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Junk Journals: What are they and how to make them!

Junk journals are a great way to enjoy art journaling.  And just like any other form of journaling, art or not, there is no right or wrong way to take part in it. 

Junk journals are handmade books created from special moments and “junk” such as doodles, ticket stubs, a receipt from a romantic date, a piece of fabric from your wedding dress, or anything else you can think of!

Also sometimes known as a “smash book,” it can be used as a sort of daily scrapbook. It also doesn’t have to be done daily if you don’t have a lot of time.

There are tons of different ways to experience and enjoy junk journaling but hopefully, this blog post will help you feel inspired with your own junk journal.

junk journal ideas

What Is A Junk Journal?

There really is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to defining a junk journal. 

The main thing that each junk journal has in common is that they’re made primarily of found and recycled materials. Everything else about them can vary from person to person such as what the journal is used for and how it is used. 

It is often a mix of a little bit of everything and anything and is used to collect and record memories, thoughts, ideas, inspiration, and more.  

Junk journals can be all different sizes. You can make a big book or a mini book or somewhere in between.

What Should I Put in My Junk Journal?

So what kind of “junk” can you put in your journal?  Literally anything! 

Things like receipts, old book pages or book covers, junk mail, doilies, brown paper bags, scrapbook paper, file folders, wrapping paper, cereal boxes, business cards, fabric scraps have commonly been used in creating junk journals. 

It’s essentially a fun way to use junk that would normally end up in the trash and turn it into a beautiful handmade book full of memories.  

Possible Junk Journal Supplies

What Do You Do With A Junk Journal?

We can all make pretty journals which is totally fine, but what else can you do with these journals?  What is the purpose of the junk journal? 

Well, here are several great ideas to use them.


You can, of course, use the junk journal in a more traditional sense.  Just a good old-fashioned journal, or diary. 

Use it to record your thoughts and feelings whenever inspiration strikes.  

Sketch Book

Use your junk journal as a blank canvas where you can sketch and draw out all your wonderful ideas.  

Memory Book

Think of it as a kind of scrapbook.  Gather photos, postcards, meaningful letters, ticket stubs for movies and concerts, or whatever else holds meaning to you.  

Travel Journal

Take it with you or create a project when you return by turning your travel journal into a junk journal.  Fill it with luggage tags, postcards, train tickets, Polaroid photos, maps, and more!

Day Planner

Is your everyday life need some organization but you want something a bit more creative than a planner bought from the store?  

And this doesn’t have to be all business.  Daily planners can include your latest favorite tv shows, favorite books, or favorite quotes.  

How Do You Make A Junk Journal Page?

Once you’ve figured out the basics of your junk journal, it’s time to start experimenting with different ways to create junk journal pages.  There are so many different materials, papers, and styles you can test out. 

Here are some great junk journal ideas for your pages.  

Different Types of Junk Journal Pages

The Tuck Spot Page

Tuck spots are simply spots in your journal where you can tuck something behind something else – usually ephemera, a tag, or a journaling card.  

This can be achieved by gluing two sides (or sometimes only one side) of a piece of paper or a doily to create a place to slide something behind.  

The opening is usually from the side and/or the top.  The tuck spot pages can be helpful if an actual pocket is too restrictive for what you want to include on that page.  

The Hidden Page

Hidden journaling pages are super fun to create and versatile!

A page can be hidden by a pocket that flips up or down. Another way would be to glue a pocket down onto a page except for a small space for a piece of notepaper to fit inside.

The Pocket Page

This is similar to a tuck spot page.  The difference is this is usually multiple pages. 

A pocket makes for a great place for storing things like a piece of ephemera, journal cards, tags, and anything else.   Pockets are usually created by gluing a piece of paper or other items such as fabric down so there’s only one spot to slide things in. 

You can even fold your paper or pages in ways to create extra pockets from just one sheet.   Once you’ve created the base of your pocket, you can embellish it or just keep it simple. 

Many junk journal supplies sellers also sell ready-made pockets you can attach to your junk journals. 

The Collage Page

A collage page is super versatile and is naturally a favorite among junk journalers. 

You can utilize scraps from other pages and all the random odds and ends that you never get to use elsewhere.   

You can dedicate a whole page, half a page, or more to some form of collage.  

The Belly Band Page

Junk journaling definitely has some unique jargon so don’t worry if you aren’t sure what a belly band page is. 

It’s either a horizontal or vertical strip on your page that acts as kind of a tuck spot.  
It’s kind of similar to the little elastic bands that come on store-bought planners to hold your spot (or important items).  

To create your own belly band, you can use almost anything.  A thick paper, cardstock, pieces of fabric, or even envelopes from junk mail work great!

The Fold Out Page

The fold-out page refers to a page folding out to reveal more space for journaling. If you have a piece of paper that is larger than the rest of your junk journal, such as music sheets, this works really well.

Junk Journal Theme Ideas

junk journal ephemera pack
Junk Journal Ephemera pack by Artful Stars at Home

Your own journal doesn’t have to stick to a particular theme at all.  But if you are wanting to give it a specific theme and are looking for some ideas, here is a place to start:

  • Nature
  • Wildlife
  • Astronomy
  • Travel
  • Nautical
  • Literary
  • Holiday
  • Seasonal
  • Mythical/Fantasy
  • Rainbow
  • Monochromatic
  • Cooking and Recipes
  • Steampunk
  • Vintage
  • Childhood Memories
  • Christmas
  • Movies

Junk Journal Ideas for The Cover

You could use a number of things to make the front cover such as an old book cover, regular paper, cardstock, brown packaging paper. 

Colored duct tape, acrylic paint, scrapbook paper, fabric, and more can be added to jazz things up a bit if you wish.   

I like making quilted scrap fabric journal covers but you could achieve a similar look with a mix of scrap paper and scrap fabric as well.

You can use glue like traditional scrapbookers or you could sew paper and fabric together – I often put paper through my sewing machine!

Junk Journal Binding

Types of binding for your junk journal include staples and a needle and thread.  I used a needle and thread for the junk journal kid’s colouring book linked to below.

Junk Journal Ideas & Examples

From large to tiny journals, the ideas for junk journals are practically endless!

There are so many different things you can add to your junk journal including little moments you want to remember.

Here are some great examples and inspiration to make your junk journal special to you.

For other ideas of what to do with scrap paper and fabric, check out these posts:

For even more recycled craft ideas go here: Recycled Crafts & Gifts

Want to start from scratch and find out about what upcycling is and what you can upcycle? Head here.

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Julie @Artfulstarsathome

Friday 4th of February 2022

This is great! Lots of useful information about creating junk journals, I love it!??Thanks for the mention about my vintage paper packs too!!

Kristen Hubert

Saturday 5th of February 2022

Thanks! Glad you liked the post!

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