By Christina VanGinkel
Some might question whether keeping a journal is a hobby, but the art of decorating it surely is! I have done several of these as gifts and for myself. The whole reason I even started decorating them in the first place was that I wanted to keep a journal for myself, but even as a writer, the act of putting down my thoughts, ideas, and personal notes in a plain, basic notebook seemed sacrilegious. Not to mention that it was just too easy to ignore or forget, so more than half the time, the journal went without an entry. I wanted the cover of my journal, and the interior for that matter, to lend itself to what words would eventually land within the pages. The first one I made seemed quite plain in retrospect to the ones I have made since, but each one has been fun in its own right.
To start, you will need a notebook, a spiral bound or one with a spine will work, and an assortment of embellishments, purchased, found, or as mine usually end up, an assortment of the two. The type of journal itself, before you transform it, is not important as long as it is large enough for what you deem a suitable journal size. Do try to avoid very thin journals though, as you will be removing some of the interior pages, so one that has too few pages to begin with will not work well for this project.
As a scrap booker, I have at my disposal many patterned papers, die cuts, adhesives, and assorted embellishments which I forage through depending on who I am currently making a journal. I also keep an eye out for found items to decorate with once I know whom I am going to be making one. If you are new to paper crafts, visit a scrapbook store or arts and crafts supply store, take a browse through their paper, and scrap embellishment aisles. Shop for some patterned papers, an adhesive runner or double sided craft tape, a pack of fun markers or gel pens, ribbons, etc. Anything that you feel will fit the theme of the current journal. Remember that you really cannot make a mistake on these, as if you do not like something, tear it off, or cover it up.
I made my latest journal to represent my love of words, and began with a basic notebook, the kind with a cardboard cover, front, and back, that goes off to school each fall with millions of kids stuffed in their backpack. It was spiral bound, so I removed about one third of the pages in no particular order. If you were working with a bound journal, I would recommend removing every third to fourth page. I then added printed, decorative paper throughout the journal, using an adhesive to apply it to the interior pages. Some pages I covered completely, others I just added borders. I also used gel pens throughout, along with ribbon and die cuts to spruce up pages here and there. As the theme of my journal was words, I also salvaged the words with their descriptions from a few back issues of Reader's Digest, words that intrigued me, and scattered them throughout the pages. The cover of the journal is where I went a little crazy though. First, I covered it front and back with scrapbook paper. I also glued on an old wooden ruler, cut down to fit the cover, along with part of a page right out of an old thesaurus. I also used tiles from and old Scrabble game to spell out my name and a then scattered a few spare letters too. I took some fabric strips, in a pattern that was actually more words, sort of a school pattern, and tied a few small strips through the wire spiral. I also used stamps, brads, wire, and ink in my journal.
It ended up being so unique that there is no way I could not write in it each day. The cover is too decorated for me to stick it on my bookshelf, which is often what use to happen when I would have the intention to write in a journal. There it would be placed, and just as quickly forgotten. With this journal all spruced up, it just begs to be placed on my desk or dresser where it is a constant, visual reminder to write. Decorate a journal for yourself or as a gift. Like many of the current paper themed projects and crafts on the market today, do take note that they can be a bit addictive, and once you make one, you will want to make another.