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Circle Journals - By Clare Brown

Circle Journals.

By Clare Brown



What is a Circle Journal?


A circle journal is a small memory book/album or journal that has

pages created by more than one person. There are 2 different types

of circle journal.


The single journal 

Created by a group of people, and produces one book at the end

of the circle.


The multiple group journal

Where each person in a group creates a journal, every person adds

an entry to each book, and once the books have gone full circle

all members receive back their own journal with entries by all the

other artists in the group.


A single journal makes a unique and thoughtful gift , a friends 40th,

a retirement, a new baby or a marriage are all occasions when a

journal of memories created by friends would be a treasured gift

(more on this later)


If you are lucky enough to have local crops and know lots of

scrappers, a circle journal group is easily organised within the crop.

If you donít, then organising a mailing group is really easy

amongst friends. There are no hard and fast rules about how

many members make up a group, anything from 6 to 20 would

work! For 20 members doing one single page each would be best,

while for a group of 6 more pages per person could be completed.

Itís usual for everyone to do a double page spread in each journal.




Why join a group?


Taking part in a group journal is fun, challenging & a great learning opportunity!.  Not only do you get a beautiful journal back full of

pages made for you by your friends, but you also get inspired by

the books as they pass you, and learn new styles and techniques

and see first hand some things that you were afraid to try before.


Where to start




Journals usually happen between groups of friends, family members

or online community members. In a group of friends, it can be

chatted about on a night out or round the scrapping table, with

family all can be organised on the phone, and if itís an online

community, emails and forum messages are usually used to

organise. One person is responsible for keeping track of all the

journals and where they are at any time, and will hold a list of

addresses and contact numbers/emails for all group members.

They also send out a list of dates to each member pass it on

posting dates), and drop reminders when itís almost time to pass

it on.


Choosing a theme


Most groups start with a main theme, and then all the members of

the group choose a personal topic for their own journals. Not all

circles have a main topic however, and in this case you can choose

anything that you feel will make an interesting and enjoyable book,

both for the people adding to it, and to you when you get it back!


Set a start date and posting schedule


Making sure everyone knows exactly when they have to post a

journal and who to is very important. Itís also a good idea to set a

minimum posting method that everyone is expected to use, such as

first class with a certificate of posting for insurance. Journals are

very precious and recorded delivery or even registered post may

be considered better for peace of mind. If your group are all local,

then journals can be passed by hand, and you just need to set a

day to meet up and pass the journals on.


Designing your Journal


Journals are usually quite small, 6x6, 7x5 & A5 are most common.

It can get very expensive posting a large format book. Once you

have decided on a size, you the need to make or buy your

undecorated book. Any journal type book with a large spiral bound

spine will work and you can cover the front to your own taste and

remove the extra pages. Pink Pig Journals are perfect for circle

journals, Sara books, accordion books and small 6x6 top loading albums are also popular choices, and many people go for hand

made books and paper bag books. Making a simple journal from

scratch is very easy. A5 and 6x6 are quick and economical.


Inside your journal you need to make and decorate several pages:


  • a welcome page Ė a brief set of instructions and an explanation of your theme
  • a Ďsign iní page - for each contributor to sign and date their entry
  • your own entry - based on your theme.



The welcome pages are usually at the front followed by your

own entry and the sign in at the very back, but every journal is very personal to its owner and there are no wrong or right ways to do these pages. They can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, and in whatever order you feel is best.


Ready to post!


Always make sure your journal has your name and address inside, so if it should go missing en route itís easily returned home to you. To protect your Journal on its journey, use a heavy duty padded envelope or a lightweight box, and enclose the whole journal in a plastic ziplock bag inside the outer packaging just in case itís a wet day when the postie is delivering!


As you progress through the circle, the books arriving will have more and more completed entries in them, and each one is a developing work of art. Itís very exciting to see them all passing through, and when the circle is finally finished, you get your completed book home to treasure forever.



20 Popular Themes


  • Colours
  • Favourite things
  • Childhood memories
  • I have a dream
  • Life Lessons
  • Random Advice
  • A book of Definitions
  • Poems Quotes or Rhymes
  • My favourite place
  • Top 10ís
  • If I were famous I would beÖ..
  • Invitation to Dinner
  • Holiday Destinations
  • Inspirations
  • Special Moments
  • The Seasons
  • Reasons to be Cheerful
  • Whatís in your Handbag?
  • Things my Mother taught me
  • Recipe forÖ.



Making a special journal as a gift.


A single journal makes a great gift for a special occasion, a birthday,

a retirement, an anniversary or just as a book of friendship to show someone you are thinking of them.


First choose a size you feel comfortable working with, and buy or

make a book. Cover it and decide on a theme. For instance, a book

of Ďmemoriesí from workmates would be a great retirement gift, or

if its for someone off on maternity leave Ė a baby album ready to

put photos into would be extra special.


Next create a dedication page for the person who will receive the

finished Journal and add your own entry. Then pass it on to the

next person to add their entry, and so on. In some cases, for

instance if its a family memory book for Gran and the family

members are spread around the country, it can be easier & quicker

to let everyone who is contributing know the sizes of the journal

and get them to mail their completed page for you to assemble the book. You then have a beautiful & unique gift for the special

occasion that will be treasured!


So, what are you waiting for?


Now you know what it is about and have all the basics you need, join a Circle Journal group today, or start your own! You will be delighted with the results. Circle Journals are a LOT of fun and a very social part of our hobby. It can bring you closer to the people in your group and help form new friendships, while giving the freedom to experiment a little more than you perhaps would in your Scrapbook albums. ATDML can not be held responsible for how many circles you join after you try your very first one!



Recommended Reading


Full Circle - Lil Davis Designs Ė a book stuffed full of inspirational ideas and themes and pictures of circle journals by well known names in the scrap industry.

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