What’s a Junk Journal? Creating One, Getting Started, Tips and Ideas!

One of the best parts about journaling is how unique it can be. Everyone’s reason for journaling is a little different. Some need a bullet journal to help them with productivity, while others prefer an art journal to take their artwork on the go.

A truly unique form of a journal, especially for those who enjoy upcycling and are committed to no-waste, is a junk journal.

What is a Junk Journal?

A junk journal is a specific type made from scraps and recycled materials. Junk journals are handmade using materials found around the house. 

Though traditionally, junk journals are made with scraps and unneeded papers, you can tweak the rules to create a journal that genuinely suits you. Some people prefer a more vintage look, so they use tea bags to color the pages, while others look for vintage paper to make their pages.

Why is it Called a Junk Journal?

It’s called a junk journal because it’s made from junk. Don’t let the name deter you. Creating something functional and beautiful from what is traditionally considered trash is beautiful. It leads to less waste in the environment and can be a work of art on its own.

What’s the Difference Between Junk Journaling and Scrapbooking?

Many people use scraps, ephemera, and other memorabilia to create their junk journals. Materials like this are also often used in scrapbooking, and although there are some similarities between scrapbooks and junk journals, there are key differences.

The significant difference between a scrapbook and a junk journal is the entire point of a scrapbook is to preserve these little pieces of your own history. A scrapbook is a walk down memory lane, with memories, photos, highlights, tickets, and more organized in a fun way to spark happy memories.

Although a junk journal can use many of the same items, the purpose of a junk journal isn’t limited to safeguarding memories. Many people do use their junk journals as a scrapbook, but it’s more versatile. Once it’s created, you can use the junk journal for anything you want.

How Do You Use a Junk Journal?

The sky is the limit when it comes to using a junk journal. It can be a diary, art journal, notepad, task list, planner, scrapbook, keepsake, or anything else you decide.

Once it’s created, you can use it like any other journal. Write down your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Use it as a sketchbook. Take it with you to record important events.

Although there is no right or wrong way to use this type of journal, three journaling processes lend themselves easily to using a junk journal.

Using Your Junk Journal as an Art Journal

Art journaling is an ideal use for a junk journal. Draw, sketch, paint, and design things right in your journal pages.

It’s essential to consider the composition of your junk journal if you will use it for art. When making it, use sturdier paper that can handle the paints you generally use.

If you dabble in various arts, mix up the type of paper on the pages. Include watercolor paper, canvas, and mixed media papers, so you have the right kind of paper for whatever media inspires you on a specific day. Add blank pages that you can fill with sketches.

The best part about creating your own art journal is that you get to decide how you will fill it. Creating your own junk journal for art is the best way to get a journal specifically designed around your personal artistic needs.

Junk Journaling for Creativity

Many people enjoy making junk journals because it enhances the creative process. A journal filled with unique pages, colors, and designs can jump-start your creativity.

A junk journal is an excellent tool for exploring your creativity, both in making and using it. Fill your diary with simple stories, poems, and other imaginative writing. Let the decorative pages inspire you to craft a perfect story without worrying about form and function.

If you are using your junk journal for creative writing, you will want to ensure you have some blank pages to work with. These pages should have light colors, so the writing is easy to see.

Not all of your pages need to be blank. You can include journal prompts, but you can also split the pages. A page can have printed content or scrapbook items around the edges with a space in the middle for poetry. You may want to break a page, so half has poems, and the other half has decorative stickers. Let your imagination guide you in designing the perfect pages for your journal. 

Making a Diary out of a Junk Journal

One of the best ways to use a junk journal is as a simple diary. Use it to record your thoughts, feelings, and desires.

Junk journals turned diaries are perfect for creating a scrapbook/diary hybrid. Make your journal half scrapbook pages and half journal entries. Add handwritten notes to the movie tickets, receipts, wristbands, and convention passes you used to create your journal pages.

The best thing about turning a junk journal into a diary is to create a book that is 100% and unapologetically you.

How Do I Make a Junk Journal?

Part of the fun of junk journaling is making the journal. Here are some tips to help you craft the perfect junk journal for your needs.

1. Know Its Purpose

Knowing what you want to use your journal for is the first step to crafting the perfect journal. As you saw above, art journals need technical paper to handle mixed media, whereas a diary might need more blank pages. Think about what you want out of your journal, then decide what you need.

