Posts Tagged ‘notebook’

Notebook Review: Word. Dot Grid and Declan Floral Edition

Word Notebooks: Dot Grid and Declan

I recently got a delightful little treat in my mailbox in the form of two new packs of Word. notebooks: a 3-pack of Word. dot grid books ($9.99) and a 3-pack of the new Declan Floral edition notebooks ($9.99).

The Declan Floral edition is a collaboration between Word. and Declan. Word makes the books and Declan designed the “Lang” floral print used for the covers. The floral print is taken from a retired design from Declan’s line of high-tech pocket squares that double as eyewear and digital device cleaning wipes. The Declan Floral edition features the classic 48-page Word. bullet system with lined pages and a circle/dot on the left-hand side of each page for list-making. The front cover includes tips for using the bullet system and the back cover has some tips for abbreviation.

Word Notebooks: Dot Grid and Declan writing samples

The paper in the Declan edition stood up to most of the pens I tried including an assortment of fine nib fountain pens without any show through and no bleeding. The only exception was the Platinum Preppy with Carbon Black ink and the Karas Kustoms INK with Waterman Tender Purple which had a little show through and a tiny bit of ghosting to the reverse of the paper. The printed lines on the Declan were also pleasingly light and thin which allowed me to use a wide variety of colors without interfering with readability.

Word Notebooks: Dot Grid and Declan writing samples

The Word. dot gid notebooks feature a light grey cover with the dot grid pattern printed in a slightly darker grey which is very subtle. The inside cover provides a place for contact information and the back cover has a 5″ ruler printed along the edge as well as the specifications of the paper and printing information. The books contains 48 pages of 5mm dot grid printed on Lynx Opaque Ultra Smooth White 60# acid-free paper which is 100% post-consumer recycled, in case you’re curious. Unfortunately, I found the dots in the Word. dot grid notebooks to be considerably darker and more distracting than the lines in the Declan notebook. I wish the dots were printed about 20% lighter or smaller and a little ligther.

Since the specifications about the paper were not included in the Declan edition, I can be sure if its excatly the same paper. I’m inclined to think it is, but for some reason, the ghosting on the dot grid bothers me more than on the Declan lined paper. Maybe its because I ended up preferring the lighter lines on the Declan so I just generally prefer it? Personal bias, clearly.

Word Notebooks: Dot Grid and Declan writing from reverse

Anyway, you be the judge. Does it look the same to you? I tested the same pens at the same time in the same colors. Maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me. Either way, I think the results on the Word.notebook paper is considerably better than other pocket notebooks and I did test several fountain pens with better-than-expected results. The built-in bullet journal system is a bonus for a lot of people who have embraced the system. Even if you don’t bullet journal, if you use a pocket notebook for lists, then the Word.notebooks definitely provide a leg up over many of its competitors. And I partuclarly like the Declan floral design for being something unique, not overly feminine, but a nice aesthetic alternative to other cover designs.

Now I think I need to invest in the Tasting Notes. Did you hear the Freakonomics podcast episode called The Cheeseburger Diet? I feel like the Tasting Notes notebook was designed to be used for one’s own personal cheeseburger tasting mission. I’d have to do the full cheeseburger triumvirate though: cheeseburger, fries and a vanilla milkshake.


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

Review: Van Hook & Co. A5 Fauxdori Traveler’s Notebook Leather Cover

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I recently found Van Hook and Co. on Etsy and purchased a made-to-order dyed leather, stitched A5 wide cover fauxdori Traveler’s Notebook cover. The cost for the cover an $75 and took about ten days from the time I ordered it until it arrived.

The leather has a warm hue to it and is a heavyweight and firm, not floppy which I really like. There are two short, leather slash pockets in the front and back that add stability and weight to the covers as well. The stitching around the edges is even and bright white. The elastic is black and, by default, Van Hook included four elastics inside for books.

