Wednesday, August 29, 2007

coffee jotter and finished order

Last night I finished the big order I wrote about in a previous post. I took the book into work with out taking a picture of each of them. So… I’ll snap a quick pic today when I get to work of the spines. Since I can’t show the covers without photoshop anyway, it doesn’t make too much of a difference. I will say the matching bindings in hemp are very cool. The excessive company branding is even cool when you look at how totally random it looks even if it isn’t.

After a week of being used and abused the coffee jotter is standing up VERY well to use. The mylar packaging is showing no signs of wear. The stick-on label is showing slight signs of wear but this is not a surprise. The label is a sticker meant to survive the abuses of a short sweet life on the retail shelf, not the travails of my jeans’ pockets.


I never did get a picture of the books but I did get them to the person purchasing them! He was really happy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

jotter cover ideas

Ideas for recycled jotter covers:

Advertising fliers in the mail- cardstock mailers

Covers from magazines

Paper shopping bags

Laminated plastic shopping bags

Old calendar pages

Old spiral bound notebook covers

Cardstock from the craft store

Advertising signs

Paint chips

Old magazine covers

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Finishing touches

To make your coffee bag jotter can be finished easily now that you've prepared and cleaned your bag. Start by lightly ironing the mylar, use a very light setting on you iron and cover the mylar with paper to protect your iron.

Too hot and you mylar bag will curl. Be careful.

I like to stitch down the flap with a zig zag stitch but you could use any decorative or straight stitch- or not stitch it at all.

Here you can see where I've stitched down the flap. Now you want to trim all the edges and make your piece of mylar square- it's easier to work with this way.

Flip the bag over and measure out the size of your notebook with a sharpie. I'm making a small pocket sized notebook here, so I've measured 5.5 inches down from the top. Trim the mylar to the right size.
Measure the size of your front cover plus 1/4 of an inch- so for my notebook I've measure 3.75 inches in and 'scored" a line with a pencil. Measure the same for your back cover and score again with you r pencil. Fold along the back cover score and fold any remaining mylar to create a flap.
After you've created your flap cut an angle to allow for creating a pocket.
After you've folded and cut your flap stitch the flap down again.
Stack the cover with 15 sheets of paper and use binder clips to hold it in place. You should just be able to see the score mark you made originally.

If you use a sewing machine stitch down that score mark using a wide straight stitch. If you don't have a sewing machine you can punch 15 holes and stitch through them to make your notebook.

Fold along the stitches press hard, use a bone folder to really crease the fold.

Hold the covers tight to the paper and gently hit the spine with a hammer, sharp hits but not pounding hits.
Line a ruler up witht eh back cover and trim away the excess uneven paper.

Here's the finished book. If you don't like how the cover sits, run your iron over it. If the mylar is too flimsy feeling you can raise the temp of the iron and laminate the cover to the first page.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vacation Photos

This isn't at all book related but I'm back from my vacation. IF you are interested in seeing pictures from my vacation, you should be able to follow this link to my flickr account and see all kinds of pictures of Maine. I only loaded some of the best from the many I took. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Prepare a Coffee bag for making a Jotter

Get one used mylar coffee bag.

Flatten it. Trim the bottom of the bag along the seam, just above it. You want as much usable mylar as possible to make your notebook.

After flattening and trimming find the air lock. On some bags it’s clearly visible and other’s it’s harder to find. I noticed that starbucks and Pete’s hide theirs in their logos. Keeping with the theme of keeping as much usable mylar as possible trim straight up from the bottom along one side of the airlock and them up the other side, you’ll be left with a strip of mylar about 1 inch wide with the airlock in it. Discard it.

Use a damp sponge wipe down the mylar. Then use a spray cleaner to continue to clean it. It may take several cleanings to get it clean. Don’t leave any of the coffee oils on the mylar as it will stain the paper when stitched in.

After this you can cut and stitch the mylar just like you would paper or fabric. I like to stitch down the seam along the back of the bag and then sew the jotter as if I was using cardstock.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I'm pretty excited abou this- my newer printer allows me to make toner transfers! This is awesome in so many ways. My old Oki wouldn't work with toner transfer techniques, the new Brother does.

So many possibilities.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Latest Completed Journal Notebook

The Latest Completed Journal Notebook
Originally uploaded by E_Journeys.

Follow the link and read the person's words... very good thoughts. that's how I use and view my jotter notebooks- raw data- I thought I was the only one who used that expression.