2. Gather supplies

Next, you need to get your supplies together. Here are some common things you may need to craft your journal:

  • Cardboard: Cardboard is one of the best materials to use for the front and back covers of your journal
  • Linen: Use old fabric or linen to make a soft cover for your journal
  • Pages: Collect scraps to form the pages. Items people use to create the pages include notebook paper, receipts, flyers, tickets, envelopes, canvas, post-it notes, and any other random scrap paper you may have lying around. Keep your intended use in mind when gathering materials for pages to ensure you have the correct materials.
  • Thread: for binding your journal
  • Decorations: You may want to include stickers, glitter, beads, seashells, or other embellishments in your journal. Decorative elements can also be added later.

The supplies will go into making your journal, but you need additional equipment to build it correctly. You may or may not need all of these things depending upon how you decide to build your journal.

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Glue stick
  • Stapler
  • Three-ring hole punch
  • Tape
  • Binder clips

3. Create Your Pages

Now that you have all of your supplies and materials, you can create your pages. There are many ways to go about this, and you will probably use every possible combination to craft unique pages while making your journal.

Use your scissors and ruler to cut scarp papers into the perfect size. Glue and staple items together how you see fit. Decorate the edges with doodles, stickers, or ephemera. Use different sized paper to create popouts, add envelopes to incorporate hidden messages, and let your imagination take over in designing pages that best suit your journaling needs.

Keep in mind your primary reason for journaling when designing your pages to keep room for sketches, diary entries, poems, and anything else you need.

4. Make Your Cover

Now that you have your pages ready, you need to make your co ers. Although you can use regular paper as a cover, you should use cardboard if you want a studier journal. You can use something like plyboard for an even harder journal cover, but that will be harder to bind into a book.

Grab your cardboard and cut it into the correct size. Consider the front, back, and middle when cutting your cardboard. You will want a big enough piece to fold into all three components.

Next, cover your cardboard with linen or ca vas. Tightly covering the cardboard and stapling it is a quick and easy way to ensure it stays stable, but you can also sew it or try gluing the edge.

5. Bind your Journal

Finally, you need to bind your journal. Some folks put their pages into a three-ring binder to skip the bookbinding, but crafting your own is part of the fun.

There are many ways to bind your journal toge her. You can use a needle and thread or hole-punch the pages and use a thicker material, like twine or leather.

First, line your pages and covers toge her. You can use binder clips to keep them secure. Once the pages are securely together, you can start threading.

Binding your journal with a needle and thread is a tedious process. You will need to use a thick needle and thread to pierce cardboard and have stitches close enough that the journal won’t fall apart. Tightly stitched pages will result in a more sturdily bound journal.

Another option is threading a thicker material through pre-made holes in the paper and co ers. Use a hole puncher to create your holes and bind the papers with elastic, twine, or even lea her. This method is a little easier but will result in a looser journal.

Can I Buy a Junk Journal?

If making your own junk journal seems overwhelming, never fear! You can purchase a junk journal on Etsy. Sellers on Etsy offer everything from complete bound journals to vintage papers to junk journal kits.

The advantages to purchasing a junk journal are that you support independent artisans and creators, and you get a journal that you don’t have to make your elf. The disadvantage is that it’s someone else’s craft project. A handmade journal you create yourself will be more memorable than something you purchase.   

Junk Journaling Supplies

Now that you have your perfect art journal, it’s time to put it to use! The supplies you need depend on how you will use your journal. If it is a diary or planner for your creative pursuits, you may only need pens and pencils.

However, suppose it will be an art journal. In that case, you will need various art supplies, which may include pastels, watercolors, brushes, colored pencils, or anything else you need for mixed media art. You can get all of your junk journaling needs at a craft store like Michaels

Ready to Get Crafty with your Journal?

Making junk journals is a wonderful way to get use out of your craft projects. You get to make the journal itself, but you also get to use it for other creative endeavors. It’s a two for one!

The best part about junk journals is that there’s no limit to how you can make them or what you can do with them once it’s finished. It’s your personal creation, so anything goes!

If you’re ready to get creative and attempt a hobby that keeps on giving, give junk journaling a try. Of course, if you don’t enjoy it, you can always go back to your trusty Moleskine journal.