Tutorial on Visual Homemaking Journal

(The following is a feeble tutorial disguising itself as story because I hesitate to offer a tutorial on anything… and I think we remember stories longer ~smile~)

This is the story of a Type-A personality finding serenity in playing about with glossy pictures and glue and paper. Child’s play. Yes, true: it’s a pretty simple story.

But maybe it will help another soul make a bit more happiness too? Just in simple things. (Such happiness in those.)

Someone asked to hear this plain little story, the winsome Shannon Woodward (have you read her blog? books?):

“I only have a minute (inserted: another Type-A? ~warm smile~ ), but I wanted to ask you about your beautiful journal…. I want to do that myself and teach [my daughter] to do it as well.

I’ve been so consumed with an unexpected project that I feel I’ve lost touch with the part of me that walks through my garden, and sits down to knit, and enjoys staring off into space. Something resonated with me when I looked at your journal. I felt that I was looking at a part of myself I had left behind. So I want to jump right in.

Can you give me some practical help? What kind of journal do you buy, and where? What do you use to glue your pictures to the page? Do you “gesso,” as others said in the links I followed from your site–and if so, how and when?”

So, this is how the story goes…

I open a journal with large white pages… pages suitable for watercolors is preferable as the pages are less likely to buckle. (Ask me how I know ~smile~)…. and where? I rarely leave the farm, except for Sunday services, so I think this one was picked up by Farmer Husband, a stack of them (the kind man only buys in bulk–practical and efficient, he happily claims.) But an office supply store or an art/craft store would have a wide selection. Coil bound might be nice, though this one kindly co-operates.

Gather thrifted, hand-me down magazines that reflect your “style,” with scenes that you find aesthetically pleasing. (I have a generous friend who passes those she’s finished with my way. Delights her husband to see them gone! And Farmer Husband gently smiles and says its our pleasure–then winks my way.)

Happily browse, carefully ripping out pages you find appealing… Also look for words, fonts, letters that catch your eye. Yes–play!

Look for repeating pictures that you can find in the table of contents… doubles of scenes can create an interesting effect in your journal.

(This one just made me smile–I like cows. And goats. And dirt. Ah, but that’s not this story, is it?)

Spread out the chosen papers and look for themes, co-ordinating/opposing colors, juxtaposing scenes… yes, play!

Shift papers here….

Move papers there…

And cut scenes with plain scissors or fancy scissors… or, as I prefer, just rip… yes, that could be because I can only occasionally find a pair of scissors in the house (six creative children do happily live here!)… but really, I prefer the soft edges of ripping. To me, it feels personal. Organic… which reminds me of dirt and cows and… ah yes, wrong story again.

See how much I like dirt and cows and goats and eggs? (And I just use a glue stick to affix the layouts… yes, I said it was a simple story! ~smile~)

A bit of words… a wall of books… and a garden of blooms and I’m happy too….

Sometimes a scene just takes up an entire page… and I’m good with that… I’ll just write on the other spread….

and again… (I’m unashamed ~smile~ : I’m taken with laundry. There’s an old ironing board that stands in as a sidetable in the mudroom, that quietly settles me… Yes, laundry, listening, liturgy.)

and again…. (and why did I place a tear of the floor pattern across that pristine page? Oh well! I’m playing.)

I’m very plain (yep: Ann without the “e“)… and just taking one page and tearing it into two, to border a spread, appeals to my simple tastes…

And the most important part of this playful process? Playing with another happy heart! Her chubby little hands glued and snipped and patted down and we sang and chatted and that was best of all.

Why create a personal visual journal?

~it’s a place to play, and yet practical: it’s a place to record the workings of your household

~a place to make beautiful, so when everything else is unraveling (or is that only at our house?) there’s a pretty place on the counter to write down the date and all the lovely little snippets of the day:
the funny phrase the preschooler turned, the color of the sunrise, a verse from His Word that anchored the day, the day’s long and meandering gratitude list, the menu, name of a beloved one to pray for…

~a keepsake day journal for children and grandchildren, a container of simple memories, the best kind

~an aesthetically pleasing place made with your own two hands that invites you to write down when the dentist appointment is today, which phone calls to make, and it makes you smile evey time you look at the page…

~ the ordinary tasks of our lives find themselves chronicled for what they truly are: important ceremonies… daily celebrations.


And then, as all stories go, we all live happily, happily ever after (because in Him, don’t all stories really end that way?).

The Happy End.


For more journal cyber-inspiration:
To see full/written pages of our Visual Journal (and more links…)
Visual Journal with Calendar Pages
Keeping a Visual Journal

And for more Works for Me Wednesday posts, visit the lovely Shannon