Poking through a small flea market about a 1,000 miles off the beaten path last week, I stumbled across a cache of stationary, pens, and notepads from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Each priced at nearly nothing, I scooped up the whole pile and started making plans.
The timing was perfect, I was just a few pages from reaching the back cover of my latest journal and, cursed by my own persnickety-ness, I could not find a new journal that fit my paper-particularness AND had a stylish cover. I decided I’d sacrifice one of the vintage notepad covers to recover the exterior of my next basic journal (I like CM Marking’s version of the traditional Moleskin journal)
What follows is a step by step illustration of the steps I followed to make my 2015 journal look like the 1940’s equivalent. Use your own vintage paper for this project, or download a pdf of the cover I used, plus the 6 other notepad cover designs from my stash, via my Vintage Notepads & Stationary Download page. You can print your own copy of a vintage notebook cover (there are covers that should size perfectly to standard notebooks and to more traditional journal dimensions) and complete this project for yourself.
1. Gather supplies. You’ll need:
1 paintbrush (I recommend a real brush, foam brushes tend to make bubbles in the medium)
glazing medium (I prefer Liquitex- mod podge will work in a pinch, but glazing medium is the higher quality equivalent)
a vintage notebook cover or reproduction
and a new notebook or journal to be covered (I’m on my umpteenth CM Marking’s Journal)
2. Begin by trimming your label. For me that meant gingerly separating brittle paper from brittle binding. If you are using a fresh printout, you’ll want to trim all the excess paper from the edges.
3. Apply a liberal but not too thick coat of Acrylic Glazing Medium. I prefer this product to mod podge for binding because it’s a professional product and will produce better results- without causing the paper or buckle or bleed.
Make sure the layer of glazing medium is not excessively thick- a thin film is sufficient:
4. Apply and position label on the notebook cover, smoothing out till perfectly flat and smooth:
5. As you can see in the photo above, the corners and edges are not fully adhered to the cover. In order to make sure all the edges stick securely to the cover (especially important if you are using old, brittle, or warped paper, and/or are adding the label to a glossy cover) I used plastic wrap to apply constant, firm pressure to hold the label in place. The plastic wrap, unlike using a weight for the same purpose, helps force the label to hug curves and contours of the cover.
6. wait at least 4 hours, then remove the plastic wrap. It will easily pull away from the book, even in spots where glue medium was exposed.
If your cover adhered completely with no raised edges or corners, you can choose to be done at this point or add a protective clear coat which will help slow wear to the cover of your journal (which explains why my photos include a bottle of matte Mod Podge in the frame). Since I was really satisfied with how my journal looked at this step, and the paper already seemed to have sheen to the cover, I chose to leave the top uncovered for several weeks until I had a chance to pick up some Mod Podge.