Category Archives: Journaling

State of the Art: Printmaking and Cleaning

I’m not going to lie, the state of the art is a mess of printmaking and cleaning my studio. Also my workplace office and a lot of the facility. I’ve had to sort through the art studio at work and decide what was trash, what could be sent off, and what would be sent to another program.

Let me tell you, that was not fun.

Of course I spent a fair amount of time staring at my work computer waiting for the system to save and load things. Our computers are old and internet slow. Go figure. While I sat there I decided to try some collagraph prints with left over office supplies- old folders and glue sticks, and beaten up craft knives.

I love collagraphs. They are very versatile and there are options for relief work but also intaglio style incised lines. Another fun aspect is that you can really get the plates to be quite painterly. The resulting prints have a wide range of tones. I’m still figuring out the right mix of ink and additives for a good wipe but also a good range of tones. I’ve ruined a few plates already, but if you want to get your hands on some of my prints, check out my Ko-Fi page, I’ll be listing them there soon. I also plan on putting together a package for Ko-Fi subscribers, after 3 months of subs of $5 or more, I’ll send a little package of prints. It’ll be a fun little surprise.

As an aside, I really want to get into using some of the waterproof when dry inks like Akua, but I really don’t trust myself to use those inks in my kitchen… Our old kitchen table had some pretty intense teal streaks. Because I want to work my little press out a lot, I’m cleaning my at home studio out. It’s a mess. When I headed off to grad school I had the school studios to work in, so more often than not, I’d grab materials, go to school, then dump them when I was done with the class. When I worked at the place after graduation, I was mostly focused on writing, so I didn’t do as much art that required a studio… So it sat. Then I started to work where I have been for the last two and a half years, where I had an office and an art studio. Why work at home when I have year round access to a well set up art studio and can leave my supplies in the office?

So yeah, my studio looks like an art store threw up in there, and it isn’t at all good. It’s awful. I’m moving supplies around, deep cleaning, and I’m eventually going to store everything in organized manners. I got down to the rug (that’s going!) in a 4x4ft corner. I’m working my way out. I took out a bag of trash and another of paper recycling.

With my possible free time next week, I hope to make more progress, I’d like to clear out one end, so I then have a spot to sort out supplies and decide what is trash, what I need to pass on, and what I need to store. And most importantly, HOW I’m going to store this stuff.

When I’m done with this massive chore, I’m going to treat myself with a range of nontoxic oil based water-soluble inks.

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.

Week Links

Lisa led me down the rabbit hole of Raul Pacheco-Vega, Phd. website and his version of the Every Thing Every Where journal which he calls his Everything Journal. His notetaking methods and interaction with materials is NEXT level. Here’s a link to his Everything Journal.

He goes deep on the differences between bullet journals and everything journals.

This led me to Time and Date! What a great calendar printing site! In the past I used to print a little tiny yearly calendar onto card stock for my pocket notebooks. I abandoned that when I went to grad school, as it was less necessary for my needs, but also I purchased a smart phone- the phone carried my calendar. I used to move that little calendar from book to book. I might revisit that idea.

This led me to thinking about how I highlight and make notes as I read on my Kindle. It’s not perfect but I do like the notebook feature of the Kindle. I wish I’d had it when I was in grad school.

Here’s a good analog task management and planning system that is super simple and minimalist. I like it.

Review: ScribbleSheets Orange Opal Edge Journal

ScribblSheets popped up in most of my social media feeds and I admit I was quite taken with the pretty edges. I reached out to the company and requested a copy for review, I’m really glad they said yes. Shipping was delayed due to the current state of the USPS, but wasn’t as bad as some of the other things I’ve ordered recently. The journal was packaged in a bubble mailer and within that a crisp cellophane wrapper.

At first glance the ScribblSheets Orange Opal Edge journal looks like a standard moleskine style journal, and in many ways it is. It measures 8.25×5.75 inches or 21x14cm also known as A5. It includes a sturdy elastic and a generously long narrow ribbon. The ribbon arrives heat sealed but I hit mine with a lighter just to get that seal a bit extra.

The covers are black vinyl or what everyone is calling vegan leather these days, and I won’t rant on the disingenuous nature of the idea of vegan leather. It’s plastic, and vinyl at that. It’s a nice vinyl and feels grippy and slightly squishy. On the lower back cover the ScribblSheets logo is debossed. It’s small and tastefully done.

