Nomad Notebooks: Kickstarter Ending Soon!

Here’s a cool Kickstarter project that is ending on October 13, 2017: Nomad Notebooks. They still need about $9k to make their goal (as of this writing) and I hope they make it! The project involves the tried and true formula of 3-packs of pocket notebooks, but with a couple of twists: the notebooks are made of a mixture of papers, with different themes for each pack. They started out using repurposed papers, and will be launching 3-packs with a Sea/Air/Space theme, Graph paper theme, and Planner theme.

 

Repurposed:
nomad repurposed

Sea:
nomad sea

Air:

nomad air

Space:

nomad space

Graph:

nomad graph

Planner:

nomad planner

The other twist is that they have angled corners– that part isn’t really a positive for me, but it does mean they’ll be easier to slide into leather covers, which are also part of the Kickstarter.

nomad 3 setnomad leather cover

 

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Art Alternatives Pen & Ink Sketchbooks: They’ve Changed!

I have mentioned the Pen & Ink Sketchbooks from Art Alternatives many times on this blog. Their pocket size sketchbook with the heavyweight paper is the closest alternative I’ve found to a Moleskine Sketchbook, for those who prefer creamy smooth paper, as opposed to the brighter white, toothier paper found in many other competitors’ pocket sketchbooks (such as Hahnemuhle, HandBook Artist Journals, Leuchtturm, and Art Alternatives’ Sketch & Draw). Check out my “Four Notebooks Reviewed” series from several years ago for a detailed comparison.

I’ve used a few of the Pen & Ink sketchbooks over the years and they never seemed to change much– even their packaging was the same… until now. While trying to meet a minimum for free shipping at Blick, I decided to throw in a couple of these sketchbooks, but I got a bit of a surprise!

Here’s the image for what I ordered:

 

But here’s what I got:

I couldn’t care less if they change the design of the paper band, and in fact the new branding is quite attractive, but I was horrified to see that they’ve changed the construction of the notebook itself to the diagonal elastic that Art Alternatives has used on their Sketch & Draw line for a while. (See my Sketch & Draw review).

I didn’t like the diagonal elastic on the Sketch & Draw, and I don’t like it on the Pen & Ink. Very disappointing update– I wonder if they’ve changed anything else about the notebook, but I haven’t even taken the shrinkwrap off to investigate.

Jet Pens has updated their product image, so they are selling the new version. Amazon still has the product images with the orange bands, but like Blick, they may actually have stock with the new design, since the UPC codes are the same. If you order from them, you’re taking your chances, but since the listing says there are only a few units left, maybe it’s from older stock with the orange band and vertical elastic? (The product descriptions have been wonky on Amazon for years– there is a disconnect between the image and the actual paper weight. This listing seems to be the medium weight sketchbook with 192 pages of 54lb paper– don’t buy it unless you want the lighter weight paper comparable to a regular Moleskine. This listing has the same product image, and references 54lb paper, but the title says “heavy weight” and the customer Q&A indicates that the description is wrong and the product is actually 92 pages of 110 lb paper, similar to the Moleskine Sketchbook paper weight.)

The price on these at Blick is just fantastic– currently $5.69 for the pocket size sketchbook. And their customer service department was great about resolving my issue of not wanting this version of the product. It’s not like I desperately need more sketchbooks anyway, but I can’t help being sad that they changed these! I’ve ordered one on eBay that seems to be the old design, just because, well, you know…

Let us know in the comments if you’ve recently seen stock of the old design, or if you’ve tried the new ones!

Sue Bulmer Interviews Anne Davies About Her Sketchbooks

I came across some wonderful sketchbook images, plus an interview with Anne Davies, the artist who created them, at the website of Sue Bulmer, a UK artist.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

I love it, maybe that’s why I have so many on the go at once! I’m not one of those people who has fear of a blank sheet of paper, I love a fresh start.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages and how would you describe your creative process?

My main inspiration comes from the landscape. I’m also fascinated by colour. Working in a sketchbook is very liberating because no-one else is necessarily going to see it so for me it is a place where I can work very freely and experiment with colour and shape. A lot of my work is about memories of landscape rather than about re-creating a particular view and so the landscapes in my sketchbooks are often created out of my imagination. In some ways my painting sketchbooks are a place to ‘limber up’ before I start on my other work. I don’t recreate work from my sketchbook into a finished painting but some of the colour or composition ideas will find their way in along the way. When I’m drawing I will sometimes draw from life. Even then the drawing is filtered through my own way of seeing and won’t be a technically accurate depiction of the scene in front of me. I’m more interested in the way a place feels and the memory it evokes than trying to produce a photographic representation of it. I see the landscape in terms of line, shape and colour and the stories behind the buildings held in it.

