Posts Tagged ‘notebook’

Recap: Sketchnotes Workshop with Mike Rohde

Sketchnotes presentations

Saturday, I attended an all-day workshop with Mike Rohde, author of The Sketchnote Handbook. The workshop had been organized by the Kansas City Coffee & Design group and held at the Sprint Accelerator space. I didn’t actually count the number of attendees but there was probably about 40 people in attendance, some who had traveled from as far away as Omaha to attend the workshop.

Sketchontes & tools

I did my sketchnotes in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook with a Magic rainbow pencil, Sai Watercolor markers and a Sharpie pen.

If you’re not familiar with Mike Rohde and his sketchnote revolution, I’ll try to distill it down but your best option would be to visit his web site or the Sketchnote Army site or, of course, purchasing his books. The idea behind sketchnoting is that simple drawings, bold lettering, icons and symbols can help improve your note-taking and thereby improve your understanding and memory retention from a lecture, class, presentation or meeting.

sketchnotes

During the workshop, Mike elaborated on the techniques included in the sketchnotes Handbook and we got to see him create his symbols, lettering and other techniques live.

Mike at the podium

As the workshop progressed, we learned that sketchnoting can also be used for documenting personal notes like travel, recipes and journaling. Mike’s teaching style is relaxed and approachable and made it easy for everyone to feel like they could accomplish sketchnoting.

Workin on the whiteboard

The attendees of the workshop came from a broad array of professions. I met designers, human resources specialists, educators, interior designers, and even a physician who works at a teaching hospital. Everyone was excited to take the knowledge they learned back to their colleagues, students and co-workers.

rohde29

Sketchnotes notes by Sarah Taylor.

If you have a chance to attend one of Mike Rohde’s workshops or lectures, I highly recommend it.

If you already have The Sketchnote Handbook, I would recommend picking up a copy of the advanced techniques book, The Sketchnote Workbook. I got a chance to flip through the book at the workshop and have ordered a copy for myself. Its more techniques for sketchnoting and ideas and tips for bringing sketchnoting into all your written work. Peachpit Press has a 35% off coupon code right now too — POP35 so you can get a great deal on some great books!

I did a short Periscope from the Sketchnotes Workshop that a few people caught. If I get a rally in the comments, I might be persuaded to repost it on YouTube.

Sketchonotes Workshop Giveaway

Oh, one last thing… I have two extra notebooks and stickers from the event that I would like to give away to readers. I’ll even throw in the pens! The notebooks were generously provided by my favorite local art supply store Artist & Craftsman and were produced by Shizen Design, a local KC paper company. Leave a comment below to be entered.


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, September 3, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Friday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. US residents only please.

Recap: Mike Rohde Coffee & Design Lecture

Mike Rohde Sketchnotes Lecture

I just wanted to put a quick post up about the lecture hosted by the Kansas City Coffee & Design group. Today’s lecture was Mike Rohde of The Sketchnote Handbook fame discussing how Sketchnotes evolved and a brief overview of the technique.

There is a full day workshop tomorrow so I’ll have lots more to share then.

If you’re in KC and want to attend the workshop tomorrow, here’s a discount code for $15 off the entry fee: FRIDAY.

(Sketchnotes by Renee Andriani)

(Sketchnotes by Renee Andriani)

(my sketchnotes from the lecture this morning)

(my sketchnotes from the lecture this morning)

How Important is Your Notebook?

I got to thinking the other day how upset I would be if I lost my sketchbook, Traveler’s Notebook or pen case. Like “what would you grab from a burning building?” upset.

Then I realized I don’t have my name or contact information in either book. Seriously. Do you put your name inside your notebooks? In your pen case, purse, backpack or wallet?

Many notebooks include a place to write your name and contact info inside in case you get parted for your notes. Do you  fill it in? On a recent episode of the Pen Addict (I can’t remember the specific episode) the topic came up and it got me thinking. Then yesterday, I saw that Lisa Vanness lost a NockCo pen case at the Miami Pen Show. Whether it was actually misplaced or “liberated” I don’t know but either way, it also brought the issue back to mind.

How heartbroken would you be to lose a notebook, pen case or sketchbook? Enough to genuinely consider offering a reward for their return? I know I would.

Contact Info in MTN

So, I’ve put my name and contact information inside my books and hope that should I misplace them, a kind soul would return the books to me. I would gleefully buy them their own skecthbook or Traveler’s Notebook as a thank you for returning all my notes, lists, doodles and thoughts.

I also hope that by seeing my name inside a notebook or pen case, someone who was thinking of walking off with my beloved tools might reconsider. In most cases, there’s no “street value” for notebooks or pens and I firmly believe that there’s a cold place in eternity for people who steal tools — be they construction tools or writing tools.

Contact info in sketchbook

So, go now and put your name or business card and phone number or email address in your most treasured notebooks. And if you know what happened to the Vanness NockCo case, please contact Lisa at Vanness Pens. No questions asked.

 

Midori Traveler’s Notebook Follow-Up

Midori Traveler's Notebook Pan Am Edition

This post was originally supposed to be about the new Midori Traveler’s Notebook (Pan Am) Blue Edition but I love the original MTN regular-sized notebook so much I couldn’t bring myself to open the Pan Am edition yet. So, admire the beautiful packaging compliments of Baum-Kuchen. I’m saving it, all wrapped up until I need a pick-me-up. Then I’ll share the contents with you.

In the meantime, I’m going to give a peek into my current MTN set-up since, after four months, I needed to make a couple updates.

MTN Current Set-up

Currently, I have two blank refills in my current Traveler’s Notebook set-up. The one in the front is the standard Midori blank refill that I use for project planning. The “Milk & Honey” sticker is from a local macaron shop. YUM!

