Circle journals have become very popular these days, but the idea has been around for a long time. Many women have been involved in round robins or have made crazy quilts. The idea of a circle journal is quite similar. A circle journal is a book passed along through a group, each adding to that journal.
There are so many reasons to join a circle journal. Participating in a circle journal means you get to make new friends, have fun, contribute to another’s book, see other's work and end up with a creative book at the end. Holding someone else’s work in your hands can be very inspiring. Just think of all the different and unique contributions different people can make in your journal.
When selecting the actual book or journal you will use keep in mind the fact that this will be mailed several times. There are many companies that make small journals appropriate for a circle journal. You can also find small journals at Target for less than $5.00. Many office supply stores will actually cut cardstock and make a cover for you as well as bind it for less than $8.00. Take into consideration how many pages you will need so each member can make their entries. You want something that is lightweight but durable.
There are a few key parts of a circle journal.
First is the title page. This is not vital, but can be a fun way to start your book. Next is an introductory page with instructions or rules about your journal. Some people explain their theme and why they chose it on this page. If you do not wish for certain colors or products to be used you should say this here in the instructions. The next part of the journal is a sign in. You do sign in to your own circle journal. There are numerous ways to have those working in your journal sign in. Some people make multiple sign-in pages, others just one. Sign in pages sometimes include blank tags for each member to design. You may include instructions on how to sign in, asking for each person to add a picture of themselves, for example. Make a pocket page and place tags in the pockets for each person. Have the members of your group personalize their tag further by adding ribbon that suits their personality. My circle journal sign-in was made up of library pockets each decorated with member’s initials. Each member was to decorate a tag and include a picture. A sign in can also be done by placing colored paper in strips on a page and having each member sign in on a strip. The last part of your journal you will make before sending it to the next person is a two page layout relating to your theme. Make sure the next person will have room to do their layout side by side. Most group members only do a two page layout and the sign in. Decorating the outside cover of the circle journal usually should wait until the finished journal is returned to you. Most of the bumps and bruises will be born by the cover. If more inspiration is needed on circle journals Lil’ Davis Designs has published a book about circle journals called “Full Circle”.
There can be some pitfalls in joining a circle journal, but there doesn’t have to be. Hopefully these tips can prevent anyone from having a negative experience.
Who joins a circle journal can be very important. Probably the simplest way to do a circle journal is with people in your area- perhaps those you crop with. A circle journal group does not have to be large. You could even exchange journals with one other person. Many people meet members on the internet on web sites. Most groups run most efficiently when the number of members stays at or around 10 (there are exceptions, of course). Just keep in mind that the more people involved, the more people to keep up with and the longer it will take for the journal to be completed and returned to you.
The logistics of managing a circle journal group does not have to be complicated. Usually there is someone who hosts the group and keeps up with what is happening in the group. Let others know you wish to start a circle journal and allow for them to sign up. Once everyone has been given ample time to sign up then you can finalize the members. It is imperative to have some place to communicate with the group. Some groups do this in forums. One good idea is to set up a yahoo group page. Members can complete a database with their information (name, address, online name, etc.). Be sure to get phone numbers as well.
Perhaps the most important thing before beginning the circle journal group is to make certain each person understands the commitment of time and money they will be making. It takes months to complete a circle journal. This means that every few weeks you must complete entries in another person’s book and mail it.
Set up a time frame as to when everyone will mail the journals. Most people find that there are actually more problems that occur when journals are kept by each person for more than a month. Mailing every two to three weeks seems best, but the time frame can be discussed by the group and decided on.
Rules!!! First, how you mail the journal is of utmost importance. You can’t imagine the disappointment you will feel if a circle journal that is almost complete gets lost in the mail. After all that time and energy it could be heartbreaking. Each person should use some sort of priority mail that can be tracked. United States Postal Service can ship most packages Priority Mail with tracking for less than 5-6 dollars. I have been a part of a group that created a database where we posted the tracking numbers for our journals. Also, each member of the group should receive journals from the same person and mail to the same person ( for example, in a three person group: Susie mails to jen , jen mails to nancy, nancy mails to Susie). This cuts down on the confusion. Please make sure that the journals are packaged properly and padded. Double check the mailing address and put a return address in case the package gets lost. You should also place your name, mailing address and email on the back inside cover of the journal itself.
Courtesy rules. You will have someone’s circle journal in your home. If you are a smoker you should try not to smoke around the journal. Keep the circle journal sealed in a plastic bag so the journal will not smell like smoke. Watch that children and pets do not get into the journal. If you take someone’s journal to show people please be careful not to lose it. Do not eat or drink around the journal. If a book is lost, damaged or arrives in the mail damaged you should notify the host of the group and the owner of the book immediately.
