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  • Writer's pictureSamantha McMullen

Make your own art journal

Updated: May 26, 2022

In my last blog post I shared about my personal journey with art journaling and how learning how to make my own sketchbooks helped me reclaim art journaling as a containment practice.

Now I want to share how I made the art journals below. Ready? Let's get making!

First things first, supplies! You can make an art journal with just about anything, but below are the supplies I used to make the journal in this tutorial:

  • Binder clips (the more the merrier)

  • A pad of drawing paper with a cardboard back (for this tutorial I used Canson's XL watercolor pad size 11" by 15")

  • E6000 glue (you can also use hot glue, but I find since it dries so fast the result can be a bit bumpy-but you do you!)

  • Optional: pliers to re-open previously used E6000 glue, trust me this is a life saver!

  • Scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat

  • Fabric, faux leather or faux fur ( for this tutorial I used 1 fat quarter of canvas from

  • Ruler and or something with a straight edge

  • Optional: felt or ribbon

Step 1: Fold the paper in half hamburger style until you have a stack thick enough for the size journal you want. Stack them nice and smooth and make sure all the folded edges are on one side.

Step 2: Use binder clips to secure the edges on the top and bottom and maybe one in the middle of the spine. Liberally cover the folded edges with E6000 glue to create the binding. Leave for 24 hours to be fully dry, but I have found it is workable within 20-30 minutes. Set aside to dry.

Repeat this step if you would like a super thick art journal. I have found that standard binder clips create a book about one inch thick, for this tutorial I did this twice to get a book that is two inches thick when finished. Once both were dry I secured them together by gluing the last page of one stack to the first page of the other stack.

Step 3: Remove the cardboard and any remaining paper from the pad and measure and cut the cardboard in half, hamburger style again. This will create a sturdy hard cover (front and back) for your art journal.

Step 4: Prepare your fabric by cutting out the right size. For this I like to cut out a rectangle an inch larger on all sides so I can fold it over for a clean finish. If using thicker fabric like faux leather or faux fur, I cut to just the size of the cardboard and leave the edges raw and paint the cardboard a matching color to disguise it.

Step 5: Carefully apply E6000 glue at the spine to secure the cover to the pages. Do not glue a page to the inside of the cover just yet if you want a more finished look!

For more security, create an additional layer of support for the spine by cutting a felt strip the length of the spine. In my case it was 2" by 11" long. Attach with E6000 glue. You can also use extra fabric strips or ribbon to go across the spine to the cardboard to add more security.

Step 6: Place book in the center of your fabric. Mark our the width of your book's spine with a ruler or straight edge. Cut the width of the bound pages in approx.. 1inch, fold this extra fabric under and secure with glue on both the top and the bottom. Attach to felt strip with a little glue.

Step 7: Apply glue to one of the cardboard covers and fold over edges to the inside of the cardboard, securing with more glue and using binder clips to secure while you do the other side. Let dry for a few minutes or until you can remove the binder clips without the fabric coming undone.

Step 8: Add a liberal coat of glue to the inside page and glue it to the cardboard, covering up the raw edges of the fabric. Secure with binder clips briefly as you do the other side.


Step 9: Finally, remove any remaining binder clips and add weight to the art journal so everything can dry nice and flat by stacking other books on top or using anything substantial around the house. I use my handy dandy sewing machine, and left it overnight guarded by my Toy Story-esque pin cushion.

Optional steps:

  • Use Fray Check to fix any exposed fabric edge covers that may poke out and unravel with time.

  • If the pages themselves have residual glue from the note pad, use sand paper to gentle remove.

  • If the paper you used feels too thin, you can glue each "wrong side" of the pages together. I do this if I plan to use watercolors and want to make sure the paper won't bleed through. It reduces the amount of pages but gives such a sturdy effect that is worth it to me.

Step 10: ENJOY! You did it! You now have a hand made art journal ready to contain whatever you need it to hold.

If you are interested in art journal prompts, here are some wonderful prompts:

Or sign up for my mailing list below to receive notifications of new blog posts in this series, "Art with an Art Therapist."

If you are interested in customized art journal prompts or the benefits of Art Therapy in general, I would be happy to speak to you about my Art Therapy services. You can contact me through my website, at my via email or via Telephone: (818) 465 8516.

If you follow this tutorial, I would love to know how it turns out! Feel free to let me know how it goes, or send me a photo or tag me @artsomatictherapy on Instagram.

Happy Journaling!!!

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