My Current Toolbox

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The question I get asked the most often is what pen I use for my journaling or lettering. There are so many choices out there, and to be honest I haven't tried that many. When looking to buy anything, I usually do some research and try to find a product with good reviews or recommendations before I decide what to purchase. Then, if I really like something, I tend to stick with it. Life is just simpler that way...

These are my current tools of choice:

From top to bottom, left to right:
1. Sakura Pigma Micron Ink Pen - The first set of pens that I purchased. They write quite smoothly and the ink is nice and dark. The only drawback for me is that due to my heavy handedness, the tips of the finer point pens sometimes break. But I think that's my fault and not the pens. I have also ordered a pack of 005 pens only to find that they were already somewhat dried out :(
2. Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight Bold Point Gel Ink pen - I LOVE these pens for colored lettering or doodles. My favorite in the set is the hot pink. I also purchased this pen in metallic gold. Pink and gold, what's not to love?
3. Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush - I bought this for water coloring and brush lettering. It's perfect for painting on the go, just takes practice to be able to control the water flow. It's great fun to play with!
4. Speedball Deluxe Oblique Pen Holder - This pen holder, combined with the Nikko G nib, is great for beginners like me who want to try their hand at calligraphy.
5. Pilot G-Tec-C4 Ultra Fine pen in Black - my absolute favorite pen. It produces the perfect line width and writes like a dream. It withstands even my heavy-handedness! If I could only have one pen to write with for the rest of my life, this would be it :)
6. Pentel Arts Pocket brush pen in black - This is a great pen for brush lettering if you don't feel like dealing with a separate brush and ink. I like to use this pen for the bold titles in my Hobonichi journal entries. The ink is dark and you can make variable width strokes very easily. I go through refills quite quickly as I love to practice with this, so I'm thinking I should try brush and ink to save money and stretch my crafting dollars (we shall see).
7. Uniball Signo Broad Point Gel Impact pen in white - This pen is the best white gel pen I have tried. I love the look of white ink on dark paper and this is a must-have for me.
8. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens in black - These pens are the most recent addition to my collection. I used these for my Moleskine art journal quotes and have come to like them very much. I also broke the tip on one of these pens, so I guess that's a sign that I need to ease up on the amount of pressure I apply to my pens when I write!
9. Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleedproof White ink - I haven't taken any formal classes in calligraphy, so I had to research on how to use this ink. Basically, you mix a small amount of it with water. Trial and error and lots of testing until you achieve a consistency where the ink will flow smoothly from your nib. This ink is stunningly beautiful on black paper, so I am determined to master mixing this ink (it took me forever the first time I tried it.)
10. Small screw-top Dinky Dip inkwells - These inkwells come in various sizes and configurations.
11. Moon Palace Sumi Ink - This gorgeous bottle is from a calligraphy starter set from Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, one of my favorite calligraphers. Her style is distinctive and instantly recognizable, and she has kits for sale on her Etsy shop. They are not available all the time, so stalk her Instagram feed to find out when they do become available for sale and pounce.
12. Bic Wite-Out - Because nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes :)

What are your favorite tools for journaling?

My Midori Traveler's Notebook - Quote Journal

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I've always loved quotes. The perfect quote can be that helpful little encouragement, that much needed perspective, or that bright spot of humor on a difficult day.

I started collecting quotes on a Pinterest board. After I bought my Traveler's Notebook, I decided to try my hand at lettering some of my favorites, using Sakura Micron and Gelly Roll Moonlight pens.

Later, I started experimenting with the Pentel Arts pocket brush pen.

I also tried an oblique pen holder and Nikko G nib.

Lately, I've been using Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens, and acrylic paint.

Do you collect quotes? If you do, where do you keep them?

My Midori Traveler's Notebook - Photo Journal

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Memory keeping is such a worthwhile endeavor, yet I have always struggled to find the perfect system for me. I have photo albums, scrapbooks, and Project Life albums (both digital and physical), not to mention hundreds of thousands of digital photos. I often felt overwhelmed by product choices and was searching for something different from what I had already tried.

I first saw the Midori Traveler's Notebook on Analog Paper's blog. I was intrigued by the beautiful leather cover and its unique shape, but when I saw the price, I felt a little guilty about spending that amount of money on a notebook.

A few weeks later, I checked Amazon again and the price had dropped significantly. I took the plunge and ordered my first Midori in brown. When I received it, I instantly fell in love and placed an order for a second one in black. 

This simple little notebook has a cult following, and I have grown to understand why. I love the quality of the paper and how beautifully the leather cover is aging. The design of the Midori is simple and ingenious. Each notebook or insert is held in place with an elastic band. There are different styles of notebooks and inserts available. You can use your Midori as a straight up notebook or planner, or add additional bands and fill it with as many inserts as you can and turn it into a wallet or compact carry-all. I have seen other creative users make their own inserts and folders, but I haven't got around to making my own just yet. The possibilities for setting up a Traveler's Notebook are endless and only limited by your imagination!

I currently only have two notebooks in my black Midori (shown here). Both of them are the Refill 003. I like the quality and thickness of the paper in this refill.  I have also tried Refill 013 but prefer the thickness of the pages in 003.

I use one notebook in my black Midori for hand lettered quotes and the other as a photo journal, which is what I am sharing with you today. It took some trial and error to find a style for my photo journal that I was happy with. I tried modeling my pages after ones I had seen on Instagram and Pinterest, but a lot of them were collage layouts which I have never quite gotten the hang of making.

Them one day I visited Baum-kuchen and that wonderful experience was the jump-start I needed to fuel my journaling. The creative ambiance and charming displays in Wakako's shop inspired me and a few days later, I used the photos I had taken in her shop to make my first ever journal entry that really felt like me.

Baum-kuchen, Los Angeles
At the time, I was also beginning to experiment with hand lettering, so I decided to combine this with my photos. I wanted to keep each layout to two pages but I also wanted to fit in as many pictures as possible, so I resized them to make them much smaller. This also forced me to choose the photos I felt would best tell the story.

Below are the other layouts in my photo journal so far.
Republique, Los Angeles
Solvang, CA
Sutro Baths, CA

Japanese Tea Garden, SF, CA
Point Lobos, CA

San Francisco, CA
Bottega Louie, Los Angeles
Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado

These are my only entries so far. They are a mixture of travel photos and photos of local restaurants in Los Angeles. I have photos piling up that need to go into this journal, but I recently became obsessed with journaling in another Japanese-made wonder, the Hobonichi! More on that in a future post :)

For now, I have decided to continue keeping the majority of my photos in digital albums on Flickr and Shutterfly, while documenting both everyday and special memories in a combination of journals, simple photo albums, and photo books. I hope you've enjoyed this look at my Traveler's Notebook and thank you for stopping by!


Moleskine, Hobonichi, Midori Traveler's Notebook

Hello and welcome to my blog! I've received a lot of questions about my journals on Instagram, so I decided to start a blog to give those interested a more in-depth look at my journaling process and the tools I like to use. I am by no means an authority on any aspect of journaling. I simply like sharing my personal journals with others who love this form of memory keeping as much as I do. Thank you so very much for visiting :)
pepper and twine. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.