The back cover sports an elastic loop for a pen, it’s large enough to accommodate a fountain pen, mine is currently holding my Wing Sung 3013. But It’ll hold a Preppy snuggly. It will not hold a pencil. I find that it’s a tad narrow and my pen flops around a bit, but in my Lihit Lab Bag in Bag it’s fine.

The inside back cover lacks a pocket, but I added a little slash pocket of my own. Inside there aren’t any markings at all. No logos, no square or lines to write your name or address. I used a ruler and added mine own in pencil then cleaned it up. Easy. There aren’t any page numbers either.

The grid is perfect. It’s the palest grey imaginable, so it completely disappears behind your writing no matter the color. I love it. At 5mm it’s a perfect distance for my writing. Each page has 40×28 dots per page. It’s a good number for a bullet journal- enough spots for a monthly log and more than enough for a day’s task list. My Peter Pauper ruler works perfectly with this grid size.

The paper is amazing with pencil, it’s got just the right amount of tooth for an HB like the Musgrave Harvest Pro or even the firm core of the Blackwing Eras. I also really like it with ballpoint and gel inks.

The paper does okay with finer nibs and well behaved fountain pen inks. You’ll be able to see in the images some long fibery feathering that reminds me of the old moleskine paper. But then it does fine with other inks and nibs. Generally, thus far I’ve been sticking to my Wing Sung 3013 loaded with Shaeffer Skrip Peacock Blue. It has been doing really well with this ink.

Now, let’s talk about the Orange Opal edge on this journal. It’s incredibly pretty. I’m not sure how they get the edge colored, I’m assuming that it is some sort of printing process, what ever it is it’s great. The colors are lovely and soften as the journal is opened. I really love the pattern and how it looks. It’s a nice touch on a nice journal.

Inside there are 160 pages stitched in using the Smythe (the same as the moleskine) style. They lay flat and the pages stay open. I had a few loose stitches in the start of my journal, but it didn’t impact my use. I had absolutely no glue creep between signatures or at the stitches. The block of the journal is affixed to the covers well. Like most journals the spine is stiff at first but then opens flat and is flexible.

Overall I really like the ScribblSheets Orange Opal Edge Journal. With 160 pages I’m not looking at more than 3 or 4 months use before I have to start a new journal, but I like starting a new journal. At $16.99 it’s not cheap but the pretty edge is a nice design element, and while the insides are sturdy and useful, that edge makes this journal stand out. It’s a pretty element that might seem a little frivolous at first, but it’s an understated design element that only the keen observer of your bullet journal will notice, but I notice every time I open up the journal. I like that.

This isn’t going to be your fountain pen journal, but the journal you use on the go with a pencil or gel pen, maybe even a Bic Cristal.

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State of the Art: Making it Work

A thing that happens a lot among artists is that we find a tool we like, use the hell out of it and realize that it doesn’t just work the way it is so we start to need to adapt our tools. This can be done simply with a knife or scissors. Or with the addition of layers of masking, electrical or duct tape. I often will use jelly silicone pencil grips to bulk up the grip of a pen.

A case in point is this little number I did to this Bic Gelocity. You know the one I reviewed over here. Well it is not a great pen, but it does make nice fine deep black lines, but wow is it uncomfortable. I slid a gel grip on hoping it would slide around easily but instead it’s a snug fit. I wedged it just above where the cap clips and used a pair of scissors to snip the cap off so it fits without needing to go over the now phat grip. The clip started to catch on the grip so snip snip, that went goodbye as well. I filed the sharp pieces of plastic down and now the Gelocity is more comfortable and not bad for sketching in a pocket notebook.

I’ve also removed clips that poke into the meat of my hand, bulked up pens with masking tape and made adaptive devices for other people with Crayola model magic.

I also have added a roll of fabric to the side of my mouse to adapt my grip to reduce stress. This is a temporary fix and I’ll eventually go back to a ball but for now, it works.

While I would hesitate to make a more expensive pen 100% mine, I wonder why? Why not take my Sarasa Grand and bulk up the grip with Sugru or Sculpey? Why not stretch and slide a silicone squishy grip on there?

I might raid my pen cup and play some more.

State of the Art: Photo a Day

Waaaayyyyyy back in 2009 Polaroid introduced the Zink Pogo printer. A cute little printer that spits out 2×3 inch prints on sticker paper. Sweet little journaling tool. I of course immediately asked for one for the holidays. And my lovely partner managed to get a good deal on one and I loved it, for 50 prints or so. 

