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Creating Your Own Junk/ Art Journal

By: Candy Colwell
September 10, 2015

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Creating Your Own Junk/ Art Journal
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Art journaling is so popular right now. There are all sorts of journals that can be purchased. But have you ever thought about creating your own art journal; from start to finish, it is ALL created by YOU?

Here is a quick and easy basic junk/art journal that you create using covers from a hard back book, a chipboard spine, some tape and twine, cardstock and some sort of material to create an exterior spine. Just think of all of the possibilities!

Then … through a magic transformation using DecoArt Media products, you can literally create your own work of art! From cover to cover, it’s all YOUR work, your art, your imagination!

And the beauty of this little book is the signatures you add are not sewn in! They slip in and out of the twine binding. So you can create your own beautiful art pages and add them whenever you want! 

Items needed:

  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Gesso - White
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Modeling Paste - White
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Yellow Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Quinacridone Gold
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titan Buff
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Blue Green Light
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Raw Umber
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Clear Matte Medium
  • DecoArt Media Varnishes - Ultra-Matte Varnish
  • DecoArt Media Antiquing Creams - Raw Umber
  • Metallic Lustre 1oz - Gold Rush
  • Sticky Back Canvas
  • Assorted Paint Brushes
  • Sanding Block
  • Hardback Book Covers
  • Stencils
  • Baby Wipes
  • Q-Tips
  • Deli Paper
  • Copy Paper
  • Metal Embellishments
  • Scrap Text Paper
  • Rusted Mesh
  • Vintage Netting
  • Assorted Beads
  • Waxed Linen Thread approx 120"
  • Cardstock 8" by 6"
  • 1/4" Scor Tape
  • Hot Glue Gun and Sticks
  • Exacto Knife
  • Palette Knife
  • Masking Tape
  • Scissors
  • Temporary Adhesive Dots
  • Interior Signature Papers- - Hot Press Watercolor Paper


Begin with a hardback book. Using an exacto knife; cut along the interior crease between the front and back covers and the pages of the book. Remove the pages and use them in other mixed media work. Cut the spine apart, leaving about ½” of the spine connected to each of the hard covers.

Brush a generous amount of DecoArt Media White Gesso over the outside covers of the book and along the inside edges of the inside covers of the book (about 1/8” inside of the covers. Gently heat set or let air dry.

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Tape a stencil in place on the outside covers of the book. Leave a little space to the inside edge of each cover to allow for the overlapping spine that will be added later. Using a palette knife, scrape DecoArt White Modeling Paste over the stencil, creating and a raised image. Let air dry or gently heat set.

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Using DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Yellow Oxide and a little water, brush the color over both of the embossed exterior covers. Heat set.

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Gently sand the covers. Do this for every layer of color added to add more depth, aging, texture and help blend the colors with each application of color.

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Brush a layer of DecoArt Fluid Acrylics Quinacridone Gold and water over the exterior covers of the books. Use a baby wipe to wipe off any excess or add more color to recessed areas. Lightly sand and heat set.

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In the “window” areas of the stencil used on the front and back covers, brush on DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics mixed with a little water. Heat set.

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Brush DecoArt Media Antiquing Cream Raw Umber over the entire exterior covers. Let air dry. DecoArt Antiquing Cream is water reactive so even after it dries, it can be manipulated.

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Use a soft damp cloth to wipe the Antiquing Cream way from areas you want lighter. Add more cream with a brush or your finger if necessary. Heat set. To set the Antiquing cream, seal it and the colors underneath by brushing a coat of DecoArt Media Matte Medium, Soft Varnish or Ultra-Matte Varnish over the exterior covers at this time.

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Using a Q Tip or a soft padded applicator, add Metallic Lustre Gold Rush to the raised areas of the embossed image to add depth and highlights.

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To add an even more aged patina look, mix some DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Titan Buff and Blue Green Light and randomly pat that mixture onto the exterior surface of the book, emphasizing different areas.

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Once again, to seal the layers of DecoArt products you have added to totally transform you book covers thus far, brush over the covers with a light coat of DecoArt Media Soft Varnish or Ultra-Matte Varnish.

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Choose vintage images to go into the “windows” of the stenciled covers. Size them to fit the areas. Print them out using an inkjet printer onto a piece of Deli Paper that has been temporarily fixed on a piece of plain copy paper using a temporary adhesive tape roller. Trim off the excess Deli Paper to be an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper and run it through the printer. Brush a thin coat of DecoArt Soft Varnish over the tops of the images to seal them. Let air dry or gently heat set. Lay the stencil over the top of the images and cut them out to fit in their appropriate “windows”. Brush DecoArt Matte Medium onto the surface of the book and lay the images on top. Press them into place and then brush over them with another light coat of Matte Medium to seal.