Also, if you begin to realize you have taken on too much by being in a circle journal let someone know. It is alright to bow out. Many people have shared the heartbreak of someone being embarrassed at getting behind in the journals and then vanishing. People are trusting you with their journal, please do not let them down. A member of one circle journal made up a silly, but meaningful pledge for the members of the group:
everyone stand up, raise two fingers and recite the following:
My head to clear thinking,
I will try not to forget to send the CJ on time.
My heart to greater loyalty,
I will remain loyal to the members of my CJ.
My hands to larger service,
I will try, to the best of my ability, to create pages that will be
true to the meaning of a given CJ
And, My health to better living,
I will not drink cocktails while creating my CJ pages for the health
of the journal
For my CJ, my community, my country, and my world.
Here are a few ideas for circle journal themes:
things/people that bring you joy)
MOTIVATION (what motivates you)
MUSIC (that motivates you, that you love, that reminds you of something, etc.)
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT
HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME
BEING A GIRL
the 5 senses
WHO YOU'D LIKE TO MEET, ALIVE OR DEAD
QUOTES THAT MOVE ME
TIPS & TECHNIQUES
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR
WORDS TO LIVE BY
THINGS I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW
WHY I LIKE BEING A GIRL
WHAT FONT ARE YOU?
MY FAVORITE THINGS
HOMETOWN TRAVEL GUIDE
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
WHAT MAKES ME GIGGLE
A-Z ABOUT ME
FINDING YOUR INNER STRENGTH
MY CIRCLE OF FRIENDS (about or among)
WHERE I'D LIKE TO TRAVEL
WHAT MAKES ME BLUSH
ALL ABOUT ME
CLASSIC ADS OF DAYS GONE BY
IF (questions for the game of life - each participant chooses a different question)
IF I WERE QUEEN FOR A DAY
IF I COULD GO ANYWHERE
inspiration (photos, stories, quotes, etc.)
BETCHA DIDN'T KNOW (things that most people don't know about you)
where I come from
MY FIRST DREAM COME TRUE
MY PET PEEVE (lighthearted)
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK PASSAGE
I AM, YOU ARE, WE ARE AMERICANS.
POCKETS/PURSES (what's in the bottom of them)
WOMEN/PEOPLE/PERSON WHO'VE INFLUENCED YOU
YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO
MY MOST PRIZED POSSESSION
MY FAVORITE TEXTURE(S)
my favorite joke
THINGS I WANT TO DO BEFORE I DIE
Ode to Joy
Attitude of Gratitude
Favorite ______ (you complete the theme)
A Time to Remember
The Power of Inspiration
Truly, Madly, Deeply
The Magic of Life
Heart & Soul
What Matters Most
Reality Isn’t What It Used to Be
Proud to Be An American
Dancing With Age
Gift of Words
A Day in the Life . . .
Love Spoken Here
Outside My Window
My World – And Welcome To It!
Garden of Delight
Planting An Impossible Garden
Gardens of my Life
Best Advice (Given & Received)
The Fabric of Life
Poetry _________ (you complete the theme)
There’s No Place Like Home
Elements of Me
The Power of Age
Wish Come True
Romancing the ____ (you complete the theme)
Journeys In My Life (travel related) or Where I've Been and What I've Seen How I Feel About Me, Now
Lessons I'm Learning In My Second Half-Century
What I Know Now....
Life Lessons from Strange Places
Why I Don't ........??
What I Know Now That I Wish I'd Known When I Was 20?
Celebrating the Woman I've Become
The Value of Values
Pieces of Me
laughter- what makes you laugh
pockets or tag journal
Holidays of the Heart (favorite holidays or celebrations)
You’ve Got a Friend
Bridge Over Troubled Waters (who or what helps you through life’s bumps?)
(what keeps you . . .) Forever Young at Heart
Of A Certain Age
What’s the Good Word? (a powerful word for you)
Whim & Whimsy
The Power of Inspiration
The Circle of Life
Mama Had a Dancing Heart
Love Spoken Here
Things I Know Now
Words: Their Gifts & Truth
The Journey: Then & Now
Our Hometowns: Their Place in History & Sights to See
Life's Journey: Who Are You?
Wind Beneath My Wings
Lessons Learned . . . the Lighter Side
Inner Music: What Makes Your Heart Sing
The Many Hats of Life
It Was a Very Good Year
Circle journals are so much fun. It is truly a pleasure getting to know the members in each group, to see their work and to contribute your talent to their book. When your journal returns you will have a creative, artistic journal about the topic you have chosen. Hopefully you will also have some wonderful new friends.