Handicraft


Handicraft with Bleistift VIII – the Memo Book Leather Pouch 6

 

In the previous handicraft blog post I followed Gunther’s instructions and made a leather case for the Pollux. This was easier than I thought. Putting the case together would have been very fast if it wasn’t for getting the needle through the holes in the leather, when sewing different patches together. That took quite a while.

Exited by the fact that the material wasn’t to expensive while the outcome was quite usable I thought I try to make another ‘leather item’, but this time something bigger.

I even found a use for the Staedtler compass(?) with two metal points, that I got in the past as part of an offer

One of the leather items I am using frequently is a Rustico Field Notes leather cover. It’s great, but doesn’t hold as many Field Notes memo books as I have in use1 – so another, bigger case/pouch would be quite useful to me.

USPS leather pouch (image © cor3y721)

Field Notes Pony Express (image © Field Notes)

There is an official Field Notes leather pouch, called Pony Express, but by the time it is imported into the UK it is rather expensive (>£80). This pouch is based on a leather pouch from the United States Postal Service.

 

Trying to make a similar case seemed like a good idea. The choice was to either make a very similar pouch to the USPS or FN version (using modern language I would call it ‘portrait mode’) or to do a ‘landscape version’ with slits in the back so that it can be easily attached to a belt.

I went for the ‘portrait’ version, mainly because it seemed cheaper to get a piece of leather to fit this version, but also because I thought it would be rather unlikely that i would carry the ‘landcsape’ version on my belt. The size of leather I needed was just a bit bigger than one I saw on eBay, but luckily eBay seller leatherandstuff-shop was happy to accommodate me: size-wise the closest patch of leather they sell is 30cm x 30cm, but they were happy to accommodate me and send me 35cm x 25cm for the same price (I need 35cm length for the pouch to work).

As the length, not the width, of the patch needed was the issue I had more material than needed and just cut the leather I bought in half, meaning that for the £11.95 I spent I can make a second pouch.

Once I got to the stage where I had to get the needle through the holes things got very slow again2, even more so because this time I used thicker leather (officially 3mm, but actually 4mm thick), so getting the needle through the holes was just too difficult. To speed things up I went to the garage and got my variable-speed rotary tool (i.e. a no name Dremel copy) to enlarge the holes. Thanks to this tool enlarging/making the holes was very fast and getting the needle (and the thick thread) through was easy, but I’m not sure whether this is a recommended way of making holes. I don’t know much about working with leather, so who knows, maybe these kind of holes will rip out easily, unlike traditionally made holes. The point I want to make is: it worked for me, but this might or might not be a good way of doing it, I don’t know. It was however an easy way of doing it.

After I finished sewing the pouch together I was trying to get it into shape: instead of being very flat I want it to bulge out in the middle part, to make it easy to put the memo books in and to take them out, especially because the leather is so thick and inflexible.

I read that you can mould leather when it’s wet, so I held the case under a water tap. I then put a plastic bag insert in, made from cut up packaging material, but because I didn’t trust the insert to be completely water and condensation proof I didn’t dare to put my real Field Notes memo books in. Instead I filled it with paper of the same size as Field Notes memo books.

Afterwards the sides of the case were clamped down, so that only the middle part gets bulged out, not the whole case. This setup dried overnight and the case was nearly ready, I used some leather balm after the water torture and then I just had to wait a few more days for the push button for the flap to arrive, two were £1.79. Attaching it was slightly messy, just because I didn’t have the right tools, but in the end it all worked out.

..and here is my finished case. I have been using it for over a month now. It still has a strong leather smell, not sure when that will go away, but it is very sturdy and practical.

  1. I have different Field Notes memo books for different purposes []
  2. Despite Craig Charles cheering me up in the background []

Handicraft with Bleistift VII – the Lexikaliker/Pollux/Leather Case™ 3

Time for another Handicraft with Bleistift post.

Pencil point protectors

Since we’re talking about Handicraft posts anyway, my 2010 Handicraft post contained the sentence “my point protector is so simple, you probably thought of it yourself somewhen in the past” – well, there’s proof that people come up with the same idea1, there’s a video on YouTube by tintinonair, explaining how to make these pencil point protectors.

Lexikaliker’s Pollux Case

You might have seen Lexikaliker’s posts about his Pollux cases, first in Basteln mit dem Lexikaliker (14), then a different version in Basteln mit dem Lexikaliker (15).

Well, I went with the more traditional, original version from Basteln… (14).

I have never worked with leather before and don’t have much DIY/craft experience or skills in this area, but Gunther’s drawing and measurements make it very easy to copy his design, which is similar to the leather case you get with the DUX Adjustable Brass Pencil Sharpener DX42774.

Me being inexperienced the whole thing took over an hour, but the time was mainly spent on trying to pull the needle through the holes, using the pliers from my Swiss Army Knife.

Doing the threads both ways, i.e. after sewing through the holes going through them in reverse again, so that the thread is also between two holes on the opposite side of the leather (I bet there’s a word for this) didn’t help speeding things up either.

Disrespecting my Blackwing

Well, I was well entertained, listening to our favourite Scouser’s (Craig Charles) House Party. By the way, Craig Charles previously featured in this blog post. While listening I once thought Arrested Development were singing ‘disrespecting my Blackwing’, but it turns out they were singing ‘disrespecting my black queen’.

