Today marks a year since my very first post on Ooh I Love Your Notebook – I’m calling it my bloggerversary. That’s a thing right? To celebrate, I thought I’d share some resolutions having completely missed the boat on this at New Years.
In the next 12 months I will…
Pick a planner
When January rolled around I just couldn’t resist the shiny green Hobo I found in Foyles. No matter that I was already three months into an academic year diary – my trusty Leutcturrm and had vowed to be more disciplined in maintaining my bullet journal. Between now and January 2019 I will nail my colour to one planner mast and stick with it. It may be Mossery…
Make a modern stationery pilgrimage
One of my earliest posts was on stationery and modern pilgrimage. I’ve not managed one quite yet, but am determined that this will be the year. And of course, I’ll post on what I find.
Complete my Stationery Addict Starter Kit
As things stand, I’m about a quarter of the way through this labour of love. To help keep things fresh, I’ll be going rogue and choosing letters at random. Next up will be letter L.
Thanks for reading
I remember reading something that says you’re not a real blogger until you’ve been doing it for two years, so I’m 50% of the way there at least. Thanks to all those who’ve read, commented and shared over the last 12 months. Here’s to the next 12.
It’s been a dull, grey winter so this month’s Papergang subscription box provided a much-needed pop of colour. Plus the utility of its contents ensured it had substance as well as style. As long as bullet journalling remains a thing, stationery addicts will always appreciate items to build their BuJo kit.
This handy pouch smells just like water wings. It took me right back to childhood swimming lessons. Inside, three pencils in green, yellow and pink.
I like to carry my BuJo around so this is perfect for keeping all my journal paraphernalia together.
This arrived just in time – sadly I’ve lost my beautiful brass one from the Dark Botany box designed by Susan Castillo a few months back.
The ruler is an essential tool for bullet journallers who want to make the most of the dot grid system. Join the dots to box off key information or underline your page headings for some school swot chic.
Stickers are the perfect way to pull out key dates, highlight what’s gone well and mark special occasions. Even better, they mean you can jazz up your journal – a great alternative if doodling is not your thing.
The two sticker sheets are my favourite thing in this Papergang box. The seasonal labels, candles and be airplanes are best for advance planning – birthdays, holidays those things you want to look forward to.
And for weekly/daily/monthly logs the ticks, crosses and smilies are great.
Little Miss Scatterbrain features on the front of this card. But keeping a bullet journal means no excuses for forgetting stuff anymore. The card is blank inside. It’s ideal to have around for unbirthdays and other times when you want to send a card just because.
Dot grid journal
The exposed and tightly stacked signatures make this notebook a thing of beauty. And handily it fits inside the plastic wallet. I love it when a plan comes together! The paper is thick enough to take ink and also glue if you want to stick stuff in.
The cardboard cover is begging for a bit of extra personalisation, I think. I might do some doodling on the back or accent the title.
Overall, another great box from Papergang. And do make sure you check out the accompanying leaflet if you’re new to bullet journalling.
Last night I saw Letters Live. For the uninitiated, it’s a much loved letter reading event, which attracts all sorts of A-listers. The letters were by turns moving, poignant, laugh-out-loud funny and gloriously sweary. And best of all Benedict Cumberbatch was among the readers.
The rituals of letter writing
Letters have an enduring charm that email simply cannot match. I think it’s because sending letters contains an element of ritual. First of all assembling the tools, quality paper, envelopes, a fountain pen. The rules of composition, which salutation matches which valediction, dates and left indented addresses. And then there’s going to the post office for a stamp. I used to love the taste of the glue on the back. Yes, yes, I know you’re supposed to use the little sponge things now. But licking stamps remains one of my guilty pleasures- germs schmerms!
Letter love is common among stationery addicts of course. So, inspired by Letters Live I wanted this post to celebrate letters in all their diverse forms and usages. There’s so many ways to keep letters in our lives. Here are a few of my favourites…
Letter writing is often referred to as an art. But nowadays addressing the envelope is, too. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out the quill and ink, but brush pens work too.
