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!

Traveler's notebook mods

Traveler's Company Traveler's Notebook modifications

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Ah yes, my Traveler's Company traveler's notebook (TN) that I received as a gift many years ago—still grossly underused since I mainly use A5 size for most things personal. I have a very romantic idea of what these notebooks should look like based on what the internet has fed me: stuffed to the brim, all sorts of collagey inserts, vintage/nostalgia vibe, brass, lots of danglies/customization/charms/etc. Honestly I like all of these things, in concept!

In practice, I am very basic and function is always what wins. Function for me means: not a super fat book, not a carry-all, it's for writing/drawing in the pages, and it has to lay as flat as possible.

I finally bit the bullet and made the little changes to my TN:

  • Put something on the closure string
  • Cut off that bead!!
  • Insert two bookmarks instead of one
  • Move the closure cord to the spine

I wasn't sure if this was all going to work out, but thankfully it did!

Collage of 3 photos of different views of a modified traveler's company notebook cover, showing the front (closure elastic across cover), back, and front (closure elastic undone). The notebook is camel brown coloured leather, with a light brown elastic closure cord. The elastic closure also has a wooden ring hanging from it. A fountain pen with a brown cap and jade coloured body is paired with the notebook.

Pen in photo is a Manaslu from Jeb's Pens with a gold tone jowo B nib! MATCHY!!

My "charm"

My cover is scuffed up not because I carry it around, but rather, because of a short stint with some brass charms/tassels that I had on here, as well as some metal dangles on the bookmark strings. This notebook cover has BARELY been used.

I removed all of the metal charms/dangles NOT because of them scuffing up the cover (I don't care!) but rather, I don't like the sound of metal hitting things (e.g., when I put the notebook down on any hard surface, it would make clacking or jingle noise). While I don't care much about scuffing up the cover, I do care a bit more about metal scraping up against my writing surfaces—it means I'd have to be more careful about where I put the notebook down! Sometimes metal charm/dangles got trapped underneath my notebook and I'd have to pull it out while writing. Long story short, I got rid of everything metal and opted for an old ring made out of bent woods and some mysterious material. It's very lightweight and round, so doesn't make too much noise or scuff other things up. By chance, the colour scheme of the ring matches super well with the camel cover, elastic cord, and the off-white bookmarks I added! MATCHY!

No more bead/clasp

The original TN has a metal crimp/clasp/bead in the top left of the notebook. It holds the elastic knots in place and keeps them out of sight. This means that the notebook doesn't quite lay flat at the top of the spine and there are also metal scrapping possibilities against your writing surface.

I finally cut it off. Cutting it off meant that I didn't have enough elastic to string it the way it was originally, so I strung it a different way (reverse-ish), which still works for my purposes (I don't have a super stuffed notebook system). Instead of tying knots on the inside, I tied the elastics on the top/bottom, facing the outside. The spine still lays pretty flat, so I'm happy!

Photo collage of the front and back of the traveler's notebook cover, with a fountain pen resting next to the cover, on the right. This photo shows how the elastic was knotted on the exterior of the cover.

Two bookmarks

An easy add. I had leftover waxed linen thread from my bookbinding! I tied 2 loose strings together at the top and then threaded it through one of the top elastic loops. It stays in place just fine. The waxed thread gives it some stiffness, so it tends to want to lay straighter against a page, which is what you want a bookmark to do.

Photo close-up of the elastic knot on the exterior side of the traveler's notebook, showing a white linen thread fitted through the knot, which acts as 2 bookmarks

Move closure string to the spine

The original TN has a hole in the backcover for the closure string to be knotted through. This meant that there was a "bump" from the knots that could be felt if I was writing on the right side of the book. DO NOT WANT!

I used an awl and screwdrivers to create a hole into the spine. I covered the original hole on the outside of the cover, with a round washi sticker.

