How to Make a Mini Nature Journal
Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 01:56PM
Lori in nature journal, things to make, tools

Sure, sure, you could have a whole bag full of nature journaling supplies. But maybe your tastes run to the more minimalist.

Or, maybe you are planning on walking more. In my experience, the further we have to walk, the less we want to carry. Or, to look at it a different way, the more we have to carry, the less far we walk.

I remember a certain walk through the woods of Michigan back to a secluded beach when we decided we didn’t need a single thing we had brought with us about a mile and a half in.

In times like these, a more minimal set-up is very desirable. (Or maybe you’re just a “less is more” type of person.)

We made these mini nature journals ourselves in about 15 minutes.

First, we used three different kinds of paper: lined (for writing notes), unlined copy paper (for pencil drawings), and watercolor paper (for .. okay, that’s kind of obvious). And you don’t need very many pages — the same number of pages that would make a thin full-size journal make a nice, thick mini one.

We figured each time we went out we would make a few notes, do a couple drawings, and maybe paint something. So we stacked the paper like so: lined, plain, plain, watercolor, lined, plain, plain, watercolor, and so on.

We cut our paper to fit our pocket. Your pocket size may vary. These can also easily be worn around the neck if you’re not afraid of being accidentally snagged and given whiplash.

I confess I own, and used, a paper guillotine to cut our pages. But you can use scissors; it will just take more time. (A few years ago my husband called to say that he was at an auction and they were auctioning off an old-fashioned school paper cutter that weighed about 100 lb. Bookshelves were being sold for a few dollars, so he figured the paper cutter would go cheap. When he arrived home and said he couldn’t wait around for them to auction it off after all, .. well .. it was a low point in our marriage.)

Rather than binding the pages, we secure them with binder clips. This allows you to restack the pages if you want to, so the page you are using is on top. (Or you can throw away ruined pages and no one is the wiser!) Later you can bind them together into a permanent book *or* you can save them and keep making yourself a fresh mini journal, making a big stack of all your finished pages. A wood clamp comes in handy for keeping multiple stacks together. (Don’t undo on a windy day .. or with a fan on.)

We decided we wanted to cut a piece of cardboard for the back, to make the journal stiffer and easier to write on. While we were at it, we thought we’d make a cover to protect the top page.

All you need now is a pencil. Technically, you might want to throw a pencil sharpener in your pocket as well, as pencils have a tendency to break at the most inopportune times. And how about watercolors? Can those fit in your pocket, too? You bet, but that’s for another day.

We decided to add a big binder clip to hold our pencil tightly to our journal. A short pencil is nice for this mini-journal .. luckily, we draw a lot and have our pick of pencils from slightly stubby to very stubby.

Now, if you are going to carry this in your pocket, be sure not to fall on the pencil and impale yourself! You can also wear it around your neck if you add a string, or you can hang it from your coat zipper or belt loop if you have a carabiner.

These mini-journals are great for carrying in the glove box of the car, leaving next to the binoculars for making notes on which birds are at the feeder, or taking on hikes when you might not feel like carrying a lot of gear. They also make great gifts for your friends, if you want to show them how fun nature journaling can be.



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