There are some beautiful examples on Instagram. And Quill sell envelope guides and things. But there’s nothing to stop you just grabbing some Basildon Bond and giving it a go.
And it’s not just the direction that gives you a chance to express yourself. Sealing wax is a simple but effective way to add a touch of charm. I feel like I’m channelling Tudor insurgents when I use mine. Surely every costume drama ever has a scene where an important document is given an official seal in this way. It also ups the sense of anticipation for the recipient.
Stamps, too, offer a world of potential. Present and Correct have some beautiful ones. And those of you who’ve placed an order with The Stationer may well have received them.
Letters to self
Writing letters to others is all well and good, but what about letters to your future self. A while back I got a gorgeous box of prompts from Kikki K. It’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Slightly left-field, but one of the most enjoyable ways to consume letters on a page. My favourites are The Guernsey Letter and Potato Peel Society and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
I work in an open plan office where everyone hotdesks. I’m used to it now but in the early days it wasn’t much fun. The daily fight to sit by the window. Away from the air con. But not too far from the kitchen. Everyone started turning up half hour early so they could nab the best place to sit. Sound familiar? You might be in need of a hotdesk makeover. It’s the best way to learn how to love your hotdesk.
More and more organisations use a hotdesk system nowadays and while HR departments say it’s the way forward, it took me a little while to get on board. What made the difference? Fabulous stationery of course!
A makeover for your hotdesk
Stationery is the perfect antidote to the unrelenting grey of the standard hotdesk. Sticky notes, memo pads, a quirky pencil case or stylish notebook. All these items can add a much needed pop of personalisation, but are small enough to stash in a teeny tiny locker so you don’t fall foul of a clear desk policy.
Own your space with stationery
There’s something about stationery, too, that helps you assert your identity. Apparently that’s why so many of us are stationery addicts. So what better way to own your space. Even if it’s just for a day.
And because stationery is relatively cheap, you can keep it fresh with regular updates. Here are some of my go-to items whenever I’m in need of a hotdesk makeover.
I put this marble memo block next to my desk phone so I can scribble down any messages that I miss while in meetings. They’re almost too pretty to throw away once the message has been actioned. But there’s plenty of them so that helps a little.
These rainbow sticky notes have brightened up the grey January days we’ve been having. As well as acting as a fun theme for an office playlist. It’s surprising how many songs have rainbows in them! They’re freestanding for instant impact. And the pedant in me appreciates that the colours are in the right order. Apart from the pink, but you can’t have too much pink stationery right? Which leads me on to…
The grey/black aesthetic can sometimes bleed into your desk accessories. I livened up my notebook with this cut pencil case that wraps around it. The elastic is nice and stretchy so it fits a range of sizes and means I’m no longer struggling to carry multiple things to every meeting. I use different colour pens depending on my mood so being able to fit them in this case means I’m less likely to lose them.
Sticky note stack
It’s bad hotdesk etiquette I know to reserve a desk the day before. But no one seems to mind if I do it using one of these beauties. They work best with a chunky black pen.
Whilst we’re on the subject
Not strictly stationery I know, but there are a couple of other things you could use to perk up your hotdesk.
The colours in this T-Rex lunchbox are absolutely popping. Some days I’m in back-to-back meetings pretty much 9-5 so having this out on my desk is a handy reminder to stop and find time for a break. There’s two compartments inside and the double catch means there’s no chance of it opening inadvertently and covering the inside of my satchel it’s crisps!
This watermelon infuser bottle is lots of fun, too. Drinking more water is always a priority. It’s easier when it’s flavoured with fruit. Strawberries are particularly good but herbs work, too – mint and parsley. And if you’re feeling particualrly adventurous you could try spices. Turmeric is my current favourite, although I admit that’s an acquainted taste!
Placing this bottle on my desk as soon as I arrive at work helps anchor me. No chance of walking past my seat when that’s there. And yes, I have sat at the wrong hotdesk by accident in the past. Portability makes it great for brightening up meetings, too.
Share your ideas for a hotdesk makeover
If you’ve ever felt frustrated by hotdesking I hope this post helps. And if there’s other items that would work well, or other methods you’ve used that helped you love your hotdesk, let me know in the comments.