Photo collage of the front and back of the traveler's notebook cover. This photo shows how the backcover's elastic closure was moved to the spine.

I also repurposed an old metal fold-over "crimp" to keep the elastics in place without a knot (to further reduce the bump).

Photo collage of the interior side of the notebook cover. It shows how a metal crimp was used to keep the elastic closure in place without a knot.

What's inside?

I started with a moleskine cahier, cut down to A5 slim size. Quickly realized it made all my FP inks look horrid. OBSERVE:

Photo collage of the moleskine cahier notebook cut down to A5 slim size. One shot shows the exterior of the notebook's cover, decorated with stamps and a drawing of a sad Sally. The other shot shows the interior cream coloured grid paper, with horrible looking fountain pen ink writing.

Offensive! Completely unacceptable!!

So I made my own notebook out 5mm dot grid printed on HP premium 32lb paper. The cover is of course, another HWA cover leftover, further covered by a ginkgo ecoprint collage paper from StudioPetaBooks. Sorry Jake, there's only so much of your face that I want to see. I used leftover waxed linen thread (also from HWA) for 3-hole pamphlet binding. Notebook lays super flat! FP ink looks OK on this paper, though not as nice as FP specialty papers. What pains me the most is that there's significant paper cut-off to get a half-letter-sized notebook to fit the A5 slim size of a TN.

Photo collage of two notebooks resting inside of the traveler's notebook cover. One notebook has a off-white cover because it was DIY-ed in-house, while the notebook with kraft paper is an official insert from Midori. The DIY notebook has dot grid ruling printed on it and scrap paper pasted on the interior cover to obscure old art that was printed there.

I have another insert that's the official #03 blank insert with white Midori MD paper. It's nice stuff...feels kind of rare since Midori MD paper is primarily available in cream colour. This insert doesn't lay as flat, so maybe I'll pull out the staples some day and rebind it (?) or continue to reverse crease the notebook.

I made my own "clear file folder" insert by cutting down an old plastic folder (with pockets) and taping together 2 pockets with washi tape. The rest of the file folder became a shitajiki/writing board.

Photo collage of a plastic folder insert made out of plastic sleeves and washi tape.

Also made a scrappy insert that primarily serves as a pen loop flap-out that also folds flat. Maybe I can merge the clear file folder with this...hmmm!

Photo collage of four images. The first two photos show a Traveler’s notebook with a piece of folded cardboard jutting out and around the front cover, holding 3 platinum preppy fountain pens (like a sheath). A third photo shows the same cardboard sheath, but with a OPUS88 Omar inside of it instead. The final photo shows the insert pulled out, laying on top of the notebook.

What am I using it for?

Now that I'm officially not a bound to digital work calendar, I'm going to try to use the notebook for work-related writing/brainstorming! We'll see how it goes...

After writing this post it became obvious that I'm very particular about my stationery. I'm glad I got to repurpose a bunch of existing items to make these mods to my TN!

Today's music post: Tout Est Bleu by Âme Strong.

Waxed paper weave

Strange DIY from old prints

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I have these extremely old risograph prints from 2012 that have been sitting in a portfolio...so I decided to make abstract art out of it haha.

I cut the prints up in 1" x 17" stripes, then taped one end and wove them together.

Photo collage of making weaved paper (in yellow and red colour) out of interlaced strips of paper

After that I sacrificed this peeler to the craft spirts and shaved some candle wax onto the surface, and ironed the wax to melt it and have it penetrate the paper. I flipped it over to do the back-side as well. I ended up using a hair blow dryer as well to flatten down the uneven wax parts as much as I could.

Photo collage of melting wax onto weaved paper (in yellow and red colour)

I'm not sure what I'm going to do it this, but I do like it more than the original drawing...

Today's music post: Jumping Dance by Mario Mathy (1987). This is one of those times where the video is a must watch for the strange but extremely passionate and energetic vibe this person has for their keyboard playing. It's REALLY 80s...