Hi, I’m Jams, an editor at New Forum, and this is my alternative to expensive moleskin journals. Fancy journals can be intimidating to write on and are often abandoned before they’re filled. A paper bag journal is a casual and cozy art buddy that can hold your creativity without breaking the bank.
- Paper Grocery Bags (1 per journal)
- Super glue
- Paper clips
- Chip clips
- Any paper of your liking (college rule, grid, printer, multipurpose).
I used legal sized paper because of the longer length than the standard letter size paper. The longer length made it so folding the papers in half and cutting them still left me a lot of space to write on, more so than a typical moleskin journal. Of course if you want, a smaller notebook than the standard letter size works. Add as many pages as you want!
I loosely followed this visual guide from YouTube to help me get started. My extra steps below are to create a smaller, muji-like product. Make sure you are in a ventilated area as the super glue smell is strong!
- Stack your desired paper & clip them together.
- Cut the pages in half (If you’re using scissors like I am, make sure to cut the paper one at a time or in smaller groups so you don’t add too much stress to your scissors and bend the paper. It takes longer, so practice patience!)
- Remove paper clip and stack all the freshly cut paper.
- Super glue the ends of one side together. (Follow video for helpful demonstration)
- Add as many desired paper clips or chip clips to hold the glue together.
- Allow to dry.
- While it is drying begin to cut the journal cover from the grocery bag. Cut the font and back side of the bag. From the remaining gutted paper bag, cut a strip wide enough to be the spine of the journal.
- Begin to glue the spine strip first. Trim the overlapping sides to your liking.
- Then glue the front and back covers over the spine strip.
- Clip again and allow to completely dry overnight.
The end result is a crafty paper journal! I made three paper journals per subject: writing, sketching, and French. For size comparison the French journal in the front is the one I made with college ruled paper. The 99 cent pack during back to school season. You know the kind.
Now this is the journal that you made, how special and cool is that? You can do whatever you want with it and who cares if you mess up because you can easily make another one. I structured my writing journal as a tool to not only catalog my progress for my creative writing portfolio but also track my readings, take notes, and brainstorm poetry/short fiction ideas. There are many online resources on how to structure your journal, I take inspiration from bullet journal spreads on Pinterest & YouTube then tailor them to my specific needs.
My notes from readings and brainstorming ideas alongside them. This is to help me start writing my stories. I love the texture of the paper bag, it is very flexible, and if it gets damaged it can be repaired as you use it. I haven’t decorated mine because I have stationary supplies coming in the mail (That’s where the $20 moleskin journal went to), but I am so excited to. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed my first blog post!