Reviews

Inside My Hipster

I've been using my HipsterPDA and this site for about a year now. Doug's been awesome about making lots of new forms for me to use and test out. And I know that a lot of you (after all his forms ARE the reason you're on the site right now, right?) agree with me that it's fun to download and cut out and build your own planners according to your views of GTD or any other productivity methodology you follow, right? Since I've had the chance to use the forms for a year, I thought it'd be fun to show you how I set my hipster up and what forms I've been using.

Let's talk about cases first. When I first started my Hipster I ended up using a plastic case I found several years ago from a local Barnes and Noble. It's translucent blue and has a handle on top. It closes like an envelope and latches somewhat securely. I wish I could give you a nice web link where you can view more information on it, but I have no idea who made it and who stocks it these days. I know that Barnes also doesn't carry it anymore. Then I tried converting over to a 3x5 Moleskine Accordian Notebook. But I found that I wanted more index cards and planner forms than the poor thing could handle. I like thick and full planners. I used to keep all the pages of my classic sized planner in the case, even if I wasn't going to use it because I've always liked books that had weight and substance to them. These days, however, my forms go in style. The latest case is a black 3 x 5 Leather-Rope Accordion File by Levenger. It's perfect for me. I bought it from their site after I started working full time again. It looks a bit more professional than my old blue case and certainly holds a few more cards than it too.

Review : IdeaSpotting

Lately I've been trying to find new ways to push my mind into generating lots of creative content. Tried and true ways of brainstorming seem old and stale to me now. Don't get me wrong... they generate lots of great ideas, many of which become topics for my articles here at D*I*Y Planner. Even so, lately I've felt like I've been in a rut and I needed something new, something odd enough to jolt me out of habit and onto a new, funkier thought path. My something arrived in the form of a book called IdeaSpotting, by Sam Harrison.

Harrison starts out simple, by defining his goal of how the book can train you into finding your next idea. The rest of the 256-page tome of insight and inspiration is jam packed with ideas and quotes; suggestions and exercies to get any brain rebooted into thinking new ideas.

Review: The Decorated Journal

The Decorated Journal: Creating Beautifully Expressive Journal PagesNow, I'm not the sort of man who likes to crochet cozies for his fountain pens, nor the type to accessorise his planner with dangling hand-wrought cameos that match my tie. In fact, if you listen to my wife, you will no doubt hear laments about my inability to even tell the difference between off-white, eggshell, and creme provence, which apparently is the hallmark of a person sorely in need of an expensive interior decorating course. But, these failings aside, I do have an artistic streak that blazes briefly every now and then, inspiring me to consider all the things I could do to bring a dash of beauty into the more mundane corners of my life. A corner in question: my journals.

Once, while shopping with a friend of mine for "design idea" books, I noticed him thumbing through a coffee-table-sized tome that barely had 50 pages, and asked him if it was any good. His response was, "It's $75, and $60 is for the white space." And so it is with many of the books I've seen on the subject of keeping a creative visual journal. In fact, it's one of the reasons why I've left every single one upon the shelves, except for one. That's The Decorated Journal, by Gwen Diehn.

Getting Crafts Done with CraftMemo

I envy organizational web tools like BackpackIt and activeCollab. They keep track of all sorts of great projects from website design to book projects. Even 43 Things is a nifty site that helps me keep a list of all the interesting things I want to do throughout my life and links them up with others who have similar goals. I've got accounts on them all and have tried to use them for my crafting needs, but when it comes right down to it, modifying these great systems for use in art projects just doesn't work as well. Last week, that all changed for me. Enter CraftMemo, the latest organizational web tool to emerge. This website finally gives us artsy types an online tool to track our projects, materials and favorite vendors (online and off) in one handy place.

I'll admit, I was skeptical at first. But being the productivity and online tool addict that I am, I went ahead and created my own account. And after looking around at all the things I could do with this site, and seeing the potential of what this site holds, I was hooked.

