Would you like to get a customized package of paper goods delivered to your doorstep each month? Then Lost Crates might be for you. Using a visual quiz, they will match an array of office products to your answers from markers to Moleskines for $38 per month.
Stay tuned! I’ll have an interview with Lost Crates next week.
My dear friends over at Tag Team Tompkins showered me with notebooks for my birthday so I thought I might share the goodies with you, my fine readers. The first up is the Semikolon brand notebooks. I received a A4 Paper Block tablet and a composition-style, A5 exercise notebook. It seems their focus is on making their products in an array of delicious colors that coordinate. I got a cocoa and cream exercise notebook and a coordinating striped tablet.
The exercise book has a small window in the matte-finish, coated cardstock covers that you can fill with your own photo or business card.
Inside, the exercise book includes a pocket inside the front and back pockets help give the covers some heft. The paper inside is a creamy ivory with gray lines. A bit more widely spaced than I usually like but not as wide as standard “wide ruled” notebooks.
The tablet contains the same paper but opens from the top like a legal pad and the cover is die cut into a semicolon so that you can see the lined paper through the diecut. While I find it aesthetcially pleasing with blank sheets visible, if you write on the first page, bits of your text will be seen through the die cut. Not a good place for sensitive information, poor handwriting or incriminating doodles of your boss.
Both notebooks use the same paper stock so I only test one book since the results are the same.
All my standard writing instruments performed well on the paper. Its a smooth stock though a bit thin so there is a bit of bleed-through with heavy ink flow. The Uni-Ball Vision and Sharpie that I stole from my husband definitely bled a bit. All the other tools, including two fountain pens, had a slight show-through but not so much so that you could not use both sides of the paper.
These are very clean simple products. If you’re looking for understated looks and minimal branding, I think these are a good choice.
Pardon me while I plug the firm for a moment. For those who don’t know yet, I work full-time as a designer at Hallmark (the Well-Appointed Desk is my passion but not my income) and Hallmark owns this lovely little company called Crayola.
Crayola is what I like to think of as the gateway drug for office supplies. I fondly recall the heady aroma of a brand new box of crayons in the big yellow box with the built-in sharpener. As an anal-retentive designer-in-training, the first thing I did was reorganize all my crayons by color. I looked forward to every August and Back-to-School for my new box of crayons, new shoes and a new backpack, not to mention erasers, notebooks and folders. So I thought I might share a few little-known facts about Crayola’s commitment to, not only children, but to the environment:
A billion Crayola crayons and 500 million Crayola markers are made using power from the company’s solar farm made up of more than 33,000 solar panels
I thought this might be a good time to mention a few of my personal biases when it comes to office supplies.
I do not like ballpoint pens. They never write smoothly for me and always looks cheap to me.
I’m not particularly fond of rollerball pens either. They tend to choke when I use them. I have a theory that its because I’m left-handed. Does anyone else have trouble with them?
I turn into putty if you hand me a brand new blank notebook. I collect them like lost puppies. Hardcover, softcover, and even composition books, I love them all. Now if I only spent more time writing and drawing!
If you haven’t noticed, I prefer blank paper. I am so picky about how pale lines need to be for lined paper and how close the lines need to be that its almost impossible to find the perfect lined paper. The same with graph paper. I write very small with fine line pens and light pencil lead and I don’t want the guidelines to overpower what I write or draw.
I have always been a Mac user so when it comes to digital products, I’m a little Mac-centric. I try to indicate when things are available on other platforms but often times they slip past my attention. My apologies, I’m not a snob just comfortable with what I use and hope that others can overlook my shortcomings.
I believe every desk should have a tape dispenser, stapler, hand pencil sharpener and a good eraser at all times. These are the keys to the Well-Appointed Desk.
Laughing Elephant has created these vintage reproduction French cahiers. Each notebook has the classic look of a vintage composition notebook with cardstock covers with rounded corners. There are eleven different designs in their line of French Notebooks, these are just two of the designs. Inside each book is warm white paper with pale sepia lines.
Each book has just 20 pages but the paper has nice tooth and would be the perfect size for a special project or short-trip, travel journal.
Under my fine writing instruments test, everything performed pretty well except for my Kaweco Sport fountain pen which splined along the fibers in the paper. I suspect its a cotton blend so other tools worked great and felt great. The fountain pens was a bit of a bummer.
The best thing is there is almost no bleed-through, even with a Sharpie so with the average ballpoint or rollerball, you could easily use both sides of the paper getting the most mileage out of your 20 pages. Each book is just $3.95 so its easy to buy more than one and share.
This is the most useful product box I’ve seen in awhile. I’m floored at the amount of thought and ingenuity that went into making the packaging useable and functional for these old pencil sets. The snap closure with leatherette band keeps the pencils from escaping inside a bag or desk drawer.
Not to mention that I was tickled to find an old set of watercolor pencils in such good shape.
The box also folds open to act as a stand to see the pencils and keep them within reach.
I’d be willing to pay an extra couple of dollars for manufacturers to improve product packaging to this level of usability and functionality. Tin boxes that can be reused, paperboard that can double as a stand like this, anything but cheap vacuform or cellophane!
