Links to useful places about journals:
Here’s a great video showing how to make a gusseted pocket on the inside cover of your journal.
Want help on writing on that blank first page?
My other website, Raw-Art-Journals, is for journal keepers who can’t draw.
You can create your own custom-made journals and covers with a little ingenuity and almost no money. If you already enjoy collage, scrapbook, or other paper arts, you have all the materials you need.
If not, all you need to get started is a pair of scissors, some good glue (I like Golden’s Matte Medium), a 1-inch paint brush (the kind you get at a paint store, not an art store) and some interesting papers–you can use old maps, pages from abandoned books, even cut-outs from magazines.
What makes these journals easy is the Circa rings. You will need a special punch. The portable one is about $30; the tabletop one is about $60. Or, simply use a regular hole punch and use the smallest binder rings available.
Warning: Rollabind also makes those disks, but I can’t recommend them after reading the horror stories about non-delivery and non-communication. Even the BBB rates them with an F and has an alert out about them. The Ripoff report has a steady stream of complaints that go back several years and are added too almost weekly.
I first made the journal by cutting a rectangle of light cardboard 1/8-inch larger than the sheet of paper I wanted to use. (In this case, the paper is pre-punched and from Levenger’s. It’s nice paper stock and you can write on it with markers, felt-tips, and fountain pens.)
Before I punched the holes, I covered the covers with papers. On the front cover, I used pages from antique doll-house books I found at a yard sale. Coat the entire cover with matte medium, lay the pages on it, and as you put down each page, paint over with more MM. Once I had them all down, I painted several layers of Matte Medium over the completed piece, allowing it to dry between each coat. Three coats should do it.
On the inside, I used art paper, marbled with inks. Simply coat the entire inside cover, place a piece of marbled paper over it and trim to fit. Easy-peasy. If you want to finish the edge of the cardboard nicely, use a chisel-end marker and run it over the edge of the paper.
I added an old library due-date-card holder, again, I found it at a yard sale, although you can now purchase new ones at teachers supply stores. I have the real library card in it, and use it as a bookmark, although you can easily store some punched index cards for notetaking.
Don’t have a Rollabind punch? Here is a link for making covers without any punch at all: Mutant Journals are journal covers made from unlikely, but not uncommon item.
Another Mutant Journal is made with wildly inked and resist watercolor paper. I even give you the name of the poem, so you can enjoy that, too!
You can make these covers from a variety of papers to suit your mood. The papers are expensive, so I made a protective coat for my journal. In addition to being waterproof, it protects the journal cover when I toss it in my bag.
Take a used Tyvek envelope (Fed-Ex or Priority Mail envelopes) and place the journal so the edge with the rings lines up with the short, unopened end of the journal.
Mark where you want to cut the envelope, using the journal as a template. While the journal is in place, mark where the rings are, so you can punch them to match the existing journal.
I put a tab on it, so it would fold over the journal if I’m carrying it in the rain or writing outside on just-washed coffee-house tables, or one that has ice-tea rings on it.
Cut out the shape. Cut open the bottom if it was part of the edge of the envelope, but do not cut open the back. Leave it joined and punch the holes. Doing this creates a spine that is more protective than two separate sheets.
I sewed a button on the cover side, and cut a slit in the flap. Now the journal shuts and I can toss it in my bag. It’s not beautiful, but I don’t need it to be. I need it to protect the journal cover, and it does a wonderful job.
Want more articles on journaling? Visit this page, you’ll find a list of links.
–Quinn McDonald is an artist, writer and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com All images, Quinn McDonald. (c) 2007 All rights reserved.
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