Commonplace book + DIY cover

Midori MD A5 grid commonplace book and DIY cardstock notebook cover for the notebook.

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I mentioned previously that I have way too much cardstock leftover from some printer shenanigans from HWA. I started another Midori MD Notebook to make a commonplace book to write down knowledge that I would want to refer back to in the future, e.g., notes from books, courses, articles, etc. Kind of like a school notebook but broader. Since this book mainly sits on my desk, I wondered if it was possible to make a book cover for the notebook out of the cardstock. Luckily letter-sized paper is slightly taller than A5, so the overhang made it possible!

Here is the book cover, made out of 2 pieces of cardstock. The white cardstock was a regular letter-sized one, cut in half, and then glued + folded around the length of the A5 notebook. Also scored down the middle of the brown cardstock piece. I wasn't confident I could glue such a narrow sliver of cardstock for the sleeve/pocket (where you slip in the notebook covers), so I put in some small stitches instead.


After that I felt like it was looking plain for a commonplace book, so I took some leftover Daler-Rowney FW acrylic ink (green) and painted it on in a weird mottled-like texture (dabbing with the brush, but not smoothing it out)

The string tension tore through the now wet paper, so I yanked them out and had to glue the pockets down later on. That actually resulted in a more snug-fit and less "wiggle room" of covers sliding up/down, which was not a bad thing!

Not long after, it still felt plain, so I took a leftover gold STA metallic pen and free-handed the cover.

It was a mindless, 'go with the flow', relaxing art thing to do! Some of the lighting in the photos make it look more teal, while in real life it's more green in the sunlight. Make this book feel fancier than it really is!

Also made an A6-sized one (left) to use up the green paint. On that one I used copper acrylic paint streaks, and also rubbed on candle wax + melted it to the cover for stability/some water resistance (IDK if it'll work, but it was fun to do).

With regards to the notebook itself, it's a Midori MD Notebook A5 with grid ruling. I hand numbered all the pages, and then made an index at the beginning (page 3) + left a few more pages after blank, to allow for the indexlist to increase as I filled the book. I officially started jotting down contents on page 7!

Today's music post: Open My Heart by Jay Diggs. I am a total glutton for this retro-style of music cheese. Is 90s considered retro now? AHHHHHHHHHHHH...

Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy

Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy fountain pens.

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Staying indoors means too much time to futz around on the internet and fuel my fountain pen fever. Small pen day with Pilot Kakuno (M) and Sailor HighAce Neo calligraphy clear (2.0mm)!

These two pens had similar packaging, so I took photos of them together.

Pilot Kakuno (m) with green cap and dark gray body

I love the cute face on the nib of my Pilot Kakuno! The packaging is very charming too. I'm weak for anything small and cute (Kakuno is for kids). I'm glad that the barrel was more of a warm dark grey than black like the photos. I was originally hoping to get the cream/yellow one, but they were discontinued, so I (bitterly?) took this colourway instead. Now that I see it in real life, I love it!

The pen wrote super smoothly out of the package! It's short and stubby. Now I look at my Pilot metro and think about how it isn't nearly as cute.

Sailor HighAce Neo clear calligraphy 2.0mm

The heart breather hole and clear feed are lookers on this pen. I find that it writes kind of dry. These days I use it to fill in larger areas of black. I have no calligraphy skills :).

For both pens I have the given black cartridge in there, and I'll syringe fill it later when it's used up. No exciting inks for now!

They're both really small compared to most of my other pens.

The Neo HighAce came with double sided sheet tutorial, one for how to do calligraphy. It's a nice touch/gesture, even though I really don't have the patience and motor skills for calligraphy, so this is just an insane stub pen for me to use to write headers for now. The Kakuno also came with charming wiggly handdrawn-looking instructions. I assume to appeal to kids, which I seem to be at heart. I like these personified talking nib heads a lot, they're just so pleasant!!

I've always wondered why cartridges aren't longer, because there is clearly MORE space left...? Perhaps it has something to do with pressure and vacuum?

Today's music post: The Real Folk Blues by Seatbelts [For these Virtual Days session]. There's also an interesting re-arranged-ish version with a lot of other artists/musicians/voice actors here.

