When I first started adding art to my journals I wasn’t aware that I was actually adding art, so much as I was just adding bits and pieces of things like pictures, ticket stubs, receipts, stickers, and a doodle here or there–that was back in the late 70’s-early 80’s. A few years ago I came across the journal community on YouTube and got lost in all the different types of journals, and the different styles and ways that people journal–one in particular was the Hobonichi. I then found out about the Fauxbonichi. Since then I’ve tried out a number of different styles and types of journals, but the thing that hasn’t changed is my love of adding art and words to a blank page.
Over the past few years I’ve rediscovered my love of art and fallen in love with watercolor. In Cathy Johnson’s book “Artist’s Journal Workshop: creating your life in words and pictures,” she states that an artist’s journal is “a personal journal kept by the creative person…your fingers itch to capture the moment…your curiosity is piqued and you search for your own answers, make notes and sketches as you go. You celebrate a milestone or the everyday occurrence. Your journal can be a place to capture all of that, to capture the moments of your life.” And that is exactly what combining art and words is for me… capturing the bits and pieces of my life on the page, whether I am drawing, watercoloring, adding a picture, a piece of collage, a sticker, text… Whether it is about my trip to the grocery store or a day spent with family or friends or the new recipe I tried or my thoughts and/or feelings.
Lately, I’ve been expressing bits and pieces of my life with sketches or watercolor. and I’ve taken it even further by taking myself out on dates for urban sketching or plein-air sketching. In order to that I’ve had to minimize what I take on excursions. Instead of taking my “journal travel bag,” which includes a lot more. My family and friends, even Mr. Rockstar, looked at me funny when I walked in carrying a large pink satchel bag or my bookbag or leather messenger bag (depending on the mood and/or where I was going) and then broke out my journal “stuff,” which is quite a bit of stuff even in my journal travel bag. But to go urban sketching, or plein-air sketching no way was I going to be able to tote the large bag, the portable chair, and the camera bag. Nope, wasn’t going to happen, especially in the humidity we have here in the South. So I took out everything. Looked at what I had and broke it down into piles: 1. Need 2. Want 3. Unsure. I took away the “want” items and then went back over the “unsure” items. Minimized my “travel art bag” so that it all fit into one bag. And… here is that video (There is a list of the items I have in the bag in the description on YT. Some of the links are Amazon Affiliate links, which don’t affect the amount you pay, but do help me out a little with supplies and things. 😀
I remember when I first heard about a Traveler’s Notebook. I felt like Dorothy when she landed in Oz… Once I got on the Yellow Brick Road of TN’s I was hooked. Especially after I received my first Jonelifish, which was the not quite infamous Writer’s Bible (an A5 bifold Jonelifish in my custom color–a combination of reds, purples, and a touch of blues). My first TN was a Buteo Bunker. I got Mr. Rockstar and myself TN’s from BB, his in the standard size, and mine in the Wide/Cahier size. BB’s leather is supple, like “buttah.” And it patina’s beautifully, but I’m a color kind of person, and I’d seen Rhomany’s video from Rhomany’s Realm about her Jonelifishes and that was it!!! The colors!!! The leather!!! The uniqueness (not sure that is a word, or what, but it fits so it’s staying) of Jonel’s work appealed to the creative side of me.
I knew that I needed a TN that could house an actual journal/notebook, not just a few inserts. I knew my TN would end up a chunky monkey. I have big handwriting, I like ample room to write, and A5 is my “go to” size for notebooks/journals. But I had to wonder, later on after having both a Wide and then an A5 if maybe there wasn’t a better size… now I can honestly say that nope… the best size for me is the A5. When I got my Writer’s Bible (A5 bifold), I also got a passport sized trifold and immediately set it up as a wallet. I realize that the trifold might be too much bother–opening it up every time you go to use it–for some. I have a Field Note’s size bifold, and an A7 (I think it is called the Micro), that I could use as a wallet, or if I really wanted I could use the personal size I have as a wallet, but I love my passport, and to me having to open it up means that things aren’t as likely to fall out, it’s safer.
The Yellow Brick Road of TN’s has lead me to this:
Yes… those are my TN’s, I also have a few Leather Journal Covers, like the new to me (deep,dark, gorgeous) red leather Hobonichi cover that my friend Maya sent me, or the new to me purple journal cover from Imperfectly Perfekt that looks like a tarot card on the cover–but I’ll get to those in a different post since this post is about TN’s. What I love most about Jonel’s work is that even if you choose the same color, say a Mermaid or the Dark Unicorn, your’s is going to be unique… each one is made by her, it’s handmade. She dyes them, engraves them, paints them, etc all herself. 😀 And each one is unique. A work of art. I have several different one’s in my custom color and not one of them is EXACTLY like the other. 😀 That makes me feel special. The uniqueness of it draws me, the fact that it comes from an artisan–an artist. I have in my head this dream Jonelifish… a likeness of Michael Whelan’s Gunslinger (Roland) standing in the field of red roses with the Dark Tower in the distance on the inside or outside, I’m not sure of which yet, and then on the other side (inside or outside) Snoopy in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night… either lying on his dog house staring up at the sky or on his typewriter (most likely staring up at the sky)… And I’ve started a conversation with Jonel about creating that… what I call my “unicorn” Jonelifish… My DREAM TN. It would, of course, be an A5, because that’s my size of preference. But that’s because I prefer to use notebooks like the Leuchtturm 1917, or Nanami Paper’s Seven Seas Crossfield, or Taroko Design’s Enigma, all of which are A5 sized notebooks, and I tend to put more than one of those in my Jonelifish. Right now I am using several of the trifolds: one houses my Spiritual Omni Journal (book of mirrors/spirit) and my Spiritual Bullet Journal, another trifold houses my OMni Journal and my Morning Pages notebook (which is a Lechtturm 1917), and then there is my Writer’s Bible which houses my Writer Bullet journal and a Clairfontaine notebook that I use as a writing journal.
