly what I hoped it could be, a chance to talk about Jesus and pretty supplies.

Speaking of supplies...


An idea I had at 1am that has exploded.  What if I bought journaling supplies in bulk and then resold them to people who wanted them for the sessions?

Great idea that has also been a learning lesson.  I bought as much as I could for the $15 I charged.  And then some people didn't show up and I ended the night in the hole.  Lesson learned.  Now people who sign up agree to make arrangements to pay for the KimKit even if they can't attend.

I'm well into the second (and third) round of KimKits and I'm still just as amazed that people trust me with their time and money.  I love supply shopping and it is something of a game to see how great I can make them and stay under budget.

It has been such an amazing blessing to hear the stories and testimonies that have come out of the first class.  I have received so many messages and had so many conversations about how God can take the messy parts of our lives and the messy attempts at art that we are  producing and use them to lift others up and to build the kingdom.  I'm so thankful that I get to be a part of that.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What to Expect at Draw Near 101

Running a business designed to break even is not my specialty (except the shopping part, I'm good at that) but lesson planning is.  I'm totally geeking out over the plans for 101.

I am totally, 100% open to feedback.  I know what I like and what I want to know how to do and what I have experience with but I don't know you.  Well.  I know you but I don't know what you're hoping to get out of this.  Now is the time to tell me while I am still in the planning stages.

Here's the working agenda:
post-bedtime planning time

Welcome/Introduction/Why Draw Near?
Supply Overview and Demonstrations
Introduction to Hand-Lettering with Practice Time
Variations on Bible Journaling (in a Bible, on paper, in journals, sketchnotes, etc.)
Finding Inspiration (aka studying the work of others)
How to Create Your Own Designs
Finished Product Show and Tell

Each participant will get a workbook that I'm putting together now (hence the copy fee).  I want the workbook to include lettering and doodling practice but plan on exchanging the examples from session to session so that each has its own "theme."  I want someone who wants to come to every single session I do to feel like they've learned and seen something new.  At the same time, it's not my goal to dictate the verse or final product that everyone leaves with.

Oh.  While I'm thinking of it, someone help me remember to take a picture of everyone's final products.

I'm actively soliciting feedback on themes/verses/styles of lettering/things to doodle that you would like on the agenda and in the workbook.  Send me a message or leave a comment.

See you soon!

Business Model? I have a History Degree...

Well.  That escalated quickly.

In the past twenty-four hours, I have scouted locations, filled out paperwork, created a new Facebook page and shared a blog that no one had ever seen before.  I also made every person ever with a marketing background cringe when I named my supply goodie bags KimKits.

Thank you, Lord for somehow managing to take a love of ink pens and pretty paper and turning it into a fellowship and ministry opportunity.  For me as much as for anyone else who will attend a session.
I am so humbled by how excited you all seem to be. I've been fielding PMs, texts and all manner of comments for the last couple days and that is proof this is what I'm supposed to be doing as summer winds down and I have some free time to make the logistics work. I'm also grateful for how many of you have offered your churches as a meeting place. I hope to have the chance to visit all of them in the coming weeks and months. I promise to keep putting together sessions as long as there is interest and I have childcare.
There isn't really an existing "business model" for what I am mapping out. Other bible journaling groups are either small groups within a church or commercial ventures. You guys are not a small group and represent much more than just one church. I'm also not trying to make it a business at this point; I just need the KimKits to break even with some copy money left and to get enough from other participants to cover their copy costs and other miscellaneous supplies.
The Kim Kits are coming together and I have the supplies all ready to order when I know how many you want. I promise they'll be good value for the money and every single item is being hand-picked by me. I'm buying some stuff in bulk to pass along the discount to the Kits. They are NOT a requirement for the class nor is a journaling Bible. Many of you have art/scrapbooking/school supply closets much larger than mine and can quickly and cheaply assemble your own supplies. I will ask for $2 from anyone not buying a Kit to cover your copy costs.
The number one thing I've heard from people today is that they are uncertain of their artistic/drawing abilities. Please, please, please don't let that stop you from coming. God loves abstract art and "whimsical" lettering just like he loves everyone of us. I do not consider myself an artist and have lots of tips, tricks and resources to help make beautiful work.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Choosing a Journaling Bible

I really struggled with deciding which journaling Bible to purchase.  In fact, I waited more than six months after really starting to work on lettering verses to commit to one.  I think there are three things to consider when looking at which one will work for you.

