If you find yourself collecting a junk journal image after an image on Pinterest, or watching hours of junk journal videos on YouTube and itching to create your own junk journals, you might immediately run into a question: where do I find supplies for junk journals?
The beauty of junk journals is that they are literally made of things you can find all around you. They incorporate the “junk” of everyday life, creating mementos and beauty out of trivial things. You can look around you and find a bunch of supplies for your first junk journal without much trouble.
Still, I get it, you need a place to start your junk journaling venture.
In this post we’ll look at 15 places where you can find supplies for a junk journal and often for free.
First things first…
What should I put in a Junk Journal?
To figure out where to find supplies for your junk journal, first, lets talk about what you can put into a junk journal. You can put literally anything you want into a junk journal as long as it’s flat enough for your journal to close with its content inside.
I think of junk journals as mixed media art journals plus scrapbooks on steroids. In a junk journal you can use, mix and match supplies that would go into either of those two types of creative journals and still take that to the next level.
Things you can find in junk journals are (to name just a few):
- ticket stabs
- newspaper clippings
- paper doilies
- candy wrappers
- cereal box cutouts
- washi tape
- and so much more
Since there are so many places to find amazing supplies for your junk journals, I will divide them into places where you can buy junk journal supplies and places you can find the supplies for free (or make your own).
Where can you buy junk journal supplies
Many gorgeous junk journals are made from the covers of old books, so, naturally, book stores, especially second-hand book stores are amazing places to go to buy your junk journal supplies.
Book stores are great places to get supplies for a junk journal. It’s not just the books, especially vintage ones or with interesting covers, but newspapers, magazines and maps that you can find there.
Children’s books, calendars and textbooks are also really neat, especially one that have to do with math, chemistry, physicals or botany and biology.
When you think of libraries, you think of borrowing and returning the books, but libraries regularly get rid of their old well-loved books by selling them for very cheap or giving them away all together.
Similar to book stores, libraries can have great old books, magazines and newspapers that you can get to use in your junk journal.
Not as big as before, map stores are still around, especially places related to auto-clubs and travel. They release new maps every year and you can find older maps on sale.
No matter old or new, maps and map book pages can make an amazing addition to your journal, especially when you are journaling about travel or creating a vision board pages about places you want to visit.
I don’t have to tell you that garage sales are a great place to find paper ephemera for your junk journal.
Garage sales a treasure throve (and an inexpensive one at that) for all kinds of paper goodies you can add to your pages. Estate sales where they tend to have older items and especially books and photographs are especially exciting, you never know what you can find.
Books, magazines, newspapers, playing cards, maps, old adverts, pamphlets, even old letters and photographs.
You can find old children’s books and study guides, sewing and crochet patterns, manuals and instructions. You can also stumble upon lace, old handkerchiefs, other fabrics, paper doilies, small charms, ribbons and cords.
Antique or vintage shops
In the same vein as garage sales, antique and vintage stores are amazing and exciting places to find old ephemera for junk journals.
These stores do tend to price their items way higher than what garage sales would, but they have items organized in categories and often have better offerings (you also don’t need to walk for hours to find all the things.
Antique shops carry old knitting patterns, sewing patterns, newspapers of the old days, books and magazines, old photographs, greeting cards and other correspondence, vinyl records (with unique jackets), lace, handkerchiefs, posters, maps, ticket stabs, playbills, pamphlets and so much more.
Thrift shops, big and small
Thrift shops are somewhere in between the antique shops and garage sales. You can find interesting things and buy them for a decent price.
Small thrift shops might have things that are more interesting, better curated and well organized, but bigger ones like Goodwill might have bigger number of offerings (and often at better prices).
The beauty of the larger thrift stores is that they carry a variety of items from old books to maps to recipes to textbooks to patterns to music sheets and newspapers.
If you love all that fresh air when you are treasure hunting and want to have an access to a ton of sellers all at ones, flea markets are the place to go.
You can find all kinds of things there, so keep an open mind!