Also, there are two elastic loop along the righthand side for a pen. My Sharbo-X fits snugly in the loops and coordinates nicely with the cover but the loops aren’t wide enough to fit the Pilot Metropolitan without a bit of effort. A Sharpie Pen fits in the loops fine though not as pleasing to look at. If I were to order another cover from Van Hook, I might skip the pen loops just because I tend to carry a whole case of pens with me anyway.

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I filled mine with the Moleskine large notebooks I reviewed earlier this week which fit perfectly. First, is the planner, then a cahier for my knitting project planning, then a Volant for sketching and notes. I have some other A5-ish notebooks on order that I may swap out along the way, but for now I wanted to see how these fit and how well the cover worked with the various thicknesses. So far, so good.

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I never thought I would buy a larger fauxdori cover but I got a wild hair and I am so glad I have another size option in my ‘dori arsenal. I also absolutely love the unusual turquoise color. I cannot wait to see how the color will patina over time.

I will definitely be ordering another cover from Van Hook very soon. The craftsmanship and quality is excellent and I love how thick their leather is. I prefer the hardier leather as an alternative to the more traditional Midori floppy leather covers. I think a traditional, slim chartreuse leather stitched is next on my wish list!

Moving Into My Hobonichi Techo 2016

hobonichi techo 2016

The first step into getting prepared for 2016 was to set-up my new Hobonichi Techo A6 with the blue-green cover ($47). The color combo is absolutely PERFECT! Lime green loveliness inside with my second favorite color, turquoise, exterior. I had a decorative plastic protective sleeve I purchased a few years earlier from 1101.com that I added to the book. I quite like the overall look but sadly, this particular cover is no longer available. There is a different printed over available though or a clear cover.

hobonichi techo 2016

Inside, in the array of card pockets provided, I put lots of tidbits like stickers, washi tape wrapped around old playing cards and a few other tidbits. I’m not hugely inclined to do a lot of decorating in the Hobonichi at this point but the washi tape will give me a way to attach receipts, notes or other ephemera into the book as need and the stickers can be added to the monthly calendar for events and birthdays. Mostly, I plan to use the Hobonichi as a daily journal so the decorative bits are really for those days when I haven’t got a lot to write about and may be inclined to doodle or draw or just put a great big “X” on the day and call it done.

I wanted a pencil board to put between the delicate Tomoe River paper pages so I made one from a piece of index card (read: plain manila file folder), cut to size with a decorative tab at the top. I used the fancy tab punch and some scrapbooking paper to make the tab and the adhesive tab sticker to cover it. It wasn’t necessary to add the tab but it makes it quick to pull the card out and flip it around from page-to-page. It only took a few minutes to make it so I can use it as a blotter card as well if my inks are not completely dry. If it starts to look dodgy after awhile I can make a new one. I used a bit of washi tape to put in the ticket stub from Star Wars: The Force Awakens opposite my pencil board as you can see in the photo below.

hobonichi techo 2016

In the back of the book, I added a little A6 plastic folder that my friend brought back from Japan for me several years ago. As I was setting up the Hobonichi, I realized it was the absolute perfect size to fit into it and gave me a place to put a few more cards and stickers.

hobonichi techo 2016

The Hobonichi provides the last two weeks of December as half-page sheets so that I have been able to slowly start moving towards using it as a daily journal. The narrow half columns are a bit limiting so I’m looking forward to having a full page to write or draw the day’s events. I have been using an extra large Moleskine softcover notebook so the Hobonichi was seems incredibly small in comparison. I’m hoping moving to the full page will help alleviate any feeling of being cramped since the Moleskine XL was a bit larger than I needed per day most of the time.

I’m also still a little concerned about ink smudging and adhesion on the Tomoe River paper. The whole left-handed thing can be a bit of a pain and I get caught up in writing and forget to make sure the ink is dried before I run my hand through it. I’ve already run my hand through it a couple times so I will definitely need to make a point of finding a few pens that are the best match with the Hobonichi and keep them with the book to avoid future messes. So far, my favorite pen with the Hobonichi is the Platinum Carbon Pen. The super fine line allows me to write very small on the graph lines and the ink dries pretty quickly. I’ll play more with the gel pens I stash in my office at work in the next couple weeks and see if any others become favorites.

