This is a really interesting sketchbook, now part of the collection of the National Museum of Australia. It belonged to a young Aboriginal man named Oscar. The article is a bit vague about the circumstances of Oscar’s life– it sounds like he could have been a slave, or indentured servant, or at best an orphan who was compelled to become a child laborer in the 1880s gold rush in Australia, as many Indigenous people were. The only thing that is really known is that he was a talented artist, and his “boss,” Augustus Henry Glidden, gave him a notebook to draw in, which became part of a museum collection.
Oscar’s sketchbook contains drawings by a young Aboriginal man who grew up in Far North Queensland in the late 1880s.
Oscar’s pencil drawings range from scenes of traditional ceremonies, to interactions with Europeans and places he visited in the surrounding area. It is a rare record of life in the late 19th century from an Aboriginal person’s perspective.
Architects’ sketchbooks are always some of my favorites to look at. And having worked with an architect and contractor on a renovation of my own home, the quote below really resonated with me, as I found myself frequently pulling out my own notebooks to draw ideas that I couldn’t otherwise explain!
From architect to contractor, to carpenter, to engineer and back again, sketches are passed like sentences to make sense of something together. Translation and interpretation are embedded in conversations had through drawing, mulling a building over with multiple hands and multiple pencils, lead or pixels. By holding on to these visual conversations past a project’s completion, including them in architecture criticism, we can understand building with more rigour and depth.
The article this quote is from also shows off some very cool sketchbooks by Jan de Vylder, among others:
Stuart talks about his daily journaling routine: each morning, he gets up early, meditates, then writes in his Hobonichi Techo. I love the idea of this kind of structure– a page a day diary, that you write in every day, at the same time. But I never do this myself! (Even when I used my beloved Nolty Daily Book, I had a hard time keeping to a routine of how to use it.)
I have at least 3 daily-carry notebooks going at all times. Most days, I do write in each of them, but without any particular habits as to time or place. Sometimes I’ll write in my journal (most often a squared Moleskine, or plain or dotted Bindewerk linen journal) a bit in the morning, but it hasn’t been that often–I’m trying to make this more of a habit. On days when I’m working, I might take a short break and write a bit, but not that often. The evenings or before bed are probably the time when I do most of my journaling.
Then there’s my Nolty planner. I’ll jot things throughout the day, whenever I think to do it, which can be at any time. I record what I’ve eaten and what exercise I’ve done, and keep to-do lists and grocery lists in this planner. I also note books to read, movies to watch, music to check out. And I use the Gantt chart to track various habits, like whether I’ve exercised each day, taken a vitamin, called my mother, etc. I often pick up this notebook right before bedtime to make sure I complete my log of that day.
My sketchbook goes through phases where I’m good about drawing every day, and then sometimes I’ll let it go for a while. Drawing is another thing that doesn’t necessarily happen at a certain time, but it’s most often in the evening hours after work, or on weekend afternoons. I almost always have a Moleskine sketchbook going, as well as a watercolor sketchbook for the occasional painting.
Now that I work from home, I’ve formed some new habits, such as taking a walk every morning before breakfast and then again at lunchtime. Maybe as the weather gets warmer, I’ll allow myself to stop in a peaceful spot somewhere on my walk and do a little writing or sketching, to see if I could combine those two habits.
How about you, readers? What are your daily notebook routines or habits?
Today we’re taking a look at the Pineider Boston notebook. I forget where I was poking around online when I first saw that Pineider made some cute pocket notebooks– I think it was some luxury goods site. Pineider certainly qualifies as a luxury brand: their small leather wallets start at close to $200, and go up fast. They also make beautiful leather bags, elegant items for your desk, and fancy pens and stationery. Everything is very refined and swanky, right down to their logo, which notes that the company was founded in Firenze in 1774.
Interestingly, Pineider’s pocket size notebooks are not that much more expensive than some other upscale brands, ranging from 14 to 28 Euros. At the lower end of the price range, you’re getting a single stitched signature notebook with a “regenerated leather” cover. At the higher end, the Milano notebook has 96 pages between saffiano leather covers with hand-painted edges, and stamped metallic monogramming is included. I would have liked to try the Milano, but I found an Amazon seller offering the Pineider Boston notebook for a reasonable price, so I decided to give it a go!
