Halfway through our Journey, and time to turn our attention to the outside of our journals. There are some things that you should consider when planning what to put on your journal covers.
The raw material: What are the covers made of?
MDF (medium density fibreboard) or plywood panelsGive MDF two light coats of gesso to seal the wood. If any moisture gets into MDF it swells and disintegrates. Other than that, you can do almost anything with a wood base because it’s sturdy and inflexible.
ChipboardWant to recycle? Chipboard sheets from the back of sketchbooks make great covers. Or you can cut cereal box card to the size you need and glue them together. Use a good thick PVA glue (e.g., wood glue) or a gel medium and weight them overnight under some large books or a pile of magazines. This prevents any buckling and ensures a good adhesion. I would suggest having at least six or seven layers of cereal box card glued together to make a cover heavy enough to take some texture and paint. Binding the edges with masking tape helps make the cover more hard wearing, and be sure to give raw chipboard two light coats of gesso before adding paint.
3-Ring Binders:You can also use a normal 3-ring binder as an art journal. If it has a shiny finish use some light sandpaper to rough it up a bit before adding two light coats of gesso to prepare the surface for paint.
Colour and textureDo you like the feel and look of fabric? What about a shiny, glass-like effect? Maybe rough and sandy are more you. All of these textures can be used on the outside of a journal.
Do you want to keep your journal on a shelf with other books? Keep the dimensional effects flat so the decorations don’t get caught on other books on the shelf. Want to go all out with embellishments but not sure how to store or display your journal? I use a decorative easel :
How is your journal bound?If you are working on loose pages and want to bind them all together into a book, you can use hinged rings, a DIY-binding system (e.g., the Zutter Bind-It-All or the Cinch). You will have to take the holes in the covers into account when planning what you will put on them.
Here is my Pinterest Board devoted to the covers of art journals. Have a look to get some ideas about what you like and don’t like:
Mixed Media Art Journal Cover using Die Cuts and Texture Paste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io8y1iNrLcI
Placing a Stamped Image onto a Textured Substrate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-5XrE3tX8E
Ring Binder Art Journal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzmpWqQj8Vw
Creating Texture with Tissue Paper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDaasjYr1LU
Using Hot Glue to Create a Textured Design: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmniDSZcmuw
The Magic of Gesso: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el5PThtFdnE
Masking Tape to Create Texture and Making a Small Journal with a Very Simple Binding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DMwvjyQ9w0
Spiral Bound Journal Cover (flat texture): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1RwFn420G8
Fabric Journal Cover #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkrhOkKv2QU
Donna Downey Style Art Journal with a Fabric Cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zvPsL0Y-90This is a how to make a journal from scratch tutorial. She makes some mistakes during the making of and leaves it in to demonstrate what not to do and why, but also to show that mistakes are not the end of the world or your project, you can work around it when things go wrong!