Make a Journal! Overcoming Fear and Failure

Where did we leave off? Right, we’re all set up to make a journal AND about to thoroughly destroy a perfectly good book to do it! No worries – it’s all in the name of art! Let’s make this journal!

First thing’s first, we need to start ripping out pages. I know, I know. It. Is. Scary. It’s especially scary if you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to write in books or even dog-ear a page when there’s no bookmark handy (*cough cough*). However, if you’re adding paper to your journal, some pages have to come out in order to make room. Otherwise your book won’t close all the way. 

So I sat there looking at the book, counting out the pages over and over again (read: procrastinating because I was scared), trying to decide whether it would be better to cut or tear the pages. Finally I just started to rip – and it was terrible.

I was thinking that it would be this nice, smooth rip, and it would have been if I had been smart enough to use a straight edge as a guide, but I rarely plan that well. The first page ripped out was looking pretty bad and there seemed to be too much of it left. I knew I didn’t want to rip too close to the spine because of the risk of losing pages, but it looked awful.  Then I did the worst thing I could have done and started picking at it. 

journal making book recycle pages

Disaster! (not really)

I tried ripping one more page after that and switched to scissors. My cuts were a little rough at first, but once I got into my groove they got better. Every sixth page was gone in a couple of minutes and by the time I got to the last one it was actually kind of cathartic. I want to rip out more! Give me more books! 

journal making book recycle

She turned me into a newt. It got better. Just like my cuts! Does anyone remember when they learned how to use scissors?

After this I turned my attention to the cover. I gave it a light sanding to make sure all the things would stick to it, then painted the front and back with a thin layer of fluid acrylics – black around the outside blended into white in the middle. Dab, dab, dab with a sponge and it was painted in a few minutes.

journal making book recycle

Ready to paint my future journal!

journal making cover paint

A little base paint to get that green covered up!

Then I started laying out the decorations. I had neatly cut strips of decorative paper and neatly cut prints of drawings from my sketchbook.  An obscene amount of Modge Podge was used to secure each one and I dabbed paint around the outside of each one to try to blend it into the paint.

journal making cover

I think I should have seen the problem at this point.

journal making cover fail

Even more so at this point. Hindsight, right? But that’s what happened when you cling to an idea instead of recognizing that it’s not working…

I had this vision in my head of the images looking like they were emerging from the cover – or something. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out that way AT ALL. It was just the front cover that got to this point, but it was bad enough that it stalled me for a week. I didn’t even pick up all the things – I just left it there. I walked by the book every day, sulking about the terrible outcome. It looked awful. My idea was terrible. I ruined my book for nothing! WHAT HAVE I DONE?? Oh the DRAMA!

journal making cover fail make a journal

This is what haunted me for a week (I cleaned up my paint though).

Technically, since I used Modge Podge, I could have wet the cover and peeled everything off. However, exposing the cover to that much moisture would probably have damaged it. Plus the layers of paint were a pretty big wildcard. So when I started over I just went right over the top! My approach was similar to the original idea (it wasn’t bad after all!), but rather than being meticulous in cutting and placing everything, I just ripped it. The edges of the decorative paper and the sketchbook scans were all ripped and I did not use the paint to try to tie it all together.

journal making cover

It’s kind of poetic that my mistake is lurking under there. Not that I had much choice! 🙂

This let everything sort of blend together on its own. I loosely planned where everything would go, but ultimately it happened in the moment. I also included a colored piece on the front and the back, because as much I love me some black and white, it had a depressing look about it. I didn’t want to make a journal sad to begin with!

journal making cover

Maybe it still looks a little messy, but that’s me. Organization is for the birds! (Do birds organize?)

journal making cover

This is the back cover at a dramatic angle. Because dramatic angles are what all the cool kids are doing.

Collaging the back cover was smoother than the front because there wasn’t a snafu to hide, but with both I continued slopping on the Modge Podge (not really the way you’re supposed to do it) to get some neat textures and wrinkles. I added a little doodle on the bottom of the spine and the outside cover was done! 

On to the inside!