How to Make a Journal From an Old Book

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Blank books in which to record your thoughts and ideas are readily available at local bookstores, but journal writing can take on a whole new aspect when the first step is to actually create that journal for yourself. Start this project by finding an old hardback book, perhaps from a thrift store--one that feels right to you in size and color and weight. Then turn that discarded book into a creative personalized journal page by page by decorating the cover, altering the pages and adding unique papers and illustrations.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardback book, 100 pages or less, with a solid-colored cover
  • Gift wrap, scrapbooking papers, magazine pages, or other decorative paper
  • Soft cloths
  • Small illustrations or drawings clipped from books, magazines and advertisements
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Brayer (hand roller)
  • Decoupage finish
  • Small paintbrush
  • Pens, fine point in various colors
  • Wipe the cover, front and back, with a slightly damp cloth to remove any dust; dry thoroughly before beginning with the cover decoration.

  • Decorate the cover by gluing on an assortment of overlapping illustrations (See photo of cover). If your journal is going to have a particular theme, use the cover pictures to illustrate that theme. Tamp down all the edges of the pictures using a brayer. Cover any words on the book spine with pictures as well.

  • Use a small paintbrush to apply at least three or four coats of decoupage finish to the cover. If you have left bare spots on the cover, coat those with the finish as well. Allow the cover to dry thoroughly between coats.

  • Prepare the inside of the journal by removing pages. Pull the book open so that you can see how the pages are bound into the spine. Carefully pull out those pages that can be removed without disturbing the tightness of the binding. You should be able to remove approximately half of the pages. You need to do this to allow for the paper you will be adding.

  • Glue in plain and patterned paper to cover pages that you want to completely cover with text. Measure the paper so that it is just slightly smaller than the page itself so that the margins of the book page are exposed. You can even leave a little print for contrast.

  • Plan pages that will use illustrations to inspire the journal notations. Glue illustrations directly to the page along with blocks of plain paper for notations. Or create an entry with pictures and words and then glue in the entire entry. In some cases, such as in the music book made into a journal shown in the illustration, text can be written directly onto the page.

Tips & Warnings

  • To make sure that your illustrations are glued down thoroughly on the cover, before you begin coating it with the decoupage liquid, place a sheet of waxed paper over the cover and weigh down with a stack of books for a few days.
  • You might consider gluing two pages together to make a sturdier book.
  • Handle the finished book gently; it will be somewhat fragile in its altered state.

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