The samples I’ve used in these shots were supplied by the good folks at Mustard. They’ve got all sorts of fun stuff so do check them out.
You’re a stationery addict, so when it comes to gift giving you want to share your passion for paper. The trouble is that not everyone gets why a notebook is such an amazing gift. Even when it’s a super special one.
‘Just a notebook’
I had a very disheartening experience recently when announcing my plans to gift a set of Field Notes to a friend. I explained a little about the brand and its history. About the importance of pocket notebooks and why everyone needs an everyday carry. All about the back page with suggested usages and how much fun it is to read through. But my audience, non-stationery addicts admittedly, were underwhelmed. Their response: ‘That’s all well and good, but isn’t it just a notebook?’
Three ways to gift notebooks
Of course, we stationery addicts know that there’s no such thing as ‘just a notebook’. So I’ve thought of some ways to elevate what others might feel is a humble gift. Let me know if it helps. Or if you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments.
1. Pimp the outside cover
I enjoy a spot of Saturday afternoon notebook pimping. And it’s the perfect way to elevate a notebook gift – especially if you’ve bought something plain like a Moleskine. Or you made your choice based on the inside pages and, like me, you’re convinced that the way to convert non-stationery addicts is with dot grid.
The quickest and easiest way to pimp a notebook is with stickers. And it’s a perfect way to personalise based on the interests and personality of your lucky recipient.
Are they a child of the 80 or 90s? You could dig out the remnants of an old Panini sticker collection. Or if they’re a fan of all things sparkly, glittery initials, numbers or washi tape could work. In fact, the possibilities with washi tape are endless. And while strictly speaking washi is not a sticker, it is sticky, so it still counts!
If your penmanship is on point, you can use lettering to spruce up the front cover. Calligraphers can pen a fancy title on a plain background or artists can ink some cute illustrations. Just don’t forget to add a protective layer of sticky-back plastic over the top if it’s a notebook that’s likely to be taken out and about.
2. Design some inside spreads
Last week I gifted a bullet journal and decided to dress it up a little by designing some starter spreads. I drew up a future log as well as a monthly log complete with flower doodles. A daily log with space for tasks and wins, plus trackers for steps, sleep and water came next. Finally, I marked out space for a quote or word to sum up the day. Of course, this was particularly apt because it was a bullet journal, but there are other ways you might want to jazz up some pages.
You could create a contents page for example. Or maybe some page headings. Small sketches or illustrations also work well. Or if it’s a diary, you could scribble in some dates that you know will resonate.
3. Suggest ways in which they might use them
We stationery addicts can think of many, many ways to use a notebook. But this might not be the case for the non-stationery addict that you are gifting to. A gift tag or heart shaped post it with some suggestions could help. Something list based usually works well and again, you can tailor to their interests – TBR lists for a book lover or bucket lists for adventurers.
Of course, you could take it up a level and make a notebook from scratch. But really that’s a post for another day. Or alternatively you could buy a notebook so fabulous that you wouldn’t need to be a notebook addict to appreciate it – something with a fun quote usually works in this case. Happy notebook gifting!
As the proud owner of a rescue dog, my tiny terrier Posy, I was super excited for the November Papergang Box in support of Battersea Dogs & Cats home. And it did not disappoint. Fortunately Posy was not around to see it delivered – the Postie is her nemesis.
The box arrived in the last week of the month and as usual there were lots of fabulous things inside. A complete Christmas kit with all things needful for festive gift-giving. Especially for all the dog and cat people in your life.
Full disclosure, in this review I *may* have got a touch carried away with the pet-related puns. Please don’t judge me for it.
The box contains six cards in total – two of each design. A disgruntled cat tangled up in fairy lights. A dapper dachshund complete with obligatory pun. And finally a bulldog in festive fair isle.
It’s the expressions on the animals faces that I love most about these illustrations, I think. Each has so much character and personality.