Are you moving into your 2016 system yet?

Kickstarter: Leftybooks

How can I not support a Kickstarter project that is attempting to create a product to make writing easier and more comfortable for left-handed writers? I couldn’t. So I put my money where my mouth (or in this case my keyboard is) and backed the Leftybooks project which is a notebook designed to help left-handed writers write more easily without dragging their hands through their ink or graphite.

I pledged for the Ambidextrous Couple Set with the B5 Lefty notebook as well as an A5 dot grid notebook. The total with shipping will be around $35. The one aspect of the books not included in the video is the paper stock weight which is always a subject of heated discussion amongst the fountain pen community but the video specifically talks about environmental factors and FSC certified paper so I suspect the paper is not going to be fountain pen friendly but fine for gel, rollerball, pencil and ballpoint.

The project was the creation of a team out of Spain called Imborrable and offers lines that are angled downward ever so slightly to help keep lefties with any hand position from smudging quite so much.

The campaign has 19 days left and they are only one-quarter to their goal of $10K. Let’s help them get there — one Leftybook at a time! And let’s put an end to the smudge!

Ask The Desk: Landscape Notebooks

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Anna Marie asks:

I’m looking for landscape orientation notebooks. I know there’s a landscape orientation Rhodia Webnotebook, but I wouldn’t mind a color that isn’t orange or black. (Sacrilege, I know.) Do any other quality notebook companies make blank landscape orientation options, with binding on the short side? Fountain pen friendly always a bonus!

The sad truth of the matter is that there seems to be an assumption that if you want a horizontal/landscape notebook, you must be an artist and therefore only want a black book. The only company I could find that made landscape notebooks/sketchbooks with any other color cover was Hand Book Artists Journals Travelogue Series. I find the paper a little absorbent for some inks but overall its a thicker stock an good for light washes, and a variety of pen, pencil and media.

If you can live with a black cover though, the Rhodia would be best for fountain pens specifically. For mixed media, I can’t praise Stillman & Birn sketchbooks highly enough. I’ve used the Alpha and the Epsilon notebooks and I like them both. Stillman & Birn offer a landscape format in both softcover (this is new and looks NOT black!) and hardcover. The only Moleskine notebooks I’ve yet to try is the watercolor notebook and many people actually praise it. It’s available in the landscape format with 200 gsm, cold press paper which sounds pretty nice.

Hand Book Artist Journal Travelogue Series, which just happen to be local (Go, Kansas City!) They are available with a linen fabric cover in black, red, blue and green with a soft ivory paper inside.

Review: Moleskine Soft Cover XL Plain

Moleskine Soft cover XL

Before you start asking if the headaches are giving me brain damage, I have to say I asked myself the same question when I picked up this Moleskine Extra Large Plain Soft Cover Notebooks. In general, I find Moleskine notebooks leave me wanting but there was something about the size of this book that appealed to me.

The extra large Moleskine soft cover measures about 7.5×10″ so its bigger than an A5 but its not as large as a full US Letter size or A4. It kind of reminded me of a school composition notebook. And the flexible soft cover only added to the nostalgia.

The soft cover makes it lay flat easily and the covers can be folded back to easily work on either the let or right side of the pages at a time. The book mark ribbon is still unfinished on the end so I added a little white glue to edge to keep it from fraying. The soft cover books do include the gusseted pocket in the back and the vertical elastic, like all the other Moleskine editions.

I added a Leuchtturm 1917 pen loop to the back cover and set to work using it. I think I was really looking for something to tide me over until the start of the year when I plan to start keeping a regular journal in my new Hobonichi Techo.

Because of the soft cover, this book is super low profile. It takes up almost no space in my bag meaning I am taking it with me everywhere and using it for some daily journaling and a catch-all commonplace book.