The notebook in the back is one I made using a paper I cut from a standard black sketchbook with 65lb (approx 96 gsm) drawing paper. The 8.5×11″ paper cut and folded with only a little trimming to fit perfectly into the regular-sized MTN. I added green, cardstock covers and alphabet stickers that say “DRAW”. I use it as a portable sketchbook now as well as keeping swatch samples of pens, pencils and inks and art-related notes.This is actually my second refill in the back of my MTN. The first was a Banditapple blank notebook that got filled with writing samples from various pens and inks and from various people while I was in Atlanta for the Pen Show so I’m super sentimental about it. The paper in the Banditapple notebooks is 80 gsm (approx 55 lb) which is pretty good and had little-to-no bleedthrough but I had the unused sketchbook so I decided to make use of materials I had rather than ordering ANOTHER notebook.

In the center section is my planner. I downloaded the Taroko Shop Week-On-Two-Pages sheets ($3.50) to use as my planner. I’ve been using it since February and I’ve been very pleased with it. I set it up to run through the middle of July so it was time to update the planner portion so I thought I’d share the process.

MTN updated inserts

I printed out fresh blank planner pages and bound them into a booklet using black cardstock for the cover. I used a numbering stamp to add the date numbers to each page. My friend Carolee gave me the tabbed stickers which fold over and I stamped the month on each tab and stuck them to the first page of each month. I’ve been on the hunt for a source for these tabbed stickers because they are fabulous!

I also bought fresh magnet page markers. The first set I had was the Galison Mr. Fox & Friends ($5.75) but the animal ears all got bent and cracked over the months so I upgraded to the Galison Up in the Air set ($5.75). For the planning section, I used the sun marker which is perfect for “today”. In the front book is a rainbow and the drawing book has the bird wearing a scarf and goggles. Adventure ahead! I also grabbed an assortment of Pine Book Schedule Stickers in the Panda Life ($2.65 per sheet) theme to use for a little fun for the daily grind.

Other than that, the only additions in my Traveler’s Notebook are the stock plastic zipper pouch insert, the business card sleeve insert and a homemade 6-pocket cardstock folder insert.

Overall, my Traveler’s Notebook is not all that “tricked out” but what I have added to it has just made it more “me.” Do you have a Traveler’s Notebook? What do you use yours for and what modifications have you made?

New & Improved Nock Co. Dot Dash Pocket Notebook

nockco dot dash black cover

Nock Co. recently revised their DotDash Pocket Notebooks (3-pack/$10). The new books sport a simple black cover with a white Nock Co logo. I still think the card stock for the covers could be a tad thicker but the low profile black covers are being warmly received here at Chez Desk. The big change, however, was the paper stock inside.

nockco dot dash black cover

Nock Co does not include details inside their notebooks about the paper stock like Field Notes does but the paper has definitely been upgraded. It doesn’t feel like its any heavier weight (maybe ever so slightly from a 24 lb to maybe 28 lb but that’s just me guessing). The DotDash ruling appears to be printed in a blue-violet compared to the a more greyish color of the original yellow books but it could be my eyes playing tricks on me. The paper is a bit brighter white than the original yellow books as well which might create the optical illusion of a change in ink colors.

The new paper stock is definitely fountain pen friendly and there’s no blurring or ink spread. Its particularly apparent how much the paper has been improved when you set the books side-by-side. My writing just looks crispier and not like I need to have my eyeglass prescription checked again. Even the felt tip pen writing benefited from the new paper stock and looks cleaner and finer.

There was also less show through on the reverse of stock though with a reporter-style notebook, I’m seldom inclined to write on the reverse of stock.

nockco dot dash black cover

The original yellow books are still available (3-pack/$9) so if they are your favorites, I recommend picking them up quickly as I suspect they will be phased out for this new and improved stock.

I’m a big fan of the new paper and I think its a great upgrade to an already cool product.

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

Follow-Up: Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

I have filled almost ever page in the Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook I reviewed last year. I started working in it regularly about a month ago when I started taking some online drawing and painting classes and I thought I’d share with you how well it held up to regular use and abuse.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

I absolutely love the 100 lb/150 gsm natural white, smooth paper. I’ve used ink, gouache, watercolor, acrylic and colored pencils throughout the book, often all of these tools on the same page. Fountain pens, paint pens, markers and brush pens all worked well on the paper with no feathering. Some pages developed a little bit of a curl as a result of lots of wet media but there was no bleeding or show through at all. I’ve doodled, sketched, taken notes, tested materials and generally carried it with me everyday for a solid month.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

Not every page is finished but I thought this would be a good opportunity to show the overall wear and tear and show how well the Stillman & Birn sketchbook has held up. The hardbound cover and spine show a little bowing but the binding did not fail at all. I’m confident I can continue to add and tweak the pages and the book will hold up to the stress.

Much of the pages are doodles and sketches and I’m a little self-conscious about showing this work-in-progress but I hope you get a sense of the durability of the Stillman & Birn notebooks from the photos.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

Blick stocks the full range but I’d really recommend the Epsilon as a great place to start. Prices for the books range between $15-$24 depending on size and binding. The 5.5×8.5″ Epsilon is $15.99 which is comparable, if not a little cheaper, than the equivalent sized Moleskine (or similar) notebook with far better paper.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

Review: Cognitive Surplus Notebooks

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across the Cognitive Surplus notebooks which feature grid paper on the left hand page and lined paper on the right. It sparked a lot of interest so the folks at Cognitive Surplus were kind enough to send me a couple books to try out. I received the Languages & Alphabets cover and the Geographic Map cover.