A chunky notebook with lined pages means that just like dogs, this Papergang box is not just for Christmas. On the inside cover an excitable Dalmatian. The simple cover title will sit nicely alongside my collection of functional cover titles. Some of my favourite notebook covers feature words in some form or another. If you feel the same, you might enjoy the post I dedicated to them.
This quality paper features the same illustration as the outer box – dogs and cats in party hats. This was a welcome feature as the boxes are always so beautifully designed. There were two sheets – I reckon it would be enough for at least four bookshaped gifts. Yes – all the gifts I give are (note)book related!
I save all my Papergang outers from a paper craft project I’ll probably never get round to. I’ve got some downtime over Christmas so I’ll ‘gram what I make…as long as it’s vaguely recognisable!
Three of these in traditional Christmas colours. This year I’m wrapping the majority of my gifts in brown paper with red and green accents, so these will be just purrfect. And the red and white string to attach them is a helpful touch.
I’m pretty pleased with this Papergang box overall. It feels like good value and I can see myself putting all the items to good use in the next few weeks.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about my last two Papergang boxes is the little booklet that is now included. It works particularly well for this box as there is space for Battersea to speak about their cause and the importance of thinking things through before inviting a four-legged friend into your family. The full interview appears on the Papergang blog.
There is also a Q&A with box designer Allison Black. This is great for picking up little tidbits about the design process. But I can’t say I agree with her about the ‘ugly bulldog in the ugly sweater’. Posy has one just like it! Awkward.
Received the November Box? Let me know what you thought in the comments.
Now Nano is upon us, I thought it might be helpful to share a little on my creative process. No prizes for guessing that it’s all about the notebooks!
Nano, or Nanowrimo to give it its official title, is a month-long novel writing challenge. Sign up, write just over a thousand words for every day in November and by the end of it, you’ll have the best part of a novel. What’s not to love.
How I’ll be using my notebooks this Nano
I stumbled upon Nano around five years ago. In that time, I’ve only won once, but this year, I have a new sense of purpose. Back in September, I made a conscious decision to take my writing more seriously. And Nano, and the notebooks I’ll use to complete it, will be a big part of this.
I always begin my novel projects in long-hand. That’s to plan as well as write. Somehow I just think better in analogue. And since I started using new notebooks in new ways, my work-in-progress has definitely improved.
If you’re taking on Nano this year, or if you write all year round, I hope you find this post useful. And if you have any ways of working that you find especially helpful, please take a moment to share them in the comments.
Now onto the notebooks!
My ‘I’d be lost without it’ notebook
I carry this notebook with me everywhere. It contains my plot lines, scene breakdowns, big themes, even Proust questionnaires for my lead characters. Every so often I catch myself wondering what I’d do if I lost it and it actually makes me feel a little panicky. I’ve also written odds and ends of scenes and things.
Using a single notebook has served me well until now. But recently I’ve realised that separate notebooks can be more conducive to creativity. This is partly for practical reasons. I forgot to create a contents page when I first started out and now I have to flick through tens of pages to find what I need. But also to help clarify my thinking and ensure I’m using the best tool for the job e.g. lined pages if I’m writing lots, blank pages if I’m mind mapping.
I’m also hoping that employing dedicated notebooks for different tasks will help bring a little discipline to my writing practice. I’m not sure how effective this will be as my approach is naturally scattergun, but I want to focus on one writing-related task at a time. Fingers crossed!
My ‘I want freedom to plan stuff out’ notebook
I get the most out of my planning when I use a form of mind map. And for this, blank pages are best. This sketch book has a neon pink cover and is a super handy size. I carry it with me just in case inspiration strikes when I’m out and about.
You may be wondering how I’ll ever read any of these notes back. I admit it. Sometimes even I find it difficult to decipher everything I’ve jotted dwn. But it’s probably a fairly accurate representation of all the various ideas that are bubbling away in my mind when I’m planning a scene or, in this case, an essay.
I didn’t realise my note taking was so note worthy until the people I work with commented on it. I’d love to know if there’s anyone else out there who takes notes in a similar way. I’d appreciate a show of solidarity!