Look for old newspapers and maps and books but also matchbook covers, ticket stabs and post cards, old playbills or programs, magazines, posters, adverts, playing cards, photos and so on.
Art supply, craft stores and stationary stores
If you don’t want to buy old (often smelly) items for your journal and want to get newer items, visit places like art supply stores, craft stores and stationary stores. Any place you go to for your paper craft needs, would be great for your junk journaling needs.
Places like Michael’s sell paper for scrapbooking and a lot of it has an aged ephemera look. You might find whole sets designed to resemble old newspapers, maps, stamps, book pages, pamphlets, ticket tabs and so on. If you sign up to their mailing list, you can receive the notifications about good deals on other things like die cuts, paper pads, mod podge, paper cutter and more.
Of course, other useful things you will find in these stores are different materials like washi tapes and stickers, also glitter and cardboard, acrylic paints but also necessities like a glue stick, tape, scissors, paper cutters and hole punches.
Fabric supply stores
Fabric supply stores might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you are thinking about making a paper journal, but you can find things there that will make your junk journals oh so pretty.
In fabric stores you can get things like lace of different width, materials and colors to use from details on the pages to edging to covering the outside of the journal cover.
You can also get fabric to adorn the outside of your journal, especially if you are using an existing old book cover.
You can also get things like pretty buttons, labels, smaller charms, threads of different color and thickness, measuring tapes, cartons that hold buttons, sewing patterns and quilting squares.
As much as it is fun to buy junk journal supplies in person where you can really look at them, get a feel of texture and color, sometimes you don’t have an access to a decent store that carries what you need. At times you also might not have an ability to go to a store or spend hours browsing garage sales.
In cases like these, online marketplaces can be what you need. Offering a myriad of options all in one place, they can make supply shopping convenient and painless (just watch your wallet – this can be addicting!)
Places like Amazon offer fun things like junk journal ephemera sets that are put together based on a theme (like vintage newspapers or Victorian era, or butterflies and fairies). They also offer washi tapes that look like maps or old ticket stabs, scrapbook paper made to look like vintage newspapers or maps or flowery wallpapers), you can buy rolls of ruffle tickets or pretty tissue paper.
A great way you can start is with a blank journal, then get a junk journal kit to start you off, and then to make your junk journal pages pretty add ephemera, washi tapes, mix it up with rubber stamps, distress inks, and more.
If you want to go for unique types of supplies or even for the complete blank junk journals, Etsy is your place. Talented makers create gorgeous junk journals and offer supplies like ephemera paper packs for them.
There are supplies you can order to be shipped to you or get printables that you can print at home for an instant satisfaction.
Supplies range from junk journal ephemera sets, to junk journal kits that contain anything from ticket stabs, lace, old newspapers, paper doilies to washi tapes, stickers, paper frames and more. You can buy premade covers that you can fill in or you can buy a complete handmade junk journal.
Where do you find supplies for junk journals for free
Hotels, especially smaller ones are full of perfect paper supplies for your junk journal.
These places have large wooden shelves that are full of flyers, maps, stickers and other interesting paper handouts you can get for free.
You are often handed the map of the layout of the hotel itself, tickets for local excursions and coupons for nearby restaurants and fairs. Of course, don’t forget your receipts, plane and train tickets and other travel-related paper “junk”.
Baby showers, birthday parties and other holidays – these types of events are a goldmine for wrapping paper, cute gift tags, tissue paper, ribbons, colorful napkins, pretty gift bags and unique cards.
Let it be known that you collect these kinds of things and you will be set for life. Often, most of these things get thrown away as soon as the gift is given and opened but for you it’s a built-on stationery shop.
You can also ask your friends and family members for pretty papers they might have laying around and you will be surprised by how much you can get.
Your house and car
As the name implies, the junk drawer in your house holds a lot of junk, often one perfectly suitable for a journal. Check your junk drawer, you will be surprised things you stashed away there that you can use.
