Junk Journal Challenge

Quite awhile back I became obsessed with junk journals. It started when I discovered pocket letters. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain. You take a trading card protector sheet that has 9 pockets and decorate each slot with paper and ephemera and such. Each pocket can be different or you can have a theme for the whole page, such as a holiday. You can tuck little surprises inside the pockets too, like washi tape samples and tea bags. There are groups devoted to swapping these creations. I got into one of these groups, and then I found a site called swap-bot. That is where I learned about junk journals. I did a search on youtube, and the rest is history. I am now a junk journal junk addict. Or am I?

I spend way more time watching videos about making journals than I do actually making journals. And buying supplies. Every video I watch inspires me, I buy the supplies, and then I just don’t make the thing. I joined several Facebook groups, and I have made several journals for swaps, but overall I wasn’t satisfied with the final product. I keep telling myself, If I just had XYZ, my journal would be better. But the truth of the matter is, unless I start actually making more journals, I will never get better. Practise makes perfect right?

I decided to go back and watch some beginner videos. There are tons of them on YT. One of my problems I think is that when I started way back when, I watched the more advanced videos and thought I could make something similiar. I was wrong.

One such beginner video series I started is based on the premise of starting completely from stratch and buying everything you need with a 25 dollar budget. The purpose is to show that you don’t need a bunch of fancy and expensive supplies to start making a journal. This is a great series, lots of wonderful ideas, easy to follow directions. But it got me to thinking. What if $25 is too much money to spare? What if $10 is too much? Could you make a junk journal with no extra money spent using things you already had in your house? Non crafty items that were not purchased with a junk journal in mind? If you are reading this and are already a junk journal maker, you know what I mean. We pick up things at garage sales and thrift stores that we would not normally buy with the idea that we could use them in a journal . The more I thought about , I knew I wanted to try.

If you want to play along with me, the rules are simple. No craft items, like scrapbook paper, rubber stamps, specialty glues or tools. The goal of this challenge is to not only not spend any money, but to be as creative as possible and not just slap something together in a day and call it done,so no time limit. I have found that is the number one thing that hampers my creativity.

This is going to be a series, and and I will include pictures as I go along, but it is in no way a tutorial. I will explain what I am doing and how I am doing it, but there will not be super detailed step by step instructions. Or maybe there will be,lol. Once I get started, I might get carried away. If you have specific questions , I will be more than happy to elaborate, just comment and ask. I will probably do some short YT videos updates and a flip through video for once it is finished. 

The first step is gathering your materials , and they can be added to as you go along. Not everyone is going to have the exact same supplies, but anything you use has to be functional outside of crafting and already in your home or garage. For instance, I use a box cutter at work, so I have several laying around and can use one to cut. But I can’t use my Fiskars paper cutter I bought just for crafts. Likewise, I have copy paper for my printer, packing tape for closing boxes, etc. I can raid my husbands supplies for paint, stain, masking tape,etc. He is a carpenter by trade and is always making stuff for the house and yard. Office supplies, kitchen and bathroom items, make-up, cloth items,and junk drawer items are all fair game. This is an honor system challenge, and the fun is in seeing just how creative you can be. If you think something you have should be allowed, then use it! Think outside the box. Supplies for other types of crafting, like sewing , knitting , crocheting or painting should be used at your own discretion. I have a sewing machine , but I bought it for crafts, so I will not use it.  But I have a sewing kit I inherited from my MIL , so I can use the needles and thread. I think there are snaps in there too, so that is an allowable option. I don’t crochet or knit, but I do have yarn, so again, I am not allowing it for me. The only possible cheat item for me is a  glue stick. Liquid glue can make paper wrinkle, and I don’t want that and I have no other use for a glue stick other than crafts.  Everything else I have or can find a good substitute  for within the rules.


Here is a list of the most important things to gather.

1.Scissors and/or a blade to cut with, preferabley both.

2.Adhesive–a glue stick is best for paper, but school glue will work too. A stapler is an option , if you do not have any kind of glue. My husband has wood glue in the garage, so that is an option for me. Raid you kids school supplies.

3. Paper for signatures. A journal is for writing, so you need some kind of blank paper. Copy paper, note book paper,etc.

4. Something to make the cover. It can be hard cover or soft. Gut a old book, or use a cereal box. If you are using cardboard, keep in mind the size of the paper you are using and make sure it is large enough for a front and back cover plus the spine. There is no size requirement for this challenge and the paper can be cut down to fit what you choose. If you have an old 3 ring binder, that is an excellant option if you don’t have any way to attach the signatures. 

5. A way to attach the pages inside the cover. Needle and thread, or twine ,shoelaces, etc.

6. A pokey tool- An awl is not something most people have just lying around, but a small phillip head screwdriver will work too.

7. Straight edge-A ruler or anything with a straight edge you can cut or tear against. You might not even want to have straight edges, so this is optional.


The rest is embellishments and the sky is the limit. Junk mail, magazines, flyers, packaging, fastners, etc. I will show you all my choices in my next post and elaborate on why I chose them. I already have some thinking outside the box ideas that may inspire you. Also, if you don’t think you have some of these basic items and want to change the challenge to “spend as little as possible” so you can play along, I think that would be great!

Please comment and let me know if you are playing along. I would love to see your creations, you can tag me on IG @dragonangel517.  And I am on Facebook too. Have a great idea for using a non craft item that may not be obvious? Comment below! 






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