My ‘I’m not 100% sure about my structure’ index cards
Ok, ok. I know these aren’t technically notebooks. But they are an essential part of my writing toolkit, so I couldn’t in all conscience leave them out. I use these when I want to outline. Each plot beat is assigned to a single card and as I write, I can add in additional scenes without too much scribbling or crossing out.
This index card method is also great if you’re not entirely sure of the sequence of events in your story. Simply lay them all out on the floor – or a dining table if you don’t live in a teeny tiny flat like I do! And play around until you have an order that you’re happy with. The ability to physically move them is key – don’t ask me why, it just is.
One of my friends does the same thing but with post its on a wall. I prefer index cards because they’re a touch sturdier and you can carry them around with you. But either works.
I recently learned that Nabokov was famous for writing all his novels using index cards. Check out this great post here, which tells how Nabokov’s publisher actually reproduced the cards Nabokov was working on for Laura, his final (unfinished) novel.
My ‘I need help finding my way round Senate House’ notebook
This Field Notes Utility also doubles up as my everyday carry, but has been particularly handy for noting down the locations of the library books I’m using for background research.
The novel I’m working on is Neo-Victorian, set in 1815, and so I’ve been doing a lot of fact checking and original research to add authenticity to my scenes and settings. Even so, I’m forever finding anachronisms. The next piece I work on will definitely be based in present-day London!
My ‘I want to understand every scene’ notebook
I picked up this Midori beauty a few weeks ago. The pages are silky smooth and just perfect for fountain pen with no show through. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but the pages are off-white so they’re easier to read from. It really is a joy to use.
I’ve been using it in a similar way to the index cards – exploiting the grid layout to break down the scenes. How the characters feel, what the reader learns etc. It won’t stay this neat for long, mind!
My ‘I need to know my characters’ notebook
This is actually a standard four-subject notebook, but I’m using it to record all the details of my main characters. I’ve been having trouble differentiating them and my readers have been losing track of who’s is who, so it felt important to develop backstories for all of them. And to be able to keep them distinct.
My ‘Am I acting on all my feedback?’ notebook
This is the notebook I’ve been using at workshops to capture feedback and to summarise the key take-outs and how I can action them. I picked it up from Foyles at Charring Cross Road. I got the Midori ideas book at the same time and a Leuchtturm academic diary so it was the first time I went to a book shop and ended up spending more on stationery than novels. It was all worth it, though.
The design is one of Foyles’ own. The end papers are what first attracted me. And I’ve since learnt that what I thought of as dots are actually representative of full stops – how cool is that. You can read more about the design process here.
And not forgetting the belly wrap it came with, which more or less commands you to write the bestseller you’ve been dreaming of. The perfect inspiration for all the wannabe writers. What’s more it comes in six different designs and colour ways so when this one runs out, I’ll be able to pick up another that’s similar but different. Great for shelf appeal but also recognising what time period it covers.
So there you have it – all the notebooks I’ll be using throughout Nano and beyond. Good luck fellow writers! And here’s to a novel-tastic November.
I’m planning a couple of posts on my progress so do sign up or check back to see how I’m getting on.
This is it. The final post in my series on 50 ways to fill a notebook. Thank you to all those who have joined me on this notebook filling journey over the last few weeks. First timer? You might want to start from the beginning: 50 ways to fill a notebook part one, part two, part three and part four.
Up to speed? Read on for your final notebook filling fix…
41. Present list
I know exactly what presents to buy…until a special occasion arrives. Next time your loved one mentions something they’ve got their eye on, jot it down.
42. Free writing
If you feel like you’ve got too much on your mind, grab an A4 lined pad for some free-writing. Play some music and every couple of minutes use one of the words you hear as a prompt. This sort of exercise is great for creativity and quieting a busy mind. And you never know. Read back a little while later and you might find some helpful ideas in there.
43. Travel diary
Got a trip to plan? Choose a leather-bound notebook and jot down your itinerary. Take it with you to capture your thoughts and impressions of new places.
44. Business ideas
Most of us have an idea or two for a game-changing invention or for running our own business. No surprises that I’d love my own little stationery shop. I’ve even gone as far as visualising it via my own stationery story. They may seem like pipe dreams but gather all of these ideas in one notebook and one day it just might be the right time for you to make them happen.
