State of the Art: Print Making

One of my art loves is print making, it combines well with bookbinding and allows the artist to make many copies of the art work. What isn’t to love?

A few years back my friend Jane and I spent a weekend setting up and making gelatin plates, and shortly after I read Linda Germain’s post about plasticizing the gelatin for longer lasting plates. Her blog has stayed on my Old Reader and Feedly feeds since then.

Recently she wrote about pressing flowers in a little die cutter and embosser tool. She linked to an old post where she wrote about using it as an etching, litho, and all around mini press.

I immediately took to the inter-tubes to see if I could find one of my own. The brand she suggested is hard to find and very expensive now. Instead I found a similar model by a different brand on clearance. It should arrive this week and I hope to play with it a bit when i finish getting my garden ready.

Most of the brands seem to have a press bed of 6 inches by 12 inches. Perfect for half of a standard American letter sized sheet of paper. This is a good size for my use- I like to work small anyway, and the small portable size means I can stash it just about anywhere.

If you decide to make a purchase of one of these presses for yourself look for a die cutter/embosser with adjustable pressure. Either on the top or the side opposite the crank handle there will be a knob. Most companies will have this emblazoned on their boxes. You can use one that is not adjustable, but you’ll have to adjust pressure with addition blankets and shims, which is annoying.

Anyway, check out Germain’s blog, it’s excellent.

No links to the ‘zon on this one.

If you enjoy my posts, hit the ko-fi button on the sidebar and buy me a coffee, it helps to get stuff in for review and fuels my art habits. 🙂

Maker: Moving into a New Journal

Moving into a new journal is an important moment in every journaler’s life. Without a new journal my life is prone to… disorder. So I always have a new one ready to go when I have 20 or so pages left.

What do I do to prepare?

I grab my current journal and assess what did and did not work. My current set up where I use a printed year at a glance calendar, a 6 month future log, blog posts to write tracker, and then set up 2 month logs, weekend logs and everything else is a form of collection.

The Muryo system had me thinking about themes for indexing and quick grouping of information. I settled onto a few: SuburbSkills, plans, Useful Journaling, Learning/research, blog, posts, I add and leave behind themes as I no longer need them.

The above is accomplished early, far in advance of the actual journal being finished. When the journal is finished, I start the next phase.

I flip through the journal and make notes on plans and projects. If a project failed I make a note about what happened and why it failed. If it worked but not to expectation, I make more notes. So on and so forth.

I then flip through again with some post it flags and tag the various on going projects. I don’t stick to a particular color, though I should consider that for the future. Some projects don’t get a tag- like the plans for the work bench and pergola. I’ve shifted to a different type of pergola, using recycled materials. The bench is in progress and thus doesn’t need to be tagged.

I also transfer information as needed. I try to keep this to a minimum, knowing that I can grab this journal off my desk at any time. I look at the current month and only transfer what is left in this month’s log to the new journal. The 6 month future log gets the same treatment.

My blog post list gets transferred, and I have to determine if a review or post will ever get done at this point. If an item lived  on my to do list for the life of an entire journal will I ever actually write that post? Probably not. I have turned this list into a pair of lists, one for this blog and one for Suburb Skills, as these are the 2 sites I’m working on currently. Useful Journaling only gets an update when new zines come out. Though I do have ideas to make that site something more.

After all that, I write the end date in the old journal and the start date in the new one. I make sure my new journal has a bunch of tabs and post it notes in the front, and a ruler in the back. After all that, which really only takes an hour or so, I start using the new journal.

As I look at this, it reads as if it is very complicated, and I swear that it is not. It’s a relatively quick and simple process. In Bullet Journaling this process is called migration I tend to call it getting started or transferring. Here are some more shots from my transfer session.

State of the Art: When Shit Falls Apart

I started a pogo-print-a-day project back in October 2020, and looking back that was not the world’s greatest time to start a project. But I was hopeful.

I can’t write about much of the falling apart here, but things got stressful. I will not go into the impact of covid and the, then impending holiday season. But many of my projects fell apart in late November. I did win Nanowrimo, but that was followed by December.

December was intolerably stressful. I reached my original goal of 50 photos, then… stopped taking them. Writing got more difficult and tapered off to nothing. I maintained the blog until about January, which many of you remember that in past years I’ve taken off. This year I took most of February off too.

Behind the scenes I was gathering more materials for reviews and testing them, but not writing reviews. I’m now writing up those reviews and getting them posted.

