I mentioned in an earlier blog post that over the summer one of my son’s teachers asked for my input on a project, and it was definitely a situation where one thing led to another. In the space of about six weeks I did an immersion course on journaling (never something that appealed to me before)–techniques, materials, approaches, etc.
The original mandate was simply to guide them in creating a cover for their notebook . . . but the “notebook” was a 3-ring binder, and I didn’t like the chances of plain old Elmer’s sticking things onto it that would last the entire school year. After a couple of weeks of stewing and experimentation, I decided to recommend that the kids lay down a base of paper (and then on top of that they could do anything that moved them) and that we use a Xyron to adhere the paper to the plastic cover. That led into all the theory about how to select items that produced a pleasing result, and research about how other people decorated their covers, and of course in those books are all sorts of chapters about the journaling process itself . . . and you can see how one thing led to another. I checked out one book from the library on journaling for children, but it was aimed at younger kids (my son is in middle school), and I bought the rest. I liked all the books I got and don’t regret any of them. (We are cutting back on spending now!)
Much of the time at the end of August and first half of September were spent distilling what was contained in about 8 different books into a presentation for the kids so that they would be happy both with their cover and with their pages they do throughout the year. Part of what took me so long is that I had to work through the talk I wanted to give myself at that age so that I could just give them the info they needed and not assume they had my own hang-ups. I think I did a good job–they are all excited about doing pages (this is 10 boys and 1 girl), and they are learning to experiment and express emotions through use of more than words. It’s been really exciting to be part of this, and immensely rewarding.
In order to figure out what materials to recommend for purchase to the teacher, I had to do a lot of sample pages myself, since I was not previously a journaler. Words are inadequate to express how much fun I have found it to be! There was a quote in the issue of Art Journaling that I read over the summer that tilted my view of it so that all of a sudden everything came into focus and I understood it–I think it may have been by Pam Carriker, although I am not sure about that & can’t double-check at the moment–but it was someone who said that journaling for her was a way of keeping in the creative habit. Wow, I thought, that I can wrap my head around. Before it really just seemed like a waste of time to me; why mess around in a journal when I could actually make something? (Remember I have a 6-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son; my life is not my own much of the time.)
But after doing these pages that you see throughout this blog entry (some finished, some not) and gaining a more full understanding of the activity, I am completely on board. It is fascinating to see how I do all sorts of things that would never have occurred to me to do on “a piece”, and it’s just so much fun to play!