Crafting, Scrapbooking or Papercrafting Tutorial: Aluminum Foil Book Cover

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Have you always wanted to have a unique and personalized notebook? This tutorial shows you how to transform the cover of a simple hardcover notebook into a piece of grunge metal artwork. It’s a great method for creating stunning scrapbooks or notebooks. The technique is very old, but majorly effective and very easy to do, given the fact that the main element is a piece of aluminum foil from your kitchen drawer. You can use the same method for other surfaces such as wood, canvas, … you’re only limited by your imagination!


 Materials & Tools:

  • Small hardcover notebook (mine is about 6 x 4.5 inch / 15 x 11.5 cm)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Gesso
  • Mod Podge (the regular kind, matte)
  • Black acrylic paint + some other colours (optional)
  • Crafting paper with a nice pattern  (you can download one we designed for free if you’re subscribed to our FreeFLOW)
  • Old newspaper
  • Lace, rope, trims or die cuts for the relief embellishments
  • glue (I use Royal Talens Gel Medium)
  • Q-tips and cotton pads
  • Paper towels
  • brushes to apply glue, Mod Podge and paint

Are you curious about our most favorite tools & materials that you would love too? Take a look at our list.

Great tip

There are quite a few drying episodes in this project. As a timesaver I used a couple of markers to put above or under the pages. This way I could keep on working on one side as the other one was drying.

Book Cover Tutorial dry

Let’s get started

1. Things can get a bit messy with the paint and the glue, so it’s best to wrap the pages of your notebook in some newspaper, like a present. They’ll be like new once you unwrap them when all the work is done.

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2. Cut out a piece of aluminum foil that can cover your notebook with at least 2 inches / 5 cm extra on each side.

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3. Wrinkle the foil carefully. Keep wrinkling until you have the desired texture. This is a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?

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4. Spread the foil on a flat surface with your hands. Then flatten it with a brayer or a bottle (yes, mine still has balsamico in it) and lay aside.

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5. For the embellishments, I found a roll of plastic lace in a sort of dollar store shop. I never knew what to make with it until now. For one side of the notebook I just cut off a piece of lace, for the other side I trimmed two beautiful shapes out of the lace. You can also cut out cardboard images, or anything else. As long as what you use is kind of flat, it’ll work. Lay the embellishments aside.

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6.  Apply gesso to the cover and let it dry. This will create a good base to apply the aluminium foil to. It might not be necessary for all notebooks, but it would be a shame if your carefully created, intricate cover would fall off. So we’re not taking any risks.

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7. Adhere the embellishments to the cover with glue. In this case, I used Royal Talens Gel Medium, as it works really well. The embellishments will go under the foil.

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8. Apply glue to the outside of one side of the book cover and to the dull side of the aluminum foil that will cover it. The patch to which you apply glue on the aluminium foil should be a bit larger than the book.

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9. Put the gluey side of the book on top of the gluey side of the foil. Press firmly.

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10. Apply glue to the other side of the book and to the rest of the foil that will cover it.

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11. Wrap the foil over the book cover and press firmly on all surfaces, edges and the spine. Press on the embellishments as much as you can with your hands.

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12. Open the book and trim any excess foil. Leave about 1.5 inch / 4 cm on each side.

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13. Trim the corners, but don’t cut too close to the corner of the book. In the top and bottom middle of the aluminium foil, also cut slits to the edges of the spine.

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14. Apply glue and fold the flaps around the cover. Press firmly, paying special attention to the edges.

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15. Trim the spine flaps until there’s only 0.5 inch / 1 cm foil left on each side, apply some glue and tuck them into the spine with a cotton bud. If your notebook doesn’t have a spine to put the flaps in, just trim them completely.

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16. Your book doesn’t look very exciting yet, I know, but it’ll get better soon!

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17. Use cotton pads and q-tips to bring out the detail of your embellishments. Rub hard on, in and around the design. Take care not to tear the foil.

