September 9, 2009
Just in time for back to school. Ken sent me a few samples of their binders.
I love how simple the design is. There not one drop of ink. The board is branded like leather with an impression. There’s not much glue either which means it’s less toxic. One thing that happens with plastic cover binder is that they melt in the hot sun and release a plastic smell. Also the plastic tend to get wrinkled.
I like the architect version for long landscape orientation drawings. When I was working at an architectural office we had 11 x 17 size drawings which we had to fold to fit the 8 x 11 three ring binders. Not any more. There is a line geared towards the architect or any one in need of this size and proportion. The name comes from binders that are not wrapped in plastic or cloth or leather. It is made of recycled material which I really like. The covers look like the chip boards architects and designers use to make building models from. It is also raw surface for kids to draw on and personalize. I also like the design of wrapping to caress the three metal rings. It can still received the labels and seems to be nicer on backpacks (without the sharp corners).
November 12, 2007
Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
A few months back, I became aware of the Commonplace Journal. I was not successful in making one of my own. Recently, Levenger has made an entry into this method of keeping notes. Now, it ‘s hard press to find this Commonplace journal on the market. Most of it has been home made. The fact that Levenger has enough faith in this type of journal says lot about their willingness to test the market. There has been a up surge of demand for old style types of journal and methods of keeping notes.
Before I get into what and how the commonplace book is designed, I would like to give my first general impression. At first I was very excited to see that a major company like Levenger is making a Commonplace book. I’ve look everywhere and I could not find it. Along with this line are the blank and ruled journals. The paper quality is meant for fountain pen inks. Sure one can write in it with a ballpoint pen but if you really wanted to be transported back in time, pick up a nice fountain pen and let it flow. The guild edge often entice me to open up the journal to find precise lines, numbered pages, and a touch of flourish at the top of every page.
Along with these lines of journal, Levenger made a series of jackets. I had already seen the Infinity Journal and have been lusting after it for a while. But I was lucky enough to received the Evolutionary Journal from Ryan! What began as a simple request from Ryan to feature the Commonplace book has evolved into the Evolution Journal. From the catalog, I was immediately intrigued. My first reaction: this is a Moleskine on Steroids. As the name suggest, perhaps recall Darwin’s maxim of the survival of the fittest. One can imagine that Charles Darwin might have a journal similar to this for his field work. It certainly has the weather protection enclosure. In Ryan’s words: ‘It is feature rich’. It has a deep pocket, a ribbon page marker, pen loop, and a flap to keep everything bounded together into one svelte package with the journal power and capacity to carry one through a dreary rainy afternoon. The pocket is really user friendly or very accessible. The pen loop is very handy and the flap with the invisible magnetic closure makes it a travel protection for the precious pages inside. I have the large size, which is about the size of the junior Circa Fold Over. It is less bulky then it looks in the paper catalog. The jacket really fits snugly over the paper journal. I’ve decided to use it as my diary for the coming year. With the ability to index in a Commonplace style, I can go back for that novel idea. There is also the pre-printed diary agenda that one could slip in and use it for business. It really looks professional and thin.
The Evolution Journal Cover is made of Full Grain Leather.
The design was inspired by an antique finds. It is based on a journal that was discover at an antique store. Levenger has revised their line of Journal. There are three types of leather cover in three different sizes. This allows for an astonishing selection of choices. In a way, this follows the lead of the Circa system. Although, the letter size is not yet available. The great advantage of a leather journal is that I can use it one year after the next. Rather then committing to one style of journaling, I can change from day to day or month to month or year to year while the cover stays and earn a character through each use.
September 6, 2007
Ah the long awaited (exactly 3 months!) Bare is here! Just in time for school. About a week ago, Jason – the Mind behind Mynd – sent me package of their new Bare Line via UPS Ground. While I’m still in-doors and don’t have available lights to photograph, I’m just make some quick notes. I’ll use the photo to illustrate later. The Bare line is made from:
- 100% recycled and 30% post consumed products.
- It is printed with soy ink.
- The belly band proudly advertised this fact: The notebook is produced with 100% clean, renewable hydroelectric energy.