The books have a matte finish on the covers that feel nice in the hand. The corners are rounded giving the books a finished “composition book” feel. The books have 56 sheets/112 pages and measure 6.5″ x 8.9″. The binding is stitched and the pages easily lay flat. The paper is 100% recycled.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

The ruling inside is printed in brown ink along with a “100%recycled” mark in the lower right corner and decorative “brain” squiggle in the left. The lined and grid is spaced at 7mm. The lined ruling seem thicker than the grid lines which I find a little distracting. The grid is the perfect lightness but the lined pages seem a little too heavy for me. I wish the grid ruling was a bit tighter but that’s just me.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

I did some writing tests expecting average performance but was pleasantly surprised that the paper handled fountain pen ink much better than expected. I even pushed it to the extremes with the wide italic nib and the writing didn’t feather or spline. There was a little show through but it was quite mild and both sides of the paper could still be used. The closest comparison paper-wise that I could make would be Paperblanks. I wouldn’t put my wettest, flex nib to work on this stock but everyday pens would be great. Oddly, the Sharpie Pen also had a little show through. I think, in general, lighter fountain pen inks would also be good with this paper — the blues and turquoise inks didn’t show through at all but the black and dark purple inks did. Gel pens and pencils did outstanding on this paper. Pair one of these notebooks with a machined pen or favorite pencil and you’ll be happily writing and drawing all day.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

The Cognitive Surplus hardcover journals ($15 each) are available in 26 different cover designs as well as an assortment of softcovers as well.


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

News: Pelle Notebooks and Blackwing Subscriptions

Yafa Monteverde Pelle Journals

Did you know Yafa is listing a Monteverde Pelle refillable journal listed on their site now? Does this mean that Pelle is back in business and working with Monteverde? Exciting news if, like me, you really liked the Pelle version of this popular leather notebook system.

Blackwing Volumes is a new collectible subscription service that provides subscribers with a dozen limited-edition, custom-designed Blackwing pencils, four times a year. Subscribers will receive an additional collector’s pencil, sealed and labeled for archiving, with each set and a guarantee to receive each release, even if they sell out to non-subscribers.

Subscriptions are $99 per year, plus shipping and can be purchased at Pencils.com.

 

The 5-Minute Journal

block8_image

Have you heard about the Five-Minute Journal? It is a journal that prompts users to answer five prompts each day. There are only a few lines to answer each prompt so it takes no more time than it would take to eat your breakfast to get started. It seems to be a good option to get started keeping a journal that focuses on positivity and looking forward. The first three prompts can be written early in the day and the last two at the end of the day or the following day.

The Five-Minute Journal has a beautiful fabric cover and looks to be about an A5-ish size. There isn’t a ton of info on paper materials or page count but the book is just $22.95 and includes weekly challenges to keep inspiring you through the life of the book.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 5.14.58 PM

If a paper journal seems too intimidating, there is also an iPhone app to try this technique on the go.

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.

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.

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?

Midori Traveler’s Notebook: Pan Am Edition

MTN Pan Am Edition Blue leather notebook

OMG! Have you seen these? This is the new limited edition Midori Traveler’s Notebook Pan Am Edition. Yes, that’s a deep blue, full-sized, leather MTN!

MTN Pan Am Edition

The notebook inserts to accompany the leather cover feature vintage Pan Am advertising art and contain the same great quality Midori paper. There’s a blank and grid notebook.There’s also a Pan Am-themed zipper case, bullet pen, pen loop and stickers.

MTN Pan Am Edition Grid Notebook

MTN Pan Am Edition Blank Notebook

MTN Pan Am Edition Zip case

MTN Pan Am Edition Stickers

MTN Pan Am Edition Pen Loop

MTN Pan Am Edition Brass Bullet Pen

The whole set was supposed to be released in April and I’m seeing it show up on some ebay listings and web sites for pre-order. This limited edition set may or may not be as hard to acquire as the Star Ferry Edition. But oh, how I love vintage travel ads! I’m going to pay through the nose to get these but the blue leather cover is gorgeous! Midori makes me sucha  completionist. Must. Have. All. The. Things!

Kickstarter: Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal Notebook

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

When I heard about the Bullet Journal Kickstarter campaign last fall, I jumped in with both feet. First and foremost, to support a project that has benefited a lot of people. But secondly, in hopes of getting a grasp on the concept of Bullet Journaling. I am starting to wonder if I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t quite understood how Bullet Journaling works. I hoped that by backing the project, I’d receive enough documentation and instruction to make the system make sense to me. I received the backer-only documentation earlier in the Kickstarter campaign and I printed it out but just reading through the material didn’t make it all gel in my brain.

So today, I watched the original introductory video to the Bullet Journal system again in hopes that the whole Bullet Method might finally stick into my head. I’m  think I need to just jump in and try the methods outlined on the video and on the web site and then hope that the details fill themselves in for me.

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

I just received my special edition Bullet Journal notebook created by Leuchtturm 1917 for the Bullet Journal Kickstarter and it has a lot of really nice features included. There are three ribbon bookmarks to mark multiple spots in the book as you work as well as pre-printed pages for the index, page numbers (which is a feature of all the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks) and a guide to using the Bullet Journal system printed in the book. The remainder of the pages of the book feature page numbers and a light dot grid for maximum flexibility.

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

The notebook is a standard Leuchtturm 1917 Medium size (145 x 210 mm) with 80 gsm “ink-proof” paper and 240 pages. The paper is the warm white used in standard Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks. Its a pleasing creamy color that is not stark white but not some yellow-y as to alter ink colors dramatically. In the back of the book is the standard Leuchtturm 1917 pocket and the notebook has a vertical elastic to keep it closed.

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

The dot grid appears in light grey dots and is pretty unobtrusive which is how guides should be. The spacing is 5mm between the dots.

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

There are three bookmarks in the book – a white, black and grey – all from a textured grosgrain ribbon. I don’t think there’s quite enough color contrast between the grey and the black but I appreciate that they’ve added additional bookmarks to mark varying places throughout the notebook.

