Junk drawer as treasure trove: using household items to make marks in your journal

Hi everyone! TC here, and so glad to join you again! I have to tell you, playing is one of my favorite things. Playing music, playing outside, playing with paint — all these things are so life-giving! It doesn’t take much to convince me to shirk responsibility to go play.

Today we’re going to play in our own junk drawers, utensil drawers, in our cupboards and our mail piles. Let’s look for things we can repurpose in our journals. Sure it’s nice to have fancy papers and expensive tools, but there’s a freedom in using commonly found stuff in new ways. Once you start looking, almost nothing will be off-limits!



Now that your roving eye is looking for what other things could make interesting marks in your journal, let’s incorporate those items into a new spread. In the next video you’ll get some info on another playful technique you can use to create a unpredictable background in your journal, and you can create along with me.


Items to have on hand for this spread

  • A couple of your favorite paints
  • Glue stick and / or matte medium
  • A patterned napkin and / or greeting card
  • Some goodies from your junk drawer you’d like to repurpose. I use toys, a pet brush, a bubble mailer, and other random stuff.
  • A pencil
  • A couple of crayons or oil pastels
  • A spirit of playfulness, a willingness to experiment, and acceptance of imperfections

I look forward to seeing what unpredictable masterpieces you create out of the treasures in your junk drawer!


Try it at home

  • Take a look at your utensil drawer and find two things you seldom use. See what crazy marks these can make.
  • Now venture into your cleaning supplies. Are there any squeegees, scrubbers, or sponges that you could pilfer for your mark-making frenzy?
  • If you’ve got kids, their toys are a serious jackpot. These all make great marks: the little feet on action figures, toy car tires, blocks, Slinkys, etc. Find a couple abandoned toys and give them a try in your journal.
  • What about trying one of your arty tools in a new way? Flip it around, upside down, or simply use it with your non-dominant hand.


TC lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her favorite part of art journaling is following a feeling or idea and seeing where it leads on a page.


  1. Chris Silker

    This was so much fun! I do/have done a bunch of these, but I have some new ideas to try…

    I took a class from Brianna of Orange Spiral Arts and she had us try making marks with paint and a flyswatter – it was very fun, therapeutic, and MESSY! I’d recommend trying it outside.

    • TC Larson

      I’m so happy you liked it! Making marks with paint through a flyswatter but not using it as a stencil! What a fun idea (and good recommendation to go outside for this one!)! Nothing is safe once you start repurposing non-arty goods — you start looking at the world with new eyes, don’t you?

  2. Maura Flood

    You’ve given me so many new ideas. I love the look of the spray thru the grapefruit bag. And I’m already thinking of things that are in the junk drawer that would be perfect for mark making. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • TC Larson

      It makes me immensely happy that you gained some inspiration and ideas from this. I’m a total sucker for the look of spray inks. I just got some Ranger mini-misters and I’m going to put some acrylic inks in them to take on the go! I can’t wait to see what you come up with using things from your junk drawer!

  3. Alicia Schultz

    I am heading to the garage to get a styrofoam cup ASAP! I love the ghost like stamps after a couple rounds of stamping and the paint is less on it!!

    • TC Larson

      Yes! I love that look as well! Using non-precious items gives us permission to try new things without the pressure of perfection or “what if I ruin it?” slowing us down.

  4. Clare Etheridge

    Great ideas and lots of fun! I love my spray inks and I am sure I have a fruit bag somewhere!

    • TC Larson

      Thanks, Clare! I once tried making my own spray inks but made the mistake of using acrylic PAINT with water and let’s just say the results were less than desirable. Maybe there’s a way to make that work, but until I discover it, I think I’ll stick with either store-bought ones or inks in little squirter bottles.

  5. Lea Betty

    This is super awesome TC. Thanks for sharing your process. From seeing your finished piece I would never have guessed how you made it.