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!
I got one with a mustard yellow textured cover. The binding is thread stitched!
I think the paper is a bit more opaque and white-toned than Midori MD.
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.
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!
Pen in photo is a Manaslu from Jeb's Pens with a gold tone jowo B nib! MATCHY!!
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!
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.
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.
I also repurposed an old metal fold-over "crimp" to keep the elastics in place without a knot (to further reduce the bump).
I started with a moleskine cahier, cut down to A5 slim size. Quickly realized it made all my FP inks look horrid. OBSERVE:
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.
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.
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!
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.
Done one journal/notebook insert, so time for new paper tasting! Still using the traveller style cover for 2 notebooks: planner and journal.
Thoughts on the system so far
I've been marking down key events on the calendar view. I also track when I publish a post and what media I engaged with too. After the month is over, I write a short reflection on the right hand side. In some ways the calendar view will serve as a table of contents for the journal entries...?
Good! I like having a dedicated book for the planner part, and another dedicated book for the journal part. I wasn't sure this habit tracker would be relevant but it has at least two benefits:
- Tracking what I've done, and when, as a method of recall and reminder
- Great excuse to get inks flowing in my pens
My pen writing rotation is like 2 weeks long now. I can't help but want at least 1 pen per ROYGBIV colour, and then there are the pens that I only use for waterproof occasions (that I don't actually journal with). 2 separate slimmer notebooks/inserts also means that my hand doesn't ever get to the edge of a page/book and I have to do the slightly uncomfortable/brief "hover" (where there is a large "step" between your notebook height and the table/working surface). I thought that I could potentially be annoyed by the elastic system (sometimes it feels looser than it should be) but it's not a deal breaker.
I filled this one with journal entries for January - February.
There are a few problematic inks, but those inks tend to be problematic on various higher quality papers that I have:
- always Sailor Kobe kounan maroon
- sometimes Noodler's Eel cactus fruit
- sometimes FPR royal flush blue
Otherwise I like that the paper absorbs the ink quickly, though at the expense of sheen. I don't care as much about sheen as I do about shading! I'm swapping this insert out for the one below.
Incoming journal: Kleid 2mm grid notes A5, 2mm grid
I thought I'd use something with some ruling this time because of how crooked I wrote in the other one/
These ones use OK Fools paper, which according to the maker...
OK Fools was the first Fool's Cap paper produced in Japan by Ohtori Paper. In Japan, the term "Fools Paper" has long been used to refer to high-end writing paper. British Fool's Cap paper was first imported into Japan in the late 1800s. The popular Japanese version was produced at the Oji Ogura Factory, where the name OK comes from. While the current iteration is being made by Nippon Paper Industries' Yatsushiro Factory, they have kept the OK name for brand recognition.
I have the one with the blue cover. The cover itself also has the 2mm grid pattern printed in light blue ink, and there's some silver stamp foil in the bottom. There's also an informational belly band (is it still a belly band if it runs vertical?) that is removable.
- 32 sheets / 64 pages
- 2mm graph paper
- white paper
- side-sewn bound
The grid pattern itself is very small and I wouldn't say it looks visually obtrusive, but some it does seem to resist water-based fountain pen inks, so if you were writing really small, the grid might break up your writing. I'm personally not sure what I would use a 2mm grid for, that I can't achieve in a bigger grid, but I mainly just write or doodle freeform.
When held up to the light, the paper also has some regular columnar watermark and another emblem (probably some manufacturer logo?) that appears in different spots, depending on where the page was cut.
As anticipated, all the inks did good, aside from the usual suspects (already listed above). I think the shading is fine, but maybe sheen feels less obvious than some other papers I've used.
For an ink that's more expensive, I'm surprised that Sailor Kobe kounan maroon feathers and bleeds through on so many of my higher quality papers (using EF nib). I finally finished my sample and am quite please to be RID OF IT.
I found a new favourite pangram:
Two driven jocks help fax my big quiz.
I like to imagine Jake and Austin trying to use a fax machine on my behalf.
After using the 2mm grid for a bit, I have to say that I'm not a fan, primarily because when I'm writing fast, I can't "track" what line I'm currently on and how much line spacing to use when moving to a new line (line break). The paper is otherwise quite nice!
Today's music post: Unspoken by Moderator.
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.
I added a few pages for 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.
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).
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).
Pushing down on the nib with "flex" also caused the ink to selectively feather and bleed through on some other inks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
After my previous fail at exposed spine binding a notebook I decided to try again.
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...
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.