I used a felt tip pen, a gel pen, a white pen, and some scraps of paper to create this mini art journal.
It was freeing to strip everything back to basics and just see what marks and patterns I could come up with. I didn’t care if I was making the same marks over and over again. This is how I worked out which marks I liked to make. I experimented with them, took the ideas further. Before I knew it, I was on the last page.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But tabs are pretty cool! They’ve taken the art journal community by storm. Whether you’re a tab expert or you’re wanting to dive into this tabtastic world (I’m sorry), consider this your comprehensive guide! I’m going to try and answer all the questions I received on Instagram about the topic.
[tl;dr: tabs are amazing, tab everything]
Here are two past inserts and my current journal with their tabs on show for you:
As you can see, tabs come in all shapes and sizes, and they make the edges of our journal pages look much more interesting.
A Brief History
Tabs aren’t anything new. They’re used mainly for organisational purposes, in planners and folders as dividers. People also use them as page markers.
The idea to use them for decoration on the edges of journals was first introduced to me by Johanna Clough. She made a video about how she adds eclectic tabs to her junk journal, from all sorts of materials, and I just had to try it for myself. Here is her video:
I just adored the was she stapled scraps of pretty fabric and papers to her journal. Such a simple technique, but it adds such dimension to the journal. I add them to the edges of pages and tip-ins.
Why did you start adding tabs to your journal?
This is by far the most frequently asked question when it comes to tabs. I mean, after all, they are just little bits of paper or fabric added at random to the edge of a journal. I love how they make my journal look. I think it adds a lot of character and interest to the pages, even if the tabs contrast with the spread. It’s a lot of fun to pick through papers and attach them.
What do you do with the tabs? What do they mean?
Most of the time, they mean nothing! They’re simply a fun bit of decoration.
How do you make them? Do I need a special punch?
The joy of tabs is that
a) they are so easy to make and
b) you can make them out of virtually anything – the possibilities are endless.
One way of making tabs to add to your journal is to use a punch. This is good if you want all your tabs to be the same size and shape. I have a We R Memory Keepers punch. You can get one here.
Alternatively, you can cut out any tab shape you like. Or, you can fold it in half and attach it to the page – just make sure you don’t stick two pages together! You can use out of the box materials for tabs too, such as tags and paint sample cards.
How do you attach the tabs?
My favourite method is a stapler. It’s quick, easy and sturdy. But if you are not a fan of the way staples look on your pages, or you don’t want to add any bumpy surfaces for writing, you could use glue, clear tape/washi tape or double sided tape instead.
How do you keep tabs from bending or breaking?
If you are concerned about your paper tabs getting damaged, you may like to use fabric instead. Although my tabs have gotten a bit of wear, generally they are okay and it doesn’t usually bother me. To prevent any ripping, you could add clear tape around the tab to add extra strength, or use very thick card stock.
Do they have any other uses?
You could also reverse them and use a tab to label you page with the day or date. I have also seen them used for headings in bullet journals. For this, ideally you would want a plainer tab to be able to read the text on top. If you use tabs in a way I haven’t thought of, let me know!
Finallt, I asked you to send me pictures of the tabs you use in your journal, to show a variety of styles:
Gesa (one of the @wave_sisters)
“I must admit I didn’t want to buy the tab-hype at first but, well… Once I had made my first tabs for my journal I literally could not stop 😂 #highlyaddictive”
“I love things poking out of my journal, paper, strings, whatever makes me want to crawl in and look around 💕”
Congratulations if you have made it to the end of this blog post! I hope I answered all of your questions. As always, let me know if you have any questions.
I have shared Journal with Me’s in the past, but today marks the start of a new ‘series’. Every week – until the journal is complete – you will see me work in a vintage ‘junk’ journal insert.
What is a Junk Journal?
‘Junk journal’ has become an umbrella term for journals that feature anything other than plain pages. Corinne Jansz gives this definition of what is included in a junk journal:
…a handmade book made up of recycled items such as papers from magazines, brochures, patterned paper, music sheets, envelopes, packaging, brown paper bags, maps, greeting cards, post cards, doilies, to name a few. The book covers can be made from cereal boxes, old book covers or any hard card boards.