1.  Translation: we all have the one we are most comfortable with.  Thankfully, most all major translations can be purchased in journaling or notetaking (same wider margins, usually with faint lines) form.  Choose your favorite or decide to stretch and learn from reading a translation you are not as familiar with.  This is definitely where my decision to go with the Holman instead of NIV or ESV came from.

2.  Price: how much of an investment are you willing to make?  There are several great options at or just below $30.  Then there's the leather ESV one that's over $100 that I drool over.

3.  Layout: there are single-column, double-column, wide margins, not-so-wide margins, lined margins and a new one that's been catching my eye lately that is two columns but with a wide margin BETWEEN the two columns.  Mind.  Blown.  This is purely preference and, unfortunately, you might not know what your preference is until you end up with one you don't love.  Go to Lifeway or a large bookstore and see what they have in stock.  Look at the quality of the paper and the size of the print.  Read reviews on ones you're considering on Amazon.

I'm attempting my first use of Associate links from Amazon because, supposedly Amazon will keep it current and connected to something they actually have in-stock.  This is the first monetization of my site so if you click a link from my site and buy and a bazillion other people do too, I think I get a $10 Amazon gift card.  Provided, of course, that I hooked it up right.  Amazon should be looking at how much I spend on Prime and be giving me giftcards anyway, in my opinion, but that's a post for another day.

ESV Single Column this is the one I see used most often online, often covered with a Bible cover which can be found aplenty for this version on Etsy.

Holman Notetaking Bible (faint lines in margins) this is my Bible.  I like the HCSB translation and also like that it has very faint lines to keep things lined up

NIV Journaling Bible the margins don't seem quite as wide with this one but the size seems good and it has good reviews

Supplies Phase Two: "Nice to Haves"

Hopefully you've read the other supply post and have a plan for getting the basics.  This list is by no means anything you should go out and buy every item on but is instead a list of my favorite things that I have added to my stash over the course of a year.  I do not have desk or dedicated work space so all the supplies I use fit in a caddy and small tote bag.  They live in a cabinet and I get them out and put them back away every time I use them.  Limited space has made me carefully consider what I really need and what will not be worth the storage space.  Several of these will be included in some form or another in the "goodie bag" for the session I'm planning.

Tab-Making Supplies: My tab punch is meant to make one-sided tabs that fit into a plastic sticky insert that you can buy from the company.  I don't personally like one-sided tabs, plastic sticky inserts or having to buy more from the company, so I figured out how to punch a folded piece of paper (lined up just below the top chopping part) to make a double-sided tab.  I use plain old school glue to glue a tab to each page I work on.  I use the glue that is purple and then dries clear because I'm a juvenile and like watching the purple disappear.  Some people use tabs for each book of the Bible but I have chosen to tab each page I journal.  Totally a matter of personal preference.  I've always been a bit of a paper hoarder so most of my tabs are made from leftover scrapbook paper I already had.

My Tab Punch

tab punch, glue stick and scrapbook paper
Stickers Some Bible journalers use big, 3D treatments and glue all manner of not-flat things into their Bibles and have Bibles that are bulging at the seams.  "I like Big Bibles" is literally a thing and probably a hashtag.  My boring little self is a little too orderly for that so I have only ever added flat stickers to my Bible.  I have a few sheets of alphabet stickers in colors and textures that appeal to me and also dig through my old scrapbooking supplies for other shapes and things that fit a particular verse or style I'm going for.  I tend to use stickers sparingly because I want my pages to be "my work" but sometimes it's an added detail that goes a long way.

"GO" in glitter letters and arrows on the opposite page
Sketchbook: you can doodle and practice on napkins, scrap paper, your homework...whatever suits your stage of life.  All of those are a great way to pass a faculty meeting.  Not that I know, obv. but I recommend a dedicated sketchbook.

