Doodling on pencil cases, stickers on laptop sleeves, artistic drawings on notebooks: if there’s one thing teens do really well, it’s personalising their stationery and belongings. So they should! Expressing yourself is a rite of passage for teenagers. 

We asked 15-year-old Sydney high-schooler Jemima Grimmer, who is going into Year 11, to show us some of the ways she personalises her stationery for school. “​​Having fun school supplies is a staple of getting through a bad school day!” she says. “Sometimes, just having a fun notebook can not only put you into a better mood, but also motivate you to work more. Customising your school supplies is always a fantastic way to express yourself through your school kit (especially if your school has a strict uniform policy!).”

“The diversity of options and ways to DIY means anyone can add something fun, even if it’s just small, and you can also make great gifts for friends,” she says. “And, if everyone has bland binders and folders, why not stand out with something more ‘you’?”  

Using everyday supplies – paint markers, pens, and stickers – Jemima transformed her off-the-shelf school supplies into bold, beautiful and bright items that stand out from the crowd. Here, she shares how she did it. 

How to Personalise Notebooks and Exercise Books

Personalise your school notebooks with POSCA markers.

“Notebooks are a huge school staple and encompass everything from planners and diaries to English and Math workbooks,”Jemima explains. “POSCA markers are one of the quickest and most effective ways to make a personalised notebook, and even the most simple of doodles can look amazing!”

Step 1: Use a pencil to draw out fun shapes and lines and make sure they overlap in lots of places. It's important that you leave yourself lots of room for colouring, so keep the overlaps big.

Step 2: Choose a POSCA marker and start colouring in a section of your design. To avoid making mistakes, it’s helpful to outline the shape you’re about to colour in so you have a guide because it's easy to get confused.

Step 3: Make sure none of the shapes that are next to each other end up the same colour as it will spoil the overlapping effect.

Step 4: Switch colours as much as you like and feel free to experiment with the different colours to create cool effects such as red and blue overlapping to create purple.

Step 5: Once your design is finished, go back over and neaten up any spots you may have missed.

Hot Tip: If you're colouring over any writing or information and it is still showing through on your notebooks, wait for the colour to dry and then do more layers until the colour is opaque. Usually 2-3 layers is enough

Step 6: Cover the notebooks in contact to preserve your work from water damage or wear and tear.

What You’ll Need

For personalised notebooks that are bright and fun, use POSCA markers.

How to Personalise a Backpack

Hand paint beads to use in charms to create a personalised backpack.

“When you look around school, often you’ll see kids with all sorts of things hanging off their backpacks, but it’s often hard to find things that you really like. That’s why making your own is so much better,” says Jemima. “You can choose exactly how you want it to look. Mixing and matching beads combined with hand-painted ones gives your personalised school bag charm a completely unique design that no one else will have.”

Step 1: Place the colours you want to use on your paint pallet.

Step 2: Use the end of your paintbrush to paint dots or smaller details onto beads. You can place your beads on the end of a spare paintbrush to allow easy painting.

Step 3: Make sure your beads are completely dry before you start laying them out.

Step 4: Before you start threading your beads on, place them out onto a table or flat surface in the order you’d like to use them in your design. You can use alphabet beads to spell your name, a fun phrase or maybe a song lyric you like.

Step 5: Cut a piece of thread that is double the length you’d like your charm to be, you can always trim it at the end.

Step 6: Thread your beads onto the string and tie it onto your backpack. Make sure the knot is secure.

What You’ll Need

Use paints and beads to create charms for your personalised school bag.

How to Personalise a Pencil Case

Use fabric paints, fabric markers and iron-on transfers to personalise your pencil case.

“It’s often difficult to find a pencil case you really love, so why not make it yourself?” says Jemima. “Experimenting with different mediums like fabric paint, fabric markers and iron-on transfers (or even all three) gives you endless possibilities to explore and create! Mix colours and motifs to create something entirely custom.”

Iron On Transfer

It’s easy to express yourself using iron on transfers to personalise your pencil case.

Step 1: Follow the directions on the packaging to print out a design of your choice on the transfer, experiment with photographs or artworks you like.

Step 2: Iron or smooth your pencil case so it’s easy to work with.

Step 3: Follow the directions on the packaging to apply your transfer and enjoy your design!

Fabric Paint

Step 1: Iron or smooth your pencil case so it’s easy to work with.

Step 2: Place a piece of card or scrap paper inside the pencil case to prevent paint bleeding through to the other side.

Step 3: Pencil in your design before you start, or feel free to freehand it.

Step 4: Choose a colour scheme and practise using the fabric paints on a spare piece of paper or fabric.

Step 5: Now create your design on the pencil case with the fabric paints. Using a brush if you’re covering larger surfaces saves paint and time.

Hot Tip: Use a hairdryer to speed up the drying time for the paint.

Fabric Markers (see group image above)

Step 1: Start out with a red pen and draw a squiggly line across the pencil case. Try to create a few larger and smaller lines, but make sure each line either connects up in a loop or reaches the edges of the pencil case.