The Pineider Boston notebook has a textile cover which they say is intended to minimize its environmental footprint. It’s also vegan. When I took the shrinkwrap off mine, I was taken aback by the texture– it’s almost suedelike, and doesn’t feel like any other cloth covered notebook I own. The cover is flexible, so this notebook would feel comfortable in a pocket.
The packaging is lovely– the paper band has such a classic look to it, and seems to be very finely printed, with tiny, sharp lines that look like what you’d find on an old postage stamp, or currency printed from engraved plates.
The Pineider Boston notebook comes in various colors, but the ribbon marker is always green, a Pineider trademark, I guess. I love the orange, it’s a nice smoky shade that is easy on the eyes. Shown below next to a red Moleskine for comparison.
The inside cover has more brand logos and space for contact details. There is a slim paper tuck pocket inside back cover– I’m not crazy about this kind of pocket as they are pretty useless for anything more than a business card or two.
The notebook does not have an elastic closure, which might come in handy. The spine is a bit stiff so it’s not that easy to open it flat, and once you’ve bent it all the way open, the cover stays open a bit.
Inside, the notebook contains watermarked 80 gsm paper, lined, with the Pineider logo at the bottom. The pages have square corners, which is very unusual, especially since the cover is rounded.
The paper is smooth, bright white. and it’s great with fountain pens. No feathering, and I got some nice shading with my flex nib. Show-through is what you’d expect for a paper of this weight, but there was no bleed except with really wet markers. This notebook is too nice to be desecrated with an Accu-liner or a Super Sharpie anyway!
There is a lot to love about this notebook– the paper is great, the design is lovely, and it feels like a well-made, high-quality product. I wish it came with unlined, squared, or dotted paper. I also wish the spine was more flexible so it would open flat more easily. It’s a bit expensive for a Moleskine alternative, but if you want a fountain pen friendly notebook that looks elegant and stands out from the pack, it’s a very attractive option.
The list price for the Pineider Boston notebook is 18 Euros. (Larger sizes and other colors are available.) I bought mine on Amazon, where I paid $26.77 including tax, with free shipping.
The first thing that hit me when I opened this notebook, though, was not like a Moleskine at all. The Fabio Ricci notebook has a weird smell, sort of like waxy crayons with a touch of BO. After a while the BO note faded but the waxy crayon smell remained.
The exterior of the Fabio Ricci notebook is a red just a bit brighter than the shade currently used by Moleskine, though older Moleskines have a similarly bright, almost orange-y tone. The cover texture is also almost an exact match, just a wee bit shinier. There seems to be a very subtle scoring of the front and back cover near where it folds along the spine, I’m not sure why.
The design of the paper band is very close to Moleskine’s old design. There’s a stamped logo on the back cover, of course, but here you notice a slight difference in how the elastic closure is attached– on the Fabio Ricci notebook, the holes are very open and you can see the edges, where on a Moleskine they are always smaller, more tightly tucked around the elastic. To me, this small detail makes a big difference– the bare cardboard edges just don’t look as nice.
The cover overhang is pretty similar to today’s Moleskines. (In the photos above, the Fabio Ricci notebook is in the middle, between a pre-2011 squared Moleskine with almost no cover overhang, and a current day dot-grid Moleskine.) When you open the notebook, the spine feels a little stiff and creaky, but it loosens up a bit and opens pretty flat. But I’m sure over time the corners of the spine will start to wear out because of the stress from it not bending inwards.
The inside front cover has a typical logo placement, and space for contact details. The back pocket has a nice extra detail: a slot that will hold a business card. It is 2-ply, so the business card is isolated from the contents of the expanding pocket. The sides of the pocket are paper, without any cloth reinforcement, but they are a snazzy orange to match the triangle/horse logo on the edge.
One of the main reasons I bought this notebook was that it had plain white paper– I hate it that so many notebooks only come in lined versions. The paper is slightly creamy white, just slightly brighter than Moleskine paper. It is quite smooth, and feels good with a variety of pens, but like Moleskine paper, it works best with fine gel pens, ballpoints, and pencils. Fountain pens and wetter rollerball pens will bleed and feather a bit. The paper weight is not specified but again it feels very much like current Moleskine paper, and gives a similar amount of show-through.