Well, the main thing I learned, other than paying more attention to song lyrics, is to try to cut the leather deep enough the first time as the knife I used to cut the leather was so sharp, when cutting a second time the blade won’t end up in the old, but will cut a new ‘channel’.

One thing to do for next time is to get a smaller needle and thinner thread. When I compared the thread to the one on my Rustico I saw that mine is much thicker. With a thin thread and needle the whole ‘pull the needle with pliers, like an ox’ part could have been skipped.

I love the look of vegetable tanned leather and how it slowly changed colour over the years, getting much darker.

Colour comparison (Pollux case on top of a Rustico case) – look how dark my Rustico case darkened over time. I guess the Pollux case will follow soon

The leather cost me £2.25, but there’s enough left to make two more cases. As for the rivet.. unfortunately, I had to buy ten (for £5.49), so I hope I can find a use for the other nine.


I would like to thank Gunther from the Lexikaliker blog for his great plan on how to cut the leather for this case.

You can see the colour of my Rustico case, when it was new, in this blog post.

  1. …from the blog post’s point of view ‘somewhen in the future’ []

Handicraft with Bleistift VI – High tech pencil sharpening: Sharpening a pencil with a hard disk 2

Today: a short video with some high tech pencil sharpening, showing how to sharpen a pencil with a hard disk. It’s Handicraft with Bleistift VI.

..you could use a similar set up for grinding fountain pen nibs.

It might be worth making a backup of the contents of your hard disk before converting it into a pencil sharpener.


Handicraft with Bleistift V – reusing a pen loop 2

After my initial disappointment with Leuchtturm’s pen loop, my pen loops caused problems because of protruding plastic with glue at the bottom, I adjusted my pen loops by cutting the bit of the plastic off that put glue on the pens put in the pen loop and that scratched their surface.  I wonder whether the pen loop has improved since 2011, maybe the problem is gone from later version of Leuchtturm’s pen loop. I haven’t found out yet because I haven’t bought new ones, but reused my old pen loops, as you might already have seen in this blog post. This weekend I have reused the last of my original pen loops, so I took some photos along the way.

before

Leuchtturm’s pen loop in my old diary.

removing

Removing the old pen loop. The glue is quite something.

removedThe old pen loop removed

toolsI’ll attach it to the new diary with a paper riveter I bought in Shanghai many years ago.

finishedReady for another year of action…


Handicraft with Bleistift IV – epic fail 7

A fake Noris. They didn't try very hard, but I'm sure many customers who are not so familir with pencils will buy this pencil because of the familiar colours and patterns.

A fake Noris. The company behind it didn’t try very hard, but I’m sure many customers who are not so familiar with pencils will buy this pencil because of the familiar colours and patterns. It even features a black strip between two yellow sides.

Long time readers might remember my blog post about the Reynolds 432 and the Nataraj 621, both of which look pretty much like a Staedtler Tradition. There are also countless Staedtler Noris copies – previously I’ve mentioned the Fox Essentials. Recently, I’ve come across a quite cheeky copy of the Noris, when one of my students was using it in class. I call it a cheeky copy, because it features a red cap, just like the original Noris …but the copied pencil’s cap is rather ugly in compared to the original.

Noris eco in a Leuchtturm Loop

The Noris eco is my daily pencil. The Leuchtturm Loop has been reused from a previous diary, thanks to a paper riveter.

A few weeks later I also finally got my hand on a Noris eco. I planned to get one from Cult Pens when I order from them again, but then I saw the Noris eco in WH Smith, where they sell for 85p (~$1.40; €1.05) each. I also had a look at my local Ryman, but they didn’t sell them there, even though they sell them in their official eBay outlet1.

Top: Noris eco – Bottom: Wopex 2H

The lovely Noris eco is now my daily pen in my diary’s loop.

One thing I noticed: the green colour of the Noris eco seems virtually identical to the Wopex in 2H.

Top: Noris eco - Bottom: Wopex 2H

Top: Noris eco – Bottom: Wopex 2H

While the Noris has a more complicated pattern2, the Noris eco has a simpler pattern3. I assume this is because it’s not so easy to extrude a thin black strip precisely over a corner.

Now, if the Noris eco is just a green Wopex with black strips and if there are fake Noris (plural: Norises?) anyway, why not make your own (fake?) version from a yellow Wopex?

Yellow Wopex and a Noris

I’ve only ever seen the yellow Wopex in Asda and on Ebay. I assume the ones on eBay were bought in Asda, where they are very cheap.

To increase my chances of getting acceptable looking black strips on the pencil I decided to cover the areas not to be painted with a tape.

The taped Wopex

The taped Wopex. The tape dispenser in the background is an old Bakelite model.

I then used a permanent marker to paint the Wopex. As you can see it all went belly up. Somehow the tape didn’t stick well and the lines from the black marker were not very straight …so I didn’t bother to do the thin strips carefully either. If you want to try it and are successful: Try to do the red cap using nail polish. Pencil Revolution has further instructions.

Epic fail!

Epic fail!

 


Price and exchange rates: January 2014

I’d like to thank Kamil Musial for showing me the “Stationery” Staedtler Noris copy.

  1. It’s difficult to find there, though – they spell Staedtler wrong, even though they do sometimes get the spelling right, e.g. for the Staedtler Traditional [sic] pencil. []
  2. The six sides of the hexagonal Noris are painted like this:
    black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow, black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow. []
  3. The six sides of the Noris eco are painted like this:
    black, green, black, green, black, green. []