Planner and paper tasting kick-off for 2021

Midori MD planner and NTU notebook

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I talked about this in passing in my analogue daily journal post, but I added a few more things to round out the system, after using the other journal/planner combo for a few months.

Planner: Midori MD Notebook Light, A5, grid ruling

Midori MD Notebook light (grid) serves as the planner for the year, with monthly view spreads. I've put it inside an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket. There's 1 spread for the year, then 13 spreads for each month (Jan-Dec 2021 + Jan 2022). I drew a different little plant icon on the corner of every monthly spread.

Photo collage of 2 notebooks on a grey desk. The left-hand notebook is a Midori MD Light Note book in A5 size with grid ruling. It is slipped into an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket that has an integrated zipper pocket. The jacket is light tealed in colour, with dark brown cartoon animals printed on the front. Collage mainly shows the hand-drawn yearly and monthly calendar interiors of the Midori MD notebook, which I'm using as a planner. The right-hand notebook is a brown kraft covered one from NTU.

I added a few pages for projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

Photo collage showing the interior spreads of the Midori MD Notebook planner with grid ruling Spreads shown include- projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

I'm doing fountain pen "paper tasting" for 2021, meaning I'm going to journal in separate and different lower-page count notebooks, every 2 months or so. The first one to go is...

Journal: NTU Press Bookstore 臺大出版中心校史館書店 notebook, A5, no ruling

The National Taiwanese University Press Bookstore (Pinkoi storefront) has branded stationery, including fountain pens, notebooks, and more. This also includes the Taiwanese-designed Take a Note planner that uses Tomoe River 68gsm paper that I've only seen places like Shigure Inks stock in North America. The planner design won a Good Design award in 2017.

I got some of their basic sewn brown kraft notebooks that were marketed as being suitable for fountain pens.

Photo of 2 brown kraft paper notebooks with NTU (National Taiwan University) branding on the front cover. Covers are plain and minimal, other than the University's name printed in small font on the covers.

Pages are blank/unruled, 米道林(楓林紙) 100gsm paper, 64 pages total. The paper isn't white, more like a cream stock (comparable to the colour of midori MD, perhaps a tad lighter).

Photo collage of fountain pen ink tests on an interior page of the NTU cover. The left-image shows consecutive rows of handwriting, done in different coloured inks. The right-image shows the back-side of the page that was written to, to show that there is minmal ink bleedthrough (only when there was flex nib used, or certain inks used)

Most of my inks did fine on the paper. The ones that feathered and bled were Sailor Kobe Kounan Maroon, Platinum Carbon Black, and J. Herbin Emeraude de Chivor. FPR Royal Flush Blue was also a bit more prone to feathering, but not in a significant way (to me).

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting, using flex nib/applying pressure on the nib.

Pushing down on the nib with "flex" also caused the ink to selectively feather and bleed through on some other inks.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Compared to Midori MD and Tomoe River, shading on this paper feels slightly flatter for some inks. There is practically no pink sheen in FPR Royal Flush Blue here, and Lamy Turmaline shows very minor pink/purple sheen. Overall I find that inks appear brighter/lighter in appearance, much like they would on regular printer paper.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Overall, I think it's a solid performer! Dry time seems good too, at least good enough that I don't even think about it.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

I bought some cute illustrated and perforated calendar sheets that I can paste into my journal. I might try to experiment with a bit more collage for this journal. Sometimes when the paper is expensive and optimized for FP ink I feel like I have to maximize all surface area for the ink, and not paste anything into it.

Photo collage of a dark brown leather traveler's style notebook in A5 size, which serves to hold the 2 notebooks mentioned in this post, together. The photo also shows a few fountain pens, a roll of dot-washi-tape stickers, and perforated date rectangles.

I also have this daily chinese calendar for FUN. I'm into this aesthetic sometimes; I was close to getting a chinese almanac, Tung Shing/通勝 for the year too. I wouldn't say that I'm particular about fengshui, astrology, or auspicious dates, but I wish I knew how to read the bottom part.

Photo of a traditional looking one-page-a-day chinese calendar, bound at the top with screws.

Today's music post: A compilation of Jane Zhang's (张靓颖) cover/rearrangement performances from the TV show Sound of my Dream (梦想的声音).

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After my previous fail at exposed spine binding a notebook I decided to try again.

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I watched SeaLemon's tutorial on kettlestitch binding more closely this time. I still messed up the tautness of some of the thread/stitches, but it's OK for now. I regretted not waxing my thread because it was knot-central.

The paper was given to me by a friend, salvaged from a mostly unused pack. Since it was for calligraphy I expected it to hold up pretty well to fountain pen, but I found it to feather and bleed a bit. Might not work as well for double-sided work.

Also tore up some old extra risograph comic pages from Martial Spirit and gluestick-ed them onto the extra HWA comic covers for the cover, haha...

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What will this notebook be used for? I have no idea...

Today's music post: BabopbyeYa by Janelle Monáe. The song gives me Bond-esque vibes and showcases her vocal range wonderfully.

