Tutorial: Envelope Journal

The journals I like to make best are ones with just a few pages. That way, I can fill them up quickly, and make another one. Like most people who make things, I often enjoy the design and creation more than using the actual finished piece. So I always leave room for the possibility of altering my work some more.

Envelope journal, centerMaterials: This tutorial uses simple things you already have: cardboard for the cover (I used mat board), number 10 size envelopes, masking tape, bookbinding tape (it’s expensive, you can substitute gaffers tape), cotton thread, a pointy awl and watercolors.

Purpose: This envelope journal has room to write in and room to keep a note, a concert ticket, or a photo along with the memory.

Envelope journal coverAssembly: 1. Cut black (or another solid color of mat board) into rectangles slightly larger (about one-fourth inch all the way around) than the envelope you will use. Put them next to each other, long sides together, but about one-quarter inch apart. Cut a piece of gaffers tape about 2 inches longer than the covers. Center the tape over the covers and place it down gently. Lift the covers, turn them over and smooth down the piece of tape at the top and bottom. Cut another piece of tape to cover the space in between the top and bottom overlaps. Cut it long enough so you have all the sticky part of the tape completely covered.

2. Lay two envelopes, flap side down, in front of you, side by side. They should be about one-eighth inch apart. Tape them together, the long way, using masking tape. Create three sets of these. If you want to have the envelopes face in different directions, take into account that these pairs of envelopes will nest.

3. Nest the pairs of envelopes and line up the top and bottom. Place them in the centerEnvelope Journal, open of the open book covers.

4. Using the awl, or a self-centering screw punch (you get them from a hardware store) punch four evenly spaced holes in the tape between the envelopes and book covers.

5. Thread a tapestry needle with cotton thread. It should be thick enough not to tear. Starting from the back of the book, come up through the top hole. Go down into the next hole, come up through the third hole, and down through the fourth. If you want to make your book sturdier, come back up through the third and work your way to the top. The needle should exit out of hole # 1. Tie the thread off and trim the ends.

6. Decorate the cover. Paint geometric figures on the plain side of the envelopes. Leave enough space for writing.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist, writer and certified creativity coach. She teaches art classes throughout Arizona. Images: Quinn McDonald. (c) 2008. All rights reserved.

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4 thoughts on “Tutorial: Envelope Journal

  1. Please, what is gaffers tape? Is it sticky on both sides??

    —-Gaffers tape is a strong, cotton woven tape used by theater people, photographers, and movie crews. (Gaffers is the name for the head of the lighting crew on a theater crew or movie set). It’s most often broad and matte black, although it does come in other colors. It is not double-sided tape–it’s sticky on one side only. -Q

  2. An alternative to this assembly is to stack the envelopes up with flaps towards the spine and bind through the crease in the envelope flap. You can still tuck the flaps into the envelope to close the envelope, the opening of the envelope is towards the spine so that fewer thing are lost from untucked envelopes (they’ll fall out towards the inside of the book) and it’s pretty cool looking, too.
    Love envelope books!

    —-What a great idea! I’ll have to try that–I’ll bet I can sew through alternating envelopes, left and right, with all the flaps in the middle. I can’t wait to try it! –Q

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