I finally finished Useful Journaling 1.3 (The Every Thing, Every Where issue.) I’m now working on 1.4 and what I’m calling series 2. Series 2 is going to be different, more in depth and longer than series 1. I’m excited.

Slowly but surely, I’m getting back to my usual posting and art based activities.

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Maker: Worn in Tools

pencil with imprint worn off

Doms Fusion with imprint partially worn off.

I posted a review of the Doms Fusion pencil. It’s a nifty little pencil with a grippy matte finish printed with loads of little foil starbursts and silver words. I love everything about its weird little design choices. Why red, blue and green foil with a silver imprint? Why not have all the printing be one color for each pencil? The end dip is spectacular.
I know a lot of folx want their imprints to be pristine from the start to finish of their pencils. The last few weeks I’ve been using the Fusion pencils as I write up notes, outlines, and jot down research. I’ve carried one with me to and from work. I’ve been shoving it over my ear and under the folded brim of my beanie.

As I’ve used it, the foil has worn here and there. As I sharpen it, it gets a little more worn. I love the look of a tool that shows I’ve used it, I’ve worn it into my use. To my eyes, it looks better every day.

Review: Muryō Bullet Journal Indexing System

Muryō is a very personalized and interesting bullet journal indexing system. Muryō is the brainchild of Jessie Friedman and reflects his bullet journaling methods. Consider Muryō to be an add on for your bullet journal.

In the Three Month Pack of Muryō you get 3 folded cards. They designed these to fit well in a regular A5 Leuchturm1917. They fit in my regular A5 sized ScribblSheets okay, but the fit wasn’t perfect. We’ll get to why that was important. It was a bit short all around.Muryō bullet journal indexing system
One side of Muryō has some mood and habit tracking icons and lines for creating an index with scribbled on “tabs” for finding the items in your notebook. There’s also a set of lines for a dated to do list. The opposite side has habit tracking, goals, and what Jessie called “Legend.” This is another name for an affirmation.*
I like affirmations; I think I have to because I’m a therapist. They are extremely useful tools for motivation, goal setting and fighting that pesky self doubt, so whatever you need to call it, use it. I prefer to write affirmations more frequently than once per month. This could be a suitable space to write an overarching objective for the month. The goals section was easier to apply, as I have projects that made the goals easy to write. As for the habit tracking, I dutifully filled that in. Though I realized that without dates labeled, it was hard for me to keep track of where I was, if I wasn’t filling them in daily.
For my use, this is where the system falls apart, if you aren’t using it daily, it’s really easy to lose track of where you are on the habits, and some habits that might require a daily tick mark are easier to monitor digitally. My step count is monitored by my fitbit, water intake is easier to monitor through the fitbit app and so on. Other tasks adapted well to this system, but again, if I didn’t pull out that sheet daily and tick them off, I lost my place.
Eventually, I just wrote the dates for the month along the bottom row of the chart.
The flip side with the index lives. This is where things get really useful. I found that because the Muryō sheet didn’t fit my journal as well as an L1917, that lining up the mood and habit tracker was less helpful. So it ended up being wasted space that I’d much rather have used for additional index spaces. I didn’t have a single habit that I wanted to track on its own bumped out space in my journal that wasn’t already being addressed by the habit tracker on the other side of the Muryō. That felt like over kill.
The dated task list area ended up unused because of the way I have my bullet journal set up. My dated tasks end up on their own task list for a specific set of dates.
This brings me to the index system, which is the part of Muryō that I found the most useful. The scribbled index markers on the edge of the page helped me to find areas and ideas in my journal very quickly. All i needed to do was find the correct edge scribble and flip to that area. Fast. Easy.
My over all thoughts about the Muryō is that it’s a nice system if you aren’t already using a system. Putting my habit tracking into the back pages of my journal seems to work better for me than having it on a card that I pull in and out of the notebook. I dislike the idea of gluing it into the journal after I’m done with it and instead stashed it into the back pocket of my journal. I really wanted to keep using the index after the month. It is really tempting to tear the habit tracker off and continue to use the index. I think if you are looking for ideas on how to track habits or a fast indexing system it’s worth testing it out for a month. If you are like me and already using a habit tracking system, or use a digital method** for some of your tasks, this might not be the system for you.
I like Muryō but it feels very personalized and doesn’t quite link up with my Every Thing Every Where journaling style.

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State of the Art: Zines

Lately the art I’ve been making has been written and mostly in the form of letters and journals and nonfiction writing. Someone once told me that writing nonfiction was easy because it wasn’t creating anything.

