Apr 2, 2019

How to Alter an Old Book into a New Journal.

Altered Book Journal.
If you feel the need to journal your days, or are trying to keep track of things, why not make it really personal and create your own Notebook.
(If you have a problem with "hurting" books, please remember there isn't actually a "Book Police"..)
So here is my picture-rich tutorial on how to make your own Journal out of an old book.

STEP 1;   Get an old book from a second-hand book shop, flea market, or check with local library throw outs or relatives' bookshelves.
 Don't get a book that has hundreds of pages, it is just daunting to work in.
Make sure it is a hard-cover book, and that the pages have been sewn in, NOT glued in. After you are finished with it, and have added glues and paints and collage, you don't want your pages to fall out of the book because the glue holding the book together has weakened.
You can check if the pages are sewn in, by checking at the top of the spine, to see if the papers have been bend double. There should be a visible loop of papers. When you open the book in the middle of one of those loops (which is a stack of papers called a "signature"), you should find a thread down the middle of the pages.
Finding and reducing volume of signatures.
STEP 2;    In my case I found a (rather tedious) girls' book about an english boarding school. It had a faded blue linen cover. Each signature had 5 pieces of doubled paper. I reduced that throughout the book by carefully ripping out 1 full page, taking care not to break the thread. Because you will be adding extra paper, glue and paint, the book still needs to be able to close.
Each signature now had a number of pages divisable by 2, because now you are going to glue 2 pages together. This way the paper will be thicker and can handle all the stuff you are going to do to it. You can use either a good glue-stick for this, or tacky craft glue. Don't use normal p.v.a. or white craft glue, as it is too wet, and it will seriously buckle your pages. And will take ages to dry.
 I used a glue-stick for this book. Let dry by standing the book up with the pages open.
The end papers were really cute, and I left the inscription from 1962.

Old magazine, coffee and rip rip rip!
STEP 3;   Decorating your Journal-to-be. This is a really relaxing bit, where you get an old magazine, a hot cuppa, and cut or rip out pictures and quotes that you like. I used just 1 Country Living UK magazine for this whole journal, it was so chock-full of goodness. But you might like a fashion mag, or nature, or travelling; whatever takes your fancy.
Make sure the pictures are not too big, as you want to leave some space for actual journaling...

Some pictures are cut, some ripped for soft lines.
STEP 4;    Glue your pictures into the book, using a gluestick. Smooth any air bubbles out with your fingers, or an old plastic bankcard. Keep them to the edges of the book pages.

Stand the book upright with the pages fanned out to dry.
I found that I was colour coordinating images, or theming things together on the same page.

Using water activated colouring pencils, Derwent Inktense.
STEP 5;    Adding colour to your pages. I used my Derwent Inktense colouring pencils, but you can use other aqua pencils. I just scribbled different colours all over the pages, choosing to coordinate with the colours in my pictures.
 ( It's o.k. Really. No one is going to come and arrest you, for defacing this old book. You are just rescuing it from landfill, to live a new life...)
White Gesso.
STEP 6;    Now you can brush white Gesso over the top of all your colour scribbling, and partly over the pictures. Gesso is usually used to prepare a surface for painting, as it is a bit chalky to the touch and lets paint and glue adhere well. We are using it in the journal to obscure the printed words, and at the same time activate the coloured pencil pigments. The colours will blend into the Gesso, giving a soft colour, but you will still be able to faintly see the print and edges of the pictures underneath. This gives a lovely layered depth effect to your pages.
Obscuring text with tinted gesso.

Using the tinted gesso to soften and blend pictures into the page.

Drying in the sun.
Gesso a couple of pages at the same time, then dry well, leaving the pages spread open.

Drawing in cubbyholes for the days, using a cardboard rectangle.

STEP 7; Rooming in your Journal. Depending on how you want to journal, you can now create spaces on the pages for note keeping. My new Journal had 29 full spreads, giving me 2 spreads for each month, with some spare pages. I worked out how many rectangles I could fit across a page, without having to write too small, and then made a little rectangle from the magazine cover that I had ripped up. I used it as a template to draw around with a black pencil. These measurements all depend on how large or small your old book is.
I used a black pencil, because Gesso can be a pain to write on with a Sharpie felt pen.
For that reason I also suggest a gel pen, or ballpoint pen for writing.

I left some space at the end of each month to record things like exercise session totals, etc.
And a page for books I have read, at the end of my new Journal.

Adding vintage fabrics and notions for the cover.
STEP 8;    Decorating the cover of the book. I used some old embroideries, a piece out of a stained, but cheerful tablecloth, vintage cards of hooks and eyes, and a crocheted flower. I used pinking shears to cut out the fabric, to minimise un-ravelling, and carefully cut around the embroidery, without cutting the embroidery threads. Using a generous amount of tacky craft glue on the back of the fabrics I stuck them down. Make sure the fabric goes into the grooves of the book, to give space in the fabric when opening and closing the book. The fabric also covered up the original title of the book.

A bookmark with tag.
STEP 9;    I wanted a bookmark, and found a suitable length of ribbon. (Actually, this ribbon was inside the shoulder seams of one of my shirts, for hanging purposes, but always flipped out of my shirt while wearing it. So I cut it off...) Adding tacky craft glue to one end and using a thin knitting needle I pushed it into and against the spine of the book, and held it there until it started to stick.
A fancy card tag from a new garment was re-used to make my collaged bookmark. I also added some beads to the ribbon.
My Journal in use.
STEP 10;    Start using your Journal!  I use mine to track sleep patterns, exercise, mental health, and to prompt myself into creativity. It is your Journal, so do what you like in it.

 I just had to create one of my collage critters in it, with the left over magazine pictures. Fun!

A Sweet Collage Critter of mine.