All play and no work at upcycled journal workshop

What's better than spending 90 minutes making my own upcycled journal? Getting to skip all the tedious work -- cutting apart a book, trimming paper, digging up ephemera -- and jumping right into the creative stuff.

That's exactly what I got to do yesterday evening at an art journal workshop. 

The workshop was part of a series sponsored by my local arts group (the very active Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Arts Council). Even before I arrived, I knew the class would be terrific because it was taught by Amy Duncan, a mixed-media artist whose blog, Four Corners Design, I follow religiously. (Check out the beautiful collaged notecards in her Etsy shop.)
Me and Amy Duncan
Amy thoughtfully prepared individual journal kits before class, allowing us to spend all 90 minutes assembling and embellishing our journals. Each kit included 2 pre-trimmed vintage book covers, pre-cut paper, mat board, tape and a binder clip.
upcycled journal kit  prepared by Amy

While Amy introduced the project, I snuck to the front of the room to inspect the kits. I saw the one I wanted. A few minutes later we all scrambled (in our polite Pacific Northwest way) to choose our kit, and I reached for the one I'd seen earlier. Too late -- another student grabbed it first. Instead of getting ninja-greedy, I settled for another cover that caught my eye. 

I've made upcycled journals before, but I'd never used the binding technique Amy showed us. Her method was simple but elegant. We made hinges out of mat board and tape, then used an inexpensive metal folder clip to bind the book together. Genius!
creating a hinge with tape and mat board

After I made my hinges and punched my holes, I searched through the many piles of ephemera that Amy had generously brought for us to use. I found an old photo of a stuffy looking gentleman. Included in our kit was a playing card. I noticed that the back border decoration was filigreed like my book cover. I decided to use the card as a frame for my gentleman.
using a playing card to frame an old photo
I glued it to the inside of the front cover, on top of wrapping paper patterned like a retro checkerboard with alternating gold and cream-colored circles. The theme of the journal was turning out to be curves.

I also picked up a page from an old encyclopedia, one with scientific illustrations of plants (I think). They were curvy, too. To emphasize the curves and to echo the gold paper I'd used on the inside, I punched circles, like this one.
circle punched illustration
Then I arranged the circles in a rectangle on the back cover. At the center I placed a round bird sticker, just a little larger than the circles. I may have gone too far by adding string. But overall, I'm pleased.
embellishments for the back cover of my upcycled journal
At first I thought I'd leave the front cover as is. Then I found an illustration with curvy details. I cut out the middle and used it as a frame for the centerpiece on the front cover. (Just as I'd done with the card and the photo.) I'm happy with the result. I'm tempted to tint the paper, though.
embellishments for the front cover of my upcycled journal
I only had time to embellish one inside page. I used the plant pages, post-punch. More circles! I layered them on top of woven scrapbook paper. Here's what the page looks like next to the inside cover.
embellishments for the inside pages of my upcycled journal
I'm eager to continue adding pages. (I tucked away a few scraps of extra ephemera in my journal before I left the classroom.) Amy suggested sealing the outside covers with wax, once I deem them done.

It took me just a little over an hour to transform a small empty desk into this workspace. The messier the better, right?

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  1. Claudia - what a wonderful synopsis of the class! Thank you! and I'm so glad you had a great time - I'm in awe of your book...and using the playing card as a frame for an old photo - love it...may have to steal that idea!

  2. Steal away -- I'd be honored. And I hope to do another workshop with you soon! Maybe just about collages????


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