Vacation PLans

I’m officially on vacation. I kicked off my vacation with a dinner at a very nice restaurant in a central Mass town near where we used to live. It was very cute and very tasty. Meals were artfully arranged French style but more American fare. It was an expensive kick off to the week but well worth it.

My plans for this week are simple, relaxation in Maine. Heading to a few key scenic areas, making some art and mainly relaxation.

One of the places that I’m heading to is Cape Split in South Addison to see the area John Marin painted. I never understood Marin’s work until I took a wrong turn when looking for an office in which I had an interview and I ended up near Cape Split. It was a brilliant sunny summer day and I had recently seen some of his work in person and was amazed and overwhelmed by seeing suddenly with clarity the scenery in his paintings in person. It was suddenly clear. I could see the shapes in his paintings in the scenery. I guess you have to see it to believe it. I’m hoping for a few clear sunny days while we’re up there so I can get a few good photos in and maybe even some painting. The one big issue I have is that while we go to see some of the area it’s going to be some driving and gas up there is pretty expensive.

The other main attraction that we’re going to go see is Cobscook State Park. IT is amazing, particularly if we have a nice day.

The final place to see is West Quoddy Head. It’s an easy day hike, a few miles only, gorgeous rocky scenery that I never got tired of when I was in Maine. It’s a place that is easy to get to and easy to enjoy and take lots of nice touristy photos. It’s also the location of a pretty gruesome attempted murder- about 5 or 6 years ago a man and a woman were getting divorced and she asked him to meet her at the park to discuss a few things. The decided to hike and she pushed him off a 100 foot cliff as the tide was receding. There was only a few feet of water between him and the rocks, and it almost killed him. He was spotted by tourists and barely saved.

Anyway. I’m looking forward tot eh 9 delightful days off I’m going to have. I’ll be posting to Flickr and her from the road, and we aren’t leaving until Sunday night.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Beer and Moleskine'd thoughts and a future 'zine

One of the things I really love in the hot summer is a good cold beer. I don’t drink a lot but damn in the summer a nice cold beer is wonderful. Today it’s HOT here in the northeast and I’m sweating my a$$ off.

I’ve been editing an article I’m writing for both my blog and for a prospective ‘zine. Well, I thought about the couple of beers I have in my ‘fridge and I decided to crack into one. This is a St. Peter’s Golden Ale. It’s the color of apricots and honey. It’s smooth and easy drinking, light and refreshing, perfect for the summer. It also only comes in very expensive 17-ounce containers. It also seems to be quite heavy on the alcohol…

All that stated my article is going darn well. I’ve got 22 half sized (11 letter sized) single spaced pages of good solid starting out online advice as well as hints and tips for marketing art. I’ve been devoting about 2 hours a day to working on it. I spend my evening writing up notes and ideas I’ve jotted down during my various breaks in the day and random ideas I’ve had while waiting for things to load at work. I print the pages out after all that and when I get home from work, edit the pages and fix all the edits I’ve put into the draft. Repeat process. Tomorrow I’m taking a break from the process as I won’t have free time and I’m going out after work.

So Saturday I’ll be working on it again. I’m expecting a 30 or 40 page half sized ‘zine out of this effort, in 2 or 3 weeks. I’m very very excited.

Give the Gift Of coffee Jotters- Congrats Peter!

One of my coworkers has been promoted; he’s headed off to work with a subsidiary of the company I work for as a traveling coffee guru. I’m unbelievably excited for him. The job entails a great deal of travel in the North East as well as out to Colorado where the subsidiary has its head quarters. How cool is that?

As a farewell and good luck gift to him I’m making him a set of Coffee Jotters made of the packaging of the company employing him. I’ve enlisted the help of several people working in his current department. When they brew coffee for sample they are saving the packaging for me. We’ll see how many packages I get from the weekend but I was able to snag one on Friday and I bought anew package of coffee and made that into a jotter.

These jotters are cool in that I added pockets to the front of each one. One I simply folded the packaging over and stitched it in place before I made the jotter and the other I trimmed the packaging to size and used a piece of the cuttings to make the other pocket. I think they came out really well.

I also did a little experimenting on the mylar. I remembered from high school art class that mylar will tack to itself at a fairly low temperature. One of the packages had a lot of seems that I didn’t want and were too small to trim off the package it would have fallen apart. So I hit it with the iron at a very low temperature, and while it didn’t tack down all the folds and creases in the mylar and plastic disappeared. I didn’t get the results I was looking for I certainly got results that were in the end quite useful. (Cautionary note: When I say low heat, I mean as LOW as my iron would go.) Oh so in the end I ended up simply zigzag stitching over the offending seams. I like the look.

