Took a brief jaunt into leathercrafting. Anything to distract me from my inevitable future where I must draw brick buildings for HWA hahaha.

Photo of several natural vegetable tanned leather goods on a surface of a white chair

Because of my pending move and my uncertainty about whether this would be something that I'd enjoy, I tried to keep my supplies at minimum. That meant I chose the Path of Pain™ (aka EXTRA manual labour) instead of buying tools—I had some tools from bookbinding. Was that smart? Probably not, but since when I have been smart and efficient about anything I make ~gestures at comics life~? Never.

Wallet / card case

I started with a wallet kit from SpringBokCraftCo! This was nice because I got some simple supplies (needle and thread) and everything was pre-punched and cut. I was amazed at the strength of saddlestitch and mystery (probably polyester?) thread. This is NOT my preferred style of wallet but rather just an exercise in seeing what hand stitching would be like. This wallet is currently stuffed with old cards in attempt to stretch it out so that it's more usable...someday...

Photo of a multi-card slot vegetable tanned natural leather wallet

Fail A6 cover

Aesthetic: chaos

The next thing I did was a chaotic A6 book cover, but then it was a bit of a fail because I think the scrap leather that I bought years ago wasn't full grain, but rather, "genuine" leather, which in analogy, is like the particle board of leather. The back fibres were weird and loose and probably glued on. It was also way too soft of temper! And I measured the spine wrong and it's too long. I hand measured and punched these (painfully) with a lightweight awl I have from bookbinding. It wasn't strong enough HAHA. Then handstitched with leftover thread from wallet kit above.

Eventually I grabbed some metallic Sta markers and drew whatever came to mind first.

photo collage of a gray leather A6 notebook cover with a drawing of a possum on it done with golden metallic marker. Sandwiched inside are some zines, Poss Boss and Shrimp Goss.

But it matches so well with my latest genius zines...POSS BOSS and SHRIMP GOSS (with Powerswithin). Could this be, unnecessarily elaborate zine storage?


I decided to get some scrap 2-3oz natural veg tan leather, which to me felt seemed like an appropriate and affordable blank canvas.

Watercolour tool wrap

Aesthetic: planner minimalist

I've been thinking about doing more plein art sketching around the city before I move away. I did a bunch of research—I learned a lot about the synthetic vs natural fibre debate. There's really no winning. Invested in Escoda travel brushes (synthetic) after becoming sad over how many of my current brushes' bristles were getting stuck in my painting/paints after my last (non-plein air) painting (below).

Photo of a negative watercolour painting of pomegranates and leaves

I edited the wrap design as I made it. One side holds the travel watercolour palette tin/case, the other side holds pens/whatever else.

Photo collage of a watercolour tool wrap, made out of natural vegetable tanned leather

I like the flexibility of using the flaps tucked in/not, and folding the wrap inwards/outwards, and the simple inclusion of a "T" end on the strap to hold it in place (or remove it). If I were to do this again, I wouldn't have made the center fold's hole as big as I did, because pens can fall through, hahahaha. The stitching holes I made with an un-threaded sewing machine (manually cranking the needle/foot forward) and then hand sewn with leftover thread from the wallet kit above.

A6 cover

Aesthetic: leather patina appreciation

It was time to attempt A6 cover again. Holes manually punched (why?) with a not thick-enough awl. By this time I ran out of thread (from the wallet kit above) so I gave waxed linen thread a try. It works OK for now, but definitely not as simple to "end" the thread cause you can't just burn them down in the same way. To save myself the pain of doing a full length of stitches, I only did a few to keep the flap in place, and tied them off on the inside of the cover. These are not my best stitches. Leaving some space in the flap also means I can thread an elastic through that space and eventually create a closure if I want to.

Photo collage of an A6 notebook cover made out of natural vegetable tanned leather, with bee wax melted on the surface to give it some texture

To finish it off I melted bees wax onto the top surface to stiffen it a bit and give it a bit of age/patina effect. The scrap leather already had a lot of marks on it, so this helps it blend in a bit more.

Laced pouch

Aesthetic: unearthed from the ground

After doing the projects above, I had a long narrow strip of leather left and I wondered what I could do with it. I wanted to know how the surface of this particular leather would take stamps, so I dragged out every linocut stamp I had ever made and went to town with a pigment ink stamp pad. It was a big failure! No ink really stayed and it just looked stained now. OH WELL, this is all about experimentation right? You can faintly see Kuchipatchi...a secret...

