Crafting Memories: Your Comprehensive Guide to Creating a Unique and Personal Junk Journal

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Last Updated on June 5, 2023 by Dee

Welcome to the creative, whimsical, and eco-friendly realm of the junk journal! If you’re a seasoned craftsperson, a stationery lover, or just intrigued by this unique form of self-expression, you’re about to embark on a fascinating exploration.

A junk journal is like a treasure trove of personal memories and experiences, crafted from everyday materials and found objects.

In the upcoming discussion, we’re going to delve into various methods of creating your own junk journal, each a unique journey of creativity.

junk journal

What is a junk journal?

Oh boy, we’re about to dive headfirst into a world full of creativity and endless possibilities. Let’s unravel the magic of junk journals together.

So, picture this: an old book no one reads anymore, pages from a vintage calendar, ticket stubs from your favorite concert, a button from a discarded shirt. What do all these things have in common?

Well, on their own, they might look like a pile of junk. But to a junk journal aficionado, they are treasures just waiting to find their place in a beautiful and highly personalized creation.

A junk journal, in essence, is a homemade book typically made up of various found and recycled materials. The “junk” is just a playful way of referring to items that would otherwise be thrown out or recycled – old letters, envelopes, scraps of fabric, bits of lace, old cards, photos, postcards – you name it.

These items are gathered, curated, and creatively repurposed into a unique, handcrafted book that often tells a story or expresses personal ideas and feelings.

Junk journals are like traditional journals or diaries’ cool, bohemian cousin. But instead of being blank and uniform, junk journals are bursting with a personality right from the start.

Each page might be a different size, color, or texture, and the beauty lies in the irregularity and surprise of turning each page.

Now, don’t get me wrong – despite the name, there’s a lot more to junk journals than just “junk.” Many junk journal enthusiasts, or ‘junk journalers,’ use a combination of new and recycled materials. New supplies can include things like washi tape, stamps, and specialty paper, to name a few.

And how about the content? Well, like the materials, the sky is the limit here! You can write, draw, paste, doodle, or even stitch into your junk journal.

Some people use theirs like a diary, while others use it to document travels, favorite recipes, gardening tips, or to gather inspirational quotes. Some folks even keep a junk journal just for the sheer joy of crafting and creating something beautiful from odds and ends.

Creating a junk journal is a bit like going on an art adventure. You never quite know where you’ll end up, but the journey is half the fun. It’s a way to slow down, savor moments, be creative, and reduce waste all at the same time.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules to junk journaling. The whole idea is to express yourself freely and enjoy the process.

So, why not give it a whirl? Who knows, you might just find a newfound appreciation for those cereal boxes, old letters, and bits and bobs you’ve got lying around.

What is a junk journal signature?

Oh, you’ve hit one of my favorite topics! Let me break down this fantastic world of junk journals for you. We’ll tackle that term you’ve asked about – “junk journal signature” – but let’s first lay some groundwork.

In the simplest of terms, junk journals are like scrapbooks on creative steroids. You know all those found and recycled materials you’ve got lying around?

Maybe old receipts, postcards, bits of fabric, old buttons – these are the stuff junk journals are made of. They are a brilliant way of turning what some people might see as trash into beautiful, personalized, and meaningful art.

Now, one thing to get your head around with junk journals is that there are no rules. That’s right – none! It’s all about expressing yourself and having fun.

You can stick to a theme or go all out with an eclectic mix. Some people love themed junk journals, like ones dedicated to a vacation or a specific era like the 1950s. Others love a more hodgepodge approach.

Cereal boxes, for example, are an excellent resource to use for your junk and art journals. They can be used as sturdy pages or cut up into tags, pockets, and shapes to decorate your journal. In the world of junk journals, something as mundane as a cereal box gets a second life!

But let’s not just stick to cereal boxes. You can use all sorts of junk journal supplies, like vintage papers, washi tape, old photos, stamps, ribbon, lace – the list goes on.

Now let’s talk about “junk journal signature”. A signature in junk journaling lingo isn’t a John Hancock at the end of a letter. Instead, it refers to a group of pages that are bound together within the journal. Each junk journal can contain several signatures, depending on how thick you want your junk journals to be.

These signatures are like mini-books within your journal, often themed or telling a particular story. For example, you might have a signature dedicated to a family trip, and another one for your favorite quotes and poetry.

So, how do you get started? Junk journal ideas are everywhere! Let’s say you love gardening. You could create a garden-themed junk journal using seed packets, paper scraps, pages from old gardening books, photos of your garden, and drawings of your favorite plants.

Include a signature dedicated to each season or types of plants – the possibilities are endless.

Another super cool thing about junk journals is that they’re a form of mixed media art. That means you’re not just limited to paper and glue. You can paint, stamp, sew, and even weave into your junk journal.

You can add texture with materials like burlap or bubble wrap. You can layer different mediums like watercolors, ink, and pastels.

