Tag Archives: Pocket Notebooks

Art Journaling or Daily Planning?

I’ve been in love with planners and organizers for a long time now. But in all my planner geek experiments, I’ve never really considered combining planner functions with bullet journals, notebooks, journals, and art journals too carefully. I started to give it some thought after being asked to write a guest post about it, and realized that over time I’ve been trying to combine lots of different elements into my planner. And maybe that’s why lately my planners never seem to quite “fit” what I want them to do? It’s hard to put my finger on what that is exactly, but something is missing. I’ve been trying to carry around quotes notebooks, planners, art journals, sketchbooks, notebooks for ink samples and fountain pen tests …. and it’s so hard to pick and choose each morning what to take with, when I might want any, all or none of the above that particular day!

So I was reading this blog post from Hali Karla about keeping an everyday art journal, and these words really resonated with me:

I can say that deciding to carry an “everyday art journal” was a game-changer for me. It’s really just an art journal or sketchbook that goes with me everywhere… I actually broke up with my standard planner after getting to know my everyday art journal (it really never worked out between me and the conventional planner no matter how hard we tried anyway).

I use it to jot down ideas, sketch or doodle when I have time to kill or need to pause and be present, to tack in photos and fodder, or capture wise or inspiring words from others that may come my way. Sometimes I write prayers in it, or recipes. I even keep my lists in it. To-do lists, not-to-do lists, shopping lists, gratitude lists, travel itinerary details – all of which can be painted or glued over later if I feel the urge… It really isn’t just an everyday journal – it’s an everything journal for me.

The real beauty of it, though, is that having it all within one cover, over a period of time, makes it really easy to begin to see patterns in my life… I keep other art journals, too – and they often have a variety of styles and flavors within the pages. Yet, while the everyday journal isn’t the prettiest journal I keep, by any means, it’s one of the most precious to my journey.

So I think this might be the next step in my art journal/planner evolution – create an informal planner that’s an “everything journal” first, and a calendar second – instead of the other way around. It seems so revolutionary! But now I really want to try it. But it’s kind of an intimidating thought. I’d love to hear from someone who has done something similar – I can’t find many other examples online.

I’ll leave with this description of an Art Journal from Jane Davenport:

It’s a mix of diary, travel memoir, autobiography, art therapist, visual diary, notebook, scrapbook and sketchbook….plus more… It’s a place, YOUR space, to record and work through your life experience in images, words, colours and collage.

There are NO RULES.

Some links on other great blog posts about art journals, planners and commonplace journals:

“You may want to keep a commonplace book which is a notebook where you can copy parts of books you think are in code, or take notes on a series of events you may have observed that are suspicious, unfortunate, or very dull. Keep your commonplace book in a safe place, such as underneath your bed, or at a nearby dairy.”

Lemony Snicket, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

“In my Commonplace book, I jot down snippets, quotes, stanzas. They can be words from a novel, from a poem, from a picture book, from the side of a cereal box. Anything I read that causes me to pause and read again- to stop and savor the words or ponder the message- it all belongs in my book.

This is the heart of my book and what really makes it a treasure, I think.”

– Sarah Mackenzie , amongstlovelythings.com

“Their commonplace then became a kind of personal reading/life log, where they kept notes on anything they wished to remember.

What it’s not is a journal or diary. While some people did use their commonplace for both purposes, many kept them separate, and a commonplace tends to refer to a book of information, not daily logs.”

– Devon Henderson, Chirmer Graphics

“But writing original stuff is damn hard, and as if I needed another diversionary tactic I’ve found myself adopting a delicious little habit of collecting quotes from books and films, words, ideas, snippets from overheard conversations, phrases, epigrams and poems that I see around and about the place.”

Maz, Diving For Pearls

The Well-Appointed Desk – 13 Things to Do With All Those Blank Notebooks

Check out this great blog post from The Well-Appointed Desk about how to put to good use all those extra notebooks you have just waiting to be used.

Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Field Notes notebooks for a long time now. Field Notes are those infamous 3.5″ x 5.5″ pocket-sized notebooks in fun editions and colors. But … Field Notes paper is NOTORIOUSLY crappy for fountain pens.

So I’ve been searching for a fountain pen friendly version of Field Notes, the same size, but with paper that doesn’t make me want to throw the notebook across the room. So in my research had heard about the legendary Tomoe River Paper, and wondered if they came in notebooks this size. Somehow I stumbled upon this fantastic review from Modern Stationer, and learned all about Curnow Bookbinding’s ‘Backpocket Journals’. They make “Tomoe River Paper Editions” with the much-acclaimed fountain-pen friendly paper.

To order, you FB message or email them, and then pay via PayPal. My order just arrived tonight, WOOHOO! The package was a simple plastic envelope with the little notebooks, a handwritten note, and a carbon copy of an invoice (the accountant in me had to go OMG HOW CUTE IS THAT!), just a bit.


