Handmade art journals inspire me. They offer so much creative control and choice. You can determine the shape, size, and density of your art journal, and whether, and how, it is bound. You may use traditional bookbinding methods, or recycle materials such as old books or your own art. I hope this post will inspire you to try a number of these techniques. Let’s start by looking at one of my favorite handmade journals.
“Waiting” is a book I made many years ago, when I was waiting for someone who never really took the place in my life I was hoping for. (Does that sound familiar?) I love this book because with the combination of magazine cut outs, my own photos, special papers, and a few words, I really feel it captures my longing, misplaced hope, and disappointment.
For the base of the pages, I cut rectangles from a cardboard shipping box. I then layered a variety of tissue papers, handmade papers, and a thin sheet of bark “paper” I found at the art store. It has an incredible smell, giving the book another sensory dimension. Its texture is rough and yet smooth, and I love how the images and the bark play so well together, both in theme and color.
The other element that is special about this book is that I left it unbound. It’s a great metaphor for what happened (and didn’t) in the relationship. I like that the beautiful ribbon is what holds all the pages together.
Making Handmade Journals
1. An unbound journal, like the one pictured above, is unique. You can tie it with a ribbon or string, house it in a box, a shell, or any container. You can see beautiful examples of books contained in Altoids tins, seashells, and buttons (yes!) on my Pinterest board, Hand Made Books.
2. For a simple paper bound book, here’s a nice little infographic on binding a booklet.
3. Lunch bags and grocery bags are inexpensive (or free) and make a fun foundation for handmade journals. My lunch bag tutorial appears at the very bottom of the Art Tutorials page. The House that Lars Built, a fun, artsy DIY blog has a 5 – minute tutorial on making a journal from computer paper and paper grocery bags.
Judy Wise, a talented paper artist, takes the paper bag journal a step further by wetting and drying her pages, you’ll see the gorgeous transformation. You could do this too! What would you do with yours?
4. Coffee sleeves are another wonderful candidate for repurposing cardboard. Check out this post I did on making mini-art journals with coffee sleeves and a single sheet of computer paper.
5. Another fun and simple way to make a journal is using index cards. I show you how in this tutorial.
Advanced Handmade Journal Techniques
6. Alisa Burke never fails to instruct and inspire me. She has a wonderful post on making your own handmade journals with no sewing, using a gizmo called a “Bind-it-all.”
7. To make a traditional, hard-bound book, James Darrow’s detailed and user- friendly tutorial on bookbinding is a must.
8. Watch this super inspiring video about New Zealand book artist, Liz Constable – you will LOVE her creations. I got tons of ideas about techniques to try in my journal making.
9. For folks who like fabric, thread, and sewing, you will want to soak in these “journal quilts” from The Dyers Hand. You’ll be moved by the art, but even more so when you read how these gorgeous pieces helped her heal from the death of her husband.
10. “Junk journals” are a great way to use bits of old art pieces, beautiful papers, and magazine photo collages. This is a new handmade art journal, and I’m super excited about it because it brings together several pieces that never found a home. For this one, I used my sewing machine to stitch disparate bits of collage, paper, pretty cloth, and old drawings into “pages,” which I then sewed to the back “cover” of my book.How can paper, cloth, string, and images make such magic in an art journal? Click To Tweet
I am rather obsessed with beautiful paper and fabric. I love when they are so high quality that it’s hard to tell which it is. For example, the gorgeous red paper featured on this journal cover looks almost like leather to me. I think I had coated it with gel medium to harden it years ago when I first worked with the image. The Paper Source* or my local art store are where I usually indulge in handmade and high quality printed papers. Do you have a paper addiction?
Of course if you are feeling more inspired by the idea of making the art than making the journals, you can buy a journal at your local art and craft store or online art store. My current favorite journal is this one from Strathmore*.
Have I missed any wonderful handmade art journal techniques that should be featured? Be sure to let me know in the comments.
How to Get Started in Your Art Journal
Whether you are in need of inspiration to get started today, or to start your art journal for the first time ever, Starting Your Art Journal is a step-by-step guide to making your art journal and your creative practice, fun, freeing, and expressive. I know that finding the time and the courage to make art can be challenging.
Starting Your Art Journal is packed with examples from my own journals and step-by-step pictures and instructions on how to use your words and images to speak from the heart. I know art journaling can be an essential part of your creative self-care, one that you find so accessible and enjoyable that it’s hard to stop.
I think you’ll find, as I have, that once you establish this habit, you can’t help but come back to your art journal again and again, because it becomes a touchstone in your creative and self-care practices.
Here’s a little sneak peek at the Starting Your Art Journal e-book. Just click the page to download the PDF.
One of the other great things about this e-book is that you can be part of a wonderful, supportive Google + group where you can share your work, encouragement, and creative ideas.
You can buy your copy of Starting Your Art Journal, here, for just $3. Offer what it’s worth to you.
Please also hop over to Google + to register for my free online workshop, Make Your Own Beautiful Stamps, this Wednesday, September 2nd at 12 pm EST. (If you can’t make it at that time, just be sure to RSVP yes and you’ll be able to view the link when it’s convenient for you.) Stamp cutting is a passion of mine. I used to spend lots of money on stamps until I realized how fun, creative, and cost-effective making my own could be. Join me and I’ll show you how to make beautiful stamps for less than $1!
For more art and art journaling inspiration, follow me on Pinterest.
*Links with an with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. If you choose to click and purchase something, I will receive a small commission, while you pay the same price. Please know that I only link things that I really love. Thank you for your support!
What are you in love with creatively right now? What are your favorite ways of putting handmade journals together? Tell us about it in the comments. Just click the comments link right under the title of this post.