Ultimately, creating a junk journal is about the joy of the journey, not the destination. It’s a fun, eco-friendly way to capture memories, feelings, and ideas. It’s also a great way to express your creativity and reuse materials that might otherwise go to waste. So, why not give it a try? I promise, once you start junk journaling, you’ll see potential art supplies everywhere!

junk journal signature

What is ephemera?

You will also often hear the word ‘ephemera’ when people are talking about junk journaling. Essentially, anything that was only used for a short period and is no longer used is termed ephemera.

Ephemera is vintage or retro. Things like old yellowed playing cards, postcards, ticket stubs, movie tickets, lottery tickets, old magazine images or articles, old book pages and many other items from a past time are ephemera.

So what is the actual purpose of a junk journal?

Well, a junk journal can be used for many things…

Private Daily Journal

Some people use them as a place to journal about their lives’ day to day. A completely new, blank page in a journal can often be quite scary, and sometimes we feel unsure where to begin writing.

With a junk journal each page is different and already has something on it whether it’s a pattern or color or old print. It has been my experience that writing on the pages in a junk journal provides unconscious prompts for you to write about something you may not have thought about.

Dream Journaling

Many people create a junk journal for recording their dreams. They choose materials and images that create a whimsical dreamlike themed junk journal that can be kept in your bedside table for you to lean over and write down your dreams upon waking.

A Memory or Photo Book

You can collect old photos and other memorabilia linked to a special moment, or a special person in your past. It may be a huge comfort to have a treasured journal with a collection of memories, photos and other items linked to a loved one who passed away.

A Wedding Book

You can really create a memorable and beautiful junk journal wedding book with a collection of memories from the day. Photos, menus, notes, feathers or small embellishments can be added to the wedding book as a reminder of the occasion.

A junk journal can also be used as a guest book for the wedding reception. Each guest can choose a specific page to write a special message for the couple.

A Travel Journal

Junk journals are often used for this purpose because they can be made to easily slip into your pocket or bag. Because a junk journal is by nature a mishmash of materials, you don’t mind so much if it gets more worn and weathered through your travels.

It can be made up prior to your journey to be used on your journey, or it can be a travel memory journal with a collection of memories from the places you have been to.

A travel sized junk journal is a lovely object to slip out of your pocket and quickly sketch a scene or write down an experience you are having. It’s a good way to stop and breathe in the moment.

It is very special to be able to go back and read over the experiences you have had on your travels.

A Gratitude Journal

You can make a wonderfully uplifting junk journal with images and collected items that remind you to be thankful for all your blessings. It also becomes a special place to take time each day and write down what you are grateful for.

A Planner

A junk journal can be used as a planner. Adding in dates and calendars to your junk journal pages makes this an easy item to keep yourself organized. If it gets weathered and worn it will only add to the effect of the journal.

Art Journal

Lastly, it can be used as a place to draw, sketch, doodle, paint, print, stamp, sew, stick, and basically any other kind of art-making you can think of.

This is my favorite reason for making a junk journal. It provides a freeing space in which to create art and explore your creative thoughts and ideas.

And if you make a mistake? That’s great! A junk journal provides us with a space where we don’t have to be perfect or absolutely neat, we can be free to explore and enjoy our creativity.

How to make a junk journal?

Making a junk journal is a lot of fun. There are many different ways of going about making you own junk journal.

Method 1: The Basic Bookbinding Technique

Let’s start with a basic bookbinding technique, perfect for beginners. You start by choosing a cover for your junk journal. This could be a recycled book cover, a piece of cardboard, or even a sturdy cereal box.

Next, you’ll gather your pages or “signatures.” These can be anything from scrap paper to old book pages or envelopes. You’ll then fold your pages in half and group them into small bundles.

These are your signatures. Using a needle and thread, you’ll sew each signature into the spine of your cover. There are plenty of easy-to-follow tutorials online that can guide you through this step-by-step process.

Method 2: The Ring Binder Approach

The ring binder approach is another fun and flexible method. In this method, you’ll need a binder or a cover with rings. Your pages can then be hole-punched and added to the binder.

This method gives you the flexibility to add, remove, or rearrange pages as you please, which can be a bonus if you want your junk journal to grow over time. Also, it’s a great way to mix different sizes and types of pages since you don’t need to worry about binding them together.

Method 3: The Pamphlet Stitch Technique

For a smaller, more compact junk journal, you might want to try the pamphlet stitch technique. This method involves folding several pages together to create a signature and then using a simple three-hole pamphlet stitch to bind the pages together.

You can use a single signature for a slim, lightweight journal, or combine several signatures for a thicker, chunkier journal. The best part about this method is that it doesn’t require any special equipment or supplies – just a needle, some thread, and a bit of patience!

Method 4: The Envelope Journal Method

Here’s a method that really embraces the spirit of junk journaling – the envelope journal method! In this approach, you use envelopes as your pages. The envelopes can be glued or stitched together and can be left as-is or decorated with various materials. The envelope flaps can serve as pockets for storing mementos, photos, or notes. The envelope method is super versatile and allows for a lot of creativity and personalization.

