Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.7mm Lime Green

I had seen some positive reviews of the Zebra Sarasa Clip, so when I saw a tub of these pens at a local store (and in lime green!), I couldn't resist.  And so far, I have not been disappointed.

The Zebra Sarasa Clip is a very serviceable, smooth-writing gel pen.  I have the 0.7mm version, which is not my ideal, but is certainly liveable (and did I mention it is lime green?).  I have used previous versions of the Zebra Sarasa and found them to be excellent pens and the Sarasa Clip is no exception.

One of the most notable features of this pen is, of course, the clip, which is spring-loaded and is arguably one of the best clips I have ever seen on a pen.  I wish all pens came with clips like these!  The clip feels very sturdy and attaches easily onto books and papers.

The grip is tapered towards the tip of the pen, which seems a bit different, and it is quite comfortable, covering all parts of my hand that are touching the pen.  I can't decide whether I prefer it to the grip of the Uni-ball Signo RT or not.  The top section of the pen is made of frosted plastic, while the bottom section is clear.  Obviously this is a very minor detail, but it just puzzles me and I think it looks a bit odd.

The colour, in case you hadn't noticed, is lime green, which is one of those colours that I worry about being dark enough to read easily.  Personally, I don't have a problem with the lime green Zebra Sarasa Clip, although if you generally dislike writing with light-coloured pens, it may not be for you.  This lime green seems to have more yellow in it than the lime green of the Uni-ball Signo DX, and I think I actually prefer this shade.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From the Art Journal: What Have I To Give

These are the last pages from the pamphlet art journal.  I don't have much to say about them; my methods were basically the same as in the previous pages.  I used gel pens, paint markers, and many bits and pieces of patterned and coloured papers.  The hand mandala was something I had already drawn and coloured (many years ago).  All I did was cut it out, attach it to the page, add a few details with paint markers, and add the circle in the centre of the palm.  The words are a few lines from a poem I wrote about a year ago.  The rest of the poem isn't really that good, but I thought these lines weren't bad.

I currently do not have anything to use to create my next art journal in (at least, nothing that would be appropriate for all of the heavy collage that I do), so it might be a while before I am able to post pages like this again.  I will try to post a few pages from my other journal now and then.  Thank you all so much for the kind comments you have left on my previous pages.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Post on Planners, Part Two

My second planner is a simple black 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" binder (the "Classic" size on D*I*Y Planner).  While my other planner is my school planner, this one is my personal planner.  I do not carry it around with me, and most of the time it stays either on the shelf or (closed) on my desk.  I usually only refer to it once or twice a day, as opposed to my school planner, which I will refer to several times throughout the day.  Because of its larger size, this planner is not as portable, but in this case, that doesn't matter.  I keep a black 0.7mm Uni-ball Signo Gel Grip clipped to the pages so that I always have a pen handy.

One of the things I love about this planner is that I was able to pick the exact pages that suited my needs.  D*I*Y Planner has so many planner templates available that it is easy to go a little crazy when designing a planner, but I tried to keep it fairly simple.  These are the pages I ended up with:
  • Harmony - Basically, the Harmony form allows you to make four goals, related to the physical, social, mental, and spiritual aspects of your life; to make one central goal for the week; to keep track of your major projects and identify certain aspects to accomplish in each during the week; and to identify your major roles and things to accomplish for each one.  So far, I've found that using the Harmony form has been a great way to organize the various aspects of my life and to stay focused on my central goals.
  • Habits - I am using this for daily habits that I want to create, for example, exercise, meditation, and writing in my journal.  Every day, I put an X across the box to show that I did that activity (or not, as the case may be).  Hopefully, this form will help me to accomplish some of my goals for 2010.
  • Matrix - For keeping track of my daily exercises, such as how long I do each exercise.
  • Checklist - This sounded so basic and useful I had to add it as well but I haven't actually used this form yet.  Perhaps a list of pens to buy?  Or maybe of books?
  • Meal Planner - An attempt to reduce the feeling of dread that often occurs around suppertime when I realize I have no idea what I'm going to make.  This form will help me to plan my meals for an entire week, as well as to figure out what ingredients I'll need to buy on my weekly shopping trip.
  • Recipe Jotter - If I come across a recipe I particularly enjoy, I can jot it down here, complete with the quantities adjusted for one person.
I really hope this personal planner will help me to accomplish my goals and to stay organized and healthy.  Have you ever used D*I*Y Planner forms?  If so, which ones and why?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Post on Planners, Part One

