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May 29, 2018

Five Great Sources of Masculine Stationery

Image: Thornwillow Press

I recently came across a great quote originating on Twitter by Stephen Fry concerning the debate on the analog-digital dethronement sequence: "Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators."

I'm a man neck-deep in digital technology (one prime example: I mostly draw digitally in Photoshop on a Cintiq tablet, which uses "brushes" coded to act like anything from watercolor to oil paints to graphite) and I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Fry. The more my surroundings convert to lines of code, sandwiched between a backlit screen and a power source, the more I want to balance it all out with things I can touch, taste, and smell.  

Correspondence is one of those areas: I email and text a lot, but recently I've started to turn to my old friends at the U.S. Postal Service to send my most important messages, for the simple fact that nothing says "I care" more than a handwritten note. (Check out our post on the still-existing power of the handwritten letter for more on the subject.) 

The only thing is, if I'm going to take the time to write someone a letter, I'm going to go the extra mile and forego the cheap printer paper.  So, along with a good pencil or fountain pen, the number one item I need for this task is some good, high-quality stationery that looks like it came from...well, me. Read on for some of my favorite suppliers!    

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May 24, 2018

A Primer on Typography for Non-Designers

When I sat down to write about typography this morning, there was so much I wanted to say that the letters on my keyboard actually sat silent for a good few minutes.

We're in a golden age for typography. Gutenberg totally exploded Europe in the 1500's when he dropped the printing-press-with-moveable-type bomb, but even then, for the next 500 years, the spread of ideas and publishing were in the hands of a collection of specialist craftsmen and the people who hired them. (After all, producing physical objects is expensive.) Then, in rolled desktop publishing in the 80's and—combining computer hardware, software that included digital type, and the ability to effectively "print" on-screen and distribute to other screens instantly via the Internet—you've effectively got a second Printing Revolution happening right now, with type squarely in the middle of it.

Typography was once a niche element, but now we're up to our ears in it. As it is with any craft that takes a lifetime to master, thoughtfulness will set you and your message apart. The craft will give back what you put into it. Using typography in design is a lot like using salt in cooking: when it's used well, it contributes to a greater whole but goes largely unnoticed; when typography calls attention to itself, it's typically been used poorly. 

If you've ever been putting together a quick flyer or PowerPoint presentation and wanted to put a little more thought into your font choices, but you feel like you're shooting blindly in the dark because you're not a trained designer, we've put together a quick guide for you.

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May 16, 2018

Check This Out: The Museum of Online Museums

HQ of the Museum of Online Museums. (Photo credit: chicagomag.com)

 

Author Seth Godin, in his book We Are All Weird, argues that the Internet era has busted open the starting gate and let the tribes out: information has truly become democratized, so now it's much easier for niche interests to connect and collect. One great example of this is the MoOM, or Museum of Online Museums. Coudal Partners, a Chicago design firm who created the famous Field Notes brand of notebooks with design guru Aaron Draplin, have run the site for about 10 years, which is basically just a big list of links, and in it you'll find the full gamut of niche stuff: from major institutions' virtual presence, like Amsterdam's famous art collection at the Rijksmuseum, to the most overlooked stuff like Manhole Covers of the World, it feels like it's all here. 

If you're a designer looking for visual inspiration, a novelist on the hunt for a random detail to spark a story, or a just fan of vintage eggnog labels, look no further than this treasure trove. I first discovered it way back in college and, though I did waste a lot of time combing through it, I was also able use it to do a lot of research on package design.

Read on for some of my favorites in the collection!

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May 04, 2018

How to: Make Your Own Typographic Illustrations and Artwork

Everyone likes a nice motivational quote with a fine adventurous backdrop and some nice typography that reminds us to get outside.   

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Sep 21, 2017

Amazingly Cool Vintage Railroad Logos

Web and graphic designer Christian Annyas has collected and dissected 100 logos from U.S. and Canadian railroad companies. He provides a fascinating overview of the evolution of the logos from 1845 to 2000.  

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Aug 22, 2017

7 Things I'm Totally Obsessed with This Month (August 2017 Edition)

These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.      

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Jul 19, 2017

How to Build a Modern Coffee Table from Scratch

Editor's Note: This project is an excerpt from the new book The Art and Craft of Wood: A Practical Guide to Harvesting, Choosing, Reclaiming, Preparing, Crafting, and Building with Raw Wood by Silas J Kyler and David Hildren. The book is available now at your favorite local bookstore, Powell's, or Amazon. Thanks to Quarry Books for sharing this project with us. 

Building furniture is what first drew me to woodworking. The first coffee table I ever made was for my mom. It was a surprise gift, and I worked tirelessly, hour upon hour, to create something I was proud of. I remember the unveiling well, and the joy it gave her was well worth all the hard work.

The projects to this point have been small and technically much easier than building a piece of fine furniture. Going from making a serving tray or lamp to a coffee table may feel like a big step, and in many ways it is, but practicing with small projects gives you all the skills you need to approach a simple piece of furniture. Remember: with a good dose of patience, you will be well on your way to creating beautiful furniture.

