Week 4 of Designing a Creative Travel Journal

10 journal concepts

I quickly revised my problem from last week, and drew 10 new concepts for this week’s homework, submitted yesterday. In them, I’ve re-focused on the journal, with most of the storage space for things like postcards, ephemera, trinkets, pressed flowers, and all the other little bits and pieces that one collects along the way when moving through an unfamiliar place. Some of the books still have a little storage built in for things like a small tin of watercolours or pencils, pens, but I stopped thinking in terms of an entire bag dedicated to rolls of tape, glue sticks, and big fat tubes of acrylic paints or whatever else a person uses to artfully fill his/her journal.

I had to do these concepts the same week that I was actually supposed to be building prototypes. It took forever to make the leap from a concept, on paper, to actually making something. I dawdled ever so much! I think I was scared of finding out that my concepts were impossible to make in the 24 hours I had left before submission deadline. I’d done so well, so far, that I hated the idea of slipping behind, now that things were really getting interesting. My two chosen concepts involved techniques I didn’t have much practice in. Much of what I thought I knew was theoretical…like I figured it couldn’t be too hard to stitch a zipper on a pouch! But I’d never really tried, before. Finally stopped faffing around yesterday and put concept D together in three hours. Amazing how much theory and preparation you can do without once you stop overthinking and just do it.

Concept D: Journal and Jacket

prototype D

It’s VERY ROUGH, but the gist of the idea is there. A flexible wraparound cover jacket, with pockets and pouches on every available surface,
prototype D

and a leather strap that hooks into the book, through the little hollow between cover and text block that all my hand-bound books have, and snaps down on the cover to hold it in place.

prototype D
prototype D

This snap was a serendipitous find. I didn’t have any snaps, nor a snap setter, but as I was rummaging through an old toiletries pouch of buttons and buckles for something else to use, I saw that the pouch itself had a snap. Took a utility knife to that pouch in a flash, and stitched it on with rough and impatient abandon.
prototype D

Concept C is almost identical to Concept D; the only difference is that the book pages are bound to the cover in C. This sort of binding (a limp, or longstitch/linkstitch binding) would allow me to space the signatures out a bit more, accommodating the things to be added in by the user. But the idea of the re-usable jacket and journal refills seemed, on the whole, a more considerate and practical solution. I can work out how to space the pages in the journal itself later, I hope!
 prototype D

Concept I: Dos a Dos book and box


I used two books, bought at the second-hand bookstore years ago, intending to use them in altered book projects I never started. They’re very faux elegant, pretentious things…fancy goldstamping on some horrible ‘leather-look’ textured paper, and only one edge of the pages is gilded: the top edge, which visitors are sure to see when this deep red set of Australia’s Great Books sits on a bookshelf. The other three sides of the text block are left plain.

I took the text block out of Adam Lindsay Gordon, and replaced it with clamshell box ‘jaws’. They’re uncovered, in these pictures, because I had to submit photographs an hour later, but I went and covered them afterwards. Then I simply glued the two books together, back-to-back and topsy-turvy, to resemble the binding format known as dos a dos (two to two).
prototype I

Some letters, photos, and trinkets in the clamshell box, to heighten that feeling of travel treasures…

And the completely indigestible, utterly boring pages of that great Australian classic—that nobody I’ve met seems to have read, but of whom everyone here speaks in hushed and reverent tones—We of The Never-Never on the other side. I read three chapters. I am thinking it’s time to do that altered book project now, and paint or draw on these pages.
prototype I

So, which one do you like better, D or I? And if you had to buy a travel journal, would you consider buying one of these (provided it was made properly, not out of placemats or old books)? I’m only asking to test how successful the designs were, but would love to hear what you think!

27 thoughts on “Week 4 of Designing a Creative Travel Journal

  1. Hi, Nat. I vote for “D” because of all the pockets and the flexibility, but I sure do like “I” too. I found it interesting to read how you proceeded with this course. There is nothing like creating a wealth of ideas to feel you are creatively wealthy.

  2. FYI, dos a dos actually means “back to back.” In American square dancing, there is a step called do-si-do, which is a corruption of this phrase. Dancers circle each other, fronts facing each other, then right shoulders, back to back, left shoulders, front to front again.

    1. Thanks for the backstory of the binding format. I always assumed the name was Spanish (and in Sanish it means two to two), just looked it up to learn that it’s French, and the same spelling means two different things—though the origins of the format are not, it seems, from American square dancing but from French book binding. We live and learn! :)

  3. and the winner is… Concept D! this is seriously good Nat. should you create this in bulk I will be so happy to purchase one for myself although I still have a load of notebooks and journals that I have not used completely yet.. hohum. and oh, congratulations on the job!!! exciting!! :)

  4. OMG you are so creative!!!!!! I particularly love the last one. They look so amazing!!!! You should sell them, they are so much better than anything else available

    1. Thanks, Katrina! I’ll take you up on that, I’d like to see what I can come up with using the book and box design. But the other one, I don’t know…it would cost too much to produce, myself, and even if I had the capital to finance production, do I really want the headache?