All in all, this notebook is pretty good but not great. I won’t be buying any more, which is just as well because the availability in the US now seems to be limited. When I bought mine in late 2019, the price was $9.95 and the total including tax and shipping from Amazon was $13.96. Not too bad, especially compared to the price of the almost identical Moleskine. While these are no longer listed on Amazon, Pencils.com has some available– they came in white, black and brown covers, and lined and squared versions, but not all versions are still in stock.
This Fabio Ricci notebook is not going to be a daily carry for me anytime soon, but it will be in a box of back-ups that I can turn to if I ever deplete my [huge!] stash of notebooks that are better! But I’ll have to take it out of that box a good long time before I want to use it to see if I can air out that weird crayon smell.
I saw an article a couple of months ago about some notebook brands I wasn’t familiar with, all brands of stationery from India. I haven’t come across many Indian notebooks up til now. Rubberband sent me some samples quite a few years ago, but I couldn’t have named any other Indian notebook brands off the top of my head. Now I have a few on my list to check out!
Nappa Dori has an attractive look, kind of retro. Though they are based in India, they also have a store in London and their products (which go well beyond stationery) are available in 20 countries.
Cute colors! Craft Boat offers a variety of notebooks and stationery in lovely pastel shades. It looks like everything ships from India, so international shipping could be expensive.
More really cute notebooks, journals, planners and other products. I love the way they display them on their website. Again shipping from India may be expensive.
I recently came across this 2016 Huffington Post article about the auction sale of a Salvador Dali notebook via Pinterest, and thought “How on earth did I miss this?!?” This is one of my favorite glimpses of an artist’s notebook!
Salvador Dalí, the great Surrealist painter and bombastic lover of ocelots, is widely known for his nightmarish depictions of melting timepieces, nesting tigers and spindly-legged elephants. He’s less revered for his ability to meticulously monitor his daily expenses.
Thanks to a recent auction at Sotheby’s in Paris, the mustachioed master’s humdrum knack for documenting his spending, listing each and every transaction amidst a flurry of horse head illustrations and erotic doodles, has finally come to light. Not only did the artist hide original drawings, arbitrary criticisms and spontaneous thoughts inside his journal, he kept his endless charts of numbers — a peseta here, a few hundred pesetas there — locked away too.
I just love the dense textures and layers of writing and patterns in different colored inks. It looks like the notebook was originally wire-bound but the pages were detached and re-mounted into some sort of cover. There are more images in the original post. I like the Salvador Dali notebook better than his paintings!
I don’t remember ever hearing about this book at the time but it sounds like a fascinating look behind the scenes at Coppola’s creative process. Coppola pasted in all the pages of Mario Puzo’s book and annotated them with ideas for the film.
Gerard McNeil was featured here as a Notebook Addict of the Week over 10 years ago. In that post, we saw some photos of the notebooks he uses to capture creative ideas, and a few interiors. Recently he got back in touch and shared a link to his website, where you can get a more detailed look at the contents of his visual journals:
Many more images are available on his website, where you can click for larger images. As an artist and arts educator, Gerard is constantly engaged with creativity. It’s fascinating to see how his ideas are explored in his notebooks!
I probably don’t need to tell you this, but I LOVE notebooks. I am always attracted to all sorts of notebooks. I can’t pass an office supply store without taking a look, even if I’m pretty sure the selection won’t be that interesting. Even the back to school pallets of cheap-o spiral notebooks at Staples kind of give me a thrill.
But I’m also really picky about notebooks, so there are many notebooks that I don’t love, and don’t want to use. I have used lots of different kinds of notebooks over the years, and my personal preferences have shifted and evolved in terms of size, paper type, and other features. Nowadays, I pretty much know exactly what I want in a notebook for daily use, and I’m selective when it comes to buying notebooks for this purpose. But I still sometimes get it wrong. Today I’ll tell you about a few notebooks that I thought I would love, but actually didn’t.