I decided to begin keeping a planner again in 2010.  In previous years, all I had was a to-do list, which I kept in a small Mead notebook and transferred to a fresh page whenever it became too messy to read.  In addition to this notebook, I had a small pocket calendar to keep track of important dates.  This year, in an attempt to be more organized and to get more things done, I decided to go back to using a planner.  Actually, two planners.

My first planner is a 3 3/4" x 6 3/4" 6-ring Buxton planner with a black vinyl cover, a snap closure, and a pen loop.  I bought it at a secondhand store.  It already contained many blank undated planner pages, and I also added some other pages from a previous planner (which was also purchased used).  This planner also has pockets on the inside front and back covers and slots for business cards.  A previous owner cut a slit in the inside back cover so that a notepad could be slipped inside.  I have added a couple "Today" markers and some plastic pockets.  A black 0.5mm Pilot G-2 has found a home in the pen loop.

This is the planner that I use for school, for keeping track of assignments, due dates, and upcoming exams.  I also use it to jot down ideas for blog posts and other things that I need to do or to buy.  This planner is with me throughout the day, staying open on my desk when I am at home and travelling with me to class.  It has several sections, including the following:
  • Monthly - I use to keep track of important dates, such as dates of exams, due dates of major assignments, field trips, and birthdays.
  • Weekly - for things that need to be done on a specific day, such as minor assignments, quizzes, reminders to bring a certain item with me to class or to lab, and more detailed descriptions of the items entered in the Monthly section.
  • Today - this is meant to be used for appointments, but I usually don't have any appointments so I use it as a general to-do list and place for random thoughts and ideas.  Every morning, I transfer the relevant contents of the previous day to today.
  • Projects - this is a section I currently don't have a use for, but I may try using it in the future.
  • Finances/Expenses - I have been trying to use this section (mainly because I don't want to waste the paper), but I am more accustomed to organizing this information on the computer.
  • Notes - any other random jottings, especially ones that I may want to refer back to often (such as lists of pens I want to buy).
  • Addresses - again, I don't have much use for this section; I am an introvert so I only have a few addresses entered.
This planner is not ideal.  I probably don't need both weekly and monthly pages, and some sections are hardly used at all.  Furthermore, it is in an awkward size and style (6 rings) that makes adding custom pages more difficult.  On the positive side, it is small and portable, and has a snap closure so it doesn't come open in my backpack.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at my personal planner that uses pages from D*I*Y Planner.  Until then, what sort of planner are you using this year, and why?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Staedtler Triplus Fineliners

Believe it or not, I am actually beginning to run out of new pens to review, which is why today I am sharing with you an old favourite, my Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliners come in a multitude of colours and are ideal for quick sketching.  The pen itself is long and narrow, with a triangular shape and no grip, which may not please everyone, but I actually find it fairly comfortable to use.  The tip of the pen does get worn down after a while, but usually that is quite a while.  These pens last a long time (especially the yellow and pink, which I hardly ever use!).  They are supposedly "dry safe" (meaning they can be safely left uncapped for several days), but I have never tested this.

One notable feature of these pens that I have to mention is their case.  The case is made of durable plastic, with a lid that cleverly folds back and snaps underneath, forming a stand.  From an environmental viewpoint, I really appreciate these types of packaging that can be re-used, reducing the amount that is thrown away.  On the practical side, the case is also useful (for obvious reasons).