 

Read more at: sue bulmer – artist: Sketchbook Peeks – Anne Davies

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A Pattern Book from the V&A Museum

The notebook image below is from an interested blog post from the V&A Museum in London. It’s an example of a pattern book:

“They are reference guides for production. Maybe they show things made by the company in the past, maybe images by competitors, maybe historic objects – all intended to aid in further design. Though they serve the same purposes as an artist’s sketchbook, often the pictures are not drawn, but rather are pasted in and then perhaps annotated or marked-up. Here’s a spread from a book kept by the Leeds ceramic firm Hartley, Greens & Co, which shows the collage-like approach typical of such pattern books.”

The rest of the post talks about other examples of notebooks from their exhibits, including some by Leonardo da Vinci.

Read more at : Duly Noted | Victoria and Albert Museum

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Worst Notebook Story Ever!

I love notebooks a lot, but there’s no notebook worth fighting over to the point of pulling out a gun! Some Walmart shoppers got a little too aggressive looking for back to school bargains in the notebook aisle!

 

Read more: Gun pulled in fight between back to school shoppers at Walmart in Michigan

Writers on Keeping Diaries and Journals

Some great quotes about journal-keeping, from a variety of writers, including the ones below:

“People who keep journals have life twice.”

– Jessamyn West

 

“The diary taught me that it is in the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately. I learned to choose the heightened moments because they are the moments of revelation.”

 – Anaïs Nin

The image is James Eike’s Field Book, 1960 from the Smithsonian Institution

Read more at: Why Writers Keep Journals | Writing on the Pages of Life

Phil’s Stationery, NYC

Phil’s Stationery is a gem– assuming you like messy, dusty, old-school office supply stores, that is! I’d never heard of it until a few weeks ago when I happened to meet someone for lunch nearby and saw this amazing sign:

phil stationery - 1

There are so few stores like this left in NYC, especially in what must be a pretty expensive location on 47th St. not far from 5th Avenue. I didn’t take any photos inside the store, but as you walk in, there are large displays of Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks, as well as a counter with pens. As you go further back into the store, there are also racks of Moleskines and Filofax, and shelves with a wide variety of other notebooks, ledgers, pads, pens, etc. The further back you go, the messier it gets– there are shelves with all sorts of random products jumbled around. It has some of the same time-warp quality as the Montclair Stationery store I wrote about in this post.

I only bought one thing:

notebook

I haven’t bought a spiral bound notebook like this in years, but I couldn’t resist! What brand is it? Where is it made? It’s a mystery, as there are no markings on it other than what you see on the front cover. Some other colors were also available. And the price was right: $1.09, including tax!

Random Giveaway Winners!

So many great responses to this post! I loved hearing from you all. I decided to increase the number of winners from 5 to 7! Here are the winning comments:

# 8 Judy H:

First, being in Helena, MT there is not much ‘shopping’ for notebooks here. So I read to find out what I am missing and need to go online for. Second, it’s genetic. I’m a notebook junkie, so are my daughters and now my 4 year old grand daughter is joining in. Third, I use them for everything from a diary, scrapbook, idea and wish books, keep lists. You name it, I’ll put it in a notebook!

#23 Shelley:

I love your blog because of your reviews. I love to write, i.e., I just love the feel of a good pen on good paper and your reviews have helped me select notebooks to buy that I know will work with the pens I own. I use notebooks for everything-a collection of quotations, a collection of hand-lettering samples, a pocket notebook that I use as a doodle and zentangle pattern library, two mini notebooks that I carry in my purse to work on when I am stuck in a waiting room (one for 6 Word Stores and one for Haiku), a notebook with samples from all the pens I own, a journal for daily entries, a journal used as a Commonplace book, and a Kickstarter journal that will arrive soon that I will use as a bullet journal (a new project for me).

#34 Michael Buttry:

I read your online journal for various reasons, but mostly because like notebooks. As a former small press operator and before that, a Navy brat, paper was the way to record data, draw pictures, and make notes of what’s going. Now at 63ish, I find them more reliable than smart phones and just easier to operate; pencil, pen, notebook and done. Now if I could just find a candle that smells like a stationary store, I’d be happy.

#29 Tamra:

I read your site because I like to know I’m not the only one out there with this obsession. I also enjoy seeing what others use their notebooks for.

