Easy Homemade Art Journal Tutorial – No Stitching

It has been a while since I last did an bookbinding art journal tutorial. So here it is.

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Watch it on Youtube or Vimeo

Inspired by the book I made in My Soul Book, I decided to make a similar one using watercolour paper. The one I made for my Soul Book class was made of corrugated cardboard, and while I really like it and find it great for collage, it is quite chunky.
With this one, I have the option of collaging, painting, drawing.

I am not going to describe my process or have a list of supplies, as I have created numerous captions in the video to give all the details.

I am, however, going to give you a few handy tips:

1) Leave gaps between pages when taping them together

If you tape them exactly one against the other, your pages will catch when you turn them, and will get damaged.

2) Keep your pages loose when you tape and cover the spine

This photo below is a perfect example of what happens when you keep the pages too tight together when you cover the spine.

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The journal is not closing flat and the pages have moved on the inside edge; they are not getting aligned properly.
When you make your own art journal, you always need to also keep in mind what you are making your journal for. If you are just sketching and colouring in with pencils and markers, your pages will stay the same.
If, however, you will be painting or/and collaging, your pages will become thicker and, if they are taped too close together, will not have enough room.

3) Cover your spine and then the covers with your fabric/tape

As you can see in the video, I apply my sticky fabric on the spine first, leaving room between the pages to give them some give. Then once the spine is stuck, when you stick the sides on each cover, the pages are less likely to move.
Referring to the photo above, I started with covering my front cover with the fabric saturated in glue, then worked my way round to the back cover. This tightened the pages at the spine, which caused the fan effect when the book is “closed”.

4) Use bookbinding sticker fabric (or Duct tape) rather than fabric saturated in glue for covering the spine

It is sticky, it is fiddly, but it is much more permanent and stable when covering your spine.
While using fabric saturated with glue (e,g. Mod Podge) offers more choice for patterns, the fabric when moist will be soft and stretch a bit. Once the glue has dried, the fabric will become hard and tighten, tightening your pages at the same time. Plus, when moist, it will not stick so well and might move when gluing it on the spine (remember that the surface of the spine is irregular because of the tiny gaps between the pages, and if you use different pages, there might be slight size variations).
Another downside of using fabric and glue, is that your glue will have to be liquid, and your fabric saturated with it. If you like gluing the proper way, you should apply glue on what you are gluing and on the surface you are gluing. This may cause drips of glue going through your masking tape and dripping on your pages, staining them at best, gluing them together and tearing them at worst.
If you really want to use fabric and glue, I recommend you tape the spine first with masking tape to give it a smooth surface, being very careful to keep your pages very loose.
If you are using bookbinding sticker fabric, use white, and draw/paint/stamp a design on your piece before you tape it to your art journal.You can still have it as pretty as using a piece of patterned fabric.
If you really want to use a particular piece of fabric (or create a patchwork using several pieces), glue it on the piece of bookbinding fabric and let it dry completely before covering your journal. Or you could add it once you have applied the bookbinding sticker fabric, being careful not to tighten the pages.

I hope you will find these tips useful.
They are all from a trial and error method I usually go for. Once you’ve done something wrong once, you know what not to do! Lol!

Have fun with this tutorial.