Baron Fig Confidant

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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2018: My Favourite Tools.

I’ve reviewed my 2018 planners and explained what I have lined up for 2019 in my recent posts and this got me thinking about all the tools I have used this year. 2018 feels like a year of consolidation. I’ve acquired less stationery and tried to focus on using what I have stored in my drawers and cupboards. Today’s post is reflective and about sharing my year in stationery.

My paper use.

I use a lot of paper and I always feel like I have too much paper on the go. I enjoy trying out new notebooks and paper stock but I also like what I like.

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Baron Fig notebooks have become a staple in 2018. I use one Baron Fig Confidant as a journal, at the moment this happens to be the big Fig, or the Baron Fig Plus (small side note, I really wish Baron Fig had called this the big Fig). I also use one of the Confidants or the Vanguards for work because the paper works so well with pencils, ballpoint or rollerballs as well as fountain pens. I like that I don't have to consider my writing tools at work.

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I thoroughly enjoy using the Travelers Company notebooks. Their paper is high quality and is perfect for pairing with fountain pens. I enjoy the cream paper, which is not to everyone's taste.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

I have used a lot of Field Notes notebooks this year but this is because I have a lot to get through and not because I am a super fan. My love of Field Notes has waned over recent years. I buy what I like, the Coastal edition was a favourite of mine this year, but I am no longer concerned with acquiring any notebook that they release.

Finally my exploration into sketchbooks has expanded my experience with paper. Finding what I like to sketch on, what paper works best with watercolour and coloured pencils has all been part of the journey. Currently I am using a pocket Baron Fig Confidant as I am mainly sketching with pencil and black pen and I was interested to see how I fared with a small sketchbook. I think as I go into 2019 I will only increase my knowledge in my sketching materials and really find what works well for me.

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2018, the year of pencils?

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My pencil use has increased a lot in recent months. I use these mostly with my pocket notebooks for daily note taking but there is also sketching use in there too. I tend to use one pencil for a while and then rotate when I fancy a change. Lately I have been really enjoying the Tombow Mono 100 2B. The softer graphite is not usually a pencil I am drawn to but this pencil is so smooth to write with.

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I have loved using the Blackwing 54 in part because of the colour choices with this pencil and the hard graphite that makes it a great note taking pencil.

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The Craft Design Technology pencil has been another favourite. The mint coloured barrel is just beautiful. And finally the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in H, I love this pencil for its simplicity and its ability to hold a point. It’s an old reliable.

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Fountain Pens and Ink.

This is one category where I’m happy with what I’m using. Unusually, I don't feel a pull to acquire more pens or inks and find joy in using the pens I have.

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The Lamy LX with Sailor Blue Black is my go to fountain pen. I have been using this combination for most of the year, it just works.

The Pelikan M400 and Sailor Wagu-Uguisu is a great match. The gold nib, and the softness when writing means I get a good view of the green Sailor ink and can appreciate the shading. It’s so much fun writing with this pen and I usually admire my scrawl once complete.

Finally the Kaweco ART Sport inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. I love this combination as the colours work so well together.

Drawing Pens.

The final category that I felt was worth a mention was drawing pens. In my effort to learn how to draw, drawing pens have been vital tool that I now use more than I ever have. They are so versatile and useful to have as part of any stationery nerds toolkit, but for drawing they are a dream. I have used fine tip drawing pens and brush pens to experiment. The Tombow brush pen has been a personal favourite and the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pen continues to be my preferred sketching pen. Recently I have tried a Pentel marker and the Pilot Finerliner to experiment with line width.

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Overall thoughts.

My tools of choice have changed a bit this year which is down to a shift in the way I use my analogue tools. I used to be fully immersed in fountain pens and ink and couldn't get enough, but now I happily use other tools alongside my fountain pens. They all have a certain purpose. I’ve been most surprised by how much I have used pencils and that’s in part as I am sketching more now, but also because they’re so easy to use with a pocket notebook. It makes my daily carry easy.

