Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Made It: A Scrappy Journal

Hello! Some time ago I found an issue of the late, great Craft magazine at a thrift store. As I usually do with such finds, I tore out the articles I wanted to keep, filed them away, and tossed the rest. But I kept Gareth Branwyn's "Journal-Art Memoirs" out to refer to, since I wanted to try the project featured - what he refers to as a "visual journal". 

Branwyn started out with a 5.2"x8.2" Moleskine journal, and transformed the blank pages with art supplies (paints, stencils, stickers, rubbers stamps, etc.) and emphemera (some examples given were travel brochures, receipts, junk mail, newspaper, wine labels, string, ribbon, etc.) " can pretty much use anything that's relatively flat" Branwyn explains (so that the journal will doesn't become too unwieldy). 

I finally got around to starting my own visual journal last month, and challenged myself to do a page every day of that 28-day period. Besides getting tired of seeing that article on our coffee table for months on end, I knew the trip we were taking to the Bay area would give me a few fun pages to work with. And I trusted that I would figure out what to put on the other pages as the month unfolded. 

And here's how they unfolded, starting with the blank journal I used:

I didn't have a Moleskine journal the suggested size, but did have sketchbook that measures 5"x8", so that's what I used. The boring label on the cover couldn't be removed, so I put a facsimile of a vintage illustration (from the book Food Mania, which is loaded with such stuff) over it. I stamped the words "a scrappy journal" on vintage paper, then glued them to the illustration. Much better! 

A close-up:

Now on to some pages:

Bits of packaging from a favorite snack mix recipe, which I'd made to give to our daughter (I admit, I saved plenty for myself!)

On the left, scraps of decorative papers used to craft Valentine's Day cards. I had to get the cards done and mailed out before we left for our trip. I wrote some details on how I crafted the cards. 

On the right, a homage to Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Slovakia. If I had not married a Slovak-American who gets the Zenska Jednota magazine (a publication of a fraternal organization), I would have not been familiar with these saints. But as their feast day is February 14th, that month's issue had a feature article on these two men's efforts to bring Christianity to the Slavic region. 

A day in San Francisco: cable car ticket, portion of a takeout menu from El Rincon Yucateco, where we ate lunch, address for San Francisco Art Exchange (a gallery where we viewed rare, original photos of the Beatles), and a snippet of ribbon (squirrel design) from Britex. 

Pages from the last two days of our trip. On the left, St. Vincent de Paul church, Petaluma (as depicted on its church bulletin), a snippet from a postcard advertising an art show in Petaluma, and a business card from Petaluma Pie Company. 

On the right, a page from the last day. Because it was Valentine's Day, I included a scrap from a red/pink paint chip sample on the upper left hand corner, and a scrap from Valentine-themed art paper on the lower right hand corner. I also included the tag from our checked luggage, a bit from the Yoga Journal magazine I read on the plane, and a scrap cut from the Jamba Juice takeout menu I picked up at the airport in San Jose. I'd never been to a Jamba Juice before (they don't seem to be around where I live), so I was curious about this business. (didn't buy anything there, as I was pretty full from lunch.)

I prepared for doing the vacation pages by packing along a glue stick, double stick tape, a small pair of scissors and few decorative odds and ends. These supplies all fit in a quart-size baggie, so little room in our luggage was sacrificed. If we'd been driving, I could have taken more supplies along. 

It's easy to do such spreads while on vacation, as ticket stubs, tourism brochures and the like are easy to pick up here and there. But at home, it was sometimes a challenge to figure out what to put on a daily page - especially when I came back home from the trip with a nasty cold. Fortunately, it doesn't take much to fill a 5"x8" page, and inspiration managed to come to me every day.

Although not feeling great, I stubbornly went out for daily walks anyway. On one such walk, I encountered a couple walking their five Newfoundlands - a breed I love! So I took the corresponding illustration out of a vintage encyclopedia in honor of that "family". 

The next day, I still wasn't feeling great, but made a short trip to pick up our daughter after her visit to Chicago. She took the South Shore Line train from Hyde Park to its terminus at the airport in South Bend:

So the brochure I picked up at that airport became the basis for that day's page. 

Thrift store finds above: a game card from the 1967 Musical Bingo game and the cover and goofy line drawing from a vintage community cookbook (vegetable chapter; vintage cookbooks of this type seem to be chock-full of such illustrations).

And finally, from the last day of the month:

Mini calendar page for February, tag from an Earl Grey teabag, and a newspaper clipping that depicts snowfall totals for the month. Officially, we got .8", which is so low for February as to practically be unheard of. The same clipping shows a seasonal total thus far of 42.5" - again, way less than we'd typically expect for being this far along in a winter. Our normal snowfall total for the season averages around 80".

But now it's March - and wouldn't you know it, it's snowing. We may end up with more snow this month than we had in February!

And will I keep up with my "scrappy journal" project? Yes, I will! I found it a great way to do something creative every day, and it's fun to have the visual reminders for the month too. So excuse me now while I go work on today's page!





  1. I like this project! Part journal, part scrapbook. I never know what to do with all those little pieces of paper you collect, but don't want to throw away.

  2. Thanks for stopping by! It's been a lot of fun to do, and doesn't take very long each day either. It'd probably be even better if I'd started with a multi-media blank journal (thick pages and could be painted on), but I decided to use what I already had on hand.