Handmade 12-Signature Journal

It’s been a few months since I last made a journal. I kept wanting to get back to it, but starting a new job, trying to settle into it then facing the truth that it wasn’t working out left me tired, deflated and out of sorts.

Journal cover

Journal cover

Last month, I re-immersed myself in the crafting side of Youtube, specifically Johanna Clough’s channel. She is a talented young woman who makes journals and her technique videos are easy to follow. Also, she has a lovely, soothing voice which makes for relaxed watching.

After watching a few of her vids, I was fired up enough to get back to journal-making. And, this time, I was determined to tackle a 12-signature journal.

The first couple of journals I’d made, I’d contemplated a multi-signature one but didn’t think I could pull it off. This time, for whatever reason, I felt more confident I could.

With this journal, I wanted to only use what I already had and not buy anything to add to it. So, I went through my craft stuff and gathered my supplies. In the process, I had to admit I have way too much stuff! I can’t remember half of what I have. I need to get some serious re-sorting and rearranging done.

The style of journals that Johanna Clough makes is junk journals and that’s what I used as a jumping-off point. It’s called ‘junk’ because it’s basically made up of whatever ‘junk’ you may have lying around, like paper bags, old book pages, receipts, lists, envelopes… that sort of ‘junk’.

The pages I chose are mainly craft papers, whole pages and remnants; old book pages; old music sheets; tissue paper; envelopes; paper bags; even plastic bags fashioned into pockets.

One thing Johanna had said when showing one of the journals she’d made was she’d included some of her favourite papers, which meant she could see and experience them each time she used her journal. That really resonated with me. I have so many papers I’m reluctant to use because I love them so much and don’t want to part with them. Including them in a journal gives them purpose and means I can still enjoy them. So simple yet so effective.

Like the other 2 journals I made, the cover is made out of a cereal box. Because I like the colour of the inside of it, I decided to use that as the outer cover and not cover the whole thing. Where the box folds turned out to be ideal to use as the spine as 12 signatures of 6 pages each fit perfectly.

Cover - cut to size

Cover - cut to size

Following Johanna’s advice, for the first time ever, I reinforced the inside of the spine with a strip of fabric. I then covered the inside with pages from an old book. I like the discolouration, which gives it an aged look.

Cover - inside, spine reinforced with fabric

Cover - inside, spine reinforced with fabric

I then laid the pages and other bits out – differing sizes – and put them together in groups of six till I had 12 lots. I’d already trimmed them down to neaten the edges. Once I was happy with what I’d grouped together, I held them together with long paper clips. Johanna uses really long hair pins, which are much longer than paper clips; next time I’m in town, I’ll see if I can find any.

Different size pages before I’d grouped them into sets of 6

Different size pages before I’d grouped them into sets of 6

The part I find trickiest is the measuring. After what happened with the 2-signature journal – wonky signatures despite my measuring and re-measuring – I checked and double-checked umpteen times before I was happy to start marking the cover and the pages.

It’s awkward trying to explain how to measure and mark up the holes for the thread to tie the signatures to the cover. In this video, Johanna explains and demonstrates clearly.

Once I’d done what, for me, was the hardest part, I then concentrated on the cover. This was the first thing I’d made – journal, scrapbook, altered book – that didn’t have a theme. So, I had no clue what to put on the cover. I ended up going through old craft magazines, putting aside images that grabbed my attention, and then just chose one.

As I didn’t want to cover the whole area, I used tissue paper as a base for the image and glued more tissue paper on the back cover so I could stamp a pattern on it, the same pattern I use on all my creations.

I was really pleased with how the tissue paper turned out. After gluing it down, I coloured scrunched-up pieces of tissue paper with ink pads and dabbed them onto the tissue.

Back cover

Back cover

After attaching a couple of cut-to-size pieces on the top and bottom corners of the front cover, and stamping a corner pattern on the top and bottom corners of the back cover, I covered the whole thing with sealant.

Some people cover up the spine, so the thread doesn’t show but I don’t mind it. Then again, if they’d been all crooked and messy, I would have covered it! Using an eyelet hole-punch, I punched a hole about midway near the top, attached an eyelet and threaded through some ribbons. I then tied on a few bits – a pearly pink button, part of an old earring (which can’t be seen in the photo below but can be seen in the photo above of the back cover) and the old shed key.

Spine of journal

Spine of journal

I was a little nervous getting started, but I kept telling myself not to rush and just take it easy. I didn’t sew all the signatures on in one day. I did a few then put it aside and continued the following day. Eventually, I was done. And elated that I hadn’t messed up! All the signatures were on straight and, weirdly, I found it easier than the journals with 1 or 2 signatures.

