Art Journaling in a Vintage Book

I love books.

Old books, new books, books I've never read, books I've read more than once, books with pretty covers, books with lovely illustrations, books in book stores, books in the library and recently, even books on my Kindle Paperwhite...but don't worry, paper is and always will be my favorite way to read a book.

Our local thrift store always has a supply of books looking for new homes and I always pick up a few when I'm out thrifting. Please don't get mad at me when you see that I've butchered a book, chopped up the pages and altered and torn them to make new things...they've already had long, happy, fulfilling lives with multiple previous owners.

One day, I had the bright idea to upcycle a vintage book into an art journal.

I first went through my book and removed a few pages at a time, to remove some of the bulk. This will allow you to add layers of other papers, journaling cards, washi tape, paint and ephemera to the pages that remain without it getting too bulky.

My favorite adhesive is just a simple glue stick, Elmer's is my favorite. It allows me to position my paper just where I need it before it becomes permanent, which is important when trying to adhere two pages gives you time to line up the pages you a little "wiggle" room.
Now, don't get me wrong, I do love a chunky mini book...those of you who have been around a while will know that, but a book will only hold so much.

Before removing pages, I paid special attention to the pages that had illustrations on them as I wanted to keep most of them intact and use them as part of my art journal.

Here, I used colored pencils to enhance the illustration from the book.

I used a correction tape runner in rows acros my page to use as spaces for my journaling. I've used this technique before in my #30lists journals and you may want to browse the post, it has some fun ideas on how to incorporate hidden journaling and office supplies in your crafty projects.

Using modeling paste takes some time and that's why I do several pages at one time. I'll use wax paper between the pages once they reach the mostly dry stage so I can go on to the next. I'm impatient that way, always trying to get more done in the least amount of time.

You can see how I've used modeling paste and watercolors here, too.

I used a few stickers in my art journal. They're an easy way to add some color, or if you're using label stickers, you can add them on a page you plan to do some heavy duty journaling on.

Some are letter stickers...

...and some are leftovers from my days on the My Mind's Eye Design Team.

....and others are from Travelers Notebook Embellishment Kits.

You can find more stickers from I Love It All, this sticker set has a smorgasbord of shapes, colors and sizes.


If you're so lucky to have a journaling card that has a prompt that speaks to you, go for it. If not, make up your own and enjoy the process.


Here are a few more posts sharing how I've used watercolors in my journaling:
Things I Love About You
in my field notes sized Gratitude Journal
Mixed Media Smash Book


My friend Kate gifted me these fun rub-ons and I use them all the time. Rub on graphics are great for texture and backgrounds.

Washi tape is another inexpensive crafty item to have on hand. You can use it to embellish gift bags and cards, in your planner and in all your memory keeping projects. You can see more of my washi tape crafting escapades here. 


I really enjoy creating with chipboard elements. They add dimension and height and are sometimes even big enough to hold letter stickers or phrases.


When I removed those pages from my book to reduce bulk, I saved them to make paper flowers...they're fun as gift toppers and to add to gift tags. Pretty cute, eh?

I guess you could do this at any point along the way, but you'll want to browse your stash for any bits and baubles that you'd like to include. This is definitely a stash busting project to have fun with. Don't worry about things matching and coordinating or any of the usual rules you may follow when creating.

I challenge you to go through your baskets and drawers and bins and pull out any of those items you've held onto because they're too good to pass along but might not be your absolute favorite. This is a perfect project to experiment with art journaling ina vintage book because it's all just for fun anyway.

I'm a huge fan of mixed media journals. This journal has over 75 pages just waiting for your thankful thoughts. And these are fun, too.

I've only embellished 3/4 of my old book. I thought that later on I might find some new techniques to try my hand at and what better place than my art journal, right? This will definitely be a project that I continue to add on to. I began using this book as a journal over a year ago, getting it out occasionally to play around and journal when the mood strikes me. And I'm good with that.

Book Page Paper Flower Tutorial...and here, too
49 Lists
Book Page Canvas Art
Altered Book Journal

Giveaway ends soon, enter here.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Vicki, it's such a fun way to use up my stash and play with some new techniques.

  2. This is so great. Fabulous idea Monika and so fun! You are do clever!! I love that you can add to it. I can see this filling up a rainy day quite easily. As a former librarian, I am too familiar with old books with smells. I may have to do research to find a vintage book that is more "nose-friendly" or I can just gather random pages for a chunky version. I love all the words!

    1. Seems like I remember that placing books with some charcoal in a bag helped with the smell...but research that before you go out and buy a huge bag of charcoal! And who says it has to be vintage, use a newer book that's had a good life and go with it. It's really all about find a cover that speaks to you and going from there. Thanks for always being so encouraging and uplifting, you warm my heart!

  3. I love altered books. I have been doing them for about 20 years, ever since I joined a yahoo group on line that did altered books. Thanks for some new ideas. There are so many old books that go to our local recycling and then to the shredder. I love saving them when I can. Some folks see altering a book in this way as sacrilege. I see it as saving them.

    1. I've chopped a few books in my time and feel as you do, I'm saving them from the scrap heap. I think it's just awesome that you've been at it for 20 years! I bet your style and techniques have changed over the years. Thanks for sharing with me!

  4. Oh Monica, this is so great! I love it! What better than to rescue and turn an old book into a personal expression space! Thank you for the inspiration! Yin

    1. It's been a fun process and one that I hope to continue exploring. It will be so nice to see it evolve and get chunkier and chunkier. Thank you for your encouragement, Yin.

  5. I want to stamp on some pages and color in with markers, alcohol markers, color pencils - any tips?

    1. Yay for trying something new! I would suggest testing different inks and markers on a sample page similar to what you'll be using as your final page. The quality of the paper and how porous it has an effect on the final outcome. I feel that vintage pages makes the ink spread a little bit, more than on new pages. Plus, book pages are of a different quality than copy paper or higher end art papers. Other than that, go for it and have fun, Margaret!

  6. I want to stamp on pages to color in with markers, alcohol markers, color pencils. Any tips?


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