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How to make a paper bag junk journal

Char DeRouin

Char is an artist, designer and maker whose work is abstract, intuitive and organic in style, with a no-rules approach. She is influenced by experiences and emotions; colors, patterns, and just about any kind of ephemera out there! Char loves using her creativity for personal expression and connection.



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Welcome back everyone. So let’s get back to these journals and again, here’s the journal that we’ll be making, but it also occurred to me that perhaps some of you are not interested in making the pages staggered like this for whatever reason, and that’s fine. This is your journal, but I wanted to show you an old journal of mine that has staggered pages within the confines of the journal cover itself. So just know that you can make your pet pages different with, with, and still get the same effect with the way your pages will look as you work in the journal. So I hope that makes sense that you can certainly cut them to fit within the cover. And actually in this one, do you see how the papers are? Well under the top of the journal and then here, can you, let’s see, they’re flush to the bottom.

So obviously I did not center the binding, but it’s, it’s still okay. It doesn’t matter really. And it doesn’t bother me quite frankly. So again, you can have this version where the papers are different and wide and tall. Or this version here. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about paper that some of you may not want to use vintage or plain paper. You might want to use a combination of these. So I just pulled a few samples here and to start off, this is a piece of vintage wallpaper from the 60s but it’s vinyl. And I would not recommend using the older papers. They’re too frail and fragile. But if you can get ahold of vinyl paper or old contact paper or even new paper contact wallpaper, whatever, what have you, it’s still a fun medium to have in your journals as well. Okay. Painted papers, your scraps or even papers that you’re not happy with. Like these don’t exist. I mean, you know, it’s okay, but it’s a start. So again, if you include papers such as these in your journal, you’re not going to be staring at a blank page and you have a starting point. Like, I’m not crazy about this at all, but with some Jesso on top and collage and more paint, we can turn it into something a lot better.

Now, if you know me, I’m very partial to these vintage pattern girls and this is from one of the McCall’s pattern catalogs and I do enjoy putting these inside my journals as well. So that’s an option. More paper bags, gift bags, you can cut these up and fold them and use these as pages. Then of course we have the scrap of paper and I think these are great because it’s instant color and pattern and fun. So you can go all out and it’s especially a great way to use up your scraps because these will take paint and inks to a certain extent, which is, which is great. So here I made a pocket page and all I did was take paper that was double sided and you just fold it up and make it as as short or tall as you like. And then I just stitched across the top and the sides.

But you can always staple the sides. You can use washi tape, you can use the double sided tape on the inside, whatever you want and then folded and there you have a pocket page. That’s just one way of doing it. You know, there, there are many, many versions out there. So again, take your scrapbook paper. It could even be these smaller pads. You can fold your papers that way or vertically and take larger sheets and cut them down. And I really like this line. It’s an old older line of mid century patterns, which I’m very partial to.

And then of course I like this. It’s all about coffee. This is another favorite pinwheel. What is this sunny days by Maggie homes? Yup. And these are double sided. So again you add in instant pattern and color and interest to your pages as well. Okay. Another resource, our books and I wanted to share some of my paper favorite paper books here. There’s this one once upon a piece of paper by Andrea, a visual guide to collage making. This is really cool because you also have a book here. It’s a visual guide that she provides with ideas and samples, lots of eye candy. So it’s a great resource. And then she includes actual collage papers. So you can use them as is as a page. Just fold them in half and insert them into your journal or keep it for collage fodder.

This one then I found this new one called for the love of paper. It is not by flow magazine. This is by Lark and it’s huge. I mean it is like the flow books. So inside you find these wonderful graphics and drawings and and and, and printed paper, an idea, stationary projects. It’s chockfull of stuff too. So this is a lot of fun. That’s pretty postcards. Yeah, this is, this is great for the postcards. Yeah. Okay. So there’s this one. Another favorite of mine is this book by Lofa and this is beautiful, especially if you like more minimalist look and these are so interesting and beautiful and if you hear my stomach growling, I apologize. I’m not hungry. It’s just talking today. Anyway, this book is great. I have another book on order. It’s supposed to arrive tomorrow and it’s by Natalie let latte, I believe. Who’s a favorite artist of mine. And you would recognize her work in anthropology. I wish I had it right now to show you, but maybe I can share that with you. Another time. Magazines of course, flow magazine. It’s very popular and full of wonderful articles and images. Same thing. You could just tear out a whole page and use that in your journal and then build upon it.

