13 February 2011

You Are Here: Art Journal Flip Through

You Are Here - Cover

I'm working on a journal with the theme "You Are Here" with the same materials that my students will be using in their art journals this week: pre-painted pages in a handmade by me art journal, glue sticks, pens, markers, and magazines. I hope these pages will inspire students to tell their own stories! Since I think my journal is shaping up to be pretty awesome, I wanted to share!

I used a page from a World Atlas to create the border and text, Sharpie marker for details, and star stickers. As soon as I find my roll of packing tape, I'll be covering the cover with tape to make it sturdier. Book is made from 140 lb cold-press watercolor paper. I bought 11 x 15 12-sheet pads from Job Lot for $3.99. The quality is fine for a decent practice journal, but Fabriano Artistico this stuff is not! Still, since I'm teaching a jewelry class, not an art class, I figured I should keep the costs pretty low in order to justify the expense! The kids can make jewelry-themed journals if they want to, but I'm going to tell them they can make whatever they want. More fun that way! 

All in all, it cost me about $35 and 4 hours of my time to make 32 5.5 x 7 inch journals with pre-painted pages, and I still have plenty of watercolor paint leftover for future journal projects with students. I don't even mind the time spent making the journals, either, because it gave me an excuse to watch Netflix television shows while I did it. Plus, painting is fun! The only reason I didn't have the kids paint the pages themselves is that I knew a) it would be insanely messy and b) we'd have to use a whole day of class just to paint backgrounds. With pre-painted pages, a one-day, one-hour class will be plenty of time to get everyone started.

Oh, yeah, the pages are bound with the Bind-It-All machine that I bought for class last session. Spending $90 on book-binding supplies might seem like a really weird expensive for a jewelry-making class, but, let me tell you, the kids thought the book necklaces were as cool as I did! Since I already have the machine and some binding wires, I was able to use the leftovers from last session to make the journals. The short pieces cut off from the 11-inch O-wires will be put to good use making more book necklaces before the end of the session!

You Are Here - 1st Spread
You Are Here - pages 1 / 2
I wasn't sure what I'd be writing in the journal when I started, but I soon realized it was going to be a mini-story of how I came to be here... or, You Are Here (in my head). The first page talks about how I was born in England and moved to America when I was four. Page two is me admitting the weirdness of my inner child. If you can't read it, the figure in the top right corner is saying "I fear only kids with sticks." Funny, and so true.

You Are Here - 2nd spread
You Are Here - pages 3 / 4

Since I'm planning on presenting this project to a group of young librarians next week as a possible summer project, I decided to make a page that detailed the kinds of books I liked (and didn't like) to read when I was a kid. (I already admitted I was weird, so no one should be surprised by my selections!) On page 4, I wrote about how my whole family, except for my mom, dad, brother, and sister, were in England and wonder if a me born in England, growing up with that family, would still like the me who grow up here without them. Also, I gave the Beatles silly headgear.

You Are Here - 3rd spread
You Are Here - page 5 / 6
I drew a picture of Pennsylvania and a star that is sort of where I grew up (upon reflection, I think the star should have been more to the right and tiny bit higher?). One page 5 & 6 I wrote about how since it was pretty boring growing up in the country, we had to invent games like "tie brother to apple tree." (I wonder if he remembers that?) I also wrote about how I didn't like being sent to get the eggs from the chicken coop because I was scared the hens would attack me.

I love how this journal is turning out. I'm hoping that kids will be excited to try making their own. I still have 3 spreads and the back cover left in the journal, so it's a good size for a first journal. The kids have February vacation the week after next, so we're doing art journals on the last day before vacation so that they can take them home (along with a magazine, marker and glue stick) and work on them during vacation. Since I knew kids are always hungry for projects to work on at home, I'm pretty psyched that I thought to plan ahead to have this project ready to go pre-vacation. Each student will get one journal, but I'm going to tell them that anyone who finishes a journal and brings it in for me to see / scan will get another one. Sure, it might mean I have to make 30 more journals... but so worth it to spread the love!


  1. I think your students will love this! It's so personal and so creative (much like jewelry making, I would guess) that they'll probably take to it quite well. I like how you used different means to tell your story (cut out pictures, maps--both hand-drawn and standard atlas pages). These really add to (what feels like, seeing this only in the digital world) the texture of the journal.

    If you need to justify this to the librarian group, go with the popular notion of identity creation and development in adolescence. That will score points, I'm sure. It's identity without social networks, so it could be a new concept for children in this tech-filled era. Just a thought!

  2. I love this post. I have read it twice and not commented. What a beautiful idea. How'd the rest of it turn out (yours that is)?


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