Another Completed Sketchbook.

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I thought about the title of this post for some time. ’Another’ suggested I had completed quite a few sketchbooks, which I haven’t, as I am new to drawing. I have slowly worked my way through a small number with my latest being a blank Baron Fig pocket Confidant. It's the first time I’ve used this brand as a sketchbook.

The sketchbook.

The Baron Fig pocket Confidant made a pretty good sketchbook. I wanted to try a pocket size for its portability and also wanted something with a hard cover. I chose a Baron Fig Notebook as it's a notebook I use for other purposes and therefore one I am familiar with. I was hoping that the familiarity would make my drawing less pressured and more free.

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The pocket Confidant has a hard cover, I chose the darker Charcoal colour as I thought this would wear better. The hard cover meant that the notebook had some stability which I would need for sketching on the go. There are 192 pages of the standard Baron Fig paper with their signature yellow ribbon.

What I have learnt from this sketchbook.

As I am new to sketching it is not something that comes naturally to me. With each sketchbook I work through I am trying consciously to learn in the hope that I improve and that it becomes second nature.

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With this sketchbook I tried to experiment more than I had done in the past. I set out to use this sketchbook with a black ink pen, inspired by Patrick Vales Instagram posts. I wanted keep things simple and just sketch. I stuck to this for a while but after seeing artists sketchbooks online I introduced coloured pencils.

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Coloured pencils felt familiar, from childhood, and easy to use. There are a number of artists that I follow who use coloured pencils as their preferred tools. Like them I wanted to find a small palette that I could use, no matter the subject matter. By not worrying about replicating the colours in front of me and using my imagination, then perhaps my drawing would improve. I couldn’t find a flow with this but it’s something I want to keep coming back to.

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I spent some time using only graphite pencils to try and be fluid with my sketches. The loose style you can achieve with graphite has always been appealing and it was also an excuse to use the softer graphite pencils I have lying around. The only thing that ever really bothers me about graphite is the smudging and the marks left over time that start to blur your drawing.

I returned again to a black pen enjoying the feel of the pen tip on the page. There is something very satisfying about it. Using an ink pen makes me more decisive with my lines. The theory then being that this encourages me to learn from my mistakes, wrong proportions and poor imitations and want to make them better the next time.

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Due to the pocket size of this sketchbook detail wasn’t a luxury I had. Everything had to be simple. In this sketchbook I have drawn a lot of people and I am awful at drawing people. I enjoy watching people, noticing their expressions, the shape of their features and attempt, poorly, to replicate them. Plus there are always people to draw.

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Overall thoughts.

I am starting to understand that the key to my sketching journey is to change things up and to keep finding inspiring artists to learn from. Trying new tools and ideas will open me up to new techniques and styles.

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In this instance the pocket notebook was the perfect companion and the unofficial sketchbook nature helped a lot. My next sketchbook will be different again and hopefully will teach me different things. I feel confidant in saying that for a sketchbook that I carry around I want a simple set up. Sketchbook and black pen seems to work pretty well.

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Pebble Stationery Co. Pocket Notebook Review.

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Pebble Stationery Co. sent me a pack of their pocket notebooks to play with and review on the blog. All thoughts shared in this post are my own.

Notebook design.

The Pebble Stationery Co notebook is 3.5 x 5.5”, (think Field Notes in size). There are two notebooks in a pack with 52 GSM white, dot grid, tomoe river paper. To protect the thin contents the Pebble Notebook has a thick grey textured cover with an embossed, and a little large, bit of branding in the bottom right corner of the notebook.

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The inside cover is a fresh blue colour with space for personal information, should you wish to fill this in. I always like this feature in notebooks. Not only is there a fail safe if I misplace one, but it helps me keep track of my notebooks and their contents should I need to reference them in the future. On the inside back cover there is some information on Pebble Stationery Co.

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As the paper is the super dreamy tomoe river paper you get 80 pages in a very slim profile notebook. The dot grid is subtle with a small light grey dot. On the right hand edge there does appear to be one dot missing in the sequence. This could be a quirk specific to this print run but it did catch my eye.