To finish, I attached an eyelet on the front and back cover, so the journal can be tied closed with a ribbon. I don’t know if that’s the best closure as the ribbon has to be re-threaded through the eyelet each time the journal is used. I’ll see how it goes.

The cover
First page of first signature

First page of first signature

Completed journal pages
Completed journal pages
Thread attaching signature to cover

Thread attaching signature to cover

Part of an old L’Occitane paper bag

Part of an old L’Occitane paper bag

Completed journal pages
Page from an old fairy tale book with art by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. I adore their artwork.

Page from an old fairy tale book with art by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. I adore their artwork.

Page from an old travel magazine

Page from an old travel magazine

2 sheets of blue tissue paper, glued together to make them more robust

2 sheets of blue tissue paper, glued together to make them more robust

Completed journal pages
Part of a Cath Kidston plastic delivery bag. I taped the ends together and left the top ‘open’ to use as a pocket

Part of a Cath Kidston plastic delivery bag. I taped the ends together and left the top ‘open’ to use as a pocket

I’m convinced the reason this worked so well is because I took my time with it. Whenever I felt myself getting impatient with, for example, sewing the signatures on, I’d take a break for a few minutes or put it aside and return to it the next day. So long as I remember to do that, I’m confident journal-making will remain fun and something I do on a regular basis. I’m already planning on making one for my sister for her birthday.

Before I go, I found out a few days ago that Johanna has finally set up her website. If you love this style of journal-making, check out her website and, if you haven’t already, her Youtube channel. I promise you will not be disappointed.

What Makes A Great Villain... In My Opinion

In any story, when it comes to the characters, the first point of interest is almost always the protagonist. And yet, where would the story be without the antagonist?

Darth Vader, a layered villain (Image by ‘   Volturdu   ’ on Pixabay)

Darth Vader, a layered villain (Image by ‘Volturdu’ on Pixabay)

Back in the day, the villains would, more often than not, turn out to be cardboard, 2D caricatures who wanted nothing more than to make life difficult for the hero; who were greedy for power and/or riches; or who wanted to bring about the end of the world.

I never got that whole ‘end of the world’ thing – without the world or humanity, what’s left for the villain? Unless you’re Thanos, it doesn’t make much sense.

When I first watched ‘Star Wars’ all those years ago – I’m talking ‘A New Hope’ – I thought Darth Vader, for all his powers and presence was not much more than the average, run-of-the-mill villain. It was only in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, when he uttered the now-immortal line – ‘I am your father’ – did I realise there was so much more to him and I couldn’t wait to learn more. Not long into the third film, ‘Return of the Jedi’, I was actually feeling for him, wanting him to reconcile with Luke, wanting Luke to give him a chance.

Despite the somewhat clunky writing and jarring plot turns over the whole ‘Star Wars’ saga, Darth Vader, for me, is one of the best antagonists ever written.

For an antagonist to be believable, for him to be a fitting counter to a well-written protagonist and to drive the story forward, he cannot exist purely as a 2D character. No one is purely good or totally evil; everyone has it in them to be both. ‘Bad’ people aren’t the only ones who do ‘bad things’; ‘good’ people do ‘bad things’ too.

I believe the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ are basically flip sides of the same coin. The most obvious example, for me, is Batman and The Joker.

Batman (Image by    Ralph Leonard Poon    on Pixabay)

Batman (Image by Ralph Leonard Poon on Pixabay)

When their behaviour and reasoning are stripped right down, there’s very little to choose between them. I wonder, sometimes, if that’s why they come across as so obsessed with one another.

Joker (Image by    Ralph Leonard Poon    on Pixabay)

Joker (Image by Ralph Leonard Poon on Pixabay)

Another good example is Charles Xavier and Magneto in the ‘X-Men’. The line dividing their points of view is a very thin one. I think the only thing that sets them apart is their actions – for Magneto, the end very much justifies the means regardless of who gets caught in the line of fire, whereas for Charles, if the price is too high, he always looks for another way, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem.

Just like the protagonist, I believe the best antagonist is someone who is real. Someone who may not necessarily have started out villainous; maybe something happened to make her choose to do ‘bad things’. Maybe it’s something to do with anger, fear, heartbreak, a misplaced sense of honour. Maybe the only reason she caused the deaths of countless people was because she was desperate to save the life of someone she loved.

The best antagonist, I think, is someone who, despite their ‘bad’ ways, can also be funny, kind, interesting. Someone whom the reader finds possible to understand, even if only a little. Someone who has flaws, as we all do… someone human.