Tag Archives: notebook

Review: Field Notes Byline Summer Colors Edition

 

I don’t usually review the new Field Notes (FN) color editions as they come out, but Bylines is so different I think it really deserves a once over.

First, I’ve been digging Reporter Notebooks for the last 6 months and began to get interested in them about a year ago. Why? I don’t know. Universe synergy? Collective consciousness*. Clearly something is in the air, because reporter notebooks are booming. Field Notes and Write both came out with one at the SAME FRICKIN’ time. Whoa. Crazy cool.IMG_0107

Anyway. The Byline has been hailed as “reinventing” the reporter notebook among many other things that fans of Field Notes are wont to say. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Aaron Draplin design, but this is not reinvention. It is a fabulous interpretation of the reporter notebook, but reinvention? Well, if you count using floppy barely functional covers as radical. But then Tops, Portage, and Mead have been doing that since the 90s. So radical, what a  departure. Please, cool your hyperbolic jets, field nuts.daringfireballhyperbole.bmp

But the covered spiral binding? That’s surely radical. Err, yeah, you haven’t seen many annual reports for midsized companies** have you? The covered spiral binding is routinely used by print companies to dress up a company’s annual report. It’s relatively inexpensive yet looks great. It stands up well to being tossed around and shipped.IMG_0113

He made it narrower! By a quarter inch. There are also half as many pages as in a regular reporter’s notebook. Yes the paper in the FNB is twice as good and I’m able to use both sides. There is a pocket! Is that really your trump card? *shakes head* The pocket makes the last few pages lumpy and bumpy and hard to write on. It also gives some weight and thickness.IMG_0108

Here’s the thing, I LOVE this edition. I love reporter’s notebooks. The long narrow form factor is great for making outlines for stories, podcasts, videos, and other things that need outlines. It’s one of the reasons I love the Write Notes Ledger and I want to love all notebooks that are tall, open at top, and narrow. If you like this form factor it’s going to work for you. If not, well, my address is…
IMG_0112 IMG_0115One of the best aspects of his new design is the paper. It’s heavy, quality, and great with all manners of ink. This is a notebook for the fountain pen users of Field Notes, granted it’s not the right form factor, but you can’t get everything you want.IMG_0111

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Review: Shinola Small Notebook Paperback, Ruled

During my last visit to Artist & Craftsman I purchased a few Shinola notebooks on a whim. The small paperback notebooks are available in a variety of colors and are displayed in a neat spinning display made of dark stained wood and plexiglass. For the paperback books I snagged the orange color but they also have a nice pink, tan, navy, teal and black. They were out of the teal or I’d have gotten that*. Orange is a great color for a notebook because it can easily be found in a bag and in among crap laid out on a desk.Shinola Papercover

The notebooks are covered in a stiff cardstock that is sturdy, and the one I’m using has survived some seriously rough use. Yes, it has achieved and nice wabi sabi worn in look, which will offend some of new “brand new look” purists but, I love me the worn in look, and this is starting to get a good patina. The cover also has some nice embossing and debossing details. The name plate has a nice rounded rectangle embossed around it as well as a series of double lines at the top and bottom, which I think it could do without, but look okay. There is an embossing around the edges of the front cover. The back cover is adorned with simply, “Shinola Detroit.”Shinola Papercover

I’ve made my way through 3/4ths of the book and the spine is surviving well. The spine is not stitched rather it is perfect bound with embedded cords. While this is a sturdy sort of perfect binding, it won’t last forever. Eventually the rubbery glue they have used on the spine will give out, it might take 10 or 20 years, so if you use these for notes you want for posterity, because you know your thoughts are really THAT important, these might not be for you. So yes, perfect binding is generally the devil’s tool, but this is a good one, and has survived my rough use thus far. Also, for even more of a party foul, it won’t ever lay flat, nope don’t bother I tried. A final weirdness, these measure 5.5Hx3.75 inches, so you have to wedge them into your covers and they do NOT fit into a Fodderstack XL, again don’t bother I TRIED.Shinola Papercover