And finally the corners of the notebook are rounded off nicely which helps with the wear of the notebook. There aren’t any damaged corners here.

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Paper performance.

Part of tomoe river papers charm is the fact that it handles fountain pens so well and is really thin. As expected the paper in the Pebble notebook takes ink well. The nib or rollerball glides over the page giving you a really nice writing experience.

Pencils and tomoe river paper aren’t a natural fit. They work fine but the enjoyment level is lower.

One small thing I found with the Pebble notebook is the ghosting is quite prominent. It feels more prevalent than other tomoe river notebooks I have used in the past. Inspired by Fran Meneses YouTube videos I recently started working my way through the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and I have been tracking each album I’ve listened to, and if I liked it in my Pebble notebook. I have purposefully used different writing tools to test out the paper and the ghosting with everything other than a pencil was obvious.

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Overall thoughts.

It is nice to see more pocket notebook options available in the market. It has felt like there is a gap when it comes to high quality papers that work with fountain pens in a pocket notebook format so it’s great to see Pebble Notebooks solving that problem. The design and style is really simple and makes it feel like a classic notebook.

Thank you Pebble Stationery Co. for sending me these notebooks to use.

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Sailor Shikiori Hisakata - Stardust Fountain Pen Review.

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The Sailor Shikiori Hisakata used to be known as the Sailor Procolor. I was lucky enough to be bought this pen as a gift from my husband. It's my first experience with a Sailor fountain pen and I think it's a great introduction. It comes in at a good price, approx £55 and is a great size. Plus there are some of the distinctive Sailor features available in this pen.

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My Shikiori Hisakata gets its Stardust name due to the barrel design. It has a resin body in a navy colour and throughout the barrel there are flecks of silver and blue that looks like Stardust or the night sky. I really love this design which is hard to emulate on a screen. In person and in the light the flecks within the pen body look wonderful. They really shine, but they’re not too bold and glittery. I’m not a glittery girl, but this works beautifully.

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The finish on the Stardust is chrome which compliments the colour nicely. Around the base of the pen cap there is quite a thick chrome ring which has the Sailor branding. Thee other chrome accents come from the pen clip and a ring around the top of the pen cap. Overall the amount of chrome detailing feels right.

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I have a fine nib which was purchased through The Writing Desk. This is the only nib size they have and as this is a Japanese brand the fine is very fine. The nib is small but the perfect size for this pen and it has some beautiful detailing that can be found on other Sailor fountain pens.

Sailor flourishes on the nib

Sailor flourishes on the nib

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This is a screw cap pen so your cap shouldn’t remove unnecessarily from the pen. The grip section has the same resin finish as the pen body which means that lovely design isn't broken up. It's comfortable to grip and I haven't experienced any slipping from the resin finish.

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Overall thoughts.

This is my first Sailor fountain pen and it is completely lovely. It’s a really nice pen to use, the nib is smooth and you get a super fine line. The pen is comfortable to write with for long periods of time and the weight balance is good. It’s a £55 Sailor pen and I think a great entry into Sailor. There are cheaper Sailor fountain pens you could try such as the Lecoule but the Shikiori Hisakata is a much prettier design.

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Hobonichi Weeks Review.

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Last year I bought my first Hobonichi Weeks planner and then left it in my drawer for the majority of the year gathering dust. I couldn't fit it into my system as I already had the Jibun Techo and several other notebooks in use, so The Hobonichi Weeks was left abandoned.

However towards the end of 2018, I knew I wouldn't be using the Jibun Techo again and started to wonder if I could fit the Weeks into my 2019 system. I spent the last few weeks of 2018 testing the Weeks out and trying to get a feel for it, and I felt confidant that I could use the Weeks for a full year.

Overview of the Hobonichi Weeks.

The Hobonichi Weeks is a slim diary / planner / organiser (whatever term you prefer). It’s that familiar, portable size that a you see from numerous different annual planners. As with all things from Hobonichi the simple is elevated to something more through thoughtful design.

