Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Turn an Old Book Into Your Art Journal

I've been doing a few posts about how I work in my art journal and I thought it might be helpful to see one of my latest journals. In the beginning I bought journals, then I made a few...paper and binding and all that, but mostly I like to find an old book and turn it into my art journal. Thrift stores and library sales are great places to look for old books at inexpensive prices.

This is the book I'm working in now. It's an old book about flowers. I bought it originally because of all the brightly colored pictures but I love the size of it so it's now my latest art journal.

I seem to be going bigger and bigger with each journal. As you can see, this book is about 14" x 10". It originally had 320 pages and the spine was about 1.25" thick. You may not want a book this big. It just depends on how you like to work.

The first thing I do is to prepare the pages. I take out every third page leaving just a small piece attached to the book. Oops! I forgot to mention that when I look for books I look for ones with the pages sewn in and not glued. They hold up much better to all the wear and tear of becoming an art journal.

Here's another view of one of the cut out pages. See the little lip still there? That keeps the book from falling apart. If you tear the page out completely right up to the spine then the page on the other side of the book will come out, too, and it will all loosen up the binding. Eventually the book will fall apart.

This is an example of what NOT to do! This is my very first art journal. I used one of the black, hardcover sketch books that you see in every art supply store. But as I added things to the pages it grew...and grew...and this is now as far as it will close. It has to sit alone on a shelf. And it takes up a lot of space!

This is a close-up of the top of the book. You can see that the pages are sewn in but I didn't remove any of them. I didn't know I had to do that! Live and learn!! You can also see that the book is beginning to come away from the covers.

This is inside the front cover. I will eventually have to do something with this book or it will fall apart completely. So learn from my mistakes!

I hope some of this gives you a good idea about how to choose a book for your own art journal. I simply love to cut things out of magazines and create fun pages with them. I also like to smoosh paint around and make interesting backgrounds for whatever I decide to layer on top. Having an art journal to play in is one of my favorite things. It's where you can experiment, have successes or failures, but none of it matters if you're having fun.

If you don't already have an art journal, I hope I've inspired you to give it a try. And just because I use an old book doesn't mean that's right for everyone. Look at already made journals either in an art store or online. Think about making one yourself. There are tons of tutorials on YouTube about making art journals from scratch. Think about how you like to create and then find what works for you. If you do give it a try I hope you share it with others...and with me. I love to see other people's art journals.


  1. Thank you for the good advice, Janet. This post was very helpful as I drooled over some art journal books a few days ago. They did cost a fortune, so I there I was left thinking of how to make one...and now I know. I do have some old books I can use instead.

    Love and hugs

  2. Janet this was very helpful. So glad I ask you about your method before I start my first one. I must go back an look at all your old posts and enjoy your Art Journals. Hugs.

  3. Janet, this is encouraging me to do the same! Thanks!!

  4. fantastic steps Janet! I hadn't even thought of checking for sewn bindings but it makes much more sense.

  5. Nice book. You can always reinforce with bookbinders cloth or any cloth for that matter. xox

  6. Very interesting and helpful, Janet. I only recently learned about tipping in pages within the last year. My current journal is spiral so I can easily tear out if it gets too thick!

  7. Lots of good tips thanks

  8. Love the new look very hip and vresh


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