45. Happiness journal
We often schedule chores and other tasks, but the little things that make us happy? Not so much. Diarise time to read a magazine, visit a favourite place, take time out with a coffee – whatever makes you happy. And in those moments when you feel truly content, write down exactly what it is that you were doing s you can recreate this feeling again. Or relive it in the future.
46. Letters to your future self
I’d normally recommend a proper letter writing set for corresponding via snail mail, but these letters are just for you. If you’re in need of some perspective, write a letter to a future you. The you who came out of the other side of whatever’s going on in your life right now. Or the you after you took that risk or made that change. A lockable notebook will give you free rein to be as open with yourself as you can.
47. Medical/symptoms log
Hopefully you don’t need to visit the doctor too frequently. But for when you do, it’s good to have a pocket notebook with notes on previous visits or current symptoms. In these sorts of stressful situations it’s easy to forget how long you’ve been feeling poorly, or the advice you’re being given so writing it all down will help.
N.B. This works for pets as well as humans! It’s especially useful if you go to a practice where you don’t have a named vet and may need to fill in some gaps in medical history.
48. Colouring in
Not just for little ones, colouring in is a great way to fill a page or two. If you’ve got stamps or cookie cutters lying around, you can fill in the outlines, or even better, doodle some flower petals. If you want something that works on the go, grab a notebook made up of graph paper and fill in the squares. Yes, it’s that simple. Quality paper is best if you’re planning to use felt tips.
It seemed appropriate to finish up with this one! I use a timeless diary with lots of helpful notes pages at the back.
I hope this series of posts on 50 ways to fill a notebook have given notebook addicts everywhere all the ideas they could ever need to fill their notebooks. But if you do think there are any that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments.
In the meantime, happy listing, journalling, mapping, jotting and generally getting ink down on paper.
It’s the penultimate part of 50 ways to fill a notebook. And hopefully you’ve been working through your stash of unused notebooks to free up space in advance of your next haul. Here are some more ideas to keep in mind when you’re choosing between lined, blank, dot grid or crosshair.
Scrapbooking is a lovely way to preserve your memories. Choose a notebook with a mix of heavy duty pages that can take ink, paint and tape. Staple in receipts and ticket stubs and glue in pictures. Annotate with hand lettering. And decorate with stamps and stickers. There are tutorials for easy-to-draw scrolls on Pinterest.
32. Track rows and rounds
One for the yarn addicts. Yes, you can get one of those row counters to attach to your needles, but I’ve never quite got on with them. It’s also helpful to see your progress at a glance if you have a project that you only pick up every now and then. I use an A4 pad that I can scribble across.
33. Learning log
Everyday’s a learning day. Note down two or three things you’ve learnt each day in a pocket notebook you keep by your bed. It’s a nice alternative to a gratitude diary. And may help you process the day’s events before you go to sleep.
34. Action list
My to do lists tend to spiral out of control so I prefer an action list, which `I restrict to three items. I keep it in a teeny tiny micro notebook, so I’m not tempted to add too much to it. Only the top priorities make it in.
35. Recipe notes
It’s the tweaks you make to recipes that really lift them. Or better yet, those family ones that only your nana seems to know. Keep a record in a notebook with a plastic cover so you can wipe off any spills when you’re in the kitchen. My own recipe tip? Always add extra garlic.
36. Bullet journal
The bullet journal is described by its founder Ryder Carroll as ‘an analogue system for a digital age.’ It’s a simple method of journalling aimed squarely at productivity. Numerous posts have been written on how to bullet journal and the best monthly spreads and weekly layouts. My personal favourites are Minimalist Bujo and Boho Berry.
If you’re interested in journalling but not sure how best to kick start your practice, you might want to take my quiz – it will help you find the type of journalling that will suit you best.
37. Mind mapping
Got a problem you need to solve? Keep a medium to large notebook with blank pages to hand draw out all the options. A more visual alternative to listing, the mind map is the brain child of Tony Buzan.
