After watching a bunch of videos, I made my first junk journal this spring. I’ve made lots of things over the years, including books, but as usual, my creative process was full of lessons. Here are five things I learned that are important to remember whenever you want to make something:

(1) Learning from others can improve your project. I started by using a white glue I already had in my studio, but the paper puckered and wrinkled. I made a trip to the store just to get a glue that was recommended by many YouTubers* and it was worth the effort. The glued papers are all flat and smooth.

All the added materials made my signatures chunkier than I like.

(2) Watching isn’t doing. While the best demonstrators point out important details, they can’t tell you everything. No one warned me that pages made from old paper might rip or that I should use flat embellishments on the back of pages I planned to write on. Only by doing it myself did I understand exactly what’s involved.

The pocket is actually a flap that opens up so you can write on it, but the button is going to make that hard to do.

(3) Take your time. I accidentally sewed the hole-punching guide into my book which is easy to do. You clamp everything together to punch it, then remove the guide and re-clamp the pages for sewing. But I forgot the remove step. Certainly not a fatal mistake, but an annoying one, and so easily avoided by just taking a minute to slow down and check things before moving on.

That strip of manila cardstock? Not supposed to be there!

(4) Your mileage may vary. I followed a specific video’s instructions for building my book (two signatures of eight sheets each). Once it was made, I realized that I didn’t like the chunky signatures. Next time, I will make more signatures with fewer sheets in each one even though it means more sewing. Just because someone else likes making their journals a certain way doesn’t mean their way is the best way for me.

A photocopy of an old collage made a colorful journal card perfect for this journal.

(5) Old projects can be part of new ones. Amongst my bits and scraps I found photocopies of collages I made years ago. Adding them to my journal was a satisfying way to add a personal touch and to get more use out of old art work.

*BEACON’S 3-in-1 Advanced Craft Glue; no affiliation. Just a happy customer.

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