I have been aware of the concept of junk journals for over a decade. I’d wander round a local craft shop and find bags of ribbons, pounds of paper scraps, and odd pads of paper I couldn’t imagine anyone would use for scrapbooking, and admit I bought more than a few of them. I knew have to bind books and make books, and so took some of these pieces of paper and added them to handmade books with paste paper covers. I did try to sell them, but people didn’t know what to do with them.

i moved on to making spiral bound books using a wide variety of papers and different sizes. Again, they didn’t sell well, and only to children who seemed to have more imagination than the adults I’d i presumed would journal in them. I gave up and created more conventional books which had journaling spaces but which were bound conventionally.

Then i heard about junk journals again earlier this year. Suddenly all the papers, stamps, stencils, sewing supplies and old books made sense! They were supposed to go together into one book, but not in a crazy anything goes way. These books needed a theme and a color palette…immediately my graphic designer mind got the concept! A few hours of YouTube and I saw there were trends, things people expected to find. I understood journaling cards, little mini journals to write in, little note cards for short memories, journaling prompts to inspire and encourage, pockets and belly bands to hold things, paper clips and tabs to stay organized, but couldn’t get my head around the bad sewing and dangling threads… my ultra fastidious Swiss needlework teacher would have had me in detention for letting anything like that get in the public gaze!

Slowly i realized that the phrase ‘junk journal’ didn’t mean any oen style of book. As I looked around I found that American-made journals tended to be more romantic and Victorian, with lots of lace, ribbons, and ornamentation. European-made journals were more contemporary in feel, and although having the technical elements, are less distressed and a tad more practical. I slowly came to understand there was no absolute ‘recipe’ for how to make a junk journal. Each maker has their own style, their own take on the look and feel, and realized I was free to do what I wanted.

Coming from the sewing and dressmaking and fabric design arena, I realized I could design my own fabric book covers and have them printed on heavy linen so my books would look unlike anyone else’s. I can graphic design my way to oblivion choosing fonts and color schemes, but am also free to add older materials, digital designs, handmade cards, whatever I find lurking in the depths of my studio!

As a designer I like a set of parameters or rules to form the structure of the design, but it is also incredibly liberating to add my own rules to this.