I've told the story several times that when I bought the one below at Walmart, I literally hid it under something in the buggy (people not in the South call them carts...weirdos) because I knew that anyone who saw me with a sketchbook would laugh and call me a phony artist.  I'm so glad I still have the original because it shows my progress over the last year.  One year ago, I had neat handwriting and zero creative talent.  I spent hours finding things I like on Pinterest and plagiarizing them in this sketchbook.  I did not even own a journaling Bible for the first several months I was a "Bible journaler" because I didn't feel like I was talented enough to come up with my own stuff worth putting in the Bible.  I copied and studied and tried to find a style that is my own.  Amazingly enough, I did.  When I finally started actually putting pen to Bible, I experienced an actual, authentic creative spark or two.  Our brains are amazing things that can grow and learn and CHANGE and I believe that those months of copying others' work helping open up new pathways in my brain that have allowed me to come up with my own designs quite freely less than a year later.  I still have to look at Pinterest for ideas on how to make a doodle look right (ever try to draw an umbrella??) but have grown in confidence.

the journal where I copied work from Pinterest and tried to discover my own style
Chalk: this was an accidental find but my current favorite way to "color" my pages.  I use them dry by taking the cotton balls beside each color and smearing it on to the page with the cool pincher tool after I've lettered.  I think there's a way to use them wet as well but I haven't gone there.  Wrinkled pages aren't my jam.  There is a bit of color transfer to the opposite page, but it brushes off.  I love the soft, blendable colors I get from chalk.  I've been asked about adding a fixative to the chalk to "set" it but I haven't cared enough to make a purchase to try.

Craft Chalk Set
a set of chalks from Hobby Lobby with a fun smudging tool
Gelato: So I thought gelato was fancy ice cream but apparently it's an art thing too.  I bought this set on clearance and decided to give it a go.  It's the texture of lipstick, has an amazing, saturated color and can be smudged or blended when first applied.  It also came with a paint brush for splattering wet.  I tried that on a piece of paper and then decided it would wrinkle my Bible page and never tried it again. I tend to be drawn to stars and sunshines so this yellow gelato has gotten the most use.  It's the one thing I've used that will smudge a Micron so it's definitely not meant for precise work.

My favorite yellow gelato
gelatos with smudger and brush for wet use
Tip-In Supplies: sometimes you turn to a verse, just itching to journal it, and you've already journaled a different verse on that page.  Or, sometimes you're a chicken and don't want to journal That Verse quite yet because it's your favorite (Hebrews 6:19, I'm looking at you) and you don't want to risk hating it.  Enter something called a "tip-in," fancyspeak for "taping a piece of paper to the page."  Washi tape is one of my all-time favorite school-supplies.  I use it for everything and already had a stash.  It sticks well but can be peeled up without damaging the paper.  As far as the paper part of a tip-in goes, use what you have.  I happen to love these little Project Life cards.  Other brands make them for various purposes but I love the ones that have quotes and patterns on both sides.  I recently had this verse on my mind after small group and couldn't journal it because the page was taken so I made a tip-in instead.  Hopefully Draw Near does what this verse in Hebrews commands: lets us stir each other up to love and good works by meeting together.
recipe for a "tip-in" = paper + washi tape; background shows the caddy I use for nearly all of my supplies

Stamps: I'm new to stamps in my Bible.  So new I actually haven't done it yet.  Illustrated Faith is the mothership of Bible journaling and sells supplies through DaySpring.  I recently ordered one of their monthly devotional kits which comes with a set of stamps and an ink pad, among other fun stuff.  I'm working up to incorporting some stamps into my actual Bible journaling.  Some people who don't feel comfortable hand-lettering order stamps to use instead.  This sounds expensive to me because I can't imagine using the same stamp over and over without getting tired of it.
devotional, stamps and ink pad by Illustrated Faith
The obvious missing item on this list is acrylic paint.  Most of the "famous" Bible journalers use it in their Bibles.  I haven't gone there yet for a few reasons.  First, I keep my journaling to the wide margins of my Bible and don't cover up text.  It's personal preference but I want this Bible to be wholly readable when I'm done journaling.  Second, I live in fear of wrinkled pages.  There are preparation techniques using gesso and whole-page techniques that are supposed to limit the wrinkling but I'm skeptical.  Maybe my next Bible...

