Thursday, November 13, 2008

Altered Clipboards Tutorial

With the holidays coming up, I decided to post a tutorial for altered clipboards. These are great gifts for teachers, coaches, or really anyone. You can find plain clipboards in smaller sizes too, which are great for shopping lists. You can buy the white little legal pads at Target- they come in packs of 6 and are pretty cheap. I keep a small clipboard hanging in my kitchen for lists and one in the game closet for keeping score for games. To make a clipboard, here is basically what you need:

a plain clipboard (whatever size you want)
2-4 pieces of coordinating scrapbook paper
Mod Podge, available at any craft store (I usually buy the Paper version although I don't think it matters. It also comes in matte, glossy, and glitter.)
coordinating ribbon
any extra embellishments like rub-ons
foam brush
Fray Check, available in the sewing section at Walmart

To begin, cut your scrapbook paper to fit over your clipboard. I usually place the paper where I'll want it, then mark the paper with my fingernail before cutting it with a paper cutter. (High-tech, I know.) I always use 2-4 patterns of paper so it doesn't look so boring. You can arrange the paper in any way that you want it to be on the clipboard; I usually do horizontal sections. Its a little tricky cutting out the part where the clip is. I just measure where the clip starts, then eyeball it and cut it out. It won't be that noticeable if it isn't perfect. You can also use a corner rounder on the corners before you glue the paper on, or you can do it later with scissors if you don't have one.
Pour some Mod Podge on a paper plate, brush a coat onto the clipboard, and place the paper on top while it is wet. You have to place the paper on just right or it will be a mess trying to reposition. Just do it carefully, and you shouldn't have a problem. (Sorry the pictures show different clipboards; I was making two at a time.) Make sure you smooth out the paper with your hands. This is very important so you won't get bubbles underneath the paper! Just rub from the middle to the edges with your hands so that the paper lays smooth. Make sure the edges stick down well- you can always add a dab more glue underneath if needed. Clean up any excess glue with a wet paper towel before it dries. Do this each time you glue another paper onto the board. Don't overlap the papers; cut them so that they will meet without a lip. Gluing the paper at the top of the clipboard is also a little tricky. You have to hold the clip open while you brush the Mod Podge on.
Once your paper is glued to the board, make sure that there isn't any paper overlapping off of the board. If there is, just take some scissors and trim the excess. You can also cut the corners off of the paper at this time. Let it dry for a few minutes; it doesn't take long. If you put a coat over the top when the bottom is wet, the paper will be too wet and you will get bubbles.
Now you can brush a thin layer of Mod Podge over the paper. Try to keep the strokes going in the same direction, because you might be able to see it when it dries. I go horizontally; I find it's just easier. Lift the clip and get in the corners as well. Let that dry for a few minutes.

When the board is dry, you can add any rub-ons. I have also used acrylic paint and foam stamps to personalize it with someone's name or initial or to add a word like love or family. If you are stamping it, I recommend another light coat of Mod Podge over the stamp to seal it.

You can also add any decorations to the clip with Zots or hot glue. I sometimes use scrapbooking embellishments or buttons.

Now for the ribbon. Make sure you have a good variety of colors, textures, and widths. I like to have rick rack, grosgrain, and organza on hand. Loop the ribbon through the hole and tie a double knot, leaving it long enough to trim. Keeping tying all of the ribbons you have chosen onto the clip, separating similar colors and styles. If you get one of those clipboards with a bar clip going across the top, you can either tie some ribbons to one of the sides if the clip or do the whole clip, but that will take a lot of ribbon. Trim the ribbon so that it's not hanging over the clip onto where you will be writing and then apply Fray Check to the ends.

And there you have it! This clipboard is for Jonah's preschool teacher. She seems to be someone who likes things simple, so I didn't deck it out too much. I almost put her name across the bottom, but decided to just do the flowers instead.
You can get as crazy as you want with the decorations; I like my clipboards to be functional, so I usually keep it minimal. But if you are going to hang it on a wall and just clip a picture to it, you can get more fancy. Remember that if you put ribbon or other stuff in the middle of the clipboard, it might affect your writing while using it. Here are a few other clipboards I have made:
Here's the one I have hanging up in my kitchen. I need to trim those ribbons shorter!


  1. Those are super cute. I'm gonna have to make me one! And, one for the teacher(s) too! : ) Thanks for the great idea!

  2. Cute! You really have been working on stuff. Glad you're back to posting.

  3. Ooh clipboards i love those things! Thats for mine and the one you helped me make! I use them in my room. the little one is hanging up.

  4. Connie, you ought to consider selling those on ETSY. You could make a killing on all the stuff you make.

  5. AWESOME! Thanks for sharing this super easy idea! Can't wait to try it!

  6. Those are soo cute. I bought all the stuff to make them, now I just need to do it! How do you make your tutu's? I was thinking of making some for Christmas presents. They look pretty easy, but I thought I would ask you since you have made some and they are so cute too.

  7. Those are super cute! I absolutely love them. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  8. Wow this is great. I am glad you showed this. I have been wanting to do some notebooks this way. I feel so inspired.

  9. I hope you don't mind me commenting on your blog, I found this through Camie's, via through Emily Mortensen's blog. I am an avid blogger myself. I have a few clipboards laying around, mod podge and lots of neat scrapbook paper. thanks for the wonderful idea.

  10. Those clipboards are great...(I'm a friend of your Mom's and she told me about thes clipboards yesterday!) I love all of your other fun projects as well!