Summer Vacation

Day 265/365DSC_0729Today I’ve been thinking about all the kids out of school and on summer vacation.  I’m reminded of one of my favourites, the Adventure Journal.

I’ve only heard one story from someone who received an Adventure Journal as a gift.  It went with her on a amazing adventure, backpacking through Europe.  Her journal was a bit different than the one pictured, she was lucky enough to get one with a map cover, depicting the countries of her trek.  It stood the test of time (and weather!) and she’s left with a lovely little book filled with her thoughts and impressions of such a grand adventure.

If you’ve got one (there weren’t many, I don’t even have one!) and have taken it on an adventure, I’d love to hear about it.


Last Call to Participate!

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Last monday I announced a survey I was taking about the perfect paper for your journalling/sketching needs.  Well, today’s the last day and your last chance to voice your opinions!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on paper texture, colour and weight in a quick 3 minute survey (seriously, it’s 5 questions and mostly multiple choice).

If you’re up for it, go here.

Gifts for Dad, Collection No. 1

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Looking for the perfect gift for Father’s Day?  These books have been tested by a few Dads I know, with glowing reviews.  Whether used as a boat log, fishing journal, sketchbook or brag book of the grandkids, these handbound books fit the bill functionally, aesthetically and ethically.  Read on for details.

Starting from top left, going clockwise:

Watercolour Sketchbook*Handmade bookcloth in Stone Grey, this sketchbook houses only 140 lb watercolour paper in landscape format.  Perfect for the aspiring artist!

Indigo Starburst Journal*: This hand bound, hard cover book features handmade paper that I’ve hand dyed with Indigo, creating a unique cover pattern.  Sewn with linen thread to create the stunning starburst pattern down the spine.

Ex Libris Bookplates, Set of 4*: For the book collector or serious reader, label your library with elegance!  Hand carved and printed, this set of 4 Ex Libris Bookplates comes in grey and has ample space to write your name and even a date, if desired.  Printed on self-adhesive paper.

Indigo Fancy Coptic Journal*: A sturdy little book for notes, musings or quick sketches.  Covers are hand dyed washi paper in indigo blue, with matching linen thread stitched along the spine.  Inside, find a mix of paper (blank, graph, kraft) to keep you on your toes!

Grey Tweed Dapper Journal*: Don’t be fooled by the title, this book is as much an album or brag book as it is a journal or sketchbook.  Covers are grey tweed fabric, while pages are a mix of solid white and kraft.  Linen thread is used to bind the book and create the starburst pattern along the spine.

Indigo and Silver Quick Notes Notebook*: A simple, hand bound notebook with hand painted covers.  Fits perfectly in the breast pocket of a collared or polo shirt (pocket protector optional).

Black and White Hand Dyed Journal: A one of a kind journal (there are a few in this series, links in my shop) perfect for writing or sketching.  Great for weekend trips to the cottage or recording daily life.

*Can also be found in real life at brick and mortar shops around Ontario!  Go here to find a retailer near you.  I recommend calling ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Use Your Journal No.6

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Today it’s all about using your journals for recipes, my two favourite things!  I’ll explain my own hacks for transforming a journal to a recipe book, appropriate books to use and some other fun tips!

As you can see, my two most beloved recipe books, above, are suited for different purposes.  The large one stays at home, on the shelf, while the little one is a take-along collection of my most favourite recipes.

DSC_0720This small recipe book is perfect to fit in a backpack, and travels with me when I’m away for long periods of time.  It’s coptic bound, so it lays flat when open, which is perfect for leaving it open on the counter while gathering ingredients (I think all cookbooks should be sewn using the coptic stitch, it’s so practical!).   DSC_0725_fotor

I started this book way back when I was first in art college.  I collected recipes from roommates, a few of my Mom’s best meals, and guessed ingredients from my favourite dishes at restaurants.  It’s one of the first books I handbound for myself, not a school project.  This was an important step to realizing the immense satisfaction of incorporating my own handmade items into my everyday life.