Envision a long pause as I take in what she said… LOL not creating. LOL.

Looking back it is laugh out loud funny, but back at that moment it fed into my inner critic  which fed into my imposter syndrome.

Well, I’ve come a long way in the last few years, and quite frankly, that former friend can stuff it. Though If I ran into her again my language might not be as nice.

My zine, Useful Journaling has 3 issues out now. I’ve reprinted the first issue several times and the second is about to be reprinted. Making zines has been a throw back to my days of bookbinding, and wow do I want to make some pocket notebooks. I’ve been making simple collages as a future cover for Useful Journal (that will make sense for issue 4) and that’s been really fun creating a nice cover that will get photographed then manipulated digitally to create the final cover.

Though it’s not art, I’ve also been starting seeds and getting things read for my garden.  It is creative in that I’m reusing as much as I can and recycling things, like Keurig cups and tp tubes for seed starting.

Review: Markings Bulleting Log Notebook

Y’all know I love an inexpensive notebook, and the Markings Bulleting Log Notebook fit’s the bill. This one qualifies because it was in the clearance bin which brought it down to well below $10. It’s usual price is around $15.
Markings Bulleting Log Notebooks with an orange cover

Markings Bulleting Log Notebooks with an orange cover

Imagine my surprise when I was in Walgreens* to get my kombucha** and I saw they were carrying the formerly Staples exclusive brand Markings by C.R. Gibson. If you don’t make a run through the stationery section of the drug store are you even a stationery fan?
Anyway, Walgreens has been carrying the Markings journals for a while now. The prices are on par with other journals in the mass market range- anywhere from $10 to $20, but hovering right around $15 for most of the offerings. The Markings journals have a range of features- from dot grid pages to multiple ribbon place markers, to plastic rulers, to calendars across the top.

My first interaction with Markings journals was that the covers were sturdy black or dark brown vinyl with stitching around the edges. Classy and ready for the boardroom. The covers in Walgreens range from plain vinyl to mine- bright orange with a printed slogan, mine says, “Go get ’em!” Luckily I have a bunch of stickers to slap over that. It still has that classic edge stitching. The cover is sturdy with a hint of flex. It works well enough for writing in hand and opens flat for writing on a desk.

Mine sports 3 differently colored ribbon place markers, that were well heat sealed upon purchase but I hit them with a lighter to get the seal stronger. At the back there is a pocket and an elastic to hold the whole thing shut.

Inside are off white creamy colored pages with pale grey printing. You know how I love grey ruling, well this one isn’t super pale but stands out a bit. Better for low-level light writing than a few of my old journals.

Across the top is a large area to write in a topic label and a date bar. You circle the proper month, then the day. It’s not a bad system and one I’ve seen a few rubber stamps for on etsy. At the very bottom corner of the page is a grey circle, for numbering your pages.

I have to admit that in all the years I saw Markings at Staples I never purchased one. The paper always felt okay, but back when they would have appealed to me, I was firmly entrenched in Moleskine sketchbooks, with their thicker paper for my journaling. The Markings seemed too… parental and stuffy to me. Not this one, with it’s bright orange cover and cheesetastic slogan.

So how is the paper? Good. It’s smooth with a bit of tooth. Pencil is great on this paper and looks good on it’s warm creamy surface. Gel ink sings across the page. Highlighters don’t soak through, even with multiple passes across the same area! And fountain pen? Well, fountain pens perform really well. The page isn’t thin, but you can see darker colors in wide nibs through the page, but it doesn’t interfere with use of the reverse of the page. At 240 pages this is a chonky journal.

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised by the Markings Bulleting Log Notebook. If you are running out of pages in your current journal and happen upon Markings by C.R. Gibson for a good price, it’s worth the cash, this is a great Every Thing Every Where Journal.

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Review: Updates to NovelPad

NovelPad recently made some big updates which addressed a few of the things I wanted to see from them. I’ve cut and pasted this directly from their email, as I couldn’t find a good link to it online.
The last time I sent one of these was over two months ago, but for good reason. On Monday, we released the biggest update to NovelPad ever:
  • ProWritingAid Grammar and Spellcheck is now included with your NovelPad subscription (and automatically enabled)
  • Offline Mode
  • Import from Word, ODT, or a Markdown file
  • Typewriter Mode
  • Improved Copy – Paste from Google Docs, Word, and elsewhere
  • Customizable Default Text Justification
  • Customizable Page Width
  • Enhanced Dark Mode updates (now you won’t have as many blindingly white buttons in Dark Mode)
But that’s old news at this point because we’re getting back into our weekly update schedule, and to kick it off here’s what got better in NovelPad this week:

1. Collapsable Chapter Headers

Now you can increase your writing zen when drafting in the Manuscript View by collapsing chapters that you’re not focused on:

2. Manuscript View Remembers Scroll Position

Now every time you navigate within NovelPad or elsewhere, when you return to the Manuscript View, you’ll pick up right where you left off!