Photo collage of a leather pouch with lacing and flap closure, made out of natural vegetable tanned leather

I'm not sure what possessed me to do a design with leather lacing, but it's here. It was painful. The lacing is made from the same leather and it was so much effort to try to thread floppy ends through manually cut slits. I also eyeballed and made the design on the fly, so I'm impressed that it's all holding up with just laces tucked and wrapped way. This one also has bees wax melted on top and probably needs to be reconditioned after being blasted with a hairdryer.


Verdict

Cool. Leather is very interesting, versatile, and powerful material. I like not needing to worry as much about finishing or closing frayed edges and seams as you do with regular fabric sewing. It's an interesting craft! Leather is also very hard to photograph well...

I learned a lot through researching and want to share a few links to non-amazon Canadian (!) suppliers or DIY kit-makers, if anyone ever wanted them—I haven't tried all of these places!


Today's music post: แค่เธอ/Why Don't you Stay by Jeff Satur, which I have been obsessed with since finishing KinnPorsche the series!!! There's also an English version.

Origami-inspired pen case to go with Traveler's Notebook

Making a fountain pen case to go with my traveler's notebook

As per previous post, I have been thinking about my Traveler's Notebook a lot. This time it's about storage! I wanted things to matchy match!

Much cardstock was cut up while trying to figure out if I wanted to make an insert for a pen loop. I looked at a lot of pen cases and pen loops online! I finally settled on making something up on my own, that sat outside of the TN, to match the tallest and fattest pen I might ever carry (Opus 88 Omar).

At first I was going to make a smaller pen wrap, but then the scrap fabrics that I had were fat quarters, so I wanted to maximize the size and not cut things down unless I really needed to. In close second place was a square sized face towel that someone gifted to me...but I ended up using the fat quarters!

First I cut the 2 fabrics into squares, and then sewed them together. These are probably a decade old, but luckily very well matched! I chose the patchy fabric mosaic pattern to be the outward-facing surface, and matryoshka pattern to be the inside.

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Then I folded the left/right corners towards the middle, then folded the bottom edge towards the upper-centre. Then I made a few small/X shaped stitches to keep things held together. The top flap is meant to be loose/tucked in, and the flap jutting out on the right side is also intention. I wasn't sure where I was going with this (I didn't make a pattern or have anything specific in mind) but I kind of liked the wabisabi folded look. Vaguely origami and furoshiki-inspired! I wanted it to be slimmer than my TN when laid on top. Can also use the TN elastic to hold it in place on top.

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Inside of the cloth are removable fountain pen (or whatever pen what has a clip) inserts. These were made with left over HWA cover stock again. Can make the loops as small or as large as you want, for whatever size pen you have. The loops are also made out of card stock, and threaded through slits of the backing card stock—a lesson learned from Cross Structure Binding HWA! It's pretty secure and doesn't slip easily. You can also make different inserts for different situations.

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I tried stuffing both inserts (back to back) into the pen case and it also works, just gets a big chunky! Otherwise you can also put inserts into any pencil case, if you're the kind of person who doesn't want your fountain pens to be touching each other. I'm not really that kind of person, haha, but I also haven't gone outside to write much since pandemic started.

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Or clip the pens directly onto the fabric. Have a pen sticking out for quick access. Or dunk all your stuff inside without inserts.

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Anyways, I think it's a fun match with my TN. Both have browny tones, inserts, customization, and versatility. It also looks like a stealth handkerchief that's poorly folded. Or a fancy pen burrito. I had fun making it up as I went along!

Laughing because the inside insert I made is very neutral tone, and the TN was more chill. Now with this bright warm cloth case, the vibe is completely different, and it matches matches the risograph cover notebooks more. Whoops!

I also stamped the interior notebook and the back cover with the new(ish) cling stamps I made, and an Aranzi Aronzo Rakuda-chan one.

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Traveler's notebook inserts and others

Making endless inserts and accessories for my Traveler's Notebook (TN) but not actually taking it outside anywhere.

I'm back again with more Traveler's notebook (TN) mods. Maybe this is what it's like to work on a car in the garage but never drive it.

As seen in a previous post, I had this green painted cardboard thing, but the texture of the dried paint was extremely unpleasant to my hands, so I got rid of it. The 021 Connecting Rubber Bands were a bit bulky in the middle of the notebooks (if carrying 2).

After staring at my many notebook covers, I decided to make one for the TN, to sleeve in 2 TN-sized notebooks on either flap. As always, I'm using left over cardstock originally for HWA covers HAHA. The ginkgo ecoprint papers are from StudioPetaBooks, and washi tape is my very last pieces from a design by Wai. The fit of the DIY paper cover over the regular sized TN notebooks is VERY snug but otherwise this works pretty well.

