Tag: DIY

Ask The Desk: Karas Kustoms RETRAKT/Cross Selectip Hack

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My favorite pen is the superb Cross Selectip rollerball. Sadly, all but two of the Cross pens that take this refill (and I’ve got a BUNCH) require you to uncap it to use it. Only the diminutive Cross Click, which is too small for my hand, and the Cross Edge, which I find impossible to open with one hand, operates without a cap. I’m looking for a pocket pen I can operate with one hand – either push-button or twist – that takes the Cross Selectip rollerball refill. Does anyone else make one? Thanks, Gary

The new Ti Arto Kickstater project from Big Idea Design claims to accommodate 200+ refills would be perfect but it, too, is a capped pen. So, I turn to the Karas Kustoms RETRAKT and a little refill hacking to solve your problem. The RETRAKT is available in aluminum and brass and is a wider barrel pen body, comparable in width to a Sharpie permanent marker so should feel quite substantial in the hand. I use and aluminum barrel version which is weighty but can be opened and closed with one hand. My husband has a heavier model with a brass grip section if you want something even more substantial. Prices for the RETRAKT start at $55.

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When you purchase a Cross Selectip rollerball refill, it comes with a little plastic cap. Keep this! It is the key to my little hack. Though I suspect a rubber band or string could be used as an alternative. I cut the wide part off and used about 1/8″ or 3mm of the plastic sheath as a spacer between the base of the refill and spring to provide a bit more length to the refill barrel for the spring to travel along. I also needed to shave a little bit of the nubs off the blue cap in order to fit into the barrel of the RETRAKT. You might find a little more plastic is better (or a little less) but there is more than enough left from the cap to experiment a bit.

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This last photo shows the Cross Selectip rollerball refill fully extended, with my little plastic mod and the spring inside. Voila! As Tom at Goldspot Pens likes to tease, I’ll hack any pen and any refill.

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Jinhao X750 + Zebra G Nib Hack + KWZ Green Gold 2 Ink

Jinhao X750

I found a fabulous flexible nib hack over on Parka blogs and nothing says “let’s mess with a cheap pen” like a rainy day. Throw in a cool ink sample from Vanness Pen Shop and an urge to be a little tweaker and off I go.

This hack will work with either a Zebra G (Titanium pack of 10 for $33.50 from JetPens) or Nikko G nib (3 for $4 from JetPens), whichever you have available to you. Warning: you may or may not damage your pen, so proceed with caution. It is a fun hack and most Jinhao X750 pens can be purchased for $10 or less so its not a huge investment, no matter what happens. I purchased mine from Goulet Pens, the Shimmering Sands model for $9.90.

I followed the instructions in the Parka Blogs video as well as doing a little feed modification à la Leigh Reyes’s tutorial for modifying the Ranga to try to get the nib to lay down a little bit more flush with the feed by using an X-Acto to shave a bit off the feed.

So, for a grand total of $13.50 I had a wonky, but functional, flexible nib fountain pen. Its a little bit finicky and could probably use a little bit more work to make it consistent but it works. I occasionally have to dip it in water to keep it working but it writes much longer than a regular dip pen. I might just need to add more fins in the feed and since the feed is plastic it might not be as ink receptive as the Ranga’s ebonite feed.

Why did I do this hack when I had a perfectly lovely Ranga? I already owned a box of Zebra G nibs and Jinhao X750 and I was bored. The only reason I would recommend this hack over the Ranga is that it is considerably less expensive and it is considerably easier to acquire the Jinhao X750 in the US than a Ranga at this time. But if you have the means, the time or the patience to get a Ranga or a Desiderata instead, the overall experience is better. But for a quick-and-dirty option, this hack is definitely an option.

Jinhao X750

Now, let’s talk about the lovely KWZ Green Gold #2 ink. I picked this up while I was working the Vanness table at the Chicago Pen Show. Lisa said I would love it and she was totally right. Its a lovely green, golden color as decribed in the name. Pantina gold would be another way to describe it. It shades and colors nicely, ranging from a light golden wheat to a dark brown depending on the density of the color.

Jinhao X750

This is not a water resistant ink so its a good candidate for playing around since it will clean out of the pen and feed easily.