I have always loved to cook and this robust little coptic book of recipes, started in Toronto,  has gone around Europe with me.  It’s pages are filled with delicious things like traditional Florentine Ribollita, my grandma’s oatmeal date cookies, my mom’s chilli, and the BEST tomato spread for crostini from an elderly Florentine man named Giovanni.  The binding is as strong as ever and the pages are all intact – handmade is made to last!

DSC_0706 Once the little book was filled, I needed another book.  This time I went larger, and was more organized than my younger, college-going self.  There are tabs and pockets and sections, it’s all very practical and well thought out!  Bonus: it’s made from a reclaimed cigar box.


Top 4 Tips for Making a Journal Recipe Book:

-Make category tabs by folding cardstock in half and adhering to the sides of pages.  You can do this with glue, but it’s more fun with washi tape that runs the length of the page!  You can make tabs to categorize by meal, ingredients, allergen-free recipes, or even seasons! (ie. Cookies, Meatless Entrees, Beverages, etc)

-I also liked to make a title page on each tab page.  You can draw a picture, use fancy writing.  You could also make a mini index here, listing recipes as you add them to each category.

-If you’re binding your own book, incorporate the odd pocket page to collect recipes on pretty paper, or in a loved one’s handwriting.  You can fold up your own pocket page, or just use opened envelopes!

-In my smaller recipe book I used scrapbook paper for the covers.  I also found fun foodie papers and inserted them at random in the pages: chocolate chips and KD! (Total college-kid food, I know!)

What’s your favourite recipe?  Feel free to share in the comments below!

Spring Time Collaboration

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Introducing the Spring Gift Pack from Graven Feather:
il_570xN.750167387_o8shI am so proud to announce that my Quick Notes notebooks in gold are a part of these gorgeous sets!  They are curated by Graven Feather and showcase the work of a few local artisans and shops.  (and did I mention how beautiful they are??)il_570xN.750038598_7kxb

Housed in handmade paper from Paperhouse Studio here in Toronto, Graven Feather printed on the reverse and hand crafted each folder.  Inside you’ll find all sorts of goodies including one of my handbound gold notebooks, as pictured above.
il_570xN.750041456_5koz Inside you’ll also find a pen from Articulations and several other printed goodies!  (I’m not spilling the beans on the rest of the contents – you’ll just have to get your own to find out!)il_570xN.750165361_pg84 When secured shut (gorgeous!!) it’s the perfect place to keep your cherished ephemera and paper treasures.  The Spring Gift Pack also makes the perfect gift for Mothers day or a special birthday or anyday!

Use Your Journal No.5

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Spring is in the air, the snow is melting/melted and many of us are eager to help welcome the new season.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUsually, springtime means spring cleaning.  Oh joy.

Today’s post is a mix of ‘Use Your Journal’ and spring cleaning, specifically; getting your books, journals and sketchbooks organized and accounted for!  In a fun way, I promise!
DSC_0661My secret weapon to accomplish this, if you haven’t already guessed, is with Ex Libris bookplates.  

Ex Libris bookplates are labels that go in the front cover of your books (journals, sketchbooks, novels, biographies, etc).  Ex Libris is latin and roughly translates to ‘from the library of’.  Therefore, when you write your name in the space provided on each bookplate, you are creating your own library!  What’s more organized than a library!?photo 4

My Ex Libris bookplates are my own designs that I carve into lino blocks.  Then I hand print each one onto self-adhesive paper, making it easy and convenient for you to label your beloved books.  I’ve printed two different designs, each in a few different colours, you can read about my process here.


I’ve even got gold bookplates!  They’re actually quite beautiful and classy, and make a great gift when tucked in the front of a special book for a friend.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA To recap, here are 3 steps to incorporate Ex Libris bookplates into your journalling, sketching and book-collecting lives, making it even more fun to use your journal!

