Handmade Journals: Report

May 2008: My first hand made journal: side view

I made my first handmade journal pretty spontaneously somewhere in the beginning on May 2008.
May 2008: My first hand made journal: top view
It looked ugly but I love it nonetheless. Main lesson learned - I CAN DO IT - under 2 hours and no special tools (OK - I have basic handyman equipment at home - like hummer and large ruler - and I also purchased a tapestry needle - (after poking myself while making a small trial journal - ouch!) :)
May 2008: My first hand made journal: my favorite view
About 3/4 in the first journal I made another one - and this one turned very nice - stylish looks, even pages, stripes on the cover! I am still posting works from it though I am on the next journal and would like to summarize some things - to share, remember and to learn!

Part ONE. Lessons I learned moving from the first handmade journal (which was 18th since I started numbering them) to the second (19):

A) Making spine is not that hard and is worth it! Just another piece of cardboard and the book will look so much better!

B) Checking the book somewhere in between drying to add some glue between signatures pays off (then when the book is completely dry it's ready to go :)

Part TWO. Lessons learned while working with journal number 19:
June 2008: My second hand made journal June 2008: My second hand made journal June 2008: My second hand made journal
A) The size is marvelous to work with but hard to scan with my current set-up as I either need to move scanner to my lap or fold the journal badly.

B) I enjoyed lighter paper very (90 lb) much and I think I prefer hot press Fabriano Artistico - at least for now. It allows me to have more pages in the journal, takes writing much better (and I write in my books more and more these days), does not spoil pens (nexus pen died as I was scribbling on some rough watercolor paper earlier) and is still capable of everything good watercolor paper can do: I can lift color with the brush to adjust things, I can work wet and very wet (it buckles a bit - but it has it's charm too:), I can work with different mediums- from watercolor pencils to gouache and some funky inks!

C) I should enforce somehow the corners - since I carry my journal with me in a backpack and it meets lots of hands, some feet and even occasional paw or two, I need to make sure that corners are not falling apart. Perhaps some clothpaper? I will experiment...

D) Old/unfinished/ paintings = sheets of watercolor paper work great as endpapers and even as decorative cover papers (I did it for journal number 20 - below is a sneak preview of it).

E) Remember to cut the wrapping paper about 1/2 inch away from the corner to make sure that you get a good coverage.

That's about it for now - I will keep adding as I remember/learn more :)

Here is how #19 looks before going on the shelf:
My Second handmade journal - report My Second handmade journal - report
And here is #20 (current one):
Third handmade journal (#20) Third handmade journal (#20)

Some Raw Data:
Papers: Fabriano Artictoco 140 LB CP WC, Fabriano Artictoco 140 LB HP WC
Size: 7 1/2 x 7 1/2

Papers: Fabriano Artictoco 90 LB CP WC, Fabriano Artictoco 90 LB HP WC and one signature with an unknown paper (though now I have a suspicion that it might be lighter Fabriano...
Size: 11.25' x 8

Papers: Fabriano Artictoco 140 LB CP WC, Strathmore 140 LB CP WC, Fabriano Artictoco 140 LB HP WC
Size: 7 1/2 x 7 1/2

Please feel free to let mek now about any questions or comments!


  1. These look beautiful!! I love the spine-- really nice. Maybe I'll give it a go...

  2. love all your insights! I'm gonna have to go and make a WC journal this weekend! Yeah I know how to bind a book and stitch the siggys together already. I have loads of cartridge paper books but they aren't worth trying todo anything be write and maybe some pencil sketching. pen goes right through. Love the suggestion about using the 90# fabrino A. cheers!
    Stephanie, http://deliberatelycreative.blogspot.com

  3. I keep telling myself that I'm going to do this, "one of these days". I've read up on it and have all the stuff just haven't jumped in. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  4. what a really great post...thanks for sharing!

  5. Anonymous5:56 AM

    Love these journals! I am about to make my very first one after trying it with a piece of printer paper. Not so sure how to make the cover and spine, though, as I have not made any books before.

  6. Did you follow a tutorial at all? Yours look very cleancut, and I would like to have a go myself!

  7. I tried, Yvie - but I am easily consumed by the process - so tutorials are not an ultimate answer for me - most of this was done with a lot of gut feeling and memory of what tutorial said yesterday ;)