KWZ Green Gold 2 ink comparison

KWZ Green Gold 2 is definitely more yellow thank Bung Box 88 and Diamine Safari but its a deeper yellow gold than Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. A full of KWZ Green Gold 2 60ml bottle is $12 and a 4ml sample is $1.50. Pricewise, its much closer to the Safari than Bung Box or Pilot Iroshizuku.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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Ask The Desk: 4mm Grid Paper Notebooks

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Romain asks:

I am desperately looking for a large notebook (A5-A4) with 4mm squared paper; do you have any advice for me?

This took some hunting and I could only find one printed option that featured the coveted 4mm grid paper It’s the Miquelrius leather-look journals. They are available in 100-, 200-, and 300-sheet books with black, blue or red covers for $9.99 to $14.99. The paper quality is decent. I used a Miquelrius book for ink testing for some time early in my blog career before switching to Rhodia paper which is a bit more hardy.

Miquelrius books

There are more images of the whole Miquelrius Grid journal I used available on Flickr.

Another option for grid paper would be to print your own paper. Paper Snake offers printable graph in a variety of quadrille and graph paper sizes in metric and imperial sizes including 4mm.

Paper Snake site

Review: Ranga Modified Fountain Pen

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

The Ranga Acrylic Fountain Pen is a very different kind of pen for me to review and to describe so I apologize in advance if this is a little strange. First of all, this pen came to me pre-modified by the fabulous Leigh Reyes. She has provided detailed instructions on her web site along with a video on how to make this modification for yourself, I was just lucky enough to get a hands-on demonstration and prepared pen.

So, to give you more details, the Ranga acrylic fountain pens come with a standard steel fountain pen nib with an ebonite feed that is friction fit and an eyedropper filling mechanism. The reason this is such a good candidate for modification for a flex dip nib is because of the ebonite feed which will allow better flow and can be manipulated to increase flow.

If you can’t tell yet, this is not a beginner’s fountain pen or project. If you averse to having inky fingers for get annoyed if your pen chokes up on you this is NOT a pen for you. However, if you are tired of dip pen dipping, then this can be your new best friend. Because, with some patience and tweaking, the Ranga can hum along beautifully.

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

I included the above image to show that there was a lot of trials on scratch paper and nib cleaning. I’m serious when I say this is a tweaker’s pen. But look how cool this is! If you do a lot a lettering with flex dip nib, anything that makes writing a few more lines without dipping is a bonus so you know what I’m so excited about.

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

The pen is about 5.5″ long capped. The cap will post making the pen almost 7″ from the tip of the flex nib to the end of the cap. Filled with ink it is pretty light, only 20 gms but the Ranga Acrylic is a little wider at the grip section in the hand than a lot of nib holders which tend to be very narrow which is really nice.

Fountain Pen Weights

Ranga Acrylics are available on Amazon with free shipping which seems to be the best option if you live in the US. If you live in the Phillipines, Pengrafik stocks the Ranga Acrylics. Peyton Street Pens in the US stocks some Ranga pens fitted with vintage nibs that may offer some flex as an alternative to using dip nibs.

I purchased a Desiderata Daedalus pen in Chicago that I will review in the next week or so. It works on a similar principle in that it holds a Zebra G nib but is comes prepared to accept the Zebra G nib without the tinkering required to make the Ranga work with a flex nib but it still requires some preparation.

Finally, here’s a little Instagram video I did (handheld!) and managed to misspell Ranga in the process but you can see the flex in action. I’ve since purchased a tripod so hopefully my videos will improve.

Digital Printables for Planners

Ever since I bought a laser printer, I’ve been using it to print various printables for my planner. Previously, it was so expensive to purchase ink for my inkjet printer and it so frequently clogged that I had basically stopped using it. My little laser printer is SO MUCH more reliable and cost effective. Of course, I can only print in black and grey but it give me an excuse to indulge in the occasional sticker, washi tape or rubber stamp.

I’m always on the hunt for good planner, journal, project management sheets. I like seeing good clean designs that can be left simple and clean — or decorated, if you are so inclined.