You can find something cool like:
- old plant seed packets with cool designs on them
- ticket stabs
- take-out menus
- receipts from restaurants you visited
- airplane or train tickets
- dry-clean receipts
- match boxes
- packets of brown sugar in with cute designs
- chopsticks with artful wrapper
- old postage stamps
Kitchen and pantry
It’s amazing how many unique and cute things for your junk journal you can find in the kitchen or pantry. We are so used to opening the packages and tossing them, we often miss how pretty and quirky they can be.
My favorites are teas and ingredients for the foods around the globe. Many teas, especially from smaller brands feature really beautiful designs on their carton boxes (that can be carefully disassembled and flattened) as well as on the individual tea bags. One of the teas I brought, had a cute book writing related quote on the tea bag tabs and I collected all of them to pull put and journal on.
The packages from the food around the world, like curry or ramen or seaweed are often adorned with intricate bright designs and can inspire whole art pieces of pages.
Other fun things you can find in your kitchen are pretty paper wrappers from chocolate bars, candy and candy bars (as well as protein bars), wrappers from wafers and other desserts like that, wraparound labels from canned goods (you will need to be really careful trying to remove them) and cereal boxes.
Bathroom or make-up room
Another room in your house full of cool trash to treasure finds is your bathroom.
There you can find adorable packaging from face masks, labels and tags from hair-ties and brushes, gorgeous wrapping paper from bars of soap, thin outer cardboard boxes from make-up, especially ones with beautiful fonts or adorned with golden designs, wraparound labels from bottles rose water and such.
These will not only look good, but smell heavenly as well.
Junk Mail pile
You junk mail pile is another place to find some junk journal treasures. I know, we spend a bunch of time and effort stopping the paper mail junk coming to our homes, but if you still occasionally get yours you can find some really neat things in it.
Besides interesting discoveries, you can make in the mail flyers, you might be also getting free magazines or the catalogs from craft companies you like and those definitely would have some cute images or even samples you can use.
Make your own supplies
In addition to using the things you can find around the house as they are, you can also create junk journal supplies from things you have laying around the house making them more interesting.
Many junk journals are created in an antique, vintage look and often they use paper that appears to be decades if not centuries old. It gives the journal this timeless look and you don’t even need to find the paper that old.
You can create your own “old” paper by antiquing it.
How do you antique a piece of paper?
You can give a plain paper you already have in your household an old, weathered look by treating it with tea or coffee.
- Brew tea or coffee as you usually would, then pour it into a flat vessel like a baking sheet or a wide flat plastic bin big enough to fit the paper you have.
- Submerge the paper one by one, holding it in the solution momentarily for a lighter shade or longer for the darker antique look.
- Take out the papers, lay them our on a piece of paper towel and let them dry.
- You can also use a sponge to apply coffee to the paper if you don’t want to use the “submerge” technique.
- For additional aged effect, you can dip a bottom of a mug in some brewed coffee and set it on a top of paper creating the “ring”.
- You can add splatters of more coffee on a top of already antiqued paper or drizzle coffee or tea grounds to add speckles and spots.
- You can choose to treat the paper while it’s perfectly flat or crumple the paper before you submerge it under the coffee or while it is submerged. Crumpling the paper will give it the wrinkles that would give it not just an antique weathered look but a handmade-paper look as well.
- Next, dry it by laying it out on a rack and using a hairdryer on warm low to dry the paper completely. You can also use paper towels to dab away any extra moisture.
- Notice that the paper will get wavy due to being treated with water, so, after the paper is dry, you can place it under a flat weight like a heavy large book to flatten it as much as possible.
Make your own paper
Nothing makes the junk journal look cooler than pages created from a hand-made paper.
Making your own paper is not as scary as it seems. If you have a mesh screen, you can use the technique that uses it, or if you don’t here is an excellent post on how to make paper with no screen.
If you have a mesh screen, here is a helpful video on how to make your own paper from scraps:
As you can see, there is no limit to where you can find great supplies for your junk journal pages. All you need is your imagination and an open mind. You will never run out of junk journal supplies again.
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