Making a Composition Book Art Journal….

Can you believe that this…..
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal (Tutorial) via
…..was once this:
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 1 (Tutorial) via
It took a lot of work but now the journal below is FULL of memories, notes, lists, drawings, etc. It is a simple process and you will get so much enjoyment out of it. It would be a fulfilling activity for older children as well. My 2-year-old has already started her art journal (with my help obviously)….it is a little simpler than this….but the same concept: a book to draw, create, embellish, make lists, and create!
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 2 (Tutorial) via
Here is how you can make your own:
The cover is the easy part. I usually take scraps of decorative and vintage paper and apply to the cover using paper Modge Podge. Vintage cigar wrappers make great borders like you see in the journal below.
Then I poke holes in either side of the journal and thread ribbon through. This allows me to tied the journals closed to keep all the stuff in!
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 3 (Tutorial) via
Sometimes I’ll use gesso (gesso is pictured further along in the post) to paint over some letters to decorate the cover as well…..
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 4 (Tutorial) via
…I love the messy, haphazard image that is left behind.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 5 (Tutorial) via
The next step is to thicken the pages. This step makes sturdy journal pages that you can paint and sew on! I typically do a few pages at a time and then as I finished journaling on them I will do a few more. I even work in several journals at once.
You’ll need matte medium to start (I prefer Liquitex Matte Medium):
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 6 (Tutorial) via
Place wax paper underneath 2 pages of the journal to protect the other pages.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 7 (Tutorial) via
Paint matte medium on the bottom page to glue the top page to it.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 8 (Tutorial) via
Take a brayer and roll out any air bubbles.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 9 (Tutorial) via
Next, I take old phone book pages and use the matte medium to glue them onto the top page. Brush a light layer on top as well.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 10 (Tutorial) via
Keep adding scrap phone book pages until the page is covered.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 11 (Tutorial) via
Once covered, place wax paper on top of the page and use the brayer to roll out the air bubbles and to flatten the page. I leave the wax paper on the page until it dries.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 12 (Tutorial) via
You can work on several pages at once and leave the wax paper on the pages so that they won’t stick together.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 13 (Tutorial) via
Here is the journal closed with wax paper in between the wet pages.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 14 (Tutorial) via
Once the pages dry, I use gesso….

Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 15 (Tutorial) via
…and cover the pages to make them opaque white. This prepares the surfaces for paint or other mediums.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 16 (Tutorial) via
I also use gesso to paint the inside cover.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 17 (Tutorial) via
Here is the inside cover of one of my journals.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 18 (Tutorial) via
Once your pages are dry there is SO much you can do with them. Below are a few examples!
Punch holes to sew around the edges with embroidery thread:
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 19 (Tutorial) via
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 20 (Tutorial) via
Sew items into your journal:
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 21 (Tutorial) via
I even like the stitching from the back side…..
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 22 (Tutorial) via
Sew fabric or decorative paper into your journal:
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 23 (Tutorial) via
I covered fabric with modge podge to keep it from fraying and stitched the words “spilling open” on the front.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 24 (Tutorial) via
You can see the stitching on the back of the fabric page. I covered the back with gesso so that I could write on it.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 25 (Tutorial) via
Closeup of how the fabric page was sewed into the journal. I cut one of the prepared pages down….punched holes along it and then used embroidery thread to attach the fabric page.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 26 (Tutorial) via
An artist’s brochure I stitched in as a “foldout” page.
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 27 (Tutorial) via
A booklet of photos that I attached to the back cover and used embroidery thread to tie it shut.
I always like to leave the last page of my journal with a cute drawing or quote!
Making a Composition Book Art into a Journal 28 (Tutorial) via
Here are some of my other journaling posts for ideas!
Journaling – Part I (Introduction)
Journaling – Part II (Books and links for inspiration)
Journaling – Part III (Drawing in your journal)
Journaling – Part IV (Accidental pages)


  1. veggiecath says

    I love this :) It's amazing. I wanted to start a journal for some time and I'm glad I found your blog. I kept asking myself if I had to make to use watercolour paper to draw and paint in my journal. this sounds the perfect solution :) One question though…what exactly is matte medium? It's an acrylic paint? I'm wondering because I'm from Portugal and I need to find alternatives :)

    • susan says

      Gesso, artists use to prepare thier canvas. Get the matte one not transparent like i just did before seeing this site. I bought while traveling one of those books and i used those paint card samples for my cover and the colors are so beautiful . Of course, lucky no one was helping me as i helped myself to lots of colors. I don’t think they care. I buy paint there. Now i am making one for my grandkids. Football and cheer. I am still away so back to paint shop. I use glue stics and white glue.watercolor pencils for mine when i want to color a page. Simple supplies for traveling. Good luck. So much fun