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

Hopefully the “unlimited” edition will soon be available for sale to folks who did not get the opportunity to back the Kickstarter campaign but are interested in trying the Bullet Journal system in this custom-designed notebook.

If you want to try the system for yourself, visit the Bullet Journal web site to learn how to turn any notebook into a Bullet Journal.

Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal

Review: Monsieur Notebook Soft Classics Leather A5

monsieur notebook

Monsieur Notebook has continued to improve and expand their product line. I can’t believe its been four year since I reviewed their first batch of notebooks. Since then, I’d like to think that my reviews have improved as much as their products have.

monsieur notebook

The latest product release is called the Soft Classics leather notebook. The leather cover is glued to cardstock end papers to give the leather a bit of stability but the book has some flexibility. I love the visible leather edge.

The book I received is the medium A5 sized (approx. 5.875″ x 8.25″) in Royal Blue. The book includes a matching vertical elastic and ribbon bookmark. I’d like it clearly stated that the ribbon bookmark is sealed at the end to prevent fraying. This is a little detail that means a lot to me. There is not pocket in the back cover.

The only branding in the book is on the front end paper at the bottom of the page. I appreciate the minimal branding and no logo on the cover of the book which I find presumptuous.

monsieur notebook

Inside the paper is 90 gsm, acid-free, ivory paper. I received a lined notebook but they are also available in plain and dot grid. The paper is described as ivory but I would call it “soft white”. Its not as yellow-y as Moleskine paper. I find it creamy enough not to feel stark white but not so tinted as to interfere with ink colors.

The ruled line spacing is approximately 6mm, comparable to US “college-ruled” in fine grey lines. While ruled paper is not to everyone’s taste, this is very easy on the eyes and fine enough to not be intrusive when writing. I’d be curious to see the dot grid to see if its as light and unobtrusive as well.

To round out their product line, Monsieur also sells a 120 GSM sketch paper, 200GSM watercolour paper and 100GSM bright white specifically for fountain pens.

monsieur notebook

Knowing that Monsieur also makes a notebook with paper specific to fountain pen use, I was a little concerned that the stock paper might not stand up to fountain pens. Turns out, I didn’t have all that much to worry about.

monsieur notebook

I tested a full array of fountain, rollerball, gel and felt tip pens and had no visible issues with feathering or dry time. I tested fountain pens with daily use nibs: EF, F, M and a 0.6mm stub and a 1.1mm stub. On the narrow ruling, I wouldn’t really be inclined to use a fountain pen with a nib much broader than that. My results were very good.

monsieur notebook

Close-up you can see the ink behaved nicely on the page and the ruling sort of vanishes once there’s something else to look at on the page.

monsieur notebook

From the reverse side of the paper there’s a tiny bit of showthrough but no bleed through at all.

The Soft Classic notebooks will be available in the US in August at a retailer near you or through Amazon. The list price on Amazon for the A5 is $25.95. The price puts the Soft Classics notebook in the “premium” category but I think the combination of quality leather and above average paper makes it a pretty competitive price for it. The original hardcover notebooks are a little less expensive and appear to use the same paper. They are listed on Amazon below the MSRP of $19.95 by a few dollars. And the original hardcover notebooks are available now if you can’t wait until August.

Overall, I really like this notebook. Its gotten all the things right that I normally complain about. Good paper, unobtrusive ruling, finished bookmark and a quality cover without enormous branding all over it. The Soft Classics will also be available in an array of cover colors (three shades of blue, two shades of red, British Racing Green, black and brown) that should satisfy most preferences.


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

Peek: Calepino No. 2 Papier Quadrille Pocket Notebook

calepino-grid-1

I recently swapped one of my lined Calepino notebooks with @inkpairing in exchange for a grid paper edition to be able to see what the difference is. While the lined version of the Calepino Pocket Notebook features a red printed, kraft cover and red lines for writing, the grid version has a green printed, kraft cover and green grid lines inside. The grid lines are thin and pretty light but I was strangely surprised that all the rulings weren’t consistently printed in one color.

Everything else about these books is consistent with the lined edition — 3 books for $10 and they come in the sturdy kraft board box.

calepino-grid-2

The paper stock is exactly the same as the lined edition and handles inks fairly well for a pocket notebook. Mostly, I just wanted to share the difference in the printed lines/grid.

I would extrapolate that the Calepino Dot Grid books have dots that match the greyish-olive hue of the covers. Has anyone tried the Calepino Dot Grids? Let me know if I’m right about the dots.

Field Notes: Two Rivers Edition

Field Notes Two Rivers Colors Edition

I received my Field Notes COLORS subscription of the Two Rivers edition and its just as unusual and interesting to see in person as everyone predicted. Using old woodblock type and design elements and layering the designs, Coudal, Draplin and Hamilton Type created  essentially thousands of one-of-a-kind designs.

Field Notes Two Rivers Colors Edition

Myke and Brad mentioned on the Pen Addict podcast recently that neither had received a yellow covered edition so I feel quite lucky to have one. The other set was immediately absconded by my husband who seems to be turning into a pen geek. He’s also a letterpress printer so the Two Rivers edition was of particular interest to him.

Field Notes Two Rivers Colors Edition

Inside is the standard Finch paper with a pale brownish grid printed.

This edition was limited to just 25,000 books and $2 of each sale goes to help support Hamilton Wood Type Museum. When ordering, you can make an additional donation to the museum and receive a small thank you card. The Two Rivers edition are still sold in sets of three for $9.99 and when these are gone, they’re gone. I think folks will hoard these so place your order ASAP if this is something you want.

