Tutorial: Easy Travel Journal

The journals I like to make best are ones that are multi-purpose and not too big. That way, I can use them in creative ways, 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, centerTravel journal made of #10 envelopes. You can fill the envelopes with airline tickets, menus from interesting restaurants, receipts,  whatever you want to keep from your trip. You can use one envelope for each day, for each country, for each town.

You can draw or write notes on the envelopes, describing how you got the content of each envelope. Make it before you go, and you won’t lose those small pieces of paper. Make a few, and you won’t run out of envelopes.

Materials: 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 mementos, but that doesn’t mean you can’t draw on it, too.

Envelope journal cover

Assembly: 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 one piece of 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.

* gaffers tape is the special tape electricians use in theater productions. Not as gooey as duct tape, it makes a cheaper alternative to bookbinding tape, which you can also use.

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 journal making. Images: Quinn McDonald. (c) 2008-9 All rights reserved.

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