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How to Alter a Book into a Junk Journal

How to Alter a Book into a Junk Journal main article image
Posted on March 5, 2021 by Julie Richards
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Putting a junk journal together is a daunting task if you have never made one. This is a step-by-step guide of turning a regular book into a junk journal relieves some of the stress with this type of paper craft. Once you make one junk journal with this method, you just might become addicted to making junk journals (you have been warned!).

Getting Started

You will need a hard-backed book that has between 200 to 300 pages. The book must have the pages glued in separately and not made with signatures. A signature is five to 10 pieces of paper folded in half and sewn into the cover of the book. A look at the reference picture shows the difference between glued pages and signatures.

Signatures versus Glued Pages

The book I am working with to make this junk journal measures 6 ½ inches by 10 ¾ inches and has 316 pages. The spine is 1-inch wide. To alter the book into a junk journal, I must remove half or more of the pages. I don’t tear the book completely apart; I tear out the pages I don’t need.

Part 1

  1. Turn to the 4th page of your book.
  2. Tear out the next eight pages.
  3. Flip two pages and tear out eight more – the left side of the altered book now has six pages and the rest of the book is intact.
  4. Flip two more pages and tear out another eight pages – this leaves the left side with eight pages and the right side intact.
  5. Continue flipping two pages and then tearing out eight and flipping two pages and tearing out eight until you reach the last few pages of your soon-to-be junk journal.
  6. I leave four pages intact at the end of the altered book.
  7. The result is my 316-page book now has 74 pages for my junk journal.

NOTE: If you want more pages in your junk journal, tear out four to six pages instead of eight. Save all removed pages for other paper crafts.

Part 2

  1. Glue the remaining pages together with a liquid craft glue (school glue, PVA glue, etc.) in this manner;
  2. Glue your 4th and 5th pages together with the torn-out sections sandwiched in between. Allow the glue to dry.
  3. Glue the 6th and 7th pages together with the torn-out sections sandwiched in between.
  4. Continue gluing the pages of your junk journal together with the torn out sections in between until you reach the last four pages of the altered book. Do not glue these last few pages together.

Note: If you think the torn parts are too bulky, use your fingers to rip a bit of the paper bulk away.

Now that you have altered a book into the beginnings of a junk journal, the next steps are adding the cover and turning each page into your own work of art. Your creative side comes out during this part. A junk journal has three general uses; personal diary, table decoration, or gift. Let’s focus on a personal diary to get familiar with the process of creating a junk journal.

The first thing you notice about a junk journal is the cover. Some junk journal covers are paper and others are fabric. Both materials are applied in the same way; glue. For a fabric junk journal cover, the glue of choice is a craft glue made for fabric. A paper cover is attached with school glue or a PVA glue.

We want our chosen covering to extend about ¼ inch beyond the book cover. For example, my book is 10 ¾ inches tall. This means I want my paper or fabric 11 inches wide. When I open my altered book and lay it flat, the measurement from front cover edge to back cover edge is 14 inches long. I need a piece of fabric or paper that is 14 ½ inches long.

You can sew fabric or glue paper together to reach the needed size for your cover. I often do this if I want the front of my junk journal to look different from the back. I like adding pictures, pockets and other embellishments to the covers of my altered-book junk journals. Let’s get started covering our junk journal.

Part 3

  1. Open your altered book and lay it face-down on the craft table.
  2. Apply a thin coat of glue to the entire cover. Don’t worry about getting the side edges. We do that in a later step.
  3. Position your fabric or paper directly over the altered book and slightly bend your cover choice so there is a small dip in the middle. This is the first part of your covering that will come in contact with your altered book.
  4. Lower the covering so the middle lays against the book and slowly lower the outer edges so the entire covering comes in contact with the book.
  5. Starting in the middle, gently rub your hands across the new book cover. You want the entire surface to bond with your altered book.
  6. Your altered book may have indentations on either side of the spine. Be sure to focus your attention on this area so the fabric or paper goes into these indentations. The cover will stretch and/or tear when you close the book if you don’t do this important step.
  7. Flip the altered book over and carefully cut a small triangle from each corner of the overhanging fabric or paper, leaving a 1/8 inch gap between the corner of the junk journal and your cut line. This is done to remove any bulk from the corners so each altered book corner is sharp and precise. (Even long time junk journal makers sometimes struggle with this process)
  8. Fold the fabric or paper up over the edges of the junk journal to see where they will fall on the inside cover.
  9. Notice on the top and bottom edge of the spine on your altered book that the cover material is hindered by the papers of the junk journal. Remedy this by making a tiny triangular cut in the covering material on either side of the pages.
  10. Apply glue to the fabric or paper and fold the short sides of the altered book to the inside cover.
  11. Use a bone folder or your fingers to tuck in the little bit of excess paper or fabric in the corner.
  12. Repeat this process with the top and bottom edges of the altered book.
  13. Let your cover dry completely.

The next part of altering a book into a junk journal is decorating the pages so they are usable as a personal diary. This happens to be the easy part of making a junk journal. You need papers, scissors and glue. You can also use gesso, paint and sprays to transform your junk journal pages.

I have glued the pages together in my altered book, making a total number of 42 pages for my junk journal. This means I have plenty of room to decorate in my altered book. Your page count may be different from mine, depending on which pages you chose to glue together. My junk journals tend to get bulky so for me the fewer pages, the better.

Note: When discussing pages, remember that one piece of paper in a book counts as two pages, front and back.

The decision you must make is how you want each page in your junk journal to look. I prefer mixing writing paper and printed paper in my altered books. Often I combine the two when putting them into my junk journal. This gives me the option to have spaces for writing and decorating on each page. Sometimes I leave a page blank until I know what I want it to look like. I even add ribbon and lace to some of the edges of my pages.

I prefer to stick with a color rather than a theme. However, I will choose a theme when I am making a junk journal for a special occasion. Then event determines the types of papers I use, the images I choose, and the colors of the junk journal.

Altered Book Pages

Part 4

  1. Pick a variety of lined paper and designer paper if you want more interest in your junk journal. Creative Fabrica has beautiful designer papers to use when you transform an altered book into a junk journal.
  2. Cut the papers to the same size as your junk journal pages. For me, this means I must cut my papers 9 ¼ inches tall by 6 ½ inches wide.
  3. Spread glue from a craft glue stick across the back of your paper. Make sure the glue is right to the edges of the paper.
  4. Lay the paper on the chosen page of your junk journal and press firmly all the way across the page so both papers adhere to each other.
  5. Repeat this process on which ever pages you want. You have the option of adding papers to only one half of a page, in case you want to add something different to the rest of the page.

At times a lined or designer paper may not be what you want on your junk journal page. When this happens to me, I cover the page with gesso or acrylic paint. I do this when I want to sketch my own image or create my own design. This is an altered book turned into a junk journal personal diary. You get to choose what goes into on this new junk journal. Like I said at the beginning, this is where your creativity and imagination take over to create your own personal junk journal.

I would love to hear about the altered books you turned into junk journals. Don’t hesitate to share in the comments below. If you have any questions, please ask so I can help you create your junk journal.


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Comments
2 Comments
Alicia Taylor

August 1, 2022

I love this!! Have a friend that would love a new journal for Christmas. This would be perfect for her. Awesome presentation and have a lot of time to get it ready for her. Thank you Julie!

Julie Richards's profile picture
Julie Richards

August 2, 2022

Author

I'm so glad you liked the article. Making a junk journal is actually very relaxing and so much fun. You get to include so many personal touches throughout the pages. Have fun and Happy Crafting!


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