Stationery

Following the White Rabbit Down the Rabbit Hole

Where is the border between sanity achieved through practicality and impulsive lust lived vicariously through bright, shiny things? I confess to having owned more stationery supplies in pencils, pens, inks and notebooks at various times than I was capable of using in my lifetime, unless modern science figures out how to extend human lifespan to 200 years.

SABLE as they call it (stash acquisition beyond life expectation) was first coined, some say, by knitters. Makes sense, every knitter I’ve known had closets of yarn they’ll likely never use up in their lifetimes. For stationery nuts, it means boxes and shelves of pens, drawer after drawer of bottled inks, and closets full of notebooks of all sizes and shapes, and much more. What drives such behavior? Definitely a first-world problem, it seems to derive from the pleasure one gets acquiring, more than using. There are many rationales to SABLEing:  hoarding because “someday I’ll need this and I’ll have it” or “look how much I saved buying a dozen of these versus one or two” or “I can always sell or trade it later” or the most dangerous one:  “that’s really cool and I don’t have that one.” Of course, relative to fine art or vintage automobiles, paper and pencils are cheap, at least by the single or dozen. The cheap justification tends to fly out the window when the laws of multiplication take over.

Like weight loss, I’ve swung up and down over the years in my battle against SABLE. It always feels great to minimize and reach that noble stage of stash = near-term usage levels, but it never stays there for long. There’s always a deal, there’s always a fear of running out of a special pencil or notebook you think they’ll quit making, and there’s always the fresh nudge from suddenly writing more in the notebooks, pushing more ink through pens, and grinding through more pencils evidenced by the sudden increase in pencil potpourri (sharpening shavings). Any one of those is an open door for a fresh taste of how good it feels to buy, acquire, stash-up on the beloved stationery goodies.

Seasoned SABLErs will always counter with “there are worst addictions” and while that’s true, justified like that assumes we’e all supposed to have at least one addiction and hey, stationery is a minor one that harms no one (unlike many of the more serious addictions). I never hear SABLErs mutter, “I can stop any time” and not because they think they can or can’t, but because they don’t see it as one of THOSE addictions. The only apparent harm is to your wallet, maybe your spousal relationship, and in extreme SABLEing, compromising the structural integrity of your house.

As I write this, I want to believe I’m finally on the path to redemption. I’ve systematically culled and reduced twice this year, and currently in a third wave I believe will get me to the promised land:  nothing kept that won’t be consumed within a year, more or less. But those damn Field Notes Dime Novels…had to grabbed eight packs because they are so me…and yes, the four boxes of Blackwing Volumes 1 were necessary because they won’t be around long and they’re round!. I guess the ultimate question is not how to stop this behavior, but rather what does a fashionable White Rabbit follower wear this season for excursions down the velvet-lined rabbit hole? Inquiring SABLE minds want to know.

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Life, Writing

Journey

Had a great, intense journaling session this morning, which included an unplanned (best kind!) sidetrack into thoughts about “journey.” Sharing a part here in hopes you find my thoughts useful in prompting your own thinking on journey. It is shared as written and unedited, but I think you can read my writing well enough to make out all the words.

For the stationery-tools curious:  written with a Franklin-Christoph P66 (Masuyama italic cursive nib) fountain pen, Robert Oster Caffe Crema ink, in a Nanami Seven Seas A5 Writer journal.

 

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Stationery

Baron Fig’s Unfinish: Bold Play or Askew 2?

There’s been a flurry of reviews on Baron Fig’s latest Confidant, the Unfinish. When I received my review copy from Baron Fig, I decided to wait a bit for the early reviewer fog to lift before sharing my take on their latest creative notebook twist.

I have to admit I was not a fan of the Askew. I blame years and years of journaling using rule pages as setting an almost religious association in my mind between journals and straight, ruled lines. After all, to me, journals are meant for serious thoughts, not playtime. So when the chaos appeared between the covers of an Askew, I knew I’d never use one. Enter their second artistic twist in Unfinish, and I have a different feel for this one.