I had a particular set of mesquite slabs in mind when envisioning this coffee table. The tree came from my neighbor’s front yard. When it was removed, they simply asked the crew to leave the trunk behind for me to gather. As I was giving this tree a new life, I could step outside my shop, look across the alley, and see where it lived and died. I could also see where the logs sat and seasoned for two years, driving my wife crazy.    

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Jul 19, 2017

6 Masculine-Friendly Ways to Incorporate Indoor Plants into Your Home

created at: 06/16/2013

Indoor plants in your home are a no-brainer: they bring the outside in, improve air quality, provide lots of natural color and texture, and encourage you to take an investment in the spaces you spend your time. They literally (and figuratively) add life to your home. Learn how to rock the green look with these six guy-friendly decor ideas. No floral wallpaper need apply.1: Mix and match. (pictured above) Go freestyle! Hit your nearest nursery and select a few different varieties. A few ideas include: palms, ferns, Massangeana, and rubber tree. Make sure to ask them about any special care requirements for each one of them (prior to

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Jun 20, 2017

Timeless Inspiration: The Military Field Desk

Field DeskI've had a generally mobile office for years. What this looks like to me is a laptop, random notebooks, and a mass of cables. While I've set up my "office for the day" in a variety of spectacular locations,  I've always lusted after the campaign desks of old, which adventurers carried along to pen notes, history changing letters, and likely stash a bit of liquid courage.    

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May 30, 2017

Watch How L.L. Bean's Signature Boots are Made

created at: 05/28/2013

The team over at Gear Patrol captured a great inside look at the Legendary L.L. Bean factory in Brunswick, Maine and their process for making their iconic Bean Boots.

created at: 07/23/2015

If you don't already own a pair of Bean Boots, I cannot recommend them enough. Their simple design and rugged craftsmanship have lasted me many years and many more into the future. 

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May 11, 2017

Bedroom Inspiration: 3 Ideas to Create a Statement Headboard

Credit: ST Interior Design [http://www.tollgard.co.uk/]

Need to spice things up in the bedroom? (not like that). Adding a statement headboard to your space can help you revamp the look in your bedroom by making it look "full" without having to invest tons in other furniture pieces. Take a look!    

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May 10, 2017

We Will Never Get Tired of Watching These Hand-Lettering Videos

Penmanship

Oh my, the art of writing. Handwritten notes are always the classiest way to correspond, but here are a few people that take it up a notch with some of the most amazing hand drawn type you'll ever see.   

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Mar 30, 2017

The Masculine Home: 5 Ideas to Create Simple Vignettes

Kuu Lamps

image

A vignette is a visual focus point that identifies the character of a room. These intentional areas are often the shots you'll see published in magazines, and you can achieve 'em at home, using mostly items you already have. Here are 5 ideas to get you started.

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Mar 14, 2017

How to: Make a DIY Industrial Bar Cart for Under $40

Frustrated with unnecessarily high prices for unnecessarily flimsy discount store kitchen carts, Andrew decided to get creative and whipped up an industrial-styled bar cart.

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Mar 14, 2017

Free Download: Dozens of Old Wood Type Alphabets

created at: 10/21/2013

Type foundry Hoefler & Co. recently tweeted a link to this

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Mar 09, 2017

Weekend Project: Make a DIY Mid-Century Inspired Desk and Wall Unit

So... I like this project. I really like it, and I'll tell you why. First, it's made entirely from off-the-shelf parts from the home center. Then, because the parts are readily available, the only tool you need to make the entire thing is a cordless drill, which is awesome. And lastly, the attention

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Feb 24, 2017

The Process: My First DIY Screen Print (and What You Should Do So You Don't Make the Same Mistakes)

 

A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at screen printing. It seemed like a simple, straightforward process: Get the supplies and make it happen. Well, I made it "happen" and ended up learning a bit along the way. Here's my process and the things to watch out for when starting out.

There are a number of simple kits out there with all the supplies you need to get started. While they all seem to be complete, you can get better materials by gathering it all yourself. Here's my list of everything you'll need for $50 - $100. 

Make the Screens:

The first step is making your screens. While I used scrap wood in my shop, I wish I

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Feb 23, 2017

Everything You Need to Get Started in Screen Printing for about $50 (or Only $100 to Go All Out)

We all have designs, and we all have ideas. And sometimes, they just have to get out of our heads and into the real world. Screen printing is a great way to ink art on just about anything from shirts to posters to wood. If you figure out how to do it right, it's the easiest way to create dozens of copies fast. So here's our look at the right gear and techniques you'll need to get started today.   

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Feb 07, 2017

Today, We're Totally Obsessed with: Gravity Glue

Anyone who loves hiking or outdoor exploration is familiar with the cairn, that characteristic stacks of rocks used as a trailmarker, warning a steep overhang, or just a general, leave-just-a-little trace that someone was here. At first, each cairn is a little discovery, a naturalist's work of art that puts design and intentional experience into the landscape. And then you see them multiple times on every. single. trek. you take, and your eyes just gloss over them after awhile. (Unless you're lost. They're always welcome when you're lost.)   

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Jan 17, 2017

DIY Idea: Large Scale Outdoor-Inspired Wall Art

Sometimes, you need a little inspiration. Something to remind you to get off your phone, get outside, and soak up all that nature has to offer. 

And sometimes, you simply need something to fill up that blank wall you've been ignoring.    

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