2018 has been less about acquiring new things, although I have done a bit of that, but more about finding what I like and using it more and more. In 2019 I want to continue this and really hone down the tools I enjoy using.

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes and comments on my posts. I really enjoy sharing my thoughts on stationery and hope you enjoy the content. I'm looking forward to sharing even more in 2019!

Baron Fig Wander Dream Journal.

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Baron Fig sent me their new Wander Dream Journal to review here on the blog. All thoughts shared on this product are entirely my own.

The Wander Dream Journal is a brand new product to Baron Fig. As the name suggests its a dream journal with a specific page layout designed to encourage you to catch various aspects of your dreams. The thought that has gone into this journal is really nice and the style of this dream journal is different to anything we’ve seen from Baron Fig before.

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The overall notebook design.

The Wander Dream Journal looks like a Confidant. Its the same size as their Flagship product but this journal has a few interesting tweaks. The most obvious is the inclusion of an elastic closure, which I was a little surprised to see. The Wander Dream Journal seems a strange choice of debut for the elastic closure and I am not sure it really needs it. In most instances this journal will sit on your bedside table or where you rest your head. It is used for a specific purpose and therefore perhaps unlikely to contain bits of paper, but more often purely written notes. These are of course, all assumptions I am making and perhaps other people would find different ways to use this journal, but in relation to the elastic closure I think this may be welcome on other Confidants and perhaps no so important on the Wander Dream Journal.

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As this is the first time Baron Fig have included an elastic closure I was interested to see how well integrated it was. The good news is you can’t notice the fixing of the elastic on the reverse inside cover. The only thing I did notice is that the elastic does leave an imprint on the front of the Confidant as its material, but this is relatively small and due to the dark cover not overly noticeable.

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Back to the specific design of the Wander Dream Journal, the cover is a midnight blue with embossed silver stars and moon. The cover design is simple but works well with the intended use of the journal giving it a sleepy, dreamlike feel.

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There is a light blue bookmark with this journal which seems quite a bit longer than other bookmarks from Baron Figs Confidants! Lets hope this change trickles down to all Baron Fig Confidant notebooks.

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Inside the Wander Journal.

The page design is what really sets this journal apart from anything else Baron Fig have done. Each double page spread is dedicated to a dream and its through the prompts on the page that you can unwind, decipher or simply record. At the front of the journal is a double page explanatory page telling you how to use the notebook.

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The page bars.

All of the elements within this spread are explained clearly. Each double page has a page bar which sit on the outside edge of each page and guide you through tracking your dreams. There is space to track how the dream made you feel, the quality of your sleep, the period of time the dream took place, whether it was in colour or monotone, your viewpoint and finally there is a categorisation section where you can record if its recurring dream, a nightmare, fantasy etc.

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Having the page bars on the outside edge of each page makes it easy to find these common themes, or to search for something later on. Not only is the page bar an interesting and well-thought through guided experience, it’s also cleverly been considered from a use perspective. This information could have been shown in so many other formats, but positioning this where they have works so well and keeps this information relevant in the longer term.

I found the categories of the page bar also made me consider things I wouldn’t have thought about before. The colour versus monotone indicator is not a factor I would have thought about in relation to my dreams. To record these small nuggets of information and be prompted to think about them is useful. It’s simple but it captures relevant information.

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The journaling sections.

The rest of your double page spread is to record all the important information of your dream. The date and day it occurred has its own section at the top of the page.

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There is room for the details, the weird and wonderful aspects of everyones dreams. The left hand page is dedicated to what you remember from your dream and called Recall. Again a great header as its rare to remember all the details or for them to make sense. The header alone suggests that some of the information here may be illogical, nonsense even…the idea is to simply write it down.

Then there is the Visualize section. From the few dreams I have recorded (and remembered) there hasn’t been a whole lot of imagery that I can remember or that made sense to draw, but again this can sometimes be one of the only ways to remember a dream. Having blank space dedicated to this is a nice prompt.

Finally there is space for you to Interpret your dream. From my silly, but real example the interpretation of the dream is clear. Other dreams are harder to interpret but this is an important part of the journal purely because most people always wonder what their dreams meant.