  5. Concept D seems like a more practical option for somebody who wants to take it on multiple trips, continue swapping out the journal, etc. It is the more “durable” option for a seasoned traveler. Personally, I would prefer concept I, especially if before binding the box/book you added a ribbon tie closure for box. I think it would be great for either the single trip, or to keep at a vacation/shore house, etc. While I see it as a great travel journal, it could also be a good alternative to the popular scrapbook… great for parents to keep a journal & keepsakes when they have babies… there are so many possibilities for it. Really love seeing your process, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the in-depth comment! I am fond of both. For the design class, D probably will be the one I take to Beta prototype, because there’s really not much more to ‘do’ to I, besides different cover designs, and closures, as you say, for both box and book.

  6. I actually really like concept I, the reason being, it’s quite simple but looks really authentic, though I can see that D maybe creates a solution for more problems x

    1. Aesthetically, it takes the cake, I think. And novelty, too. But as I’ve had to concede, it wouldn’t hold up to travel very well. But something for the home? You bet! I want to put my dip pens, some delicate stationery, postage stamps and letter opener in the box! Maybe I shouldn’t have styled the photos so much, they affect the judgement…some lovely mail art from my brother just makes it so…romantic. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me what you think!

      1. I totally agree with everything you have said, maybe this design can form part of a different design project in the future. Something more for the home. You are most welcome ive really enjoyed following the process. x

  7. Another vote for creation D — love the idea of having all the leather hide-away pockets around the journal — and that you can snap in another journal once you are done with one and still use the same structure (if I understood correctly how you put the leather strap down the hollow at the spine). That version would be fun to make in a workshop (now I would just have to get to Australia! lol)… this is a formidable class you are taking — it has been fun seeing your design process at work! Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Rhonda, thanks so much! Yes, the class has really pushed me to think about things, (and to cut the crap and make prototypes in three hours! LOL) Far out, I’d have to get so much better at zippers before I could teach a class! :D I like D, too, I think ‘I’ scored so high because of its novelty and aesthetic value…it has old world charm.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! When I did a selection matrix for I, it only had one point less than D, and those two scored more points than all the others, so yes, it’s certainly got ‘something’…I won’t abandon the idea, but maybe not for travel.

  8. I like both but design I has something special. I have made myself versions of D over the years. I has a secretive quality, something special and hidden.
    needs a catch on the box bit…..but its simple and you can put pens etc in the box, your USB stick or head phones etc….I like it. would love it with Your paintings on the cover.

    1. I think I will do a few of these “I” ones, more for home than as a travel journal, where I’m not so sure the materials would stand up to being packed and carried around all day. But as maybe something on the desk, with stamps and lovely stationery and a fancy pen or two in the box? :) Thank you so much for telling me what you think!

    2. Ack, Shazz! You changed your WordPress profile again, so I wasn’t sure it was you! Did you get my very late e-mail about possible venues for your quilting patchwork exhibition? Grat to hear from you again! :D

  9. I saw design “D” and immediately wanted one. It looks more flexible and easy to use than “I”. If I were traveling and had a day where I just wanted to walk around (heck, if I was at home and decided to go for a walk), “D” would be perfect to take with me. I’m imagining all the glorious fabrics and designs for the jacket. I’m also a person who keeps multiple journals at once for various activities. The idea that I would be able to swap journals into and out of the jacket and still have my little toolkit with me is really enticing. “I” looks cool but I feel it might be a bit cumbersome? Either way, both of them turned out great!

    1. I’m feeling the same way about them, I is more novelty, but it’s also not as strong, don’t know how it would hold up to traveling. :) Thanks for commenting! It’s so great that so many are taking the time to tell me what they think.

  10. Hi.just read ur post and im so amazed! u r so creative!! just drop by to gve my opinions.;) btw.indeed,.i love both designs!! but..in terms of bring it along dor travel i would prefer design D since its quite handy!! Its small in size mke u easily put it inside ur handbag. by comparison..design I is quite large n thick n need more spaces to put inside ur handbags etc. But i love design I so much!!really! bcos its looks unique n simple!perhaps u can find a small book and a small box to make a small dod

  11. I prefer D. Design I is a VERY cool design, but seems a little impractical for actually writing or working in. Design D looks like it could stand up to more abuse with the wrap around cover. The book can also lay flat for working in. I also like the little pocket inside D for storing pens or paintbrushes.

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