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Finding Junk is Part of the Pleasure

When we’re working on junk journals, we have lots of options for sourcing our junk. You may have already discovered that it’s not nearly as simple as it would seem. But before we get into sourcing, let’s make sure we’re both thinking about the same “junk”.

Junk Journals

As you know, journals are anything used for record-keeping, usually written or notated in some way. Photo albums are journals. Diaries are journals. Notebooks can be journals. Journals are books, bound or unbound – a collection of pages with something in common. A Junk Journal is a journal made of papers that some would throw out!

Examples of junk paper include: a child’s old homework that’s no longer needed, old reports, junk mail, scrap papers, sketches or other artwork that just didn’t turn out, maps, envelopes, old magazines and flyers, lined paper, blank paper, dyed paper, white paper, colored paper, heavy paper, tissue paper, smooth paper, crumpled paper, pretty paper, ugly paper… you get it. You can use just about any paper that is clean – as in ‘not dirty’; messy is just fine!

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
– Thomas A Edison

Options for Sourcing Junk

There’s a secret formula called PFDF. OK, maybe I’m the only one who calls it that but here are four options.

1. Purchased

You’ve spent your hard-earned money. While often unique and “fancy”, purchased paper products can get pricey. Then there’s the dreaded buyer’s remorse when you get home and realize it just won’t “work” as you had thought. You can save your money for craft items you can’t get for free.

2. Found

You’ve found and claimed an item. And that’s great if it was something you found while doing something else, like walking to the bus stop. But focused searching can become a task that maybe isn’t so fun. Walking around outside in 8 inches of snow, for example, is not my favorite activity when looking for found objects to include in my junk journal.

3. Donated

Someone special has given you an item. Yay! But… donated items can sometimes come with expectations that, well, we might not want to be tied to. I’ve had to set boundaries with donors and say no to some donations that included expectations I couldn’t meet.

4. Free < this is a good one!

No cash, no searching, no strings attached. Perhaps it’s something you’re about to throw away. Or maybe you did a trade with another crafter.

Free paper items can also be found laying out on counters or in brochure racks at hotels, rest stops, restaurants, and so on. When gathering these items, keep in mind they have a cost to the business that’s providing them. Please respect that cost by not taking more than one or two. Near mailboxes, you can often find discarded envelopes and flyers. And of course, our craft rooms tend to collect scraps of paper, sketches, or artwork that we don’t consider “finished”. These scraps can be recycled into journals.

“Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window. Why, why, says the junk in the yard.”
– Paul McCartney

Next Up: Binding

Once we have our junk paper, we can bind it into a journal to use as a way to record our thoughts, ideas, memories, lists, or to give as gifts. Explaining this part just isn’t plausible in a blog post. But we do have a solution! Check out the schedule and sign up for one of our regular Junk Journal classes.

Remember: Creativity is when time falls away, pain disappears, and joy fills you.


Kimberly Vallance
Creativity Coach & Teacher


Kimberly Vallance
Creativity Coach & Teacher

33304 W 12 Mile Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48334
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