In difficult times we may have limited access or the money for new materials and tools that we want for our Art or Craft work. Also if we a trying out a new creative activity we may not wish to spend a lot on resources until we are sure that this is something we would like to continue.
Like many creatives I have been trying to keep busy during lockdown in the current pandemic, which is still making its presence felt in Melbourne. When the emergency situation was first declared I had begun working on a Junk Journal to hold holiday ephemera from past trips to Japan and Italy. As this is something I have never done before, I did not want to spend a fortune on materials in case it was just a one off work. Buying things from overseas has also become more difficult at this time so it makes sense to use what you have and work out other ways to fill the gaps. Finding tips on You Tube has been a huge help and I have also come up with some solutions of my own that I hope others will find useful.
Decorative paper is really great for making pockets to hold the ephemera in a Junk Journal. I lacked a good stock of special craft paper so I used recycled or unused gift wrapping paper and some origami paper. Coloured stationary paper, either patterned or plain, can be found in most households and also works well.
Even with these paper resources there were limitations with the type of patterns and colour range, so I decided to make some decorative paper myself using printer paper and liquid inks. Sea and household sponges, as well as small carpet off-cuts can be used to stamp the paper and create interesting patterns, Some looked like faces and complimented the Venetian mask page in my book.
For the Japanese section of the journal I chose to create more calligraphic designs and found that I could do these with a stiff jagged brush to apply the ink. This looks really good when combined with Japanese calligraphy or with Japanese scroll scenes as shown below.
Lacking a common crafting item does not mean you cannot do a technique. I do not have many rubber stamps that a lot of crafters use to decorate their junk journals so I found substitutes. Old wine and champagne corks create unique and interesting designs when stamped en masse on a page. I have a collection of these. It is easier to find champagne corks now-a-days with the advent of the screw top lid on wine bottles and these are good to save from celebrations.
Even with a limited amount of stamp pads you can create interesting patterns with the corks. I only have black, red, blue and green stamp pads and colours can be used together to make varied effects.
Many junk journals are made from old books or ephemera. I do not have a disposable collection of these, having got rid of a whole lot of such items before we had our renovations. The ones that remain are either too useful or have too much sentimental value to destroy for craft purposes. But it is ok to copy books and ephemera that predate 1923, because if you wish to sell an art or craftwork you cannot use copies of any copyrighted material created after this date and must use the original. If you are lucky enough to have older books or ephemera you can copy these as much as you wish, so keep them for this purpose instead of cutting them up. This is a great way to make a limited resource go a long way.
Old books, especially 19th century encyclopaedias, travel and botanical books, contain wonderful illustrations that can be photographed, if the book is fragile, or photocopied for use in art and craft projects. I have used these to add interest to my journal. Often Junk Journal creators like to ink the edges of old book images to make these stand out from the background and use wooden ink “dobbers” to apply the ink. I do not have any of these so I made some by sticking synthetic felt to the bottom of champagne corks or with foam glued to a round piece of ply wood. These do the job and were made from things I had lying around. If you don’t have a tool make one yourself from household items.
Use your old artworks that would otherwise be thrown out to create new decorative elements. I had some sheets of paper with Japanese ink style experiments in painting bamboo leaves that I cut up to use as book pages. I coloured them with green and brown water colour to make an interesting background for pockets made from copies of old botanical book illustrations. Your own discarded artworks can add original elements.
When you lack the right equipment to create a particular technique, find another way of achieving the same result. I wanted to enhance a page with a stencilled effect but did not have any stencils. I saw a suggestion that you could place garden foliage on a page to act as a mask when sprayed with various coloured inks. This would leave a lovely ghost image of the plants. The only problem is that I do not have a selection of these inks or extra spray bottles in which to create a watercolour substitute. Then I remembered a technique I did as a child, splatter painting, which looks like the colour has been sprayed onto a surface. For this all you need is some kind of metal or plastic mesh, a small frame and a tooth brush. I found some wire fly screen mesh in our shed which I stapled to a small wooden painting stretcher and was ready to go.
I wanted strong colour and grabbed the gouache that I had squeezed into old make-up pan palette. When wet with enough water to make the paint splatter through the wire mesh, you can build up layers of different colours and control the intensity of application by splattering the paint over different parts of the foliage mask. I was really happy with the result to which I added red roses cut from wrapping paper. Just shows that there is more than one way to achieve a desired effect if you think creatively.
I still need to decorate the cover of my journal and am considering several methods but that is for another day. It has been very relaxing and enjoyable working on a Junk Journal and I will try to make another one using some recycled materials. But whatever I use I will make do.
So don’t let limited resources stop you from doing your Art or Craft. There is always a substitute.
Stay safe and creative.
Many of the ideas and inspiration for making my journal come from the You Tube channels of Pam at The Paper Outpost and Lindsay Weirich, The Frugal Crafter, who I have found to be very helpful and are a delight to watch. If you haven’t already, check out these channels.