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Now that the vintage images are in place on both covers, lightly brush around the edges and into the images with DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide. This gives a subtle sepia tone to your vintage images and they seem to just blend into the background, becoming one with the book cover. I also almost dry brushed a little of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Raw Umber around the images and in some deep areas of the stenciled design. With my finger, I swiped DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Blue Green Light in the raised areas of the embossed design to add more depth and richness to the covers. Gently heat set and then brush a light coat of DecoArt Media Soft Varnish to seal. 

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Time to add the material to the outside of the book to cover the spine. In this case, I used Sticky Back Canvas. Cut a piece of fabric that is 2” longer than the length of the book covers and wide enough to cover the chipboard spine plus cover the edges of the hard back covers. The width you decide to use on the spine material is up to you.) I cut this piece of canvas 10 ½” by 2 ½”. Using DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Yellow Oxide and some water, I brushed over the canvas. Then I added another ligther layer of Decoart Media Fluid Acrylics Raw Umber, particularly on the edges of the canvas. Gently heat set the canvas strip. Add ¼” Scor Tape to the spine and also to the approximate edge line where the canvas will cover the book covers. (This is optional but gives extra security that the Sticky Back Canvas edges will not pull up.) Make sure that the canvas is laying straight vertically to the edges of the book cover. Leave about 1” of canvas at the top and bottom of the book cover so that it can be folded over the spine and to the inside of the book covers. Remove the backing of the canvas and press into place. Fold the top and bottom pieces of canvas over the spine and in place on the inside of the book cover. Work the folds of the book covers with a bone folder and burnish the canvas in place.

Now it is time to add the cardstock to cover the inside of the book. Cut two pieces to basically cover the cardstock that is probably already glued onto the inside book covers. Basically, there will be about a 1/8” inch colored edge of the book covers showing all the way around. For this book, the covers are 8 ½” tall, 5” wide and there is a 1 ¼” spine. I cut the cardstock 8” x 6”. Add ¼” Scor Tape to the backside of the cardstock; around all of the edges and a few strips in the center of the paper. Ink the cut edges of the paper to hide the white edge. Glue one piece of cardstock in place from 1/8” inside the edge of the book cover to the center of the spine. Then glue the other piece of cardstock in place, overlapping at the center of the spine.

Add the twine to the spine of the book. This will be used for the signatures to slip into rather than sewing them into the book. Figure the length of twine that will be needed. To do this, figure the number of signatures you want to add. In this case, there will be 5 signatures. So the twine will need to be wrapped around the book spine 5 times. The height of the book is 8 ½”. You need to double the height of the book (because there will be twine wrapped on both sides of the spine). So, you will need 5 lengths of the height of the book x2. Then add about an 8” tail to begin the wrapping plus some extra twine to tie off at the end. I figured about 120” of twine would be plenty.

Begin with about an 8” tail on the OUTSIDE of the spine. Begin wrapping toward the INSIDE of the book. Each time you wrap, pull your twine tight and do not allow the twine to overlap as you are wrapping the spine 5 times.

After you have 5 rows of twine on the interior spine of the book, pull both ends of the twine to the outside spine, determine where you want to tie off the twine on the outside spine and wrap the longer remaining end of twine completely around all of the rows of twine. Keeping the twine tight, tie a square knot to join the two ends and secure the rows of twine. Move the twine wrapping so that they are equal distance apart. I also added a couple of extra pieces of twine that I tied over the square knot so that I could later add charms to my spine. You will later cover the knot with whatever embellishments you choose to decorate the spine of the book.

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This journal can be a junk journal, filled with envelopes, doilies, cardstock envelopes; whatever you choose. In this case, this journal will be an art journal. All of the signatures will be created out of Hot Press Watercolor paper that is cut into pieces to fit inside of the journal. There will be two pages in each signature. These pages will be folded in the center, joined together and slipped underneath each twine row to hold them in place. More pages or other ephemera can easily be added or removed at any time.

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Now it is time to really make this art journal special with you own embellishments. For this book, I chose to add all sorts of metal letters, chains and embellishments combined with some rusty mesh, vintage netting, book text and buttons on the book covers. I love things that are tactile and can move so I added charms to the chain on the book cover and dangling beads and charms to the spine. Most of these items were glued in place using hot glue but I also used DecoArt Media Matte Medium to attach the delicate filigree metal corners because it dries clear and also seals where the hot glue would have shown through the filigree and been a mess. To add the corners, simply daub a generous amount of DecoArt Media Matte Medium to the corners of the book and also brush some on the backside of the metal corner. Press the corner in place. Gently dab the brush over the corner, smoothing out the Matte Medium. Let that set for a few seconds and then press a finger onto the metal corner to secure it and gently brush over the metal corner, smoothing out the remainder of the Matte Medium. It will dry clear with not oozing Matte Medium and it will also be sealed permanently to the book.

