Sunday, October 7, 2012

Duct tape journal swap - postmark by October 27th

My handy-dandy survey tool shows that lots of you would be interested in swapping small handmade books or journals.

So here's the easiest and most fun journal I've come across: the duct tape journal.
No sewing or bookbinding skills needed.  If you've got duct tape, a rubber band and paper in your house, you can make this book in less than a half hour.
Here's one I made for a swap last year.

I learned this technique from Diana Trout's fabulous blog and YouTube videos.

And if you're reading this on your phone in the car while you're driving, and you can't click on the link, here's the quicky version of how to make the binding.
Take a strip of duct tape that's a little more than twice as long as your covers, and lay your covers on the tape like this:

 fold the duct tape over itself, toward the center.  Trim some paper so that it's smaller than your cover.  Fold your stack of papers in half, wrap a rubber band around the spine so that it holds your stack of pages in place.

That's all I'm going to show you, because I didn't invent this.
And seriously, if you're not familiar with Diana Trout's blog/videos/classes/book, you should go check her out.  Totally inspiring.

So here's the deal:
Make one duct tape journal containing a minimum of 10 different pieces of paper (so that there will be 20 pages).  

Here's another journal I made which will give you some ideas for the kind of paper you can use.
My covers were collages I made in a Jane Davies on-line class that have been sitting around looking for a purpose.

Here's a glimpse of what's inside.
The page on the left is card stock, quickly decorated with washi tape and rubber stamp.
The page on the right is from Tammy, who sent me an extra paper for the painted paper swap. (thanks Tammy!)

on the left, a page from a human anatomy coloring book.
on the right, ledger paper.

on the left, a painted magazine page.
on the right, the back of something else.  I decided to leave it plain.

On the left, one of my own painted pages.
On the right, the back of that painted magazine page.

On the left, one my own marbled papers.
On the right, a map from an old atlas.

On the left, half of an envelope (the other half is on the other side of the binding)
On the right, the other part of that ledger paper.

On the left, the back of one of my painted papers.
On the right, some scrap-book paper.

So you get the idea, right?
A variety of pages, and they can be a variety of sizes.
Just stack them and fold them and wrap that rubber band around them and you're done.
The fun thing about the rubber band binding is that you can remove the pages if you prefer working on them outside of the book format.  (or remove them if you feel like you've totally screwed them up and want to throw them away!)  And you can add more papers at any time.  
Even if you don't keep an art journal, this is a great place to jot notes, glue photos, tape down some inspiring pictures, etc.
Plus, once you've made one, you're going to want to make more!

  • create one duct tape journal using a minimum of 10 pieces of paper (not including the cover)
  • make sure each piece of paper is different and not totally blank.
  • make sure the covers are kind of sturdy. (cardboard, heavy water color paper or heavy card-stock are all good choices)
  • Stick it in an envelope with a return address label and postage money
  • Write your name and contact info somewhere inside the book so the recipient knows who the book came from.
  • If you have a blog, or flickr, or instagram, or etsy, or other on-line presence that you would like me to post on the blog, make sure you include a note or send me an email.  And if you don't have a link to share, what are you waiting for?  flickr accounts are free and easy and a great way to share your work.  email me.  I'll convince you.
  • Include enough money for return postage:
    • You can go to the Post Office and have them weigh it and once you know how much it will cost to mail, you can either stick that much cash in the envelope, or include the proper number of stamps, or if you forget to do this before you seal up the envelope, you can paypal me the money.  (it's easy. you don't even have to have a paypal account. go to and click on send money and use this email address:  This is a great option if you're outside of the US and don't have American dollars or postage laying around.)
    • out of curiosity, I weighed my journal inside a bubble mailer and went to to see how much it would cost to send to California.  The result:  a 7 oz envelope, or a 7 oz package sent first class from MA to CA is only $2.63.  The "postage price calculator" at is really helpful.  click here.
  • Mail it to me no later than October 27th
    • Karen Isaacson, PO Box 532, Shrewsbury, MA 01545, United States.


Katie R. said...

You need to add mind reader to your skills. I was just googling junk journals today and was already digging through my stuff to make one, now I get to make more. Yah. said...

That duct tape jounal looks great! said...

yes, I can spell -- journal -- just not type....

Tammy said...

What size would be appropriate for this swap...1/2 of an 8.5x11?

GinaVisione said...

Woman, your creativity is killing me! Wow. Never made a journal like this before. Tempting..., if I can fit the idea into my brain & execute it! said...

OK. I'm in. I made and I mailed it.

TaylorMaide said...

Love this! Working on mine this weekend.

Cynthia said...

I'm in. Just made one and will mail it tomorrow.

Joyfulploys said...

I learned about this over at Andria's blog(Drawing Near). Count me in....I love swaps...thanks!!!

Lynn said...

I'm in! Mailing it today! (You were right about not being able to make just one! I've made 4 this week that I've sent out to friends. :-)
Hopefully it won't take 30 days to get to you!

Cynthia said...

Yes,I am already making more! Very fun.

Caitlyn (ladyphlogiston) said...

Mine is in the mail! This was fun :)

dori said...

i mailed my journal today. it's on the way! said...

Just found out about your blog & swap.
What fun...!!!
Mine is all packaged up, and I am headed to the postal office tomorrow. :]
Post mark date is 27th right? I hope I'm not too late...

Cal said...

Heading to the post office now! My first MMSA swap - thank you for the opportunity. -CAL

DianaTrout said...

Hey all! I just saw this and want to invite you to upload pictures of your journals to my my Flickr group
I'd love to see what you are making, Best to all of you, Diana Trout

Karen Isaacson said...

Thanks Diana! I'll post the flickr group on the blog!

HeARTworks said...

What a great way to make a journal- easier than how I made mine recently! And I thought that was easy! Thanks for the tutorial and the links! Patsy from

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