Notebook: Baron Fig Confidant, Maker Limited Edition

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The Baron Fig Confidant in the limited edition “Maker” variation ($18) is identical in size, shape and paper stock to the original Confidant. What appealed to me was the darker grey book cloth cover that the original Confidant. I also purchased the Maker Edition with lined paper instead of dot grid, just to try a different experience.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The book comes in the same style box as the original Confidant, with a promotional flyer. I’m generally over the term “maker” to describe anyone in a creative endeavor but since the book itself is relatively free of the stigma of hipster branding, I let the name slide. Baron Fig has been pretty good with the naming of its other editions, hopefully this was a hiccup.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The end papers are coordinating yellow that match the yellow cotton bookmark. I already kvetched about the fraying of the bookmark in the original Confidant review so I won’t flog that particular horse here.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

I do prefer the darker grey book cloth as I suspect it will withstand a bit more use before showing any dirt than the lighter original Confidant.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition compared to Code & Quill Origin

For comparison, I thought I’d show the tonal difference in the greys between the Code & Quill leatherette cover which is a warmer grey to the Confidant Maker Edition which is lighter and a cooler grey cloth.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition Writing Sample

The paper is the same color with the same toothiness as the Original Confidant and performs similarly. I did notice a bit more bleeding with the pesky Sailor Jentle Yama Dori ink but I think its because it was the last pen I tested at the bottom of the page. The Kaweco Ruby Red in the J. Herbin Rollerball took an age to dry and I did smear a little as a result but this has been consistent across all the Baron Fig notebooks. By the bottom of the page, there may have been some oils or moisture accumulated from my hands by the time I got to the bottom of the page. It happens sometimes regardless of ink or paper so I don’t think the paper is at all different from the original Confidant but be warned that warm hands or too much lotion may affect your pen/ink performance.

So, fountain pen ink performance on this paper will vary depending on nib width, wetness and ink composition. YMMV.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

With the lined paper, there is a bit of resistance to the ink when it touches the printed lines particularly with fountain pen inks. Its a little disappointing as I find it distracting. I didn’t notice this resistance to the ink with the dot grid Confidant, probably since there’s a lot less printed ink on the dot gird paper than on the lined version.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

From the reverse of stock, there’s a little bit of show through but its the same culprits from the other Baron Fig tests I’ve done this week. Which leads me to think that once you find a good pen and ink combination that works with the Baron Fig, stick to it or be prepared for some inks to bleed a little and be okay with that.

I wished I gotten this edition with the dot grid or blank as I like the overall book cloth color better than the original but find the ink resistance of the lines a bit disconcerting. Maybe Baron Fig will change the ink composition for the printed lines in future editions so this won’t be an issue any longer.

 

Notebook Review: Baron Fig Apprentice, Time Travel Edition

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

When I placed my order with Baron Fig, I couldn’t just buy one notebook so I also ordered a set of their pocket-sized Apprentice books in the limited edition Time Travel design. The Apprentice notebooks come in a set of three books for $9 so they are in the same competitive price range as other pocket notebooks on the market. They are slightly smaller than most pocket notebooks at 3.5″x5″ rather than the average 3.5″x5.5″ inches. The Apprentice books feature rounded corners and a sewn stitched binding rather than staples which are nice details.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

I really like the designs printed on the covers and the pleasingly toothy cover stock. The designs are simple but quite appealing.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

Inside on the card stock is a lightly printed gradient that goes from the paper stock color to a twilight purple at the bottom. It almost looks like an optical illusion. There’s also a dotted line box printed inside the cover for contact info or details about the notebook contents.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

On the inside of the back cover is teeny tiny branding and info about the books. Its super subtle and understated and I appreciate that. Thanks for not sticking giant logos all over the notebook I paid to use. Most obliged.

Baron Fig Apprentice writing sample

The paper inside the Apprentice is the same weight and color as the larger Confidant. I did, however, mix it up in terms of ruling and got the Apprentice with blank paper which is the only difference in the paper from the Confidant. I do love a blank page.

Baron Fig Apprentice writing sample reverse

There seemed to be a little more show through and even a little  bit of bleed through on the Apprentice than the Confidant which seemed odd. The only thing I could attribute this too is that the smaller book might be more prone to picking up moisture or oils from your hands more quickly since there’s less space overall. That said, with pocket notebooks, the goal is to have paper quickly available and handy with a writing tool that’s also quick and handy and often that EDC pen is not a fountain pen but a gel, ballpoint, rollerball or pencil which should not present any problems with the Baron Fig paper.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

The absolute best thing, in my humble opinion about the Baron Fig Apprentice notebooks? They perfectly fit inside my Midori Traveler’s Notebook Star Edition Passport Sized. Perfect fit.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

Overall, the Time Travel Edition of the Apprentice is a beautiful little pocket notebook set with fair-to-above-average ink handling. The books are beautifully constructed but I’m not inclined to combine them with many of my fountain pens in order to utilize both sides of the 48-page book’s sheets. And the fact that these books fit perfectly in passport-sized Midori Traveler’s is a win-win.

Notebook Review: Baron Fig Confidant

Baron Fig Confidant

I finally decided to take the plunge and order the Baron Fig Confidant notebook ($16). I purchased the Dot Grid format which was widely recommended by other paper-and-pen enthusiasts. I haven’t bought an A5-ish sized  hard cover notebook in a long time so it was about time. Though, the Baron Fig Confidant is actually a bit smaller than an A5, if you want to get technical, at 5.4″ x 7.7″.

Baron Fig Confidant

The book ships in a protective paperboard box with an advertising specification sheet included on top extolling the features of the Confidant such as the lay-flat design, acid-free paper, 12 perforated pages in the back of the notebook, and its 192 page count.

The book itself has a soft warm-grey, book cloth cover and a sunshine-yellow, cotton ribbon bookmark. The corners are rounded which are aesthetically appealing. The book does not have any closure elastics or inner pockets and the interior branding is minimal.

