It’s so easy to make your own mixed media art journals, diaries for self-reflection, notebooks for to-do and grocery lists, planners with calendar pages, notepads for phone messages, custom sketchbooks with sheets of watercolor and drawing paper, books with envelopes as the pages…the possibilities are endless and the more you make the more ideas you’ll have! Best of all, the shape, size, and thickness are entirely up to you. And they’re inexpensive, too.
I love to make simple books to give as gifts and I use a lot of them around the house, especially in the studio. I keep them in the car and in my purse. The more, the merrier.
This project couldn’t be easier. It’s about decorating front and back covers and adding the inside pages. Done! I leave high-end bookbinding to others.
The easiest way to make simple journals and note pads is to start with standard size papers, index cards, or envelopes. That way there are no pages to cut – just the two covers.
(Here I go again with my mantra: Easy isn’t cheating…)
There are many simple-to-use and affordable punching and binding systems for this kind of book – disks, wires, coils, rings. You'll find the Cinch from We R Memory Keepers at The Queen’s Ink!
Instructions for the Painted Leaf Journal:
1. Randomly paint heavyweight paper with paints in shades of gold, rust, teal, and metallic gold. Use long strokes; allow colors to overlap. Let paper dry. Hand- or die-cut a bunch of simple almond-shaped leaves. Design Detour - The size and number of leaves you’ll need depends on the size of the journal you’re making. If you draw a lot of branches or are using small leaves you’ll need more than six.
2. Add sparkle to the leaves with chunky glitter, randomly applied over wet glue.
3. Cut pieces of mat board for the front and back covers. (Shown: Light ivory) Edge both cover pieces with a gold metallic paint pen. Use the same paint pen to draw a vertical branch on the front cover. Glue the leaves in place, clustered in trios as shown or as you prefer. (Tip: Plan and practice the branch on a piece of copier paper before working on the mat board if you’re not confident about working directly on the cover. Draw a very light pencil guideline if needed – the gold paint is opaque and will cover your guideline.
4. Arrange the inside pages. (See ‘Design Detour’ right above the supply list.) Following the punching/binding system manufacturer’s instructions, bind the journal. Design Detour – Pages can be all the same size or you can vary them. You can include tabbed pages, contrasting color pages, a few envelopes, or whatever you want!
Instructions for the Skeleton Leaf Collage Journal:
1. Cut pieces of mat board for the front and back covers. Design Detour – This journal has standard 4” x 6” index cards and coordinating tabbed dividers for pages; covers measure four and three-eighths by six so the tabs aren’t visible when the book is closed.
2. Create a torn paper collage for the front cover that includes at least one large skeletonized leaf. Add a final layer of lightweight mulberry paper to unify the colors in the collage and protect the leaf. I used USArtQuest Perfect Paper Adhesive - Matte (PPA) to adhere and seal all layers. Option: Create a second collage for the back cover. Design Detour – To echo one of the colors in the collage, line the covers with solid color paper or paint in a matching hue. I chose bright red!
3. Arrange the inside pages. Following the punching/binding system manufacturer’s instructions, bind the journal.
Design Detour for BOTH of the journals –
If you’re using only one kind of paper for the pages there’s no need to ‘arrange’ them, but if you’re alternating plain and tabbed pages or different colors, or lined and unlined, then you need to put them in whatever order makes sense to you! For example: Smaller pages first or all envelopes at the front of the book, or alternating lined and unlined pages, etc.
- Heavyweight smooth finish paper (for painted leaves)
- Mat board or chipboard (for journal covers)
- Broad nib paint pen in Gold (opaque gold)
- Paints and paintbrush
- Chunky glitter
- Perfect Paper Adhesive – Matte
- Optional: Leaf die
- Skeletonized leaf or leaves
- Assorted collage papers including lightweight (translucent) mulberry paper
- Paper, index cards, or envelopes (for inside pages of journals)
- Binding system of choice