Well that’s a nice house cabin. Look at that. Beautiful. That’d be fun to use this tree. Anyway, blow magazine and one of my all time favorites, upper case. And I know these are pretty much collectibles. Just beautiful. Just beautiful. And again, the article, the graphics, the font that they use, the words in here. I mean there’s just so much this cutie, so much potential and inspiration in upper case magazine. So I have used some things. This is just, don’t you want to eat that up? No. Okay. And lastly, I have some wrapping paper, so don’t forget wrapping paper. Those make fun pages as well. And these are from 19th century French patterns.

And check out this real estate. I mean this, this is big. So you, you tear these out and then you get a huge sheet of paper to work with. I mean, my gosh, you could use all these patterns. I don’t know. Can you see this one is so sweet. I specially love this one, and this is available on Amazon. Anyway. There you have it. So again, if you don’t want to work with vintage papers or you want to do a mishmash, go ahead and go through your stash, pull out what you have, what you love, and then we can get started. Thanks everyone. We’ll see you in the next video.



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Okay, I’m back. I wanted to talk about supplies and tools in this video. So go ahead and let’s gather the paper bag that we’re going to be using for the cover. And as you can see here, I have a small bag and I have a target bag and you can use a plain grocery bag without the handles. That’s fine. I just think sometimes handled eggs are it heavier so they make nice covers. And even if you want to make a small journal to begin with, I would advise you getting a larger size bag because we will be lining our cover with another sheet of the bag, you know, you know what I mean? We’re going to cut two covers, glue them together. So once you have your bag, all you need to do, when you put this aside and show you what I did was, the first thing I did was I removed the handles by just tearing them out. And that’s really easy to do. All I did was really go, so I just go like that and there you go. So do the same. The next step is to open the bottom flap. So just pull and I am not worried about keeping it perfect. It’s just separating Gus, this one’s got a lot of glue.

Then once that’s done you open it up, you open the this one side other and what I like to do either with your paper trimmer or just a ruler like this where it was folded, I will just tear this away. So then you’re left with this, which is great because the next step is to open it up. Even though I’ve got a line here to follow and my scissors. So just go ahead and so where you can actually be careful about this. You want to get as much of the page so, Oh I know it’s confusing. So if I cut there I will still have, I will still have an even amount of paper. You’ll see. So I’m just choosing one of the five and cutting that out and using this as my full line. Or you could even use this as your fault line because chances are you aren’t going to have a journal this wide. You would need to use really big paper. And sometimes you want to remove these pieces, but from this you okay. Trauma down to the size that you want. No, I’m going to move this back paper here, this bag and show you what I did. So this journal measures have no, I have well I’m sorry you can’t see there but it’s 13 inches wide. Let me get into frame here.

Okay. Yeah. So here’s a ruler show you which about 13 inches wide. Okay.  folded, it becomes, it becomes six and a half inches wide and the height is seven and a half. So all I did was okay just to make sure, let me just show yourself, just going to do this right. So 7.5 this way, this way is 6.5 do that. So I cut it that size and then I went, I thought, I think you’re able to get, you might have to use two bags for this size. I apologize. So go ahead and cut another bag the same size. Then what you want to do is blue the pages together so that you get a nice sturdy cover. And that’s the first step. Okay? So once you have your cover done, put everything away. Let me show you the tools that you will need to bind your book.

So the first thing you want to have is a ruler or in this case, I mean this, this will work too. If you have a work surface that has all the measurements out, that’s great. Of course you’ll need scissors, a pen or pencil. Okay. Okay. Do we need masking tape? No. Okay. And then this my friends is my little no finding kit or tool bag, if you will. And inside I have various wax linen thread. And what’s nice about this is there was a time that you’d have to just order everything online, which is great. But I found these roles at Michael’s in the jewelry section, jewelry and leather, I think is where I found them. They say they’re wax, but they’re not, I can’t really feel the wax, but it’s sturdy. And you could, Oh gosh, I wish I had it.

You can also take bees wax. I’m in the sewing department. They have bees wax in, a little plastic case where you can run your thread through so it doesn’t stick and get tangled. Same same idea. Okay. You know this works well. They have it in black, white and white. So depending on the look you want, then I have off-white and a cream and the gray. So I keep all that there. You need an all and maybe this is a paper piercer I don’t know. I did have a good all but somebody broke it. And I just simply use this cork from a sham pain bottle and I need one of those. And then you need clips. And these are my favorite. These came in a set that I got years ago at world market, but I’m sure you can find these and yeah, they’re big.