The first thing I noticed was the bookmark was already starting to fray even before I removed my book. I love the idea of ribbon bookmarks but I’m always peeved if the ends are treated to keep them from fraying.

Baron Fig Confidant

I didn’t have any Fray Check handy (available in the sewing section of your local craft shop) so I applied a liberal dollop of white glue (like Elmer’s) to the end of the bookmark to keep it from fraying any further. The photo above is before the glue has dried completely so you can see how much I applied. Once dry the glue is clear and should protect the ribbon from fraying any further.

Baron Fig Confidant

Now, on to the all-important paper and writing samples. The paper is a soft, warm white rather than an ivory or bright white. I think its a happy medium for daily writing and note-taking. Its not so yellowy as to dramatically change ink colors but not a harsh bright white that might blind with tis glare during an early morning writing session.

When I first opened the book the grey printed dots seemed large to me but once I started writing, they really disappeared visually for me. As someone who generally favors blank notebooks used in conjunction with a guide sheet, this was a pleasant surprise. Often times I find printed lines are too dark for the fine lined tools and light colored inks I like to use. The Baron Fig dot grid did not interfere with my writing.

AS I tested my variety of pens, the only issues I had was with the Kaweco Ruby Red cartridge in the J. Herbin Rollerball. It took a long time to dry which I find often happens with some red fountain pen inks when combined with the overhand left-handed writer. All the gel pens, ballpoint and felt tipped pens worked beautifully and the paper has a pleasant texture making pencils enjoyable on the paper as well.

The fountain pens I tried fall into the “everyday use” category like the Pilot Varisty, Kaweco Sports and Liliput and a couple TWSBIs and I threw in my new Super 5 with the 0.5mm stub italic nib just to see how it would work. There was no feathering on the paper with any of the fountain pens, not even the Super 5.

Baron Fig Confidant

From the reverse side of the paper, there was a little show through with the TWSBI filled with Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. I love the color of this ink but its been the culprit of show through on all the notebooks I’ve been testing lately. Alternately, the Super 5 with the stock blue cartridge it shipped with had NO show through at all so sometimes, you have to blame the ink for being particularly showy. The only other show through I got with this batch of test pens was the Retro 51 Tornado with the Schmidt with the P8126 refill. Its a rich dark black but the show through is minimal with no real bleed through.

Baron Fig Confidant

All in all, I’m quite pleased with the performance of the paper in the Baron Fig Confidant. Its definitely better quality paper than A5 notebooks found in most book shops these days for a similar price. I do worry that the light grey covers will show dirt and oils easily so I’ll be curious how the book looks after its been used regularly. Hopefully, my book mark hack will keep the sunny yellow ribbon from fraying into oblivion which is really my only grumble.

Gourmet Pens put the Baron Fig through its paces including extensive fountain pen tests and ink drying times if you’re looking for more thorough testing. Check Pennaquod for dozens of other reviews on the Baron Fig Confidant.

Notebook: Calepino Pocket Books

Calepino notebook

I’ve been wanting to try out the Calepino pocket notebooks for a long time. Its been hard to find a US seller that stocks them though so I’d put if off until I discovered CW Pencil Enterprise. A set of three notebooks in the kraft box is $10 which is competitive with most other pocket notebooks on the market.

The Calepino books are 3.5×5.5″, exactly the same as Field Notes so if you have a cover you use, these will fit into it as well. The right hand corners are nicely rounded and the books have two staples on the spine.

The Calepino notebooks are available in several different paper linings (dot grid, grid, lined and blank) and each style features a different color stripe on the front. If you’re inclined to keep a lined notebook for lists and a grid or dot grid for doodles, you’ll quickly be able to identify which is which from the stripes on the cover.

Calepino notebook

I love the heavy, kraft paper box that the notebooks are packaged in. The box has a tab in the back and then unfolds to open. No glue was used in the constructing the box and there’s information printed in side the box in French. I plan to keep the unused books in the box and then will store used books back in the box. I seldom have a desire to keep packaging so this is high praise indeed.

Calepino notebook

Inside the covers is an area to include your contact info. The paper inside is white with fine orange-y lines. The lines are thin enough to be largely unobtrusive, even with the lightest or finest tools.

Calepino notebook

There’s a little bit of tooth to the paper which helps slow down slippery gel ink pens and makes the writing experience with pencils and fountain pens very tactile.

Calepino notebook

I tested an assortment of different writing tools. I always test on the back pages of my book so I can refer back later if there was any tool that really didn’t work well. Overall, the range of tools had no big issues on the front of the stock. The Sailor Jentle Yama Dori did soften a little bit on the paper so I’m inclined to think there may be some fountain pen inks that won’t perform as well on this paper as others. But most “everyday carry” tools should work pretty well.

Calepino notebook

From the reverse, there’s a a little bit of show through on the Yama Dori line. I’ve had some show through issues in other notebooks with this ink so I’m going to blame the ink more than the paper here. Overall, for a pocket notebook, the paper performed well and I like the toothiness of the paper. It kept certain tools from feeling too slippery on the paper.

I’m curious now to see the dot grid and grid lines as well and see if they are as unobtrusive as the lined version. I suspect the quality and attention to detail in the other editions of the Calepino notebook will be equally good.

If you’re looking for an option in pocket notebooks that is more utilitarian than collectible, the Calepino is a great contender.

Notebook Review (and Reveal): Code & Quill

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The generous folks at Code & Quill “notebooks for creatives” sent me some of their prototype notebooks to check out. They are already making improvements which shows how fastidious they are about the quality and appearance of these books (see notes at the bottom of this review). The notebooks started out life as a Kickstarter Project which was funded and then some (understatement) so there are definitely folks interested in the concept presented by these notebooks.