- Chlorine free process
- Acid-free paper (I believe this means that it’s archival. Often, recycle paper are not archival.)
- Created with French paper
- In case you didn’t know, the belly band is printed with ‘(RECYCLED) good thinking (RENEWABLE ENERGY) good thinking!
Bravo! There are few companies that make recycle high end paper products. So far I’ve only found one: myndology. This is ‘Good Thinking’! I can’t emphasize enough about recycling of papers. I often indulge in recycle projects myself. I’m guilty of paper waste. So when a acid free recycle paper comes along, I welcome it whole heartily. It makes me feel less guilty using it. I understand that it does cost more to produce such a product, and this is why some companies shy away from it. It takes a shift in different methods of production, I image, to do recycle products. But I think it’s a trend to go organic in the paper industry as well as apparel, foods, and accessories.
Size matters – (at least in the recycle paper world) Cost effectiveness may be one of the reason Myndology produced only two sizes for now, unless there are support and demand for a larger size. There is the Junior size 6.5 x 8.5 inches and the 4 x 3 inches Memo size which has three discs. They are offered in blank or lined pages. The pages has a warm vanilla tone compare to the pure whites. I assume it is because there is no chlorine to bleach the paper pulp to pure white. I like this for several reasons. One, it looks good with brown fountain pen ink. And two, it has less glare. I sit under a fluorescent lights eight hours a day at work, I see that compared side by side, the Bare has a nicer tone. In fact, it has a very similar color and quality to the Moleskine rule paper.
Color – Over all, the designers of Duffy and Partners at Myndology choose a muted earthy tone compare to their more vibrant and wild colors of the previous lines. The plastic cover is replaced by double layer card stock paper folded. The top layer is laser cut with energetic and symbolic arrows alternately pointed at the eight cardinal directions. The whole effect is exotic and alive with the interplay of light and dark as it sits above another layer of the same color paper! This is a very unique design feature. I have not seen laser cut done on any other products. It is an innovative technique to improve our enjoyment of paper.
(For some reason these laser cuts reminded me of Cross’s AutoCross line of steering wheel leather cover which Jack Spade help to popularize.) These muted tones look right at home in a conservative office settings. The cover comes in three colors of Clay, Pine, and Sand. All of these are bound in a disc color of Sand. While I like the disc very much, I can’t help but dream up of new disc colors or maybe even start with the existing color of the cover and matching discs. This way, we would have three possible combinations to play with.
Memo – The Memo pages are still thin like the notebooks. Perhaps it’s hard to make a thick card stock like the 3×5 index cards. The 3×4 doesn’t match the standard 3×5. I wonder why Myndology chose 3×4 size. Perhaps because the paper maybe flimsy if the length extend another inch. Although I like the proportion of it. Myndology has their own size and ideal as to what is a good proportion. In a way, I applaud them for sticking to their guns. This means that the previous note book pages which I have 6.5 x 8.5 fits the Bare! I was worried about this. The backwards compatibility is nice. I think it would be nice to have a Memo with thick card stock paper of their existing covers. The Refill paper comes packaged in a box made of the same card stock as the cover. This is a much welcome improvement to the previous shrink wrapped refills.
Myndology’s Bare line of paper products utilize recycle paper technology to innovate design and improve the enjoyment of paper for the consumers. I would not be surprised that this line of product would win awards and accolades from critics and users alike.
September 2, 2007
Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
Here’s my example of using a different medium in order to get in touch with my unconscious and dream image. I read about an accomplished musician, David Blum, who took up pastel to draw some of his dream images. ‘Davide explains how, when he left the security of his preferred language of expression, music, and dare to pick up some children’s pastels to draw scenes from his dreams, he unwittingly engaged in a conversation with his inner self.’ Often we are afraid to try another medium which is not familiar or trained. But if we have the courage to just try it and not criticize the image or a writing or a music, then it’s possible to communicate to that unknown region of our dream or unconsciousness. I find that water color or ink drawings are best to do this sort of exercise as it can be hard to control the precise image of what we want. More then once I’ve been please with the result. This painting was done on a hand made paper Eastgate review copy.
