Spirit Animals Storybook

When I was invited to be a guest artist for this month’s release of Hero Arts’ “My Monthly Hero” Kit, I was ecstatic: geometric layered stencils are a dream to play with! My brain was bursting with ideas and, when I got the stencils in my hands, my first instinct was to take out my Gelli Arts® gel plate.

Before I go into the details of my process, let me tell you that this is a Giveaway post! Hero Arts will give away one $50 gift card, drawn from the comments left across the hop. Enter by Sunday, April 11th at 11:59pm Pacific, and the winner will be announced on the Hero Arts blog the following week.

I used Golden Fluid Acrylics, limiting myself to two shades of yellow, one orange and one teal color. Depending on which color I brayered on first, and which stencil I added when in the printing process, my prints were either bold and bright or deep and subdued.

When I spread my 6×6 prints out on the floor side-by-side, they looked like a beautiful quilted mosaic which gave me the idea to cut them up and turn them into a mini-book.

I used Grafix Arts black chipboard to create a cover and spine (which I then covered with a separate, more subdued gel plate print), and did some stitching with my sewing machine on some pages. It was then just a matter of putting everything together. I used the dies to cut out silhouette images on black cardstock and created outlines with a white pen, following the designs on the stamps. I like how the black images pop against the colorful, robust backgrounds giving them a storybook appearance. I also used my Sakura Micron and gel pens to doodle on the pages, using the elements of the designs to guide my drawings.

To bring all of this under one theme, I decided to create words that described the imagery — attributes, if you will, of these woodland animals. I simply typed them up on my computer and printed them out. This nature-themed book feels so calming, inviting and reassuring all at the same time.

I finished binding and added a little ribbon accent, inviting you to engage with the book. Three little buttons hold the ribbon together on each end. The funny thing is that even though I’m not good (far from it!) when it comes to book binding, this has been holding together! There are lots of hand-drawn icons, words, embellishments and “things to notice” in this book, so I’m also adding the stills. I really enjoyed playing with the stencils and I know I’ll be reaching for them again for other whimsical projects (including but not limited to framed art for my kiddo’s room, wrapping paper, bookmarks, scarves and gift tags!).

I hope you enjoyed this project and will take the time to see the amazing things other artists and crafters have made as part of this release. Here is a complete list for the blog hop:

Hero Arts
Channin Pelletier
Daniel West
Debi Adams
Emily Midgett
Ilina Crouse
Jessica Frost-Ballas
Libby Hickson
Lydia Fiedler
Maria Willis
Mindy Eggen
Pocono Pam
Special Guests:
Jennifer Kotas
Jennifer McGuire
Mansi Bhatia * You are here
Nichol Spohr
Rachel Juanita Bellamy
Rebecca Keppel

For a list of my favorite supplies and tools, please visit my Amazon Store Front. When you shop using any of the affiliate links, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Published by mansimakes

Hi there, I am Mansi, a self-taught artist based in Silicon Valley. I was a full-time communications professional for two decades, with a desk job and a six-figure salary until I decided to become a mom. Motherhood, as many will attest, can be extremely exhausting, especially in those first years. Art became my quiet place. It restored my sense of self. It gave me renewed energy. It helped me become a better mom. I was led down the path of creation by instinct and “discovered“ in early 2019 by a fellow kindred spirit at one of my art pop-ups who asked me to join her entrepreneurial venture. While I immersed myself full time in the role of CFO and co-founder of this women-led venture supporting local women makers, I missed experimenting with mixed-media. So, in 2021, I've decided to focus my energies full time in finessing my craft, producing more online tutorials and offering in-person art workshops for both adults and children. Thank you for joining me on this adventure as I experiment, learn and continue creating custom pieces of joy.

94 thoughts on “Spirit Animals Storybook

    1. Thanks so much, Melissa. I really enjoyed working on this project…the stencils really gave me the creative jumpstart for the book. Appreciate your kind words and I hope you have a lot of fun making your book!

  1. What an exceptionally cool idea! I love the colors and the geometric vibe! It reminds me of the 60’s/early 70s – in a good way! I love the spirit animal idea – we can learn so much from animals!

  2. After reading the HA email announcing the kit, I had to immediately email them in order to find the artist who created the book! You had me with the book, but brought it to another level with “spirit animals.” (You might enjoy animal medicine cards – there’s a book that goes with them too.) I would love to know how you bound the book – or what site you used to start learning. (BTW, you speak in such a lovely way, and the background music/beat was a little distracting – not for everyone, but some of us whose brains jump to music over words have to keep pulling back to listen to the important part – which is your creation.) Thank you.