The most distinguishing feature of the Code & Quill notebooks is that the pages alternate between dot grid on the left hand pages and indention rule on the right hand pages. Indention rule reminds me of some of the papers form Japan that feature a short tick along the baseline to help with character spacing. For the Code & Quill books, the indentation marks help for writing out programming… the “code” portion of the Code and Quill. The dot grid provides just enough structure for drawing or writing without being distracting.

Both the soft cover and hard cover editions of the books feature 100gsm, acid-free, fine-grain, and ivory paper and both the hard and soft cover books measure 5.5×7.7″.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The Code & Quill hard cover edition, called Origin, is available with a white or grey pebble-textured PU leatherette (this is a leatherette material covered with a layer of polyurethane for added durability). I love the feel of the pebble texture. The grey is a warm grey and dark enough that dirt and smudges will be well-hidden. The logo is stitched on the cover as a red fabric tag. Its subtle and well done. I appreciate little-to-no branding on my notebooks and this is a pretty good compromise.

The book shipped in a matching tomato red rigid slip case (see prototype notes below). My slip case got a little dented in the post but it did its job protecting my book.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Inside the covers of the Origin hard cover are bright tomato red end papers with a space blocked out for content or contact information. Origin has 180 pages and features stitched signatures that lay flat.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The soft cover, called Traveler, is the same overall dimensions as the Origin but with a soft flexible cover. Its also available with a white cover and a grey cover. I was sent the white cover. It even shipped in a  slip case, too (again, see prototype notes below). The Traveler is a little slimmer than the Origin with just 100 pages. The pages are stitched in, not glued so they will also lay flat.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Both book feature identical paper — dot grid on the left, indention rule on the right. The dot grid and indentation rule are printed in light gray. I wish the dots were a tiny bit smaller but, after my test writing, I found they weren’t as distracting as I thought they’d be.

Code & Quill Writing samples

As is always the case, we all want to know how does the paper take ink? Its the make-or-break for any notebook. I’m happy to report that the Code & Quill paper performed way above average. With all the standard gel, ballpoint and rollerball pens in my reach, the paper worked well. No feathering or bleeding. There was a little show through with the Morning Glory Mach 3 0.38 in black which seemed very odd. I would have expected the Schmidt refills for the Retro 51 to more likely show through but, nope.

I tested a variety of everyday fountain pens, like the Pilot Varsity, a hand full of Kaweco pocket pens, a couple TWSBIs and even the Super 5 with stub nib and there’s a little showthrough with the Varsity but no true bleeding. The only ink I had issues with was the Sailor Jentle Yama-Dori in my TWSBI Mini. The Yama Dori splined a tiny bit and kind of mooshed. I had some drying issues with the J. Herbin rollerball with Kaweco Red ink and the Super 5 required a bit longer dry time than I allowed, hence the smudge at the bottom of the right hand page.

With retail prices of $15 and $20 (comparable with most A5 notebooks sold),the Code & Quill paper is above average in performance. Its not up there with Rhodia Webbies for fountain pen friendliness but the A5 retail for a Webbie is closer to $30.

Code & Quill Writing samples

Can you see how the dots fall back once there is ink on the page? Even the light Sky Blue of the Pilot Frixion Point 04 is visible. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the dot grid and indention grid. I don’t necessarily need indention grid but the tick marks don’t bother legibility and may be useful for making nested lists since nobody wants me coding anything.

Code & Quill writing sample reverse

This is the reverse of my sample writing page. There are a few little dots of show through but overall, both sides of the paper could easily be used.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The notebooks were designed in the US, but are manufactured in China. Code & Quill are very transparent about the production. In the notebooks, the country of manufacture is printed the end paper in the back of the book.

(photos of modifications provided by Code & Quill)

(photos of modifications provided by Code & Quill)

Some of the changes, based on the initial prototypes:

  • On the hard cover edition, the spine will be more indented and defined.
  • Improvements will be made the paper block so that it sits aligned and recessed inside the covers of the hard cover. This will create a more defined ‘lip’ around the pages. In the second picture below, you can see that the review samples are closer to the white notebook, while the production notebooks will have a page block that is like the light gray notebook.
  • The softcover notebook will be feature a thicker, leatherette cover that is flexible, for added durability and so allow the cover to actually lay flat when the notebook is set down.
  • Finally, the packaging will be changed. Information will be available about these changes when all the details have been finalized.

These books are simple and clean designs overall. There are no closure elastics, ribbon bookmarks or paper pockets in the back cover. If these extras are deal breakers for you, there are ways to make them yourself. I’ve made paper pockets for other notebooks and adding a book strap or bookmark would be easy as well.

Overall, I think these are good quality notebooks and if you’ve been looking for a combination notebook with lines and grid, this is a great option. The grey leatherette cover of the hard cover is worth the $5 upcharge.

If you missed funding the Kickstarter project, you can pre-order either the Origin hard cover ($20) or the Traveler soft cover notebook ($15) from their web site. They are listing shipping to be about 8 weeks out.


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

Pens for Notebook Testing

review pens

All this week, I’ll be publishing reviews of an assortment of notebooks. I wanted to share all the pens I used in the writing tests. I tried to use a wide variety of pens from gel, ballpoint, rollerball, fountain and pencils.

They were all oddly color coordinated too so I thought they were photo worthy. What pens do you use to test out your new notebooks? Do you do writing samples on the first page, last page or just grab a pen and start writing and see what happens?

(Do you recognize all the pens in the photo?)

Cognitive Surplus Notebooks

Notebooks_IMG_0766

Several months ago, someone asked about a notebook that combined lined and grid or blank and lined or some such combination. I’m not sure if this is exactly what they were searching for but Cognitive Surplus has a series of hardcover notebooks that contain paper that is lined on the right hand sheet and grid on the left hand sheet. The covers feature archival illustrations in a myriad of colors. The books are 6.5″x8.9″ and inside the books have 100% recycled paper stock and 80 pages. Each book is $15.