Each section within the page has a different grid pattern dedicated to the section you’re completing. The Recall section has lines giving you the space to write. The Visualize section is blank giving you space to draw and the Recall section has dotted ruled lines. This isn’t the first time Baron Fig have a mixed up their grid rulings, (Show & Tell) but it really works nicely for the Wander Dream Journal.

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Overall thoughts.

This isn’t a journal for everyone and its not a journal you may use everyday but its really interesting. I have mine by my bed and when I wake up and I can recall a dreams I record it in the journal using the prompts to guide me. Spending the time to think about dreams can be deeply personal, strange and a little revealing perhaps but I imagine this could be a journal that over time becomes a valued notebook.

It’s great that the Wander Dream Journal is part of Baron Figs standard offering and not just a limited edition. This journal shows that Baron Fig can take a simple idea, or note taking routine, and guide users to improve upon a habit. I would love to see them take the Wander Dream Journal idea and apply this to other areas.

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A little bit more…

As this isn’t a journal that’s for the everyday…in many cases, I started to wonder how I could hack this journal. How could I take the insides and use this for alternative purposes. As it’s a full sized Confidant, 192 pages of dream recording is a lot. So here are some of the ideas I had…

  1. Story planning - the layout could be used to plan out scenes or ideas from a story and the prompts could be adapted to work in this manner.
  2. Mood tracker - again some of the side bar items can work to track your mood. Recalling, interpreting and in some instances visualising your moods could be part of a self-improvement idea that could be tracked over time.
  3. Memory log - you could use these pages to write down memories. The side bar could be adapted to work alongside this idea and you could include snippets, photos or cut outs in the Visualize area.

The Big (Plus) Baron Fig Confidant Review.

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Over the years I have used numerous of Baron Fig paper products and they are a brand that I keep coming back to. My usage has been mainly around the Flagship, or A5-ish, sized Confidants or Vanguards, but recently I decided to give the large Plus sized Confidant a try.

Unsurprisingly when I bought the Plus Confidant I didn’t have a specific use in mind. I felt like it could work during NaNoWriMo or for a larger scale planning project. But as its happened I’ve not used it for either of these things but taken the plunge and dedicated this as my journal.

There is so much space.

This is a much larger Confidant than the Flagship size, as you can see from the photos below.

The yellow Confidant in the Flagship (A5ish) size and the charcoal in the Plus size.

The yellow Confidant in the Flagship (A5ish) size and the charcoal in the Plus size.

It’s a little unusual to get a hard bound notebook in this size, the only comparison I can think of is the A4 Leuchtturm1917 Master Slim. With the Baron Fig however you get full use of the page unlike the Leuchtturm1917 Master Slim, where there is a huge (and unnecessary) boarder on each page.

I’ve found myself more focused using the Plus, like it’s more of an event to sit down to journal in the morning and evening. I jumped from the Field Notes Signature into this, so the change was quite drastic but I like it.

It’s the Confidant...just bigger.

Everything else is what you expect from a Confidant notebook. The hard bound cover is strong and I really like the texture of the cloth. It may not be water resistant or stain proof, but its really nice and tactile in hand. I have the charcoal version, my first, and I really like the dark colour with the bright yellow bookmark.

Creamy ruled pages...the dream

Creamy ruled pages...the dream

There are 200(ish) pages in the Plus Confidant too which means there’s plenty of space for your master plans, brain dumps or general story-telling. The paper is friendly to almost any writing instrument, fountain pens and ink work nicely but these notebooks are also great with pencils.

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Like with all Confidants I really wish the bookmark was a tad longer. I really like the way these bookmarks look and wear, they fray quite a bit, but a bit of extra length would make them practical not just pretty. I’m not sure that will ever come though.

Those short bookmarks....

Those short bookmarks....

Overall thoughts.

I’ve ended up liking this size a lot more than I thought I would. It works great as a journal and I feel like I am writing more because there is a sense of freedom with the additional room. It may not be a travel friendly size and it does take up some valuable desk space but its a great notebook.

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