Feb 9, 2013

Finished art journal & book binding DIY!

Guess what guys? I finally bound my art journal!
During 2012 I journaled on random bits of paper, telling myself I would figure out a way to bind them at the end of the year. It took a while, but I finally finished, and I'm so proud of the way it turned out! 

Here's how I did it:

I found an old book that I didn't want anymore, and that was big enough. Using an x-acto knife, I cut out the pages with two slices, the pages all came out in one piece.  

Then I went through my stack of journal pages, and punched holes in them. I had made a sort of template (below), and by placing that over each page and tracing the holes, I made sure that all the holes would line up.

This is the punch I used, the holes it makes are quite a bit smaller than a normal hole punch.

As I punched the papers, I put one strip of string through each hole. Each string was about 8 inches long, and the string I used was cotton braiding cord. Doing this as I punched really helped the process, and made it easier to decide how I wanted to arrange the individual papers. 

I tied the knots (above) with a lot of wiggle-room so the pages could turn easily. Then I had my handy-dandy brother drill holes in the book's spine, which I had measured to match the holes in the papers. Then I put the stack of papers into the book and poked the strings through the holes: 

Then I tied more knots. 

Which I glued. 

(Why yes, I was just making this up as I went along. How could you tell??)

This is what the inside of the book binding looked like at this point, loose and all over the place. Blah.

Soooo ... I cut strips of reinforced tape (which has kind of a cardboard texture) and slid it through the strings, so when it got taped down to the inside of the spine it covered the holes and held the strings tight against the spine. Then I repeated that with green paper-backed fabric, using fabric glue, to cover the tape. 

I also covered the outside knots with reinforced tape ...

This is what the inside of the binding looked like at this point. As you can see, it's still a bit loose, so the pages can turn, but the strings are securely attached to the spine of the book! Woot! 

I also covered the outside brown tape with the green fabric.

And then I decorated the cover! I went through my word board  on pinterest and chose a ton of my favorite quotes, which I wrote all fancy. :) I like the overall look, and the individual quotes make me happy too. 

"One day I was looking out the window. The afternoon passed, and suddenly a year went by."

2012 was such a massive year for me. So much growth. So much change. So so so much laughter, so much dancing, so many tears. I read my journal basically cover to cover after I finished binding it, and I was floored by all the things that had happened which I had already forgotten about. It made me thankful, and I was able to see how so many of the hard things worked out for good. That's why journaling is so special ... it helps you to remember and understand.

This specific style of journaling gives a ton of freedom too. I loved being able to bind random things straight into the book. Here is just a small sample of the things I put in mine:
1. A hand written note from my mom and sis.

2. Small memories accompanied by doodles. :)

3. A note-card with a tiny watercolor and memory of my first time eating raw sushi. :)

4. Photos! Printed-off photos are becoming a bit of a novelty in this world, and they're so special.
These are from the 1940s ball I went to in September.

These pics are from the disposable underwater camera I bought in July. I had a ton of fun cutting up the "dud" photos into hexagons and making a cool pattern with all the different watery colors. 

5. Typewritered stuff! I typed on full pages, and small note-cards, and on random stuff too! This is the original version of my "There was that one time" post. :)

6. Stuff printed off the computer. Not terribly exciting perhaps, but I write a lot and I love having hard copies of my writing.

7. A play-by-play account of a special day, accompanied by lots of sketches. 

8. A watercolor about something sweet a little girl said at ballet.

9. Sketches from our trip to the Netherlands.

10. And an envelope full of ticket stubs from trains, trams, buses, museums, tours, etc. from the trip.

Besides these things I also put in graduation invitations, photos from friends, programs and tickets from shows I saw/was in, drawings that little kids made for me, etc. etc. The possibilities are basically endless!

All in all, I am so proud of this journal, and so happy to be able to remember a year of my life this way.

So are you going to give art journaling and book binding a shot now? :)

(P.S. check out another art journal/book binding adventure here!)


  1. Ooh, I'm highly considering it! That is a very, very clever idea. And I love the way your binding turned out! It looks homey and professional at the same time, which is, of course, a very difficult mix! It's just beautiful! :)

  2. That's so beautiful. Fantastic job on the binding! You're so creative.

  3. Oh wow, that's such a great idea to keep your memories. I love the cover with al those quotes and the combination with the green fabric. I think it will be fun to look at this book when you're a lot older.

  4. I'd love to do that! I'm not sure quite how it would work out for me though. I have trouble keeping up with a journal, sketch book and thought book that I could either just go ahead and combine the lot or forget about the art journal. I don't really know. Great idea!

    Anna x

  5. This is a great idea! And I love how it all turned out. I have a similar journal, but right now it's just in a boring, regular binder -- I just might try doing this when I'm finished with it. :)

    And just out of curiosity, what'd you think of the sushi? I tried it for the first time just recently, and had mixed feelings about it.

    1. Yeah, I kind of had mixed feelings too. I really enjoyed it at the time, but mostly just because of the people I ate it with, and because I love trying new things. But the actual sushi? ... I'd eat it again, but I'm not dying for more. I had a hard time swallowing a few of the bigger pieces. ;)

  6. Fancy shmancy! This looks so awesome! Your cover looks so nice. I can't believe you're only 'this' young, and already such a creative spirit :)

  7. Whoa...This is like, the coolest thing, EVER!!! Definitely going to try this!! :)

  8. I should really do something like this. I don't want all of my photos to get lost in the blaack hole that is facebook! I love the way you've bound your journal, it looks amazing xx


  9. It came out so wonderfully! I really need to start a project like this, because it just seems like so much fun and a great little keepsake!

  10. wow,that is amazing and inspires me to make my own journal!Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. This is fantastic! Beautifully done!

  12. Brilliant. I am now wanting more hard copies of certain things, photos particularly. Perhaps I may even try to organize it. Your post about sushi made me laugh at it all again. I also ended up having a craving for it today. Hope 2013 gets to have an equally epic edition... or is that addition? :)


  13. this is awesome! what an excellent way to keep all your keepsakes in one lovely book. well done!

  14. Oh my goodness! how cute, creative and lovely. I adore it! So inspired.

  15. Oh wow! This is so creative!! :D I'm definitely giving it a shot now. :)

  16. Wow, so much work and craft went into this book. I'm amazed and inspired...if only there was time!

  17. This is one of my favourite blog posts of all time. Just lovely & brilliant.


  18. You should make a YouTube video. I am more of a visual learner.

  19. You did a beautiful job! You are so artistic and talented! I am inspired! Thanks for your posts.

  20. Great this is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!! you inspire me sooooooo much your so talented

  21. Beautiful job...you are a very talented and extremely clever girl...I love reading your posts you seem to have a knack for expressing yourself really well. I hope you keep blogging and doing the great things you are doing. Thank you for sharing.

  22. This is great! I love this so much!


  23. So inspirational, thank you for this and for sharing! :) lovely work!


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