Notebook_Interior

Take That, Square Corners!

corner-rounder-2

There’s a certain advantage to living with a printer. I get business cards at an exceptionally good price. I also get access to some very specialized equipment. Like an industrial-grade corner rounder. The model we have is a Lassco and its got some miles on it but would you believe they still sell them? They are available on Amazon for about $160 with either a 0.5″ corner or a 0.25″ corner. The blades are replaceable as well to the tune of about $85.

This is not a purchase for the faint of heart. You might be better off making friends with a local printer who may have one of these squirreled away in the corner of their shop somewhere that they might let you borrow. Or keep an eye out for one at a local auction or flea market.

corner-rounder-1

One of the first things I did with my inserts for my Midori Traveler’s Notebook was to put the corner rounder to good use and soften those sharp corners. It make the notebooks look more finished and gives them a Field Notes vibe.

corner-rounder-3

Amazingly, the notebooks all easily rounded without a lot of force or any jagged edges. Industrial, for sure. And super easy to use since its all manual. It works like a standard three-hole punch but for corners rather than holes.

corner-rounder-4

Don’t they look so much better? I imagine the same trick could be accomplished, albeit a bit slower, with a handheld corner rounder available in the craft supply big box store near you for about $10.

Now, excuse me while I go ROUND ALL THE THINGS!

Review: Midori Traveler’s Notebook: Regular Size

Midori Traveler's Notebook and InsertsFull size

I finally invested in a classic, full-size Midori Traveler’s Notebook. This seems to be the one that people love with unending passion so I decided it was time to take the plunge. I found a seller on Amazon that was selling the notebook at a reasonable price (approx. $40) and then I ordered an assortment of refills and accessories from Goulet Pens.

Also pictured above are the two notebook refills I got from Banditapple last year which will, of course, fit perfectly in the MTN.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size

One of the most pleasing things about Midori products is the packaging. It is lovingly packaged and feels like a gift while at the same time, being reusable and/or recyclable. The notebook comes in a plain paperboard box and the elastic can be reused on the notebook as a replacement if you prefer the neutral color or snap the original cord. Inside, the book comes in a cotton bag which can be used for storing the notebook or reused for some other purpose.

The initial package includes one blank notebook. That’s it.

For some folks, the sheer cost of the MTN, for what seems so simple and easy to replicate with a home leatherworking tool kit (and includes so few additional pieces in the initial purchase) might dissuade one from making the purchase. I considered making one myself but determined that in the grand time-versus-money debate, I had more space credits than time to mess around with trying to make my own.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size

Upon opening the package, I did not notice any excessive odors accept for the light smell of tanned leather.

The simplicity and understated beauty of the Traveler’s Notebook is hard to deny. And the long, narrow size is a lot more appealing than I had anticipated. I know a lot of folks like to add charms and other accoutrements to their MTN but I’m holding off until I am sure how much I’ll use it.

After embracing the ring-bound planner as my method for planning and organization this year, it took awhile for me to figure out how or why I would also use a MTN. This is hot on the heels of all those OTHER notebooks that are currently lying fallow.

Of course, I also wanted to know what all the hullaballoo was about and there is a lot of appeal in the ability to customize what types of writing surfaces I will carry contained in one “book”. So, I decided to use the MTN with just two notebooks to start with: one for knitting projects and planning of said knitting projects and the other for blog planning, ideas and notes.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Comparison

The photo above shows the whole collection of leather notebook covers I own. From left to right; Midori Traveler’s Notebook: Star Edition, Passport Size, Zenok Leatherworks Field Notes Sized, Pelle Journal Regular Size and finally, the Midori Traveler’s Notebook Full Size.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Comparison

The rivet (for lack of a better word) on the spine of the Midori notebooks is a metal disc that can stick up a little bit when trying to lay the notebook open flat but with some manuevering, it will lay on its side making it less noticeable. The Zenok spine is the least intrusive for sure but does add the extra piece of leather.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size

On the first pages of the Midori branded notebooks is a place to write a title, description, date or other info before the regular paper stock starts.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size InsertsFor the sheer purposes of research, I bought four different refill notebooks in order to do reviews of the paper stocks. I purchased the Kraft brown-014 (which is actually standard writing weight paper in a lovely krafty hue), grid, sketchbook and the “light” paper. The MTN standard refills (blank-003, lined-001, grid-002) have 32 sheets/ 64 pages but the light paper – 013 contains 64 sheet/ 128 pages. There’s a lot of good reviews about the light paper being especially fountain pen friendly so I look forward to trying it out. The sketch paper-012 has only 24 sheets/ 48 pages but is much heavier weight paper designed to accept watercolor as well as lots of inks. The sketch paper has perforated pages while the other books do not.

There were a few inserts I did not try as they were more planner-based like a page-a-day diary and weekly planners in a couple formats. But there is some appeal to have notes and planning contained in one book.

I added a zip pocket insert-008 and I made 6-pocket folder from a file folder using this video tutorial from PoketFullofVintage. Turns out the file folder tutorial works better with an A4-sized filer folder but I made mine works okay, just shorter pockets.

I’ll be doing follow-up reviews specifically about each of the paper types but the fact that there are so many choices is part of the appeal of the MTN. Also, there are lots of tutorials for making your own inserts as well as sources for printing inserts for specific tasks from sources like My Life All in One Place as well as sellers on Etsy.

Overall, I really like the size and shape and I like the weathering that the leather is getting in just the few weeks I’ve owned it. Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid but it is tasty, tasty, Kool-Aid.

 

1 2 3 16