Blog: Junk Journal with Mags Woodcock & Katy Leitch

Mags has created a junk journal for this project, which is a fabulous way to use up old papers, scraps and ephemera to make something really unique. The pages don’t even need to be all the same size, so you can go wild collecting bits and bobs for your own creation. We’re creating inexpensive, throwaway journals on purpose. You experiment and play in them without worrying you’re wasting something precious and that will help free up your creative process.

Hi, it’s Katy here and before we begin this lesson I’ve got a quick overview of junk journals in this video. I don’t show you the whole process, you can follow Mags’ steps for that (and it would be very dull watching me punch a bunch of holes!!!), but hopefully the video gives you a good idea of what a finished journal looks like and what kind of things you can use inside.

I always save any scrap papers from gelli printing, mixed media projects and card making – well you just never know when they may come in useful! The problems arise when I find I have more scraps than I can cope with. So what better use for them than a junk journal?

I love creating and filling journals, I find it very calming and creative choosing the unusual textures that I can include. Some scraps have acrylic paint brayered onto them, some are failed gelli prints and some are just lovely papers that are leftovers from a project.

To create a junk journal like this is very easy and there are minimal supplies needed: just glue, twine, papers and a screw hole punch or awl.


  • Selection of papers – e.g. leftover gel prints, scrapbook papers, ephemera, junk mail envelopes, tags, graph paper (the idea is to use up leftovers or junk)
  • Garden twine
  • Anita’s Tacky Glue (or similar)
  • Screw Hole Punch or Awl
  • Ruler

Step-by-step Tutorial

1 Choose papers to use in your junk journal. Papers do not need to be a uniform shape and size. I like my journals to be in coordinating colours, but that is personal preference.

2 Decide on a front cover, this needs to be slightly bigger than the other papers. Fold this in half exactly and neaten any edges with a trimmer. I decided on a bright, happy looking cover.

3 Randomly fold the inside papers, creating different sized pages – some could be long and thin whilst others small and short. Make sure none of the pages are bigger than the outside cover.

4 Measure the fold on the cover and punch three holes at equal distances along the crease (use a screw punch or an awl for this).

5 Punch holes through the rest of the papers using the cover as a guide to make sure the holes are in the right place. Position some small papers at the top or bottom of the page layout.

6 Arrange the pages as you wish them to look in the completed journal. Turn some over so the colour is not always facing the front. Alternate larger pages with groups of small pages.

7 Measure a long length of garden twine, I used approx 1.5m. Apply a dab of PVA glue to the end and roll the twine between your fingers to create a point, repeat with the other end.

8 Starting at the cover, thread the twine through the top and bottom holes, leaving a loop on the cover side as shown. Continue to thread the twine through all the pages.

9 Thread both ends of the twine in turn through the centre hole, bringing them to the outside cover once more. A cocktail stick can help to poke the twine through if it is a snug fit.

10Pull the twine tight. Tie the ends of the twine in a knot across the centre strand. Leave the rest of the twine attached as this is the closure for the journal.

11 To strengthen and stop the twine cutting into the cover, add a tag or panel of card to the front of the journal, aligning it with the open edge on the right.

12 Attach a long strip of decorative strong card to the back cover of the journal and fold the excess to the front. This adds additional strength. Wrap the string all around the book and tie it to close.

Pages in the journal don’t need to be all the same size or shape. It adds interest if some are smaller, taller or wider. Just make sure that all the pages fit inside the cover dimensions. Envelopes make great pages too, the flap as the first page and the pocket part as the second.

Be careful not to add too many pages if your papers are very thick, as this makes the journal very bulky. I like to add a mixture of weights for variety, some for writing and some for artwork. You can always gesso or paint thin papers as you go along – the journal should evolve as you create within it.

“I love to create journals with a theme, such as a colour scheme or a vintage look. But junk journals can equally be totally random and eclectic – it’s entirely up to you!”

Meet the Tutor

Mags Woodcock

Mags Woodcock

Mags is a mixed media artist and papercrafter who loves vintage and shabby chic items. A self-confessed hoarder and texture freak, she loves to use dimension and texture in her work.Mags is currently on the Mixed Up Mag and Samantha K Gifts design teams.

Blog: The Tag Lady

This lesson was originally part of our Wellspring 2019 course. Wellspring is an online course that focusses on ways you can use art and creativity to boost your mental wellbeing. We look at how to become more joyful in your art practice by thinking about it differently, ways to employ self-care, the power of affirmations, mindfulness and meditation through art, finding artistic freedom, and loads more.

Our early bird price is still available, and we’ve added 15 bonus lessons FREE, so you will get content and support from now right through until 18th August – all for only £60.


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