So here you can see the size of those. If you don’t have those clips, get anything. The deeper the, we’d call that it’s not the tooth, but it helps if it can grab all your papers as you start to bind. So I just keep these handy. That’s another one. Oh, and sometimes these will work just fine too. Again, it depends on your, on the size of your book and your papers. So you have that. Tapestry needles. I like these because they are blunt and they will not poke. They’ll poke, but they won’t, you know, break skin or anything like that. The very first journal I made, Oh, I poked myself so bad. I had blood on my ages, so that was not a happy day. Okay. And then I also include needle nose pliers because sometimes getting the needle through the pages with your wax Lin and thread he a little, little tough and you don’t want to cheer your pages. So it’s good to have these on hand. Likewise, if you don’t have needle nose or flyers such as this needle nose pliers will work. And even these mice, why? Mmm. Pliers, flat flat nose pliers will work. I just rated my jewelry tools and put them in here.

So this is what you need. Okay. As far as binding your book together, let me just throw everything back in life trustee bag. Okay. And now I’d like to show you my papers, which I already have prepared. Okay. So I’ve basically put them together in the order that I want them to nest in the journal. So this is where you audition your papers. Once you decide on the papers that you want, of course you want to tear them or use a paper trimmer to to get the sizes that you want. Now knowing that this is 13, 13 inches across, we want to make sure that you can use any papers that are at long. Mmm. Let me show you. And not all of these pages are that long. If you look at this, sits well within the covers, but then you have like the Pedro fag. Oops, sorry.

I’d like to keep it in order, but that’s okay. So, and then I have a paper bag that I did not, let me show you this detail before I go on. Sorry. So this was also from Kelly and the package that she sent me and look at this. So she had this on a different piece of paper, this little fold-out that’s taped and I thought, Oh gosh, that is so clever. So I, I took it off of what she sent me and I added it to the bag here. And that’s going to be fun to flip through and decorate and journal on and all that stuff. But anyway, if you look at the bag, okay, the bag is much shorter. Okay. Then the cover. But what I did was I made the fold so that the back, yeah. Was flushed to the corner for, excuse me, the edge of the journal and the front page is shorter.

So that’s another thing. Your papers do not have to be folded. Mmm. Perfectly. In half. You can take your papers and you find an example of one that is crooked like this, but maybe I don’t count that. Let’s see. Oh, I do. Okay. So look at the music paper. I have to see how the front is wider than the back so that when you nest them in your signature, the front of it is lined up, that it covers all this space here. But if you look at the back, it’s short and that’s what you want in a Steiger page book. You want to be able to see the other pages so that your layers will pop through the journal and you have more interest that way. So once you’ve you get your pages together, then it’s up to you to put them in any order you like.

And so again, this one, I think this is my cover page and then I’m nesting these inside. And I will talk in a minute when we get to the part about binding the book. Then I’ll talk to you about placement what you like. And there are really no rules when it comes to this. So I have this in here and then I believe this goes in here. I wanted to point out that I have, I have some ledger paper that is very nice, but when it’s folded, it’s brittle. So for me, I like to reinforce the fold with masking tape.

And that way I know that when I punch it, it’s not going to tear. And when you’re tying the when you’re tying the wax linen, it will have minimal tear when you are pulling it taut and tying it together. So again, this is up to you. I’ve seen journals where they don’t add this treatment and it’s fine. I just think if you’re going to use what media in here with paints and whatnot, it, it will loosen the strength of the page. And it might, it might tear away, but that’s okay too because if it tears away, you can certainly tape it back in it. It’s fine. And actually that’s really fun and interesting when that happens, but you know, it’s your preference that might bother you. So just to be safe, I go ahead and I put masking tape at the fall on both sides. Sometimes one, one side would do, but I always stare on the side of safety and Dougal sites. So here are my pages and just account. So I’ve got one, two, three, four. I don’t count this because this is like a tip in. Okay, I lost count cover one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

So this signature is nine pages, which will give you 18 pages or 36 pages front and back. So that’s a nice size journal. Of course you can make yours with more pages or less pages, but I’m going to stick with this for now. So go ahead, go through your papers and trim them down to size and I’ll meet you back here and show you how to bind the book. Okay. See you soon. Welcome back. Okay. Hopefully you have your, your

Cover and everything ready to go. So there are just a few steps before we get to binding and I will show you how I learned to make a template for your binding for binding purposes. So what you wanted to is get a piece of scrap paper that is the same height as your cover. And again, ours is seven and a half inches tall. Okay? So I’m going to tear a piece about an inch and a half. Oops. All right. Stuck. Okay. So here’s the, the height of our journal cover. What I do is I will go ahead and folded in half.

