REVIEW: Handmade Multi-Media Journal from PaintPalettesPages

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Mary Roff Review

A couple of weeks ago, I received a wonderful surprise in the mail — a fabulous handmade multi-media journal from PaintPalettesPages.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Packaging by PaintsPalettesPages

My friend Mary Roff (and fellow Doodlewash member), sent me one of her multi-media journals. I wasn’t expecting it, and I’m over the moon. Every one of her journals is handmade and unique. When you get one, you know you know that no one has another exactly like it.

Mine has a faux leather cover, sweet hand-painted flower pattern, and a variety of art papers.

Video – Handmade Multi-Media Journal

The journal has 15 different papers with 42 sheets/84 pages. The sheets were put into a stack, folded, and sewn in the middle, so the last 21 sheets are ordered in the reverse of the first 21 sheets. For this reason, in the video, I only show the first 21 sheets.

The Papers Included: 

  • Fluid 140# Cold Press Watercolor paper
  • Stonehenge Aqua Black Watercolor paper
  • Pastel
  • Arches 140# Cold Press Watercolor paper
  • Arches 140# Hot Press Watercolor paper
  • Kraft Cardstock
  • Parchment
  • Sulphite  
  • Toned Tan
  • Toned Grey
  • 80# Drawing
  • Vellum 
  • Mineral Paper 
  • Mixed Media
  • Mohawk Superfine paper

Look & Feel

The journal is approximately 5 x 6.25 inches. The papers vary slightly in size. Some are hand-torn, some cut. A few have deckled edges.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Exterior Cover

The cover was designed and hand-painted by Mary, who used a Pitt pen and Posca markers. It’s made from Kraft-Tex, a tough fiber-based paper that resembles leather. The Kraft-Tex is sewn to a canvas material. This not only makes the cover stronger — decorative stitches are added to make it look even more beautiful.

When I first opened the journal it was stiff, but it loosened up after I opened and closed it a few times. Once loosened, the journal lies flat, making it easy to work in.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Hand-painted elements

The cover is held shut with a heavy-duty snap. It’s easy to open, but snaps shut securely.

Pockets line the front and back of the journal perfect for keeping ephemera (bits and pieces of paper, tickets, stamps, etc.) or notes and lists.

The papers are bound with a pamphlet stitch, with a . The stitching is both even and decorative.

There are no unsightly gaps between the sheets, that might allow paint to bleed onto other pages.

Mary’s Handmade Multi-Media Journal – The Papers

I did get a list of the papers included in the book, but not in the order they are placed in the book. Some I can identify, but with others I’m not sure. Personally, I like that — it gives me a feeling of exploration. If I’m not sure of the paper, I’ll start slow so I can change to a different media if I don’t like what’s happening.

I am guessing on some of these papers, but what I’m trying to do is give you a feel for the kind of papers you’d get in one of Mary Roff’s journals. Another journal might have the same mix, but it might not.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Interior Paper Sample 1

Hot press watercolor paper; tan toned paper; drawing paper; textured toned paper with intermixed light and dark gray and another drawing paper.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Interior Paper Sample 2

Vellum, drawing paper, cold press watercolor paper, and mixed media paper.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Interior Paper Sample 3

Mixed media paper, gray-toned paper (a different paper from the gray-toned above. Pastel paper, I think), drawing paper, and black watercolor paper.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Interior Paper Sample 4

Vellum, mineral paper, cold press watercolor paper, and Kraft cardstock.

Handmade Multi-Media Journal Interior Paper Sample 5

Sorry, the upper left is repeat from the set above. Kraft cardstock, drawing paper, and parchment.


I painted this sunset on the first page of the journal, which is a stiff, heavy paper I’m pretty sure it’s a hot press watercolor.  I used gouache so I could play around and try to capture that beautiful sky. I know I didn’t get it, but nature has a better palette than I do!

The journal is bound too tightly for it to become a chunky journal or to glue many items, but there’s room for a few things like washi tapes, or paper cut-outs.

I watercolored this bird feeder on the Stonehenge Aqua Black watercolor paper, then I cut out the birds from a heavy origami paper, and glued them in.

I think this was done on the Mohawk Superfine paper. I outlined with pencil, and used technical pen and colored pencil to color. All three mediums worked well on the paper. After a few days, the colored pencil has shown no sign of rubbing off onto the paper opposite.

Mary’s Handmade Multi-Media Journal – Overall

This journal from Mary Roff is handmade, hand-painted and filled with a variety of drawing, mixed media and watercolor papers.

The cover is Kraft-Tex lined with canvas, and it’s all bound with a pamphlet stitch The stitching is even and decorative.

Every one of Mary’s journals is handmade and unique!

About Mary’s Handmade Journals

After I received this book, I asked Mary a few questions. I was going to reword parts of her response, but decided she says it all better than I could, so I’m sharing her words.

“Most, if not all, of the bindings I do are inspired by a wonderful artist and book binder, Ali Manning of Vintage Page designs.  She is an incredible teacher and wonderful person.