So here are a few pictures of the Coffee Jotters.

I see now I forgot to remove a logo, but we'll all have to deal with it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Just a quick note from my DayJob! The last few nights have been a whirlwind of working on a new 'zine. I realized after reading my post about marketing that I should write up what I know in an article and post it. After a few days of writing it and editing what I wrote and then realizing that it needed to have more added I decided to create a new 'zine. I have no idea what I'm going to call it. I suspect that I'll be done with the writing and editing in a month or so. The focus is Blog and Art marketing online. Thus far I have 21 half sized pages and I'm thinking I'm going to get to 30 or 40.

There will be 1 to 200 copies of the "first edition" and subsequent versions will simply be new editions with added and updated info.. I'm thinking about pricing so after it's all finished I'll print off a few copies and then price them out.

I'm looking at making this a hands on and useful book/'zine for someone starting out or who has been around for awhile. Unlike some of the books and blogs I've read on marketing this will be real tangible advice on marketing and promoting your art or blog.

I'm really enjoying this project as it's taking some of my already written marketing plan and applying it to what other people can do easily to up their hit count as well as recommending useful resources for the artist.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DayJob Sales

One of my coworkers is heading off on vacation, which is pretty typical this time of year what’s not typical is that he has seen some of my work and placed a custom order. He’s getting 5 large recycled journals, 8 matchbook notebooks and a set of jotters. Not to forget the notebook he’s getting for himself. One of the main requests was that I include as many company logos on them as possible, as they are going to his former coworkers. I was more than happy to do that for him. The results are some highly company branded books. I’m finished with almost all of them except for one, his. I’m hoping to get some shots of the finished work tonight and post some highly photoshopped pictures.

Also my DayJob boss bought a large 400-page journal for her best friend who was recently married. I don’t usually like to sell books at work, but I figured what the heck, it’s a one shot deal. It’s always cool to see the reaction of a person who first gets the journal. I never get to see that, because the journals almost always go off into the mail. I’ve gotten to see the reaction twice now. It’s one thing when I make them for someone but another when they purchase them from me- the reaction is similar but so very cool. Anyway, the big smile on my Bosses’ face made my day. I can only imagine how excited her friend is going to be when she sees the giant behemoth of a journal for the first time.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ebay Items

I listed 5 items to ebay today. 1 large recycled journal, 2 sets of jotters and 3 sets of matchbook notebooks. I lost a day of work this weekend when we spent some time at a family function but it’s all good they fed us. (The food was good.)

So you can find the eBay items here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

retirement for jotter

Its time for the notebook that I’ve been using for the last month or so to be retired. I have a particular process that I use each time.

First I reread the entire notebook, I then flag pages that need transferring to the new book. Either it’s information I’m still working on or something I know I’ll be looking for on a regular basis. I have 3 pages that I transfer to the first 3 pages of every notebook- a list of my friend’s phone numbers and volume and weight conversion info. So then I start transferring the info as needed. AS I transfer the pages I remove the post it notes.

When I’m all done I put a label on the spine of the old book- labeling what category it goes into- planner, ideas or what not. I also put a date range on the spine. The book then gets tossed into my bag for another week or two just incase I missed something in the transfer. After that it goes into my slipcase for easy reference.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blog Marketing art

When I talk about “marketing” my art I sometimes get funny looks. So I think I should clarify what I’m talking about when I discuss marketing. Marketing to me is anything and everything I do to promote my art and my website. Think about it, you probably got a website to promote your art but what are you doing to make that happen? If your response is doing nothing then I think having a website is a waste of time. If you aren’t investing a little time each week to promote yourself the effort, time and money of having a website or blog about your art is wasted. If all you do is allow Google or other search engines bring traffic to your site you’re not effectively getting the word out about your work. How can I say that? Because I spent the first year of having my website letting it sit there relying upon Google, search engines and eBay sales to bring people into looking at it. I qualified my website and blog’s dismal failure by telling people that it’s only there to show interested customers and collectors what I do.

Well, where the hell were those interested customer’s coming from? There weren’t many! Someone would email me to ask me about my work, usually from a referral from a friend of theirs who had seen my work so I’d send them to my website. That’s how it worked for quite some time. Until I decided to take it into my own hands and figure out how to get more people coming to my website, to my eBay sales and to me for custom work. Thus my blog was born. I was keeping a personal blog that drove a lot of people to my work- I saw the power in my personal blog (sadly Diary-X is dead now) for marketing and getting people to check out my work. So I started the blog about my art.

