Category Archives: Journaling

Budget Thermal Printers

At the start of lock down I had asked for a thermal printer for Christmas. I used it a bit but really didn’t have the same use for it I would have had a year previous. We waited until Black Friday then purchased the Phomemo M02 in a bundle with 9 rolls of paper and sticker paper. It came in a nicely presented gift box, plus had another box with some assorted gift-y items that were, frankly, weird. Recently I started to use it again in connection with my toy instant thermal print cameras. The combo of the cameras and the printer has been a lot of fun for journaling.

Anyway, I was searching for more paper for my thermal cams and the Phomemo when the Amazon algorithm blasted me with options for a LOT of budget friendly versions of a thermal printer. Enter the… PikDik. Honestly, I bought it because it was under $30 and for the name. I’m 12 mentally.

I just, can’t.

I immediately downloaded the app and I became aware that the Phomemo app kicks the PikDik right in the Dik. (I had to.) The MetaPrint app is okay but compared to the Phomemo, it’s basic.

The printing is great though- it’s prints nicely dark, and evenly. Darks are dark and lights are light, exactly what you want and expect. The difficulty is editing the photos for printing. I like to layout a series of photos, switch them to black and white, and play with the contrast and exposure. I can do this in the Phomemo app. I can only do this in the picture section, not graphic edit. I also can only print one picture at a time in the picture section. Which means I can’t control the space between the images.I suppose some of this is a minor quibble. The prints are fantastic, it’s just I want more control and you know I like to print a lot of photos all at once. I want to print 10 or 20 in a reel to create my crankies. Having to print one at a time is annoying. I can print more than one at a time in the graphic edit mode, but I cannot adjust the contrast or exposure.

What I did like is that if I have a photo I want to print some words over, I can layer the words over the photo and then print on the light setting and get legible words over the image.I like this. I didn’t test this, but I have printed and then reloaded the image into the printer and printed over it. I’ve also taken a reel of images from my toy cams and printed words over them. It can be really cool.

There are 9 different font’s to choose from, this one is a little hard to read in person. The text can be printed quite large for labeling things.

There are a few bubbles you can put words inside of. This is where I found the editing in the app to be a bit finicky. I think if you stick to simple things the app works well.

The split print is very useful and lets you print things much larger and then piece them together. This is not something available with Phomemo.

The PikDik is much smaller than the phomemo, making it much better for traveling. It could easily fit into a pocket. I’d suggest putting it into some sort of storage bag or case. The button requires a long press to activate the printer, but I can see that happening in a bag easily. The PikDik is also only $28 at the time of this post.

The app is the real downside to the PikDik. It really hinders the full capabilities of this printer, which I think prints as well as my much more expensive Phomemo. Typical price for the Phomemo M02 is between $35 to $60, depending on the bundle you can find.

I’ve got some thoughts on the Phomemo and thermal printing for creativity that I’ll share in another post.

Amazon affiliate links:

PikDik (heh) at $ 28. Packaged with 1 roll of good paper and a cord.

Phomemo M02 at a amazingly low price right now of $27-30!!! (as of this writing.) It comes with the basic package- one roll of good paper and one cable. (Deal is limited on Amazon, these usually last a week.)


(repubbed from my ko-fi page. If you appreciate this kind of post, please head over and consider buying me a coffee to help this blog keep on keepin’ on.)

Art Journaling Video

I posted a new art journaling video. This one using a ton of personal ephemera from my life. Just things I’ve amassed over the last few weeks. If you’ve seen any of my VLOGS you’ll recognize some of the stuff.


New Things

I’ve written and rewritten this post a hundred times.

Quite a long time ago I deleted twitter and facebook off my phone. I’ve slowly weaned myself off Facebook, without many regrets. I use marketplace to buy bikes and bike parts but mostly, I don’t interact. I do have this blog and my new iteration of this blog cross post to Facebook, to my comfortable shoes studio page. But I also fail to interact there.

I never liked the twitter app, so it wasn’t a hardship to delete it and just use Tweetdeck on Chrome on my phone. But now Eloon has bought it and is quickly ruining it.

quote from cnn:

“By Friday morning, Twitter employees from departments including ethical AI, marketing and communication, search, public policy, wellness and other teams had tweeted about having been let go. Members of the curation team, which help elevate reliable information on the platform, including about elections, were also laid off, according to employee posts.”

