The first link shows a very simple file folder art journal. You can make this one in 15 minutes. The size is that of manila file folders without trimming, so there is substantial room for art journaling. It is also very cost effective to make, since you can use the patterned duct tape from Dollar Tree. And the lady giving the tutorial is such a sweet person, I just want to hang out with her all the time. The only down side I found to this journal is I didn’t care for the way the duct tape became a bit gummed up on the ends of the spine. Otherwise this is a great DIY option for an art journal. Here’s how you make it:
Cut a piece of duct tape the length of your file folders. Rip it in half length wise, giving you two strips of tape the length of your file folder. Attach a file folder-at the folded side to half the strip of tape, length-wise. Attach another one to the remaining half of the tape strip. Burnish. You have two file folders held together with half a piece of duct tape. Do that with as many file folders as you wish. When you have your signatures (the taped together file folders) ready, take a piece of tape-just as you did before-and lay the untaped center of the file folder signature half way length-wise on the tape. Lay another untaped center on the other half of the tape. Burnish. Continue in this manner until all your signatures are taped together. Each center should be taped to another center-there should be no empty or untaped middles of your file-folder art journal. Add a whole width of duct tape to the outside of your spine. Trim the tape from the ends of the file-folder spine. Completed in minutes.
The second link shows a more complex art journal process, although most of the video is on decorating the journal. I have a large guillotine paper cutter my husband rescued from a dumpster behind a school he was delivering to, so the cutting of the folders wasn’t a huge deal. It would certainly be a big deal if you were cutting them by hand or with one of the more flimsy paper trimmers. The woman in the video left the tabs on her file folders, but since mine were used and battered-I cut them off.
You get two signatures from one file folder. The one I am currently working on has six signatures-from three file folders. This gives you 24 pages plus the front and back covers. Three of the signatures have a pocket. The size is 4″ by 5 3/4″.
Here’s what you do with this one:
First cut 1/8th inch from the side of the file folder. This gives you a file folder which is 9 x 11 1/2″. Cut this in half width-wise, not end to end. Lay your ruler at the fold of the file folder and score a line 4 1/2″ up from the bottom on both sides of the folder. When you fold them you will end up with “mountains and valleys”. Where the fold of the file folder is-this is the middle two parts of the four piece section-tape one sidre and attach the other side to it. You now have a doubled single page. You could leave the top without tape which would create a pocket, if you want that. The fold of the file folder goes to the outside of the journal. Tape all center sections like this.
Now that your centers are all glued together, apply tape to the back side of the last page of the signature and carefully line up the next signature with the one you taped. Attach it. Tape the backside of that signatures last page and attach the next signature to it, and on you go until all the signatures are attached to each other. All your pages will be two thicknesses except the covers. Again, you could leave one side open to create a pocket page with these pages too.
I find this to be a bit small for my usual art journaling fun. My DIY art journals are usually made from recycled cereal boxes, which makes them about twice as large. It would be possible to make the art journals using the full-sized manila file folders which would give you substantially more room to work. Just lay the folders, one on top of the other, gluing or taping the back side of the first folder to the front of the second, then the back side of that folder to the front of the next one and so on. Each page would be two thick except the covers. You could line up the tabs to match each other. Pocket pages would work well here too. Giving you a lot of space for memorabilia from a vacation or something.
I’ve enjoyed creating these smaller journals. I’ve made a couple already. The cutting up part takes the longest to accomplish, the putting them together part goes pretty quickly. Since the most fun part of an art journal is making the pages that will come a bit later. I began one by decorating the covers, but will have to give some thought to the interior pages.
The best part is the cost of the journals was nothing, except for the glue to connect the signatures. The file folders were given to me used, so I’m recycling them. I love free and frugal art projects.