The Many Voices of Handmade Notebooks


Last year, at my old workplace, I raided the trash.

I couldn’t resist. Horrified by the amount of perfectly reusable paper and plastic being thrown out (not recycled), I sneaked some home to fuel one of my hobbies – notebook-making.

Every handmade notebook has a personality, so everything you write in them becomes a collaborative effort. You find a different voice. For example, flicking through my Alwych notebook from Orkney that I used during a summer of archaeological work, my words are quite formal and precise. Contrast that with my travel journals full of thoughtful but varied musings.

Recycled and hand-made notebooks are the cutting edge of personal creativity. (Scrap-bookers may disagree.) Just take a look at the elephant dung paper journals Sarah recently found, or the geek couture of these recycled 3.5" floppy disk pads.

Join the fun. Your notebook needs:

A good cover. Tough, shape-holding and light. If it’s intended to be a travel journal, make it compact, waterproof and flexible – for example, canvas stretched over thin cardboard.

Paper – blot-free sheets, folded in half, secured to the binding through their crease by the…

Stitching. This is crucial. Stitched notebooks really survive. Use strong thread that won’t fray, like embroidery thread. Dental floss is ideal!

Make a new notebook, and find a new you.

For a more detailed approach, have a look at Esther Smith’s notebook-making tutorial over atPlanetGreen.

Image: peregrine blue

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.