I’ve always been in love with books. When I was a little girl, we did not have books in our home, and we lived in a rural farm community that did not have a local library. So when I discovered the library in the old school building, on the second floor with really tall windows, black and white tile floor, and wide window ledges, I fell in love. And I’ve been in love with books ever since! It’s not just the words on the page, or the pictures, or the design on the cover. I’m not sure what it is, but there seems to be such a sense or peace and order that just makes sense, in a world filled with confusion, chaos, and (for a little girl) uncertainty.
Some of the first books I remember were the Ant and Bee series by Angela Banner. They were on the bottom shelf of those huge wooden shelves, back in the corner where I could sit on the floor and look through them all. I still remember the smell of those old wooden shelves and the books, books, books everywhere! Of course, we were only allowed to take out two books at a time, so I would check out my two little Ant and Bee books and hurry home to discover what Ant and Bee were up to that week. One of the things that I found fascinating about those books was their size. They were small, not like all of the “big people” books, or even like most of the “big kid” books. Just the right size to fit in a little girls hands!
Later on I discovered that I could “write” my own little books, and even draw my own pictures inside. Well, if that wasn’t an amazing thing for this country girl! So I would take bits and pieces of leftover notebook paper or wrapping paper or paper from brown lunch bags, and doodle and draw and write little sayings down and then punch holes in the sides and tie them together with string, or ribbon, or whatever might be on hand. It almost made my mother crazy, I guess, because she was always asking me, “Why do you have so many little tiny bits and pieces of paper all over the place?!?!” I guess she didn’t understand my determination to MAKE something, and at that time, my experiments with making little books. Like Ant and Bee.
So when I found blank books for journaling . . . well, I guess I thought that was just the most amazing thing (after Ant and Bee, of course) that I had ever seen in this wide world! For years I kept a journal. I would fill up one blank book after another, all with my thoughts, my joys, my sorrows, and my prayers. I still have those journals from years ago, all tied up neatly with a ribbon – mostly because I’m still not ready to read what I wrote so long ago, but maybe one day. Or not. But when I look at them now I realize that I didn’t know how much MORE could be done with a blank book!
Some of my old journals have pretty flowers on the front, or sayings, or other interesting stuff, but some of them are just plain old composition books. How boring can THAT be? Hard to believe I didn’t make an effort to decorate the outside in some way, but I guess back in those days I had a few other things going on in my life that didn’t leave a lot of time for decorating things like a blank book. But none of them are completely blank anymore – some of them are blank after a few weeks or months of writing, but that’s because sometimes things are just too hard to write down, because once they are in “black and white” they must be real. And I just wasn’t ready for that to be so.
Now, however, I have found that not only making and writing in journals is an important part of my life, I have also been experimenting on creating and filling up (to overflowing usually!) little art journals. I get to put anything I want inside those little books, and I can even “hide” things that I know are there but if anyone else happens to look through my journal, they won’t realize what they are seeing – it’s kind of a mystery!
And I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one who loves to create these fun little books – so just in case you have come across my blog and want to create your own art journal (or junk journal, or whatever it might be to you), here are a few pictures of the journal I’m working on now. I actually finished this one the other day and will post pictures of the finished book tomorrow, but for now here are some of the pages I created for my book.
Here’s a secret: if you want to make your own art journal, don’t worry about making a mistake. I made several pages in this journal and then after a couple of days of looking at them, I realized I didn’t really like them all that well. I don’t know why, but they just didn’t seem “right.” If that happens to you, there are a couple of things you can do. First you can just leave a page that you aren’t completely happy with, and realize that is just like life. Sometimes we have days that just don’t seem “right” or don’t feel like everything came together the way you anticipated, but we have to move on, turn the page, and keep going. Or, you can do what I usually do, I just either rip it out and start over or I cover it up with something else. Either way works! The main idea is to have fun, be creative and make something that reflects who you are. Art journals are very personal, so do whatever you feel like doing!
These pages have several little “fold outs” or “flaps” with other interesting stuff hiding underneath!
These pages have a double “fold out” so that the left side opens out to reveal another page underneath!
On the right side is an envelope where I have tucked away a few little notes
Lots of places for fun little “bits and pieces”
Sometimes I stitch on pieces of fabric along with the ribbons and lace – and there’s another little flap on the right side with a little envelope underneath . . . .
I like to use leftover pieces of scrapbook paper, with scraps of lace and ribbon, and buttons that don’t have any place else to go, but you can use any kind of paper or fabric at all. Even junk mail works really well, and it gets rid of all that paper that seems to show up when I’m not looking!
because on the right side I have a note card I received from Katherine, one of my treasured friends. Here it will be safe forever and I will always be able to look back and remember our friendship.
After I finally finished all of the pages, the binding was not wide enough, so I had to figure out what to do about keeping the pages together . . . and I’m sure there are videos and tutorials out there that would have helped me solve that problem, but I wanted to experiment and see if I could figure it out myself. And I did! It turned out beautiful so I’ll post pictures of the final pages and the binding tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you will be inspired to create your own art journal.
In the coming days I will be creating a video of step-by-step instructions for constructing your own little art journal from materials you probably already have on hand. So if you are ready to start journaling (remember it is good for your health!), I hope you’ll stop back and join the fun. We might even have an art journal challenge coming up for the summer so be watching for new, creative inspiration for your life.