  2. binelectric says

    At the moment I'm really obsessed with your journals and the journal related posts and return to your page over and over again. Thank you! :-)

  3. Cara says

    I am so glad I found your blog! You just added a ton more things to my list of things I want to make, this journal being at the top! I think my 8yr old daughter would LOVE to make this with me.
    Is there a place online to get the glue and paint that you use? I live in a small town and I don't think our local Wal-Mart will carry it :)

  4. alpinelife says

    I have easily 15 books about altered arts and journaling. I have shelves and boxes of supplies. I look at them everyday and reprimand myself for not doing anything! But today I read this post and believe I have the right information to start! Thanks for the photo with the words "did our taxes". This made me see that journaling didn't have to be about poetry or prose, just life! Thanks a thousand times!

  5. Halo Hill says

    Wonderful journaling ideas and I LOVE your blog! I'm so glad I found you. The quote by Jack Kerouac is my very very favorite of all time!



  6. Amy says

    wow- you're a crafting genius! I love this idea! I'm a fan of lots of journals… and the more unique and personalized the better. I'm going to have to try this out. Are the tools and supplies easy to find? Like just any craft store? Also, how'd you do the holes to thread through? Looks like a mini hole punch… is it?

    Okay – sorry for so many questions but this is awesome! Can't wait to try it out

  7. natty. says

    This is stunning! And a great and accessible idea. I'm going to try this to make a unique photo journal!

  8. M comme...Maman says

    I'm speachless! This is fantastic and so inspiring! I'm glad I have discovered your lovely blog! I'll bookmark it and comeback often!

  9. Amanda Fall - PersistentGreen says

    So beautiful! I've always loved composition books, but never thought about using them for art journaling because the pages are so thin…well, you fixed that! Love it. Thank you so much for the idea.

  10. GemmaBeads says

    This looks like so much fun!! I have to do this. Thanks so much for sharing your creativity and methods.

  11. rachel awes says

    this is gorgeous and i am so inspired and grateful for learning more about helpful materials to create such yumminess!! thank you!

  12. Carrie says

    Wow, a piece of art in itself and so inspiring! I just don't seem to have that level of crafty DNA in me 😉

  13. * Vanessa * says

    Amazing, it's so beatiful!! I have a 3-yers-old son and every time I'm doing scrap he wants to "help" me. I'll have him doing his own cars & trucks album!! Thanks for the idea!! Lots of kisses for you!!

  14. melina bee says

    hey there; new here, thanks for all the journal art tips. I love gesso, it is the best and makes me feel connected to the old masters, even if it is a totally different substance now.
    had to say also that you and your little girl are very pretty.

  15. says

    Love it. I have a question what are you punching holes with? It looks like a whole punch but those holes are very tiny. Is there a specific tool for this?

  16. says

    i adore this! i suddenly feel the need to hit the dollar store & pick up a composition book. off i go to create. :)

  17. Linda says

    I am in awe! I have so many of those notebooks. I have so much “stuff” that I could modgpodge on there!!! Now I know what to do with my scrapbooking papers!
    Thanks so very much!

  18. Jenna says

    im actually making this as i type, but a bit curious, did you add phonebook pages to both sides of the doubled notebook pages? btw. i love how this looks at the end and im so excited to keep going!

  19. Paula Haynes says

    I love this journal idea. I have started my first one and I am in love with it. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Jill says

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I made one for my daughter (10) and one for my son (8) for Christmas. They LOVE them. It took me weeks of working at night when they were in bed, but it was a beautiful meditation for me…preparing a blank canvas for my children’s dreams and ideas. I think these journals are going to become a big part of our family’s story.

  21. Sylvia says

    This is so amazing and beautiful. I’ve never been one to journal but lately my brain has been working trying to come up with something creative so I could begin to journal. THIS IS IT! Thank you so much for providing the tutorial. I can’t wait to begin.

  22. Tamara says

    Oh my Goodness! I think that I have been looking for this for my whole life!!! This is wonderful, magnificent, breathtaking, fantastic, brilliant and just plain great! I love it and it is so helpful and I am seriously going to try and make one. It seems like forever I have been looking for a tutorial to make a book where my pages will not curl and look crazy!! THANK YOU. You’re awesome, and I intend to go through all of those posts. You have given me so many ideas I think my brain might explode! {in a good way} I have been stuck in a rut so thank you, again. :)

  23. Mariah Shiann says

    Hey! This is so adorable! I want to get started on one tomorrow :) I have a question though… why do you add phonebook pages? Is is absolutly needed?

