Wednesday, February 8

DIY: Making an Art Journal

I recently made this art journal in an effort to recycle a bunch of used watercolour paper that I had lying around. The paintings on these papers are 'mishaps' that couldn't be saved and commissions that were redone for their own respective reasons. I wanted to make a journal of watercolour paper, so that I had a heavier support for my 'experiments' and dabbling. My other sketchbooks weren't quite thick enough, and I couldn't warrant going out and buying an expensive when when I had plenty of paper lying around. All materials used are those that I found lying around. Nothing was purchased specially for this project, so it's a complete 100% recycled journal

My materials:
  • Used sheets of watercolour paper (I'm using 140lb, so that it will hold lots of goodness)
  • Cardboard sheets - I used the backing off old watercolour pads.
  • Ribbon, or sting
  • Decorative paper (optional)
  • Gel Medium / Glue
  • Ruler / credit card, or some sort of folding tool
  • x-acto knife
  • Thin screwdriver
  • Small Paper Clip
1. Cut your cardboard to size, and make holes in it. I cheated here a little bit, since the backing already had holes on one size. I just sort of traced which holes I wanted to use onto the other piece, so that they matched up perfectly. I use my x-acto knife to cut out the holes on the one side. 
Luckily, one side was done up all nicely for me. I choose five of these holes to use.
My handy work with the x-acto knife.
2. Cover your cardboard pieces with decorative paper. I had some from the Project Life kit that I had ordered earlier. I use gel medium to adhere it, and then smooth out the other side with a credit card. 
My almost dead gel medium, it will do for this.
Cover it thoroughly and evenly. 
Using a stiff card - credit card - helps even things out and spread the
gel medium.
3. Meanwhile, fold your paper appropriately. Place your folded paper and covers under a heavy pile of books to hang out for awhile. This presses them down nicely, and prevents the cardboard from warping as it dries. 
All of my 'mistake paintings' and scraps
Fold them all, and then apply a weight to them.
4. Create holes in your paper. I use a tiny screwdriver to do this. 

Having a piece of cardboard under helps a lot.
Make sure everything lines up properly when you're making your holes.

5. Now it's time to string everything together with your ribbon. I rebend my paper clip to help string through the ribbon. I used the coptic stitch to bind my book. Since this is my first time, I won't even try to explain the process to you. But I used this video on YouTube, and it was very helpful. 

Using some pretty pink ribbon I had around, and had been sitting around for ages
Poke the paper clip through first, and then slide the ribbon in and pull through.
I'm very impressed with the paper clip. It made using ribbon 100% possible.

Be careful not to pull too hard, or else you'll rip the paper.
Since it's only for me, I didn't throw out that set, and it's still okay.

6. When it's all bound and done, I add some glue to the knots that I made just to hold it into place better. Since I used ribbon, it's pretty 'satiny' and so I was worried that it might slip out of itself. This was there's no worries about that. 

My book all complete. The pink ribbon looks so pretty.
So happy to now have a book with nice thick watercolour paper
7. Enjoy! Now you can further decorate the cover, or dive right into your book and start your art journalling. 


  1. Angie this is gorgeous! Looks like lots of work which you've described nicely in your photographed steps. I love the polkadotted paper you used for the cover and the hot-pink satin ribbon binding!

  2. This is just what I needed! I have so many watercolor papers lying around. It turned out lovely :)

  3. Oh my! This is fabulous Angie!


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