Speaking of Bibles, there's a separate post coming about choosing a journaling Bible.

Random note: These are all products I've bought and used.  I mean...I'd love to be a brand rep for any of them but no one's asked.  Yet.

Getting Started: "Need to Have" Supplies

My long-term vision of Bible journaling has always been to share it with others, to use the lettering and doodling as a springboard for real conversations with others about the things God has done in my life.  I want to share with others what's happened since I committed to "drawing near" to Christ.  I want to hear others' stories and know what God is up to in their lives, too.  I am a social creature and these connections feed my soul.

That idea of community seems to be coming together nicely.  A request from a FB friend to come share with her church friends led to several other friends asking to attend a class and DOZENS of people who said they're interested.  Cue giant list of things to know, decide, buy and figure out in order to make it happen in what's left of my dwindling summer.  Open doors.  Opportunities.  Alright, God.  Let's do this.

For my classes, I've decided to give people the option of a shopping list ahead and just paying $2 for copying costs  (probably the reason you're reading this) or trusting me with a little money (I'm thinking $15) and getting a goodie bag of all the "need to have" supplies and some happy surprise "nice to have" items.

I've read lots of blogs and pins about bible journaling supplies and have always been a little overwhelmed.  I made the decision NOT to jump all the way in and spend a bunch of money to get started, so I want to share a very few basic things that I think are just right for getting started.  If you are a mega shopper and are ready to dive in and spend a little more, keep right on reading through the "Nice to Have" post as well.

1.  A pen that won't bleed through Bible pages: the list could almost stop here because everything else is something you could probably scrounge up from your house, your kid's backpack or the couch cushions.  My personal favorite is the Micron 05 (.45mm).  Micron comes in various sizes and colors (I also use an 03 and 08 regularly--the smaller ones are for detail work and not as helpful for lettering) and can be ordered or bought in some stores for $3-4 each.  A slightly cheaper alternative that works well for lettering and also does not bleed is a Sharpie pen.  This is NOT the Sharpie you have known your whole life.  The packaging on the pens has a specific "No Bleed" logo.  These also come in different colors and sizes at Walmart.  I personally like medium but fine is just fine.  Haha.  I'm something of a lettering purist and almost always use black pens but you should go for colors if they make you happy.

Micron on Amazon
Have-to-Have #1: an ink pen that won't bleed
2.  A happy pencil and a white eraser: while this is as simple as it seems, it's pretty important to note the adjectives.  "Happy" pencils have softer lead and don't dig a groove into paper and pages as you write.  For me, that's almost always a wooden pencil but I do have some mechanical ones that are happy.  It blew my mind when I realized that many of the people whose work I follow pencil stuff into their Bibles, letter over it with ink and then erase it.  Try it.  It works.  With the right pen, the lightest happy pencil writing you can muster and a good eraser, it's not visible once you erase.  Which brings me to the eraser adjective.  Every fussy teacher's worst nightmare is that eraser dust that is left behind with a bad eraser.  White erasers are made from something I don't know anything about but they will erase without smudging and don't leave (as much) eraser debris behind.  I prefer the clicky ones becuase I'm a middle schooler at heart.  Technically, there are mechanical pencils that come with white erasers that would accomplish both with one item.

Eraser Shown Below on Amazon
a happy pencil and a white eraser
3.  Colored Pencils: Even though I'm a lettering purist and prefer plain black lettering, I almost always add some sort of doodle with color to my pages.  The easiest place to start with color is a set of colored pencils.  The market for those ranges from the broken ones in your kid's backpack to Prismacolor, the soft, smooth Cadillac of colored pencils. Crayola Twistables come in colored pencil form and those are quite popular.  Colored pencils seemed kind of boring to me at first but can actually be blended to make unique colors and you can control the intesity of the color by simply adjusting how lightly you press.  I haven't had an art class since elementary school so some of the things that have been new to me are probably common knowledge to everyone else.  My own coloring pencils are mostly a no-name set I bought on sale at Hobby Lobby with a few Prismacolors I've splurged on along the way.
blending and variations on lighter/harder pressure

And that, dear friends, is how to get started Bible journaling for not very much money.  Stay tuned for some "Nice to Have" items.