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Last updated October 28 2020!

Notebooks, sketchbooks, paper

Use case Brand Size/model Status
Long term planner and journal Midori MD A5 Notebook diary (2020) ~104/113 lined pages used
Short term planner and desk calendar Midori A5 Flat Diary (2020) ~28/36 pages used
Commonplace book Midori MD A5 notebook gridded ~35/176 pages used
Creative notebook Wai Au ? Shiba Inu cover, cross grid ? ~61/168 pages used
HWA 4-panel comics Plenty Steps A5 Info & Sketch BOOK ~13/40 pages used
Scrappy watercolour Seawhite ? William Holman Hunt cover, spiral bound ? ~34/50 pages used
Writing letters Life Via Airmail ?/50
Futzing with inks Sakae Technical Paper A4 Tomoe River 52gsm loose leaf white and cream, handbound to A5/A6 booklets ?

So many books waiting for next round use: Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Life, Life x Kleid, Maruman Mnemosyne, Delfonics Rollbahn, Laika Línea, Kyokuto F.O.B., Logical Prime, more Midori MDs, etc.

Fountain pens and inks

Brand Model Nib Ink
Lamy Safari (yellow) F Sailor Kobe #21 Taisanji Yellow
Pilot Metropolitan (lizard, bronze) M Waterman Absolute Brown
TWSBI Eco (clear) 1.1mm stub J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe
Platinum Carbon Desk Pen (black, manually cut down) EF Platinum Carbon Black
Opus 88 Omar (yellow) M Lamy Turmaline
Ranga Regular Sugarcane (olive ebonite, matte, eyedropper) Kanwrite flex Diamine Meadow
Pilot Kakuno (green/gray) M Pilot black cartridge
Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy 2.0mm Sailor black cartridge
FPR Himalaya v2 GT (Saffron Orange) Ultraflex FPR Royal Flush Blue
FPR Himalaya v2 (Taj Mahal White) 1.0mm stub Not working
Pelikan 400 NN (green striped), vintage/used (1950-1960s) M, 14k gold Diamine Wagner
Pilot Elite 95s (burgundy, Japanese market version) EF, 14k gold Sailor Kobe #27 Kounan Maroon

I also have some other sample tubes that I'll eventually get through. Noodler's eel cactus fruit will eventually be loaded into Pilot Elite 95s,

Other writing/drawing stuff

Brand Model Notes
Deleter Free Pen holder Use it for dip nibs and even some lino carving cutter heads haha
Tachikawa Nikko G For inks that don't go in my fountain pens
Pentel Energel Infree 0.5 Fast drying ink, apparently
Pentel Fude pocket brush pen and Fude brush pen I've had these forever...
Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil 0.5mm Sharp point forever!
Pilot Color Eno 0.7mm Exclusively for erasable blue lead...
Stabilo Left Right mechanical pencil 2mm For fattier lead
Prismacolor Travel sharpener Weirdest stubby cigar shape but it works and keeps shavings contained. Inside looks like a magnesium Kum sharpener
Prismacolor Col Erase in various colours (terra cotta, light green, scarlet red, white, non-photo blue) TBH these are only marginally more erasable, so still looking for better ones

I have so much more than this but this is...the top of the pile.

Book and zine-making

Brand Model Notes
Olfa Small stationery cutter Cut all the paper...
Lineco Bone folder Fold and score all the zines/books!
Durodex 200-DX stack cutter Wai did the research on this and recommended!
Max HD-10V 2-way stapler Industrial design genious, SOOO much better than those huge and heavy long-arm staplers (if your zines are small)
Gruschwitz Bookbinding no. 30/3 linen thread I just switched to this from Lineco bookbinding thread (way more affordable)...

Other favourites

Brand Model Notes
Philips Sonicare BreathRx tongue scaper Life changing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Austin x Fountain pen

FPR Himalaya v2 GT in saffron orange acrylic.

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Living my best shameless life by combining 2 of my nerdy passions: original characters (OCs) and fountain pens!! The main reason that I'm posting is because it's Austin's birthday (September 24) according to HWA lore! I actually don't really think much about their birthdays, but now that the dates are written in my planner, I see it and feel guilty if I don't do anything, haha.

