I didn’t realize how badly I needed a creative outlet until I started putting together the journals for a recent workshop event. I’d been stashing away ideas on my Pinterest boards, and pulled together a set of journals to celebrate the Full Flower Moon on May 3rd.
For my first trick, I cut paper bags into long sheets, soaked them, and hung them to dry. Finally, a chance to do something cool with those Trader Joe’s bags I’ve been hoarding! Once they were dry, I ironed them (if you try this at home, cover the paper with a cloth) and cut them to size.
I used the paper bag pieces for journal covers, gluing on another paper printed with the event title and a wonderful passage from Peter London’s book, Drawing Closer to Nature.
The text block was mainly printed pages I created with InDesign, with a few pages cut from discarded books and other papers from my stash. (I’m an avid collector of found paper. I’ve even got some wrapping paper decorated with events from the 1976 Olympics! I’m sure someday it will fit a project, right?)
I set up the nature journals in landscape format, using half a page of standard letter-sized paper. Since I used a variety of materials, I didn’t even try to match up the edges and sizes of all the pages perfectly. I bound the journals using a tortoise shell pattern, a new one for me. (I’ve been playing with Japanese stab bindings for a while now.)
The end result was a nature journal that we felt comfortable using. When I teach a nature journaling workshop, I try to reach people where they are. Most of us aren’t experienced artists, we’re just regular people who want to sit and pay attention to what’s happening on our small patch of earth.
I’ve been to a few classes in nature journaling, and while I did pick up a few neat tricks in terms of drawing technique, most of what I’ve read and seen has been fairly intimidating and a tad beyond the reach of my current skill set. You don’t need a fancy journal to collect your nature experiences.
I added a small wax paper pocket for us to save a leaf or other item. Over the course of my wanderings that evening, I found the item my pocket was meant to hold — a wedding favor that had dropped on the ground the day before. A simple thing: a toothpick with the date on it. (Probably also courtesy of Pinterest?)
On the other side:
So of course, after a bit of reflection, I concluded that the day was mine. That was the message I took to the bench overlooking ferns and beech trees: My journal is mine. My day is mine.
That is how a nature journal should be — make it yours.