Anyway. I used to love twitter, BUT I strongly believe that a social network is only as strong as it treats it’s minority members. I’ve left numerous groups because the person running it didn’t stop bullying or harassment behaviors, both toward myself and others.

So I’m also giving up on twitter, but if you follow me there I will continue to cross post about my posts here, on instagram, youtube and also my Micro Rant blog here.

Part of my Comfortable Shoes Studio Philosophy has always been to do something as long as I can and it makes sense for me. I’ve been mulling it over, but maintaining the RSVP website is no longer sustainable- as much as I want to continue with the seasons of the show, it just doesn’t fit with my life right now. That is to say, I do not have time and to continue with it would mean burning my candle at both ends for something that doesn’t work for me. I’d rather pour that time and energy into Comfortable Shoes Studio and YouTube. So even if I go back to RSVP, it will be under the Comfortable Shoes Studio heading. As such, the website will continue until it runs out (2 more years) and then it will be held under the CSS website (it’s already here.) As such, I’ve already let go of the Useful Journaling blog, as I wasn’t updating it anyway, and it makes more sense to just put any posts that I might’ve put there, here.

The whole point of all of this is to bring ALL of my varied interested- video, podcasts, and art back under the Comfortable Shoes Studio umbrella.

I’ve harped on the idea, loud and long that everyone would OWN their ideas on their own online home. For me that home has always been Comfortable Shoes Studio.

My current plan for Youtube is to do a series of vlogs where I explore life and philosophy. I’m going to work on being in front of the camera again. I know this part will make a LOT of you happy, I’m planning some art instructional-ish videos, right now I’m working on a series about customizing commercial stuff, in this case a sketchbook.

In this video I sand the label off a ChapStick tube. In part because I didn’t want to rep the company every time I used it but also to prepare it for making art on.

In this video I fill out the first page of my new work sketchbook and decorate the front cover with Posca paint pens.

Love and Hate Collage

If you’ve been following this blog for any period of time, you’ll know about my love and hate of collage. I love a lot about collage but I’ll also tell you how much I hate collage. One of my favorite artists from Dada worked primarily in collage (Hannah Hoch.) I don’t know that I’ve ever discussed this on the blog before, but the first piece that I ever got into a show was a small intimate… collage. The collage was met with success and reviewed extremely well.

That year the collage was selected for the show I had also worked in larger scale and smaller scale Matisse and Eric Carle style collages- but instead of the time honored gouache I made my collage sheets out of… Crayon.

I will eventually write a post about how crayons are magic.

Anyway those crayon pieces, now quite sadly lost and a few gifted to friends and former partners, were as magic as the crayons. A few of the larger scale pieces were responses to popular (and less popular) music of the era. And because I am a walking stereotype, more than a few were responses to Ani Difranco. I have no doubt that those collages haave also fallen apart. Wax is notoriously resistant to glue. All it would take would be a few atmospheric changes for the pieces to peel away from one another.

I think the magic crayon collages also showed the power of the arts for healing and processing. I was using the process of making big sheets of my own collage papers- scribbling and making the pages evenly colored, then responding to my own life and music. It’s a great process.

Anyway. I resented the hell out of that piece that was in the show. It was my first foray into collage- torn up magazine pages to create a sea of blue and then carefully clipped images from a magazine to create a surrealist image of confusion. It was good but it wasn’t practiced or even evolved. I hated that my first try (sort of I did dozens of these little collages) was selected, when what I wanted was my more practiced and mature art selected.

I had already turned from what I thought of as immature magazine collages and toward a more refined and matured collage style, and instead of being recognized for my hard work, my first foray was being applauded.

I had selected my own pieces to apply to the show, we were allowed only so many, and I had put in my maximum allowed, and only that one* was selected. I also didn’t have the cash to frame the larger pieces. Even 25 years ago my money was tight and buying large poster sized frames for large work was beyond my budget. They didn’t allow for you to submit unframed work and then frame them IF they got in. Small frames I could build, large frames I could not.

Collage is a long held love of mine, but the sort of collage where you make all your own papers and materials. But then remixing magazine images is also a long held love of mine. But I resent one, but long for the other to gain acclaim.