Here’s a few of my recent favorites:

marcy penner midori planner inserts

Marcy Penner Midori Printables Last year, I bought her personal-sized planner set and it was really well done. Her new planner set for 2016 for Midori-sized books is even better. The design features week-on-one-page with either blank or gird paper on the right. Also included is month-on-two-pages calendar. Set includes October 2015 through December 2016 so if you’re itching to get organized, you could start today. $10 for digital download.

Clock is Ticking Notepaper

Clock is Ticking Printable Notepaper Is this not the cutest illustration? This FREE downloadable PDF is compliments of the talented Mayi Carles of Oh My Handmade Goodness. Once printed and trimmed, you can make them into your own tear-off pad with this tutorial from Playful Learning.

Elise Joy Quote cards

Elise Blaha Cripe, aka Elise Joy, made lovely, inspirational quote cards that you can add to your planner dashboard or dividers. The designs are clean and simple and there’s bound to be one or two quotes that speak to you. Even if you’re not inclined to decorate, pinning one to your wall near your desk might be all you need to inspire you to forge ahead on your goals and projects. Free download.

Do you use downloadable printables? Which designers or styles are your favorite?

Desk Set: DIY Pipe Desk

Getting Creative with Online Classes

I recently mentioned my desire to take some art classes and spend more time being creative this summer. In my hunt for the right classes for me, I found a lot of great online resources for learning new creative skills (and even some technical skills!). I thought I’d share some of the resources in case you, too, are looking to try your hand at painting, drawing, crafts or developing some other skills.

There are two big categories for online classes: the subscription-style sites that house diverse topics, instructors and courses and individuals who teach classes and workshops in a few select areas.

The Big Sites:

Skliishare screenshot

Skillshare: Skillshare is the first online learning site I tried. I started with Mary Kate McDevitt’s Hand Lettering class and I absolutely loved it. After that, I was sold. I bought a whole year subscription and added over 50 classes to my “to try” list. They offer a lot of creative classes and there’s a strong focus on digital skills or taking projects to a digital finish. There’s a logo design class with Aaron Draplin as well as classes on animation, business development and marketing, photography and a whole lot more. I have started recommending Skillshare to all young designers and creative folks. There’s a lot of practical information from a lot of highly respected talent in the industries they represent. Subscriptions are $10/month but there are discounted rates for purchasing a year membership. Skillshare also has mobile apps for iPhone and Android to easily access content.

Lynda.com: Lynda is probably the first online learning site for creative skills. Lynda got started publishing how-to books for Photoshop, HTML and CSS back in the 90s. Then went digital with video tutorials and set the bar. Classes range from step-by-step tutorials for using applications (from Adobe apps to Word to Evernote, QuickBooks and even LogicPro. The list goes on!) to steps to improving your business, marketing, programming and much much more. Subscription start at $24.99/month but discounts are available for a yearly subscription as well as bulk pricing for businesses and Pro account options.

Creativebug screenshot

CreativeBug: CreativeBug focuses more on art and craft skills but if you’ve been thinking about learning how to knit, crochet, sew, start watercolor painting or make jewelry, this might be the site for you. The classes are well-filmed and easy to follow. I started with Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Explorations course and then started adding sewing and other art classes to my queue. There are a few free lessons available to try before you subscribe but the cost per month is just $5 so its not a big leap to just subscribe for a month and see if you like it. CreativeBug also has an iPhone/iPad app and are currently working on a Android app.

Craftsy screenshot

Craftsy: Craftsy organizes its classes on a per-class basis. If you want to take the Pen & Ink Essentials class, you just purchase that class for $19.99 (current sale price) and you can access that class whenever, forever. The class offering range from sewing, baking, knitting and fiber arts, fine arts and even woodworking.

Free Online Art Classes: I found out about Free Online Art Classes from a NYTimes article. Its not the prettiest or most up-to-date looking web site but Lois DeWitt has put her 50 years of teaching experience behind the site and the classes are free. Topics range from traditional art materials lessons like Drawing with Colored Pencils to Fabric Printing and Jewelry Making. This would be a good place to start and get an idea about what creative pursuit might best suit you.