Here’s rule #1 about the art blog- it’s all about art and the trials and tribulations of being an artist. You will find very little griping about my personal life here, you will find NO complaining about my customers here, nor will you see much complaining about my DayJob unless it pertains directly to my art. I’ve heard a lot of argument about artist’s blogs and what they should or should not contain. Each blog is personal and you should make it yours however you want. But these are my rules and I’m going with it. So I keep my blog art focused. (This comes from my personal preferences in blogs- I like to read about art, how the art was made and the like; I don’t like to read about some one’s dog puking on the carpet, cooking dinner or what grades the kids got. I read other blogs for that sort of personal info.)

Rule #2 about the blog is: promote it. Trade links whenever possible, get featured on websites whenever possible. Provide links in the bottom of your every email address. The signature file of emails is a secret and powerful weapon for artists. At the bottom of every email people get form me- I provide a link to my blog. I have the address to my website on my business cards. Now if someone asks me about my art I tell him or her to check out my blog- they can learn far more about my art and me through it than they ever could have before.

Rule #3 about the blog. Use it. Post regularly. Most blogs have the feature of saving entries (Wordpress and Blogger) so that you can publish them later, work on them more or what have you. This is a rule I break a lot. I’ll post 10 entries over a weekend instead of spreading them out across the week. So that’s a change you’ll see instituted on this blog asap.
Marketing shouldn’t be a dirty word for the artist and crafts person- we just need to change our thinking of it form a big corporate idea to think that it’s just thinking about how we’re going to get more people to look and buy our work.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

marketing this

Holy moley it’s freaking HOT here in Mass. I’ve been printing lines on paper and the paper and printed are not liking the humidity.

The printer keeps jamming because the paper keeps curling. So instead of hitting print and walking away par usual, I have to listen for the printer not printing and then come back, fix the darn thing and then go back to what I’m doing.

It’s mildly frustrating. Especially as I have a lot of paper to print- I’ve got a l;arge order lined up and I need to print it now, I’d rather wait but I can’t.

I’ve also worked on my marketing plan over the last few weeks. I’ve got a good outline of what I need to do now I’m just in process of picking out actual actionable items to add to it. I need a good plan to follow otherwise I won’t do much of anything. Essentially the plan involved 4 to 8 hours a week of additional work- over an above work on the website, making books, ebay and etsy. The goal is to get more people reading my blog and interested in my books. The plan utilizes what I already do plus some use of google analytics.

Have I written about how much I’m in love with google analytics? It’s freaking awesome. If you’re an artist trying to learn more about the visitors to your website, blog or other site you can use analytics pretty easily. There are a lot of screens to look at and see: where your customers/readers are coming from, how long they stay, what they look at, where they are from, among a large number of other things. You can also set up specific pages and entries to track. It’s highly customizable and the reports are really useful.

I’ve analyzed (yes I’m a total geek and this is what I partially do for my job) some of the reports to see where I can improve my links, referrals, and length of time spent on my site.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with how much time I spent on the plan today so I congratulated myself with a bottle of Magic Hat Hocus Pocus. I rarely drink these days but occasionally a nice ice cold beer is very nice.

Matcbook notebook redux!

It seems my little matchbook notebook re-design has led to some great interest! I'm pretty excited to say that my stuff is going to be featured on yet another blog!

You'll be able to read more about it here:

Saturday, August 04, 2007

ebay and etsy sales

I’ve got 4 auctions ending Sunday. One each for the following items: PenSlip, Recycled Sign Cover notebook, Hedgehog with Graph Paper, and a hedgehog with cardstock pages.

I’ve got 3 items just listed, a set of 6 jotters, a set of graph paper jotters, and a set of recycled matchbook notebooks.

I’ve got some low buy-it-now prices and I’ve opened up my shipping to offer first class mail rather than just priority mail. I actually added this option after the USPS upped the price on their priority mail shipping but never announced it. I still believe that in most cases priority mail is the best way to go, especially if your ordering multiple items but I thought I’d give people a choice.

I”ll be loading some items up to etsy today as well. I’ve got a load of items on etsy- too many to list but you can see them all here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Coffee Jotters

If you know me personally you know tht I love coffee. I love almost all forms of coffee but my favorite is fresh locally roasted coffee. There is really nothing like it. It’s a flavor sensation unlike any other coffee. Once you’ve had a really good fresh roasted coffee you can’t go back to folgers or other commercially available ground coffees.

My recent excursions into locally roasted coffee have led me to several new brands. One is not really a new brand it belongs to the coffee shop I walk to in my town called Atomic Coffee. The roast and brew their coffee on the premises and in the front room of their shop you can see the roaster. Coffee is fairly priced and damn good, plus they offer free WiFi.

