• Kaaren Poole

Making Blank Journals



One of my favorite ‘canvases’ for my artwork is the cover of blank journals. Not only is it satisfying to create the blank book, but once I decorate the cover with my artwork, I have a little treasure, ready to commit my most important thoughts to (or just my to-do lists) or a unique and treasured gift to give a special friend.


I’ve used many different media on journal covers including acrylic, pencil, watercolor (of course it needs to by ‘fixed’ with something like Krylon Workable Fixatif, my favorite), collage, or even stitching.


When I began making blank journals I used canvas for the covers and painted them with acrylic. Canvas for floor cloths is a good weight and ready to work on, as it is pre-primed. I’d sew the signatures (groups of pages) directly to the canvas and would often decorate the stitching along the spine with vintage or mother-of-pearl buttons.


Then I investigated other ways of constructing journals as well as other materials for the covers. My favorite now is constructing the journal with Coptic stitch (this gives a journal that opens nice and flat) and gluing thick cardboard to the first and last sheet to make the covers. Then I have several choices of media for the cover art.



In this post I'm featuring one I particularly like. It’s collage, including papers with my handwriting. The script is ‘Theban,’ which is also called ‘witches’ script’ though I have no reason to believe it has anything to do with witches. I like it because it’s exotic looking and also, since it’s an alphabet, you can transcribe any language into it.


At one point I was interested in writing a book on making blank journals, but that project so far hasn’t risen to the top of the list. But it’s still on my mind, and maybe one day it will come to fruition.



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