Individual Artists’ Sites:

Jane Davenport: I am currently taking Jane Davenport’s Supplies Me class which is the starter class for her mixed media art journaling classes. Her quirky style was very much to my taste so it seemed like a good fit. She totally enables my urge to buy all the art supplies which is a good and bad thing. I’m enjoying learning some new techniques and how to actually use a lot of the pens, pencils and art supplies I’ve collected in ways I had not considered. There are several more classes available to help build confidence in drawing and handling art materials. Classes start at $55 AUS and go up to the Entire Kaboodle for $775 AUS.

Kelly Rae Roberts: Kelly Rae Roberts offers a Mixed Media Mantras Workshop that focuses on creating meaningful visual messages. The course walks you through creating your own mantra and then guides you through the process of turning your mantra into a mixed media collage piece. The class is divided into three parts and costs $247. Access to the video and virtual classroom is available for six months from purchase date.

Christy Tomlinson: Christy Tomlinson, AKA Scarlet Lime, offers a variety of online multimedia classes. For beginners, she recommends the Behind The Art creative workshop that walks through her favorite materials and process from building multimedia backgrounds to laying in details using an array of materials to create art journals and multimedia pieces. The course is divided into five weeks and costs $64.95. Christy also offers a Creative Planner online course if your urge to be creative intertwines with your love of planners and staying organized. The Crative Planner course contains 25 videos and costs $34.95. There are several other classes to choose from as well. To get a feel for her classes, you can check out Christy’s YouTube channel as well.

Alisa Burke: Alisa Burke offers an assortment of mini classes as well as larger workshops for drawing and journaling. Cost per class is between $15 and $50 and you’ll have unlimited access to videos and content. You can get a feel for her videos on her YouTube channel or just purchase one of her online classes and jump in with both feet.

Have you ever tried an online class or are you considering trying one now?

Starting a Sketchbook or Visual Journal

With many stacks of notebooks, sketchbooks and blank books I’ve acquired, and the fact that my day job is about making pictures, I thought it was time to get back into the regular habit of keeping a sketchbook or visual journal of some sort. I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only person who might need a little inspiration and creative idea to get me started so I thought I’d share some of the prompts, ideas and tips I found.

(via Wit & Whistle)

First, I found this great 15-day set of prompts from Wit & Whsitle. Usually I find prompt lists too long and usually full of things I think are silly or pointless but this set was only 15 days worth and fairly open to interpretation.

(illustration by Terry Runyan)

Then I remembered the awesomely inspiring site, Illustration Friday. Every Friday, they offer a prompt that is both simple and open to interpretation. Folks will upload their art to the site if you want to see what other people do. You are not required to submit your sketch or drawing but its a great source of inspiration and a one-drawing-a-week prompt is a low bar to hurdle. This week’s prompt is “pet” and was submitted by my friend and co-worker Terry Runyan. She illustrates both digitally and on paper so don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to just the pile of sketchbooks and notebooks you’ve accumulated. Illustration Friday also has a blog and podcast for even more inspiration.

(Sketchbook page by Lisa Congdon)

I love Lisa Congdon‘s art and she freely shares pages of her sketchbook as well as a video class on Creativebug that walks you through how she creates several sketchbook drawings. She uses layering and simple drawings to create designs that are easy to try yourself and she even shows how she creates variations on each technique to give you even more ideas.

(via Danny Gregory)

Danny Gregory‘s Everyday Matters Manifesto for drawing your life was a huge inspiration for me. Consider purchasing one of his books. I particularly like The Creative License. He’s even started a Sketchbook Skool video class if you want a multimedia experience.

More sources for ideas and inspiration:

you need to jump in and get over the intimidation part — by messing up a few pages, ripping them out if need be. Waste all the pages you want by drawing a tic tac toe schematic or something, painting them black, just doodle.  — Gary Panter
What inspires you to be more creative?

Ask The Desk: Swapping TWSBI Nibs & How Flexible is the Esterbrook 9128

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Have I ever told you’all how much I love getting questions about pens, paper and the like? This week, I have two awesome questions.

