Studio Saturday: Travel Journal Pages

The July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine is here, and I could not be more excited. The theme is travel and adventure, and the magazine is packed with ideas for travel journals and travel journal pages, paintings based on maps, watercolor postcards, studios on the go—I want to show it to everyone I meet.

Travel journals are a big part of the issue because many mixed-media artists love to create in these before, during, and after a trip. However, you don’t have to be bound for far-flung locations in order to work in a travel journal. I use mine for local and long-distance travel: day-long road trips and visits to a nearby museum or new coffee house, as well as travels across the country and around the world. Every trip has the potential for great new experiences, so why not document it all?

On page 53 of the July/August issue you’ll find my handmade travel journal, inspired by the compact traveler’s notebooks that are so popular now. In our Online Extras you can find out how to make one, and the project is great for rank beginners and those who have some bookbinding experience.

In the instructions you’ll also see a couple of ideas for creating pockets and a see-though envelope. In case you’d like a few more ideas, today I’m featuring projects that are perfect for travel journal pages, or any kind of journal pages.

Let’s start with washi tape. I love washi tape so much it hurts, and if you haven’t discovered the stuff yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously, what? Just go get some and thank me later. In the meantime, here are a few things you can use this thin, translucent tape for (this also includes similar types of peel-and-stick paper tapes and fabric peel-and-stick tapes):

  • Tip in a page: Use washi tape as a hinge for a piece of paper or cardstock. Adhere half of the strip of tape to the paper or cardstock, and use the other half to adhere the paper to the page. Use another length of washi on the opposite side of the tip-in to reinforce the hinge.
  • Border a page: Create a border on one, two, or all sides of a page. Use the full width of the tape, or fold it over the edge.
  • Add a page: Attach an extra page to the edge of an existing page, using washi tape on both sides as a hinge. Leave a scant 1/16″ between the pages to allow the hinge to bend.
  • Attach photos and ephemera.
  • Create page tabs.
  • Make flags and bunting.
  • Use it for writing dates and titles with permanent pen.

On this page, I wanted to incorporate a promo card from a local café in my journal, but the card is so big it takes up most of the page. I turned it into a tip-in by adhering the right-hand edge with fabric tape on both sides of the card; this way I can flip it up and have space underneath, and on the back of the card. I used washi tape to create a tab on the left-hand side of the card to make it easier to lift.

Washi tape on travel journal pages
Washi tape comes in handy for travel journal pages; here I used it as a hinge for a tip-in and a page tab.

When the card is flipped, it reveals a photo adhered with more washi tape.

Washi tape used to adhere a photo to a travel journal page
More washi tape was used to adhere a photo to the page.

I collect tons of ephemera when I travel–brochures, maps, bags, business cards, etc.–and much of it winds up on my travel journal pages. Sometimes the ephemera becomes the page, and if the pieces are large enough they can be used to make pocket journal pages. This grocery bag had great graphics that I wanted to showcase.

Grocery bag for travel journal pages
Who could resist the graphics on this paper grocery bag? I thought it would make great travel journal pages.

I opened the bag and cut it to the height of the pages of my journal, added ½”, and doubled the width. The paper was folded in half, and the outside edges were folded to the middle. I cut ½” from each edge to make it easier to slip items into the pockets. I also cut ¼” from the top and bottom of the two inside folds; this creates tabs for the two outside folds.

Trimmed grocery bag for travel journal pages
When trimming ephemera to make travel journal pages, think about where you want the graphics to appear.

I put glue stick on the tabs, folded the outer pages in, and folded the tabs over the back. The left page has one pocket, and the right has two; I simply stitched across the page with embroidery thread to create two pockets. Finger tabs were created with a small hole punch.

Travel journal pages with pockets
Sew the finished pockets into a signature for unique pages.