1. Choose a selection of journals/sketchbooks/books to be labelled.

2. Write your name in the space provided on the bookplate.  Some people also like to write the date they start the book.

2a. If you’re giving a special journal/book as a gift and want to put an ex libris bookplate in the front cover, you can write the recipient’s name and the date.  You can also write the occasion for the gift, as a memento for life milestones or achievements.

3. Once you’ve written the info in the space provided on the bookplate, peel off the backing and adhere to the inside front cover of the book/journal/sketchbook.  Repeat for all your most fancy and special books!

Have fun!

Use Your Journal No. 4


Time to use your journals!!

Today I’m taking a trip down memory lane and sharing a journal I haven’t worked on in years.  There are still several pages to go, but that’s the nice thing about journals: they don’t expire or require the latest download to function properly.  You can pick up a journal anytime and continue where you left off.

Today I’m going to talk about keeping a dream journal!  And yes, I totally went down memory lane when putting together this post.  I even searched my bookshelves for my old dream dictionary, which was right beside my well-used but very dusty book on palmistry, and my old tarot cards.  If you’re into all of these things then this is the journal for you!

photo 1 My little dream journal is a small case bound book I made while in art college.  The dark and inky colour palette was inspired by Edward Gorey.  photo 4Six tips for keeping a dream journal:

1. Keep your dream journal, with a pen or pencil, beside you when you sleep.  On a bedside table is good.

2. Choose a fairly small journal so it doesn’t take up too much space on small bedside tables.

3. When keeping a dream journal, the idea is that the memory of the dream stays with you for only a few minutes after you wake up.  By keeping the journal and pen beside you, everything is at hand when you wake up for an easier, more enjoyable journalling experience.  I’m a visual person, so the main image stays with me longer than the details of the dream, so I write first to get it all down.  Then I do a quick sketch if it adds to my entry/if I’m awake enough.

4. It’s most likely not going to be pretty; it’s utilitarian and a record-keeping practice.  Don’t worry about it.

5. Sometimes I start to lose the memory of the dream and details fade away while I’m writing (it’s kind of like taking notes during a lecture with a very fast speaking prof who does not slow down).  When this happens I just make a note that something else happened, but I don’t remember the exact details, instead of trying to remember all the details.

6. It’s fun to look into the meanings of your dreams as well!  There are many different interpretations of dreams and their meanings, find a dream dictionary that suits you!
photo 5

This is a fun and easy way to keep a journal.  It’s also quite interesting looking back and recognizing patterns and recurring dreams.  I’d love to hear about your experiences keeping a dream journal.

Sweet dreams!

Use Your Journal No.3

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Today I’m going to tell you about a fun way to use your journal/sketchbook.  It involves paring down your implements (pencil only) and taking your journal with you.  You may have already guessed; today it’s all about sketching at the art gallery!  Woot!!  photo 1 Here in Toronto there’s the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).  I’ll be talking mostly about this gallery because it’s such a large place and there seems to be something for everyone.  But there are so, so many other galleries both large and small to explore and discover.

When I was in art college, we were told to go to the AGO and practice our sketching skills.  There are so many things there to sketch: sculptures, ceramics, paintings, patterns, portraits, and the list goes on.  photo 1  Here are 7 tips for basic art gallery sketching etiquette:

1. When sketching at a gallery, it’s always best to get in touch with them ahead of time to confirm that sketching is allowed.  (At the AGO they have specific guidelines stating what is and isn’t allowed.  Here it is: “Sketching is permitted in the Gallery except where indicated. Sketchpads must be 35 x 25 cm (14 x 10 in.) or smaller. Please use pencil only (no pens or charcoal)”.  If you’re nervous about a pencil sharpener falling open and sharpenings going everywhere, just take a mechanical pencil instead.  Much easier!  (Especially if it’s the kind with the little eraser on the end).

