Studio Saturdays: Recycled Journal

I am constantly amazed at how you, the readers of Cloth Paper Scissors, interpret the projects that appear in each issue. No one takes a cookie cutter approach to creating mixed-media art—you always make it your own.

In that same spirit, for today’s Studio Saturday I created a recycled journal, based on Seth Apter’s Inspiration Journal that’s featured in the September/October issue of the magazine. This no-sew book made up of single sheets is so easy to make, and better yet, the basic structure can be adapted to a huge variety of materials, and can be used for almost anything.

Recycled journal

This recycled journal is based on Seth Apter’s Inspiration Journal in the September/October 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.

Seth created his book to house his favorite mixed-media techniques. I needed something that would hold my ephemera collection. I have a habit of collecting paper bits (brochures, maps, gift wrap scraps) for later use in my art journals, and then shoving them in my handbag or backpack or in a book, then forgetting where I put them. With this book I can corral everything and leave it on my worktable for easy access.

Using recycled materials always appeals to me, and I especially love repurposing everyday items that have great design appeal. Take, for example, this Wheaties box. When I saw it at the grocery store I grabbed it, even though this cereal is not typically on my training table. But the bright orange color, the iconic Wheaties logo, and the black-and-white image of Olympic diver Greg Louganis was too irresistible to pass up. I knew it would make the perfect book cover.

Cereal box book cover

I used a Wheaties box for the cover–I love its iconic look.

To measure the cover, I started with the size of the envelopes I wanted to use (repurposed from an old box of holiday cards). I added ¼” to the height and width, then cut out front and back covers from the box.

To make what Seth calls the binding bar, or the tabs on which the envelopes sit, I used decorative cardstock, cut to the height of the book minus 1/8″, and 1 ½” wide. The strips were folded in half lengthwise and glued together, matching cut and folded edges, to create this fan-like bar.

Recycled journal binding

Strips of paper were cut and glued to create the binding bar.

Quick tip: Folding the paper strips with the grain of the paper will prevent them from cracking and breaking. To find the grain, bend along two sides, then the other two. The way it bends more easily indicates the grain direction.

I glued the outermost fold of the bar to the inside front cover, aligning it with the spine edge, and did the same with the back cover. Before gluing, make sure your covers are oriented the correct way—I don’t even want to tell you how many books I’ve made with upside-down back covers.

Binding bar attached to covers

The fan-shaped binding bar was glued to the inside of the front and back covers.

Decorative paper was cut to the same size as the covers, and those were glued over the tabs to the inside covers. The tabs are now sandwiched between the cover and the inside paper, which makes them secure.

Inside cover pages glued

For this recycled journal, decorative paper was glued to the inside front and back covers, over the binding bar tabs.

Quick tip: To make sure your covers for your recycled journal dry flat, put a few sheets of scrap paper on top, then heavy books or a weight, and leave them there for a few hours until the glue dries.

While the covers were drying, I decorated the envelopes. What, you thought there wouldn’t be a mixed-media component to this? Not on my watch.

These plain envelopes were in dire need of some color, so I grabbed some stencils, stamps, and acrylic paint, fired up the Gelli Arts printing plate, and went to town. Monoprinting is such a fun and easy way to make gorgeous prints, and you can’t ever go wrong. Even if you pull a print you don’t like, you can continue to layer over it with more printing, stamping, stenciling, doodling, and collage, until you get something you love.

Monoprinting envelopes

Monoprinting is fun and foolproof.

I printed both sides of the envelopes (minus the flaps) using a similar color palette, which lends some cohesion. But you can go completely wild and make each one different—it’s up to you.

Monoprinted envelopes

Not bad for plain envelopes left over from holiday notecards!

To finish the recycled journal I simply glued the envelopes to the tabs, and added labels on each envelope to identify what’s inside.

Recycled journal envelope pages

The envelopes were attached the tabs, and labels glued onto the flaps.

Whenever I monoprint I always pull ghost prints (second and third generation prints) on scrap paper for use later; I used one piece for a wrap-around label for the cover. I also rounded the outside corners of the cover, using a heavy-duty corner rounder.

Recycled journal cover

A label was added to the cover, and the corners were rounded.

Now I’ll never have to go digging through my black hole of a handbag again looking for that photo I tore out of a magazine—and I also have a one-of-a-kind book I love using.

What will you use your book for? Post your photos in our member gallery! And if you’re looking for more information on making books or making prints, take a look at the following resources available in the North Light Shop and the Interweave store, from some of our talented artists!

The Altered book video by Seth Apter

Seth Apter’s ‘The Altered Book’ video shows how to make a recycled journal from old book covers, plus more mixed-media techniques!

Cloth Paper Scissors September October 2016

Get this and more great book projects in the September/October 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.

Playful Printmaking video with Dina Wakley

Discover fantastic monoprinting techniques with Dina Wakley in her video ‘Playful Printmaking.’

Inspirations Art Journals video with Joanne Sharpe

Joanne Sharpe offers fun, easy techniques for making books you’ll love in her video, Inspiration Art Journals.

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