As you can see, junk journaling originated from wanting to use materials in new ways. I guess you could call it ‘creative recycling’. One of my all time favourite bloggers, Jennibellie made a video on how she created a journal from greetings cards.
Here, I am using old vintage papers, amongst other papers, to create my journal insert. Here is the first episode:
For this insert, I decided to focus on the word ‘growth’ as a theme. I think that this will allow me to explore the idea more fully than the confines of a single spread. It also pushes me to think of how to use words and images to convey its nuances in several ways.
At the start of 2018 I decided to take the plunge and start a bullet journal.
Throughout school and university I had tried almost every style and size of planner out there. I recognise the importance of planning and tracking in getting things done, but I always struggled with consistency. I would miss a week and feel guilty about the wasted paper. Some days I would have barely any tasks on my to-do, and on others I was so busy I felt like I needed a whole book. Clearly what I needed was a flexible system. Enter bullet journaling, the analog system turned insta-aesthetic-sensation.
Every time a photo of someone’s perfectly composed bullet journal appeared on my instagram or tumblr feed, I had two thoughts.
1. How is that so pretty and composed? They must have their life together. I wish I could do that.
2. Who has time for that?!
I did try and start a decorated bullet journal in 2016, but I was soon overwhelmed by stickers and washi tape. I would spend more time pretty planning than actually getting stuff done. And wasn’t that supposed to be the whole point?
At the start of this year, I embraced the flexibility of the system (with a little encouragement from Rebecca) by going back to basics. I got cheap A5 notebook. It was lined and had a faux brown leather cover. I used a ball point pen, the odd highlighter, and boring post-it notes for scribbles.
I experimented with layouts each day, each week, to see what would work. Some pages, I did include the odd sticker – but it was never the focus. I discovered that I cannot keep lists of books I have read, and instead Goodreads was my friend. Monthly pages are a nice overview, but in my last semester of uni my tasks were much more daily and weekly-focused, with the exception of exams and assignments.
For me, the bullet journal system works as a glorified to-do list and brain dump notebook. It’s where I can have all my important information in one place. I also love the flexibility, even if it’s not always pretty.
In this post, I am going to share with you some tips for finding vintage papers, ephemera and treasures that you can use in your journal pages.
Old book pages – about anything and in any language – is probably my most favourite thing to use in collages. They add colour, texture and interest. They can serve as background pieces, or you can cut out the words that speak to you and make them a focal point. Often, many of the books that you find in the ‘gardening’ section of a charity shop or antique store will have beautiful illustrations or photos. I love these because if you have little scissors and some patience, botanical cut outs can add a pretty touch to your pages. This also works as an alternative to pressed flowers.
Be open to different styles. If you look in the front cover you can tell when a book was published. I usually go for books between 1930’s and 1950’s, or older if I can find it, because the paper tends to have yummy ageing. If you can’t find books that old (and sometimes places cotton on, and charge more), you can always stain the pages of the book with tea or coffee to get a similar effect.
You’ll find that lots of places might have materials you wouldn’t have thought to use straight away – fabrics, lace, buttons etc. These are all amazing for adding extra dimension.
Another treasure is old postage stamps! These usually cost more if you’re buying a more ‘collectable’ set, but usually you can find cheaper bundles of more ‘common’ ones. Aside from using them in collages, I also attach them to the edges of my pages as a tab.
Finally, another popular element that you can usually find in abundance is postcards. I like to use black and white or sepia ones, but you can also pick up coloured ones if that’s what you like! Again, these can vary in price depending on the popularity and age, but some places might do them in bundles. Postcards are great for tip-ins, and I also like to alter them to personalise them.
Happy vintage shopping! I hope you enjoyed seeing what I look for. I’d love to see what you find and what you create!
‘How do you manage to fit journaling into a daily plan? Journaling takes a lot of time in my experience and I know that is a reason for lots of people to not start journaling or finding it hard to journal as often as they’d like to.’ @rodhinee