Okay, where’s my phone? I know it’s just a little thing, but I always like to crease it. So see that’s not straight there. So I folded it in half lengthwise to find the center. All I do is folded in half this way, right? And now I have the center of the template. So I’m going to take a pencil or pen and this is going to be my top. And this is very important to differentiate between the top and the bottom. Because even though your holes might be even just the slightest move or imperfection, if you used your template this way and you put, you know your holes in and you started to bind the book, it will not sit right. So always identify the top and a B for the bottom. And I’m going to just put a.in the center. And then a nice trick I learned from Maryann loss was instead of measuring like this, and I’m going to go in there and here and I’m going to go on that. Well, you need to do, and I know this is kind of loosey goosey, but you can decide just how far down you want your first toll to be in the spine by an ensuring that it’s going to be even on the top. And the bottom just folded up a bit

Like so open it up and now you have your three holes, you know the top, the center, let me see that. And the bottom.


And that’s your guide to make sure that all the pages that you have nested in your journal will be nicely snug and bound correctly. So now that you have your template, let’s look at the pages that you have and here is where you’re going to decide. So again, if you’re going to do the model that has all the pages, the same height, don’t worry about this step. And just watch through if you decide to make one of these later. And then when we get to binding it, it’s, it’s all the same. So this, my first page is approximately, it’s pretty close to the height of my journal cover. And so I went ahead, as you know, and I selected the pages, I want to make sure you can see this, right?

So I’ve decided that I want everything, I’m using this as my guide so that my pages will fit somewhat evenly on the top and the bottom of my journal. And to do that, when you use this page as your guide, then you’re still going to have to eyeball it. But trust me on this, it’s, it’s worth the hassle, if you will. So I’m going to turn my pages like this, open them up, and because I know that this is the order in which I want my pages to go, I’m going to make sure that they nest either inside within the length of this or they peak out the way I want them to. If I want them taller on this side, shorter on this side, that’s fine. That’s perfectly up to you. Of course anything goes and even, you know, I’ve, I’ve done this for years and sometimes they don’t match up, but I tell you once you start working in the journal, it’s these little imperfections that make it just beautiful.

So you do what you can and then you work with what you got. And you know, I’ve been known to rebind my pages because they bothered me so much. So who says you can’t do what you want to? Okay. Again, I’m just eyeballing. Can you see this side and that side? I hope you can see that it does peak over. It’s taller and again, I’m looking at it here. That’s another way to anchor the pages. Okay. This is kind of tricky. You know, if you want to do this detail, put it in afterwards. In fact, let’s tear this out or remove it rather. And so now you can see the paper bag here, right? Which is again taller than this tall page. So I’m trying to kind of put it, align it up correctly and so on and so forth. So you get the picture.

Now I’m just going to go with it. Looking at each page where I want it and this is why these Johnny paper clips are so fantastic. Okay. This is not perfect. It’s close enough for me. I’ll leave the therapy. This page is pretty close to that, so I’m going to put it there. Okay. You can flatten it as you go. Okay. This is my last page and I’ll, I’ll tell you a trick. If you make your front page and your last page or the center page of your journal the same height as your cover, then you know your pages are going to rest in here just fine. So here’s another thing because, and now, okay, obviously the page before is taller, so I am going to just judge it to where I think it is. Yes, that’s a real word. Okay. So I’m thinking about there and here’s the cover.

Okay. And I can feel okay, I’m sorry. Let me see if I can get a good angle on camera so I can feel the pages and, okay. Visually I like where this sits. It’s still within, it’s still within the, what am I trying to say? I’m trying to line up this page with this as much as possible, but I think this page is just slightly shorter. So again, it’s not about being perfect, but I’m just trying to keep it where I like seeing the, and if I do that and I open here, I’m good with that. So this is tricky. Be patient and just go at your own pace. Follow, follow the video first and then when you get everything together, watch it again with me here and hopefully that will take care of everything there. So when you’re ready to attach the signature to the cover, I kinda like to lean it into the fold and as you can see, sorry again, I’m going to place it where I want it to sit. Okay.

There you have it. Okay, here we go. So lot you have it lined up and you have it cradled within the journal cover. Okay, so hang on to that. And this is where these nifty clips come in. So I go ahead and I clip it right there and see how it just holds all the papers. I’m going to do the same thing here and put it there. Okay. Now you see we’ve got it nested and Clift nicely inside. So here’s our template and we know because we drew our holes in here and it fits onto this page pretty, pretty well. Are we going to place it right in the fold of the center centerfold of the signature. Okay. And this is where what I do with my other clips, sorry. This is where you, if you’re doing this for the first time, you will probably want to have an extra set of clips. Sorry, did I put those round ones?

