A Creative How-To Tutorial: How to Make a Journal From Magazines

When you collage as much as I do, you have a lot of well-loved, well-used old magazines lying around. Turning them into journals is  ever so much better than tossing them in the recycling!

Here are some quick and easy written instructions for turning your leftover magazines into a special place for your creative expression, In the video, I take you through the entire process, step-by-step. I hope you’ll discover a new love, just like I did!

Thank you so much to Shannon Green for introducing me to the concept of using a magazine as a journal and to Dede Willingham, who explained how to create one in one of her Coffee and Art in the Morning videos.

Supply List

  • Two magazines. Generally ones that are have a slightly heavier paper work better. (I love using the Stampington & Company magazines for this project.)
  • Gluestick or tape adhesive
  • A wide decorative tape for binding
  • Scissors (optional)

Creating Your Magazine Journal is Simple

Start with two magazines. If you are going to add paint or collage to your magazine journal, anything that will add some dimension, it helps to have a fair amount of pages removed. This will create some space between the covers for the bulk that you are going to add.

Remove the front cover of one magazine and the back cover of the other.

Lining them up as best you can, glue together the exposed last page of the magazine with the back cover removed and the exposed front page of the magazine with the front cover removed. If the glued together pages show some ripples, smooth them out using your fingers, a bone folder or, as I do, a soft cloth on the tip of your index finger.

Use your wide decorative tape to create a binding down the spine of the two attached magazines.

Voila! You’re done!

Tips for Making the Most of Your Magazine Journal

Experiment with ways you can use your new journal. Be brave! These are wonderfully unprecious as they are made from materials you were likely going to recycle anyway!

I love to use my magazine journals for collage. I have an en masse journal, a glue journal (I call it a “picture book”) and a dream book for gathering images that speak to my dreams. I have had hours of fun gluing images in, leaving visible any pre-existing parts of the magazine that I love. I generally use glue sticks (UHU brand) and have found that with a heavier magazine paper I don’t get too much rippling. Working with glue tape and using smaller images, especially if you have thinner paper, can help keep things smooth. For example, I always use glue tape if I am putting in a whole-page image.

Try using a magazine journal as an art journal. Rip out a page and test how it takes paint. Use a first layer of gesso and see how that works. With a wet medium, you are sure to get some rippling but how much and whether you’d like to work with that is a very individual choice. If it’s too much for you, you can always stick to using dry mediums. Have fun testing how your various pens, pencils and mark-making utensils work on magazine paper. Sharpies work a treat!

You can also use a magazine journal as a pre-illustrated writing journal. Write your daily thoughts, ideas, gratitudes in all of the spaces you can find. Try light-coloured gel pens on dark-coloured backgrounds. Discover how your writing takes on a new dimension when it is paired with the found imagery of your magazine journal.

The possibilities are endless!

However you use your journal, it’s a great idea to work a little at the front and then a little at the back and then a little at the front and a little at the back. Jumping around the pages and balancing out your usage this way will keep the binding strong and square. And if you really like your pages to lie flat, you can be a little compulsive like me and take some time at the beginning to give them a nudge to open either with your fingers or a bone folder, again alternating working from the front and the back (See the video.)

When I discovered the process of creating a magazine journal, I was immediately hooked. I made three that weekend and immediately started using them. I love the feel of these journals in my hands and I deeply love that I am making use of every last bit of the magazines I buy, especially the ones that are a bit more of an investment.

What Ideas Do You Have for Using a Magazine Journal?


  1. Dara says:

    Beautiful and helpful video Jamie! So far I have a series of magazines with the pretty tape on the bindings. Lol That in itself I found playful and soothing so I’m now looking forward to diving into them with collaging and intentions. I would never have thought to get into this until I viewed some of your flip-throughs. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Karen Pennebaker says:

    Fascinating. I’ve been making tiny journals from old magazines…using the spine. Not sure what I intend to do with them, other than give them to people! I can see a lot of possibilities!!

  3. Rainelle Tusing says:

    I have used magazine pictures for my journaling for years, but this is a new way to do it for me and use up my expensive decorating magazines that I can’t seem to toss out. I am not an artist (can’t draw a stick figure!) but am drawn to patterns and bohemian clothes and furniture arrangements Got some great tips! thanks. (PS…now I won’t feel guilty buying pricey magazines, lol)

  4. Aileen Peer says:

    oh how beautiful and inspiring. Thank you!! I do have a few Stampington mags, but I would find it so hard to tear them up and use bits and pieces from them, so I’ll have to think of some other mags. I love this idea, and will definitely use it!

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