Artsy Journals & Planners on a Dime

A blog for those of us who love to design our journals and planners but don’t have two nickels to rub together! 

ee26456b60ede2bd6eb2154a67de8cddThis picture has absolutely nothing to do with artsy planners, unless you think about it for more than two seconds. The best planners are filled with inspirational sayings and cutesy, dramatic, or beautiful pictures. Of course for your creation to be a planner/journal it’s kind of important to leave a place for your schedule, lists, or random thoughts. 

Hi, my name is Deanna Stalnaker and I am an avid planner creator. I’ve spent literally hundreds of dollars on books, pages, stickers, and of course, the almighty washis. I have nothing against all those wonderful creative folks who designed those things for us to spend our hard earned money on but when I got to thinking about it, I realized that there were probably cheaper and more creative ways to accomplish the same things. Through this new blog, I’m going to sift through my “vast” knowledge of all things artsy (I actually got a degree in art over 40 years ago) and try to pass along some things to help you create your own planners for a fraction of the cost of the store-bought ones. I plan to have this as an educational tool for art processes as well as compiling lists of things to get to make it happen! As I create my own pages, I will share them with you what my processes were for making them. I plan on being my own teacher too as we share this journey! Welcome! 

Lesson #1 

The Gathering (of supplies)

(Hmmm… seen this title before. Oh yes, it’s the title of one of Kara’s books)

18622524_10210503344678031_7042738959605955649_nTime to get some of your supplies together (other things will be added later, but this is the basic stuff). To make a do-it-yourself planner, you will need to have a few things. Most of them you may already own, or you may have to shell out a small amount of money, or you could just borrow some of these things from your kids or grandkids:

  • Get a box to keep all your supplies in. You can get a cutesy one like I have or you can use an old shoebox (or buy a new pair of shoes so you can have a new box–Win-Win). If the box is too boring, you can decorate it (remember grade-school?). 

  • Print off a color-wheel from the computer (or if you really want to spend the money, you can buy one. I plan to have a “coloring” class later. 

  • Calendar. Doesn’t matter what kind. You just want to know what day it is. It’s sort of important. 

  • A notebook/binder with a clear sleeve on the front to insert a photo or picture (you can get a 1.5 inch one at Walmart for less than $3.00. 

  • Graph paper (or some other type of paper) for your filler. I like graph paper because it helps me line up my artsy stuff on my pages, but if you aren’t OCD like me and like to think outside the box or color outside the lines, you can get by with any kind of paper. You can pick up a pack of 80 sheets for less than $2.00. 

  • Assorted colored pencils, markers, and pens (colorful ones are best). You can be as cheap or extravagant as you want with your choices. Assorted nibs on the markers will allow you to vary the width of your lines and writing. 

  • Watercolors. Here again, you can spend a fortune on them by buying the top of the line and getting every color of the rainbow, but you seriously only need four colors: Red, Blue, Yellow, and Black. Remember I’ll be doing a class in color later. 

  • A ruler, preferably, one with a metal edge. When you start cutting your own washi strips, the metal-edged ruler works the best. 

  • Exacto or box-cutter knife. They are the best cutting tools for making your washis and trimming them down to size.

  • Glue: The best glue is glue sticks. They won’t curl up the paper.

  • Scissors. Because you have to cut out your homemade stickers with something. 

  • Other items not shown in the photo are: Shipping labels. I get the 8.5X11 sheets. A little pricy, depending on where you get them, but you can print a whole page of stickers for less than .15 cents a page. I will have another class on making stickers later. The nice thing about getting shipping labels is that they already have the sticky on the back! These labels will also be used to make washis later! If you want to have shiny stickers you can also get poster paper to print on. See-through stickers can be made with clear address labels. Make sure you get labels for inkjet printers. 

  • Some kind of cutting mat. a vinyl rubberized placemat would work well for this 

  • Stuffed animals, coffee, and candles are optional. 

Well that’s it for today! I will add a few more items to buy later, but these are the basics. The next class will be about putting your book together! 

Lesson #2

Let’s Build-a-Book! Part 1: The Cover



Okay, so this part is the fun stuff. I’ll tell you what I did, but of course, for your cover, you can get as outlandish or as simple as you want to make it. I know homemade is the name of the game in making our “Artsy Planners”, but I fudged a little and so can you. I’ll not make you do it over if you ‘cheat’ a little.

I went to my fav craft store today and found a book of scrapbook papers for $14.99 and used my 40% off coupon, making the cost of this sizable stack of really pretty paper less than $10. Small investment for something I’ll be able to use to create all kinds of neat things for my planner. Some of the design items I’ll be making from these papers are stickers, washis, dividers, etc. and I’ll have plenty of the paper left-over for scrapbooking later.

Other things you can do for your own covers are photographs, pictures from magazines, discarded wallpaper samples, downloaded pictures from the internet, dried and pressed flowers, buttons, ribbons, all kinds of crazy stuff. NO LIMITS my friends! 

Other items I used to complete this are: White glue for the lettering, fine copper-colored glitter to color the words, and obviously, scissors and a ruler. 

This is my finished cover:


When you make your covers, please send me a picture of them. I will include them in the book I’ll be writing about making planners. You can send the pictures through my contact us page. 

The next session I’ll be creating templates for the insert pages.

Have fun with your cover!


What about stickers? 

One thing you can do is download an app that you can use to photoshop or make your pics creative. I just downloaded an app on my iPad. It’s called OVER. Here is a picture I made with it. This was a photo I downloaded off images on google and then with this app, I was able to insert the caption. The app is free:


If you don’t have an iPad or iPhone, explore what other apps are available on your Mac or PC. This is just one suggestion for making your own stickers. I will share others as we go along. Stay tuned!