I think I throw them somewhere else. Oh no, they’re here. All right. So if you feel more comfortable, you can certainly pin this template and attach it with another paper clip there. Okay. So I’ll go ahead and do that with you. So now it’s all in and you want to make sure you can feel, you can feel it up against the fold of the cover. Yup. So make sure it’s in there. Good professional Bookbinders have what I think is called a cradle and it your journal and the signatures fit right in so that when you are poking your holes into the spine here, it goes straight down the center. Well, I don’t have one, so I’m just going to take my home and I am going to start with the center home and I’m going to place it right there. I close my book, I can feel it going in. I closed my book and I go ahead and push it through. Let’s see, it’s there. Okay, gently pull it out. Open it again, doing the bottom hole. Same thing, pushing it straight through. There you go. Now for the top, if it’s easier, flip it around,

Poke it through

And you’re in. That’s it. That’s it. And if anything, that’s the hardest part. Okay, so I’m going to remove those clips, remove the template, and now I have my three holes there and we’re ready. We’re almost done folks. So pull out a tapestry needle. And the rule in measuring the wax linen. I don’t know why I’m blanking out on that wax linen thread is that you do it, you, you, you pull the thread and it doesn’t have to be exact. There will be some waste, but I would rather you have more than not enough. So I go ahead and I measure one, two, they say three. When you’re first starting out, I think, you know, two and three quarters is good. So there you go.

And then go ahead and, yeah, in thread journey, I need my readers. I don’t wear glasses yet, but let’s do this. Oh, and the beauty about reuteri, excuse me, tapestry needles. This is crazy. I usually just get it in the first time is that the head of the needle is large too long. So you’re not, you know, working with regular sewing needles. Get in there. Okay. There you go. So I finally got it in and I want to tail about this long. What is that? Like three inches. Okay. And we’re ready to go. So if you recall, this is the top right.

You’re going to start in the center and there’s your needle, pull it through and leave a tail about this long. I think we have enough room for for that. Then you’re going to go in through the top, hole, the top, and make sure that you get through. Sometimes. Sometimes you don’t feel, sometimes you know that you went through, but the pages get tight so you might have to poke it again. So now I’m going through the top and there’s my needle. Pull it through and pull taught. And by taught, I don’t mean super tight. It’s not tight right now, but it will be. So pull it taut, keeping this thread on the bottom if you will, under now you’re going into the bottom. The third one, well let me go pull it out.

Now that you have that, you’re going to go in the center and when you come out, put your needle so that it is above this center thread. This is below it or underneath it. You’ll see why in a minute that that’s important pole. So my tail is stuck in there. That’s normal. I’ve never done a demonstration on how to bind a book. So I appreciate your grace with this. So done with this, putting it back and because you have this thread between the tails, if you will, I can pull this. Okay. And it tightens it up just right. Can you see that? I’m checking the camera to see if I’m showing you and it’s just flush to the fold. So knowing this is your top again, I pulled it and I’m going to make a knot. I was getting mixed up with this a square knot, right? Tie it that way. Then I tied it in reverse or something. Just put two knots in and pulled tight. You won’t hurt it at all. And then with the excess I just trim it to about there, there and that. My friends is all it takes to do a three hole pamphlet stitch.

Then you can check the pages and see how they turned out. Not too bad. Now this one shows here in it’s flushed to the bottom. That is certainly cool. Lots of room to plan and play in and this is where we removed our tooth. Little tip in. I’m going to put it back in and far enough that it’s not at the, I’ll reinforce that with, I’m sorry, I don’t finish my sentences sometimes far enough from the stitching so it’s right there. Okay. That’s too close because I want the page to rest away from, from the scene there, the center seam. So if I do that, yes, there we go. So it’s not in the way. Now when you pull it out it’ll rest right there. I like that a lot. I hope you do this too. She just took a wide piece of paper, folded it in half and then just, you know, taped another page. I’ll have to fix it through, but she just, yeah, taped another page on top and that’s going to look fantastic. Once you fill your journal and you have all this fun stuff and interaction going on. Here’s our music page. This another turn my page between IA. Here we are at the center and then it goes on. Don’t worry about these little bumps. That’s fine. In time, they kind of just melt into the book nicely.

And there you go. And pocket there. Yeah. So give this a try. Take your time. Be kind to yourself and I can’t wait to see what you make and how we fill this up. And I will see you in the next video. Take care guys. Bye.

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