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Keeping a Notebook PERFECTLY

There is no way to keep a notebook that is perfect for every person. There is only the perfect way for each person. That is to say, keeping a notebook is highly personalized. My method of a pocket notebook and 3×5 cards alongside a sketchbook (currently also functioning as my ETEW Journal) and a separate work sketchbook would not work for most people. Hell most creative people merge home and work into one planner and notebook- especially if they freelance. That doesn’t work for me because I need to create a division between work and life- I need work- life balance.cover of a red talens sketchbook covered in stickers

What do these different notebooks look like? (I’ll be using notebook and sketchbook pretty interchangeably from here.) My work sketchbook is an A4 (8×10) red Talens sketchbook covered in stickers. Eventually it will have doodles too. I use a larger sketchbook at work because I use it in classes to teach kids about sketching. We also work larger than I do at home, so my sketches are correspondingly larger. I purchased this sketchbook because it was inexpensive and also the bright red cover could be easily found on any table in my studio.inner page from sketchbook filled with skull, pineapple and other doodles. Also meeting notes.

The work sketchbook is a place where I capture meeting and course notes.  I doodle and jot down notes and I try to keep each meeting to a single page, but sometimes I use 2 pages. Occasionally I work on a page shared with another meeting , especially if the previous meeting didn’t need a lot of notes.sketchbook page showing a watercolor demo and sketches of soda cans and pineapple on pizza

I’ll be the first person to say that my meeting and other types of notes won’t make sense to most folx. I tend to draw the speakers and doodle important words and points in funky lettering. I see the goal of taking notes as a way of jogging my memory. For work we have a notetaker for each meeting, a quick look at the notes will get me the info I need. For trainings I take notes that are a little more detailed but are mostly to jog my memory. I save a copy of any printables to the cloud or my computer and call it good. Generally I believe that info can be pretty easily looked up if I search, but I have to jog the memory of that instruction first.more sketches of pineapple on pizza

My home sketchbook is a B4 (6×9 ish) Hand Book sketchbook. They’ve changed the name of them several times over the years. Speedball seems to have either purchased or is handling distribution of them now. Which is a good thing, for me, they have been my go to commercially made sketchbook for a few years, and better distro is great. The paper is perfect for a wide range of materials.A planning page with lists of possible projects for my summer groups

The pocket notebook is where I gather on the go ideas- things I hear on podcasts, in conversations, phone numbers from students for their parents, notes from books I’m reading and so on. It’s a good capture system. Sometimes these ideas get pulled into my Every Thing Every Where journal or sketchbook, or here as a blog post.steps for carving lino, things to consider and a reworked statement for a group

The above is what works for me now. Over the years I’ve used different systems, most documented here and there in this blog. I still like to read about the systems of others. The Take Note Podcast Blog (that’s a mouth full) has had a number of great posts about keeping a notebook where they gather information about authors and creative folx who keep a notebook.

State of the Art: Notifications

I’ve turned almost all of the notifications on my phone off, and I never agree to them on my laptop. Why? The little dots fill me with anxiety, dread, and a constant urge to tap them open to deal with them.

I’ve been a proponent of “Inbox Zero” for years. I used to go into work, grab my cup of coffee and breakfast and immediately tackle the inbox- all the email that could be deleted was deleted, any email that could be given an answer in 5 minutes or less was answered during my coffee time, anything that required an action or a longer more thought out reply was scheduled to be completed as soon as possible. If I couldn’t answer an email because I was waiting on someone else, I sent a reply with that information and added a “nag/follow up” time to my day. This took maybe 15 to 30 minutes of my time and it made my day much better. I would also check my email at lunch and then after lunch. Email was never checked in the last hour of the shift.

Then came the creation of notifications.

This meant that when an email arrived a notification dinged on my devices and my work computer.

Then I got my self and iPod Touch. I snagged it for listening to music. But it also came with those damn red circles filled with numbers. The sight of them on my screen triggered my need to process the notifications to get rid of the red dots. In the early days of twitter and facebook this was nigh impossible. I’d deal with the notification only to get a friend in a different time zone going through and commenting on everything in my feed. My zero would climb rapidly to 20 and 30.

I found myself powerless to ignore the red circles.

So I turned them off.

For everything.

At first it was more anxiety inducing, what were my friends going to do if I wasn’t IMMEDIATELY available to them? Would I lose out on some of the custom book binding business? Would I lose followers on the socials?

I quickly learned that the answer to all of those questions was that it would all be fine. The pressure to immediately respond was in my head, and most of my friends were okay to wait until lunch or after my shift. Twitter waited. Facebook waited.

Waiting wasn’t going to cause the end of the world, or my business. It did slow things down. I think things would have been different for me if I hadn’t had to have the 40+ hour a week job, but such is life. We make choices based off our lives in the moment, and I learned a great deal of valuable information working in the various jobs I’ve had over the years.

