Art journal trends come and go, but one trend I was sad to see disappear was Smash Books. I remember them being very popular for a time in the art journal world, and it was always fun to see how people designed their page spreads.
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What is a Smash Book?
“Smash Books” (or “SMASH Books”) is a specific brand name, and the Smash Books line was produced through K&Company starting in the year 2011.
Here’s a video from one of the early demos at the Craft and Hobby Association conference in 2011:
A Smash Book was a spiral-bound blank notebook with pre-designed mixed media-style pages, usually centered around a theme like “baby” or “sports.” Besides the notebooks, you could get accessories like ephemera packs, special pens and markers, clips and tabs, washi tape, and so on.
There were several sizes of Smash Books, from the standard Book (7.75″x10.25″) to the Folio (**) and the smaller Mini (**). Each notebook came with a combo pen/gluestick and a plastic protective cover.
Smash Books quickly became popular because they were an easy way for scrapbookers and art journal newbies to get an introduction to the VERY popular junk journaling style. The idea was to combine typical scrapbooking elements, like photos and fun background paper, with “junk journal” elements such as receipts, concert tickets, bits of scrap paper, and so on.
If you’ve never made a junk journal before and were too nervous to start, buying a pre-made notebook and paper pack was a great way to start off. I remember a lot of scrapbookers in particular experimenting with the Smash Books style of more free-form memory keeping.
Is a Smash Book a Gluebook?
There’s a lot of overlap between these two, as they’re both creative journals focused on gluing (or smashing) pieces of paper gathered from daily life. The paper in Smash Books was also pretty thin, so you couldn’t do a lot of mixed media painting and inking. Gluing (or taping) ephemera into a Smash Book was the best way to use it.
However, Smash Books were slightly more on the scrapbook side of things, so they tended to be more orderly and structured. They had themed pages, inserts like pockets and tabs, and artists were encouraged to also write journal entries on the pages.
Gluebooks, on the other hand, don’t have pre-designed background pages, and they don’t have to be in specific kinds of notebooks. Usually, you don’t write journal entries in a gluebook. They tend to be more collage-focused and less structured than a Smash Book.
Where did Smash Books go?
The product line started fading out in the early 2020s, and was discontinued entirely in 2022. 🙁 Sometimes you’ll find some leftover products in clearance sections in stores, but the line as a whole is now finished.
Where to find Smash Books now?
Some people still really like Smash Books and would like to keep using them. Totally understandable!
Unfortunately, because the product line is discontinued, the only way to find notebooks and Smash Book accessories is to look on the secondhand market.
That means searching places like Etsy, eBay, Poshmark, and Facebook Marketplace. I’ve also been able to find some at thrift stores and used bookstores!
Alternatives to Smash Books
While there isn’t a product line exactly like Smash Books used to be, there’s some alternatives out there that might work for similar purposes.
And you can always make your own Smash Book if you wanted! The nice thing about the original Smash Books was their pre-designed background pages.
SIIXU on Amazon has some notebooks with watercolor pattern papers that could do well as starters for a smash book style page spread. Or there’s this vintage themed journal by SaFeHom which comes with a pack of ephemera as well.
Smash Book resources
More links and info for Smash Book enthusiasts:
- Stash and Smash: Art Journal Ideas (Design Originals) Over 120 Tips, Suggestions, Samples, & Instructions for Designing Your Own “Smash It In” Art Journals with Papers, Mementos, & Embellishments by Cindy Shepard (Book)
- The archived Smash Stories Blog, which went offline some time in 2015 or 2016. Great examples of Smash Book page spreads and ideas for using your smash book in interesting ways.
- SMASH Book & Art Journaling Addicts Facebook group (still somewhat active)