I’ve recently started making my own handmade journals or junk journals. I find them the opposite of junk but indeed I DO use things that non-artsy folks would throw into the recycle bin. You need a way to stick those treasures to your page so what glue is best?
It seems as if most people who love to make handmade journals to write in, do art in or use as memory or momento books were part of the huge movement of scrapbooking that was all the rage in the ’90s. Do you have a dozen Creative Memories albums? I know I do!
What to use for glue is a big deal. You want it to stick quickly and not make a mess but you also want to be able to move it for a few seconds to get your vintage picture or watercolor into the exact spot you want it.
Just a note! We love to use Dick Blick for art supplies whenever possible, the prices are great and you are dealing with a small company that really cares about your experience and has amazing customer service. We will link to Scrapbook.com & Amazon as well so you can choose your favorite.
Best Quick Glue for Journals
Glue sticks are a long-time favorite of teachers and moms and of course, we want it to work for journaling so it needs to NOT show and stick quickly so we can keep creating.
Everyone’s favorite by far is the Uhu Glue Stick. It doesn’t dry out, it holds well and dries clear. I’d buy the biggest container you can for both less waste for the environment and it feels nicer in your hand. You can turn it on the edge if you need to glue a small area.
Apply the glue to detailed fussy cut items on a scrap piece of paper so you don’t have excess on your page that might stick to the facing page of your journal. It comes in colors if you want to see exactly where the glue, it dries clear or buy the white/clear option. I choose whichever one is cheaper. Other glue sticks are ok and will work fine, UHU is just the best.
Best Glue for Fabrics & Trims in Journals
You have a few options here, a glue stick isn’t going to work for fabric glued to paper so you have to step up your glue game a bit.
My favorite is Art Glitter Glue, no it doesn’t have glitter in it.
I have no idea why it’s called that but there ya go. Glitter glue comes with a tiny metal tip as an extra and is fantastic for gluing bits of lace or ribbon or a ruffle to your pages.
Fabri-Tac is sometimes also called Fabri-Fix and they are basically the same thing. The applicator isn’t as tiny as the glitter glue so I use this on bigger pieces of fabric. It does require a bit more drying time. Permanent when dry.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Yes Paste still. It is similar to a soft glue stick and is messy to use. I like it when I have a large sheet of cardstock or bigger element to glue down but I don’t like to use it on tiny bits because whatever leaks out from my application does show when it dries. You can wipe it off with a damp cloth but who has time for that. It’s a newer art supply for me so maybe it will grow on me / I’ll get better at using it but it does have a place for big elements.
YES Paste – This all-purpose, layflat, white glue won’t buckle paper. It’s used by many professionals, including bookbinders, printers, libraries, and greeting and sample card makers. Yes Stikflat Glue is an acid-free, smooth flowing adhesive, and is permanently flexible. Low odor and easy clean-up.Here’s what Dick Blick Art has to say about it.
Art Journal Adhesive
If you are most interested in straight-up mixed media art journaling then the go-to “glue” of choice isn’t really glued at all but a couple of art mediums. Art journaling consists of mostly creating art reflecting your moods or current events or words of encouragement for yourself. Many artists like to write down whatever is bothering them on the bottom layer with a mind dump approach like Julia Cameron describes in her Morning Pages books and then cover that layer with collage. Depending on the types of collage that make up the second layer, you’ll use an art medium to stick things down rather than glue. Many art supplies don’t work as well over the glue and the mediums create a surface with tooth so the mixed media supplies
These all require drying time which can be sped up with a blow dryer or a heat gun.
Liquitex Matt Medium
My most used item in my “sticking stuff down” art arsenal is Matt Medium. Any brand works fine but Liquitex is my go-to. I find the fancier Golden brand to be a little stickier.
Liquitex Gel Medium is thicker and has more stickiness than matt medium. It also works better if you have naturally dyed your papers or textiles because it’s not as wet so it tends to leave your eco-dyed items the color you intended. For instance, hibiscus tea gives you a gorgeous pink when you eco dye it but when you apply matt medium it turns a darkish purple or plum color. Also pretty, but maybe not what you wanted, so keep that in mind.
Do you still have adhesives left from your scrapbooking days? All those acid-free things work too.
Journaling in the time of Covid has been a mental health lifesaver for me. You might think that journaling sounds too complicated or you have to an amazing artist, but really your journey is whatever you want it to be. I have explored Morning Pages with Julia Cameron, Art Journaling with Tamara Laporte, Junk Journaling with all of my Instagram Artsy Tribe and I’d say mine is probably a combination of it all. Your journal is a reflection of you and how you are feeling and seeing the world right now which really helps you to process.