This is a very small portion of my journal collection. The tags show the
date range of each journal.
Click here to go to part
1 of this series.
Click here to go to part 3 of this series.
The Workhorse Journal
After years of journaling
Iím always on the lookout for the Ďperfectí journal. Iím in the process of
designing my idea of the Ultimate Journal and here are my thoughts on the
design requirements for a workhorse.
Date everything. This one
is huge. If you havenít been dating your journal entries, some day youíll
thank me for this.
Numbered pages. Yes,
youíll need to number the pages! Somehow this one strikes me as the most
incompatible with the anarchic spirit of journaling but itís the one I
never fail to use anymore. I find the task boring and time consuming so I
only number just ahead of the page on which Iím currently journaling. Iíve
found that Iím always jumping from topic to topic or wanting to go back
and write about something days after I wrote about it the last time. I
just write, ďContinued on page XXĒ on one page and, ďContinued from page
XXĒ on the other and continue on with my thought. Numbering really helps
with figuring out chronology later. OK, if you must make it pretty,
stamp the numbers using rubber stamps and rainbow ink or practice your
Decorate or design the
book so that itís obvious which is the front cover. After about the 90th
time youíve opened your journal upside down youíll heed this little tip
and hang a charm from the top of the spine or decorate the cover to make
it clear that it is, in fact, the cover of the book. If I happen to choose
a journal with matching front and back covers Iíll usually stick a visual
clue somewhere to indicate the front.
The most functional
journals are those that you can open flat for ease of writing or
sketching. Most limp leather and exposed spine books open flat and look
Consider size. What is
more important, room to stretch out and glue stuff and let your mind go
wild or having a journal small enough to fit into a purse or backpack?
Your journal should fit your lifestyle.
Iíve been making hardware
for my books lately and love hinges and hasps. Plan ahead, a hasp makes a
book stay closed but it also keeps it from expanding. If you are the type
to save everything and glue it into your journal, a hasp closure wonít be
a good choice.
If you are a saver but not
a gluer, a journal with a flap will help corral your treasures and protect
your pages. Velcro is handy for this. Itís invisible until you open the
book and itís extremely durable.
If you make your own
books, think about working envelope Ďpagesí into the design of your
journal, especially if you like to save small things and to not have them
If you are a gluer and
make your own journals, add some type of shim or section/signature wrap,
depending on your structure, so that the spine edge of the book will be
taller than the fore edge. As you glue things into the book it will
Make sure that the cover
material is up to the abuse you expect to deliver. Iím really hard on a
journal so I tend to use those with metal, leather or canvas covered
boards for covers.
Put contact information in
your journal so that someone can get hold of you if you leave it
somewhere. I got a book back this way once.
If you frequently need to
remove and replace pages in your journals, consider a screw-post or binder
style book. Even a binder can look good if you put your mind to it. Of
course if you put your journal in a binder does that cross the line into
If you are making your own
journals and you need divided sections for some reason, wrap the first
section/signature of each topic section in a colored cardstock. It will be
heavy enough for the book to fall open naturally at those spots and the
colors can be used for design effect as well. If you wrap the
sections/signatures you may have the other half of the cardstock in a
place that you donít want it. Just artistically tear off the part of the
cardstock you donít need. Be sure to leave at least an inch or so or it
might tear out of the book and then youíd lose your divider.
Use journals made with
good paper. Not only does a high quality paper add beauty and texture to a
book, it also makes or breaks a journal on the functionality scale. If
your journal is made with thin or absorbent paper and youíre learning
calligraphy, you arenít going to be very happy. If youíre a writer, try 70
lb. text paper, heavier if you use markers or calligraphy inks.
Watercolorists and sketch artists might like using glorious journals made
with lovely, lightweight watercolor paper for the text block.
Make a strap for your
journal so that you can sling it over your shoulder. This is especially
great for traveling or conventions. The journal is out of the way but at
the ready for those impromptu notes and sketches. Gluing Tyvek inside a
garment leather or fabric strap will prevent it from stretching.
Looking for a low-impact
way of keeping your journal closed? Try a huge rubber band. They come in
cool colors too. Make sure yours is loose enough that it doesnít damage
your book. I found mine at a local discount store (like about a million
Click here to go to part 3 of this series.
|Christine Cox was a regular
contributor to ARTitude Zine. This article originally appeared
and is reprinted here with permission. Unfortunately ARTitude is no longer
Issue # 14
Christine Cox teaches
metalsmithing and bookbinding classes in our Studio in Volcano, CA.