leather


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’ []

Staedtler’s posh pencil and Atoma’s posh notebook 12

Expensive pencil purchases

There are two pencil purchases I’ve been thinking about for a while. One of them is a Rotring 800+, but with a price tag of more than £40 I haven’t been able to convince myself to buy it yet1.

Every now and then I check whether I find a good offer for this pencil in online stores, on Amazon and on eBay. Earlier this week I was just checking CultPens again (so far they have been the cheapest store for the Rotring 800+ when taking postage  into account) when I saw an offer I couldn’t resist: Lots, really lots, of ‘free’ items if you buy a Staedtler Initium pen.

 

cultpens-initium

So many ‘free’ add-ons…

The Atoma leather notebook

The most tempting of these ‘free’ add-ons was Atoma’s Leather notebook2. Most tempting for two reasons:

  • I am using my Atoma notebooks on a daily basis, at work and at home, and I really like it
  • and I really like the look and the graceful ageing of tanned leather3

…so this notebook was the reason why I went ahead and ordered the Staedtler Initium pencil.

I think I was probably even more interested than I otherwise would have been because of the recent flood of blog posts about William Hannah’s similar notebook after they sent free samples and discounted samples to many bloggers4.

Drool, so much nice stationery

Drool, so much nice stationery

Staedtler’s premium line

I do love Staedtler products, you might have noticed that this blog has more articles about Staedtler than about any other manufacturer5 but so far I haven’t been very excited about their foray into the world of more expensive stationery, their Initium line. Based on the photos I have seen online I think the Initium fountain pens look like cheap ‘own brand’ pens from a high street stationery chain – I might revise my opinion when I see one in reality, though, photos can be deceptive. The pencil on the other hand looks nice to me, but maybe not >£60 nice. So I went with the mechanical pencil instead. On the photos it looks better than the fountain pen, but I couldn’t really imagine how the clip works – is there a spring like in the Lamy 2000?

staedtler-atoma2

Arrived!

Well, my purchase has arrived now, I just unpacked the items. First impression: The body of the Staedtler pencil looks a bit more plasticy than expected, but overall it looks good. The Atoma leather notebook looks just amazingly beautiful!

staedtler-atoma1

I’m very much looking forward to trying all the items out.

staedtler-atoma3

 


You can read more about Atoma in my 2012 blog post about this system.

  1. I guess I should buy it. In a recent Pen Addict podcast they were talking about a similar situation https://www.relay.fm/penaddict/204 , it all reminds me of a Bavarian movie called ‘The sooner you die, the longer you are dead’ []
  2. Mady by Belgium’s Ruitertassen. []
  3. Think Yo no bi, which reminds me: I just hope my Rustico notebook doesn’t get too dark over time, but based on experience with a leather bag I think I will be fine []
  4. including Scribble, Philofaxy, Pen Paper Pencil and Gourmet Pens []
  5. So fat there are 50 Staetdler articles. Faber-Castell, the number two only has  39 articles at Bleistift. []

Rustico Field Leather Notebook 1

rustico3

Last week I got the Rustico Field Notebook I ‘ordered’ from Massdrop in July.

When I saw the notebook I couldn’t resist – the Rustico notebooks, which are made in Utah, are just beautiful. I decided to get the buckskin version. I assume it will darken after a while – a few years ago I bought a briefcase from Wolf Leder, which got much darker / more yellow over the years.

rustico2

I paid $28.80 (~£18.50; €25.30), which included two packs with three Field Notes each. I think I should have only gotten one pack of three Field Notes …and am trying to sort this out for nine days now. Despite having had several emails sent backwards and forwards I still don’t know if I should send the additional Field Notes back and where to. You can see that communication with Massdrop isn’t great, but the prices are fantastic – especially if you are from outside the USA. I didn’t have to pay customs / fees on any of my orders so far.

This wasn’t the first item I got from Massdrop1 – and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The only disadvantage is that you usually have to wait quite a while before you get your items – in this case it took four weeks.

rustico1

Update: Massdrop has told me that I should have only received one pack of three Field Notes and that I should send the other one back.