Other folx got hundreds and hundreds of glorious little stickers. Not me. I had a dozen or so prints before mine was a streaky mess.

It ended up in a drawer.

In the great office clean out of the Covidalypse I found the dusty little printer and thought I might dust it off. I did and it was still streaky. I headed to the internet and found loads of info on cleaning it. So I tore it apart, which was really easy and only around 8 screws or so. I was able to clean some little bits of what looked like… glitter in there, as well as some, big surprise here, dog hair. I gave the roller and print head a good swabbing down with rubbing alcohol with a q-tip, then ran several sheets of super thick cardstock through it.

This is not a pogo print but an image I considered for a pogo print.

No more streaks.

Well, mostly no more streaks. The pogo works best on low-res images. So it is helpful to take smaller pictures. I started this project off using Lightroom. Bad idea, it automatically saves in the highest res option on my phone. Also the Pogo prints in 2×3 images, so I used the basic camera on my phone and set it to 3×4 on the lowest res setting available. This particular option also saves it to the cloud so I have the option of editing it down on my laptop. Sadly the polaroid apps that are still available do NOT work with the Pogo. I can’t get any of them to pair with it, or even print to it. BUT I can snap a picture with their app, save it, and print manually, the way the pogo always worked. It takes the picture in the right 2×3 ratio.

Anyway, the goal of this little project is to snap an interesting pic once a day for at least the next 50 days and to journal around a page along with it. If I find that this is a useful journaling practice for me, I’ll continue it with another 50 pack of paper. We’ll see what happens!

An interesting aside to this is that the battery died on the Pogo and no one makes a replacement pack for it. I ripped the old battery apart, picked up a 2 pack of AA battery holders soldered the leads in place, and made my own. It’s not at all pretty but it does the job and is better than being tethered to the hideous and HUGE wall wart plug this thing has. The wall wart on this thing is inexplicably huge. I will also add that Polaroid’s CS when I asked about the battery was prompt and curt. Funny thing, since making the battery pack I have yet to take the Pogo anywhere, so I guess a useful thing is to consider if you will actually use the Pogo on the go.

Anyway, we’ll see how long I can do a photo a day.

https://dronebygg.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/how-to-repair-your-polaroid-pogo-printer/

Maker: Plans for Supporters

A unique feature that Ko-Fi offers is that I can designate certain posts for supporters only, so anyone who has supported within the last 30 days can unlock certain benefits. I’m currently figuring out how I can utilize this in the best way possible. I don’t necessarily want to create a subscription model, yet.  Though that is a future plan. What I want to do is offer certain items to supporters, at any rate of support.

As of yesterday I offered a free printable downloadable PDF of a pocket sized, undated 12-month planner for members of the RSVP podcast FB community. It has a 1-month calendar on the left page with lines and college ruling on the right hand page. I want to offer other similar printables for free to supporters of this blog. The first month I offer these bonuses I’ll offer them here so that past donors can benefit. I also hope to design some in half page size as well.

Mostly I’m looking at and exploring the systems that broke down around the Covidalypse and the stress of the hybrid work from home and office work. I’m also looking at what has worked in the past and tweaking the little things.

For the blog, the month on a page and then lines to record a variety of ideas and plans has always worked when combined with my long list of blog posts to write in my Every Thing, Every Where Journal.

Below, you will find the free printable 1-year month per page with notes area on the right hand side. It is a PDF and is intended to be printed double sided. Follow instructions for your printer for double-sided printing and these instructions for stitching a simple pamphlet stitch.

One Year Month on a Page Undated Planner Printable

State of the Art: Making the Zine

Making a zine is usually a pretty easy endeavor. You write up the contents, do your layout and print and bind. And most of the time it goes smoothly.

Not this time. I’m not sure what happened to my head when I was collating the covers and sheaf of paper that makes the single signature of the pages, but in half of the zines I bound (60!) I reversed the sheaf, so the first page was 9 and page 1 and 16 were in the middle of the book. UGH. I didn’t notice until I had stapled all of them and folded half the zines that I’d already stapled.

I pulled 120 staples with a pair of needle nose pliers. I use a jig to staple so I was easily able to get most of the staples in the original holes.

Mostly this was annoying because it added about 45 minutes of work and a fair amount of aggravation that I hadn’t checked to be sure the sheaf were aligned properly. Lesson learned, the next zine will get double and tripled checked before stapling.