The Hobonichi Weeks comes in a number of different cover designs that range from plain, bold colours through to the quirky. I have the cactus design which comes with tiny stitched cacti of all different forms. I have a clear plastic cover to protect the cover and for the extra pockets. I bought this last year directly from Hobonichi, it’s not something I have found from any third party retailer.

The Weeks includes two bookmarks which is always very useful. I use one to mark the current month and the second for the current week. I think two bookmarks in planners now is a standard with more and more brands additional an extra bookmark.

Finally, the paper. It is similar to other Hobonichi planners with beautiful tomoe river paper that I love because it handles pretty much any writing tool. The paper is a cream colour which I know can put some people off. Personally I like this because I find it softer on the eye.

Layout.

The layout inside is simple as with most things from Hobonichi. The first two pages are three year long calendars, the 2019 calendar on the left hand page giving this prominence and more room. On the right hand side there are two smaller calendars, one for 2018 and another for 2020. Having the previous year on this spread is quite useful for checking last years dates. I have referenced this a few times this year already.

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The next double page is dedicated to the full year with a tiny amount of space for you to make notes. I guess the idea is that you can add annual dates, mark off annual leave, that sort of thing. I haven't used this spread at all because I am not sure what I could mark here, or how I would fit it in.

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Monthly Spreads.

Then you head into your monthly spreads which starts from Dec 2018 and runs through to March 2020. The additional coverage is helpful as you’re not completely restricted to the year, you can start early and you also have space for future planning.

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The spreads are good but space is minimal due to the size of the planner. The simplistic design does mean that the space is maximised as much as possible. There is a grid pattern on each of these pages too which helps the user to maximise the space and keep their writing tidy.

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There is a small amount of note taking space around the sides on this page. I have jotted down monthly appointments, actions or to-dos here which is quite useful. Having some sort of ‘space’ for the extra things is always useful, whether that’s notes or decoration.

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On a final note, as this is a Japanese planner there are Japanese holidays included in red throughout. These are easy to ignore but could be a little confusing.

Weekly spreads.

After the monthly spreads you head into your weekly views. I love the layout of these pages, the week is on the left hand page with 7 days, each with an equal amount of space (hurrah!). On the right you get a grid page which is blank for anything else you may need to include.

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There are some small little flourishes on these weekly pages, which again maximise the available space without giving you the feeling of overcrowding. Firstly you have the phase of the moon under the days date. Not an important feature but kind of interesting and useful. Secondly there is a Japanese quote on the bottom of the page, which I cannot translate or understand, but this is a feature of the Hobonichi Planners. There is a small monthly calendar in the bottom right. It highlights the current week within that month but again allows you to glance ahead if needed.

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And finally the week number is called out at the top of the page, 52nd Week, 1st Week, etc etc.

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The rest.

The back of the planner has around 60 pages of grid paper for notes. I rarely use these but having some space there is very helpful and it doesn't add to the bulk of the planner because of the super thin tomoe river paper. There are also a handful of pages in Japanese with some interesting illustrations but again I cannot understand anything there. These pages seem to adjust each year and have a different focus.

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My use of the Hobonichi Weeks.

I am using the Weeks as a functional planner. I am not decorating the pages in any way, I use only fountain pen and ink or a gel ink pen. The purpose is to keep track of my tasks and appointments for the week. On the right hand side of each week I lay out the tasks I have for the week. I also use the space if required for any additional notes, such as physio exercises and headache patterns.

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I like the format and layout of the weeks for lots of reasons. The layout is very similar to the Travelers Company Weekly + Memo Weekly refill which I have used for years. This format has always worked well and I enjoy it.

The size is great too making it portable and allowing me to focus on the short and mid-term time frames. I still use a digital calendar for long term appointments, but this works great for managing my month and week.

I usually plan out my week on a Sunday and see what I need to get done in the next week. The week is then referenced and adjusted if necessary and the tasks reviewed and assigned a day in a different notebook.

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Overall thoughts.

The Hobonichi Weeks has found a purpose and place in my rotation and I really enjoy it. It’s a simple planner that most people will have used at some point, but the Hobonichi Weeks satisfies all those small extras that the stationery nerd enjoys. High quality materials, cute designs and paper that is a total joy to use.