Recently they have started to sell their coffee in limited amounts in some local stores. I saw a bag recently and had to buy it. Wonderful, even better at home than in the store. Truly awesome. If you are ever in Beverly Mass, I suggest you get over to Atomic and have some coffee and buy a bag to take home.

Then a recent excursion had me run into a brand called Karma Coffee. Silver foil bag and an elephant on the label. I was told by the guy selling it (Dan) that it’s a small roaster and coffee shop in Weston Mass. They roast in small batches and sell a lot of coffee. I was game so I bought myself a bag of Ethiopian Harrrar I can’t compare it to the stuff in the shop but if it’s half as good as the stuff I brewed at home that it’s got to be amazing stuff.

At this point you have got to be asking yourself what this has to do with bookbinding.


I took one look at the bags and I wondered how I could make that into a book. Seriously I almost always think about how I can make something into a book. A coworker pointed out a sign- made of thick 1/8th inch plastic and asked if I could somehow make that into a book. I said of course I can.

So I cleaned the bag out- some spray cleaner really helped. (a quick I noticed item here- the locally roasted bags had far fewer oils on the inside of the bag than a non-local fresh roast bag that I also tried this with, and thus were far easier to clean.)

I then cut the vacuum valve off, and trimmed the bag to a useable piece. I then stitched it just like I would a regular jotter. I then trimmed it all down to the right size.

On a recycling note, most coffee bags are made of mylar and layered with plastic. They are not very recyclable. While I wasn’t able to re-use and upcycle ALL the bag I was able to get a lot of the bag into a new use. I’m pretty happy with it.

These are all mine, and not for sale.

An Ode to Jotter's and a slip case

I’ve wanted to write a post about my favorite notebook of all time: the Jotter. I used the dimensions of the Moleskine Cahier and adapted it to work for me. I eschew the pocket in the back, use only 48 pages (depending on thickness), don’t perforate any pages and use whatever cover material strikes my fancy. They are easy to make either by hand or with a sewing machine. They are also super durable.

Where my other notebooks are pretty and contain a lot of my ideas my Jotters are my filter and my workhorse. Almost everything goes into these little beauties first, and then gets translated to my larger books. This is the spot my rough ideas for posts start, quick sketches for product ideas with brief descriptions, notes for work, grocery lists and yes, my to do lists.

They are a containment device, an idea capture, a funnel and a filter all in one. Because they are so easy for me to make I have no qualms about crossing out entire pages, filling up the pages with UPCs from work, or jotting down my hair brained schemes or funny quotes from friends. At this point everyone I know is accustomed to my whipping out my note book at a moments notice to take a note, jot down a phone number or copy down a to do list.

Theoretically they could be tossed out after I’m done with them but I can’t bear to part with them. There is so much RAW information contained within that I decided to keep them all. I used to have them in a rather untidy stack on the edge of my desk. (Who knows when I’m going to need to refer to mortgage information, or refer to my raw website plans to see if they translated well.) I knocked the stack over a few time and figured I could build myself something to store them all, so I did. I made myself a little decorative slipcase. Using binder’s board I built 4 sides and a base just tall enough to fit the jotters snuggly. It holds about a dozen, give or take what I’ve shoved inside. Now the notebooks sit on my shelf proudly, contained and within easy reach.

I’ve organized them oldest to the left and most recent to the right. I have 2 I refer to on a regular basis- the one for recipes and the one for quotes. When I finish a notebook I get out the label maker and apply to the thin spine a label of what is in it and it’s date range. I keep an assortment of new notebooks in the slipcase to keep everything square and looking neat. This way I can also pull out a new one whenever I need it.

As for the jotters, about a month into being stored and carried in my back hip pocket they get a little curved and a little beaten up. The paper along the spine gets a little worn but the sewing stays true. I’ve abused several of them, as have my friends and coworkers and man do they stay strong.

I set them up much the same way I used to set up my Volants- I apply a series of post it flags in the front, a small stack of post its and a mini 1/8 binder clip for anything that I might want to cart around but not glue into the pages. I carry an assortment of business cards (mine and others), coupons and little snippets in the back. I”ve given up on the PigPog style organization with my new job. I don’t need to have anything that structured, the new job is structured enough. But I DO organize it thusly: work info starts on the back page and goes forward, while all other information starts at the front. My current to do list and shopping list gets a little post it tab and the rest of the book is a catchall. Far more useful this way for my current position than the other styles I’ve tried in the past.