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!
I don't remember when it happened, but one day I decided to become a journaler. No history, no discipline. I just took a simple notebook and filled it up with my thoughts, dreams and goals. A basic notepad was nice, but after a while something like that became so personal it was only natural to upgrade such a personal item.
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!
When was the last time that you wrote a meaningful handwritten letter to your spouse, parents, siblings or friends? Do you remember the last time you received a handwritten letter from someone significant in your life? The odds are, you’re much more likely to remember the answer to the latter of those two questions because it felt like a special occasion. Ever since the mid-1990s when “you’ve got mail” became a familiar tagline, handwritten letters have fallen by the waste side - being replaced with emails, texts, and tweets. For so many reasons, putting down the phone and picking up the pen can be substantially more impactful.
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.
Did you know you can make your own sketch and shop journals with just the materials you have on your shelf? Now you can scrap those yellow pads for something a lot more classy.
Perhaps the most essential tool for any ManMaker is your mind. However, if you're like me, it can be really hard to keep your mind on track. That's why I have to write everything down!
This inspiring video walks us through the making of a smooth leather cover for the Moleskine notebook. Watch as a simple piece of leather becomes a classy cover for all those world-changing thoughts.
Even in the era of smartphones and digital address books, I still maintain a classy business card is a must for every guy. If you don't currently have a job where you need one, here's hoping you have passions or a lifestyle that needs communicated...and remembered. Especially when you meet somebody new, and pull it from a pad of stacked cards like a complete b***ss.
Perhaps you found a new shiny iPad under your tree this year, or maybe you're just interested in warming up your high-end tech gear with some old school, classic-guy charm, but you've gotta check out this easy, yet secure, how-to for creating an iPad from an inexpensive paper notebook, which would work equally well using an appropriately sized vintage book binding.
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
Jason Grube is a designer and illustrator from Tacoma, Washington, whose work finds great balance between clean digital logos and fun, handdrawn textures. His sketches have a healthy dose of precision, and his computer-based work have a wonderful sense of playfullness and movement.
If I bought a $600 gadget with a giant glass screen that's intended to be mobile, I'd wanna protect it, and do so in way that doesn't scream "I just bought a $600 gadget with a...etc, etc"
And so did Matt Silver, so he whipped up this gem: a simple, low-cost iPad case made from a recycled composisiton notebook.
In the era of smart phones, tablet pcs, and very useful, well-designed computer-based to-do apps, there's still something quite organic and almost human about scraping a pencil across the fibers of a piece of paper. So, even the most wired-up creative set still keep a notebook around - for speed, accuracy, and sometimes, inspiration.
The Moleskine has become the standard, due in large part to a clever marketing approach at the Barnes and Noble superchain, who entice would-be highbrow superstars to use the same notebook used by Picasso, Matisse, and Hemingway. But despite their beauty, Moleskines are ludicrously overpriced. And...we never buy what we can make.