The numerous, faint, unfinished illustrations on many (not all) pages of Unfinish don’t bother me and they’re light enough for users to write through them. But then, you would not “have fun” as Baron Fig implores in the embossed slug on the back cover if you simply ignored them and wrote through.

Full specs are below, but let’s take a quick tour of Unfinish. It starts with the box and oh my, what a box! I love journals in boxes since it leaves me with a fun extra that’s useful long after the journal fills up. In this case, the blue box matching the pretty blue linen of Unfinish covers shows a spaceman in ghostly white and space thematic icons and little illustrations in a varnish hit that shows only when you tilt the box. A really nice effect that brings a smile to your face when you discover it’s there.

Opening the box there’s a loose sheet with a headless horse with a message on the reverse side to guide you through using the book:  give the horse a head or don’t and use it as a notebook…but above all, “…go have fun.” And that’s the essence of this book:  it’s a playful journey through the journal sketching to complete the unfinished illustrations or write through it as a notebook (or draw through as a sketchbook).


With any journal these days, once you’re past the aesthetics it all comes down to the paper:  how does it write? Unfinish continues Baron Fig’s growing reputation for providing quality paper in their journals and Unfinish comes through as paper that’s quite good with fountain pen and graphite alike. Although my fountain pen test did well, for my personal preference there’s a bit more feedback from the nibs than I like, but the ink lays down very well with no feathering and show-through only when forced with excessive ink lay-down. I wouldn’t hesitate using my pens in it at all, but I’d still prefer my current go-to paper for my pens (Rhodia’s Heritage notebooks with Clairfontane paper). Of course, points go to Unfinish for providing the whimsical discovery in turning each page to see what new illustration needs a bit to finish. The blank paper can be used with guide sheets behind as well, for those who don’t like writing on lineless pages.

Graphite feels great on this paper with just a tiny bit of smearing, but since my pencil of choice tends to be a Blackwing, they are prone to smear on a lot of papers. The smearing here only shows up on the really heavy lay-downs, as the photos show.

In my testing, graphite did not have nearly the amount of feedback as I got with my pens, but was a very nice and smooth feeling.

My closing thoughts are that this is a fun journal that provides just enough whimsy to keep you from getting too serious and does indeed encourage you to have fun! Die-hard journalers probably won’t find this as useful as infrequent journalers, but it does appeal to doodlers who also like to write. As Baron Fig states inside the back cover, “You’re only as good as your last doodle.” Words to have fun by, for sure.

Specs:

  • Box and cover in non-repro blue
  • 5.4″ x 7.7″
  • 192 blank pages, 12 of them perforated (at the back)
  • 90 gsm acid-free paper
  • Page illustrations in non-repro blue

Unfinish can be purchased at Baron Fig’s site.

I received Unfinish from Baron Fig with no expectations on their part for a positive review. My comments and thoughts reflect my time spent playing with the journal, and were not influenced by receiving this product for review.

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Stationery

Log + Jotter’s New Twist on Notebook Subscriptions

There are many subscriptions out there for stationery goodies, but only a handful focus on just notebooks. The two well-known ones are Field Notes and Write Notepads, who both use a quarterly model to produce and distribute thematic pocket notebook three-packs. Dapper Notes also has a single, bi-monthly notebook subscription.

A new player from my home state of Ohio, Log + Jotter, is joining the fray with a few new twists in the subscription model landscape. Key features:

  • Open-ended monthly subscription ($5 U.S. / $6.50 int’l for either notebook style, or $8.50 U.S. / $11.50 int’l for both styles)
  • Twelve themes per year (versus four with Field Notes/Write, six w/Dapper Notes)
  • Style choice:  either classic (logo on cover) or graphic (thematic), or you can get both
  • Page layout choice:  graph, dot grid, blank
  • Notebook size:  3.5″ x 5.5″
  • Made in America, limited run (only available to subscribers; no available extras)

I like their model a lot, but it may not be for everyone. For someone like me with a lot of pocket notebooks that I don’t use quickly, getting one notebook per month versus six per quarter is a fun approach and one that means I’m more likely to use the one-a-month newcomer. Log + Jotters are thus easier to work into the rotation and enjoy. They are more expensive per notebook, however, when you compare a full year against either Field Notes or Write (per notebook:  L+J $5 per, Field Notes $3.23 per, and Write $3.33 per), but the difference is pretty small.

