I love journals. (You can read about my lifelong love of writing here: Journaling, or The Story of My Life) I love handmade books. I love kraft paper. I love flimsy cardboard covers… Because of that, I am just crazy about these quick, easy, no-previous-experience-necessary little handmade books. The pages are made from cut up paper grocery bags, and the covers are cereal boxes. I like to turn my cereal boxes so that the brown paper side is the front. But if you want a cheerios journal, by all means, use the front! Here we go.
How-To Tuesdays #2: Cereal Box-Grocery Bag Journals:
A couple of grocery bags
A cereal box
Strong Tape (like Duck Tape) or strip of strong paper or fabric
Materials to decorate cover (Collage, stamps, crayons, etc.)
1. Decide on the size of your journal. Make sure that your pages are not bigger than your cereal box. My journal is about 6.5 x 9 in.
2. Cut the grocery bag, making pages for your book. I have 6 long strips (18 in. each), which I fold in half to make my 9 in. pages. Counting front and back of each folded sheet, this makes a 24-page journal.
3. Take your spoon and run it along the crease of each page, sharpening the folded edge. This will allow your book to open and close more easily.
4. Stack your folded pages inside one another. This is called a signature, and it is the inside of your book.
5. Cut your cover from the cereal box. You will want to add about 1/4 in. to the open edge of the book, because when the pages are folded one inside the other, they tend to creep out a little bit.
6. Use the spoon to crease the edge of your cover. (If you have folded it on the crease of the box, which I recommend, you may be able to skip this step.) You want your book to open and close easily.
7. Put the pages inside the cover and push the against the inside edge. This should look like a book!
8. Staple your book together at the top, middle, and bottom. Some staplers will go through more pages than others. If your stapler won’t go through, try taking out a page or two.
9. Cover the spine of your book with a strip of tape (I used red duck tape), a glued-on piece of fabric (you will probably need elmer’s glue instead of the glue stick for this), or a glued-on strong piece of paper.
10. Decorate your cover any way you like. I used a picture from a wonderful book I picked up at a thrift store. It is sort of like a yearbook for supporting actors/actresses from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I took this page from the High Society Ladies. And I cut this rooster out of a discarded library book about old toys and games. The two images seemed to go together.
11. Write your story! (Or draw, or make lists, take notes, etc.) This is your book. Do whatever you like with it!
Bindings–Stapled binding is the simplest way to make a book. But a simple hand-sewn binding is almost as easy. Try poking three holes in the spine of the book and sewing a strong thread through, tying it off in the back. There is no one way to sew it–try whatever makes sense to you. Or if you are a whiz on the sewing machine, just sew it right up by machine. This is quick and adds a nice touch.
Finishing the Cover–For the cover, you can make a simple collage, use stamps, scribble a drawing, or even just cut out one important word from a magazine or book and glue it on the front. If you can’t think of any way to decorate the cover, give it to a child and ask him/her to decorate it for you. They are brimming over with great ideas. Rosie covered her little book (made of construction paper and card stock) with duck tape and glued on a drawing of a flower.
Size and Shape–Make it small, make it large. Round off your edges with a pair of scissors, cut your book in the shape of a heart or a circle or a pretzel… Get creative.
Add some embellishments. Recycle an old birthday-card envelope and glue it in for a back pocket. Add a button and a rubber band for a closure, etc.
If you enjoy this project and want to learn more about handmade bookmaking, check out some of my favorite books on the subject–Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden and How To Make Books by Esther K. Williams.
Thanks for checking out my little six week mini-series of How-To Tuesdays. Tune in next week for another simple, inexpensive, quick handmade project.