Dr. Who- Dr. River Song’s Journal

I am always on the look out for great gifts to give to my hubby.  So when he came home with the print out slipcover for the Dr. River Song’s journal from BBC for Dr. Who fans, I knew I had discovered a lead to a great present.  Being an avid Dr. Who fan, I knew he would enjoy something more than a “slip covered” journal.

First, I looked everywhere for one you could just buy.  Etsy.com has a couple options but nothing in the price range I knew I could manage.  Then came the idea to build my own version for him. (Of course, my ulterior motive was so that I could build myself one too!)  So here is the tutorial to build a replica of B.B.C.’s Dr. Who- Dr. River Song’s journal.

1. Gathering the supplies would be the first step: cutting board, matte board, xacto knife or box cutters, pencil, graph paper (optional), and a ruler.

My supplies for building the Dr. Who Journal

2. Measure the size of your journal you will be building.  I bought this dark blue journal at Hobby Lobby for $5.99.  Plus it has a ribbon marker, a pocket inside, and the stretchy band to keep it closed.  All options unnecessary but cool nonetheless.

3. Using your measurements of the journal and the graph paper, sketch out a rough draft of what the finished product will look like.  It will always be easier to erase here than to try to “fix” a bad cut on matte board. I even labeled each piece with a letter of the alphabet to keep them organized after I cut the pieces out.  Here is my graph paper version (click to enlarge):

My outline on graph paper–rough draft so to speak.

Like I said, this was really more like a rough draft, because I made changes on my actual cut pieces.  I had to make the side and top/bottom pieces smaller than 1cm so that there was more space around pieces creating the perfect gap.

4. Cut the matte board into the right size pieces.  I would assume you could cut the pieces exactly as shown above on the graph paper.  Since I had the measurements down, I did cut them out of order so I could use more “prime” matte board (some of the matte board was damaged and I had to work around some wet spots).

Cutting the matte board. Felt like I get a blister with all the cuts I made!

I was very precise with my cuts because I am a horrible little bit of a perfectionist and I didn’t want my pieces all crooked or slanted.  I would actually measure how wide I wanted the piece the entire length and draw little dots using my ruler and pencil.  Then I would line up my ruler on as many dots as possible and draw my line.  The pieces were usually pretty straight.  Here is the beginning cuts to form the bare bones of the journal.

Bare bones of the journal’s structure

 5. To cut the “windows” or squares out of the “doors” of the journal, I took the total length of the piece and marked the fourths.  That at least told me the rough area the squares should be and then I measured all around that area–so each square was the same width and height.

Cutting the squares out of the doors

Cutting the squares out of the doors

6. I took about .2 cm off all around the squares to give me that gap in between the original cut and the actual square.  I put arrows to know what side is up so so the squares would still match up the boxes they were cut out of.

Trimming off the squares.

7. Now repeat steps 1-6 again to have the back side.

Picture of the "double doors" for the journal.

8.  To make the binding I measured the height and width of the binding and cut a piece that long.  Then I measured where I wanted the breaks to be and since the spaces in between the pieces added length I had to cut the top and bottom pieces shorter to make them fit the length.

Glued pieces down on the journal and a good shot of the binding cuts.

9. Glue all the pieces down.  I used Allene’s Original  Tacky glue.  Just make sure to hold the matte board piece in place until it adheres to the journal. It has a tendency to move around a bit.

10. PAINT!  My favorite part!

a. I started with an all over color of Americana paints: mostly Turquoise Blue, just a little bit of True Blue, and a little bit of Ultramarine BlueUsed this color combo the most for the all over color on the journal

Then I used Americana Prussian Blue and watered it down.  I used this color for all the crevices.  Here is a picture of the journal with the above color and just a line of the watered down Prussian Blue.

First layer of paint... with one little crevice painted. LOL!

(As you can see I wrapped the stretchy cord in saran wrap and taped it to protect it from the paint).  Then I watered down the below color combination and used it as a wash all over. I put the watered paint down with a paint brush and then wiped it off with a clean paper towel.

Darker Blue for accents… this picture was taken before I added water to create more of a wash effect to the journal.

Then, I kept adding different colors to give more of a wash color… the messier the better!  Have fun with the colors.

Front and back picture of the painted journal in progress.

Here’s the finished product:

Finished journal–minus the matte modge podge I am going to add to give it a little durability. Enjoy building your own Dr. Who Tardis journal or Dr. River Song’s Journal


  1. HoneyEmber Says:

    This is wonderful! I’ve loved making one of my own, and have just reached the painting stage, however, I was wondering how you finished it on the inside…? As in, where the covers go to the first page.

  2. Rachel Says:

    I built the outside right onto the journal, so I was just careful when I painted the outside not to get much paint on the inside. So the inside of the journal is the actual journal inside. That’s a great question! I should post pictures of the inside. Have fun painting your journal!

  3. Peter Says:

    This is the best present ever!!!

  4. Doctor Says:

    Now I know what to give River when she wakes up!
    Thank you so much! You have no IDEA how hard it is
    to find a journal that would be perfect for River!

  5. Jacquie Says:

    Fantastic! Question though, where did you buy matte board? I want to try making a mini version of this, something that can fit in a suit jacket. I’m thinking that I can write my vows in the front, and my fiance can write his in the back, and that way we can read them to each other, and have an awesome whovian reference without confusing the family!

  6. Rachel Says:

    You should be able to find matte board at most crafting stores, like Hobby Lobby, or Michael’s. I’ve even seen it at Wal-Mart.

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