How to make a folded accordion book about everyday details

One of my most favorite ways to include my life in my journals is to make the mundane magical. I love taking the day’s routine and drawing it out with color and notes so that I can see all the beauty there is as one habit leads to another, the connection of all the pieces making something so much more beautiful than each on their own. I love listening to the people around me, at the bus stop, grocery store, museum, anywhere, and taking note of what they’re saying (and sometimes not saying), and drawing out the person and their words later so that I can keep them with me, a reminder of how tethered we are to each other regardless how much distance can seem to be between us. I love drawing out items I love, taking a handful of days to record a treasure each morning, using ink, paint, and sometimes collage to elevate the ordinary. Debbie Millman urges us to “imagine immensities” and while I love the idea of bit, fat, beautiful dreams, I also love that they begin in our small, simple, glorious days.

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love mini albums, and that isn’t any different when it comes to art journaling. Small, focused little books are such a fun way to really dive into a subject for a short amount of time, creating a portable, colorful way to take note of the world. For this tutorial, I’ll be using a small accordion style booklet using just one sheet of 12×12 paper (let’s keep these supplies simple, right?)

What you’ll need:

  • one 12×12 sheet of paper
  • a ruler and pencil or scoring board
  • scissors or paper trimmer
  • your favorite paper adhesive

Because we all learn differently, and explaining how to fold paper is tricky, I’ve made a short video walkthrough below, as well as illustrated instructions:

Once you’ve got your book folded, you’re ready to get started!

You can now use your adhesive to glue together the back sides of the pages so that the book opens and closes easily. We’ll add covers and closures toward the end of this tutorial, but if you’d rather have them down up front, scroll down, friend!

To fill these pages, I want to challenge you to make this a daily tracker art journal of sorts. When you open your booklet to flat spreads, you should have six 4×6 areas to work on, which is perfect for recording five days of the week, and having one left at the end for reflection. You could choose to capture so many things, but here are a few ideas:

  • People you meet and what they said/wore
  • Your breakfast
  • Your to-do list
  • you’re schedule for the day in images
  • something you read
  • a color that represented the day
  • anything else your heart desires that keeps you connected to the world around you by being part of your day

I’ve made a few different pages to show you all the ways you might use one of these prompts to get started:

Based on a conversation I had at the museum this week, this lovely lady and her words are the perfect addition to my album.

Instead of coloring in the entire line drawing, I just added color to some of the elements, giving the spread little pops and bursts, but keeping the focus on her words.

I’d also love to include this guy I met briefly in the floral section of the grocery store. I am still wishing him luck.

I used the same black and white with pops of color technique here.

I also love to focus on one piece of my day at a time, so for this example, I am drawing out my breakfast from each day and including a bit of who/where is came from.

Instead of simply drawing on white paper and adding color, I’ve drawn these on colored/patterned paper, and cut them out, a kind of collage approach.

No matter which way you go with this little art journal, I hope you’ll consider making it your own, and taking note of your habits and connections on a daily level.

When you’re all done with filling up your pages, or if you’ve skipped ahead to this part, all you need to do is add a cover and a closure! The way I love more is to adhere a piece of ribbon, yarn, or string along front and back cards like you see here:

Once you’ve adhered that, I add a 3×4 card to each side, often made out of something more sturdy like chipboard I’ve saved from packaging, etc.

This will help keep the ribbon in place and give your book more protection, especially if you, like me, often toss them in your bag to share with someone, and they bump around there for a few weeks before you remember to take them out.

Now it’s time to get book making, and life watching!

BRANDI

Brandi is an illustrator and paper crafter who makes and records memories with her husband in Bellingham, Washington, a far cry from her home state of Georgia. She spends all her free moments playing with paper and glue, and drawing a version of the world around her. When she isn’t making a mess or dreaming up new designs, she’s spending time at one of her favorite neighborhood bookshops or watching episodes of Murder She Wrote, because nothing beats J.B. Fletcher.

9 Comments

  1. Katie Smith

    I love this little book!

  2. Amber Coulter

    So fun! Can’t wait to make one and see what decides to show up inside

  3. Misty Granade

    This book is magical!!

  4. Talia carbis

    Oh wow! So cool! I want to try one.

  5. Claudia Anabalon

    Loved the simplicity of this book. I like when you include the words of those around you. I work in a middle school… & always think about writing down what they say… I will try to be more mindful of it 🙂

  6. Clare Davis Etheridge

    I have seen this accordion book but I love love the way you use it and that ribbon to fasten it is just gorgeous! I am going to make one this weekend and get going in it. Thanks Brandi.

  7. Christine Welch

    This is going to be a fun book, I can see myself making this a lot!

  8. Sasha Zinevych

    This little book is so cute!

  9. Maura Flood

    This is so cool, Brandi. I love your idea that bits of ordinary days deserve to be saved in a special little book like this.