First Impressions:

I was surprised to see they were a cream color. It didn’t even occur to me that they’d come in a cream, I just assumed white, so I didn’t think to ask. Given the choice, I would have picked white of course. But oh well, I didn’t specify! Lesson learned for my next order. I Facebook messaged Curnow Bookbinding, who were wonderfully nice and helpful. They said they had some white paper to experiment with, and in the future if I wanted to place a custom order with white paper to just let them know ahead of time (to make sure the white paper is in stock) and that’d be easy to switch out the paper at no extra charge. So yay, white paper next time!

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

The notebooks are hand-sewn and not stapled like Field Notes. Look at the cute thread colors!

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

The stitching is glued down in the middle of the notebooks.

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Backpocket Journals


Size Comparisons with Field Notes:

The Backpocket Journals at 3.5 x 5.25″ are the same width as the Field Notes notebooks, but about a 1/4″ shorter. Field Notes are 3.5 x 5.5″. It’s not a huge difference, but they do look a little smaller when next to each other.

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

The view from the top.

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

The Backpocket Journals look a little skinnier in profile too – but remember how crazy thin Tomoe River Paper is – it’s practically like tracing paper! So it would take up less bulk in a notebook.

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

The shorter, slender Field Notes alternative my fountain pens LOVE. It definitely feels and looks like a different kind of notebook.

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

Paper Quality:

The pages only come blank so far, which is perfect for me as I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with them yet. And included is a handy ruled guide that shows up easily when placed underneath the pages to help with the whole ‘writing in a straight line’ thing (which I cannot seem to do to save my life. Seriously). So yay for that! I ordered two 3-packs, and only received the one ruled guide – I’m not sure if its one per order or just an oversight. Another question for later!

I immediately got out my pens and wrote on the first page with the vintage Conway Stewart flex inked with J. Herbin Stormy Grey ink. I definitely had to wait a few seconds to let it dry – the flex nib is so wet, it sat there on the surface for a good minute before drying (in my non-timed estimation, it seemed like a while anyways). So warning! Smearing might be an issue with you lefties or impatient folks. And this flex nib lays down a very wet line too – it dried a lot quicker with my Lamy Fines and Pilot Mediums. But the BEST PART – as with my one other experience with Tomoe River Paper – there is no bleeding, feathering, major showthrough – it handles the ink wonderfully. just what I wanted.

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

Now to add some extra ink tests!

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

And HOLY CANNOLI it shows the gold flakes and sheen AMAZINGLY well. I can’t stop tilting the notebook under the crappy yellow lighting in my kitchen hahaha.

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Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

All in all, I’m really excited to try these out. I’m not 100% thrilled they’re cream, but I can live with it and it’s certainly no deal-breaker. I highly recommend these notebooks. My next step is to figure out how to insert them into my new Midori-style cover!

Updating the Quotes Notebook

Was updating my Quo Vadis Habana turquoise notebook that I use to jot favorite quotes and stuff like that in, and decided it was a good photo opp. Love this Visconti Van Gogh Portrait in Blue fountain pen.

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Field Notes ‘Ambition’ Edition

I HAZ THEM!! The new Field Notes ‘Ambition’ Edition has arrived, and it is drop-dead GORGEOUS.

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The gloriously gold-gilded pages are a little stiff when first opened, but soon gain their flexibility back. They can scratch easily, as I made a mark in mine trying to get the darn shrink-wrap off.

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The red has grid paper, the brown undated weekly agenda pages, and the green ledger paper.

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I am an on-again, off-again Field Notes user, as the paper is terrible with fountain pens but the size and style is delectable. The paper in this edition is horrendous as usual, but oh so pretty! I have been drawing my own weekly agenda boxes in my other Field Notes, so love that they finally created a notebook just for that! And that it’s undated!

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Love how light the lines are! There’s nothing more annoying than a grid paper with distractingly dark lines. And gold staples!

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The ledger paper is so unique! Not gonna lie, the accountant in me is going SQUUEEEE! Now I want to ledger something….

And finally, some fountain pen love, just because the gold nib of my Lamy Studio matches the gold details of these notebooks so well.

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Field Notes in Glitter

Decorated my Field Notes notebook with some glitter pens. Because it was gray and rainy out. And because I can! Although I may end up with glitter on everything in my bag now.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliners and Field Notes

Testing out my Staedtler Triplus Fineliners in my Limited Edition Arts & Sciences Field Notes notebook. I really love the engineering grid of the Sciences notebook especially. I decided to create a weekly agenda on each page, as shown in the last pic.

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Surprisingly these pens behave very well on the Field Notes paper, minimal showthrough unless large areas are colored in.

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