3. Word Import Fixes

A couple of minor fixes:
  1. Import from Word no longer underlines italicized text.
  2. Import from Word now properly underlines underlined text.
  3. Import from Word no longer adds a scene separator when any consistently formatted piece of text contains only symbols. (It now requires that the entire paragraph be only symbols, and contain the same formatting throughout.)
  4. Import from Word now sets the default novel width to 6.5in.

4. Total Word Count

This one definitely isn’t ground-breaking, but it was certainly overdue! Now you can see the total word count of your novel on the Analytics Page:

5. Selected Word Counts

When selecting text, the formatting dialog will now show you the Scene word count and the Selected word count:

6. Text Justification

Speaking of the formatting dialog, now we also allow for all four standard text justification methods: Left, Center, Right, and Justified (unsupported in Firefox):

7. Typewriter Mode Scroll Fix

Fixed a bug where replacing text with ProWritingAid in Typewriter Mode would occasionally cause the Manuscript View to scroll to an incorrect position.

8. Unindented First Paragraph

We’ve added a setting that allows you to disable indentation of the first paragraph in each scene. This should make the novel look a bit more “standard” while writing:

Maker: Zine Friends Edition

I’m sitting here toasty warm after a weekend long warm snap wherein I began building raised beds that will take up the entire back half of my city sized backyard. The rough part of this is that I am now in allergy hell. Leaking nose, watery eyes, and sinuses so stuffed I’m surprised my nose can leak. I finally had a chance to sit  down with a few zine friends that I’ve been meaning to dig into.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m pretty lucky to have my zine friends, not only do they make some killer content online but their creativity is stellar.

404 (Dunno where my picture for this went) Is Andy’s little ditty to error codes and poetry and UX writing. KIller. I can’t wait to get the next issue.

Pencil of the Week– This last issue was awesome. The folded library card like envelope was awesome, not to mention the collab with Ernest Theodore. Included in the package is a color post card by Ali Serra aka Ernest Theodore. I love it when zinesters go artsy, and this was great.

Just when I thought Pencil Revolution couldn’t  get cooler, Johnny moved up to a half sized zine* and moved production to once a month. This means we get a thicker, longer themed issues. And the last 3 in this series are all great. I particularly enjoy this last issue that explores walking with writing. I’ve got to agree with Johnny that nothing gets those grey cells pumping out journal pages better than a good walk.

Johnny also does a series of zines about mental health issues. They are really wonderful snapshots of life with mental health issues.

Plumbago is coming back and they are looking for contributors.

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Review: Apsara Matte Magic 2.0 Pencil

The Apsara Matte Magic 2.0 pencil is pure fun. It hits all the buttons for me for an enjoyable pencil experience.  First, the pencil is painted black. Black pencils are my jam and I always want more of them. The imprint is silver foil on black- classic and awesome. The end dips are colorful and have meaning to the inside of the pencil.

Inside the wood of the pencil, it sharpens like bass wood, is dyed a variety of colors. Some pencils have one color of wood inside, others have two colors. The end dips correlate to the colors inside! The mechanical coordination this must’ve taken in a factory pumping out millions of pencils is kind of mind blowing.

The core is labeled as extra dark, which in Apsara terms means nicely dark with a firm core. The extra dark core is one of my favorites for writing for long periods of time. It glides smoothly over a page and leaves a deep dark line. Killer.

I sharpened mine up in my hacked Apsara Long Point housed in a RandomThinks 3D printed holder (a killer tool check out his insta to see if you can get one) and it sharpens up to a lovely point.

The 10 pencils arrive bundled with a long point sharpener ripe for hacking and a little plastic eraser. I’ve immediately started to use the tiny eraser. It’s perfect for pocket carry and mimics the pencils- the inside of mine is yellow and the outside is black. Cool.

I picked these up on the ‘zon for $6.99. At 58 cents a pencil this doesn’t reach into most folx premium range, and it’s about 20 cents cheaper than last week’s review. These are nice pencils that have a core that works really well for all my writing needs, especially long form writing. They glide on all my paper and I love them. They are fun and bring me joy.

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