Junk Journal Tutorial with Carla Bagshaw

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Junk journaling is one of the most mindful things to do for a creative mind. It is not the same as a bullet journal which, in essence, is a planner. A junk journal is, instead, an expression of you. It can be a reference of papers you own, it can be a form of scrapbooking, or a blissful mind dump. Here, the talented Carla Bagshaw takes you through the process with a junk journal tutorial, and introduces a whole new way to indulge in mindful creativity!

Skill Level: Beginner

You will need a mix of mediums, such as:

Carla Bagshaw’s Junk Journal Tutorial:

Step 1:

A great way to start a junk journal for a beginner is to find an old hardback book that is going to be recycled. Take out all of the pages (keep them though, they can be used for journaling). Cover the hard book cover with paper of your choice.

Journals are made with small books of pages called Signatures. Each book will have a varying amount of signatures depending on how big the spine of the hardback book is. A signature is made up of varying pages. You can use dotted paper, A4 patterned papers, envelopes, doilies etc. All these will be folded in half. It’s usually enough to have 10 ‘sheets’ that will be folded so your signature will have 20 pages.

Make as many signatures as you need. Punch an odd number of holes along the spine of the hardback and in the centre of the signatures, in rows according to how many signatures you have (eg. Four signatures will need four rows of 5 or 7 holes). Use a needle and sew each signature in simple stitches, pulling tight. Repeat until all signatures are in place.

This step is entirely optional. A junk journal can also be just as well made from a notebook, the point is to enjoy the process, so please don’t put pressure on yourself.

Step 2:

Preparing the pagesPreparing the pages

The pages of your journal are about to take a bit of a battering, so it is a necessary step to paint your page(s) with a thin coat of gesso. I like to first decoupage book page scraps down and gesso on top of them, so that the book pages can just vaguely be seen.

Decoupaging the pageDecoupaging the page

It adds texture and dimension. Let your gesso dry either naturally or with a heat gun for speed.

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Step 3:


Now you have a blank canvas, and it is time to get creative. I can’t tell you exactly how to fill out your journal, instead I will explain some of the steps that I do to create pages to offer inspiration, but the main message is… just go wild! Explore your mediums and push what they can do.

Junk journal tutorial stepJunk journal tutorial step

I have used Gelatos to add colour to my pages by spreading just a small amount and then using a water brush to spread the colours.

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I then use a darker colour to edge the pages; it gives it a vintage feel and adds a centre and balance to the page.

Junk journal tutorial stepJunk journal tutorial step

I then use stamps inked in pale colours and stamp in various places over the page; these don’t need to be perfect or dark, I like mine to blend into the coloured background again, to add small amounts of interest.

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Step 4:

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Once the background is done, I begin to add scraps of ephemera. This could be napkins from a restaurant decoupaged onto the pages (be sure to use just 1 ply and tear a strip, you just need a hint of it).

Junk journal tutorial stepJunk journal tutorial step

I also add postcards, but often tear pieces from them rather than the whole thing.

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Glue down the pieces you use, and use a blending tool and some stamping ink to darken the edges.

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Find a place on the page that has a more ‘open’ area and write a positive quote, one that you need to hear and need to see. At the moment we can use all the positivity we can find!

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Finally, I like to take a stencil and use either gesso, structure paste or acrylic paint to go over it, so that the shape of the stencil is raised from the page – this looks so pretty!

Junk journal tutorial stepJunk journal tutorial step

Junk journal tutorial stepJunk journal tutorial step

You can also go in with a white gel pen and add accents to the page if you wish too, as finishing touches.

Completed page close upCompleted page close up

The point is not to create perfect masterpieces, more to create your mood at the time, with artistic expression. Some of my pages look like tantrums, some of them like love letters, and some like an explosion of joy. And that’s what I want them to be. The journal is mine, it’s not meant for other people’s eyes, but when I look back, I can tell you exactly what frame of mind I was in and that is something I can’t always express with words alone. It is your time to be absolutely free.

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If you enjoyed this junk journal tutorial and want to learn more about all the different ways you can explore journaling, check out the rest of our articles, projects and tutorials right here.

As our content marketing executive in charge of the Create and Craft blog, Lisa loves nothing more than writing about all things craft. ‘When I’m not at work, you’ll find me attempting a wonky crochet project, playing with watercolours or trying my hand at the latest awesome craft tutorial to cross my desk!’

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