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I put a little notch in the top/bottom centre of the paper cover for the single built-in elastic band of the TN cover to fit through.

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This design means that I don't have the holder for fountain pens anymore. Something to figure out later...

Fun fact: I wrote draft 1 of 4⭐Town 4⭐Real in two TN sized notebooks! White Midori MD paper is a treat and shows off FP ink shading so well.


On the opposite spectrum of aesthetics, I was also looking for more ways to repurpose my old risograph print. I previously made strange paper weave art with some of it and it now hangs on my wall.

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This time I used them to make 4 notebook covers for 2 paper stocks: Kobeha Graphilo and Cosmo Air Light. I painted over parts with Platinum carbon black ink. Then I used 3-hole pamphlet stitch using leftover threads from HWA book binding. It felt nice to maximize what leftovers I had.

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I also cut a bunch of the risograph into smaller bits to make business cards for the recent TCAF. Also thanks to everyone who got books through TCAF's digital marketplace; we're preparing books now. The last of what we have is up at the webstore (open until August 31, 2022).

I am very behind on my paper tasting posts, but I have done a lot of tasting!

Jinhao 100 / Centennial

Jinhao 100 Centennial fountain pen (ivory/black)

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I was looking for a pen with fude nib and wider section/grip diameter. I've been weary with too cheap pens drying out, so after reading many reviews about this Jinhao, which is not as cheap as some of their other models, I wanted to give it a try! I read that it's an homage/based off the Parker Duofold Centennial's design. I chose the ivory/off white and black colourway. I put it next to my bone folder (made of bone) and the colour of the pen is similar.

Collage of severage photos of the Jinhao 100 fountain pen, which is primarily white/ivory coloured, with a top and bottom finials in black

The Jinhao has some heft to it, but not overly so. It does get too back heavy if you try to post it. The barrel has some opacity differences/striations to the way the off-white shows up. There's barely/no step between the threads and barrel, which is a design feature I love. Some people love to have a flush cap with barrel, while I would sacrifice that streamline look with the practicality of not having a step/barrel dig into my hand.

Sandwiched between Pilot Kakuno and Pelikan 400NN. The colourway of Kakuno and Jinhao are...Pinkey. Jinaho's grip diameter is comparable to Kakuno and definitely thicker than the 400NN. Photo collage of 3 fountain pens from top to bottom: Pilot Kakuno in pink/white, Jinhao 100 in black/ivory, and Pelikan 400NN in green stripe. Photo shows capped and un-capped versions of the pen, for size comparison.

I loaded the pen up with Pennonia Rági (Bubblegum), and it wrote without any problem out of the envelope. I was worried the angles wouldn't be forgiving, but after writing/drawing fast, it seems to keep up fine.

Jinhao 100 pen laying on top of a sheet of line ruled paper with a lot of pink writing on it.

Photo close-up of text written with Jinhao 100, using Pennonia Rági ink

Solid pen! It's a true ink guzzler. I got this pen last year and after using it for a few months, it doesn't seem to have issues with drip out, but rather, some dry out. I enjoy writing with it when there's ink loaded in it though! Versatile :)


Today's music post: Cleft Of The Rock by Kyshona Armstrong.

Bandcamp was recently bought out by Epic Games. I'm not sure what the full implications are, but hope that there will still be a place for music makers to get direct support from folks beyond abysmal stream dollars.

Paper tasting so far:

  • Jan - Feb was NTU Press Bookstore A5 blank notebook
  • Mar-May was Kleid 2mm grid notebook
  • Jun-Aug was Nakabayashi's Logical Air Swing 5mm grid notebook

Sep-Oct was Apica CD11 A5 size with line ruling!

Photo of a notebook with black tape binding and textured mustard yellow cover, with gold foil.

I got one with a mustard yellow textured cover. The binding is thread stitched!

Photo of two papers from two  different notebooks laid side by side to show paper colour. Left is Apica CD11 with ruled whiter paper; right is Midori MD with gridded cream paper.

I think the paper is a bit more opaque and white-toned than Midori MD.

Photo of several fountain pen inks, written on the interior page of Apica CD 11 notebook.

Photo of several fountain pen inks, written on the interior page of Apica CD 11 notebook.

I think most FP inks worked quite well on this. Some of my italics didn't write well unless at a certain angle—maybe the paper has some coating on it. It's one of the more common and affordable japanese FP-friendly notebooks that you can find in North America, I think?

Nov-Dec paper tasting is Logical Prime grid!

Today's music post: Mother Nature (live) by Angelique Kidjo.