DIY Journaling Bible

Last week, I posted a picture tutorial for turning my softcover Catholic Bible into a DIY Hardcover Bible! Since there seems to be a shortage on Catholic Bibles formatted for journaling, some crafty Catholics have been transforming their Catholic Bibles into journaling Bibles by painting over the notes! That’s what I’ve been doing!

supplies for making journaling bible

I emptied two half-filled bottles of Dollarstore Acrylic Paint and then moved on to real Gesso (lucky find!). I applied paint or gesso with a sponge brush and haven’t really noticed a big difference in the surface quality for journaling. Gesso may be a little brighter white, but both dried relatively fast and offer a good surface for writing or drawing.

gesso the bible notes

I slowly worked through the pages of the Bible…I have probably only covered the notes on about 200 of the 1400 pages so there are white patches only every couple of pages as you’re flipping through. I tried to apply a uniform coat without putting it on too thick. It’s not completely opaque in parts…the text faintly comes through, but it’s just fine for the writing and drawing I’ll be doing.

I would apply the paint or gesso, wait a minute or two until it was mostly dry, insert a piece of scrap paper to protect the facing page and then start on the next patch a couple pages away.

don't use ink pad

I learned the hard way that even though a white ink pad like this looks like a good idea, it’s not. At least for covering notes in a Bible. I thought that I could stamp the ink pad right onto the columns of notes I wanted to cover. It covered ok and the application was fast, but it took days to dry! Even days later the pigment would wipe off on my fingers.

label paper inserts

I remedied the situation by using white label paper, cut to the width of the text columns. Just peel off the backing and stick in place! I didn’t want to do this all the way through because it would add bulk to the Bible pages, but it worked perfectly to cover up the Ink Pad fiasco.

colored charcoal pencils

I’m still figuring out what supplies I’d like to use on the paint or gesso covered patches.  I have discovered that I can quickly wreck an Ultra Fine Sharpie marker doing outlines on the painted surfaces. I’ve now been using a black ballpoint pen for my blackline. It seems hearty enough to survive the texture of the surfaces. Colored pencils works well…but I kind of like these colored charcoal pencils I’ve had for forever. They do rub off a bit on the facing page, but they can add subtle color even over the text without making the text illegible. The colors are nice and rich…and work nicely over the notes, even when I haven’t painted over them first.

paint chips for bible journaling

I borrowed a couple paint chips. They’re a little glossy and not the easiest to write on, but I plan to use them as bookmarks and record my most favorite Scripture to eventually memorize.  They would also make cool Bible tabs…especially if I hadn’t discovered these awesome Bible tags available as a printable over at Catholic Icing. Here’s my post about the World’s Cutest Bible Tabs…and how I used them my way.


  1. I love the paint chip bookmarks. I totally need to do this!! Great idea!

    Painting over all the pages at once? GENIUS!!

    Thanks for the kick start!

  2. Genius.
    This is a spectacular idea.
    And I love the paint swatches.
    Maybe you could use a clear acrylic paint over them and they won’t be so glossy?

  3. It didn’t occur to me to just go through the whole bible and paint all the notes first! What a great idea. Then you’re literally creating a journaling bible that’s ready to use! I don’t know why I was thinking to just cover the pages as I went.

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