Just because I use mostly Cahier, Standard, or A5 sized TN’s doesn’t mean that your perfect size TN is one of those. So here are some suggestions based on my experience, and what I’ve heard from others who are also lovers of TNs.
Look at some of the notebooks you already own and love–what is the most common size? Measure the notebook if you’re not sure of the size. Once you know what size the notebook is you can look at the chart I’ve provided (this is based on Jonelifish, and I’ve noticed that size is relatively similar in the TN community but not exact, so base it on having a bit of extra room for your inserts or notebooks to sit in the TN comfortably, especially if you have OCD about overhang (which is when your inserts/notebooks edge hangs out of the TN). For example, I use standard A5 sized notebooks– the Leuchtturm 1917 and the Crossfield and Enigma measure about 5 3/4″ by 8 1/4,” which is why I get an A5 TN, especially if I’m getting a bifold. 😀 (I don’t like overhang at all!)
If you aren’t sure, you can always make your own sized inserts based off of different sizes and try the DIY insert for a week or so to see if you like that size. Spend some time in that size so you can see which one you like the best.
You can look through videos on YT about TN’s, there are a ton out there about various sizes, brands, etc… I find that as a visual person, photos and videos are really helpful for me. You could also ask around… in FB groups, etc…
My Dark Unicorn is a standard sized trifold, and it actually holds an A5 notebook plus an insert, so I was using it as my Omni Journal cover… and I really liked how snugly it held it, but if you want to have more notebooks/inserts/or a notebook and some inserts, your best bet would be to get the Cahier size or the A5, but if you’re looking for something smaller she has lots of options. I just know way more about the A5 sized notebooks/journals. You can always join any number of TN groups on FB, and/or the Jonelifish FB group.
One last thing… As a Brand Ambassador for Jonelifish, I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVE Jonel’s work. If you order from her shop at https://jonelifish.com/ and you use my code “Burgess10” you’ll get 10% off your order, as long as it’s not a custom order. If you’re not sure just ask…
**** This post contains some affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I might receive a small commission (this doesn’t cost you anything) if you purchase something through some of the links I’ve provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love!****
This past April I worked really hard on creating an improved NaNoWriMo/Writer Bullet Journal in a Master Leuchtturm 1917. I wanted the bullet journal to be easy to use, to be easy to read… I wanted it to be functional and pretty. 1 out of 4 ain’t bad.
Since then, I’ve changed things up in regards to my NaNoWriMo/Writer Bullet journal–several times in fact. Here is my updated version of my NaNoWriMo/Writer Bullet journal:
I’m still working on it, and since we basically have 10 days left before NaNo starts I still have some time. Sunday I’ll be showing a flip thru of my Omni Journal, and Wednesday, which is Writer Wednesday on my YT channel, I’ll be showing my updated Writer’s Bible. I really need to go back through my Writer Omnibus and organize things better as well (to be frank, I probably won’t get to that before NaNo starts).
It always gets crazy busy when I have a good idea and I want to start working on it. For example, I’ve been thinking about making tabs and putting them in my NaNo/Writer Bullet Journal, as well as in my Project TN. I’ve also been thinking about cleaning out my desk completely (that means a big trash bag and a few file folders will be needed). But do I have time for any of that? Yes and No. I could make time. Instead of writing this blog post I could be cleaning out the drawers in my desk. Or I could be making tabs. Or I could be folding the white clothes or doing the dishes. I could also be working on the last parts of my outline for NaNoWriMo. I will be working on my desk drawers on Monday while my coffee chat video saves and then while it’s uploading. And on Tuesday, I think I’ll work on the tabs. Tonight I’ll fold the white clothes while I’m watching TV.
During NaNoWriMo I’ll be using my NaNo/Writer Bullet Journal to keep up with everything, but I’ll warn you now: My writing/craft/art room will end up creative chaos, our clothes will get washed but I can’t guarantee they will get put up after I fold them (though I will try), and we’ll most likely be using paper plates and eating easy to cook/make/throw together meals. One of the great things about my husband is that he’s pretty laid back. As long as we aren’t starving, as long as the bathroom and the kitchen are clean (and he’s not a stickler for rinsed off dishes being in the sink until one of us (usually me) can get to them since we don’t have a dishwasher), he’s okay with things. He’ll help me fold clothes, do dishes, etc., especially if he hasn’t worked a long day.