Beth, the reference librarian asked:

I have a new TWSBI 580 with a custom ground nib (pen was purchased with that nib) and at the same time I purchased a second nib (the whole nib unit) also custom ground – I really like both nibs. One nib is obviously in the TWSBI, which is a nice pen, but I would love to put what I call the “back-up” nib in a different pen, preferably one under $100. that uses a cartridge/converter system. I read about nib-swapping all the time but am not sure just which nibs are compatible with which pens. I don’t think the 580 nib unit will fit the TWSBI mini, but if it did I would go with that. (even though the same filling system.) I am nervous about pulling the nib out of the screw-on unit until I know what I am doing. Am I making sense here? Any advice would be most appreciated!

Disassembling a TWSBI nib

With a little elbow grease I was able to pull the nib out of my TWSBI Mini. The nib is a size 5 (according to the smarter-than-me folks over in the Pen Addict Slack Channel). The only cheap pen I could find that had a size 5 nib was a Pilot Metropolitan. Pilot nibs have a little flange and a groove nicked out to get them to grip the feed that the TWSBI nib does not have. But… the nib does fit into the feed of a Pilot Metropolitan albeit very loosely. I assume this method would also work in other Pilot pens like the Prera or Plumix. So it is possible to use the TWSBI nib in other pens with a little luck but its not the best fit. If I find any other pens that take size 5 nibs with a cartridge/converter system.

As for switching the nibs between a Mini and a 580, that should just require untwisting the nib unit and sliding the grip section off to expose the nib/feed unit. Then they could easily be swapped between the Mini and the 580.

TWSBI nib in a Pilot Metropolitan

The second question actually appeared in the Pen Addict Slack Channel.I’m sorry I don’t remember who asked but here’s my results!

A member of the group asked if the Esterbrook 9128 fine flex nib was more or less flexible than the Noodler’s Ahab/Creaper.

Noodlers vs Esterbrook 9128

The Esterbrook 9128 nib is not super flexible but, for a steel nib, it gets some decent variety and it does not railroad like the Noodler’s nibs do. The 9128 is very smooth and easy to get going while the Noodler’s flex nibs require some adjusting in the feed to get the flow going. So, its a bit of the apples-to-oranges comparison since a Noodler’s flex pen is readily available for about $20 and a vintage Esterbrook with a 9128 flex nib is considerably more expensive ($75 and up). If you’re looking for a flexible nib, a vintage fountain pen with a 14K nib will probably be much more flexible or you might want to consider a Desiderata nib holder.

 

Put Those Refills to Good Use

I like to liberate refills from the assorted plastic pens I have accumulated over the years. These are all those gel pens I’ve purchased over the years from Jet Pens. While I love the flow of the refills, the lackluster plastic barrels leave me wanting.

I started opening each plastic pen and discovering that they are almost always a standard sized refill like a Pilot G2-sized or Hi-Tec C-sized. There are also far more colors and point sizes available in the full pens than in most refill-only options. Red, blue and black are fine for many folks but I want to be able to choose orange, evergreen, turquoise or purple, if the mood strikes.

By hacking the refills out of plastic pens, I created  an almost unlimited supply of potential refills for my favorite pen bodies. And by using these fine gel refills, I have catapulted certain pens into EDC pens because now they are not only beautiful and comfortable but can contain the exact right refill for me.

Render K pen hack

This habit started with Karas Kustoms and the Render K and RETRAKT pens. The lengthy list of possible refills led me to create the Refill Guide and really start experimenting with trying different refills with different pens.

Render K pen hack

I even save the springs in a plastic retractable to help stabilize a refill in a machined pen. If the refill fits but is too long, trim it down with a pair of sharp scissors. Empty refills can be trimmed to add length to a too-short refill to fit into a different pen as well. With each plastic pen costing less than a couple bucks, its not a tragedy if you make a mistake.

Happy hacking!

DIY Envelopes & Liners

(photo by the Hallmark Photo Studio)
(photo by the Hallmark Photo Studio)

Today, the Hallmark.com featured a tutorial and free printables designed by me! Visit the site to find out how to make an envelope liner for your Mother’s Day card or even make your own envelope using found papers like gift bags and wrapping paper.

(via Hallmark.com)

Fisher Space Pen Hack

Sometimes the aesthetic of a specific pen is not mirrored with the refill it contains. Case in point, the Fisher Space Pen. I love the simple good looks of the bullet pen but I have no need for a thick ballpoint that can write at zero Gs. I like fine, fine, fine gel pen refills. So, I hacked it.