The production quality on the Log + Jotter is good. The covers are printed in multiple colors on all sides, with front inside cover (above left) sporting an inch ruler, notebook info, and an interesting knowledge section unique to each issue. Back inside cover (above right) has a centimeters ruler, a unique-per-issue challenge, and current-and-next calendar blocks. Cover stock is not as heavy (80#) as other pocket notebooks, but usable and the weight is subject to change, depending on a month’s theme. Two staples secure the 40 inside pages (60# text), which for my sub are dot grid. A provided insert (at the left in the top image) does multiple duty as an intro letter, bookmark, or sheet backing if you write extra firmly.

So how is the Log + Jotter notebook in use? Both graphite and fountain pen feel good. No smear on the graphite (all samples rubbed after writing) but not much tooth to the paper if that’s your liking. Fountain pens wrote well too, with just a bit of feathering that results in slightly wider nib work than a paper designed for fountain pens.

The image at the right shows this in a comparison with NockCo’s DotDash cards. There is no show-through on the back side using my needlepoint or fine italic cursive. Broader nibs would likely show through a bit, as they will on most any paper less than 70#. As a heavy fountain pen user, I will use those with the Log + Jotter and be fine about it. It’s a bit better for fountain pens than Field Notes 60# paper, but not as good as with Write’s paper. Other than my Write or Story Supply, I don’t use fountain pens with my pocket notebooks , but I’m good using them in the Log + Jotter pocket notebooks.

I like this model’s one-per-month approach and the makers have put a lot of thought into the theme and extras in the text, so clearly it is a labor of love. How can any notebook nerd not get on board with that!

For subscription information, visit Log + Jotter. The notebook reviewed was my own purchase and not a review sample provided by Log + Jotter.

 

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Stationery

Der Zettelwirt! Great Paper & Innovative Form

The ever-generous Stuart Lennon of pocketnotebooks.co.uk dropped one of these little gems in a recent order and I’ve been enamored ever since playing with it.

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Before we get into the full story, let’s wrestle with that name:  Der Zettelwirt. I typo’d my first translation attempt (zettlewirt) revealing “the warping host.” Hmmm…can’t be right…correct spelling provides “the note host.” Makes more sense.

Der Zettelwirt is a small, user-fillable sturdy cover using a rubber-band top binding system that I’ve seen once before in some notebooks out of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum back when Field Notes’ Two Rivers was first released. The pack comes with about a dozen pages loaded in the sturdy cover (material is the same as that used for waist-labels on jeans) plus a fat stack of spare pages. A user can thus load up as many or as few as they’d like to carry, a cool feature that I can see has some practical uses.

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I liked the concept, the materials, and the paper took anything I threw at it (excerpt Sharpies…they bleed through nearly every paper). There is only one downside I see to these, and even that, depending on the type of stationery nut you are, may or may not matter. More on that below.

Der Zettelwirt nerd-specs:

  • Size:  3″ x 4-1/8″ (7.4cm x 10cm) – A7
  • Cover: Top fold-over, water- and tear-proof cover
  • Binding:  Rubber band around page block and back cover, secured by side notches in both pages and back cover
  • Page count:  64
  • Paper weight:  90 g/m² (~60#)

IMG_1695_REVISEDDer Zettelwirt is, I think, a great note pad to carry with its variable page count and small form factor, but it’s not inexpensive. At roughly $10 US for the cover and refill pack, it’s about twice the cost per square inch of page as a Field Notes, so it won’t appeal to everyone, but for those who like something unique, it could find a home in your shirt pocket, or with the soon-available desk stand your desktop too!

Currently available to the U.S. through pocketnotebooks.co.uk. Internationals can get them through pocketnotebooks of course, and also Offlines, the maker’s site.

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