The paper is a delightful cream color with light grey lines. I love the color of the paper and the lines. the paper is smooth and lacks any sort of toothines that I like for graphite. I find the pages are prone to smudging when I use my usual B or 2B pencils on them. this is a great paper for HB or even *GASP* Wopex! Oh yes, this paper is DELIGHTFUL for the odd wopex pencil you have in your kit.Shinola Papercover

Anyway, you can ge a 2-pack of these 72 page lined notebooks for about $6.75 at Artist & Craftsman in Saugus, MA or you can go to the Shinola website, or a number of other sites.Shinola Papercover Shinola Papercover

Details:

  • Paperbacked
  • Perfect bound, NOT stitched
  • 72 lined cream colored pages
  • 60lb/90gsm acid free
  • 5.5×3.75 inches

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Review: The Mt. Tom Six by Four by Bob Slate

In complete opposite to the last notebook review I did, I’m ecstatic over this one, even though it has a spiral binding, and I’ve written about how much I despise spiral bindings. The Mt. Tom is a 6×4 inch 80 sheet notebook sold by Bob Slate Stationer in Cambridge, MA. The spiral binding is bright silver and tough. The paper is bright white with dusky blue college ruling. The cover is raw tan card and is stiff enough that you can write in hand.MT TOMThe paper is very nice. It responds well to juicy fountain pens and scratchy pencils and smooth Palomino Blackwings. I was quite surprised at how nice the paper responded to everything I threw at it. The construction is solid. the spirals, though the notebook lives at the bottom of my backpack, are hardly squished or bent. The stiff cover allows me to take notes on the go and is delightful for scratching out ideas on the train. The printing on the book is in red, much like their line of notebooks branded for Harvard, but is a little more subtle.MT TOM MT TOMThe price is right too, at $1.95 this notebook is not only a quality winner, but a value.MT TOM MT TOMAs for the spiral binding, I wish they would produce a composition notebook with this paper inside. It would allow for any tool to be used on it’s pages with success. I also tested out another of their notebooks, which I’ll write about later, but no where on their shelves did I see a Bob Slate composition notebook. If half as good as these, I’d buy a dozen. I suffer the spiral binding, though I loathe them, because sometimes you need a notebook where pages can be torn asunder and passed to another. To do and grocery  lists must be jotted down and fulfilled. You can’t just tear out a page of a Field Notes without destroying it’s structural integrity, rather, you keep something like this for those occasions.

Review: Tattersall Pocket Notebook

I picked up a 2-pack of OrangeArt’s pocket sized tattersall letterpress printed notebooks at Black Ink in Harvard Square awhile back. The 2-pack was $8.50, so pretty pricey.TattersallEach notebook has a cover and pages that are letter press printed with a  tattersall pattern. Basically zigzag lines in a large grid pattern. The covers are printed in 2 colors while the interior is a nice shade of gray. The interior paper is nice, toothy enough for pencils and smooth enough for fountain pens. Fountain pens perform reasonably well on this paper, with a little show through and hardly any bleed through but for where I rested my pen a second too long. I used 3 inks in my testing, Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite, J. Herbin Lie de The, and Noodler’s Heart of Darkness.  All were in medium or fine nibbed pens that run wet. I had no feathering or widening of the lines. With the finest of pens the paper made them feel scratchy, but not bad enough to stop me from writing. Pencils performed admirably on this paper. I was able to use my soft dark Palomino Blackwing (“original”) as well as my harder lighter Mirado Black Warrior to good effect. The paper was toothy enough to pull off a decent amount of graphite but not so toothy it felt like I was writing on a cheese grater. Pretty much just right.TattersallTattersall TattersallThe book is held together with 2 standard staples. This works reasonably well. I did not subject this to a stress test as this book was my at-home journal and even there lived in a leather cover. The cover is letterpress printed in 2 colors on white. The cover paper is not much heavier than the interior pages and feels flimsy. It is the worst part of the whole book. While pretty, this cover simply isn’t going to hold up to much abuse or pulling in and out of a back pocket. This is a paper cover that necessitates a case for any use out and about.TattersallThe 40 pages take fountain pen and pencil well. This notebook has 8 less pages than other pocket notebooks that are cheaper. The ruling is also  odd. It is a gray version of the exterior printing but without the cool letterpress imprint*.  The ruling is super wide, about double the width of a Word notebook and most other ruling. It measures in at 13mm. Super wide. i was able to fit 2 lines of writing into one line. I find this annoying. the ruling is also thick about .5mm. even though it’s gray it shows up under all my writing and remains very noticeable. They are available without the ruling. If I were to buy these again I’d look for them with blank pages.Tattersall TattersallOverall these are very pretty pocket notebooks and wonderful if you use a case/cover for your books. If you use fountain pens you will be pleased with the interior paper, and likewise for pencil. They are higher priced than Field Notes or Word notebooks, but boast letterpress printed covers and interior pages. Worth it if you like letter pressed items and want something a little different from the standard fare.

