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Reuse and Upcycle Everyday Items in your Journals

by Ambassador Team 09 Mar 2024 1 comment

What hidden treasures do you have around your home? It could surprise you - as there are many household items sometimes even items that are headed to the garbage can that can add color, texture, and fun to your journals. My name is May Flaum and as a lifelong crafter I’ve always been one to upcycle, reuse, and make the most of materials we have on hand.

Archer and Olive Washi Tapes on a stamped journal page

As I sit here and write this, I am looking around my office and I see artificial leaves, some confetti and fun paper that was wrapped around a recent online order, some cool textured paper towel, and an egg carton all that could easily be used in my journaling and memory keeping creative play. The options as you’ll see are truly limitless!

Getting Started

The first thing I recommend doing if you are new to adding in found objects is to consider your journal, and what kinds of things and techniques make sense. We are working in my ‘everything goes’ journal where I do all kinds of prompts and page styles. You will also want to consider your craft supply stash, and what things you can do. Here is my video on found items and upcycling into your journal. 

Most items I use either fall into the category of “glue it into my journal” or “use it to stamp/stencil/add texture. This means that I use paint, ink, even marker pen to color then ‘stamp’ said items if I’m not directly using them in my work. What items you will need are very flexible and will depend on what you would like to use (and how) in your notebooks.

Here’s a tip - if you’re feeling overwhelmed or if you are not wanting to dive into committing in your journal grab some scrap paper (I recommend A&O Notepads for this!) and practice. Or - turn one of your notebooks into “ideas and creative play” and have that space to test out new things.

Run Disney number in notebook for memory keeping

Things to Add Right In

In both my notes to myself and my memory keeping journal projects as well as my travel planner - I often like to put paper goods right into my journal. This is the easiest and most straightforward way to incorporate and reuse items. The process is simple- trim to size (if needed), and adhere into your journal. Depending on the paper some double sided tape could work, washi tape, staple, or liquid adhesive.

It will all depend on both what you have on hand, and what you’d like to add in. I find having bits of real life in my work really grounds me, really keeps me connected to my experience and what I have going on. Seeing bits and pieces of my life in my journal can also take me back to different memories, and it’s just a lot of fun for me. Some items I use in a story about the person/place/event, while others may be decorative and simply there for adding color or texture to a spread.

Tracing a tea tin lid

Things to Stamp, Stencil, or Trace

This is the second category of things we find - things to use but not include. Examples are widespread and what you’re really looking for here is shape or texture. Two examples I showed in my video tutorial are bubble wrap (painted), and tracing around an old empty tea tin. What I look for in these items is size, shape, and texture. They don’t have to have all - and some wonderfully can be reused over and over such as an empty tin or old cookie cutter.

coloring with archer olive pens

For coloring you can work with just about anything- you’re looking for the shape or texture it will leave behind. Any sort of acrylic paint, stamping ink will work most of the time. This is definitely a place to experiment, play, and cut loose! Test out what you think of a crinkled plastic wrapper ‘stamp’, try to make dots with an old lollipop stick… there are no limits only ideas and creative play here. Looking for specific items to insert and play with?

PDF ideas for journaling with found items

Here is a printable with items I have used and loved over the years!


Things to Watch For in General

Once you start looking around your home and your world for items? You’re going to be amazed at what you find! Since starting this article and video I found I wanted to journal about a medication I’m on (using label!), I tried out an eyeshadow on a page (didn’t work well - that’s ok!) and I experimented with a stale cracker as a stamp (mixed results!). There is no wrong answer here - the simplest way I can put this is to tell you to look for things you might want to add in, that help your narrative, tracking, or storytelling, and also things that could add texture or fun detail directly (or stamping wise). Want to really step out and get wild? With a hole punch and some binder rings, you could make an entire journal out of nothing but found items cardboard to tags, receipts to packaging.

bubble wrap painting in a journal

The options for using found items and finding new use for things that could have been garbage is so limitless - I hope you’ve found something to try and enjoy in this article.

Archer and Olive sticker and Washi tape in a mixed media journal

Do you have any tips or ideas to share when it comes to using household items? Do tell! Leave a comment here, or message me on social media I’d love to hear what you have to say. If you post inspired by this blog post please tag myself @craftwithmay on social media and also tag @archerandolive, as well as using hashtags #AOShare and #archerandolive.

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1 comment

20 May 2024 Karen

I like using envelopes that have come in the mail. Some have a nice design inside and some even have some different colours inside.

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