Resolutions aren’t just for new year. Keep them in a slim handmade notebook and revisit regularly to check in on your progress. Even better, if you keep a notebook solely for this purpose, you’ll be able to add to it year on year.
39. Words and definitions
I love unusual words. Old dialect terms that are fading out or words unique to a specific language are my favourite. Writer Robert Macfarlane shares some great nature-led ones everyday on Twitter. And check out Present and Correct’s feed, too. Or this Buzzfeed article.
I jot them down in a pocket notebook and find a way to weave them in to my day to day writing or conversation. Yes, I’m geeky like that.
40. EveryDay carry
I keep a notebook with me at all times. It’s usually lined, often A5 and is always my current favourite. This means there’s some sort of quote on the cover, or it’s one of my favourite brands. It’s filled with all sorts of things. Lists, doodles, reminders. On occasion, an idea for a story or a problem that I need to get down on paper so it’s out of my head and I can think about something else.
I change up my everday carry about once a month. These are the notebooks I always have the most fun buying.
The final countdown of 50 ways to fill a notebook will be up next week. In the meantime, check out parts one, two and three if you haven’t done so already.
And if you’ve started using any of these ideas, let me know if the comments.
It’s not unusual to find me gushing about notebooks. But when the notebook has been made by my own fair hand, it stands to reason I’m going to be extra excited.
Yep, I made this
The little pamphlet you see here is the result of a book binding taster session I went to last Friday at London’s City Lit. It took just over an hour to pull it all together. And a large chunk of that was spent choosing the papers.
The five-hole stitching – I did that. Cutting the paper to size – I did that, albeit badly. The fancy folding thing with the cover…well you get the picture. I’ve got a long way to go of course, but am much-encouraged by my first foray into notebook making.
A taste of book binding
The class began with paper selection. I was torn between feathers and ferns for the cover, but went with the latter because it reminded me of a gorgeous planner I’d seen by Day Designer. Next came the selection of the end papers. I briefly thought about orange, but decided on the blue because of its strength.
Our kind, and very patient tutor, Nesta, then gave us a brief run down of the tools on our work benches. We talked about the difference in production value between books made commercially and those made by hand. And how a well- bound book should look like a bird in flight when opened out.
Next, grain direction. It’s a concept I simply cannot get my head round when it comes to fabric so no surprises that I failed to identify it on cartridge paper. I know to look for the bounce when it’s folded now though. You can try it too, just fold a piece of paper in half and the edge that folds easiest, with the best bounce, is going with the grain. I think!
Folding, lots of folding
Once correctly folded, we had to cut our sheet down. The folding and cutting was strangely meditative, especially smoothing the folds with the bone folder. My cutter was a little rusty so the edges of my first sheet were a little jagged, but I think it lends the finished notebook a rustic charm – at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
Paper trimmed and folded to its finished size, we then nestled it in the end papers and gave a final trim. The whole was folded into the fancy decorative paper before the holes for the stitching were made. I chose a contrasting orange thread. Nesta explained that it was linen that she had dyed by hand.
The stitching was relatively straight-forward, mainly because we were closely supervised and then it remained to tuck the outer sheet of cartridge paper into the folded cover and we were all finished.
My book binding next steps
I stayed a little while after the class to find out where I could buy a starter kit. Nesta recommended Hewit’s and Shepherds, so no doubt I’ll be making a trip to Victoria soon to pick up some supplies.
A few days on, I’ve been pinning all sorts of book binding related things on my notebook making board. And have determined that when I grow up I want to be a book binder.
Now I’ve been through the process once, I believe I could do it again. But to help reinforce what I’ve learnt, I’ve signed up to a second full-day session in October, which will focus on hard-cover binding. Again it will be run by Nesta at City Lit. I’d always thought of book binding as relatively niche but City Lit do all sorts of classes. I’d love to do the ten-part course that kicks off in May next year, but I’ll have to save up for that one.
In the meantime, I just need to decide exactly how to fill my notebook. As you’ll see, I’ve got more than a few ideas!
Ever bound your own notebook? I’d love to see your pictures in the comments.