This vintage Dymo was found at the White Cloud Flea Market, still in the box!
Made of heavy industrial beige metal it is a behemoth of a Dymo.
Despite its weight and size, it is one of the easiest Dymos I’ve ever used. The clamp action is smooth and even and it presses the letters with very little effort. I am floored at what a fabulously functional artifact this is. If you ever spy one at a yard sale, I recommend you grab it!
Still available is the Dymo 1011 which is a heavy duty “professional” tapewriter marketing to outdoor and forestry usage. It seems that these large heavyweight Dymos can use Aluminum Non-Adhesive
Well, due to faulty poll software and mixed interest, the votes for my new email address were fairly lukewarm. I did have several people tell me via email, voice and comment that they were amused with chair@… and there were several votes for both girltuesday@… (a play off of my frequently used, homage-to-Jasper-Fforde, internet nom de plume, Tuesday Next) as well as headhoncho@…. , just because its silly.
I’ve decided to use them all. Feel free to email me with comments, questions or suggestions!
On my never-ending quest for the perfect notebook, I decided to give the French-made Exacompta Sketchbook from Exaclair (AKA Clairefontaine, AKA Rhodia) a test drive. This very plain book looks as if it were designed as a refill to go inside one of the Exacompta Club leatherette refillable journal covers as the cover stock is just cardstock and the exposed cloth tape spine is probably not particularly durable over the long term. I quite like the look of the leatherette-embossed paper cover and cloth tape so I did not buy a cover. Also, I could not find an option to buy the Club journal cover with the sketchbook paper included or an empty Club journal cover and wasn’t interested in having the lined paper insert available on Jet Pens. Upon further research, a sketchbook with leather-like Madeira covers is available directly from Exaclair. I dislike the quaint painter’s palette and lettering foil stamped in silver on the cover. A well-placed sticker will be needed to cover this up at some point.
The first thing I noticed that set this apart from other sketchbooks on the market is the foil silver edging. This detail really makes this book feel more like a journal and sets itself apart from the classic black leatherette hardcover sketchbooks that were so ubiquitous in art school.
The end papers are printed with pine tree icons from the I loved the built-in ribbon bookmark even though the ends are not sealed and it was already starting to fray. Moments after this photoshoot, I took a lighter to the edges and sealed it properly to prevent any additional fraying only to discover that its a natural fiber and burned. I trimmed the charred bits off and ran the edges through some clear adhesive (like Elmer’s glue) to seal it. Those handy in sewing could also use Fray Check.
The interior paper is Clairefontaine 100g with a noticeable laid texture and watermark. This texture create fine horizontal lines across the paper that can act almost like rules to help keep your writing straight. It is ph neutral 25% cotton rag and is a lovely warm white color. The pages are sewn so the book does lay flat with little effort which is a lovely feature.
I, of course, tested several types of writing instruments on the paper and you’ll see that the writing stood up off the page with no feathering. I did notice an audible scratching sound when using my Lamy fountain pen on the paper. I went back and re-tested with my Kaweco Sport and the sound was less audible but still present. I suspect it is a result of the laid texture rather than a smooth stock. The absence of any feathering with fountain pen ink may outweigh the scratchy sound but I thought I’d note it if you try to write stealthily, this may not be the book for you.
As for the bleed-through, both the Pilot Envelope Pen and the Sharpie are clearly visible to the other side but neither bled through to the next page. I would definitely say that this book, while it may say “Sketchbook” on the cover, would be excellent used as a notebook for writing or note-taking. I will do some further testing with more art medium in this book and verify whether it can handle any wet medium as heavy-flow markers seem to bleed too much to use both sides of the stock.
Regarding availability of the Madeira leatherette covers, the only online retailer I found that carried the sketchbook with cover was Writer’s Bloc for $19 for the set but it was sold out. The covers are embossed with the word “Sketchbook” in a font I find less than appealing.
Overall, I think this is a fine notebook but will hold my opinion as to its usability as a sketchbook until further testing. The price point, quality paper, silver edging, and ribbon bookmark all make this a good choice for daily jottings. The plain black book sells for $23 on Jet Pens.
I finally decided to purchase www.wellappointeddesk.com so this blog can now be accessed through Tumblr or directly through our own URL. So, now I’ll have an email address specific to Well-Appointed Desk. I thought I’d let you folks vote on what address I use. Vote now or leave a suggestion in the comments. I’ll close the poll within the week. Thanks for your input!
The software I used to generate the quiz yesterday completely crapped out on me today so please vote again! Thanks!
Have you ever gotten the urge to get organized in March or July? Most paper planners have start dates of January, though you can get lucky and find one that starts in September for back-to-school or even rarer one that starts in June. But if that itch to get-it-together starts, say, today, what are you to do? That’s where the Clover Planner comes in to save the day. The pages are noted for the days of the week but the month and date are left blank to fill in as needed.
There are also an assortment of other pages to help you stay on top of things like weekly planning pages, cashflow, notes and sketch sections, pockets for photos and cards, and index stickers.
The Clover Planner is available in green or red for $26.