What is Junk Journaling?

Junk journaling is a style of art journaling where you use materials that are usually destined for the trash, like old papers, ticket stubs, magazine clippings, and even candy wrappers – and turning them into a unique journal.

A junk journal is a place where you can glue, paint, write, and attach all sorts of things to create a story of your life, your dreams, or anything you imagine!

You can use them like you do an art journal, or regular writing journal. Imagine a scrapbook, a diary, and a treasure chest all mixed into one. 

image of junk mail for junk journaling

What Junk Journalers Do

I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos and followed a lot of art and junk journaling facebook posts and I just realized that my form of junk journaling is way different than a lot of others.

From what I’ve seen, many junk journalers make their journals from recycled materials, and they also decorate them with recycled materials. 

Their pages might be old paper bags, or old pieces of paper that they stain with tea, or old ledger pages that they’ve collected. 

Then they decorate those pages with other recycled materials like lace, or old photos, or pieces of leftover ribbon and threads. The results are what I call “rustic” pages. Their junk journals often look aged and weathered and vintage.

example of a pretty junk journal

Why I Junk Journal

It was a post on facebook that made me realize that I junk journal very differently.

Now, don’t get me wrong… there are as many ways to junk journal as there are pieces of junk that can be used in a junk journal!

So, the person posted that they hadn’t been working in their sketchbook because they’d made it into a place of perfection. 

They were afraid of messing it up. 

My response of course was, “That is exactly why I use a junk journal!”

I, too, use recycled materials to build all of my art journals. And I use a lot of recycled materials in making my spreads (that’s what you call the span of two pages when your journal is open).

But I mostly use the “junk” materials as my base, and then I transform them into something else. I cover up the junk so you can’t tell that the pages are rustic tea-stained papers, or old cereal boxes, or Publisher Clearing House junk mail. (Does PCH still exist?)

Here’s an example:

example of junk journal

How I Junk Journal

In using junk/recycled materials as the base for my pages I don’t worry about messing up. 

I can always make another journal because there are PLENTY of discarded paper products that make great, sturdy pages.

Most times, my junk journal bases have better quality materials than many sketchbooks. I only build them with heavier weight papers and cardboards that I’ve carefully reclaimed from old art books, or boxes, or failed art pieces that started out on good paper, etc.

You don’t realize how many good quality, good weighted, papers go into the trash until you start saving some of them.

We have a joke in my family about how hard it is to let go of a good box. Shirt boxes from Christmas shopping? OMG. Perfect for junk journaling! Or old notebook covers? Swoon.

But anyway, I’m digressing.

image of a junk journal example

By the time I’m done with a junk journal, you can’t really tell it was junk. It will have lost any “rustic charm” it may have had because I’ve painted or collaged over it, sometimes with multiple layers until I get to something I like.

But, it’s OK because I don’t use my junk journal to highlight or preserve the old images.

I use my junk journal so that I can let loose, creating without worrying about messing up.

It’s just one of the little tricks I use to overcome my quirks of not wanting to waste, and feeling that I have to do everything perfectly.

You should try it!

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