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Making Art Journals: Journaling and Binding

Art Journal Ideas from Kelley SpurgeonJournal from artist Kelley Spurgeon, featured in the Summer 2013 issue of Pages

From the Cloth Paper Scissors Team, by Barbara Delaney

Whether you're new to art journals or someone who has always had a journal (aka the diary of your youth), an art journal takes on many roles. Both new and seasoned artists have expressed the importance of keeping a journal. Some people use a journal as a to-do or memo book. Others use a handmade journal to write down things they hear or see that touch and/or inspire them. Some artists try out ideas, products, and techniques in their journals. And still others have a separate journal for each of the above uses.

In the January/February 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Artist Julie Fei-Fan Balzer speaks to the importance of keeping a sketchbook (or journal). Julie happens to be one of those people who works in a number of journals at the same time, and often more than one in any given category. Julie never gets rid of her journals, as she says, "It's fascinating to see the changes or even be re-inspired."

Julie's tips for how to make an art journal:

  • Don't buy a new journal. A new, empty notebook or journal can add to the pressure to create.
  • Fail gloriously. What's the worst that could happen? More importantly, what's the best? You might just discover something amazing along the way.
  • Leave your expectations behind. Embrace whatever comes your way. Grab hold of whatever seems to be working [for you] and run towards it.
  • Choose a daily project. Try to make art every day.
Mixed-Media and Art Journal Techniques: January/February 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors
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The January/February 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors is all about the "bucket list." With a wide variety of techniques featured in this issue, you can have fun experimenting and trying new things. You'll also find advice from some of the best mixed-media artists on getting started, getting further, and trying something new. Plus, check out Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's full article on keeping a sketchbook. Available as a single issue and also digital edition.

For a limited time, get 10% off this issue when you enter the coupon code SAVELP at checkout!*

In the Summer 2013 issue of Pages, you'll find a number of approaches and great art journaling ideas.

Artist Kelley Spurgeon says her custom journals are "a place to document my life, good and bad, experiment, and fulfill my need to create on a daily basis." Kelley has a mixed-media approach to art journaling and says she uses everything in her stash. Her journals are colorful and inspiring.

Some of Kelley's recycling tips for your handmade journals:

  • Think twice about throwing away paper products. Glue them to your journal page and paint over them for a thick, sturdy page.
  • Give an old book a new life as a journal.
  • Buy something new that you don't know how to use. If you find you don't need it, don't like it, or don't want it anymore, donate it!
Book and Art Journaling Ideas: Summer 2013 issue of Pages
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This issue of Pages is all about bookmaking, book binding, and art journaling techniques. Find book making and art journal ideas, techniques galore, and creative journal binding tips. With 21+ projects you're sure to be inspired. Plus, get 10% off this incredible book when you enter the coupon code SAVELP at checkout!*

Discover pages and pages of ideas with this special issue. Also available as a digital edition.

Once you have established your journaling style, you may want to venture into making your own custom journals. Whether you recycle covers from a hardcover book; create unique covers from papers, metal, or leather; or just want to bind individual pages to create your own special journal; you will want and need to venture into the world of journal/book binding. Artists use everything from CDs and drink coaster to etched metal and driftwood to create interesting covers, and they use a variety of journal binding methods.

Here are some journal binding options:

Coptic Stitch Book Binding from Sharilyn Miller
Accordion-folded Binding Art Journals by Gina Kim Lee
Japanese Stab Art Journal Binding from Joan Ragan Kallay
Journal/Book Binding from Sharilyn Miller Journal/Book Binding from Gina Kim Lee Journal/Book Binding from Joan Ragan Kallay


Whether you use a spiral-bound notebook, stash individual papers in random ways, or create elegant, hand-bound journals, journaling is a wonderfully creative endeavor. Find what works for you, grab some creative art journal ideas, and enjoy the adventure.