The concept and form of the Traveler's Notebook (TN) piqued my interest. I was drawn to the idea of a non-conventional notebook binder in leather, and customization is limited by your creativity. The only issue was the sizes available. My intention was to use a TN for my notes in law school, planner for assignments and reminders, and for fountain pen logs. The sizes that TN is offering were unsuitable for my intended use. As the summer semester break came, I pull the trigger to make a TN based on my specifications.
At an outset, this is a project that is outside of my skill sets. My book binding skill set are amateur as best. I learned from two sources: first, the person who I ask to book bound my undergraduate thesis back in university; and second, YouTube. With the latter, I would watch videos from a YouTube channel named Sea Lemon, and try to imitate and follow each step. On the other hand, I have no leather craft skill set; none, nil, zero... So off to YouTube, and tried some cutting practices with scrap leather which I bought per kilo. As to purchasing the hide, I went to a local shoe shop in our place that has as a tannery, where they sell leather hides, suedes, and tools for leather craft. Fortunately, a sales staff came to my assistance, told her about my plan, and helped in getting the tools I need. A good thing about book binding and leather craft is, some of my equipment like: knives, needles, awls, and cutting mats, can be used in both crafts. The funny thing about this project is that I am cutting, sewing, and binding in my room and on the floor. I tried using a table when I am book binding or having a separate room, but I am not as productive and eager to make things when I am on a table.
My plan is to make three TN covers: two covers will be based on the length and width of a crosswise folded A3 size paper; and one cover will be based on the length and width of a crosswise folded Letter size paper.
(on the left side, top and below) TN cover would carry 3 notebooks, and (on the right side, top and below) the other TN cover would carry 2 notebooks.
The 5 notebooks will each have 25 sheets of 80gsm white paper by PaperOne.
On the second set, the TN cover would carry 2 notebooks, and each notebook will have 25 sheets of 90 gsm cream colored paper by PaperMart.
All of the notebooks will be hand stitched with string. The covers will be made from a 120 gsm Cartolina paper.
For the round elastic which would hold the notebooks and keep the TN closed, holes were punched on the leather and placed brass grommets on the holes. I did this to have the capability to adjust the tension and easier replacement of the elastic.
When I finished these three Traveler's Notebooks, finished the binding of the notebooks, I placed the notebooks on the respective TN covers. Currently, I am using the two A3 sized TN for lecture notes on my five subjects, and the Letter sized TN for notes on announcements and assignments.
As a month passed and classes started, I realized that the notebooks on the A3 sized TN would be insufficient, given that I am making diagrams and my handwriting is big. In addition, I also acquired a 64 gsm Letter sized bond paper by Paperlink Incorporated. I decided to make additional notebook refills for the A3 size using the same paper, and the 64 gsm Letter sized bond paper.
This is the version two of the notebook refills for the A3 sized TN. Each notebook has 20 sheets of the same paper, and hand stitched. For the covers, I used a Morocco textured board and a Kraft board. Fortunately, there were pastel pink and pastel blue on the color selections, so I purchased it and made it into covers. I covered the spine of the notebook with strips of the Kraft board that was discarded from the cover cuttings.
(from left to right: pastel pink, pastel blue, and kraft covered A3 sized TN refills)
For the version two of the Letter sized TN refills, I used a Mica LE 64 gsm Letter size bond paper by Paperlink Incorporated. Each notebook has 20 sheets and hand stitched. For the covers, during my trips on bookstores in our area, I found a Cartolina paper with a 100 gsm thickness, and they have pastel shades of pink, blue, and green.
The plan for the next semester break are the pocket inserts on the TN for cards, documents, and other things.
At the end of the day, one may ask, what is the point of this project? That instead of finding for the material and laboriously binding the notebooks, one can buy online and be assured of the quality. I do not claim that this is better than the original TN; my TN is far, far, far away from the quality of the original. However, I am happy and proud that I successfully made a TN with almost no knowledge of leather or the craft, and with little experience and knowledge in book binding. This was made to fulfill a specification I wanted but is hard to find. Surely I can just buy one, but the value of making things; knowing that you worked on a thing you do not have the skill and still prevailed, is the best value money cannot buy.