The stitch on this particular book is a basic pamphlet stitch. Depending on the number of signatures in the book  there are a variety of stitches that could be used; cross-stitch, long stitch, chain stitch, bow stitch.   Keith A. Smith has published several books that illustrate dozens of varieties of bookbinding stitches.

Part of the fun of making a book is deciding on the components.  This is a small book that will easily fit in a backpack, purse or tote.  I could easily change the appearance by changing the size (larger or smaller), the cover could be made of: leather, faux leather, canvas, even a lightweight quilting fabric backed with something to give it somebody or I could use just a heavy weight paper.  The covers could have a painted design, a stamped design, hand or machine decorative sewing.  The appearance could be altered by the type of closure or the absence of a closure.

Books that are made by hand are definitely made with love.  The greatest compliment you can give the maker of a book is to open the book and start making marks and enjoy fill up those blank pages.

My books are in a local co-op and I recently received a call to tell me that one of my small books was sold to a 6 year old who told salesperson, “the book is for practicing because I’m gong to be an artist when I grow up”.

So, open up those sketchbooks and make art and play with the enthusiasm of a 6 year old.“

Where to Buy

PaintsPalettesPages Etsy Shop

Mary also sells handmade jewelry and cards based on her paintings. These can be purchased at the Mary Roff Designs Etsy Shop

Tools Used in Examples

Links of Interest

Disclaimer: I received this beautiful handmade multi-media journal from Mary Roff as a gift. She did not ask me to review it. I decided to do so because I believe others will be interested in it. I received no other consideration, though this post contains affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended2 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews
  1. Jean 10 months ago

    What a beautiful journal and great papers inside,

  2. Zoie McIntyre 10 months ago

    Thanks so much for sharing that Sandra and Mary – what an awesome journal. I absolutely love seeing how others make journals so many wonderful ideas. I love the cover – so much fun 🙂

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      Thank you, Zoie! It is truly a beautiful journal!

  3. Mary Roff 10 months ago

    Thank you for a wonderful review, Sandra! I hope you will have fun filling those pages with your beautiful art!!!

    • Mugdha 10 months ago

      Hello Ms. Roff,

      I’ve often seen your comments on Charlie’s posts but never said hello. Just wanted to say how much I loved seeing the journal you’ve made. It’s so pretty. 🙂 Thanks to the review, I got to learn how many different types of paper there are! Thanks so much!


    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      Thank you again for gifting me with this fabulous journal! I know I’ll incredible fun filling it!

  4. Mugdha 10 months ago

    Hello Ms. Sandra,

    I felt so happy to see your review again. This was a very unique review and your joy on receiving this gorgeous and thoughtful gift from Ms. Roff shines through. Am so happy for you and this beautiful friendship. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂


    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      Thank you, Mugdha! This journal is too wonderful not to share!

  5. Karen Sliwinski 10 months ago

    Such a lovely gift and beautifully handcrafted.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      Many thanks, Karen! I was so very lucky to get this!

  6. Kathy D Allegri 10 months ago

    Great journal and wonderful review! There’s a lotta love on each page!

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      Thank you, Kathy! There is certainly an amazing love in this journal!

  7. mlaiuppa 10 months ago

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Much info and many ideas.

    I have been mulling over designs for my own leather journal. I want to hand tool the cover so want to reuse it. That has been the sticking point as I want to be able to change out whatever is holding the paper, plus am not sure how much stuff I want to pack in it. Loops for brushes only? a pocket for a small palette? Do I want to allow for any clips for holding anything extra? What do do for water? Stick a pocket for a water container on the back? I keep going over it in my head and it keeps ending up more like a briefcase than an easy to carry journal. Then there is the closure. Snap, magnetic, loop, cord? Or maybe put a zipper around the entire thing so nothing can fall out. It’s not the execution that is slowing me down, it’s the design.

    I see she has a refillable design. Maybe I’ll just drop the DIY and go with something proven to work.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      That sounds like a good idea if you aren’t sure what you want.

  8. Kay Smith 10 months ago

    Thanks for the review! I went to Etsy and promptly ordered one of Mary’s books for watercolor and can’t wait to get it!

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      Thank you, Kay, for both the compliment and the order. I know you’ll love the journal you get!

  9. Varsha Koli 10 months ago

    Beautiful sketchbook!

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 10 months ago

      Thank you, Varsha! It truly is a beautiful sketchbook!

  10. Walt. F Pierluissi 10 months ago

    That’s a very nice present…. Very nice job!!!!

  11. Fanna 10 months ago

    I’m a massive fan of Mary’s handmade books! I own too many to count, but my most recent was a custom mixed media book with Fabriano drawing paper, fall colored covers, hand-stitched, with an assortment of beautifully-colored pressed fall leaves. Scrumptious! I also own one of the book’s Sandra featured, and love love love working in all of Mary’s fun and creative books!

  12. surroundedbyfarts 10 months ago

    Oh how wonderful! I love your dragon picture and your cover art!✨

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