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8 Ways to Decorate a Composition Book or Notebook Cover

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I've been creating since I was a child. My hobbies include watercolor, drawing, art journaling, painting rocks, sewing and crochet.

Cover of my junk journal notebook

Cover of my junk journal notebook

How to Decorate Your Books

When I was in school, one of the tasks for the new school year was to cover our composition books and textbooks. We used dull old 1970s wallpaper samples and the whole process was dull and boring because we weren't allowed to jazz them up in any way. After covering 12 composition books and who knows how many textbooks, I never wanted to see another wallpaper sample again.

These days, composition book covers are becoming more exciting and interesting. However, designing your own cover is a lot of fun, and you can make it unique to you. Your cover can be minimalistic, heavily embellished, chic and cool, flowery, or bohemian.

Here are eight ideas to get you started.

1. Tape

You can find so many tape varieties now. Here are few products you can try:

  • Decorative Duck Tape. You can find options that are metallic and shiny, or covered with prints.
  • Patterned Washi Tape. Washi tape comes in thick and thin widths, making it easy to add patterns and textures to your cover. The nice thing is that you can easily remove it without ruining your cover, so the process is very forgiving.
  • Masking Tape and a Stamp. If you don't want to use a stamp, you can draw or paint your own design on masking tape.

2. Paper

Beautiful or funky scrapbook papers are perfect for altering a notebook cover. You can go crazy with sophisticated patterns, or go with an eco-look design with a brown paper bag.

There are two ways to cover a book with paper:

  • Glue it on and press air bubbles out from the center. Trim off the excess paper once the glue is dry.
  • Cut the paper 2" wider than the whole book (while the book is laying wide open). Fold the edges over the covers neatly, as if you're wrapping a gift. Tape or use a dab of a glue stick to keep them in place.
Customized Book Cover Paint, Collage & Buttons

Customized Book Cover Paint, Collage & Buttons

3. Collage

Grab a magazine and cut out lots of interesting photos and text pieces. Glue them artfully onto your cover. You don't have to use a magazine either... try:

  • Ticket stubs
  • Handwriting samples
  • Scanned family photos
  • Anything printed from the internet

Customize the collage by adding details with markers or pens. Add silly mustaches, hats, and striped stockings. Give people wings and antennae to turn them into fairies or butterflies. Mod Podge is great for gluing a collage together. Once it's done, you can apply a single coat on top to seal and protect the cover.

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4. Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is good for protecting covers. Use an old credit card to scrape thick paint. You might swirl on two or more colors with your fingers. Maybe paint the cover in a single color, say pillar-box red, let it dry, and then paint one of your hands black and press it on to the cover. You could also add some sand to paint for a textured finish.

Book cover: acrylic paint, tissue, newsprint,  and mesh.

Book cover: acrylic paint, tissue, newsprint, and mesh.

5. Tissue Paper

Here's how you can use tissue paper on your notebook.

  • Lay your book out flat with the covers facing up.
  • Glue on a layer of tissue paper, making sure the tissue is larger than the book.
  • Smoosh the paper a little to get textured wrinkles.
  • Let it dry, and then tear off the excess.
  • Now, you can paint it or leave it as is.

6. Stickers

Stickers are a simple way to decorate a composition book. Remember to seal them with Mod Podge or another sealer to prevent them from becoming worn over time. There are so many wonderful stickers available that you will have trouble choosing. I'd suggest keeping to a theme for a coherent look.

7. Rubber Stamps

Combine stamps with any of the other ideas. You'll need a stamp and an ink pad. A nice look to try is to paint the cover with a single color and stamp butterflies or seahorses or anything else you like on top. After that, color the stamp in with markers or more paint. You could even add little sparkly stick-on gemstones for a whimsical effect.

Altered Composition Book used with thanks under a Creative Commons license.

Altered Composition Book used with thanks under a Creative Commons license.

8. Embellish Your Book

Glue on embellishments such as small keys, beads, buttons, ribbon, fibers, sequins, brass cogs or anything else you can find to personalize your book and add the final touches. Use your imagination and have fun with it.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can you paint the black spine of a notebook with acrylic paint without it wearing as the book is opened and closed over time?

Answer: It's hard to say because it depends if the paint has any flexibility and how often the book will be used. The ones I have made are all fine. If it does wear, you can always slosh on some more paint.

Question: I decorated a composition book for my daughter. I used felt, wall stick-ons, a colored pencil drawing cutout, construction paper, acrylic paint and gem stickers. What should I spray on it to keep it intact?

Answer: I'd suggest a spray varnish, Gel medium or Mod Podge. Any of those will fix the add-ons and protect the cover. Sounds great!

© 2012 Bev G

Are You the Crafty Type?

murtaza on November 09, 2015:

Nice site.... I am impressed and it helps Mr alot in my projects

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on January 25, 2013:

Thanks so much, Sharye11 & amberlybites. I agree, covers are inspiring as well as personal. x

amberlybites from Texas on January 25, 2013:

I have been a big collage fan since I was a little kid. I love your creations! Journals are best when the covers represent the owner & inspire their creativity.

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on January 25, 2013:

Great ideas! A pretty notebook can be very inspirational for the student or writer. These would be much nicer as journals, the covers could be thematic or personalized. Voting up!

why u need to know ---.-- on January 07, 2013:

awshome :3

Erica Gourley from USA on August 27, 2012:

This is just what I was looking for, thanks!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 12, 2012:

Glad to help, wiccanfemme. Welcome to Hubpages - hope you will make some hubs of your own... it's lots of fun!

wiccanfemme463 on August 12, 2012:

just as i was thinking about buying some books i ran into your section in the HubPages and realized tht i could learn from you for FREE!!!thanks for opening my eyes!!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on May 24, 2012:

Thank you, Angela_Michelle :-)

Angela Michelle Schultz from United States on May 24, 2012:

Very creative. I really like the pictures of books you completed. :) They are really awesome!