Cutting windows is an easy way to add interest to travel journal pages. Use a craft knife for hand-cut windows, or a punch for a quick shaped window. This allows a view through to the next page, teasing what’s ahead. Here, I cut a small rectangle into a cardstock page that I stenciled with a map design. I created a frame around the window with a piece of decorative cardstock. A brightly colored map appears through the opening. For the “France” label, keep reading.

Cutting windows in travel journal pages
Adding a window to travel journal pages is an easy way to create interest and tease what’s ahead.

I often use labels on my pages for titles, notes, dates, etc. But sometimes I don’t want to stop what I’m doing and search for just the right label, so I draw them myself. You can use any pen or marker for this, but I like using a dip pen and ink. There’s something about the look of the ink on paper that makes even the wonkiest lines look charming. I had a leftover scrap of hand-dyed watercolor paper, and used that to make labels with black and sepia ink. No special skills are required for this—just dip the pen in the ink and make some lines.

Custom labels with pen and ink for travel journal pages
Make your own custom labels using a dip pen and ink.

In the Collage section of the July/August issue (pages 6-7) we asked artists what supplies they like to take while traveling. We got some fantastic responses that contain lots of useable tips. Here’s a bonus idea from Dorit Elisha: “Before I leave home I always do some research on where the flea markets or second-hand bookstores are where I’m going, and I make sure I visit them for some interesting ephemera for my journal.” I am a huge flea market fanatic, and this inspired me to create a pocket from a vintage patchwork block I found at a flea market.

I simply turned down and ironed ¼” of the block on three sides, and adhered it to the page with glue stick. To make sure it was attached, I stitched it with ‘Xs’, using perle cotton. If you don’t want the stitches to show on the back, cover the reverse side of the page with ephemera.

Pocket for travel journal pages made from a vintage patchwork block
A vintage patchwork block makes a great pocket for stray ephemera.

Here are a few more ideas for travel journal pages that I’ve compiled from previous blog posts: For an extra pocket, try sewing an envelope into a signature. I created an envelope using the We R Memory Keepers 1-2-3 Punch Board, but you can use any envelope template. Just make sure that, when closed, the envelope doesn’t extend beyond the pages.

Envelope template for a sewn-in envelope in a travel journal
For a sewn-in envelope, create an envelope template.

Before closing up the envelope, line up and center the bottom fold into the middle of a signature. Place the punching template on top, and punch the holes through the signature. Sew the signature the same way as the others, keeping the envelope flaps open.

Sewing an envelope into a signature for a travel journal
Place the open envelope in the middle of a signature and punch holes for sewing.

When the book is sewn, glue up the flaps and use the envelope to store ephemera, dried leaves, or other flat bits.

Envelope incorporated into travel journal pages
When glued, the envelope is a great addition to your travel journal pages.

Maps are great to include in travel journals, especially ones you create yourself. But they’re often too large to fit on a page. One solution is to use a Turkish map fold that can be adhered to a page, or to the front or back cover. Directions for creating the fold are easily found online. You can also use this fold for a photo, menu, or magazine page; just make sure the paper is lightweight so it can be folded easily. Here is the map folded, adhered to the inside back cover of a small travel journal:

Turkish map fold closed
Folded, a map fits neatly into any-size travel journal.

And here it is open.

Turkish map fold for travel journal pages
Turkish map folds can be used for a variety of ephemera, and add a lot to travel journal pages.

I hope the summer includes some fun adventures perfect for capturing in your travel journal pages! If you need more techniques before heading off, here are a few terrific resources from the North Light Shop.

July/August 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, travel and adventure issue
The July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine is packed with projects perfect for summer travel!
Deconstructed Art Journal video with Rae Missigman
Make your own journal using a variety of creative techniques in the video Deconstructed Art Journal with Rae Missigman.
Artist's Sketchbook by Cathy Johnson
Let Cathy Johnson show you ideas for creating on the go using a variety of mediums in Artist’s Sketchbook: Exercises and Techniques for Sketching on the Spot.
Alternative Art Journals by Margaret Peot
Learn how to create unique art and travel journals using unusual materials in Alternative Art Journals by Margaret Peot.


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