    1. Thanks a lot for your supportive words and feedback, Beth. I didn’t really follow any instructions or tutorials for this hardbound book…it was quite a process and I made a lot of mistakes. Since making this book, however, I have taken Lydia Fiedler’s book binding course and it has been a huge help. You can check it out here and if you like you can use referral code Mansi10: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeeBxSd0J7Z4CNPIQxqnclYaYX9cTi3rOLqWjc_eO2yi1odvw/viewform

      1. Thank you! Her class is on FB, and I’m not a member, but you’ve inspired me to find a simple binding class. I have a folded index card gel print book made in a class years ago at The Queen’s Ink in Savage, MD, and it’s still my favorite project, although I’m a card maker. It’s simply bound with linen tape and book board (?). So thank you for giving me an inspirational boost! And I’ll tell our direct, chatty cat who taps my leg when he wants something, that he’s supposed to be mysterious. 🐈

      2. Hi Beth, Lydia actually makes provisions for people not on Facebook to access her class videos. You’d just need to let her know beforehand so she can make sure you’re able to get access to the video even if you’re not on Facebook 🙂

        I made some tag books like the one you described. They were adequate but I’m so excited about the possibilities now that I’ve taken Lydia’s class to do more and do better!

        Also, I’m sure your cat already knows 😉

  3. This book is mind-blowing! So gorgeous and so innovative! Love it! Thank you for sharing!!
    Lori S in PA

    1. Wow, this is such a beautiful storybook. You’ve used this new kit in such a creative way.

  4. Absolutely stunning creation. You’ve used this set in a completely unique way – makes me want to try new things!

    1. Thanks so much, Sheila! My hope was to inspire folks to do something out of their comfort zone just to enjoy the process. I hope you try something new and have fun doing it 🙂

  5. Love the geometric shapes with the cute, simple animal figures. It is nice to see the consistent color palette. And you inspired me to make a teal paint my self.

    1. I love that you made your own teal! I rarely use colors straight out of the bottle when painting…the mixes are what lend the colors a unique energy. Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by 🙂

    1. This is really nice. I haven’t seen your stuff until today and you’ve definitely got a new a follower. Thanks for the still shots too, it really helps to see all the details

  6. How fabulous is all that color?! So vibrant! I love it! The first book I tried to make was quite the mess. And it took a long time to get everything cleaned up again. lol. I’ve never tried using a gelli plate, maybe I’ll give that a go. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you so much, Paula. I hope you try out a gel plate — it’s addictive and there are so many videos that can help guide you in the beginning…but it really is just a matter of leaning into your intuition and just playing. The process is the fun part! 🙂

  7. Wow, wow, wow!! I am blown away by your creativity in this beautiful little book!! I love your process as you talked about how you came to make it!!

    1. Patty, you’re very kind. Thank you so much! I certainly didn’t envision this becoming a book when I saw the stencils…I was just thinking patterned paper and some tags…but I think the spirit animals guided me into making something so unique and powerful.

  8. WOW!!! This is stunning!!! I have never seen anything done like this. Thank you for sharing!

  9. You made a tiny book! This must sound silly but that is new to me. I imagine it was a fun project.

  10. Such an awesome book! The colors are so vibrant. Love how you used the kit…
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. So nice to meet you! I enjoyed your You Tube video and had to check out some of your other videos to learn more about your gel plate usage. Your mini book is so amazing and fun. I have a gel plate that so far hasn’t been use- sad I know. It’s time to try! Thanks for all you inspiration.

    1. Thank you so much, Dorothy! I appreciate your checking out my other videos as well. I don’t blog as often as I add content to social media (where I post a LOT about gel plate printing) 🙂

  12. Breathtaking! I am amazed at the beauty in these books. Gel plate is such a free style and you are very talented. Fun Hero Arts kit!

  13. What a great little book! I love the single word attributes that you used. I can see doing a little alphabet book for kids using characteristics/attributes for each letter of the alphabet–something that kids could use to understand what each character trait really is. Thanks for sharing your crafting specialty! Really nice!

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy! Funny you say that about an alphabet book because I DID make one for my daughter last month! We had a deep conversation about why people only compliment her outward appearance but fail to acknowledge that she is also witty, funny or silly. If you’d like to have a look at it, here’s the video: Create your own powerful alphabet journal https://youtu.be/udIuQY4Xa78

  14. Wow! Thank you for sharing your creative way to create this amazing book.. great inspiration! 😊

  15. absolutely beautiful Mansi! love the idea of using stamps and die cuts for something other than just cards…I love making cards…but this takes it to a whole new level..love the geometric stencils on the gell plate…your book is stunning!!…now to roll up my sleeves…Thank you so much for the inspiration!!

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