So here it is, Austin, drawn with fountain pen ink that I have on hand.

The specific pen I paired with Austin is the Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR) Himalaya v2 GT, saffron orange acrylic body, steel EF ultra flex nib. I always associate him with orange plaid/checks, so a orange patterned acrylic body felt suitable. He is also more warm overall, so gold-tone or brassy accents were appropriate. Two-tone steel flex nib, well, he is a flexible kind of guy (in many ways...).

I didn't have any patterned pens in my collection so this was a welcome addition. The pen is more saturated orange IRL, and also has depth, pearlescence, and some opacity. Photos below are more accurate to the IRL colours!

OC-nerdery aside, the pen did take quite a bit of tinkering/reseating the feed and nib/heat setting to get working properly. Seems to be a trend with my ebonite feed pens. I currently have Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake ink sample loaded in it. I'm not great at writing with flex, but the pen also writes wet and a-okay without pressure; it's a fun writer. The FPR ultra-flex is a LOT more responsive to downward pressure (leading to flex/separation of tines) than the Rangapens kanwrite flex nib; closer to the responsiveness of a Nikko G-nib, perhaps? I have a natural tendency to write fast, so my flex writing does tend to railroad because the ink doesn't fully keep up right now (though I don't mind that effect, nor do I plan to always flex write).

My photos don't do justice to the ink colours! All of the inks I used (minus the black) have really nice shading:

Austin is unlikely to use a fountain pen in his EDC. He's more of a Fisher pen, Pokka pens, pencils, and Rite in the Rain guy. Probably used that stuff when he was out in the field for grad school. He needs the all-weather stuff!

Happy birthday Austin! A real gift birthday gift to Austin, would be a Jake, so...

Today's music post: Sly5thAve's The First 8 Minutes [ATCQ "Find a Way" Tribute] feat. The ClubCasa Chamber Orchestra.

DIY A6 tomoe river notebook

DIY notebook made with TR paper and leftover cover stock.

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Back in February, I did a lot of file prep to have HWA printed at a local printer. After a lot of back and forth and inexplicable failures (on their part, not mine), I ended up only asking them to print the covers and NOT the interiors. It was pretty annoying for me, but it is what it is. That's why I ended up using my home laser printer for all the interiors (not an economical choice).

The printer also printed way too many covers for me (also inexplicable on their part), so I have a lot of extra HWA comic covers. Rather than throwing them into recycle, I thought about ways to repurpose them: DIY notebook covers!

I recently converted to using A5 size. The covers themselves are US letter size, which when folded in half, is too narrow and too tall to be true A5 size. I decided to try standard A6 size, which is 105 × 148 mm or 4.1 × 5.8". Lots of math and additional measurement to wrangle with.

First thing I did was roll on some copper acrylic ink onto the covers. Weird special effects. Then I measured the length of A5 and scored/folded it, to have the cover fold back on itself (and thus obscuring the actual cover image for HWA in a "pocket".

Then I measure/scored/folded it one more time to become A6 size (ish).

I thought about thread binding but just went for saddlestitch for simplicity. The interior paper is A4 Tomoe River 52gsm, cut to A5 size, and then folded in half to A6 size.

The design resulted in a top pocket where you could potentially clip your pen to, or put some flat stuff. Whatever you want, but it's just glued down, so not the strongest pocket for heavy or thick stuff.

I ended up trimming it down by another few mm on the top/right edges. Here are the A6ish notebooks next to my DIY A5ish notebook.

I think this configuration allowed for there to be minimal paper waste/cut off when I had US letter covers and A4 paper (different standard sizes). Interesting experiment!

Today's music post: Fear the Wolf - Get Down. Fear the Wolves is a band based in BC. My friend stars in this video!

Ranga Pens 'sugarcane' in olive ebonite

Sugarcane-shaped fountain pen for a plant lover.

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I have a big soft spot for anything that is handmade. Here's a formula that gets my attention: Handmade + fountain pen + plant = HECK YEA!

