Category Archives: Big Ideas

Vari-Dot Grid Research and Bullet Journal Giveaway

This is part of an on going series of posts following the variable size dot grid notebook research and development, aka Vari-Dot. For previous posts please see:

Vari-Dot Grid Research

While waiting for screens to dry and such, I’ve been working away on this Vari-Dot book. Here’s what I’m looking to make now.

(If you’re just here for the Bullet Journal Giveaway, you have to keep scrolling a bit)

Diagram 1: Dimensions of the proposed Vari-Dot Layout book

Diagram 1: Dimensions of the proposed Vari-Dot Layout book

I want a big book. Almost a sketchbook, but with more order. This is a plan for a 9 x 12 inch book with perforated pages and double wire-o binding. Not shown at this scale is the new Vari-Dot graphic that I’ve been testing. Continue reading

Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook Research [Part 2]

This is part of an on going series of posts following the variable size dot grid notebook research and development. For more, please see:
Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook [Part 1]

Notebook Research

If I’m serious about the possibility of making a dot grid notebook, I had to check out some others with some notebook research. These aren’t full on reviews. I don’t need to do a pen test because I’m going to have to choose paper from the ground up. What I do have to evaluate is the construction, dimensions, and general usability. For my test I chose notebooks from Leuchtturm, Miliko, Muji, and Northbooks.

Paper Size/Color

Stack of notebooks

Top to bottom: Miliko, Northbooks, Leuchtturm1917, Muji. Digital caliper is ready for some serious notebook research.

  • Leuchtturm 1917: A5/Ivory-ish; the darkest paper of the group
  • Miliko: A5/Ivory-ish; second darkest
  • Muji: A5/Off white; lightest in the group
  • Northbooks: 5 x 8 inches/Off white, between Miliko and Muji in color

All but the Northbooks are A5, though they do make A5 versions. Honestly I didn’t realize how non-white some of the pages were until I set them all down next to a stark white college ruled notebook. Personally I kind of like notebooks/sketchbooks/etc. to be just a little bit off white. I think on a subconscious level most people do. Have you ever painted the walls of a room with white ceiling paint? Even in printmaking if I can find white cover stock that is around 96 brightness instead of 98, that’s what I prefer to use.

Ruling/Dot Size/Dot Color

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Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook [Part 1]

This is part of an on going series of posts following the variable size dot grid notebook research and development. For more, please see: Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook Research [Part 2]

Today I’m going to share the details (and download) of my latest idea, the Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook.

I’ve always liked stationery and office supplies. With this particular idea, I asked myself if I were going to have a store and offer just one line of notebooks, what would be the best notebook line to carry? There’s lots of great notebooks out there, but eventually it led to me designing what would be the best notebook for me.

Now everyone has different needs and wants from a notebook, so there is no one perfect model or brand. One size does not fit all. Still, I’m pretty pleased with the idea I’ve come up with.

First, I like a dot grid layout. As near as I can tell it was first introduced by Rhodia in 2010. In hindsight it seems like such an obvious innovation that it’s difficult to believe it has been around for just seven years. Still, I feel like there’s room for improvement within the dot grid. Here’s what I came up with.

The Variable Size Dot Grid Explained

Zoomed in example of a square Variable Size Dot Grid layout.

Zoomed in example of a Variable Size Dot Grid layout.

The Primary Dot: It measures 0.4mm in diameter, which is a bit smaller than many others notebooks. The Primary Dot composes the standard grid on most dot grid notebooks. Continue reading

The Big Swatch Book of Silkscreen Printing Inks and Papers

So I’ve been working giving away cranes and new designs, but a new BIG IDEA came to mind recently and I couldn’t help but play around with the possibilities.

Simulated CMYK swatch

Simulated CMKY inks on French Speckletone Kraft

With every print I do I make an effort to try something new and grow a bit as a printer. When I started I was using Dick Blick waterbased textile inks. They are okay for some things, but I stepped up to Speedball Acrylic inks earlier this year and I like them considerably better and the price difference is negligible. My expereience with different papers has been a few colors from French Paper and Domtar Cougar 100# Cover stock. The Cougar seems to do the job and at about 30 cents per 19 x 25 inch sheet it’s affordable. But what would the same print on BFK Rives paper (at more than ten times the cost) look like? Continue reading

Big Ideas!: The Ideal Drawing Table

Last summer I acquired this antique drafting table. It is a style that was made for over 50 years and I’d never seen on in person, but was quite enamored with the cast iron hardware. I had even considered making a table from scratch, but to my dismay no one makes reproduction hardware for the large half circle bits.

As is the aesthetic is almost perfect to my taste. A darker color might be a little better. Functionally it leaves a little bit to be desired. It’s pretty solid all around, but the top rocks a bit. This could probably be solved with a bit of teflon tape around the carriage bolts. The other feature that is slightly bothersome to me is the cross bar that is in the front and back. The back one is fine, but the front one gets in the way of where I want to put my feet. I’m not sure where other people put their feet when sitting and drawing, but mine go right about there.

Lastly there is one major flaw with this table. The drawing surface isn’t see through. This never used to be an issue for me, but with the kind of work I’ve been doing with screen printing it is helpful to have a lightbox. I own a small lightbox, but larger models are much more expensive. Back in college we had drawing tables and dedicated light boxes, but why can’t the two co-exist?

Of course, they can and I doubt I was the first to think of it. Studio Designs offers a number of glass top drawing tables, always mentioning that propping a light behind makes for a good lightbox. The issues I have with most of those designs is that the top doesn’t tilt much and it’s a cold blend of glass and cheap steel. Why can’t we set a glass or plexiglass top into a solid wood table like the one pictured above?

I’m torn between a clear piece of glass, a frosted piece of glass, and a slightly textured piece of plexiglass.

Now I have seen some wood and glass top drafting/lightboxes, but they are usually very large and bulky due to the size of fluorescent bulbs and ballasts. In this age of LED lighting, that shouldn’t have to be the case anymore.

So there you have it: my ideal drawing table. Much like the design above with a clear top, the option to backlight it with LEDs, and relocated cross bar. Now I just have to figure out how to make one. What features would you add to your ideal drawing table?



Big Ideas!: The Non-Mitered Picture Frame

Frame Sketch

Proportions exaggerated to show detail.

I keep a running list of ideas for projects. The name of the list is BIG IDEAS!. When I’m working on one project, often I have another idea for something totally different. It could be for a work of art, a piece of furniture, a method of determining prime numbers, whatever. Some pan out. Some do not. Today I’m sharing one that is somewhere in between. The non-mitered picture frame.

You know by now that I am a guy who makes art. However, I am also a guy that collects art. I don’t always have the funds to buy the art I want, and it’s even more rare that I have the funds to buy frames. Right now I have a good half dozen pieces that are awaiting frames and you know what, frames are expensive.

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