Getting Ready for Art: Organizing Your Artist Space

Many people think that you don't need to be organized to create art. For these people, art happens naturally by grabbing canvas and paint and "doing it". However, if you ask any artist, you'll find out that this isn't always the case. I know for a fact that if my studio isn't clean and tidy, all my tools and materials organized and out where I can reach them when I need them, I cannot work on any project. A disorganized workspace tends to stifle my creativity and leaves me feeling like I cannot do anything. Recently while perusing amazon.com, I stumbled upon this book, Organizing Your Craft Space, by Jo Packham. What prompted me to purchase this book was the idea that it focused solely on how artists, from scrapbookers to quilters, can organize their space to maximize their time spent on creating their art. I also liked how it went into a multitude of art styles, rather than focusing on just one art. If you've always wanted to organize your art space or create a perfect place for starting a new craft, then this book is for you.

Review: Book Arts by Mary Kaye Seckler

It's been awhile since I've written more about bookbinding or binding techniques. This week I return to my series of bookbinding (which started here and ended here) by giving you a review of one of my favorite bookbinding starter books. There's a lot of good books out there about bookbinding and more are being added to the shelves. If you have the time and desire, I recommend that you go to spend some time at your local bookstore and read through some of the various books. It can take time and some research to discover which book's instructions help you in making your own books.

Ever since I turned from journal connoisseur to journal maker, I've been trying to find those rare books that teach me how to make interesting styles of books without the technical jargon and confusing stereo instructions written in some language requiring babel fish to decode. I prefer reading instructional art books that contain numeric step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures. After reading a few books in the stores on the subject and finding that most of them seemed to be written in that stuffy, old, college text book style with vary little pictures to reference, I was glad to find this little gem. It's called Book Arts, by Mary Kaye Seckler and it's published by Design Originals. If you decide to buy it, I've attached a link for you to purchase it at amazon.com at the bottom of this article.

Student Tablet PC: OneNote Planner Plugin

D*I*Y Planner within OneNoteTracy Hooten over at The Student Tablet PC has created another Microsoft OneNote file for implementing the D*I*Y Planner templates within that environment: OneNote Planner Plug-In, v2.0. Not having MS OneNote handy (or a Windows box, for that matter), I hadn't actually been able to see what she was up to, till now -- Tracy actually provides us with a nice little Flash-based video telling users how to set up the templates within OneNote for use as stationery. It seems to be somewhat similar to the Mobile Computer article from a few months ago, but simpler and with the new DiyP3 designs. If I had a Tablet PC handy (*cough* got one you're not using? *cough*), I could certainly see using something like this. Not that I'm biased, you understand....

Nice job, Tracy!

PigPog: Moleskines vs Filofax Cost Comparisons

PigPogAs a general rule of thumb, we tend not to link too much to other sites, as there are other places (like LifeHack.org) that do a far better job of keeping on top of these things. But seeing as how our dear friend Steve is yet again practicing his Not Getting Things Done ;-), I thought I'd take this moment to point you folks at an interesting D*I*Y Planner -related post at PigPog. Michael has been recently trying a number of different methods of being productive, weighing mainly a Moleskine against a Filofax, and has created a cost comparison between the two.

PigPog, for those of you not familiar with the site, is a great blog that also concentrates on productivity and creativity, and it's on my daily reading list. On a personal note, I'd like to congratulate Michael (aka pigpogm) and Sam (aka pigpogs) on their impending nuptuals. He actually proposed online, in a blog entry. Fortunately, she accepted, also online. Those crazy kids....

Bookbinding Wrap Up

By now you've spend the past three weeks learning how to make single signature books and perhaps have tried your hand at the more intermediate book. Now that you have learned to create two different styles of books on your own, you're probably wondering where to go from here. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are 2 ways to uncover more advanced bookbinding techniques.

Your first stop should be to visit a bookstore to peruse the shelves of books on binding and crafting journals. A quick search on amazon shows over more than 30 or more books displaying instructions on building and crafting different types of books. From japanese stab bound books to crafting leather wrapped tomes. Look at the end of this article for more suggestions on good books to begin your search. However, if finding that reading instructions out of a book seems confusing to you, or you are not quite sure which of the various tomes of instruction seems right to you, I recommend bugging a friendly employee at the art store and see whether or not someone in your community is hosting a bookbinding class or seminar. More often than not, one employee or two just may know of a store in your area that caters to classes on bookbinding techniques.