Why do I bring this up now?

Well, damn the news is all sorts of messed up. We’ve got Florida attempting to control the language and speaking of it’s people. We’ve got Texas denying medical care to transgender folx. And we’ve got Russia starting a war. Not to mention social media controlling narratives and getting a Cheeto elected. It’s a lot to take in and it can be overwhelming.

When it comes to the news and notifications I treat it similarly to Inbox Zero. I sit down with my morning cup of coffee and breakfast and I read the news. For me news includes my Feed Readers (I use Feedly and the Old Reader, this way I can follow several hundred blogs and not go over the reader limits), Twitter and several Morning Brew newsletters. If I don’t have enough time to review or read them all, I don’t.

My goal is to stay informed about a variety of things going on in the world, without them overwhelming me. Though I have to say that the three things I mentioned above all feel very personal to me. This isn’t the place to detail my existential dread, but I’m feeling a lot of it. But I’m also not allowing myself to dive into and endless doom scroll of reading ALL THE NEWS. When I get overwhelmed with the news I tend to shut down. My brain goes blank and I find it impossible to get anything done, let alone my creative work. These are the times when I turn to things like rolling out gesso on canvas or coloring pages of my journal with watercolor.

Will turning off notifications work for you? I don’t know, all I know is that it helps me.

Currently I have notifications on for: text messages and weather alerts. That’s it on my phone. The only alerts on my laptop are for when it needs to be reset or has some sort of maintenance needed. Same for my Kindle.

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State of the Art: Material Snobbery is Perfectionism

I’ve been having a series of great conversations about using the good stuff as I reboot RSVP as a solo project. I’ve been able to have in depth conversations with people I wouldn’t have these conversations with otherwise. It’s pretty special to me.

As I have these conversations ideas and thoughts come up. I try to make brief notes about them as we chat. These little ideas sometimes blossom into ideas for the blog(s) here or on Ko-Fi.

Using the good stuff is important to me on a number of levels, and the stories I’ve shared with my friends as part of RSVP are all part of it.

One story that I shared in the early stages of the conversations was about a friend who scoffed at my fountain pen. I was very excited about it and was talking to her about how smooth it was on  the paper I was using. She had the blank look of a person who didn’t quite get it. At the end of my pretty excited ramble she help up a Bic Stik, the worst of all the Bics (hell, get a Crystal for crying out loud) and said something along the lines of “This works just fine.” With a snide tone.

She was right, a Bic Stik will work just fine. It won’t be enjoyable but it’ll get words on a page.

It’ll do.

This is in part where material snobbery gets in the way of creation. Will I use a Bic Stik? Sure. Will it kill my wrist? Yes, it will.

When my quad core fancy laptop sang the blue screen of death song, I was sad and immediately wanted to replace it with another fancy high end PC. But I also realized, I don’t need that kind of power for the work I do on my laptop. I write words, barely edit pictures, barely edit audio (RSVP records pretty cleanly IMO), and layout my zine in Publisher. I don’t edit video anymore, so I really don’t need 8 gigs of RAM and a terabyte of storage. Instead I got a laptop that was cheap and handles what I do now- all of what I listed above. It bothered me for a hot minute, then I got over it, and just did what I had been doing- writing.

Here’s the thing, if you really want to create you will. You’ll find a way, if it’s with a fancy fountain pen, a cheap composition notebook, a chrome book, or a Bic Stik you stole from your DayJob.

I think that sometimes we spend a lot of time exploring new materials, new tools as a form of creative block. Maybe just maybe we’re looking for a magic bullet of creativity in a new fountain pen, new ink, new notebook, new pencil, new whatever. Maybe we’re also looking for a thing to blame if the creative juices never flow- I couldn’t create because this THING won’t work right!!!

Maybe those of us who collect supplies need to sit down with one supply and get to know it, and get to creating.

How many of us who want to write look for the perfect distraction free tool to type on? Or the pen with the right flow? The pencil with the right smoothness? The notebook that functions properly with whatever we throw at it?

What if the right thing is to just get to it? Stop with the excuses.

I write all this because I’ve done all this. And It’s a difficult thing to reflect on. I have had fallow times where I don’t create because I’m not in a mental space to do so, and rather than admit that, I buy pens, ink, pencils, and notebooks to fill the void.

The real question is, do any of you see this in yourself? It’s a thing to journal about for sure.