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How to Make a DIY Lockdown Journal

This past week we have been inspired by an idea shared by Leah McDermott of @yournaturallearner She is making a 2021 family journal this year, with her husband and two young sons. If you head to Leah's Instagram account you'll find an IGTV all about the journal, along with a story highlight showing the process.

When I shared the journal idea with Bean, she was very keen, but I was concerned that it might be one project too many for us right now. We have a lot of projects on the go, and we are guilty of taking on too many to manage at times! Anyway, it was Bean's idea to create the journal for our period of lockdown, and that felt less intimidating than for a whole year, so that is what we agreed on.

Here's the process...

Step 1: Identify a Suitable Book

Obviously, you could just buy or order a notebook or sketchbook, but we loved the idea of the recycling/upcycling method. This book was in our 'donate' box, waiting for the charity shops to reopen post lockdown. We chose this particular book because it's a good size, roughly A5. It's hardback, so has a nice strong cover and spine, and it was not too thick, roughly 30 pages. We also have more than one, so if our journaling project takes off, and we'd like to make another one, we have a good supply.

Step 2 and 3 are interchangeable, so it doesn't matter which you choose to do first.

Step 2: Prepare the Inside

Using a glue stick, glue the first two pages of the book together, then repeat with every two pages throughout the book. This makes the pages nice and thick for painting, sticking etc. We then primed the inside pages with acrylic gesso. We did just the one coat, which means that you can still see the content of the book faintly through the paint. If you don't like this, simply paint another coat or two.

Step 3: Prepare the Cover

We primed the cover with acrylic gesso (Bean was thrilled that I was allowing her to paint on an actual book!) then, once dry, Bean customised the cover, painting a rainbow, which I thought was quite fitting for our lockdown journal.

Leave the journal to dry thoroughly. You might like to give your cover a second coat (we did) and then a coat or varnish (we did not, and regretted it, as the paint has peeled. We might still do this at some point).

Step 3: Get Creative!

I'm not entirely sure how we're going to use our journal over the coming weeks, but there are no rules on how it is used. I'm not concerned with it being used chronologically. I shan't be dating things (although Bean might). I'd like to stick a few photographs in it (Bean has already requested that I print off a photograph of our King Cake to stick in). We started this week with some circles, stickers and washi tape as prompts. It's a place for us to be creative together while we're spending all this time at home.

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