Project Art Journal


A few years ago, my aunt taught me how to make an art journal out of brown paper bags.  She is an incredibly artistic person who always inspires me to be creative and try new things.  I’ve made more than a few paper bag journals since, but one stands out as my favorite – an art journal dedicated to travel quotations.

I thought it might be fun to share the process of the project from start to finish.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some of my favorite pages and techniques.  I am by no means an expert, but  I do enjoy creating and inspiring others to do the same.

The construction of the book is pretty simple and only requires a few supplies.

  • 4 brown paper bags
  • Paper piercer (or an ice pick)
  • cotton string (DMC Pearl Cotton is my favorite)
  • needle (a large embroidery or crewel needle works well)

Step 1: Gather four brown bags and fold them in half.  Stack them so that the open (top) and closed (bottom) ends alternate.  When the book is complete, the open ends double as pages and pockets.

Step 2: Poke five evenly spaced holes on the fold line.

Step 3: Thread needle with thread and stitch in the following pattern:
Down through #1 and leave a long tail of thread.  Either tack it in place or hold it with your thumb.

Up through #2 and down through #3


Back up through #2 and down again through #1.  Hold onto that tail!

Up through #4 and down through #5


Back up through #4

Grab the tail coming out of #1 and the tail coming out of #4 and tie them together with a good knot.

All done!  You’ve got a hand-stitched book!

Usually, I save the cover for last, but the idea came so quickly I had to act!  The cover is constructed in three layers of paper collage and embellishments.

Layer 1: I cut out a square of black card stock so I could mount a collage of postage stamps from around the world. Most craft and hobby stores sell bulk bags of stamps for around $6.00.  To add some sheen, I used some gold nail polish to paint a thin coat over a few of the stamps.  It’s a subtle touch that gives the stamps a little ooomph.

Layer 2:  I took some gold thread and wrapped it around the entire square at a variety of angles.  I didn’t plan the route of any thread, I just let them land where they may.  At multiple points, I taped the thread down on the back to keep it secured in place.

Layer 3: I added three textured fibers along the left side.  Each strand has a charm, bead,  and a word tag at different intervals.  I created the word tags with a set of alphabet stamps, ink pad, and eyelets.  To give the tags a distressed look, I ripped the edges, crumbled the paper and ran a translucent brown ink pad over the top.  After the creating is done, all it takes is a few strips of double-stick tape to attach the collage to the cover of the book.
Note: The postal string on the right is simply a tie down so I could get a good photograph.

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Pages and layout ideas are on the horizon.  Stay tuned and stay inspired!

Want more creative inspiration?  Visit  Salmagundi Arts,  a fantastic blog about bookbinding, knitting, making handmade soap, and other amazing craft projects.

c.b. 2011