Fisher Space Pen Hack

With a little bit of washi tape around the barrel in key points and a trim to the end of the refill, a standard Uni Style Fit Gel Cartridge fits into the Fisher Space Pen like a champ.

I suspect with some finagling, other refills of the Pilot G2 variety might also work. More tests and experiments to follow.

Fisher Space Pen Hack


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Align Stapler

Align Stapler

Have you ever wished you could make your own booklet or wish the stapler arm was just a little bit longer? The Align Stapler might be just what you need. The stapler and base are held together with a magnet and can be pulled apart to give you a longer reach when needed. You can staple anywhere with the Align.

And since its magnetic, the stapler would stick to your fridge!

Align Stapler

This would be a good option for anyone wanting to create their own inserts for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook for sure. While it would not be as heavy duty as a long arm saddle stitcher (that’s the technical term!), for a mere $7, this would be a good option for the casual booklet-maker.

(via Quirky)

Upcycled Soda Box Pencil Boxes

(via Creative Itch Boutique)
(via Creative Itch Boutique)

If you’re like me, sometimes you like to send pencils to pals. This tutorial and template to make a pencil box out of an old soda can box (or probably any large paperboard box like cereal, beer case, etc) will help keep those pencils safe in transit and look fab when they arrive.

Slight modifications to the PDF template could be made to accommodate pens, markers or other writing tools. Might even work as a storage box for double pointed knitting needles. So many options!

(via Creative Itch Boutique)

Hacking a Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Like Field Notes, Hobonichi Techno and Filofax, there’s a rabid and growing following for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. At its essence, the Midori Traveler’s Notebook (MTN) is a simple leather cover with elastics to hold small bound notebooks and accessories into it. As more people use them, the more they’ve added to them — from simple DIY inserts for all sorts of tasks, list, planning and goals to posh handcrafted leather accessories. Here are a few of my favorites ways to customize and hack a Midori Traveler’s Notebook to best suit your needs and preferences.

Baum Kitchen MTN leather zipper pouch

Baum Kitchen leather zipper case/card holder [Essential 2.0] $72
This is a US made, natural leather rubbed with cedar oil insert. The front section provides an assortment of slits for cards and large flap pocket for paper ephemera. The back pocket is a zipper pouch. Adding this insert can easily turn your MTN into a wallet and be your all-in-one life keeper. The [Essential 1.0] includes just two credit card pockets and a larger slot for miscellaneous paper for $65.

DIY kraft card divide tabs for Passport sized MTN

Patrick Ng of Scription created custom kraft card tabs that he attached various envelopes to each kraft tab and filled with various items like postage stamps and notes. While he did not provide a specific tutorial, I think it would be easy to reverse engineer what he did using existing file folders trimmed to size and taped together or cutting tabs from a plain piece of board. I would probably use bookbinders tape to hold the pieces together but clear, plastic packing tape might work just as well.

pen & ink sampler pages for MTN

My Life All in One Place has created several printable inserts including 2015 calendar pages, pen and ink sample test pages, Seyes french-ruled paper,  and even knitting grid paper.

Seyes French Ruled Midori Traveler's Notebook printable pages

If you think making your own inserts might be fun to do, check out the companion video about how to trim and assemble your custom printables to fit into a Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

MTN 2015 calendar printable inserts

Check out my previous post with other hacks and add-ons for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

DIY Planner for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook

A full how-to tutorial for making the notebook is available on the Hello Forever blog.
A full how-to tutorial for making the notebook is available on the Hello Forever blog.

In my hunt this week for planners that start the week on Sunday, I discovered Marcy Penner’s Hello Forever site. She created a lovely PDF document to make your own planner calendar for 2015 for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook which is available for sale in her shop.

The PDF is $10 and includes the full calendar year in week-at-a-glance pages that can be bound into two booklets to fit a regular-sized Midori Traveler’s Notebook (approx. 5×8.5″).

Her blog includes step-by-step instructions for printing, folding and binding your booklets as well.