I ordered a handmade Indian pen from Ranga Pens. The model I chose was a regular-sized sugarcane eyedropper fountain pen in olive ebonite, matte finish, and steel flex nib. According to their website, the pens are made by a father and son team, M.S. Pandurangan and M.P. Kandan and they both rely on traditional and old school methods of pen making. CRAFT! RESPECT!

India Post was down for a long time (and continues to be down at original time of writing) so the folks at Ranga Pens had to switch to UPS for shipping, which incurred an additional cost, but that's expected. Disregarding the UPS package was that throw over the box, the package came wrapped in a sewn cotton (?) sleeve with the addresses written in pen. I found it very endearing! This is perhaps the 2nd time I've received a cloth package (the first time being Nights in White Flannel).

The box is reasonably sized and I can appreciate its no frills nature. I'm always sad about gigantic showcase boxes, because I use all my pens, I don't store them. This is also true of watches! Big empty boxes taking up space, bah!

Inside the package was a business card, a bonus/free fountain pen, the actual sugarcane pen, and a Wality "special" fine tipped nib (two toned) and ebonite feed.

The free/extra "Oliver Exam" piston-filled pen is probably made out of resin because it has a strange smell to it. Oliver Exam is going to air out in the sun for a while, so I won't be writing about it today.

I am really happy with how naturally planty the sugarcane pen looks! The sound and feeling of the ebonite has a lot of similarities with the bamboo brushes that I have (though heavier). I actually feel like I'm holding a mini bamboo flute or whistle when I'm holding this pen (yea I know it's called 'sugarcane'), which I also had growing up. I actually have a hard time telling which side is up or down for the pen cause the seam is just off-centre. The ebonite itself has some natural speckles and I think there is some "grain" left from the handworking, so overall it has a great organic look to the exterior.

I chose a "steel flex" nib when ordering, which resulted in a Kanwrite steel nib. I don't have a flex nib (other than my actual dip nibs; nikko g) in my collection, so I thought it would be a fun choice. The Kanwrite nib is pretty hard; I wouldn't really say that it's a flex nib unless you put a lot of pressure down when you write. I don't use a lot of pressure because I already have a bunch of wrist issues, so the pen became a F/M nib in my hand.

Perhaps I didn't get to test the flex to its max capabilities because of issues below.

When I first started using it, it was super wet and leaking from the feed. I didn't even realize this until it was too late, but a bunch of ink had seeped into the cap without my knowing, so when I re-capped the pen, ink got allll over my paper!

I tried heat-setting it a few times but no help. I was getting sad because I love the pen body but the pen was functionally useless to me if it leaked. Eventually I found the confidence to yank the nib/feed out and put some silicon grease on the feed itself, then heat set it again. No improvement! Over time it stopped writing and continue to leak.

Later on I swapped the Wality nib with the Kanwrite nib and kept the existing feed. Still wet, still leaking, but not as much. Heat set a few more times. Eventually I got it to STOP leaking, but the feed position is really close to the tip, so it's no longer a juicy writer. It writes more like a rollerball now?

Well, that's better than a leaking machine at least! The nib is also very hard. I do like the 2-tone look of the nib with the olive body though.

I might futz with the nib/feed more later, but for now I'm relieved to have a pen that writes and doesn't LEAK! Ideally it would be a LIL bit more juicy. I also have Diamine Meadow inked up in a Platinum Preppy and the ink looks super different (much darker). My guess is that there is still some residual water diluting the ink from all the heat setting. The final charm point of this pen is that it can stand vertical on a flat surface! Hehe...

Ink: Diamine Meadow Paper: 52gsm Tomoe River, white

Note: a few days after I drafted the above post, I ended up yanking out the wality nib and tried the kanwrite one again. It took very long to get it to work but finally it's not leaking like crazy, is writing, and is a bit juicier. I keep the pen upright at my desk now!

I don't write in a very flexy way (I save my flexing for drawing...) and my cursive is sorely out of practice. Still have to press/grip hard for any flex, and it really digs into the paper! It was an interesting learning to see how the relative distance of feed and nib changes ink flow. Now my feed is closer to the tip than it was when it originally came. I probably re-seated the feed/nib and heat set them over 10x.

Today's music post: Sanubar Tursun - Didar ghenimet.