My current art journal is just about out of space, so I thought that it might be nice to show you how I make my journals. I use my art journal to travel internally and externally. Sometimes I explore exotic places and sometimes more mundane locales. I use my journal to gain clarity and to work through problems as well as to experiment. Sometimes our path is obscured and we go to a dark place, and when we get there we find a bright spot amid the darkness. I used this idea for the theme of my new journal cover.
I start my journals with a piece of white duck cloth canvas. I cut the piece a little larger all the way around than my pages will be, plus a flap. I like to be able to close my journals and have everything tucked away inside, so I add a flap.
I decided to decorate my cover with stencils. I started with the Pari stencil and some turquoise and brown fabric paint. I covered the whole piece of canvas with the stenciled image randomly using my chosen colors.
After this layer was dry I used white fabric paint and a brayer to push back the background image. I let that layer dry.
I painted over the edges of the canvas with black paint making sure that I scrubbed the paint out, so there wasn't such a harsh line of black. I randomly scrubbed black paint over the whole piece. I wanted to add interest and and to obscure the map in certain areas. I let that dry as well.
I took the Celestial stencil and added star images inside of the black areas with silver fabric paint. I let that layer dry and then I heat set the entire piece of canvas. I put my journals through a lot of abuse, so I wanted to make sure that the paint wouldn't rub off the cover.
I cut a piece of felt and a piece of cotton fabric for the inside of the cover. I like to make quilted journal covers because they are more unique and the quilting adds interest to my design. I use felt inside because it adds some stiffness to the cover so that it isn't too floppy. I pin all the layers together and free motion quilt the whole piece. This time I used a random wiggly pattern for my quilting. I don't draw out the pattern before I start sewing, I just doodle with the thread and see where it takes me. After I had covered the entire piece, I zigzag stitched the edges three times. I want the cover to have a strong edge and not to fray too much. I trimmed off all of the excess fabric and neatened up the edges.
I prepared my signatures next. I use Strathmore mixed media paper with a velum finish in my journals. I love the way that the paper holds up to all the wet messy journaling that I do. It is also a smooth paper so I can easily draw on it too. I made four signatures with five folios each. My finished pages are 9" x 12". I really like working on this size of paper. I added inclusions to my journal this time. I haven't done this before, so it should be interesting working with these extra papers. I chose a couple of different sizes of card stock, some graph paper, and some manila envelopes.
I made a template of out of a food box for punching the holes in the papers. I am using six holes. I line all the folios up in a signature and the inclusion papers too and I hold everything together with large clips. I place the fold in to the crack of a large outdated phone book. I punch the holes with an awl. I do this for all the signatures.
After all the holes are punched I line up everything inside my cover and mark where the first signature will go. I sew the first one in with book binding linen. I start on the bottom hole on the inside, leaving a tail, and sew to the outside and then into the next hole up and down to the first hole and do it again. Then I go up on the inside to the next hole and do the whole process again. For the last set of holes I go to the top hole first and sew twice through the holes leaving a tail on the outside. I repeat the process for each signature. I learned this method of binding a journal from Effy Wild. She has a free tutorial if you want more information. You can check that out here. Here is a quick illustration to demonstrate the stitching path.
I use the tails on the outside to bead. I knot them and bead them to add a bit of decoration. I punch a hole into the center of the flap and using a button hole stitch I sew around it to finish the cut edges. I add a ribbon, a lace, or cord to close the the journal and keep everything inside. I like to wrap it all the way around with some extra room so it will fit as my journal expands. The inside tails I knot and add a bit of glue to the knots so that they don't come undone.
Here is a page in my journal where I used Tam's Butterfly Wings stencil and the Loved stencil plus some of my hand carved stamps.
I hope that you enjoy making your own journal sometime. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from working in a journal that I made myself.