Handmade journals are quicker to make than you might think. They're just about my favourite gift to give to friends...
My first go at something like this was at primary school, where we marbled paper for the cover. It must have stuck in my mind because 40+ years later I remember it well and utilise the techniques often.
These journals are cheap to make, I use stuff I have on hand. The only bought stuff is acid free A4 copy paper reams for journals I use as workbooks or idea books. Its pretty cheap at about $5 per 500 pages. An A5 journal of 240 pages takes 60 x A4 pages - a fat, substantial book for arty goodness for about 60 cents (plus time of course)... cheaper than a lolly and better for your teeth.