As I mentioned above, these pens are available in many colours.  Some time ago, I bought the set of ten colours, which included black, brown, light and dark green, light and dark blue, pink, red, orange, and yellow.  As these original colours have been running out, I have replaced them with other colours such as grey and purple.  Generally, I prefer the more muted colours such as brown, grey, and olive green, but that is just a personal preference.

Mandala drawn and coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

From the Art Journal: Winter

I love how these pages turned out; the colours look so chill and icy I almost feel cold when I look at them.  These pages are a bit different from the previous ones as I added the collage items directly to the page without painting a background.  There are also more words on these pages, in this case a prose poem that I wrote describing the view from my window.  I mainly used four pens on these pages: black and white Sakura Gelly Rolls, a light blue mini gel pen, and a metallic silver pen.  I also used a blue paint marker for the word "winter" and a few pencil crayons.

I only have one page spread left in the pamphlet journal, so I'm not sure how many more pages I'll be sharing with you in the future.  I have really enjoyed making these pages, but I haven't yet decided whether I will make another pamphlet or whether I will try something else.  I would use a book with more pages - perhaps a double-pamphlet journal of some sort?  I haven't done much bookbinding so simpler is better.  Suggestions would be welcome.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to Keep a Journal

Three easy steps:
  1. Get a blank book of some sort.
  2. Get a writing implement of some sort.
  3. Every day, write something about your life in the book.
Unfortunately, keeping a journal isn't as easy as it sounds.  How many people have begun writing with the best of intentions, only to find themselves days, weeks, or months later with yet another failed journal to add to the pile?  Here then, are some suggestions for those among us whose journal-keeping habits are erratic at best.
  • Don't feel guilty if you don't write in your journal every day.  If you miss a day, don't waste your time trying to think of something interesting that happened that day.  Just continue on.  I know from experience that feelings of guilt just make it even less likely that you will continue writing in your journal.
  • Just because your journal has been gathering dust on your shelf for months doesn't mean you can't write in it today.  Who cares if there are gaps of months between entries?  I have a journal that I began keeping in September of 2004.  I am still writing in it, and I haven't even filled 20 pages.
  • Set a specific time each day for writing in your journal.  If you don't have anything else to write about, write about the weather.  At least this gets you writing, and it may help you to think of something else that happened during the day that you want to write about.  I nearly always begin a journal entry with a few lines about the weather.
  • Don't feel that you need to have a fancy notebook and pen to keep a journal.  I used to write in my journals with a pencil, because I thought that if I gave up the journal in a few days, then I could at least erase what I had written and use the book for something else.  The result was that I put less pressure on myself and actually wrote more easily.
  • Don't worry about anyone reading the journal in the future.  The important thing is to write for yourself.  Just write about whatever interests you and don't worry about what other people might think.  It's not their journal, it's yours.
  • Don't try to write everything down.  You're not keeping a logbook of every action in your life.  Just write down what you like, and if some days nothing happens that you want to write about and even the weather is the same as the day before, then you don't have to write anything.  Or make something up.  Write about what you would be doing if you didn't have to go to work, school, etc.  Or write about the day from the perspective of your dog or cat.
  • If you feel that your journal entries are stagnating, go back and read over some of your earlier entries, when you were still enthusiastic about keeping a journal.  Hopefully you will think, "Hey, this isn't so bad after all," and you will feel inspired and encouraged to keep writing.
  • Don't feel that you have to write a page a day or anything like that.  Sometimes just a few lines are enough.  I rarely write more than a paragraph a day.
What are your suggestions for keeping a journal?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Black and White

I recently picked up a pair of Sakura Gelly Rolls - one black and one white.  In the future, I would like to have a set of these in many colours, but since black and white are probably the "colours" I use most in my art journal, I thought I would start with these.