2. Don’t sketch other people without their permission.  (Obvious, but still needs to be said).

3. If you’re a bit nervous sketching in public, find a less busy wing of the gallery or a quiet nook.  You could also just do quick sketches or gestures, rather than longer more developed drawings so that you only have to stop for a couple of minutes.

4. If you’re working on a specific project, check out the gallery website to see what’s showing so you can plan what section to go to.  Or, just wander until you find something that catches your eye.

5. Always write down what the work is that you’re sketching.  Record as much information as you can; artist, year, medium, influences, etc.  If a piece really sticks in your mind maybe you’ll want to do further research or discover what else that artist has created.  You can also write down which gallery you sketched at, even what section – especially handy if it’s in the permanent collection.

6. As you can see by my sketches, I tend to write a lot.  Sometimes its just impressions of the art and sometimes it’s more practical.  Often my trips to go sketching at a gallery are either to research for a project (practical notes) or they are unplanned frenzies of inspiration (impression notes).  Either way, writing and drawing go hand in hand.

7. After your gallery sketching trip, treat yourself to a cup of tea or coffee at a nearby cafe and admire your work.  I cannot explain just how satisfying it is to spend even an hour or two sketching at a gallery and immersing yourself in art.  Taking some time afterwards allows you to develop any lingering ideas and make notes for your next visit.

photo 4As an added bonus the AGO has a section on their website stating how to get in for free!  The most widely applicable way is to go on wednesday evenings.  The gallery offers free admission to the collection galleries on wednesdays from 6 till 8:30pm.

If this has you planning your wednesday evening (that’s tomorrow!!) and packing your journal and pencils, then my work here is done!  Feel free to share your favourite galleries for sketching below in the comments.

Happy Sketching!


Charity Craft Supply Swap!

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This evening, support a good cause and have some fun too! It’s the Charity Craft Supply Swap at Arts Market on college!

Where: 846 College Street, Toronto
When: 7:30pm – 9:30pm

I’ve been purging and rounding up some real goodies to swap!  (And re-discovering old projects that I’ve started up again!  Of course!!)  I love swaps and can’t wait to see what everyone else brings.

To participate, just bring an item from their list to donate to the Cold Hands Warm Heart Project in collaboration with PARC.  For more info, see the facebook event page here.


Use Your Journal No.2

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People often refer to journals as vessels.  Vessels for words, ideas, thoughts, sketches, etc.  But sometimes they can actually be vessels, the kind that hold things.  I’m talking about journals, books, sketchbooks that are designed to hold things like photos, paper ephemera, ticket stubs and other collected (flat) tidbits.

IMG_2069However, not all journals are designed for this and there is a trick to recognize a journal that is meant to hold things and one that is meant to hold only your brushstrokes or pen scribbles.  The secret lies in the difference between the spine thickness and the thickness of the pages/text block.  The difference between the two indicates the thickness of flat items (stacked) your book can house.

DSC_0672For example, if the spine totals 1″ thick, and the pages total 1/2″ thick, then you can potentially add 1/2″ worth of photos/other paper ephemera.  It’s good practice to add items at intervals throughout your book, rather than all in one spot.  If you put all your photos in one section of your book (or you put too many photos in your book) you’re likely to get the dreaded costanza-effect.  (This is when you cram too many things into your journal/wallet, making it impossible to close properly and the source of much ridicule and many jokes . . . If this makes no sense to you then you probably didn’t watch tv sitcoms in the 90’s.  My apologies).  Basically, don’t add so many things to your journal that it no longer lies flat when closed.

Anyways, that’s about it; put paper ephemera into your journals and write or sketch about it!  Maybe you did some sketching while at an outdoor concert (and saved the ticket stub).  Maybe you were inspired to write poetry while at a live reading event (and snapped a selfie with the author!)  Incorporating ticket stubs and collected items adds new elements and textures to your journal pages and makes for great memory books and albums.

Pro tip: you can even apply this theory to guest books at milestone events!!