The Travelers Notebook
I kind of knew the passport size Midori Travelers Notebook was going to be wrong for me, but I bought one anyway, plus some fancy inserts. I was seduced by all the images I’ve seen online of beautifully worn in, over-stuffed travelers notebooks, many with Nolty planners tucked inside. I liked the idea of customizing the inserts, and ended up not even including a notebook inside. I used my Travelers Notebook for a few months as a wallet, but somehow it never felt right. Taking out credit cards or coins or cash just seemed awkward. The whole bundle was too bulky. And it just wasn’t the right shape. I’m still tempted to try a “fauxdori” sized to hold Field Notes and similar sized pocket notebooks, but even that might not work: the notebooks inside would be my favorite size, but the cover would be larger. And I’m not sure my Nolty planner would be as satisfying inside a cover like that. I still love the concept of a bundle of booklets inside a cover, but I’m not sure it will ever work for me. My Travelers Notebook now seems like a waste of money.
I can’t say I completely regret buying most of my various Filofaxes and looseleaf notebooks, but I just can’t seem to fit them into my usage routines nowadays. I used to use them all the time and loved the idea of being able to swap out and reorder pages, but now I’ve become very wedded to recording things in bound notebooks that I use for a certain period of time. It’s often helpful to me to know exactly which notebook to go to if I want to refer back to something I wrote at that time. Trying to organize used looseleaf pages is never as tidy. I still like my collection of looseleaf notebooks but I’m not sure they’ll work for me for daily use.
Field Notes and Similar Pocket Notebooks
I have a whole shoebox full of Field Notes, Moleskine Cahiers, and other slim, single signature pocket notebooks. (There are even a few more in another shoebox.) I don’t dislike them, but I do somewhat regret the money I’ve spent on a lot of them because I just have too many relative to my usage, and I find most of them them merely convenient, rather than exciting or particularly satisfying to use. Some were found on travels, and some were Kickstarter projects I thought would be fun to review. A few were sent to me as free samples or given as gifts. Some are from my one year of being a Field Notes subscriber. I use these for a single purpose: notes for my French class. Maybe if I didn’t feel so compelled to use up all these pocket notebooks, I could try a looseleaf for my French notes! Now that I do my class over Zoom, it’s compelling, but in the past it was convenient to be able to carry just a lightweight booklet in my bag. We’ll see…
Remember my recent “What I’m Using” post where I said I wasn’t happy with one of my daily carry notebooks? Well this is the one. Those who have followed this site for the last few years will know that I have spewed enthusiasm about Nolty at every possible opportunity. I purchase several Nolty planners each year, and I have really loved them all, except for the Nolty Notebook. The Notebook seems to have been wildly popular since it was first introduced as part of their 70th anniversary celebration. It started as a limited collectors item, then they expanded the selection of colors due to the demand, and have continued to offer it in new colors for 2021. I would imagine they’ll continue with it in 2022 and beyond.
When I first saw the Nolty Notebook, I thought it was a great idea. I almost bought all four colors for 2021, but limited myself to just two. The “sakura” pink turned out to be not quite the shade of pink I’d hoped it might be, and I probably should have skipped it since I’m not really a fan of pink as a rule. But I love the charcoal grey shade, and was excited to start using it. There is a lot to like about this notebook: 2 ribbon markers, squared pages, fountain pen friendly paper. It is slim and flexible and pocketable. But I’ve realized that the tiny squares aren’t my cup of tea for a daily journal. I have very small handwriting, but if I write using every line, it feels cramped. If I write on every other line, it feels too widely spaced. I also tend to use squared notebooks to re-copy KenKen and Star Battle (aka Two Not Touch) puzzles when I’ve made a mistake in the printed newspaper version. Again the tiny squares make this a little awkward, so I end up using 2×2 squares, but then the grid lines can be distracting.
The Nolty Notebook has more cover overhang than I prefer, and the plastic cover makes it more noticeable than with the leather cover of the Nolty Gold. The plastic also doesn’t break in as much so it’s a little harder to get the notebook to open flat.
This all seems very nitpicky and almost not worth mentioning. In some ways, I think the Nolty Notebook is great, but the other factors are just bugging me enough that I’m feeling impatient to finish this notebook and move on to something else. I won’t be buying more. It wasn’t extremely expensive, so I can’t say I have regrets, really, but I do feel a bit disappointed. It’s a very nice notebook, but it doesn’t quite work for me.
I have many more notebooks in my collection that have never quite made it to the “love it, must use” level. For the most part, I’m still happy to have them in my collection because they are interesting in other ways, so they’re not really “regrets.” How about you, readers? Do you have notebooks that you tried but found disappointing? Did you abondon them or keep using them? Do you regret having bought them?
Notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, diaries: in search of the perfect page…