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I assembled the aged book text, the rusty mesh and the vintage keyhole and then ran pieces of the extra twine through all of them, tying it off underneath the keyhole. This was then hot glued in place. I added beads to the loose ends and tied them off at the bottom. With the remaining pieces of extra twine, I added beads and metal objects to create dangling charms. They clank and move when the book moves and I love that!

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The front of the book also has the delicate metal filigree corners that were added with DecoArt Media Matte Medium. To create the “MY ART” on the front, I first added a piece of ¼” Scor Tape and placed the vintage netting. Then I added the piece of torn book text with hot glue. Finally, I brushed a generous amount of DecoArt Matte Medium on the book text and pressed the metal letters in place. Once they were dry, I lightly brushed over them with Matte Medium to deal them.

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I love the versatility of this little book and that the signatures are not sewn in. That feature gives you so much more freedom to keep your journal “fresh” by easily adding, removing or shifting your art work within the covers of your book.


Wow, this was a fascinating read as I watched your project develop and grow into another piece of gorgeous artwork! Thank you!


September 10, 2015

absolutely gorgeous Candy, the windows are so authentic and the co,luring is superb. I adore how,the imagery fits so perfectly into the windows, I also adore that lustre . Gorgeous piece. Tracy x

Tracy Evans

September 10, 2015

Girl...um...I about fell of my chair! This is beyond stunning!!! All the layers and texture is making me squeal. You have achieved perfection in your aging of the cover!!! WOW....I need to get my hands on this product!!! hehehe..this blew me away!

yvonne blair

September 10, 2015

Love, love, love!! You tick all my boxes here - book making, art journaling, mixed media, vintage. I have used this technique for adding pages, it works well. Great tutorial and photos. Thanks for sharing.

sandie cottee

September 10, 2015


Lisa winnard

September 10, 2015

Really great project!

Karen Conner

September 10, 2015

Oh, Girlfriend! You have outdone yourself with this one! It is just spectacular! I love all of the juicy elements and gorgeous texture! My absolute favorite, though, is the row of charms and then the ones on the spine! Really fabulous! Hugs, cathy xoxo


September 10, 2015

Candy what an awesome Job!! I love what you did with this products....I will have to try this...Great, great job. Love all your details.


September 10, 2015

This is amazing! The aging is perfect. I really need to try it. Stunning.

Karenliz Henderson

September 10, 2015

Once again you have done a wonderful job. This one is splendid in all of its details. Love all the delicious embellishments you've added! Absolutely stunning!

Gaby Bee

September 11, 2015

Amazing! I loved the transformation! Thank you for sharing!

Debby P

September 11, 2015

I love it, it turned out amazing!!!


September 11, 2015

You always astonish me. I am completely in love with this. Brilliant, I wish I could take this class from you!!

Cheryl Grigsby

September 11, 2015

Wow Candy this is really fantastic, I'm speechless, absolutely perfect, I love it!!!

Kerstin F.

September 11, 2015

Oh, it's marvellous! Love the vintage feeling, the texture, and especially the twine binding, such a cool idea. Thanks for sharing the whole process, it's magic!


September 11, 2015

What a fabulously wicked journal - just love it - and Thanks so Much for the tutorial - I am off to make myself one of these - though it will not be a patch to yours, which is so beautiful - thanks again

Jasmine Patrick

September 12, 2015

This is a fantastic project, thankyou SO much for sharing, you have inspired me xx

Irene Boothroyd

September 15, 2015

What a fabulous project and great instructions xx

Anne Breese

September 16, 2015

OMG!! Candy!! This is bar far one of my most favorite projects ever!! Outstanding!! Did I say over the moon fabulous? Well-it is!! hugs,Jackie ")

Jackie P N

September 17, 2015

Love this creation!! Great tutorial....thank you!!

Gayle Montayo

September 18, 2015

Completely stunning - amazing antiquing effects on the cover - very inspired to go and play, thank you Candy! Alison x


September 28, 2015

AweMazing book! All the textures and colors are eye candy!

Bunny Foo Foo

December 25, 2015

What an super step by step tutorial and INCREDIBLE project Candy. I always forget the sanding step! I have decided to get my sander out of it's storage box and put it with my paint brushes!!!! It's amazing how you got the photos to match so perfectly... well - not amazing for YOU - you do it all so well but.... in general!!! Your art journal is BEYOND SPECTACULAR and COMPLETELY STUNNING. Creativity at it's best. j.


February 17, 2016

Wow. What an amazing journal you created! It's truly a piece of art that will hold your wonderful art! Thanks for sharing your creative process. Pinning!

Kathi R

February 17, 2016

WOW Candy. This is gorgeous. Your steps are easy to follow. I may have to try this. You've created another work of art. Love your style!

Nancy Wethington

April 1, 2018

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