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18. Apply a coating of black acrylic paint all over the surface of the book. You can water it down a bit if you like.

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19. Now comes the fun part: while the paint is still wet, take a piece of paper towel and rub on the surface. This way the paint sticks in the corners and cracks, but it is removed from more superficial places. Don’t worry if you wipe off too much.

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20. This is the result so far, not bad at all:

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21.  What follows is according to your own taste. You can build up layers of paint, rub them off hard or gently and experiment with different colours. You could for example add more color to the edges, or you can experiment with a bit of drying time to get a deeper color. Feel free to add your own favourite method in the comments!

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22. When both sides of the cover are to your taste and have dried, you can repeat the process on the inside, and then on the outside edges of the book cover. Let everything dry completely before you continue.

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23. Cut two pieces of decorative crafting paper to size, for the inside of the cover. I left about 0.25 inch / 0.5 cm on the edges. If you’re subscribed to FreeFLOW, download some printable crafting paper we designed for free! Make sure to print these designs on thick paper if you want to use them for this project.

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24. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge on the inside of the cover. Let dry a bit for a few minutes. Then apply another fairly thin layer over the first one. In my experience this gives the best result with no bubbles or wrinkles.

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25. Take one of the crafting paper pieces and put it in place. I don’t apply Mod Podge to the back of the paper, as it tends to wrinkle then. Press and use your fingers to firmly push down the edges. You might have to stroke the edges a few times while drying. Repeat on the other side of the book.

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26. When both inside cover papers are glued firmly in place and are completely dry, it’s time to put a couple of fairly thin layers of Mod Podge on top of it. Don’t give in to the desire to apply a thick layer because the chances to make the paper wrinkle are higher. I think 3 thin layers work fine. Make sure you let each layer dry completely before putting on the next.

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27. When the inside of the book is done it’s time to tackle the outside. Since the outside is not paper you can put thicker layers of Mod Podge on it. Again, 3 layers work great. The Mod Podge completely seals the book, so no paint will ever come off and it feels great to hold.

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28. Your beautiful grunge metal scrapbook or notebook is now finished and ready to be filled with wonderful writings, drawings or scrapbooking artwork!

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If you have any tips or tricks of your own for this project, please add them in the comments, I’d be very happy to learn something new.

Have a wonderful day,



9 thoughts on “Crafting, Scrapbooking or Papercrafting Tutorial: Aluminum Foil Book Cover

  1. Michelle H. says:

    I LOVE this project idea…and certainly hope to try it out. I used to use a similar crumpled, painted tin foil technique to make tin foil angels! I love how rubbing off the paint makes the project resemble pewter–so cool. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration. LOVE your work!

    • Who would have thought such a prtety decoration could come from napkins? This inexpensive DIY wreath makes for a great, easy Christmas craft that looks gorgeous once complete. You can choose holiday themed napkins or think more outside the box with other prints. Check out the full tutorial here.

  2. Jane killin says:

    Looks fab! I think I will have a go ,but maybe try rubbing some gilding wax on over the paint around the embellishments. Bet this would look great on a mini album made with your book of spells papers… Mmm I bet you could stick down a raised cobweb die cut(maybe two stuck together if not thick enough) or that kind of thing under the foil… Brains going into overdrive lol. Great little tutorial ty x

    • says:

      So great that our tutorial is making you’re brain going into overdrive! That’s exactly what we want to accomplish every day. Enjoy, and when you have a project ready, send us some pictures.

      • I have used this little book How to joarnul your Life in my classroom for several years and used it with my own kids to help with creative expression. It has also helped me reach expressive heights and given great examples for me to share with my children and students. It’s quick and easy to follow Neat little book ..!! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Jen says:

    This is wonderful! Thank you. I followed all steps except the gesso & it seems great without it. I made a sketchbook as a gift with his initials. I used laser cut wood letters from Michaels. They worked so well! I can’t seem to attach a picture? 😕

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