I did this painting before I read the article about David Blum. It appears in the Oregon Friends of C.G. Jung Fall 2007 Program. I don’t know how they do it, enticed the reader into a workshop or a class with the description of what is promised in the pamphlet. I’m always intrigued by the well written syllabus synopsis. Here’s an example: ‘…we will turn directly to the images themselves that arise when the unconscious psyche responds to the crises and concerns of everyday life, and using the amplification of archetypal images, engage in so-called conversational sketches.’
There’s a profound 28 minute film in which Yo Yo Ma introduces his friend David Blum.
The workshop will be on December 7-8, 2007.
August 14, 2007
Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
A few more shoots of the Rustico Traveler’s Journal I did last night. I try to use available lights only and a tripod.
August 13, 2007
To ease the pain of Manic Mondays, I received from Isaac Childs, the founder and designer of Rustico, a beautifully hand written note and the Traveller’s Journal! The book arrived in shrink wrap to protect the leather. There are 5 signatures of hand torn deckle edge papers. The deckle edges alternate between signatures in a little dance to create a fluffy feeling when one ruffles through the pages, and the little bits of torn paper floats down like the clouds of a dream. A signature is a stack of paper folded in half. There are sixteen pages folded in-half to make a signature. There are 80 pages in 5 signatures making it a total of 160 pages per journal. The end paper is similar to the mulberry textured soft paper. The leather cover is of a dark luscious chocolate brown, affectionately called ‘Bomber Leather Jacket’. On the inside, the leather is left raw and exposed. On the spine one can see the threads (more like sinews) that bind, sew these signatures together. Because of the flexible but sturdy spine, writing on the (VERSO) left hand side of the book is pleasant. It can be laid flat, unlike the stiff bindings of thick books. There is not a drop of glue. This is a unique feature, as most books hide the way it is bound. It is like looking into the inner workings of a transparent clock. You can also request your name or logo to be laser engraved any where you want. The back of the journal has the Rustico brand and a proud ‘Made in USA’, ah that should be ‘Hand-Made’. The look and feel is rugged masculinity, something that would feel at home in Indiana Jones’s hands while he travels the globe to recover relics. It has a feel of something made by the hands of some fine craftsman. There seems to be a welcoming emptiness to be filled with clippings, pasting, of maps and the meaningful detritus of life. Unlike most books, the pages are not pressed, compressed and flatten, lifeless. Between the covers, the porous pages can breath. It is the sort of book that one might find in the hands of Ralph Fiennes as the English Patient; reading to Hana a quote from Herodotus, in the bombed-out Italian Villa.
I was inspired to find some quotes to write in the journal:
“All men’s gains are the fruit of venturing” – Herodotus
“Hoard moments that can be held in the hand and examined later, like found stones” – Alexandra Johnson, ‘Leaving a Trace’
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August 3, 2007
You know those Google mail ads really work! I was reading my gmail and noticed the Rustico Leather advertisement. I had my eyes on these gems for quite sometime now. A coworker gave me one long time ago a small pocket book with leather and a wrapped tie. At the time I wasn’t so much into writing about notebooks. I took that notebooklaid paper with me to Hungary on an Artist Residence sojourn. The small size was perfect for keeping phone and email addresses of people I met. The 3×5 inch was good for sketching too! The creamy was gorgeous to write and draw on. It took a variety of ink pens with out any problem. Years later, I discover that it is similar to, if not, a Rustico Journal! The year was 2000. Since then, the leather has aged beautifully in my hands.
I wrote to inquired about featuring Rustico’s fine line of leather journals. Isaac of Rustico replied quickly and is glad (and I’m glad to feature it.) to have us look at the numerous journals in different sizes that Rustico has to offer. There’s even a 3×3 exquisite little gem. I am to select one to examine. Hm…. what should I choose? Decision decisions…Well I leave you with this dilemma. Tell me which journal should I pick? Unless I hear other wise, I’m leaning towards the Traveler Journal with a distressed bomber leather jacket enclosed by a buckle. Isaac tells me this is one of the most popular items. Here’s just one example of their popular Bomber Jacket Leather journal: http://www.rusticoleather.com.bomber