Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making Journals from Scratch, continued

Studio Journals

“When you bind an art journal do you paint your pages before you bind the book or after it’s bound?”

Pages can be prepared either way. If you like the experience of opening a fresh journal with pristine white pages then go ahead and bind the paper into a book format using whatever binding structure you want… or skip the binding step and buy a blank book. My first art journals were blank coil bound books  but once I learned that I could choose my own paper and bind it myself that’s what I’ve done, (pictured above). I especially like gutting an old book that’s no longer useful and adding my own signatures using a good paper. There are lots of books, YouTube videos, and online tutorials/ classes that will walk you through the process.

My first self-bound art books were made following Teesha’s instructions here.

Other times, especially when I’m making a theme journal I’ll paint a few pages of a good paper and then tear it down and bind it as a coverless book. One such book is Teesha Moore’s 16 page journal.
I have a large stash of paper that has watercolor or acrylic paint on one side that I worked on in a class or as experiments that didn't come to completion, work that isn't frame-able the way it is. This paper is perfectly good and I keep it because I can't bear to throw away expensive paper, knowing that I can re-purpose it. That's what I often use for my journals and that’s what I used for my Nature Journal. Sometimes I do nothing further to the paper before tearing it down and other times I paint the other side in similar colors so there'll be continuity of color throughout the book.

For the Nature Journal I wanted to push back the color that was already on both sides of the paper so I tore it down to page-spread size and smooshed white gesso over the paint using a broad palette knife and a credit card as a squeegee. Gesso gives strength to the pages, keeps them flexible, and provides a good painting surface for acrylic paint or as a base for collage when using acrylic medium for the adhesive as I most often do.


  1. WOW!!! I love your journals!

  2. You are such an inspiration to us all - thank you! Now, I need to go look at the links you provided :-)

  3. Your journals are wonderful. The bindings are especially interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hi Jo, I'm enjoying your blog and art, found you through Mary's blog and I see we are both members of Create By Faith. Love your journals and appreciate the little tips, I've been making my own as well but I've got to say, your covers and stitching and such are just beautiful. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your blog now...


I appreciate comments and questions.

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