Method 5: The Accordion Fold Technique

Last but not least, the accordion fold technique. This method involves folding your pages back and forth in an accordion style, then attaching these pages to your journal cover.

This creates a long, continuous page that can be fun to decorate and gives a different experience when flipping through your journal. It’s great for visual storytelling or for creating a panoramic scene.

There you have it – five different methods for creating a junk journal. Each has its own charm and provides a different experience, both in the making and the final product. But remember, the most important part is to have fun and let your creativity flow!

How to Make a Junk Journal

Step 1

Collect all your resources. You can see in my image I collected old magazine articles, pages from an old recipe book, different patterned papers, art brochures I had collected over the years and other found materials.

Junk Journal collected material and paper

Step 2

Find a piece of cardboard to build your cover.

I found a cardboard envelop that I got in the mail a few weeks ago. It had a nice fold in it, so it was easy to turn it into a book cover. I cut it down to size.

Junk journal cardboard for cover

Step 3

Cover your junk journal cover. I chose to cover my junk journal in a brochure I had found from an art gallery I visited a couple of years ago. It has a nice wooden finish effect and the people create areas on interest on the cover.

Junk Journal Covering 1
Junk Journal covering cover
Junk JOurnal covering 2

Step 4

Arrange you signatures. Start by trying out different pages next to one another to see what the effects are. Fold your paper in half to make two pages and slot each folded piece of paper into one another. For this exercise I created 3 signatures with 8 pages in each.

Junk Journal signature

Step 5

Make holes along the spine of your cover and the fold of your signatures. I bought a book binding kit and it came with several helpful tools. One of the tools is a sharp metal object that helps you to pierce through the paper and the cardboard cover, in order to sew the thread through the holes.

Junk journal book binding tools on a wooden table

Step 6

Using running stitch sew through the holes in your signatures and the books spine. Here is a video for a clear demonstration on how to sew the signatures into the spine.

A hand sewing spine and signatures of a junk journal

Step 7

Tie up your loose ends of string and you are done.

A junk journal on a wooden table

What else can I add to my junk journal?

The beauty of a junk journal is that it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. You can truly add just about anything to your junk journal, limited only by your imagination. Here’s a list of things you might want to consider:

  1. Photos and Postcards: Photos are a wonderful way to personalize your junk journal. They can be photos from your own life, or interesting photos you’ve found in magazines or online. Postcards, too, can add a beautiful touch to your junk journal.
  2. Stickers and Stamps: These are a staple in many craft projects and can add a fun element to your junk journal. You can use stickers and stamps to decorate pages, mark important dates, or just because they look cool!
  3. Handwritten Notes: Handwritten notes can add a really personal touch to your junk journal. They could be notes to yourself, letters from loved ones, or even thoughts and reflections you want to remember.
  4. Pressed Flowers: This is a beautiful addition to any junk journal. Pressed flowers can be used as decorations, or to commemorate a special moment like a wedding or a particularly lovely spring day.
  5. Ticket Stubs and Receipts: These may seem like throwaway items, but they can actually be really meaningful additions to your junk journal. A ticket stub from a movie or concert can bring back memories of that experience, while receipts can serve as reminders of special meals or trips.
  6. Fabric Scraps and Ribbons: These can add color, texture, and dimension to your junk journal. You can use them to decorate pages, create pockets, or even use them as page markers.
  7. Drawings and Doodles: Even if you’re not an artist, you can still add your own drawings and doodles to your junk journal. It’s a great way to make your junk journal uniquely yours.
  8. Poetry and Quotes: Adding your favorite poems or quotes can add depth and inspiration to your junk journal. They can be hand-written, typed out, or cut out from magazines or books.
  9. Recipes and Meal Plans: If you love to cook or are trying to eat healthier, you could use your junk journal to keep track of your favorite recipes or meal plans.
  10. Maps and Brochures: If you love to travel, including maps and brochures from places you’ve visited can be a fun way to document your adventures.
  11. Washi Tape: This decorative tape comes in endless designs and colors, and it’s a fantastic way to add a splash of color and design to any page.

Remember, the point of a junk journal is to create something that’s meaningful to you. So, if there’s something you love that isn’t on this list, go ahead and add it to your junk journal. The sky’s the limit!

junk journal


And there you have it! From the fundamentals of bookbinding to the innovative envelope method, we’ve discovered a world of techniques for crafting your very own junk journal. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a junk journal.

The beauty of it all lies in the journey – the joy of collecting, the craft of creating, and the warmth of storytelling that goes into each page of your junk journal. So, go ahead and take the first step on your junk journaling journey, and remember, the possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

As always, I love to see what you have made! Let me know what your experience has been like and send my photos!

Other articles you may enjoy…

A List of the Best Junk Journal Supplies for 2023

How to Get Your Creativity Flowing in 2023: 101 Inspiring Art Journal Prompts for Artists Block

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