There is an art to journaling, but there's also an art to making journals. Kristen Evans of FirebirdHouse is reinventing books by hand-making journals, and she's got a wonderful approach. Here you can see an example of her craft; a lovely little hand-stitched pocket journal that fits neatly into a wonderful antique tin box. I recently acquired this one when I discovered FirebirdHouse on Etsy.com via a search for handmade journals, which is something I do all the time.
Sometimes I give these journals away (and I do think handmade journals make excellent gifts, especially for kids) but mainly I buy them for myself. I use journals every day, and my entries are not what you'd call brief. When I can hand-write in them I do, or I'll dictate an entry to the computer, print it out and glue it onto a journal page. My journals serve as my repositories for my photos, sketches, various bits of life ephemera, lists, story ideas -- pretty much anything I can fit into them. I also write letters to some of my writer pals in journal-form. I usually have at least two and often three journals going at once, and I can fill one up in as little as two or three days, so I am constantly in need of new journals.
Because I use so many during the year I've always purchased mass-produced blank books or made my own. Since art journaling became popular, however, I've discovered and come to appreciate the fine art of journal-making, and this resulted in a neat little collection. A journal doesn't have to be arty to be useful, but it adds something to the mix. I know from those I've made myself how much thought and time and care goes into this kind of handwork. Adding my content also makes me feel less like I'm using something to write and more like I'm collaborating with another artist.
Here's one of the more unusual journals in my collection:
This lovely little bundle is a needle-felted wool journal from beautifulplace, and it's absolutely a work of art. Here's a look inside:
I have never seen anything like beautifulplace's enchanting journals; they seem more dream-spun than made.
Because I like unusual journals I often look for something different, like this recent acquisition from LaVerne Johnson at Riverside Studios:
LaVerne took a vintage book, turned down the pages and formed them into pockets, in which you can save all sorts of bits and pieces. Repurposing an old book like this is a terrific way to recycle unwanted things into new art.
In addition to the arty kind I also like very precisely-made journals, and I've yet to find anyone who can turn out a better-made book than Jodi Green at Levigator Press. Her artwork is amazing, her binding is phenomenal, and the corners on her journals are trimmed to perfection. She also frequently uses unusual, recycled papers in her journals so they're always a surprise, and provide interesting spaces in which to write:
Of all the journals I collect I probably invest most often in those that in someway use recycled materials like Jodi's work; I especially love journals made from old books. Here are some examples of those (from left to right, a repurposed Nancy Drew novel journal by Heavensentcrafts, a hand-stitched journal with repurposed book covers by FirebirdHouse and a ring-bound mixed-media journal by LovelyFever):
As I mentioned I make my own journals, too, primarily by recycling or repurposing materials. I like to challenge myself, so I've made journals out of index cards, playing cards, and even a spiral-bound mini notebook. I think my best/most original project was the journal I made by painting the pages of an old book with regular and metallic watercolors:
Prices for handmade journals are generally higher than what you'd pay for the mass-produced variety, and some can be very expensive (leather-bound journals tend to be very pricey), but to me owning something handmade by an independent artist is worth some extra $$$. If you can't afford to invest in one right now, stick around -- at the end of this week I'll be holding a giveaway that will include a handmade journal from one of my favorite artists.