Re-purposed Sketchbook – Creating an Art Journal; a tutorial

I have been intrigued by the art journal lately.  I have heard it is a great way to have a conversation with your self.  I have even done a page in my sketchbook.  But I have thought about buying a new book, just for art journaling.  Then I remembered that I have a sketchbook from college that I hadn’t filled up yet.  I thought about using it, even though it did have some sketches in it already.  But honestly, I didn’t like it very much.  It did not lay flat and was hard to use because of that.  So I decided to take it apart and build a new one.  It was rather very easy, and not something I would normally do.  I like stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying new things, I just have to force myself to do it.

old sketchbook

Here’s a look at cover.  I have cut the cover off with a box cutter.


journal pages

Then I had to get the glue binding it together off.  It was a little messy but fairly easy.


taking sketchbook apart

I then cut the thread holding the book block together.  After that, I trimmed off the area where the holes had been making sure they were all about the same width.


mod podge time

I re-purposed the covers as well.  Since this book had a thick black textured paper over it, I tore the corners of it off.  The rest of it was too difficult to get off, so I left it on.  I didn’t want to have big bulky corners though.  I then smeared Mod Podge over the front of the cover and covered it with scrapbook paper cut down to size.

more mod podge

Then I added a peace of paper to cover the edges of the cover and to cover where I had tried to peal off the original cover.

the cover of the journal

The cover is almost ready!  Just have to wait for it to dry.



Preparing cover for the binding using a Bind It All
Preparing cover for the binding using a Bind It All

After the glue had dried, I placed the cover into my Zutter Bind It all, to punch the holes in it for binding.  I love this little machine!


The front and back covers
The front and back covers

I still haven’t gotten the hang of the Bind it All yet.  Also, these covers where thick and it was really difficult to punch.  I recommend a thinner chipboard.

Pretty Binder Clip
Pretty Binder Clip

Next it was time to prepare the pages of the art journal.  I used binder clips to help hold them together, keep them alined, and to help me hold them as I pressed down on the handle.  Highly recommend doing this!





Pages and cover are ready to be bound
Pages and cover are ready to be bound

It’s almost ready to use!   Now for the binding.


Some pretty paper

I cut some pretty paper to use as the first and last pages, just because.




Art Journal

That wasn’t so hard!  It took an hour or so, plus glue drying time.




Finished art Journal
Finished art Journal

And now my art journal is ready to use!

How have you re-purposed an old sketchbook?  We’d love to hear about!  I love new ideas.

5 thoughts on “Re-purposed Sketchbook – Creating an Art Journal; a tutorial”

  1. Love your journal! Great idea to use the pretty front and back pages!

    I also have a Bind It All, and I have made quite a few books from it. I like to use chipboard that sometimes lines packages. I save any that is not too thick or thin. Cereal boxes also work for smaller books.

    I love to make hand dyed paper to cover mine with. Different types of rice paper and mulberry paper, and masa paper are fun to use. Bristol board or watercolor paper, too. I dye the papers, and if it is acrylic paint, it is done. If it is water based dye, I seal with acrylic varnish. The best part of making your own journal is picking the right paper for your work. I love Bristol paper and watercolor paper.

    I have also bound the books by using leather cord instead of the rings. I love the look, but not for an art journal where you might use wet media.

    1. Ooh, I have not tried to dye my own paper. That sounds like fun!
      I’ll have to try cereal boxes. We have many of those.
      Thanks for the tips! 🙂

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