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« How to Make a Mini Nature Journal »

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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Reader Comments (23)

Lori, I am so thrilled that you are creating this nature blog! Thank you for sharing your ideas and insight.

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSherry

Don't have the clips, but do have the paper, so I'll make one of these tomorrow for our next walk. Pocket-sized is an excellent idea. :-)

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

Lori, Great ideas here! I just got caught up on all of the new posts!
I made my daughter an nature kit/bag for Christmas. She loves it!
I need to go add some plain and water color paper to the journal I made her... although right now if we tried to water color outside our water would freeze!! :)
I used three of the sliver clasps you can get at office supply stores so we could add - or take out pages. And so that it could lay flat.
Do you ever paste pages from these little journals into bigger journals that are left at home?

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

sherry, thank you!! :^D)

sam, i admit i am kind of a binder clip addict. i should start a blog about how many different ways i use binder clips. :^P kinkos (is there a UK-equivalent of kinkos?) would probably sell you two! :^)

dawn, thank you! i want to see the nature kit & bag!! :^D) lol, true about water freezing right now -- we are having odd weather, though, freezing cold one day and oddly warm the next, so maybe we could get away with it!

oh, please e-mail me photos or put them in the heywood flickr group! :^D)

*yes*, what a good point -- you can stick these little pages into your big journal later -- we’ll post about that later & i’ll give you all the credit for suggesting! ;^)

January 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

very nice! I have a bunch of o-clips that could also be very nice for the journal with some hole punching (always a good time). Maybe we'll make a couple of these tomorrow. Thanks!

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Jackson

I'm still laughing about your husband not waiting for the end of the auction for the paper cutter - glad you worked through that!!!
I'm looking forward to this blog - and which paths it will meander along, or woods it will delve into. You seem to have a different writing voice here (?), which is nice.
We often just staple our little impromptu books, or I like to sew them on my machine. Not so easy to remove or add pages, but becomes a sort of 'art work book' on it's own, with the machine stitches and thread colour being a feature.

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEllie - Petalplum

sarah, if you need to punch through a LOT of pages, you can use a drill bit. :^) i’ve done it!

if you make some, make sure you show me! :^D)

ellie, lolol, hey. the important thing is, we’re still together. although it was touch and go there for a minute. ;^)

thank you, re: this new site .. i have been enjoying gathering things to share for *months* now. :^)

oh, i would like to see your sewn books. i used to make so many little blank books for my school .. i liked to change it up, to keep things interesting. they were so attractive to the children; they could hardly wait till we were done putting them together so they could write and draw inside them. :^) you need to show me some of yours!

January 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

hey, any excuse to pull out my drill is okay with me.

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Jackson

have you tried these brushes? we love 'em. --Nancy in NC

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

This is a great idea! Obviously for a nature journal, but also for any occasion you need an on-the-go multi-purpose journal that you can add to/re-organize. I have a difficult time finding big clippers here, but I will renew my quest because this is genius!

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShellyfish

Thanks Lori! I will be sure to post her new nature kit on the blog soon. I will let you know when I do. Also, loved the Flicker group. Looking forward to sharing in that!

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

sarah, oh, i know.

nancy, yes!! i’m going to post about them! :^D) i love them, too. actually, i think i’m obsessed with finding ways to take the smallest kit possible out because i am .. lazy. ;^)

shelly, thank you! and yes, useful for any kind of writing, note taking, idea gathering, etc.!

dawn, thank you and i’m glad you are going to be contributing! :^)

January 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

This is fantastic. Very inspiring.

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter*pixie*

This looks great! Thanks for sharing. I like the idea of being able to set up the kind of journal we want. Why didn't I think of that before?

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

thank you, pixie! :^)

thanks, sandy, and yes .. i have made larger journals that include small manila envelopes even, for collecting leaves & etc. i need to photograph one of those! if you make a journal, please share it here! :^)

January 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

excellent. we have some great loose paper for just this project.

what? no eggo cover?

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterestea

i’m feeling a little defensive over (1) my toaster waffles and (2) my rusty, bent garden tools. tomorrow i am showcasing a jar of microwavable nacho cheese.

January 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

Oh, binder clips! We have about a million and can never find one when we need it. Maybe a flickr group is in order (though it might just be you and me).

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnika

annika, rofl, i bet binder clip crazies would come out of the woodwork. the binder clip is the new moleskine.

January 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

I love this mini journal idea and I'm looking forward to more posts here! I plan to make one of these for everyone in the family for our next nature walk. It will be a great chance to use my new paper guillotine one of my favorite Christmas presents :)

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah N.

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