Because Gelly Rolls are more often thought of as craft pens rather than as writing pens, I decided to do a slightly different written review than I usually do, drawing this mandala on black and white cardstock:

Overall, the white and black Gelly Rolls are decent basic gel pens.  The black writes very smoothly, but I did experience a few skipping problems with the white.  This could have been due to the different papers I was using them on, and may not necessarily have reflected the actual quality of the pens.  The white is not as white as I would like, but it is slightly whiter than the white Pilot Choose, which I reviewed earlier.

The design of the pen is also very basic, with no grip section, the barcode printed directly on the body of the pen (which really annoys me, but I'm getting over it), and what feels like a rather flimsy clip.  Again, these are more craft pens than writing pens.  Although it may be basic, that is precisely why I like the Gelly Roll: it is a good basic gel pen, and nothing more.

Related review: The Pen Addict

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper

The January edition of the Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper is up, this time at Journaling Arts.  As always, it is an excellent selection of posts on journals, pens, paper, and related topics.  Find out more about the carnival at Notebook Stories.

From the Art Journal: Dark Wings

I made these pages back in mid-December and I am ashamed to admit that I haven't made any pages since then.  They turned out busier and bluer than I had originally envisioned, but I still rather like them.  As in previous pages, I used various patterned and coloured papers, magazine cutouts, and other odds and ends, as well as gel pens and paint markers, on a background painted with fluid acrylics.  The mandala that appears on the left-hand page above was originally paired with the mandala on these earlier pages.  And in case you were wondering, these mandalas were never complete circles and always have had a piece missing out of them.

The words are from Wendell Berry.  One of these days I'm going to use my own words on the pages (making it more of an actual journal).  Usually by the time I get to the point of adding words, I am eager to be finished and find it easier to look up a favourite quote rather than write words of my own.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Paperblanks Journal - Old Leather

I recently bought myself a lined Paperblanks journal in the "Old Leather" style, which is one of the plainer options available, for use as a commonplace book.  Paperblanks journals are available in a multitude of sizes and cover designs, and both lined and unlined.  I particularly liked one design that had a Dickens theme; the cover was based on a page of his notes for his novel Our Mutual Friend.  However, I eventually settled on this one.

It is in the "Ultra Format", has 144 pages, Smythe-sewn binding, a standard pouch on the inside back cover, and "acid-free, sustainable forest paper" although the weight of the paper is not given.  The covers are hard, not flexible, and feel very sturdy.  One problem is that the finish of the cover is of the type that shows scratches very easily.  Luckily, it probably won't be noticed on my version, which is meant to look like old, worn leather. I particularly like the design on the spine.  I was concerned about the label, but it easily peeled off the cover without leaving any residue behind.

The wrap-around cover has a magnetic closure, which is completely concealed within the cover, so that there are no external magnets.  It has some advantages over an elastic closure, which always has the potential to break or become stretched out of shape and is more fiddly to use.  However, the magnet could be a problem if you are storing the notebook next to USB drives or other media.  Perhaps this one is best left on the shelf rather than carried around with your other supplies.

The endpapers are gold, which harmonize well with the cover.  The pages are a pleasant off-white.  The lines are 8mm apart (a bit wider than I would prefer, since I have small writing) and are very unobtrusive.  They do not run to the edge of the page, which some people do not like, but I do not mind because I like having that extra white space around my writing.  I haven't written in many different notebooks or on many different papers, so I can't really say much about the quality of the paper itself.  I do know that I certainly like it.

I did test a few pens on the paper:

(I apologize for this image being slightly out-of-focus.)  Most of my pens are gel pens, so if you would like to see how this paper behaves with fountain pens and inks, I urge you to check out the review at Spiritual Evolution of the Bean.  I meant to show you the back of this page, but then I mistakenly wrote on it (with another Zebra Sarasa).  This pen showed through very slightly, but it is scarcely noticeable.  There was no bleedthrough.

Overall, I am very pleased with this notebook.

Related reviews: Spiritual Evolution of the Bean, Journaling Journeys, Inkyjournal
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