What is a Junk Journal & How to Use One?

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What Is A Junk Journal?


Have you ever seen beautiful product packaging, like a floral tissue box and just think “this is too pretty to throw away”. But what would you possibly do with it? Perhaps there is a way to upcycle it, like by making a junk journal! 

Junk journaling and the term itself has evolved over the years. Depending on who you ask, you may get a variety of answers, but at its simplest, junk journaling is a form of art journaling or scrapbooking. Traditionally, junk journaling is just what you may imagine it to be, purely crafting a handmade journal by repurposing junk! Yes, found and recycled materials like old papers, packaging, and some bits and bob make up the essence of these journals. If it is a paper or flat item you wouldn’t keep (junk), you can make a junk journal from it. 


Nowadays, junk journaling has evolved from using strictly junk, to using a variety of materials. Often people use vintage or even vintage reproduction papers, while others use magazine cutouts and beautiful modern floral stickers. If it’s a pretty paper you like, you can use it! 


Typically, you will be creating a one-of-a-kind mixed media art journal, but at the end of the day, it is the artists’ goals and intentions that define what their own junk journal is to them.

What Do You Do With A Junk Journal?


Junk journals are purely one's expression of thoughts collected in a bound book. You can use your journal as a safe space to create anything you want; just let your imagination go wild! If you are struggling to get going, here are some purposes for junk journals to get you started. Just remember, there are no rules. 


Daily Journal

Using your junk journal as a daily diary is not off limits. Yes, you can totally write in your journal, and keep a log of your day to day life. One day you will look back and cherish it. 


Goals or Planner

I love me a good to-do list. Go for it, write down all of your goals and plan your year ahead. A junk journal can be a great place to throw down all of your thoughts, including fun crafting ideas. Think vision board, but better! You can write down your thoughts, glue in images that inspire you and take your journal on the go!


Memory Scrapbook

Who doesn’t love a trip down memory lane? A junk journal is a great to use in a scrapbook form, but with the same formality. Paste in your photos, any paper memorabilia, like bus tickets, brochures, etc. and don’t forget to include your thoughts!


Themed Journals

Maybe you’re not someone who likes the chaos of non-structured journals. For you, a themed journal may be just the ticket. Journal about flowers and gardening, space, or even a themed book revolving all around vintage mail (and please show me if you do. I would love to see it!).


Travel Journal

Oh the places you will go! Throw down photos, any paper ephemera, and thoughts about all the places you have visited. And yes, this is a great place to share photos of the food you ate, without any judgement! Who did you meet? What did you see? Where do you dream of going next? 


Gifted Memories

Junk journals are great as anniversary gifts for all occasions. For Mother’s Day, you could have a collection of photos of you and mom and any ephemera you collected along the way. If the journal is for a 1 year anniversary, you could use the flowers they gave you, dry them, and make handmade paper and include that in your journal. I love saving all the bits and pieces of my life and combining them into a pretty chapter book. Junk journals comprised of memories make a very thoughtful gift.  


Collection of Poems or Quotes

Use your junk journal as a collection of poetic inspiration. Practice your handwriting or calligraphy, in a collection of quotes and poems. 


Materials for Junk Journaling

Your junk journal can be made of literally anything your heart desires. When learning about junk journaling, you will see and hear people talking a lot about ephemera. Ephemera is defined as “items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.” Although this includes items, like tickets, old letters, stamps etc., ephemera is a loose term junk journalers use when they are referring to the papers they use for their journals.

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