Here you can see the Tattersall on top of a Field Notes Red Blooded, it's a tad smaller than the Field Notes.

Here you can see the Tattersall on top of a Field Notes Red Blooded, it’s a tad smaller than the Field Notes.

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Review: Furrow Books Pocket Size Notebook

I signed onto the Kickstarter campaign for Furrow Books roughly 6 or so months ago.  I pledged for one of the founding member pocket sized notebooks. Its price was fair to help support the campaign.FurrowThe pocket sized notebooks are 3.5×5.5 inches in size and contain 48 pages. The pages are held to the cover by 3 silver staples. This is all pretty standard in the pocket sized notebook arena. The front cover is unadorned and is a nice dark shade of green. The back cover has some information about the company and the book. Because this was a limited edition of 1500, it sports a hand numbered 0044/1500. At the bottom of the back cover is the furrow books logo. The cover is made of stiff sturdy card. I really dig the logo free front cover.FurrowFurrowInside the covers are colored the original Kickstarter green* and they are blank. They don’t have a place to put your information but this is easily enough to be scrawling in with ink. The pages are blank. Furrow books schtick is that their pages are blank, but that they have a card with lines that you can stick behind them and use as a guide. The pages are just thin enough that you can see this guide well enough to, uh, guide your writing. In practice this works pretty well. I found shoving the card behind every page a tad annoying** but for specific reason which will likely not annoy anyone else (read the footnote for more info on this.) Using the notebook in my cover meant that the elastic pushed the card out of place. Outside the cover it worked pretty well.  I really liked the fact that once I was done there were no lines visible on my page and yet my writing was perfectly straight. Like lines? That’s covered. Like grids? That’s covered. The card is double sided to accommodate what you prefer.FurrowFurrow FurrowFurrowWhile using a pencil I found that my card got a little graphite transfer. This wasn’t an issue in use just a thing to make note of. It wouldn’t happen with fountain pens.FurrowAs someone who interchangeably uses fountain pens, pencils and cheap roller balls it’s important that I know what kind of utensil will work on my paper. I found that pencils worked the best on this paper, in fact they worked so well I found myself using little else. I did test out the Field Notes clic pen to good effect. I tested out a few of my fountain pen stash and the results were ok. I had a lot of show through  and a touch of bleed through. YMMV. I really liked it with pencil, and I would put it on par with some of my other favorite notebooks with pencils. Furrow FurrowOverall this is a pretty nice notebook with great paper that is made well here in the US. The aesthetics are significantly different than Field Notes and approach a classy simplicity in the choice of cover materials and treatments.  These notebooks would look good in an office, board meeting, or a meeting with nerdy professors. The branding is subtle and adult, sophisticated. Again,, comparing them to Field Notes, they lack the fun factor, but make up for it by being an adult notebook.