  24. Arita says

    Hi Ashley!! Just found your tutorial at pinterest & wanted to tell you that I´ve got a crush with it (I can´t wait to start mine)…I´ll keep an eye on your work from now on (I find it inspirational)…Regards from Spain

  25. boxorox13 says

    Thank you very much for this. I just made one for my sister- she loved it! Now I have to make one for me!

  26. RC says

    Thank you thank you thank you! I’m headed to the beach over spring break with my BFF. I told her I’d seen some mixed media journals & I wanted to make one, she was all for it. Then comes the “how?”. She, thank goodness stumbled upon this website and found this tutorial. This is so absolutely what I need right now it will be a great way to express myself in lots of ways, the possibilities are endless. I’ve been wanting to journal but I’m not the sit down and write kind of person. Taking my love of paper and adding so many other things will be a great experience. I can’t wait to start in I see some fun late nights ahead of me. Thanks again for sharing your blog is fantastic! Your one amazing talented lady! God bless you!!

  27. says

    I have a diet journal, I’ve been cutting things out of magazine’s to add to it. This would be lovely. Thanks……….

  28. Bryttnii says

    How did you punch the holes in the middle of the page to sew that girl onto it?

  29. Carrol says

    Thanks so much for sharing your great ideas. I love art journaling & always love to see what others are doing to their journals.

  30. Sarah says

    I make something similar to this and give to people as prayer journals with info about prayer journaling. I also found (at our local Dollar Tree) tiny composition notebooks, and made them for my daughter to give friends at college. Tiny= very cute!! Thanks for the beautiful examples-you are so creative!!

    • Michele says

      Sarah, We are making these AMAZING journals for our women’s retreat and are running into a cost & time issue for 16 of these journals. But we LOVE AND ADORE these journals and want to bless the women who will be using these journals…can you email me with your ‘something similar”? We NEED HELP ASAP!

  31. Sheri says

    I have a question. I can do this on canvases, especially the acrylic transfer process. But as for doing compositions on paper: mine end up buckling from the wet mediums that I use (gels and gesso). How do I keep the pages from buckling? If I use a brayer, do I use it on all coats, adhesive layers as well as gesso? And how can I put a nice textured finish on the top coat, rather than just having all the brushstrokes? Or do I put waxed paper over the final finishing coat of adhexive before using the brayer? I never ran into this problem of buckling on stretched canvases. I really like the art journal idea of using mixed media. Mine were always done in dry media (colored pencils, conte, pastels, stamp pad techniques). Nice work! -Sheri

    • says

      They actually flatten out eventually. After you are finished with a few pages put wax paper in between and leave it under a few heavy books for a day or so!

  32. Joy Riano says

    I’m trying to do this, I am using mod podge instead of the brand you put on here but all i get is a mushy mess with my pages ): How long is it supposed to take to dry?

    • Steph says

      I am also using Mod Podge, but finding success with it. I paint on the Mod Podge in a somewhat-thin, even layer (too thick will leave a mess). I would let it dry at least a few hours, or up to a day if you can. You could Mod Podge some pages in advance. Then you can even us e Mod Podge to glue embellishments on or seal your art. Hope this helps.

  33. Donna Boshaw says

    I can’t wait to start this. I just love it, seems so old fashioned. Thanks for sharing. I am not a crafty person but I could do this.

  34. Anna says

    Why don’t you just by a book with thicker paper instead of all the work with triple layers of paper glue and paint? I don’t get it?

  35. Maddie rogue says

    i like the idea but i want to make the pages for writing
    i want to give it as a gift but i dont want to put stuff in it you knoe do u have an idea i can use to just make the pages look nice

  36. says

    I just love your site! This is so cute and fun! I just wanted to stop by and let you know that I mentioned you in my blog tonight and linked it back to you so others can see your fabulous ideas. I can’t wait to try more of them. They are great!
    Faith :)

  37. Alicia says

    I love your blog! I have a question. What is the difference between guesso, modge podge, and matte medium? Also what different things do you use them all for?


  1. […] was probably at least a couple of years ago that I first saw this tutorial for making an art journal out of a composition book. I loved how it looked and wanted to do it, but […]

  2. […] discovered it randomly one day last year (maybe a year & a half) ago. I first read the Making a Composition Book Art Journal. Since then I’ve been an avid follower.� Ashley is the bomb! She shares so much of herself […]