There are plenty of online classes for art journalling and lots of You Tube videos about art journalling, but I couldn’t find any to help me choose a journal design. With this tutorial rather than point you at a journal design that I like, I wanted to give you the information that will help you make your own choice, based on the kind of journalling you do.
In this way you get a journal that will work for you, rather than be a chore to use and perhaps put you off journalling altogether.
What do you want to use on your page?
If you use dry media; like pencils and only limited ink, just to write your journal, then lighter cardstocks like Cartridge papers may well be suitable for your journal pages. On the other hand if you like to layer on lots of inks, paints, glues and glazes, then a heaver weight card would be best. Try out a variety of watercolour cardstocks as these will take all kinds of media.
How do I find out what card is suitable for my needs?
Theres no quick answer to this, it is a matter of experimentation. Art shops often sell individual sheets of cardstock and papers and this is an excellent way to try a good variety of surfaces, with the materials you wish to use on it. One tip though, if you are buying a selection, do make a note of what card is what on it, before your leave the store. That way if you find a favorite, you will know which one it was :)
What kind of journal to buy?
When you have decided on which surface you like, you can then choose the kind of journal you wish you use. Watercolour papers are often available as pre bound books, either sewn or ring bound. It is a matter of personal taste and what suits your style of journalling. I have experimented with bound books, spiral bound books and loose sheets. These are a good way to go if you want to start journalling right away and don’t have the tools or time to create a journal from scratch yourself.
If you like stamping on to your pages, the sewn bindings can be great as you can get right to the inside edges of the page. The disadvantage of this kind of book is that if you like lots of bulky layers or dimension to your pages, then the pages will quickly get too bulky for the spine of the book and it won’t close properly.
Sprial or ring bound books
Spiral bound books are great if you like dimension on your pages. There is a lot more scope for the pages to increase in bulk with this kind of binding. The disadvantage is that if you like stamping in your journal, then personally I found the wire binding in the way and restrictive in where on the page I could stamp, without bumping into the binding. If you aren’t needing to stamp to the inside edges of the pages, then these kinds of journals are great.
If you are new to journalling and want the option of ditching a page to start over if it goes wrong, then this is a great way to go. I know there are going to be purists that hate me for saying that but you know what, lifes too short. You do learn as much from a page that goes horribly wrong, than one that works, but you don’t always want it there looking at you ;)
I found using loose sheets, that I punch for binding later, a great work around for the issue of stamping to the edges of pages. I can chop and change papers during the book if I am using different media and stamp where ever I like. For me this is the way I’ll be journalling for a while, at least till my confidence improves. Its not for everyone but for newbies like me, its a great way to find your feet and have the freedom to change your cardstocks as you experiment, while finding your own style.
Making your own journal
The advantage of binding your own journal, is you can tailor it to the size, shape and binding style that suits you. It can be as simple or involved a bind as you like, depending on the tools you have to hand.
If you like your pages joined, more like that of a traditional book, I’d recommend going with a Long stitch binding style. You still have the option of pages right next to each other for double page spreads, but the bind is also good for allowing for extra bulk that layering would create.
Another binding style that may be useful, is by using pre made wires. Either using binder rings or by pre punching your pages and binding them at the end. Both these style of books will give the option of single pages and allow for additional bulk as your journal grows. Binding at the end will allow you to create right up to the edges of the pages, without bumping into the binding wires ;)
Later in the year, once the brighter weather returns, I hope to make a video tutorial of how to create your own art journal. Until then check out different cardstocks till you find one you like so you are ready to get binding.
Bear in mind that I am still new to art journalling, but if you have questions, I’d be happy to try and help you out. Just leave me a comment :)
Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon