Why I Love Art Journaling

I am not an art journaler, never mind that I started keeping a diary when I was five and a journal with images added in when I was in high school. That journal has over 150 volumes at this point, but it’s not an art journal, and I don’t think of it as an art form. It’s mostly for notes and stuff. But I adore art journals, and I love looking at the pages other people create. Many years ago, when I was teaching Journal Skirt workshops, the premise behind the techniques was that anything you can do on the pages of a journal, you can do on fabric. And not just fabric, but garments, things that are going to go through the laundry over and over again. I was going to show you some of my Journal Skirts from my website, but yikes! Remember how I nag you periodically to keep your blogs and websites up to date? I should, instead, be nagging myself. You haven’t seen that many broken links since your necklace got caught in the garbage disposal. Yikes.

So here’s just one of them. I have no idea what happened to this one; I’m pretty sure it sold, but I don’t remember when or to whom.

Wild Iris Tattoo Journal Skirt

It’s just one example of what I used to teach. You like to stamp on your journal pages? You can do that on your clothes. You like to paint? Ditto. Doodle? Write? Collage? Whatever you like to do on paper, you can do it on fabric. And that’s why I love art journaling–I can see what other people have done on the pages of their journals, and I can figure out how to do that on a skirt or shrug or vest or pair of Levi’s. This skirt has stamping, stitching, painting, and beading.

Santa Fe Journal Skirt

Here’s a disclaimer: I write the artist profiles for Art Journaling, so I get a copy of each issue in the mail. I sit down with the magazine and a cup of coffee and look through the pages, translating everything from paper to fabric. Imagine my delight when I got the current issue:

Look at those cool houses! They’re from an article by Kate Crane. You can see more of her work on her website, here. [And how cool: when I went to get the link, I found she’s the featured artist on the Stampington & Company blog. Go here to find out more about Kate.] I immediately began thinking about how to do houses on the bottom of one of the Alabama Chanin-pattern skirts I’ve been making:

Alabama Chanin pattern skirts


Now, if I were working on a denim skirt (which I am, but that’s a whole nother project), I might make house shapes out of felted wool–I buy wool felt and then run it through a hot laundry cycle to further shrink it and make sure it won’t shrink more after I stitch it onto something else.  But for these skirts, of course, I can just use more cotton jersey–it’s a perfect way to use up the scraps left over from making the skirts. I’ve got all kinds of ideas for appliqués for the skirts, just from seeing this cover.

If you’re a believer in artists’ dates, try this: go to the bookstore and pick out a book or magazine that has nothing–absolutely nothing!–to do with your chosen art form. Sometimes the photos will be enough to get your brain thinking along brand new lines, but sometimes it’s something in the text that does it–something about texture or color or inspiration. I get amazing ideas just from reading people’s explanation of where *their* ideas came from. As you read, make some notes about what you might be able to translate into your medium of choice. Metal to clay? Fabric to jewelry? Clothes to paper? We’d love to hear what you come up with!


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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