See more at: BLACKBOOK | Nuria Mora
See more at: BLACKBOOK | Nuria Mora
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:
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:
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!
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.
Is smell ever a factor in your notebook usage? I’ve tested a few notebooks over the years that had distinctive odors, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not. When I reviewed the Rendr Sketchbook, one of the first things I noticed about it was a strong chemical smell, although it faded after unwrapping. One Moleskine I bought on eBay had a wonderful smell, as though it had been stored in a drawer with cedar or some sort of scented candles or potpourri (I’m not necessarily fond of scented candles or potpourri, but it was a nice woodsy, herbal smell, not super perfume-y).
Usually Moleskines just have a sort of inky smell, not at all unpleasant, but the one I just started using, another eBay purchase of older stock, has a gross odor, kind of barfy-smelling. It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced this, and I’ve used dozens of Moleskines over 15+ years. It’s still noticeable several days after unwrapping the notebook and using it, so I tried swabbing some eucalyptus oil on the inside front and back covers– that helped somewhat, but the yucky smell is still there. I also pulled a couple of leaves off my patchouli plant and stuck them in the back pocket, that that’s not solving the problem either. It reminds me of an old TV commercial from the 1980s, for some sort of room deodorizer spray. The ad criticized the competition for merely adding perfume rather than neutralizing odors: a little girl whines “Ewww, now it smells like fish and roses!” Well, now my notebook smells like eucalyptus and patchouli and vomit.
I keep riffling through the pages in hopes that it will air out and today, I put it in a bag with some candles to see if the smell will improve but what if it doesn’t? Can I bear to get rid of it?? Or will I just be wrinkling my nose for the next few months while trying to finish this notebook as quickly as possible? Oh, the drama… what would you do??
One of my other obsessions besides notebooks is art supplies. I have way too many, and I don’t use them as often as I should, but I still treat myself to new ones once in a while. And I have to say, my latest purchase is a perfect notebook companion!
I’d seen this particular Winsor & Newton watercolor box before, but kept thinking I didn’t need it– and I really don’t need it. I already have 3 other Winsor & Newton travel-size watercolor kits (including ones similar to this and this), plus another small box that I filled myself with empty pans and loaded with gouache. (That actually didn’t work out all that well, gouache works better out of the tube.) I also prefer metal paint boxes to plastic ones, as they seem more durable.
This new set has their Cotman colors, which are considered student grade, so somewhat lesser quality than the set of artist-grade Winsor & Newton paints I treated myself to a couple of years ago (the black tin seen in the photo above, and opened in the photos below. I don’t think it’s available any more, but Schmincke has a very similar set in a metal box, as does Sennelier.). But it has whole pans, which is very rare for these little sets, and it has slightly different colors than some of my other sets. When it popped up as being a pretty low price on Amazon one day (under $25, which it still is as of this writing), I decided to just go for it. What can I say, I’m weak.
The nice thing is that I can swap out the full size pans for half-pans if I want to fit in twice as many colors. (Even though I usually think less is more when it comes to paints– something like this would be total overkill, in my opinion.)
A new book called The Revenge of Analog has a more detailed version of the Moleskine origin story with a twist I’d never heard before:
During the summer of 1995, [Moleskine’s now-VP of Brand Equity and Communications Maria] Sebregondi was sailing off the coast of Tunisia on the yacht of her friend Fabio Rosciglione. He consulted with the distribution company Modo & Modo, owned by another friend, Francesco Franceschi, which distributed design items and T-shirts around Italy. One night over dinner, under a sky bursting with stars, Franceschi started to talk about what kind of products Modo & Modo could manufacture on its own, rather than importing the designs of others.
The conversation shifted to a question about who would buy those goods, and then to the changing nature of the world, which had just emerged from the Cold War into the heady dawn of globalization. International travel was not only less restricted but more accessible, thanks to low-cost airlines. Technology, including inexpensive cellular phones, websites and email, allowed independent thinkers to become entrepreneurs and pursue their dreams unbound by geography. Speaking late into the night, the three realized that a new global creative class was emerging, driven by curiosity and passion. Sebregondi proposed that Modo & Modo create a toolkit for this individual, whom she labelled a “Contemporary Nomad.”