While I was a Kickstarter Supporter, I suggest that people keep an eye out for these notebooks and support them. MAde in the USA, quality construction (when compared to other notebooks of similar build) and a nice look. How can you go wrong?

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Review: Calepino Notebook

Calepino notebooks are the french equivalent of Field Notes. Their limited editions pair with a designer to create their covers, pencils, and matching pens. They have 4 ruling options- lines, grid, dot grid, and plain. Their regular editions feature a color that denotes the kind of grid inside, red, green blue and silver. The typical cover features bands of color with the name of the company and notebook’s info.calepino calepino calepino

I lucked out and snagged a Vetted X Calepino notebook via a swap a few weeks ago. This featured a white cover with some printing on it in black. Inside it was loaded up with white dot grid paper.  The inside of the cover was printed with the usual “fill in your important info” style lines and such. Of course it was in French but my rudimentary High School French tells me that it is pretty much like Word or Field Notes style info. the inside back cover relays info about Calepino and the history of the company as well as a ruler.calepino calepino

The cover is tough cardstock and survive my uses, which you can see via the picture means that it’s used as a coaster for my coffee cup in the AM. I found the cover to be very absorbent. the area for info took pencil and BIC clic roller ball well. It also survived, though the white looked very dirty at the end of my week’s of use. This is the danger with white notebooks. Filth.

The dot grid was done with a nice gray ink. It was good to know where I was writing but sinks into the background after words are added. Perfect in my book. the paper itself is thick and crinkly, it feels nice, smooth but not glassy enough texture you can see it but isn’t overwhelming. The paper took fountain pens reasonably well with some show through but nothing bad.calepino

This paper worked wonders with pencils, but not good soft dark pencils like my Palmino Pearl. Oh no using a Pearl on this paper was like writing with soft cheese on a cheese grater. Rather this paper was a dream with harder pencils like my General’s Semi-Hex which I generally refer to as the “general’s Semi-Yuck” due to it’s gritty scratchy performance*. Writing with a Neon Ticonderoga was heavenly. Lumgraph HB? Let us not go there. The Caran d’Ache Grafwood B performed like a B should instead of an H. This paper took all the good points of writing with a B or Palomino and threw them out the window, allowing  me, NO BEGGING me to use my less expensive pencils to fill it’s pages. This notebook was cheap pencil HEAVEN. I’m sad it’s gone, where will I use my crappy General’s Semi-Hex?calepino calepino

From what I understand of the website and what is printed in the book, this paper is exactly the same as their regular dot grid paper, so you can get the regular edition, with more printing on the cover, to fill in with your not-so-nice pencils. **

The price of these is the same as Field Notes, Calepino offers a exchange rate (or thereabouts) discount for non- EU buyers. Which is pretty awesome. These little notebooks are definitely on my radar for yet another notebook to buy and keep in my rotation.

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Reflection: Adaptability of the Traveler’s Notebook System

For the last several years I’ve been carrying some variation of a homemade Traveler’s Notebook system. I have gotten my system to perfection for me- one of my simple slim two pocket inserts, a BanditApple Carnet (BAC) peewee, and a Field Notes (FN). This system allowed me to jot down important information on a catch all page in the FN or if I needed more room to take up a whole page in the FN. The BAC allowed me to sketch on the train. The pocket hold receipts, stamps, and odds and ends. This worked perfectly for me for several years. It got me through my last hellish year at the old job and through my first year of GradSchool. But today I realized that it was a little inappropriate for me to carry my journal with me to my internship. It also didn’t work for my needs as an art therapist. It was simply put- too bulky and cumbersome.tale of travelersA couple of weeks ago I bought some Post it “Study” Grid notes and cut them down to fit onto the back cover of my planner- housed in a custom made Davis Leather Works simple notebook cover. This cover is traveler’s notebook style, but holds only a BAC peewee sized planner and a simple slim 2-pocket insert. The gridded post it notes saved my bacon as I was running around the senior center, jotting down  notes about supplies the program has, things the director needs, things my supervisor would like to see, what kind of art people like, and other assorted quick notes. While my planner worked well for the day, it’s not a long term solution.

