Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My System

Before I returned to class this fall, I thought about how I wanted to change my organization and planning system.  I wasn't satisfied with what I had been using before, and there were also three main issues that made this difficult:
  1. I didn't want to carry a planner around with me.  Most planners contain many pages that I have no use for (address books, notes pages, maps, etc.) and just add extra bulk and weight to my backpack.
  2. The majority of my instructors present their lectures using Powerpoint.  Most students (myself included) print out the lectures ahead of time and add notes to them in class.  Before, I was keeping these pieces of paper in plastic folders, but this got a bit messy, so I decided to keep them in a 3-ring binder instead.  Perhaps my planner could also be incorporated into this binder?
  3. I thought that I would use some of the forms available at D*I*Y Planner, but there were none available in the 8 1/2 x 11" format that were suitable.
Eventually, I created some very simple and plain planner pages myself using Microsoft Word.  The first page has monthly overviews, 2 months per side (shown on the left-hand page below).  This makes the squares fairly small, but they are still large enough for me to write in due dates of assignments and dates of exams (I have small writing).  The next pages contain weekly overviews, 2 weeks per side (shown on the right-hand page below).


I use different colours on the weekly pages for further organization.  Exams are in red (and in capital letters) to stand out, assignments due are in green, tasks to complete are in black, and planning for my blogs is in blue.

The binder I am using for this is a Staples Better Binder.  It also contains my class schedule, and tabbed sections for each of my classes, labs, and seminars.  I only keep the papers that I need for the current week in here; old papers are removed and placed in another binder that stays at home (otherwise this binder would get way too heavy and bulky to carry around with me).

I have been using this system for almost a month now and have encountered no major problems.  I feel more organized than ever (although I still can't seem to post here more frequently!)

What is your system for planning and organization?  How has it changed?  Do you even have a system?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stabilo Bionic Worker 0.5mm Black

The Stabilo Bionic Worker caught my eye at the store recently and, especially since I think I have only ever used one Stabilo pen in the past, I was curious to see how it wrote.  I have been using it for the last couple of weeks and have not been disappointed.  This is a great pen, although it is not without its flaws.


The Stabilo Bionic Worker writes very smoothly, although the ink is rather slow to dry.  I have not noticed any bleedthrough with this pen on any papers yet.  It is available in blue, red, and green, as well as black.  The pen is described as 0.5mm; however, after comparing it with several other pens, I think it appears to be much closer to 0.7mm or even larger.  For my small writing, the Stabilo Bionic is too bold to ever become a favourite, but if you have larger writing or just like bolder-tipped pens, it could be an excellent choice.

Speaking of bold, the orange and black design of this pen makes it easily stand out in your pencil case.  And it also makes the Stabilo Bionic Worker a natural companion to Rhodia pads and notebooks:


The body of the pen is made of a rubbery material and it has a contoured shape: it starts out relatively narrow, gets wide in the middle, narrows again, and widens again at the end of the grip.  It is reasonably comfortable to write with: not uncomfortable, but not the best I have ever used either.  The rubbery body shows a slight tendency to attract dirt; I have noticed a few faint greyish smudges that I had to rub at to get off, but I am being very picky here.

Overall, the Stabilo Bionic Worker is a very nice pen, that is enjoyable to write with, and has an attractive design (although the design and bold colouring may not appeal to everyone or be suitable in all situations).

I haven't written many pen reviews lately, for various reasons: my pencils cases are too full already, I have been busy with classes, and, unless you're The Pen Addict, endless pen reviews can get a bit boring.  I don't have many more items (pens or otherwise) lined up for review, so if there are any items that you would like to see me review, or if you have any other suggestions for future posts, please leave a comment and let me know.

Related reviews: The Pen Addictpencil talk, Rhonda Eudaly, Pocket Blonde, I Love Pens.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Calligraphy Practice

Thanks to all the readers who left cleaning suggestions in my "Garage Sale Calligraphy" post.  On the past weekend, I finally got around to following through on some of those suggestions and I am happy to report that all went well.  I soaked the nib in room-temperature water for a day, I didn't manage to wreck anything, and the nib now looks like new.


