The handmade Big Journals need Covers!
Additional photos at the end of this post. My covers keep tearing off. I'm wondering if Big Journals are not the greatest idea, or if the Journals always need canvas across the inside of the cover and to the first page. Aargh. See below.
I made covers for my first two Big Journals back in 2011 when I was taking Suzi Blu's A Lovely Dream art journaling class and starting to Put Away stuff (Memphis One Journal). I bought bookmaking chipboard and covered it with muslin fabric (not lined with paper, just glued plain) and then covered that with a piece of heavyweight canvas (just on top, not wrapped around.
To make proper Coptic covers, cut chipboard slightly larger than the journal (it can be a 1/2" larger all around, or larger or smaller if you like). Cut a piece of bookmaking cloth (or whatever cloth you are using) about an inch larger all around. Trim corners to about a quarter inch. Apply glue to the chipboard and press onto cloth. Then apply glue to the edges of the cloth (using scrap paper underneath), fold over and press down with a bone folder.
Glue cover onto the book: FIRST place a scrap canvas underneath the first page, then glue paper to paint over the edges with glue. Apply glue to the page, then press the page up onto the cover hitting your drawn marks (see below). Press down all over the paper to smooth out, remove glue paper, and close book. The scrap canvas in between cover and book is to guard during drying time so pages don't get glued together. Weight down the book during drying, overnight.
I made my own covers for the two Big Journals shown above. Then: DUH
A quarter page of Stonehenge paper measures 11"x15" - while in Michael's I walked past the canvas panels and thought, Oh, heyyyy...they have some that measure 12"x16" !! DUH! These make excellent covers for these big journals so that is all I use now.
I draw pencil lines on the backs of the covers to guide the paper when gluing it. Draw a line 1" from the side edge (only on one side) and 1/2" from both the top and the bottom. You want to be able to open the journal and not have the covers bump into each other, so these measurements will ensure that when opened flat there is some space between them and they don't overlap.
Always use PVA archival glue. Other glues don't work well, are too thick, are not archival, and can turn yellow.
Prep scrap 'Glue Paper' to place behind the page when brushing on the glue. I needed four magazine pages taped together as Glue Paper for my Big Journals.
Don't forget the scrap canvas to place inside the cover to guard during drying.
Always apply glue to the paper, NOT the cover.
When I sewed two Big Journals together (for Atlanta and Laurel) I didn't realize they would be SO BIG that it's difficult to open the first few pages - I had to use one double journal next to the other in order to glue on the covers and to open them 'safely' so they don't tear.
I tape scrap paper or magazine pages together so the glue paper is large enough, and place this under the sheet of paper to be brushed with glue. Brush on PVA glue, lightly and evenly.
Place paper onto the cover, trying to hit the pencil marks. Sometimes it is difficult to get it precisely positioned. If I need to I peel it off and reposition - try not to do this more than once or you may have to reapply glue. Work quickly as the glue is drying.
Place it carefully before you press down:
Flatten and smooth the paper onto the cover with your hand.
Remove the scrap paper and close the book.
Weight during drying.
I usually leave things drying 24 hours. I was working on three Big Journals at once here, plus a Small Journal (on the left).
And covers are attached! When you open the book, some glue may have seeped out onto the scrap canvas pages, so peel them off carefully.
Finishing the Covers and Gluing in Extras:
For some of my Big Journals I have painted the covers with Acrylic paint. Notice that the blue Springfield cover has a scratch on it. These were painted but not varnished (brushed with protective coating and acrylic varnish). I will be varnishing some of the covers with paintings - see blog post on Varnishing [link]. But I didn't worry about these getting a little scuffed. They are meant to be opened and viewed, so I don't mind some wear here and there.
For my recent Big Journals, I have glued paintings or scraps of paintings onto the covers.
Elizabeth painting from Laurel on front cover of Laurel Big Journal.
Cardinal painting from Laurel (Layer Love online class by Julie Prichard) on back cover of Laurel Big Journal.
Bloomington Big Journal:
Experimental drawing above on front cover of Bloomington Big Journal.
Angel drawing face on back cover of Bloomington Big Journal.
Sometimes I also glue a folded half sheet of Stonehenge inside the cover, for extra stability. Apply glue to the back of the paper and try to place it so the fold is in the right place. If doing this, I glue the cover onto the Journal and let that dry, then the next day glue the paper over it; then the next day I glue in a painting (if that's what I am doing).
For many of these Big Journals, if I have glued a painting right inside the cover, I skipped gluing in a half sheet of Stonehenge. I also glued paintings between the sections of the books - for a few I glued in a half sheet of Stonehenge and for some I did not. I think it was easier to place the paintings in that fold if a half sheet was glued in before I glued in the painting.
Speaking of Scrap Canvas:
I use these scrap pieces when working on my art journaling pages, so I don't get wet media onto other pages or accidentally 'glue' pages together. I also have a third piece for placing between two facing pages being worked on. When pages are either glued or wet media (including gesso) is used on them, they warp, so after letting them dry a bit on the surface, I close the book with the protective canvas inside and then weight the journal with heavy books. I leave this drying for 24 hours.
Closing pages with scrap canvas between.
NOTE FOR BIG JOURNALS AND ADDING LOTS OF STUFF:
Once you start glueing extra pages into a journal, in particular canvas, it gets kinda big. My Lovely Dream journal got so overstuffed that I pulled the back cover off because it was so out of place. I glued it back on when I was finished with the journal, with an extra page of Stonehenge glued over the ripped end page, for extra stability. It was after this that I began measuring the covers for placement, so I haven't had this problem again. However, sometimes things don't get glued in precisely and may stick out, or the covers may close a bit out of place. I just don't worry about it. Nothing has to be perfect.
See all bookmaking links here.
Update July 2015:
I went flipping through some of my Big Journals recently, and look - the cover came right off of the Memphis One Journal. I will need to repair this at some point, but it's not high on my priority list right now. There is nothing on the inside cover, so I can glue in a folded piece of Stonehenge. In fact, it was only held in place by a single sheet of Stonehenge. Canvas glued across both pages is proving to be more secure. Ehh, the Big Journals aren't perfect.
Update November 2015:
I made a sketchbook for a Twitter friend, with a soft cover. I glued Stonehenge paper onto canvas - gluing the top side down to the canvas, so when flipped over, canvas side up, the paper would be top side up (and lay the right way on the pages underneath).
Gluing the top side:
Pressing the top side down:
Here is the sketchbook, resting on top of books stacked on the covers as they dry:
Here is the finished sketchbook: (It says 'sketchbook' in Japanese.)
Update May 2016
I'm beginning to think this Big Journal idea isn't the greatest. My covers keep tearing off. Or maybe I need to always put canvas across the inside of the front cover across to the first page. Paper is fragile and when I attach SO MUCH STUFF inside the journal, it's too heavy and it's too much.
Over the weekend I got out the ALD Journal to Glue-Dot in some photos that came off (glue stic - I should know better). And the cover ripped partway off. I fixed it by gluing a strip of canvas across the open stitching. But maybe these aren't such a good idea given that I am always repairing them!
OH WELL. In the future I will find a better way to contain and store my artwork and stuff.