If you want to have rounded corners on the finished notebook like the sample, small handheld corner rounders can be purchased on Amazon for under $10 or can be found at your local big box craft supply store.

TRAVELERS-NOTEBOOK-WEEKLY-CALENDAR-THUMBNAIL-480x480

Eraser Gift Packaging

Eraser package

Using wrapping paper and a couple card stock wedges to create the beveled edge, Oh Happy Day created a back-to-school package in the classic shape of a Pink Pearl eraser to fill with goodies. I think this is the perfect gift packaging for any gift for your favorite pen-and-paper geek.

eraser.box_.doneduo.600 eraser.box_.done2_.600

 

Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook

H. C. Marks (@HCMarks) on Twitter asked “do you know of any stencils with which to draw ruled lines in blank notebooks?”

may14 1

I have something so much better, at least in my humble opinion. I use a sheet of lined paper that I tuck under my blank page to create perfectly straight lines that are there. But not. Using a guide sheet does not require any prep time. Just slide the sheet behind your current page and start writing.

may14 2

And his request could not have been more timely as I’ve been planning to make up a few different line widths to share with readers so that you too can try this. The sheets have pretty thick dark lines that can be seen through most standard writing paper. I’ve tested these sheets in my Rhodia Uni Blank for several weeks.

Guide Sheet, 6mm
With Guide Sheet under Rhodia Paper, 6mm rules
Writing after guide sheet
With Guide Sheet removed.

I have created lined paper guides in 6mm, 7mm, 8mm and 10mm spacing. Each .pdf file includes a full 8.5×11 US Letter sized guide and a smaller 5×7″ guide that you can trim to fit in the average A5-sized notebook. Print out your favorite line width spacing on a laser or ink jet printer. One copy of the guide sheet can be kept in each of your favorite notebooks and should last for a long time. The guide sheet often doubles as a blotter sheet, pen primer or to protect the next sheet from pesky bleed through.

guide sheets screen shot

US Letter Size (8.5″x11″):

A4 Size (210 x 297mm or 8.3″ x 11.7″) ADDED Feb. 3, 2015:

A5 Sizes (148 x 210mm or 5.83×8.27″):

Field Notes Sized (3.25″x5.5″) UPDATED Feb. 3, 2015:

These new sizes have been trimmed down width-wise so there’s no overhang in your pocket notebooks. I’ve also added 3-up layout on a US letter sized sheet.

Tips for printing guide sheets:

When printing, be sure that you choose to print at 100%, do not choose the “fit to paper” option. I ran the lines to the end of the template to maximize guides. Let your printer trim them where it must. For the smaller sizes, just trim it out. The Field Notes sized sheets can be printed 4-up on a sheet but be sure to set your printer to 100% (actual size) and then tile. If your favorite notebook is smaller, just trim it as needed.

Using a guide sheet with a blank notebook gives a lot more flexibility. You can sketch and free form on some pages and then use the guide sheets when you want to write. Guide sheets are great with letter-writing pads too.

If there’s interest, I can make up other sizes as well. Just let me know in the comments what you prefer.

Other Options:

Journal guide: the middle way (via Leigh Reyes, My Life As A Verb)
Journal guide: the middle way (via Leigh Reyes, My Life As A Verb)

Leigh Reyes of My Life As A Verb has created her own A5-sized Journal Guide templates which feature some various custom page layouts . She offers four different formats to download and hopes to make plastic versions in the future.

Dotted/Lined Templates from Ink Journal
Dotted/Lined Templates from Ink Journal

Ink Journal offers some additional downloadable guide sheets to fit Field Notes-sized and standard Midori Traveler’s Notebooks. They offer bullet journal templates, lined, dot grid and script practice sheets as well as their ink collecting template. These work great with their Tomoe River paper journals.

UPDATES:

  1. 11/9/14 Added 5mm and 10mm grid and true A5-sized.
  2. 2/3/15 Added A4 and revised Field Notes sizes, added 3-up layout for Field Notes.
  3. 8/23/2016 Added links to Leigh Reyes A5 Journal Guides and Ink Journal’s Free Resources

 

DIY Planter & Pen Cup

DIY desk planter

Just because you’re stuck indoors all day staring at email, spreadsheets or lines of code does not mean you shouldn’t have a little green to keep your spirits up.