Step 2: Take the colour next to the one you just drew in rainbow order. (In this case orange or another red) and draw another line right next to the red line so they are touching. Do this for both sides of the red line.

Step 3: Repeat this process, going through all your colours until you have got to the last one.

Once you have finished the last colour, you should repeat the whole process backwards so it fades back out to red again. Continue this until your whole pencil case is covered in rainbows that melt together.

What You’ll Need

Use fabric markers and fabric paints to create a unique personalised pencil case.

SEE ALSO: The Best Eco-Friendly Products for Your Back-to-School Shop

How to Personalise Ring Binders and Folders

Express yourself with a personalised ring binder folder using Officeworks paint and washi tape.

“As you move into more senior years at school, you’ll most likely be carrying a binder full of notes and worksheets. But usually they are really boring,” says Jemima. “By making a personalised ring binder folder you not only have something way more fun to use, but it will never get mixed up with the ones everyone else has. Painting is super fun and you can design anything, but if that’s not your thing, washi tape is an effective way to get some personality into your binder without spending loads of time on it.”

Painted Binder

Step 1: Sketch out your design with a pencil before you begin painting if you want, otherwise freehand it.

Step 2: Squeeze your paints into the pallet and mix out a pale blue for the sky using a small amount of blue and white.

Step 3: Cover the top two thirds of the binder with this colour.

Hot Tip: Mix a bit of water with your paints to stop them from drying out, and to make the paint easier to work with.

Step 4: Next, paint all the clouds and the rainbow with white paint, this will help the colours of the rainbow stand out. Feel free to do multiple coats if the paint is not opaque enough.

Step 5: Now, mix a sea green colour by combining the pale blue you mixed earlier with a small amount of yellow, adding in more paint in small amounts until you get a colour you like.

Step 6: After the first layer is dry, use this sea green colour to paint the bottom third of the binder, creating a horizon.

Step 7: Finally, using a variety of colours, paint in a rainbow across the front of the binder.

Hot Tip: When the paint is dry, you can use a clear varnish or contact if you're worried about your design being damaged, but it's not necessary.

Washi Tape Binder (see group image above)

Step 1: Cut long pieces of washi tape that have extra length to go over either side of the binder.

Step 2: Carefully stick your washi tape down, making sure to keep the lines straight.

Step 3: Experiment with different arrangements of colours.

Step 4: Once you’re finished, wrap the extra washi tape around the inside of the binder to create a neat finish.

What You’ll Need

What you’ll need to make a personalised ring binder folder for school: paints and washi tape.

SEE ALSO: How to Make the Most of a Study Group

How to Personalise Your Desk Items

Express yourself with personalised stationery, including magazine files and storage boxes.

“Your desk, while often neglected, remains the powerhouse for learning. By creating a nice space, you feel more motivated to study and get to surround yourself with unique organisers made to express yourself.” says Jemima. “I chose to do a collage style that incorporates bright colours and simple shapes, but the idea can be expanded so much further.” Embrace creativity and use your imagination. 

Step 1: Pour out some craft glue into your paint pallet and mix it with some water to dilute it.

Step 2: Spread this water-glue over the surface you want to cover and carefully place a single sheet of tissue paper down, gently smoothing out the biggest wrinkles.

Step 3: Once this is done, you can tuck the extra tissue paper around the edges and glue it down to neaten your design.

Step 4: Next, draw some circles and stars onto coloured cardstock and tissue paper and carefully cut them out. Arrange them in a way you like and start glueing them down with a glue stick.

Step 5: After you’ve glued everything down and it is completely dry (use a hairdryer to speed this up), you can spray the whole thing with clear varnish to protect the design, but this is optional.

Hot Tip: You could vary this by experimenting with different shapes and colours as well as layering.

What You’ll Need

How to Personalise Your Laptop Case/Phone Cover

Create a unique personalised laptop case design or personalised phone case with printed stickers.

“As many high schools move towards more digital schooling, our laptops and devices are becoming a larger and more important part of our learning” says Jemima. “Going sticker-crazy and personalising your laptop case is nothing new, but printing out your own stickers puts a new spin on the idea! Your laptop is possibly the most important school item in your bag, so it’s also important that you enjoy using it every day.”

Step 1: Use the sticker printer paper to print out any pictures or photographs you’d like as stickers.

Step 2: Carefully cut them out.

Step 3: Before you stick anything down, clean the laptop case.

Step 4: Begin attaching your printed stickers to the laptop cover in any way that suits (or you can plan out the composition before you stick them down).

Step 5: Then fill in the spaces with ready-made stickers from sticker sheets until you’re happy with how it looks.

Hot Tip: You can use the same method to decorate a clear phone case to personalise your phone.

What You’ll Need

Use a mix of readymade stickers and printed stickers to create personalised laptop cases and personalised phone cases.

SEE ALSO:  Fun, Cool, Cute: Kawaii Stationery for Tweens & Teens