Moleskine Soft cover XL

If I come to accept that there is showthrough (not necessarily bleed through) on the reverse side of my writing page, than this paper actually did quite well. Even with some fountain pens and brush markers, I didn’t have the issues I’ve had with other Moleskine books. This contains what I assume is the standard writing paper but maybe they’ve improve the stock somewhat because I didn’t get any of the weird splining or veining that I’ve noticed in the past.

Moleskine Soft cover XLI’m a little shocked at how well-behaved the paper is and how much I’m enjoying the larger size.I’ve been using it mostly with felt tip and gel pens at work with the occasional watercolor brush pen thrown in and the inks have not spread or done anything weird. In fact, I keep thinking I could probably use the back of the pages as well but I have been so burnt in the past by earlier editions of Moleskines that I I just keep using the right hand pages only. But I could use the left hand side as well. Really. I’m just as surprised as you are.

Sometimes, the right notebook for the right moment just sort of shows up and no matter how much you think, “Oh, no. I would never use a Moleskine. Its only for posers and hipsters,” you find that its not all that bad after all.

I made a guide sheet for myself for this particular size notebook. Is anyone else interested in these? If so, I’ll add them to the guide sheet page soon. Just leave me a note in the comments.

Planner Review: Leuchtturm1917 2016 Planner

Leuchtturm1917 Planner 2016

Somehow, no matter where my planning path takes me, I always manage to come back to the classic hardbound planner like the Leuchtturm1917 A5 planner. It really does have all the parts and pieces needed to plan out my schedule, take notes and basically stay on top of things. And it does all this in a relatively small package without sacrificing writing real estate.

leuchtturm-comparison-1

Just to give a bit of size comparison, I sandwiched the Leuchtturm 1917 between my personal-sized Filofax Original in dark aqua and my A5-sized Finsbury in aqua (thanks to MJ for this beauty!) The paper size of the Leuchtturm 1917 planner is exactly the same as the A5 Filofax but it takes up considerably less space.

leuchtturm-comparison-2

From the side, the Leuchtturm 1917 is also much slimmer but you get the idea. If one of your goals for 2016 is to trim down your daily carry, the Leuchtturm 1917 planner may be the first item on your wishlist.

Now, back to the details of the planner —

The Luechtturm1917 planner features the same soft ivory paper as regular Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks and all the printing is in a light, warm grey that is subtle and not distracting at all. It makes for a very clean looking planner.

The book features two grosgrain ribbon bookmarks with (JOY!) sealed ends. One marker is solid and the other is striped. I think the grey-and-teal striped marker is fabulous!

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner year at a glance

Inside the Leuchtturm 1917 Planner is year-at-a-glance calendars for 2015, 2016 and 2017 which makes it easy to reference for forward planning. The year-at-a-glance include week numbers. Next is a month-at-a-glance laid out vertically and include the moon phases. Each page had three months on it for a total of four pages of month-at-a-glance. Then comes a two-page spread of international holidays for 2016. Only the dates are listed, not the actual holiday, so if you don’t know why July 5 and 6 are holidays in the Czech Republic, you can make something up.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner project planner section

Then there is a project planning section. I did a little googling to try to figure out how this section would be used. Say you are having the roof repaired on your house and the contractor says it’ll take two weeks and they will start the first week of April, you’d write roof repair in the first box and then at the first week of April draw a line or dot or “x” then another in the second box under April. Then you could plan your mother-in-law’s visit after those two weeks. I’m not sure how useful these pages would be for me as I’m more inclined to use a month-at-a-glance calendar for these sorts of activities but it seems interesting.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner week on one page plus notes

Then comes the meat of the planner — the week-on-one-page plus notes layout that occupies the majority of the book. Saturday and Sunday share the bottom box which I’m not thrilled with but the full page for notes would provide any additional space I might need for weekend tasks, projects or events. At the bottom of each page is the week number again and the holidays are marked by country abbreviations. The moon phases are also shown in the weekly pages.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner extras

At the end of the book are 20 blank pages: 10 pages have perforation to make them easy to tear out. In the back in a bright white writing board with grid on one side and lines on the other in a dark black to act as a guide sheet with the blank pages. Also included is a set of stickers for labelling the spine and cover of your planner and a small cahier address book that can be tucked into the back gusseted pocket.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner pocket