Also, you can get the latest copy of Useful Journaling on my Ko-Fi page here.

On Making Things: Return to Roots

If you’ve been reading CSS for more than the last few years, you realize this blog didn’t start out as a review site. I started out blogging about a break up and my attempts to find my footing in my new single life. It quickly morphed into an exploration of art, journaling, and bookbinding. Soon the old title of the blog no longer fit and I chose Comfortable Shoes Studio as an homage to a gag project I’d made in college. I moved my blogging to CSS and the transition was easy.

Here I started to write about my art and other projects. I was open about sales, ranted about eBay and PayPal fees increasing and all the other issues that occurred with being an artist and craftsperson online. Through all of it I was open and transparent about the business side of things and about the process of making art and art journaling.

Reviews were (are) a side effect of making art and writing. I did product reviews because I was making art and using the materials and readers had questions.

Then life got complicated. Work got complicated. I went back to school. I changed jobs, a couple of times. I made less art, but I had a lifetime of using art materials and could write reviews with much less effort than writing about making art, which I was making less and less of. As for bookbinding? I do less of that than ever because my wrists and hands ache after a binding session, the act  of pulling a needle through paper and board causes pain like no other. So I just don’t do as much of it as I used to, it hurts too much, and if I’m honest, it hurts a lot to think about not being able to bind like I once did.

I’ve gone back and looked at some of my old posts, posts where I’ve “shown my work” when it comes to art, zines, and the business of art. Now that I’m in a more stable place in my life I hope to reclaim some of my writing about more than just reviews.

I wanted to write a bit about the creation of Useful Journaling. While it is a culmination of a lifetime of journaling, it is also about teaching myself how to paginate and do layout for printing and binding. In the past I have always done my layout with a physical original. I’d cut and trim things to a paper copy and make a first really good copy of that which I’d print from. I really like the physical aspect of making a paper original copy. There is something really nice about sitting down with a glue stick and craft knife and making that first original. 

I like learning things, I saw learning how to do layout on the computer as a challenge. And wow is it. I hate and love it. I love how clean it can make the flow of words from page to page. I write all the zine in one doc and cut and paste it into Publisher* and it just flows through the document. Easy. I then add in the various elements I’d use glue and scissors for a physical copy but instead I photograph them and crop in the computer. It’s similar skills but all in the computer. It was a challenge to learn how to bring it into the computer but I know I can also make a physical original which I can scan and turn into a PDF and print from that.

Another challenge is printing. I really like the idea of a color laser printer for the cover and inserts. But WOW are they a total pain in the ass. Of course the one I was gifted is old and I needed to order new parts and do a thorough deep clean, but it hates printing on smooth cardstock. HATES it. So future issues will use coverstock, which means I can possibly add 4 more pages.

Which brings me to another thought out aspect of UJ, the size. I wanted the zine to fit into the pocket of an A5 notebook, so it had to be pocket notebook size or a quarter sheet of US letter sized paper. I also wanted it to ship for the cost of one US stamp in the US, even if I added extras (and I did) so I went with pocket notebook size. The number of pages was determined by weight, I knew if I went with 16 pages I’d stay below an ounce for that single stamp. The hard part is that I WANT to make it longer. I want to pack in the content. I also wanted to keep the font large enough that it could be easily read. I get frustrated with zine with font sizes that are too small to easily read.

Anyway, I’ll be chronicling more of my art adventures here, but still be writing product reviews, just less of them.
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Useful Journaling Issue 1

It has been awhile since I’ve made a zine. I decided it was time to take the manuscript that I wrote about journaling and work it into something. I’ve taken that old manuscript, torn it apart, lumped pieces of it into themes, and I’m putting those themed chunks and making pocket notebook sized 16 page zines. I chose to make this zine small so it would fit into the back pocket of most A5 or 6×9 inch journals.

The theme of the first issue is Simplicity. Each technique explored is deceptively simple but can lead to wonderfully deep and rich content. This first issue explores an evening mind dump, gratitude, and using prompts. Future issues will explore fear of the white page, picking out materials, and more involved journaling techniques.Useful Journaling is $2.50 plus 50 cents for shipping in the US and $1 worldwide. For now it is only available via my Ko-Fi shop.  Ko-fi shops are great for creators- they don’t take a cut if you are a Ko-Fi gold member (I am now) and allow the maker to post all sorts of different items for sale. PayPal still takes it’s cut (which is hefty) but this is a step in the right direction for all makers.