Back in Italy, Sebregondi thought about what this nomad’s kit would hold. There would be a great bag, a versatile T-shirt, the perfect pen and maybe a utility knife. At the time, she was reading the book The Songlines by British travel writer Bruce Chatwin, an embodiment of her prototypical consumer. In one of the book’s essays, Chatwin wrote about his preferred notebooks, which he bought in a particular stationery shop in Paris. “In France, these notebooks are known as carnets moleskines,” Chatwin wrote, “‘moleskine,’ in this case, being its black oilcloth binding.” The last time he returned to Paris, Chatwin discovered, to his great horror, that the family firm in Tours that had made his beloved notebooks was now out of business and the carnets moleskines were no more.
Any version of this story always went straight to the notebook– I don’t remember ever hearing about this nomad kit full of other stuff, in which the notebook would just be one item among many. But of course that works well with Moleskine’s more recent expansion into making pens, bags, wallets and smartphone cases, etc. I’m sure T-shirts and knives are next!
Read more at Take note — how Moleskine succeeded in a digital age and buy the book:
I’m sure no one has failed to notice the adult coloring book trend that’s exploded over the last few years. Bookstores are jam-packed with them. Many have gorgeous , elaborate designs, but that’s all there is to them: pages to color. For those of us who are always carrying a notebook or journal anyway, the Coloring Notebook provides a way to combine coloring pages with notes and journal entries, all in one package. Let’s take a look at the free sample the makers sent me:
From the outside, it’s very much in line with other Moleskine-type notebooks on the market, with a few variations: a black cover with elastic closure, back pocket, and a ribbon marker in yellow, which matches the head and tail bands. The back pocket is all paper– no cloth gussets– and feels a little flimsy. The cover has a smoother texture than a Moleskine, and overhangs the page edges by quite a bit. It comes only in the 5.8 x 8.2″ size.
Inside, coloring pages alternate with free-form space for writing or drawing. Lined, blank and dot-grid versions are available. I tested the lined version.
There are single page and double page coloring designs, but the coloring pages are always back to back with the lined pages. The lines are not noticeable when you’re coloring due to the dense patterns of the coloring designs. When you’re writing on the lined pages, the coloring designs to show through a bit.
The overall issue of show-through and bleed-through will vary depending on the materials you use. I colored a page with markers and watercolor paints. There was some show- and bleed-through with the markers. The paper buckled a bit with watercolors but was better once dry. At 100 gsm, the paper is not especially heavy-weight, so I wouldn’t really recommend it for watercolors, but markers or colored pencils should work fairly well as long as you have reasonable expectations about the show-through. The images below show the front and back of a colored-in page before I tested writing on the back:
I didn’t test all of my usual pens, but you can see some bleed-through from the Super Sharpie below. Any showthrough from the other pens is camouflaged by the coloring.
Technically, this notebook doesn’t offer any more writing space than most actual coloring books– they all tend to have pages that are blank on the back, or maybe have abstract designs on the back, as they want you to be able to cut out and frame your colored pages. If I were creating a coloring notebook, I might add additional writing pages, as I think most notebook users might be likely to use up the blank space before they finished all the coloring pages, but others might disagree. Either way, it would make a nice gift for anyone who likes to color, and prefers the look of a traditional journal.
You can buy the Coloring Notebook for $19.95 at Amazon.
I will be giving away an unused Coloring Notebook to one lucky winner, who will be randomly selected from entries received in any or all of these ways:
On your blog, post something containing the words “Coloring Notebook” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.
The deadline for entry is Friday October 28, 2016 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.
Moleskine has introduced a new product that will answer a frequent question I’ve gotten from readers: “Where can I get a notebook with plain pages on one side and lined on the other?”
I wondered about the paper holding up to both art and regular writing, but it has 144 pages of 100 GSM paper so show-through and bleed-through may not be as bad as with the regular classic notebooks, which are only 70 GSM. That said, it’s not up to the standard of the 120 GSM paper in the “sketch albums” or the 165 GSM paper in the hardcover sketchbooks.
Source: Two-Go Notebook – Moleskine ®