Follow these instructions to build your own desk organizer with room for a few small succulents to add a little green to that beige cubicle.

(via Instructables)

 

DIY Desk from Ikea Parts

DIY Ikea Office Desk

Looking to get a customized desk, try Ikea and mix-and-match a tabletop and cabinetry to create an inexpensive work area. House of Hawkes made a lovely workspace with a butcher block-style top and white cabinetry. It’s making me kind of excited about the Ikea store opening in Kansas City this fall.

(via House of Hawkes)

Review: Pilot Plumix 1.1mm

Pilot Plumix 1.1mm writing sample

I confess that I quite specifically got the Pilot Plumix Medium Flat Italic (comparable to a 1.1mm) fountain pen ($7.25) to cannibalize the nib for the Pilot Metropolitan ($14.50) pen I have. I had the chance to try out the Plumix thanks to a local pen geek (Thanks, Geoff!) and immediately went home and ordered one. While the shape and overall outside aesthetics leave me wanting, the nib was silky smooth. I had heard other folks mention what a great nib it is for the price point and after trying it, I was sold. It is really as good as everyone says it is. Silky, silky smooth.

Pilot Metropolitan and Plumix

My first order of business was to disassemble both pens in order to swap out the nibs. While I think the medium nib on the Metropolitan is a fine nib, it doesn’t make my heart sing so I was ready to swap it out. I like the metal body of the Metropolitan line over the plastic of the Plumix and its weird, stumpy, wingnut cap even if my Metropolitan is a bit blingy in metallic gold.

Pilot Plumix disassembled

I couldn’t be bothered to clean the pens before disassembly so I used a shop rag to grasped the nib and feed and gentle shimmy it out. Its basically help in the grip section by friction so it didn’t take much force or effort to remove it.

There is a notch inside the grip section that keeps the nib and feed in a specific spot but otherwise it was just a matter of shimmying it back into the other pen body to make the swap. I’d have diagrammed it more if there was anything else to it but really its: grasp, pull and then grasp and push. Also, we are talking about a combined retail value of $22 so I wasn’t too concerned about potential damage if I didn’t do it correctly.

New Improved Pilot Metropolitan

Voila! The completed and fully customized Pilot Metropolitan italic! Total cost: $22.  This same surgery can be done if you want an extra fine nib on a Metropolitan by purchasing the Pilot Penmanship pen ($8.25).

Pilot PLumix 1.1mm writing comparison

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

(Tested on Rhodia Pad No. 18 Uni-Blank)

Render K + Uni-Ball Signo = LOVE!

Render K Uni Ball Signo Refill Writing Sample

While I was in SF, I found some refills for Uni-Ball Signo. I couldn’t remember if these would fit in my Render K but I was willing to take a chance. It was blue-black ink in my favorite 0.38 size. At less than $2, it was a gamble I was willing to take.

The package was labelled UM-151 0.38mm. Jet Pens does not seem to stock this particular flavor refill but Maido’s online shop, MyMaido does stock them.

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed reader, Adamfmoore found the proper refill on JetPens. It’s the Uni-ball Signo UMR-1 Refill and it sells for $1.65.

Render K Uni Ball Signo Refill

I discovered that the refill was about an 1/8″ too long so I trimmed it down with a trusty X-acto blade. The plastic is quite hard so if you try this yourself, be careful! It would be easy to slice your finger in attempting this. Once trimmed, the Render K screwed closed easily and voila! Deep green pen with blue-black silky ink. JOY!

Render K Uni Ball Signo Refill

Written on Rhodia No. 18 Uni-Blank Pad. Render K from Karas Kustoms.

Paper Mechanic Typewriter Calendar

Paper DIY Typewriter Calendar

When someone mentions “typewriter” and “calendar” in the same sentence, my ears prick right up. Add in a little paper mechanic magic and I am already writing the blog post in my head.

This darling little desktop calendar stands in its own 3D foldable typewriter. Just print out the pieces and assemble. Consider it as a great Tuesday morning office project. It is available for instant download for $4.99 via Sky Goodies on Etsy.

(tip via Teri of Fiberterian)