I've been keeping notebooks, sketchbooks, and journals pretty much as far back as kindergarten and with daily regularity since my late teens. I've got notebooks for important purposes—a hardcover 5 x 8.25" Moleskine notebook for my bullet journal planner, a big journal for freewriting answers to tough questions when I'm looking for insight, several sizes of notebooks for personal study and random thoughts, a notebook for haiku, and several practice sketchbooks. Notebooks are so commonplace in my life that honestly, I'm more likely to leave my left foot at home.
Occasionally, though, I like to shake the dust off of my mind for a fresh perspective by changing my writing context. This is when I most often turn a tiny notebook that takes a single sheet of paper, one minute, and no tools to make but my hands. Read on for instructions!
All hail the mighty pencil: a powerful and beloved tool with a fanbase as sophisticated as the legions of jazz enthusiasts, yet so ubiquitous and humble that it all but escapes notice. The pencil is an incredibly simple device—essentially, a rock-and-dirt mix smashed together between some cut-up tree pieces—but the iteration that know today is a collaboration between hundreds of pencil makers over the course of 500 years. With their pen cousins, the elegant fountain and the pragmatic ballpoint, pencils are a founding member in the groundswell of interest for tangible, analog tools in an increasingly virtual, digital world.
If all you know of pencils are the Dixon Ticonderogas and plastic Bic mechanical pencils you carted around in your schoolbox, read on for a basic primer and some great resources for further exploration.
Leather is strong, durable, and extremely workable. But stitching leather involves some specific two-handed, two needle techniques, some specialized gear, and some definite knowhow. So, what to do when you want to make a custom piece, but aren't ready to invest the time and materials to learn to hand sew it?
You make no-sew project: just as strong, just as customizable.
In 1947, Life magazine asked the some of the most well known cartoonists and comic strip artists to attempt to draw their title characters - faces and lines they'd recreated for years - with a blindfold on.
The results are pretty fascinating, and surprisingly consistent among the artists.
Despite advances in technology, most projects still begin where great projects always begin: with a pencil and a piece of paper.
Robert Howsare, an MFA student in printmaking at Ohio University, built his latest work "Drawing Apparatus" out of two garage sale turntables and an various bits of wood and hardware. The results look like the old
Shanghai artist "Red" Hong Yi, enjoys finding all sorts of interesting ways to draw...without any traditional drawing utensils. She previously created a portrait of NBA icon Yao Ming by bouncing a basketball dipped in paint, and recently perfected a means of using the rings left by a coffee mug.
The results are incredibly detailed, and her ability to find contrast in the color values and intensity is amazing:
I live in a multi-unit urban building, and so share a small yard with three other folks/couples. We have a sidewalk on our street, and a little drive, plus a walkway that unites all of our doors. All concrete, and usually all shoveled when it's snowy out. (By me. You're welcome, guy on the end).
And yet, it never fails. One of my neighbors will walk through the yard when it's snowy out. I have no idea why. One, it gets your shoes unnecessarily wet. Two, it's safer and only takes ten extra seconds to walk on the sidewalk THAT I JUST SHOVELED FOR YOU. But, three, and most importantly,
Artist Tim Knowles has created a series called, "Tree Drawings", in which he connects pens and brushes to the branches of trees, allowing their natural sway in movement in the wind to create the design.
The results are amazing, and quite surprising. Check them out:
"A series of drawings produced using drawing implements attached to the tips of tree branches, the wind’s effects on the tree, recorded on paper. Like signatures each drawing reveals the different qualities and characteristics of each tree."
Reminds me a bit of the bicycle drawing machine.
Tree Drawings [Tim Knowles]
On this dark, rainy fall day, I'm feeling all warm and gooey inside having spent the morning with This is Indexed, a project by Jessica Hagy in which she catalogs life, relationships, and culture in line graphs and Venn diagrams, which she draws each morning.
Using a GPS-enabled briefcase as a pen, Erik Nordenankar created a self portrait across the face of the entire globe. With the help of DHL, Erik created the 110664 km portrait in 55 days and with a continuous stroke.
Check out the video to see how it was done:
Remember that part in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where the candy master hops on that bike, which stirs the "gives it a little kick" solution in the inventing room?
He sings: In springtime, the only pretty ring time; Birds sing, hey ding, a-ding, a-ding; Sweet lovers love the spring
That was always my favorite part.
Anyway, bikes that do other stuff are cool. Especially this drawing machine bicycle by Joseph Griffiths.
Since their debut in 1979, the Wall Street Journal has featured more than 11,000 of their half-column Stipple headcuts. The signature portraits are created today by eight artists, and feature everyone from Hollywood celebrities to world government officials to Santa Claus.
To learn how to create the iconic style,
On Saturday, I attended the first session of my six-week drawing class. It's my first official creative instruction class since eighth grade. I make, saw, draw, sew, cut, paint, and cook stuff daily, and I haven't had any instruction in fourteen years.
I make my living writing about, creating, and showing other folks how to make art, design things, and craft their way to a more fulfilling life. And I have no official training. I studied humanities in college, and had no room for visual arts coursework. I started my master's degree Ph.D-bound, preparing for a life in academia.
In short, I'm totally winging it here.
So, I decided to try something new. Instead of just figuring it out myself, I decided to seek some actual instruction, and see where that gets me.
Even if you've created your own Moleskine-style notebook, you're still stuck with the eternal problem - how to you stick a pen in this sleek, perfectly compact and engineered stack of pre-inspiration?
Well - you make an external pocket, of course, and Gnat Gnat has created a PDF to show you how to do it.
"Iʼve followed several pen hacks posted online though none have really worked well for me. My Mam came up with the following solution... Big fan of my Mam!
You will need:
- Approx 4cm wide x 63cm long black elastic ribbon
- Use of sewing machine (or someone to sew for you)
- Black thread, tape measure and scissors
And it looks