Three Creative Journals and How I Made Them

Locals, I’ll be part of a journaling panel on Thursday at 10:00 AM at the public library! Come hang out, and chat with our uber creative staff!


“Oh, I bet I can make that.”

All of my projects tend to start with that sentence. Even journaling. It’s a deeply personal activity, so why would I want it to appear like every other journal out there? I pour my excess craftiness into my books, so it’s important to me that I have control of how the journal is created.

There are three specific types of journals that I adore, all of which were made completely by hand. I’m going to breakdown how I made them, how I use them, and why they’d be a perfect addition to your daily routine!

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The Artsy Journal

My first and probably favorite journal is home to collages and hand lettered type. It’s constructed out of a hardback shell and my own pages, which are a huge mix of junk mail patterns, old book pages, and glossy magazine photos.

Embroidered pages, type, paint experiments, and collage art – all in one spot!

The unbinding process actually isn’t as complicated as you might think. This tutorial over at Instructables is pretty much exactly how I remove pages from hardbound books. I would recommend paying attention to how the book is sewn together. It will make rebinding the book easier.

How to bind the book is pretty much up to you. I have created journals in the past that rely solely on glue to hold the pages in. Heads up: they fall apart. Now I sew the pages into different segments as shown in this 10 step how to. Seriously, it’s fairly easy and gives you the peace of mind that the journal will actually stay together.

Why I love this formatchose the pages, and chose what goes into the book. This means that even the pages are a form of expression. I can tape things into it, embroider straight onto the page – it’s all my creation.It allows for different textures, and provides a great jumping off space for collage art! And, having a hardback to protect my art is important to me.

The Ring Journal

Back in April, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to a national library conference. I wanted a way to carry around inspiration, business cards, and little notes for my kiddos while I was dashing between sessions. After seeing something similar on Pinterest, I decided that 3×5 notecards/photos/pamphlet pieces would carry perfectly on a binder ring.

Why I love this format: the size isn’t a limitation, but rather a challenge. It helped me focus and only include highlights, super important information, and conversation notes. Having my ring journal with me all through the day also meant that I have a small way of destressing and regrouping my thoughts during quick snack breaks.

Make something even if it sucks! Best advice for creatives!

My To Don’t List

My most recent creation isn’t about organization or check boxes. I read an article recently about how important it can be to view your to do list practically. Am I really going to be able to complete everything I’ve set out to do? No. All those things that are in no way realistic for me to accomplish in my day to day schedule goes straight into my to don’t journal.

Why I love this format: I’ve never been able to “not sweat the small stuff.” I’m a natural worrier, but letting myself not complete certain projects in record time is incredibly freeing. It’s like giving yourself permission to leave a few lines on your schedule blank. It can also be a pretty powerful tool; look at what you can’t get done. If it’s important, you might take a good look at what you are placing at the top of your “I must get this done” list.


Do you keep a journal? What’s the best method you’ve found? I love all the bullet journal photos on Instagram, but my visually obsessed brain can’t handle so much white, wasted space! I’d love to see other journals – add your url to the comments!

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8 thoughts on “Three Creative Journals and How I Made Them

  1. I love your artsy journal! Iight have to do that next! My favorite at journal that I’ve had is the one I’m currently working in. I’m using an old hard back library book as my art journal. Before I started it, I was planning on buying white gesso and gessoing over each page to cover up the text. I’m so glad that I didn’t, though! I love how you can let the text peek out from behind your own work. Most of what I’ve done in the journal I’ve incorporated the text into. I think it looks really cool!

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    1. Thank you! it’s stuffed full! There is someone I work with that took a book about spiders and added tiny illustrations to each page and it turned out spooky and wonderful! I wish I was that talented! If you ever take pictures of your journal, I’d love to see!

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  2. So funny fact about me, I went to school to be a hand bookbinder. I love what you are doing, so beautiful! I checked out the tutorial about sewing the pages together that you linked to and thought it was funny that they didn’t sew the endpapers with the rest of the book but glued them on. That seems to create a very weak point in the structure, do you find that books break there often?

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    1. Actually, mos of my library groups have created books like this. I haven’t had any of the endpapers tear, but I might look at changing how we do that. Normally, I’ve found books break in the middle. Or whole sections fall out at a time. Do you have any suggestions that could help in the future?

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  3. Interesting. I always used double end papers and sewed them with the rest of the book. That way when you glue the end papers on you have the strength of the sewing attached to the cover.

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