Posts Tagged ‘J. Herbin Blotter’


A DIY Journal With Tomoe River Paper


It is always satisfying to assemble a DIY journal for a new year. For 2018, I discovered a leather passport case that will accommodate two Traveler’s Notebooks. It makes a small and lightweight companion that takes up little space, but looks great and offers enough pages to keep the writer in me creative and content.

The notebooks come in diary, blank, grid and lined editions all with fountain pen friendly paper. I prefer the Traveler’s #005 with Tomoe River paper that Leigh Reyes introduced me to a few years ago. Tomoe takes fountain pen ink like a champ, but also holds up to a light watercolor application which makes it fine for small sketches or to add extra color to written pages.

The Sea Green (more teal than turquoise) cover from Banuce is eye-catching and just the right size for the Traveler’s Notebook. It has lots of slots for credit cards, stickers, and other bits and pieces. Another passport-sized cahier might fit, but the Moleskine does not. I might purchase the coral to house all those lists and task notes that clutter my desk. Two notebooks doesn’t seem excessive when it comes to being organized, does it?

The leather is smooth to the touch, but firm enough to give the journal a solid writing surface. Either a writing board or a piece of blotting paper will protect lower sheets, but Tomoe has rarely bled through in my experience. The cover folds back easily for notes on the go.

The snap clasp will keep everything firmly inside. The corners are slightly round, and the stitching consistent. The black edging offsets the striking color and gives the journal a finished look.

The only drawback is the over-sized stamp of the manufacturer’s name. It would have been more subtle centered on the lower edge of the back cover.

This is not a pricey item and durability is hard to predict, but it should last through the coming year. It arrived attractively packaged should you want to give it as a gift. Add a Traveler’s Notebook and any writer would be happy to fill the pages. For less than $15, the cover and notebook make quite the bargain.

Banuce passport covers here and here. Traveler’s Notebook with Tomoe River paper. J. Herbin Blotter Paper. Taroko Design Pencil Board. All links are to Amazon. When you purchase through my links, I get a tiny commission but every penny helps keep this Inkophile supplied with new items to review.


A Doodle Kit Because … Fun!


Does your desk have too much gear on it? Mine, too. Overrun by the bane of modern existence, my desk is cringe-worthy. It’s a re-purposed breakfast table that has seen better days. The surface needs refinishing and gives out splinters liberally. No drawers so everything has to fit on the surface. Covered with stacks of paper and all manner of electronic devices, there is little room for creative endeavors even when I dump stuff on the floor. Anything intended for long-term residency must have a small footprint which is one reason fountain pens suit so well. Being an inveterate doodler as well as a dabbler in watercolor, I have melded the two interests into something small, fun, and easy to use, my desktop doodle kit.

My Doodle Kit

  • small Cotman palette with some favorite Daniel Smith watercolors squirted into empty DS pans – colors that make me smile without mixing or fiddling
  • travel brush(es) and/or daVinci Cosmotop-Spin Watercolor Brush no larger than #5 (smaller bristles afford more control but take up less paint and run out of color more quickly)
  • wirebound Stillman & Birn journal suited to both w/c and ink – folded back to conserve space
  • Pentel Pocket Brush Pen – original black cartridge or refilled with fountain pen ink
  • large blotter so the journal can be closed quickly (J. Herbin offers a good one.)
  • water jar with a lid (up to 8 oz) – start every day with clean preferably distilled water
  • folded paper towel for drips and to remove excess paint from brush
  • fountain pen(s) – whatever is inked

Watercolor palette for doodling

Extra tools:

  • water soluble colored pencils or Derwent Inktense Outliner Pencil
  • black felt tip marker – Sakura Pigma Micron 08 is waterproof
  • dip pen
  • quill brush or hake to lay in background color – sloppy, uneven color preferred
  • shaped brushes like angles, combs, ridges, and shaders like those from Robert Simmons for extra variety

Pen and ink dominate but watercolor jazzes up the pages with wider lines and splotches. The variety of colors and comparative low cost makes paint an effective addition to a doodler’s arsenal.

Watercolor Swatches

These squiggles were made with paint fresh from the tube. Some colors were more cooperative than others and none were diluted with water or worked into the brush. I just dipped in and put the color to paper.

Key points:

  • no paintings but lots of doodles. if something turns into a painting, that’s okay but not the goal.
  • goal is to relax – not tax
  • back, front, upside down – no limits
  • words are okay but long passages should go elsewhere
  • kit can be grabbed for off-site use – not a travel kit per se, but parts could be used for that purpose.
  • a pencil cup to house the pens and brushes keeps the desk tidy
  • not about color mixing but loading a brush and making squiggles so colors need to stand on their own
  • no erasing – who erases a doodle?
  • visitors/guests such as pencils and markers may only stay for a short time. this kit is for my favorite tools.
  • on occasion dip brush in ink but not from the bottle – no contamination allowed
  • 12 half pans (1.5 cm x 2 cm each) is like having a dozen pens inked

If you want to give this idea a try, the dozen Winsor & Newton Cotman half pan paints that originally came in my palette are for sale. You could tape them to a bit of cardboard or tuck them in a metal tin such as an Altoids box for an easy start to your doodle kit. I also have a slightly larger, new Cotman plastic palette with 14 half pans to sell as well as a couple of other kits so shoot me an email if you are interested.  Inkophile*at* will do.

Cotman Watercolors

For inspiration try “Doodles Unleashed” by Traci Bautista. Also, Peter Draws and his journal.

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