Over the weekend I thought I’d make myself extra journal cards for a Project Life workshop I’m planning to attend soon. This little project is inspired by a previous article “PROJECT LIFE TUESDAY: MAKING YOUR OWN JOURNAL OR FILLER CARDS” by Project Life pioneers in Manila, CH, Pinky, and Yam. I thought it would be a really fun thing to try. Rectangles, stamps, doodles... I figured, yeah, I could do that.
For those unfamiliar with what Project Life is or want to know more about it, you may look up Becky Higgins (creator of Project Life) and check out her website or get creative ideas from Life Documented Manila here.
Standard Size for Journal Cards/Fillers
Standard journal cards or fillers are sizes (let’s call them Size A) 4” x 6” and (B) 3” x 4”, so I’m guided by these sizes. Again, you can check out the complete tutorial I followed, and it’s really quite thorough.
I made use of different types of cardstock I have. Primarily, I used one of my favorite batches of cardstock from Die Cuts With a View, the DCWV Silky Smooth Cardstock Stack in neutrals. You can find it locally and for a bit less in the Living Well Homestore, at the Podium-Ortigas.
Each sheet of cardstock is 12” x 12”, so I was able to divide and cut them into required sizes without any bit wasted. With this, I can make exactly twelve (12) size B cards, or six (6) size A cards, or any preferred combination of each size.
COMMON/STANDARD PAPER SIZES
As the LDM team mentioned, regular sized index cards are excellent material because of their convenient sizes. But you can also use other-sized papers like Legal or Letter or the 8.5 x 13 “long bond” size we call here in the Philippines.
PRO TIP: As my rule of thumb, and this especially applies to scrap cardstock I use to make journal fillers/cards (more on this later), I always cut out as many Size A cards as I can first. It’s easier to fit smaller cards into awkward cuts on scrap cardstock or simply divide Size A cards into two smaller cards. I can’t, however, do that vice versa.
And efficiency is a virtue, so check out the illustration on the right (Figure 2) to identify one of the ways to cut your preferred sheet size while making the least number of straight cuts necessary. I’m sure there’s math here somewhere; it just escapes me.
So in the following examples, I will first indicate the maximum number of Size A cards you can make out of a sheet, then (if there's space yet) the maximum number of Size B cards next. You can simply cut the larger-sized card in half accordingly or on a need basis.
But do not be restricted. Feel to use any cardstock or board sizes. As I have pointed out, I sometimes recycle scrap cardstock with sections cut off from previous projects as long as it can accommodate “serviceable” sizes. So before you throw away that board you just cut a teddy bear shape out of, you have a new question to ask yourself: “Can this still fit a 3” x 4”?”
To cut your journal cards or fillers, you can use your paper cutter or any hand cutter. Theoretically, scissors would do the job but it's tricky business. I find that paper cutters are the best to use for large-quantity projects but personally, I still enjoy the good old hand cutter once in a while (for the thinner boards, or those that won't need repeat cuts). But that's me and I'm eccentric (and possibly, with the penchant for hand-held sharp objects, dangerous) like that. Use whatever you feel more comfortable with.
Once you’ve cut them to A and B sizes, the next step is easily to corner-punch them. You can use any corner puncher or as the Life Documented Manila team recommended, the corner puncher from Muji for P 395.00. But if you didn’t have one, don’t worry. You can use scissors if you have the flair and patience for it. In fact, you can also just not. There isn’t a book that says your journal cards have to have curved corners. It can be simply the regular 90-degree edge that it is, or it can even be any shape you want it to be. It’s your journal; they can suck it.
You can group like or contrasting colors for effect – mix and match them, as you like. I’m thinking of clustering a dozen and packaging the collection to give to friends who love scrapbooking more than I do. It’ll be something useful and the handmade touch is thoughtful. I will also try to make this available in store soon.
Apart from index cards and cardstock and those 10-pack boards you can find in the bookstores, you can also see if you have scrapbooking boards around. I was able to use again spare scrapbooking boards from previous projects like this one. Unfortunately, they are not as thick as my DCWV cardstock, but they aren't so bad either. Plus, they are conveniently 12" x 12" in size so they are waste-free and I love the effect, especially the one with the "postmark" theme. The monochromatic design, with its embossed and varnished prints, looks really good as a journal card or filler. Apply the same theory to many other things including gift and shopping bags, old notebook covers, hard magazine covers, et cetera.
If they fit, they’re good, I went to work making as many 4" x 6"'s and 3” x 4”'s as I could even from already notepad-sized cardstock. Which brings us to...
EVEN SMALLER SCRAPS
While I was going my jolly way cutting cardstock like there’s no tomorrow, I can’t help but notice that, most of the time, there is an inch or two on the sides of the sheets that I always have to cut away because they don’t meet the width or height requirement. I’m one to avoid waste if possible, so armed with even smaller scraps of paper, scissors and a cavalry of washi tapes, I have discovered I can still make Size B cards out of scraps. I’ll just have to carefully assemble them in a way that would fit a 3” x 4” rectangle. Heck, if you want, you can simply stick all of them together, form an area big enough that you can cut size B cards as if it were from a single sheet. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle that once you have solved, you cut into equal diced parts. You might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
The most basic of canvases, journal fillers included, is white. Also, probably one of the easiest ways to decorate anything is stamping. It’s a direct approach, quick and painless, no excessive hand manipulations and absolutely minimal motor skills required. Of course, not all of the stamped projects in the world are created equal so we will look into stamping techniques in the future. But for the sake of illustration, below are 3” x 4” basic hand-stamped journal cards.
SCRAWL, DOODLE, SCRIBBLE
If you’re feeling more confident, grab a pen and think of ANY design you can conjure on a piece of cardstock. You can simply scrawl patterns or write a line of a poem or two.
One of the most useful things I have in my art cabinet would have to be the set of underrated metallic pens. It writes clearer than almost any other pen I have in almost any type of surface and I’ve used it for doing almost anything – from personal letters to fashion sketches to wall art. You must have a magic pen yourself so take off the cap and bring all those cute little squirrels you dream of at night to life.
So the basics are as easy as that! Once you have your journal cards cut and ready, you have every right to do anything with them – stamp, scribble or stick on them, maybe punch them some more, it’s your call. But remember, making your own journal cards is still just a pleasant option. After all, the very idea of Project Life is going back to the basics – that you won’t be needing to take out your scissors and adhesives and sit down for hours on end coming up with a scrapbook, that it should be “as easy as slipping photos to your photo album”. But we’re just gonna put this out there because, yes, this is definitely worth trying to do on your free time.
If you're interested in news about upcoming Life Documented Manila Project Life workshops, you can find further information via their website.
Find out more ways to make (Project Life) journal cards and fillers on Kaeratana!