A new notebook: it stimulates all the senses… I’m not a snob, although I love a high-end tooled leather notebook, a marbled composition book will do nicely. I love them all, the slip-slide of the cover as I slide my hand across it’s surface, shiny perfection or tooled leather perfection, I love them both. The crack the spine makes the first time the notebook is opened, the creak of the pages as that new notebook smell wafts out – to me, better than new car smell! The pages, lines, graphed, dotted or plain waiting for my words, lists, sketches and doodles beckon me… What will this book be? What does it’s future hold?

I have books of lists of trips and places I dream of, destinations to go and see. Books of memories past, present and what is to be. Books of authors and books and music that inspire me. Poems and phrases that flit through my mind that haven’t yet found their permanent home. Books of sketches and doodles of my dreams and thoughts. Sketches and doodles of, well, nothing at all. But all these notebooks are important to me.

#26 Amber Marie:

I’ve been following this blog for a few years now, a regular website I frequent. I’ve been a longtime journaller/journalist, starting at the age of 13. I’m 25 now and my writing has yet to slow down.

I love the physical aspect of flipping to a new page in a fresh journal, figuring out which pen would work best for which entry, lining up spare pens and maybe an extra notebook for a particularly juicy entry, and letting it all flow. I feel naked leaving the house with anything less than 3 notebooks and 6 pens. I’m always observing and watching my surroundings, jotting down anything relevant I see. The freedom of being able to express myself without being embarrassed of my thoughts is a great feeling.

One of my favorite aspects of this site is the Notebook Addict of the Week. I think it’s fascinating to see other peoples uses for their notebooks, and the different brands that work best for different people. No two notebooks are a like, just as the people who use them. I’ve been meaning for a long while to post my own collection to the site, and it’s all about baby steps. First a comment, then a collection, then more and more.

Notebook collecting is a beautiful addiction and I am proud to belong to a great community of like minded individuals. Thank you so much for this website!

#22 Van H.:

I love notebooks and always have. I still remember the first one I bought for something other than school. I was 10, and it had a stylized, colorful soccer ball on the front. I planned to write a ninja story inside – wrote three words, and became irreparably intimidated. I switched to plain notebooks after that, which I filled with abandon. By 8th grade I carried a stack of 10 notebooks (each with its own pencil jammed in the spiral) on top of my trapper keeper, each one for a different purpose (none for school), and the stack constantly slid off my desk and fell all over the floor. By 9th grade I cut back to a couple 3-subject notebooks at a time. In 10th grade I stole two notebooks from a friend. One was blank, and one was full of her writing, which I returned after reading it, but kept the blank one (she never mentioned it). I am haunted by this to this day, but I still have the same impulse whenever I see someone with a notebook. I want to know what’s inside. I love this blog because it simultaneously satisfies and feeds my curiosity about blank notebooks and filled notebooks alike. I’ve read this blog for years and have never found anything else like it, that tells me exactly what I want to know about the notebooks featured here. I was even once featured on this blog for my trunk containing nearly 100 spiral notebooks filled during high school (none with schoolwork) – a number of years ago. Sadly, over time I have cut back on my accumulations of both blank and used notebooks–I give away what I can’t use and discard what I no longer want to save–but I love notebooks no less for my now-relaxed stance on hoarding. There’s no point in trying to analyze it; there’s nothing like a good notebook.

#7 Dan:

When my Mom died and we were cleaning out the house, we found dozens of notebooks, often just fragments, of poems, daily events, medical records and notes and sometimes pictures that we didn’t know about and events in her life she never talked to us about. I had started keeping travel journals many years ago, and didn’t know that my Mom had kept these notebooks. When Dad found that I was keeping a journal and travel notebooks, he told me I was just like Mom. Maybe no one will read my journals or see my notebooks. Maybe they are just messages in bottles thrown into the stream of time for some unknowable future.

If you are a winner, check your email inbox for a message from me to arrange shipping of your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Jazz Green’s Sketchbooks

Some gorgeous sketchbook pages from artist Jazz Green:

 

See more at her website: sketchbooks | J A Z Z G R E E N

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A Notebook with a Link to Van Gogh?

I was trying to find online images of Van Gogh’s small sketchbooks (the supposed “moleskines”) when I found the images below. The notebook pictured did not belong to Van Gogh, but was rather a sort of logbook kept at a cafe in Arles that Van Gogh visited. The notebook has been cited as evidence for the authenticity of a portfolio of Van Gogh drawings that were discovered a year or two ago (the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam claim the drawings are just imitations of his style). The focus of the story is mainly on the drawings but I’d love to get a better look at that notebook! It definitely looks like the sort of notebook the Moleskine brand was modeled after, pocket sized, with squared pages.

Source: VIDEO. Polémique Van Gogh: l’auteur de la découverte présente les dessins – Monaco-Matin

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Notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, diaries: in search of the perfect page…