That said, I actually used one of the other nibs - the broad version - for my first attempts at calligraphy as I thought that might make things a bit easier.  My first impressions of calligraphy practice is that it is much harder than it looks and it is quite fun as well.  Slowly forming the letters and filling page after page with them is a very relaxing activity as well.  As you can see from the picture, I haven't got as far as words yet - I'm still working on the individual letters and getting used to the pen, to the angle at which I have to hold the pen, etc.

Although many of the letters are still far from the way I want them to look, I am still excited by how some of them are turning out already.  Suddenly even a simply page of letters in alphabetical order looks much more impressive and important.  I especially love the shading.  These are some of my favourite letters so far:


I'm really enjoying my calligraphy practice so far, and I think it will be a nice relaxing activity to indulge in after a stressful day of classes.  I look forward to trying out the other ink colours, as well as the medium and fine nibs.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Small Book of Art

The title of this book is Whimsies, which is appropriate, as it is different from my usual style and is fairly, well, whimsical. I made the book itself well over a year ago in April of 2009 from scrap papers, following the instructions in Gwen Diehn's The Decorated Journal for her "Six-Minute Double-Pamphlet Journal." (If you own the book, there are actually two versions of the double-pamphlet journal. I don't have the book with me right now, so I can't tell you which one I made.)

I used the book for a while for drawings, doodles, and the odd journal entry, but I never really enjoyed working in it, so it sat on a shelf for over a year until this summer, when I was inspired to turn it into this crazy book of art. I used just about everything I had on the pages: collage, paint, many different pens, paint markers, pencil crayons. I even used dimensional fabric paint on a few pages, although that turned out to be a mistake as it caused the pages to stick together. I finished the pages with some of my favourite quotes.


This is not an art journal, because it contains no journal entries and I worked on all of the pages at once rather than page by page, as I would have done in a journal. Rather, it was just a fun project that gave new life to an earlier project that did not turn out so well. This is the first time I have used paint on top of collage; I really enjoyed doing it and I like the effects, so I will probably do that again in future projects and journals.


On a related note, I want to start another art journal. I became rather dissatisfied and even bored with my last art journal, mainly because the format of the book just wasn't working for me. When I finished it, I didn't think that I would want to start another one for quite a while, but, surprisingly, I do. My next one will be spiral-bound, I think, and will preferably have larger pages. Another problem with my last art journal is that I was turning working in it into a chore; I was forcing myself to work in it everyday, even if I didn't really feel like it, just so I could finish the thing. Once something becomes a chore, it is not as fun anymore.

But I'm eager to begin my next art journal, so hopefully I'll find an appropriate blank book soon to create it in. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Garage Sale Calligraphy

I love garage sales - you never know what you are going to find.  I was at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago when I spotted a basket of art and craft supplies.  I glanced through the contents and discovered a Sheaffer calligraphy set.  I've always wanted to do calligraphy, and since the set was only $3 (the original price on the box was $17.50), I couldn't resist.


The set contains 12 ink cartridges (only 2 are missing); fine, medium, and broad italic nibs; a Sheaffer fountain pen; an instructional booklet; and a practice pad ruled for calligraphy.  The previous owner of the set also put in a pad of plain paper and a card with further instructions.  Everything appears in good condition except for the fine nib (the other two nibs look like they have never been used), which was left in the pen with an old cartridge and has dried ink on it:


I'm not sure how I should clean it, so I would really appreciate any advice that you could leave me in the comments.

I can't wait to start practicing calligraphy, so once I get everything cleaned up, look for some of my experiments in a future post.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pen and Paper Related News for September

If you have been wondering about the lack of posts here over the last week, my excuse is that I have been busy packing and moving into my residence at university for what will be my fifth (!) year here.  However, I am (mostly) settled in now, so I should be back to blogging regularly again.  I have some great new posts coming up for you in the next few days, but until then, I'd like to share some pen and paper related news.

First of all, over at Notebook Stories, Nifty has a review and giveaway of several Daycraft notebooks.  Visit her post for a chance to win one of three Daycraft notebooks.

Second, the September Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper is up over at OfficeSupplyGeek.  As always, the carnival contains many interesting posts and is an excellent way to discover some new pen and paper blogs.  For more information about the carnival, including how to submit a post, see this page at Notebook Stories.

Finally, here's a sneak peek at some of the items that may be appearing at A Penchant for Paper in the next few days and weeks.  Stay tuned!

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