Making The Commonplace Journaling

We’ve talked a lot about Commonplace Journals, and I thought it might be a good idea to show you mine. The purpose of a Commonplace Journal is to record items you need to remember, everything from the name of a book to an idea for a future art project. It’s not formal, it’s not meant to show to others or as a brag book. It’s your memory, your imagination, and the garden of your muse.

To hold my Commonplace ideas, I bought a hand-made journal from Val Bembenek. She makes wonderful, traditional Japanese-bound journals, about 8-1/2 inches  x 5-1/2 inches, with horizontal orientation. Val ties non traditional buttons on the front as decoration. She also uses paper bags as covers.  (You can buy them from her via email, too.) This one has a wine bag front cover and a bread bag back cover. Perfect combination!

FrontCover

I’m not showing you the front page, which is the same in all my books–the two crossed, curved arrows, and my email address so I can get the book back if I lose it. Because I travel with my Commonplace Journal, it has to fit in my bag. I generally put items in with a glue stick (which I normally hate, but hey, when you are on the road, you have to use what you have).

Page1and2

On the left side is the map to the hotel I was staying in. The hotel was great, with a fridge and microwave, but the complex was, well, complex. Thank goodness for the map. On the right side is information about the kinds of paper we made ad two samples. The page is dated, so I know when I made the papers.

Page3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I was in Tucson taking the class, I stopped by an art store and bought some Neocolor II watercolor crayons by Caran D’Ache. On this page I rubbed the crayons and then showed the color and texture, both wet and dry and wrote the name and number next to it. If I buy some more (I may not be able to resist), I’ll have the number of the ones I already have, and I’ll add the new ones to this page.

PAGE4

When I went to Las Cruces, someone was handing out flyers for Earth Day. This was a good way to get the date right and remind me of the activities I participated in–including a film festival.

DemoPageThe ticket for the film festival is on the left, and a bit about the interesting documentaries about life along the backbone of travel (the Camino Real) in early New Mexico. On the right are the parking lot tickets for the days I was demonstrating at The Women’s Expo in Phoenix. I created marbled papers for Arizona Art Supply (and I’ll be doing local demos in June and July and teaching there in July, August and September!) More about that later this week.

You can see that this is a notebook is the real sense of the world. There is nothing beautiful about it, but it is practical and useful.

newpaperPageOne of my big rants is young girls dressed up to be sexy. I found a great quote in the paper from a mother who addresses her daughter’s threat that she will just change to the clothes she wants to wear after she arrives at school. That’s on the left, with some marbled paper. On the right is a quick collage I put together with some phrases about the underwear women wear as outerwear and the stiletto with the phrase “it pays” as part of the image. It was satisfying to make the collage, although the composition is not excellent design.  The pages can be cut up to use in another collage. Great way to store pre-made design elements.

KettleSTitchHave you ever tried to remember where you saw that article you need now? You can remember the side of the page it was on, but not the book or magazine. I’ve lost hours thumbing through my iPad, books and magazine stash, looking for that phrase, reference, or stitch. I’m working on a book of handmade papers, but it’s number four on my to-do list. I’ll need that kettle stitch to hold the signatures together. So I drew out the part of the stitch I forget, then added the page number and name of the book so I can find it when I need it.

BackcoverThe back cover of the book. I have many pages to write on before it’s done, but when it’s filled, it will be a useful reference book as well as reminder of when I did what.

If you are keeping a Commonplace Journal, leave a link in the comments, so we can visit others as well!

--Quinn McDonald is enjoying Memorial Day weekend in art projects. But she’s getting back to work on Monday. She’s a ghost writer for several blogs, and they are due this week.

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21 responses to “Making The Commonplace Journaling

  1. I only had a Somewhatcommonplace journal in 2011 for magazine clippings but still used the planner for ticket stubs and such.
    And about world domination all I can say is … Narf!

  2. My everyday, in-the-bag book can hardly be caled a journal. It’s one of Diana Trout video inspired duct tape journals that I went on to make with some kids (9 – 12 years). I like the fact that I can replace the pages and keep ones I still need.

  3. I used to write this sort of thing on bits of paper…and then lose them. Now I use a journal…but yours is so much nicer than mine.

  4. How do you remember where you’ve put something in your Commonplace Journal?

    • Or even worse, how do you remember where you’ve put your Commonplace Journal? :-)

    • Good Question. Easy answer–on the last page of the journal, there is an Index. The book is in date order, and the index by topic. OK, now that you asked, sigh, I’ll have to admit that I also create tabs for the books that are color coordinated throughout other journals. Blue is for Book Arts, for example.

  5. Seriously, blogs have *ghost writers*? I had no idea. Why? Is it a job, or a favor, or another way to further your agenda of world domination (oops, if that was supposed to still be a secret, sorry).

    • Lots of businesses have blogs as a way to link characteristics of the business to benefits for clients. Many times, professionals (attorneys, doctors, dentists) have no idea how to speak to people in a conversational tone. As a former technical writer (science and financial), I can often cross that gap. (Explaining why it’s good to make a will before you are dying or discussing why diabetics should floss their teeth more often than non-diabetics). It’s a form of freelance writing. It supports my art habit. I TOLD you not to mention world domination again until the minions are gathered!

  6. Thanks for sharing! What a clever idea that vine in the front and bread in the back. Only some cheese missing. ;)
    Here’s the link to some pages from my commonplace books: http://valkoinenponi.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/a-commonplace-book-so-thats-what-its-called/

    • Your Commonplace Journal is very cool–I love the kind of information that sets off a thought and an idea until it becomes a project! I’m still looking up meanings of that song–and you are right, it is really, really old!

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