Report on the MCBA Visual Journal Collective’s March 2011 Meeting—Journal Zine Swap and a Special Surprise from Stillman & Birn

March 24, 2011

Above: Some of the participants in the Journal Zine Swap hold up their journal cases.

On Monday, March 21, twenty six Collective members and visitors (one all the way from Montana) met to swap journal zines and make a journal zine case. The final total for participants was 17. Each particpant brought her own coverstock for her case, hence the wonderful variety in the packets you see held up for the camera.

I've already posted the instructions we used for the journal zines. I will be posting instructions for the little case we each made next week.

The group made additional sets for MCBA's library. A few additional sets will be available for sale for $25 from MCBA. I have to make the cases for them. I'll have more details in a later post. (We sold one set right on the spot to a visitor.)

The topics covered by the zines are wonderful. Sketching from Television, musical notation on the kitchen appliance beeps, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (post season!); coffee cups as a visual record of one's life; birds; a family vacation—to name just a few of the topics.

CarolZine3359 Left: Carol Neal with her interactive zine—you have to cut and fold it. (Apologies to Carol for the fuzzy photo, I was just smiling and laughing so hard in joy I couldn't stand still to take the photo.)

Carol Neal made an interactive journal zine. You need to follow the cutting instructions to create a figure.

The work in these zines is stunning, funny, thoughtful, and creative. The journal zines stand as an example of how journaling keeps your creativity flowing. I'm thrilled to be a part of this collection and to own a little bit of everyone else's artwork! It is great to have these insights into their creative minds.

During the construction of the case we also discussed upcoming collaborative and group projects. Those can be viewed at the end of this post. Check them out and join up if you're interested.

Next, while we waited for the glue on our labels to dry, the Collective was surprised with a generous gift from Stillman & Birn. Each attendee received a 5.5 x 8.5 inch hard bound, Epsilon Series journal. These journals, besides having durable covers and sewn signatures, contain 124 pages just waiting for journaling. You can read my review at the Epsilon link. Many thanks go out to this company! With all the different approaches to journaling in the Collective we make a great test group. It will be great to see how people use these journals.

Above: The Collective receives a surprise gift from Stillman & Birn—an Epsilon series sketchbook to test out. Click on the image to view an enlargment.

Other projects that our members have been involved in:

KarenPortraitParty3358 Left: Karen Engelbretson held a portrait party for the women in her family. Here is the cover label which was preprinted and then cut out with decorative scissors and punched with a heart punch.

Collective member Karen Engelbretson shared with us her adaptation of the Journal Party Book. At a family get together Karen had her relatives pair off and chat with each other to learn something new about each other. Each participant then made a portrait of her partner. To minimize anxiety over the "I don't draw" statements, Karen supplied a variety of art materials, including collage items and rubberstamps. She and her daughter then worked out the imposition for the pages and copied pages so that each pair occupied a single spread (just as in the Collective's Portrait Party books the portraits of each pair face each other). Karen also made a decorative label for the cover. To save time, the books were saddle stitched with a long-arm stapler. The resultant book is a keepsake that all the participants value.

Additional discussion was held on the following collaborative or group projects:

Postcard exchange book: An exchange of illustrated postcards with book artists in Austin, Texas. These will be made up into a tidy little book. The exchange is being held through April and into May. If you are still deciding and want to join in please contact Suzanne Hughes at

International Fake Journal Month: Yep, April is fast approaching and I made a pitch for my favorite yearly project. You can read details at the dedicated blog. There are giveaways again this year. And I'm pretty sure there will be a button!

Box of Journaling Bits Exchange: July 18, 2011 is the sign up deadline for this project. The project deadline is November 21, 2011. Contact Roz at if you would like to join in. On July 19 when the participants have been counted you'll be notified of the size of your edition. Each participant will make an editioned item based somehow on journals—e.g., a journal zine, a print made from a journal illustration, ATC cards on journaling topics; I even suggested to fabric artists that pillows and small quilts would totally work! The key is that all items in the edition must be the same, be based on "journals" in someway, and you must make one for each participant. Additionally your item must fit inside the group box which will be approximately 6 x 9 x 3 inches, and be no thicker than 1/4 inch (though soft things that can be compressed will be given a little leeway). Rolled items that could be crushed are not possible. No natural items (leaves, twigs, animal skin, fur, etc.) can be used. Fixatives and varnishes on items are discouraged, but if used, they must be completed and aired out for a week prior to the deadline. However, small 3-D embellishments are encouraged (as long as you make the same embellishments on each piece in your edition). The exact dimensions and requirements of your piece will be announced at the closing sign-up date when I know which boxes will be ordered—boxes will be white corrugated board. Participants will receive a label and have access to paints to decorate their boxes at the exchange meeting. There will be a slight cost (approx. $3) to cover the cost of the boxes.



    • Karen
    • March 24, 2011

    Great post, Roz. The journal zine exchange was fantastic — fun to create mine, and so cool to have a collection of them in a case. Let’s do it again!

  1. Reply

    I just emailed MCBA to see if I can get one of the extra sets – hope they haven’t sold them all yet! So great that you all made extras!

  2. Reply

    Cheryl, I don’t think they’ll be able to help you right now. As I mentioned in the post, I have to make cases for them and that’s not something I’ll have time to do for a week or two. Only the person in charge of adult programs knows about the extra ones yet. When I know something I’ll let you know. I’m glad you’re interested. I just read my set again and they are great fun (and serious too).

  3. Reply

    OK, thanks Roz.

  4. Reply

    Thanks Roz and to the collective for the push inspired by the zine exchange project! There is a thumbnail sketch for this book idea in my journal — back from ’09. It’s an idea I will continue to develop and refine, at least it made if off the page. Oh, and I look best slightly fuzzy! The photo captures the energy.

  5. Reply

    I’m so glad Carol that we got you to dip into your journal’s past and pull this zine out. I love it. Roz

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