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Road trip memories with a vintage suitcase tag book--Part One

Hello! I'm Betsy Skagen of Paper Calliope and I'm thrilled to be joining the Altered Pages Design Team. Just before I joined the team, my family embarked on a quintessential American roadtrip traveling across Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and South Dakota.

We saw some of the United States' most beautiful landscapes and national parks including Glacier National Park; Yellowstone; the Grand Tetons; the Badlands of North and South Dakota; and Mount Rushmore before returning to Minnesota, the beautiful land of 10,000 lakes.

Since we are never ones to do things the easy way, we squeezed into two adults, two teens, a 12-week-old Golden Retriever puppy and a 90-pound bluetick coonhound (who did not want to be in the same state, let alone the same car, as the puppy). What's more, at least three of the occupants have ADHD, which could make managing the puppy's behavior seem like a walk in the (dog) park.

Crazy? Maybe. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I'm so glad we had the chance to give our kids the opportunity to experience the U.S.'s expansive and diverse landscape in such a up close and personal way.

To help preserve memories from this trip I made a vintage suitcase tag album using the incredible digital downloads available at Altered Pages.

Tutorial to make Vintage Suitcase Tag Book

Step 1 Find an old box and paint the outside with brown acrylic paint. I used an old box that I had been hanging onto for about 10 years. It had a lovely design on the inside that made a perfect lining for my suitcase. If your box is plain on the inside, I suggest lining the box with decorative cardstock or collages from AlteredPages after painting the outside of the box.  (collages can be digitally downloaded or printed on your favorite type of papers including vellum, transparency and even sticker paper!)

Step 2 Crumple several sheets of Glassine paper (envelopes, cut open) and rub with Ink pad. Cut the papers to fit your box, leaving enough extra so  you can wrap a small amount over the edge to the inside of the box. Cover both back side of the paper and the outside of the box with a matte medium. Place the paper on the box and smooth into place.  

Step 2 Take the cover of an old photo folder and cut a strip approximately 3/4 inch wide x 6 inches long. Crumple this strip in your hand, then use a utility blade to further distress the strip. /First rub Truffle Ink or Peanut Brittle over the strip. Then rub Black Ink all over it, making sure you saturate the cracks and crevices. Wipe off the extra ink with a tissue. This will give you a handle that looks like it is made from old leather.

Some unknown relative of mine was happy to help out by donating her picture frame to the project.  

Step 3 Use a tin snips to cut apart two small triangular latches in order to create the base for your handle. Use a pliers to bend the tip of the latch downward to a straight position. Use alcohol inks or AlteredPages waxes in assorted coppery and brown colors to age the metal. 

Step 4 Use Aleens Fabric glue a metal piece onto each side of the leather handle. When dry attach the hardware through the leather strip to the box. 

Step 5 Apply alcohol ink to two smaller latches. When dry, screw the latches to the box. 

Step 6 Print Have a Great VacationState of MaineState Stamps 2361American Travel and Vintage Cowboys from Altered Pages with your ink jet or laser printer. Cut out the graphics you want to use, tear some of the edges and run an ink pad along the edges. Adhere these "labels" to the outside of the suitcase with matte medium.  (or use AlteredPages Travel Tags

Step 7 I was lucky enough to find an old unused album insert that had been sitting around my studio for years. If you don't have one you can purchase one or make your own using cardstock. Next, use circular motions and a blending tool to apply assorted colors of ink to each page. 

Step 8 Cut out more graphics from Altered Pages. I also used additional graphics from my personal collection. Ink the edges and adhere to the pages.  

Here are the finished pages below. You can also see a sneak peek of the unfinished tags, which I will feature in Part Two of the series later this month. 

Magnificent stuff I used

Assorted alcohol inks
Metal hardware
Memory book interior


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  1. Great tutorial Betsy! Love your altered box and journal! Also it sounds like you had a memorable trip that you won't soon forget. :-)

  2. I love this project! I'll be keeping an eye out for a suitable box. :)

  3. Betsy, amazing job with simple tools and supplies. Love that this has become a treasure of travel memories to keep.

  4. The Glassine looks amazing on your box and I just love your little album - great travel story too!

  5. lovely! glad everyone survived the trip! xo

  6. Very fun travel album, and full of great memories!


  7. What a great tag book with such great surprises inside!

  8. What a great tag book with such great surprises inside!

  9. What a great tag book with such great surprises inside!

  10. What a unique and wonderful way to store the memories from your trip! I love it!

  11. This is just awesome Betsy! I always love your tutorials.


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