Price: July 2015

Exchange rates: August 2015

I’d like to thank Michael (from Koralatov.com – currently offline) for the California Field Notes shown in these pictures. He sent them three years ago and I still haven’t used them up – but I certainly enjoy using them regularly.

The Massdrop link contains a friend invitation code.

  1. The Pebble watch shown in on of the previous blog posts was from them, too, and was just a bit more than half the UK price. []

Monsieur Notebook 13

This week: another topic1 that has been covered by Stationery Traffic before – The Monsieur notebook. After leaving a comment at Stationery Traffic’s Monsieur Notebooks post, the founder of Hide Stationery, Tom, contacted me and offered to send me a sample.

Notebook

Monsieur looks a bit like Mr. Peanut

I was very sure that I wanted a tan coloured notebook2, not the brown or black one. Deciding on the size was easy, too. A6 is a bit small unless you want to carry the notebook around, A4 is a bit big – so I chose A5. But what paper to choose? I didn’t want the plain 90 g/m² paper …but the 140 g/m² paper from Star Paper Mills was certainly tempting. In the end Vulcan logic won over Romulan passion and I chose the more practical, ruled version with 90 g/m² paper from BILT industries, a company which traces its roots back to 1945 when Ballarpur Straw Board Mills was established in India. BILT industries is not only making paper, they also manufacture other stationery. One of their pencils has been reviewed at pencil talk. In the future there will also be a version of the Monsieur notebook with 100 g/m² paper from the Finnish paper manufacturer Stora Enso.

Leather

Let’s look at the leather used. The leather is vegetable tanned, which means the environmental impact is not as high as it is with many other types of leather. The leather looks more red than other vegetable leathers I have seen in the past and it certainly didn’t have an artificial grain applied to its surface – you can see blemishes and marks. Personally, I like this natural, slightly rough look very much. It gives the leather a handmade and traditional look. Despite the look, the surface of the leather has a very even feel to it. So nice, that my wife first thought it’s not real leather as the surface is quite hard, but still feels smooth the same time. I have to say that she wasn’t too keen on it, maybe because of the natural look. Not that the leather is like “saddleback” leather in any way, but I would say that if you like matte, raw finished leather, like saddleback leather, and a natural look you will like this notebook – I certainly do. If you like perfectly looking leather with artificial grain, the one you see so often these days, you might not be too happy with the “naturalness” of this notebook.

Paper

Nick using a Lamy Joy (Image © BBC)

The paper performed really well. Even though it seemed to be sucking ink of very wet pens in, the picture shows this effect from a Pelikan M250, the ink didn’t bleed through the page and even though there was slight feathering with very wet pens the paper behaved well with pens that have a normal ink-flow, like the Hero 616 or the Lamy joy. Uncareful erasing of graphite with a Sanford Artgum Eraser did roughen the surface of the paper slightly, but gentle erasing was problem-free.

 

Conclusion

Overall, a great notebook. If you like leather and don’t reject it for ethical reasons3 this is a great notebook. Similarly priced as other notebooks with PVC or plastic covers, the notebook I reviewed here sells for £12.99 (~ $20.70; €14.50), but has a classic, much better feel to it.


Price and exchange rates: July 2011

I started using a new image plug-in. The old one didn’t really work well. From now on you should be able to get a close-up of most images by clicking on them. I would be happy if you could let me know, e.g. as a comment on this blog post, whether this function works well on your computer.

I would like to thank

  • Tom from Hide stationery for the Monsieur notebook, who sent me the notebook free of charge
  • Henrik for the Hero 616 and
  • Kent for the Dixon Ticonderoga.

The photo of Nick Hewer using a Lamy Joy has been taken from series 7 episode 8 of The Apprentice UK. I believe that the use of this image falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. after last week’s Staedtler UK / Tradition 110 post []
  2. which might fit well with my Sonnenleder pencil cases []
  3. Most vegetarians I know don’t mind buying leather []