I think that a pocket notebook like a moleskine would be too formal for the setting, and if I lost it would house far too much important information*. I’d like to stick to some sort of Field Notes or Word sized note book, something pocket sized between 48 and 64 pages. Ruling not important. But I’d like to be able to combine it with a pocket system that I can keep post its and index cards in. So basically, I’m looking to make a cover like my planner cover, that holds a pocket notebook and a pocket with a handful of notecards and a few post its cut to size. It has to fit into the back pocket of my khakis.

It feels a little strange to me that the system that I currently use isn’t appropriate for a new setting. I simply assumed it would be good for all settings, since it’s been “there for me” through so much and for so long.  It’s strange to think that I’m so attached to my notebook system that I feel a little lost (and admittedly sad) that I won’t have it with  me. Instead what I’ll have with me will be a new version of the system, something adapted to work with my new profession. Something slimmer and a little more sleek.

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New Field Notes Covers

I’ve been working on some prototypes of recycled sign vinyl covers for Field Notes. I’ve made a number of prototypes and have listed a few of them are for sale on my etsy shop. I’ve priced them below what the final design will sell. While they are perfectly serviceable there are little things that I want to change to make the covers better. However, you can get these for a good price. Mostly because they don’t make me perfectly happy. I’ve got some that hold 1 notebook, others that hold 3 and one that holds 4.

I’ve been toting around one that holds three for the last few weeks. The vinyl is a perfect for making a  cover for these notebooks, it’s sturdy and survives abuse. They are perfect for a vegetarian or vegan. Also the covers are recycled, so are ecologically minded.

Vinyl Notebook Covers Vinyl Notebook Covers Vinyl Notebook Covers Vinyl Notebook Covers Vinyl Notebook Covers Vinyl Notebook Covers Vinyl Notebook Covers

Another Midori Traveller Notebook Knock Off Idea

I wanted to add 2 more journals to my MTNKO. I saw a blog post somewhere, I cna't remember the blog that added a additional pockets to the notebook through the use of a rubber band. I decided to use that idea to add 2 more notebooks. I wanted to have my general idea notebook, a notebook for PioP and another sketchbook. To do this hack you'll need the following:

A medium length thin rubber band or a loop of the elastic you used to make you MTNKO

2 Notebooks

Slide the rubber band through the center of one notebook then the other,so they are attached spine to spine. Slide one notebook under the notebook already in your MTNKO.

Here's a helpful video of the process.

 

 

State of the Weekend: An Everything Journal

I was given another glimpse into just how powerful art journaling can be last night. I had an idea for Put it on Paper, something that I had rolled around in my brain once before and pushed off as not possible and not a very good idea at the time, but I’d made note of it in my art journals, made some doodles and wrote it down.

I quickly flipped through the last 2 journals where I knew the info to be, tabbed those pages with a little Post it flag, and then used my iPoo Touch to snap some pics, shelved the books and took the info with me, in my pocket. I sketched out a quick idea in my art journal of what I thought this idea could look like and emailed it to Jane. As I relaxed into bed, I reviewed the pages on my iPoo and made some fresh notes and doodles about the content of the proposal.

How amazing is it that I can carry 4 journal’s worth of info in my pocket? I read somewhere that someone scanned their notebook pages into their computer and used a specific program to make them searchable. How cool is that?

If you have an art only journal consider carrying an everything art journal with you everywhere, it will prove itself to be indispensible in short order. (Check out a variety of pockete sized notebooks for this, or make your own pockeet noteboook using my tutorial here.)