Nakabayashi Logical Air Swing Notebook

It is fountain pen-friendly

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Nakabayashi's Logical Air Swing notebook is fountain pen-friendly! Well, my bar for what is "fountain pen-friendly" is pretty low compared to other people. I'm willing to use any paper that at least has Level 0 properties (my made up, personal criteria):

Level 0

  • Ink doesn't feather outrageously
  • Ink doesn't bleed through the paper (can use both sides)

Level 1

  • Ink shows some sheen
  • Ink shows some shading

There is no Level 2. This is getting into my " I will weigh the tradeoffs" for different contexts/purposes.

  • Ghosting/show-through
  • Paper weight
  • Ink dry time
  • Paper colour
  • Notebook design (page count, numbering, ruling, binding, etc.)

The Logical Air Swing Notebook satisfies Level 0 and Level 1 in my personal assessment. I'm not going to get into great detail since there are others who have done paper comparison with a greater degree of control measures.

As a paper/notebook x fountain pen lover, I've referred to John Bosley's fountain pen friendly paper rating list as reference for what fun new things to try out. He also has a good list of fountain pen, ink, and paper basics.

A while back, John reviewed Nakabayashi's Logical Prime Notebook and I ended up looking into their broader Logical notebook brand. They had a notebook called Logical Air Swing Notebook as well. The promo for the Logical Air notebook says that it's especially good for students to be carrying lighter weight paper in their bags.

Somewhat confusing Swing Logical notebook nomenclature:

  • Swing Logical Air is 56gsm
  • Swing Logical is 70gsm
  • Logical Prime is "7% thicker and firmer than standard version" (advertised to be fountain pen-friendly)
  • There's also a whole bunch of other names in the notebook line, like Logical Think, Logical Brain, Logical Sport, etc..

Based on the logic (!) above, one might assume that Logical Air may NOT be fountain pen-friendly. It's interestingly close to the weight of many people's fountain pen grail paper Tomoe River/TR (52gsm). I see the value of TR but the dry time is a big trade-off for me.

Since I was making the best of my proxy shopping/shipping from Japan (Buyee), I threw in a A5 Logical Airs 5mm grid ruling into my order (from Fueru's Rakuten) and hoped for the best (they're ~180yen). Months later, they arrived!

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I have the green cover A5 5mm square grid notebook with 30 sheets. The cover is a lightweight and flexible cover stock with a bit of a gloss coating.

It's one fat signature, sewn-bound down the middle.

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The interior paper has a dotted line square grid, probably on ivory stock.

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It seems slightly more yellow than standard staples printer paper, but MUCH less yellow than Midori MD cream paper.

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Writing on the page...well, how do I describe it. The paper feels uncoated. It is textured. It felt like I was writing on regular printer paper, but without the ink bleeding/feathering. As soon as my nib hit the page it felt like it would feather and bleed, but it didn't.

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I don't think there was much (or any?) feathering, nor bleed-through. Whereas Rhodia paper hates me whenever I use flex nibs, this paper impressively handled it like a champion.

Backside of the page has ghosting, but feels less than 52gsm Tomoe River. It's still usable to me.

Overall I felt that my pen/inks probably wrote a bit dryer on this paper. I touched some of the Logical Prime paper in my order, and that stuff definitely feels smoother and coated to the finger, compared to Logical Air.

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The paper does show shading and sheen, but probably less than Tomoe River. I think the dry time is faster though! As mentioned previously, it felt like my inks wrote overall drier because of lack of coating/absorption, and that could lead to less sheen too. I'm not good at photographing sheen, but I do see a bit of it in the Lamy Turmaline and FPR Royal Flush Blue.

Today's music post: Brown Loop by Duval Timothy.

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.

Fits!!

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...

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Last updated January 14 2021!

I have a list of Canadian fountain pen + accessory vendors here.

Notebooks, sketchbooks, paper

Use case Brand Size/model Status
2021 planner Midori MD A5 Notebook light 48 pages
Daily journal NTU A5 Kraft brown notebook 64 pages
Commonplace book Midori MD A5 notebook gridded ~40/176 pages used
Creative notebook Wai Au ? Shiba Inu cover, cross grid ? ~83/168 pages used
HWA 4-panel comics Plenty Steps A5 Info & Sketch BOOK ~16/40 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 Sailor Kobe Sannomiya Panse
Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy 2.0mm Empty
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
Oliver Exam ? Piston filler (clear) ? J Herbin 1670 Emeraude de Chivor
Pelikan M400 Souverän (black red) F, 14k gold Diamine Oxblood
Platinum Preppy (clear) 0.3 Stock cartridge
TA+d Fiber Black F Noodler's Eel Cactus Fruit

I also have some other sample tubes that I'll eventually get through...


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 genius, 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Backnife Ceramic utility knife Super slim, light, and easy to carry for the times where you need to cut something (also Canadian-owned!)
OK-Bon Compression wraps Magical fabric that endlessly self adheres, but is soft. I use a thin wrap to put around a wrist brace splint for wrist stabilization

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!