Journals to Check Out

Cowboy JournalI have about a gazillion journals. They can be found stashed all about my house, so as to be within easy reach when an idea strikes (at least that’s what I tell myself). In truth, my journal collection stems from my inability of locating the journal that I had last put pen to paper. I can never seem to find one when I have an idea that needs to be written down or sketched out. I figure the more journals I have, the better my chances are for finding one when needed.

During my last creative brainstorm I relocated a favorite journal of mine (pictured). I acquired my cowboy journal at the last large indie craft fair in my area called Crafty Bastards. The journal, by Ex Libris Anonymous, is made from an old library book. It is hand made and one of a kind. Snippets of text from the original book are sprinkled throughout the blank pages of acid free paper.

I recall that Ex Libris Anonymous’ booth at Crafty Bastards was constantly packed that day. I elbowed my way in to sort through bins and bins of great vintage book covers. After coming back twice, I finally settled on a small journal with the shell of the Spiderweb Trail by Eugene Cunningham.

The vintage books that make up Ex Libris’ journals are cute, charming and have a kitschy vibe. The hard cover is a perfect writing surface and the spiral binding makes it easy to flip to the next blank page and the select passages can make for quick inspiration. I use mine to jot down notes and make quick sketches.

Along with the library book journals, Ex Libris Anonymous also does their own silkscreen journals. They will also take custom orders, too. You can send them a book of your choosing, pick the pages and passages that you want to keep in your journal and they will bind a journal of your very own!

Ex Libris Anonymous sold out that day and it’s not hard to see why. All the old repurposed library books had found new homes. And mine had found a place to be lost and rediscovered again and again.

Now if I could only find my pen…

Image by Kelly Rand.

Written by Kelly Rand

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting.

Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.


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  1. I have an Ex Libris journal, and I LOVE it. I use it as a place to keep track of what I’m looking for when I’m out thrift shopping.

  2. Yes! I love my Ex Libris journal too, and had a great time reading the excerpts of the old library book my journal once used to be. Nice to see them get coverage.

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