The Basics of Junk Journaling

Junk journaling is an enigma — my YouTube and social media friends tell me this all of the time! I think it’s the name that is misleading. I mean who really wants a journal made out of junk? They also tell me there’s so MUCH information out there, they simply can’t decipher it all. It’s just too overwhelming.

To help fill the information gap (or overload), I decided to create a free, straightforward five-part series discussing the five most basic areas to get you started making and using a junk journal.

What is a Junk Journal?

As I mentioned earlier, the name is rather misleading because you would think that junk journals contain junk or trash, but I feel they actually contain life’s little treasures. Journals and junk journals represent different things to different people, but to me they are books containing important items from my life, including seed packets, receipts, mail, cards, kids arts, tags, greeting cards, little notes, labels, mail–really any memento that means something special to me.

I suppose that’s where the name junk originated because these are the things that would most likely be thrown out. These items are displayed in a journal alongside pictures, journaling, stickers, stamping, art, and ephemera. More often than not the items within the junk journal are old or made to look old by coffee or tea-dying.

What is coffee- and tea-dying?

Coffee- and tea-dying is a method used to make papers look old. By soaking these items in coffee or tea, you can create a very vintage-y look for your journals. In my first video of the new series, The Basics of Junk Journaling, I will demonstrate exactly how I coffee dye papers. It’s a very easy method and when you’re done you can create an authentically-old appearing signature.

What is a signature?

A signature is the collection of papers that make up the inside of your junk journal. It can consist of regular computer paper, old book pages, envelopes, graph paper, ledger paper, digital collages, scrapbook paper, postcards — anything your little heart desires.  These papers are bound to the spine of the journal by either stapling, sewing or enclosed in elastic. You can have any number of signatures in your journal with any number of pages.

In my second video of the series, we’ll be discussing how to select and assemble papers for your signature.

What are the different types of junk journals?

There are so many junk journals types that it would be impossible for me to list all types, so I’m going to stick to the basics – hardcover and softcover. You can create hardcover journals using old books or can you build your own using pieces of chipboard and paper. You can also create soft-covered journals with light-weight boxes and regular paper. Also, each of these journals can have a unique type of binding or simply how you attach the signatures to the spine of your journal.

You can create an exposed binding (you can see the sewing on the spine) or you can have a hidden binding (you cannot see the sewing on the spine as it’s hidden inside). In video three, I will take you step-by-step to create a simple soft-covered journal with exposed binding and in video four, a step-by-step tutorial of a simple hard-covered journal with hidden binding. They are both extremely easy methods for creating a journal.

I made a journal. Now what?

I use my junk journals almost every day. I use them to document my life and sometimes I even have different journals for different parts of my life. The question I get the most is how to use the journal once it’s done. A lot of people just like to make journals and not really use them. I find these journals don’t lend themselves to actually use. They look pretty, but there’s not really a lot you can do with it.

In my last video in The Basics of Junk Journaling series, I will be showing you exactly how I use a journal, how I store my ephemera and my pictures, my journaling process, and tips on how to get started and make it a habit. I think a lot of people don’t use their journals because they are nervous about making mistakes. Take it from me: You are going to mess up and you aren’t going to like everything you do, but the beauty of junk journals is that every mistake or misstep can be fixed. And more often than not, you’ll be happier with the end result.

So stay tuned to my YouTube channel, for the first video in this new series. I will post the videos as they are ready, so you may want to tap the bell notification for new video alerts.

Watch the introductory video now:

Till next time,

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