This article was originally published in the spring 2011 Somerset Memories issue.
Instructions for Leather Bound Oregon Coast Travel Journal
For many years I had longed to return to Cannon Beach, Oregon, where I worked one summer during college. With my flight phobia nearly conquered, July 2010 seemed like an excellent time to go. Plus, it would get us out of the Houston summer heat for a week!
I knew I wanted to create a journal that was subdued and peaceful in feeling, reminiscent of the Oregon coast and the quiet, misty summer I’d spent there. Before our trip, I combed through my stash of papers in search of the perfect supplies and settled on using vellum paper to record our week’s adventures. I alternated pieces of white, light blue, and lavender vellum throughout the journal. I tested archival safe markers on the vellum beforehand to make sure they would not smear on the paper. The vellum pages and archival markers were the only supplies I brought with me on vacation, as I planned to assemble the complete journal afterwards when I would have photographs printed. Throughout our week on the coast, I took time each day to record our activities and note favorite sights. Upon returning to Texas, I was ready to put the entire journal together.
Beforehand, I had also scoured through an old set of encyclopedias that had belonged to my grandmother for entries related to Oregon (flora, fauna, industry, geography, etc.) I cut these to the same size as my vellum pages and then used a light coat of artist’s quality acrylic paint (white tinted with blue) to cover some of the text on these pages, leaving visible only what was most relevant. I also attached additional small photos to these encyclopedia pages, choosing images of starfish and sea anemones, Douglas firs, ocean waves, and other natural wonders. Some of the photos were printed in black and white to complement the quiet, muted feel of the journal. Using archival markers, I drew loose freehand squares with looped ends around the photos or meaningful entries in the encyclopedia pages as a final accent.
In addition to the wallet-sized photos that I added to the encyclopedia pages, I wanted to add larger photographs throughout my Oregon travel journal. I often enjoy printing photos on transparencies for art projects. The see-through effects of this technique seemed to go perfectly with the tone of the travel journal. Once we arrived back in Texas, I chose a few more favorite photos (taken by myself as well as my husband) from the trip and printed them on 8.5 x 11 inch transparencies (the photos themselves were sized to align with the other pages), let them dry, and then trimmed to size. I used a very thin, textured onion-skin paper behind the transparencies to help make the images more visible. I also used a Sharpie poster paint marker to write captions on these transparency photos.
To assemble the pages, I alternated the vellum journaling with the encyclopedia pages, transparency images, and onion skin. I choose a light blue cardstock for end pages. I used a piece of thin, light gray leather as the journal cover. To do this, I doubled the width of the pages, added a few more inches of width so the cover would wrap entirely around the journal, and then used an x-acto knife, ruler, and cutting mat to trim the leather to the correct size. I folded the leather around the assembled journal pages and then held it all together with strong clips for binding. With the clips on, I used a ruler and small awl to mark the holes for binding. To bind the journal, I choose embroidery floss in a color that matched the leather. I ran book binder’s wax along the thread to make it easier to pull through the pages, threaded it through a book binder’s needle, and used a simple stab stitch technique to complete the project. (You can find directions for stab stitch bindings online.) Finally, I stitched a sparkly button to the front cover and tied a length of light blue ribbon to it, which could then be used to wrap around the journal and keep it shut.
I’m very pleased with the way the vellum, lightly painted encyclopedia pages, photo transparencies, and onion-skin paper all work together to create a sense of the misty, foggy, quiet atmosphere of the coast.
Tools and Materials List
Vellum paper, 5.5 x 8.5 inches (this is 8.5 x 11 cut in half horizontally, or sized to choice)
Onion skin paper, cut to same size
Transparencies suitable for printing on an ink jet printer
Encyclopedia pages, trimmed to same size as vellum and onion skin
Archival safe markers
Sharpie poster paint markers
Acrylic paint and brush
Archival safe adhesives
Embroidery floss or other strong thread