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner ink tests

I did some rigorous pen testing and found that most fine nibbed fountain pens and felt tips worked well on the paper. Of course, ballpoint and gel pens performed exceedingly well. Since the paper is slightly ivory, the yellow mildliner was too light to be much use but traditional yellow highlighters and other colors of mildliners should work just fine.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner ink tests reverse side

From the reverse of the pen tests you can see a little bit of show through with the Franklin Christoph medium italic and the Pilot Varsity with standard medium nib. I also got a bit of show through from the TWSBI Mini with Callifolio Oliphants but I think that’s the ink more than the pen itself.

The book I received is called “Emerald” but its more of a teal, blue-green. I think the color is magnificent. While I believe that the emerald green color is the absolute best color option, Leuchtturm 1917 has provided eight other colors to choose from for their planners including a classic navy, black and grey as well as radiant shades of lemon, berry, orange, azure blue and purple if emerald green ain’t your thing. The A5 size planner is available from Goulet Pens for $19.95 per book.


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

Quick! Field Notes XOXO, Planner and more!

Field Notes XOXO 2016 edition

Do you subscribe to the Field Notes mailing list? If you do, go quickly and check for today’s email to get a chance to purchase a few of the limited edition XOXO Field Notes for 2016. GO… I’ll wait….

FN 2015-16 planner

If not, subscribe today for special deals. But I’ll share the other new products available today like the new wirebound paper planner ($13.95) and a new edition of the tear-away desk calendar ($11.95).

Field Notes Planner in use

The weekly planner looks fabulous and I am looking forward to seeing more details. Its the same size as the Arts & Science edition at 4.75 x 7.5″ with a double wire spiral and 56-weeks of planning on Finch 70# text paper. The lines look like they are printed in a brown ink which is a great way to get your blue, blue-black or black ink to pop. Or if you’re like me, your purple, pink, turquoise, orange or lime green pen to pop.

Field NOtes 2016 tear away calendar

That’s some good sh*t! Enjoy!

Link Love: Quo Vadis Planning Addendum

Quo Vadis blog screenshot

I’ve got a  whole lot of Quo Vadis love going on right now. So much so that it felt like it deserved its very own shout-out. If you are not familiar with Quo Vadis, they are a division of the Clairefontaine/Rhodia/Quo Vadis paper dynasty specializing in agendas and planners and, of course, the delicious Quo Vadis Habana notebook line.

Over the last few weeks (and to be honest, pretty much all the time), the Quo Vadis blog has an on-going series about time management and planning techniques. It specifically related to their planner systems of course, but I’ve found that a lot of the tips and recommendations will work regardless of whether you use a Quo Vadis planner or another system. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner that the planning and time management tips Quo Vadis provides could apply to any planning system. Looking at it with fresh eyes, I realize that there is so much good content here!

And, of course, I couldn’t help but love the content since Laurie Huff of Plannerisms fame has been at the keyboard. This is a woman who knows a thing or two about planning!

The best thing about the posts on Quo Vadis, and the Quo Vadis planning tools as a whole, is that they focus on getting the content in your planner rather than the decorating or beautifying that is the focus of so many other blogs and videos. Don’t get me wrong, I love that people use their planner as a creative outlet. I love seeing how people embellish their planners and journals. However, I have been looking for the core fundamentals of effectively using a paper planner for weeks and it was right here all along.

So if you are looking for some great planning and organization techniques, you might want to check out some of these posts:

Quo Vadis is also gearing up for a 2016 Page Per Day writing challenge. If you’re considering writing more in 2016, this challenge may help to keep you motivated when facing those blank pages. There is a Facebook group for participants using Quo Vadis tools for the Page Per Day Challenge. You can “play along” with whatever tools you want to use, however, the group is exclusive to Quo Vadis users.

If you think you might be interested in participating in the 2016 Page-Per-Day challenges:

 

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.

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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.

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