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General Stationery Tutorial

Still not tried bullet journaling? A simple guide to get you started.

Do you love lists? Organising your thoughts on paper? Tracking your goals? Bullet journaling might be for you!

Bullet journaling isn’t a new trend – in fact, it started to become popular around 10 years ago, so most likely you’ve heard of it. It can be used to focus your tasks, track your goals and generally organise your life; often done on dotted paper, but you can use blank or even lined. The point is to customise it your way.

As with starting any new notebook, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all those empty pages. Some people use bullet journals a bit like an extension of a diary or planner – often with a key or index for reference.
However, this can be a big undertaking at first, so my advice would be to start with one or two things and go from there; make them something you like, something fun – books you want to read, top films etc. or tracking your favourite exercise (if you have one!).

To get yourself started, you only need a few basics. 

Essentials:

  • Journal/notebook
  • Pen/pencil

Nice to have:

  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Ruler
  • Rubber

What about paper type? A dot grid allows you to easily draw neater lines & boxes, create charts & tables, and gives you guides to draw banners and embellishments – without hindering your creativity too much. If you want to use blank, lined or graph paper, that’s fine too! 

The biggest task is setting up the pages; using templates and guides can help, especially if you’re using blank paper – draw out a guide on a spare piece of paper and you can use it to trace again and again.

It can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like to make it. Tailor it to your strengths and needs. If all you need from it is a title and some bullet points for lists – perfect. If you want to decorate every inch of paper – go for it!

These simple flags can be made any size you want, and can be used for things like titles or tabs for section headers, or just to decorate the page.

To do/To buy

This is a great one to start with: nice and simple, easy to repeat and can be customised each week/month. (It’s one I use all the time!). I used the dot grid to draw the outlines, then decorated the edges with coloured fine liners. Stars make a fun alternative to round bullet points.

Books books books 📚Aiming to read a certain number of books each month, or just to track your reading for the year? This bookshelf layout can help do that! The “shelf” was created on plain paper, using a ruler and pencil, before going over in pen. You can then sketch out the books in pencil, and outline or colour them in as you finish each book. 

Fancy having a go? I’ve got two styles of dot grid journal in stock:
Moon Phases and Smoky Keys.
Shop plain paper journals and notebooks here.

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Handmade leather journals Handmade stationery cases Stationery

Colour me happy 🌈 journals & stationery made from colourful leather samples

Colour is IN this season


I’ve recently rescued a bumper batch of leather sample sheets and am really enjoying using them! There are some gorgeous colours and textures in there, and I’ve started splitting them into collections such as Mermaids, Monsters and Magic (this is more just for myself, because it’s fun 🤩). 

Here’s some of the things I’ve been making so far:

Soft green leather pencil case – plenty of room for stashing all your favourite stationery items.

This midnight blue goes perfectly with the rich cream leather strap on this A6 lined journal.

Subtly different dusky shades for a new style of book-inspired jewellery: a trio of mini journals for a chunkier necklace.

What a combo 😍 duck-egg blue with bottle green. This one is A6 with blank cartridge paper inside.


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General Notebooks Stationery Stationery Tutorial

How to turn your blank journal into a diary

New year, new diary

So, you’ve got a blank-paged journal and would like to use it as a diary… what do you do? Where do you start? All those empty pages can feel quite daunting!

I’ve put together a quick guide with some ideas to help you out. 

If you’re looking to turn your blank journal into a diary, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got enough pages to last the year. My journals are 128 pages (sides) – here’s an idea of how you could use them.


If you create weekly spreads and do each one over 2 pages, it would make up 104 of the pages (see above image, created in an A6 journal). You could then allocate 1 page per month for a monthly spread, creating it at the start of each set of weeks.

You’ll need more weeks in some months; if you have each monthly layout on a right-hand page, the the next 4 or 5 sets of double pages can be weekly spreads for that month (you’d then end up with a spare blank left-hand page, opposite the next month).

To do the monthly layout, start with a 7×5 grid (days of the week x weeks in the month; it’s easiest to do 5 weeks for all months, because of how the dates fall). 

For an A6 journal, make the grid from squares that are roughly 1.5 x 1.5 cm; for A5 they can be around 2 x 2 cm (it might be a good idea to make a template to copy/trace every month). Write the days above the grid, then add the dates in the boxes.

Add a title for the month at the top of the page, as fancy as you like – make it into a banner, flag, or decorate the word. Here are some ideas:

That’s the main structure taken care of… what else will you need? Maybe a title page at the start, or a couple of pages for a yearly outlook? A page to list birthdays/important dates? You could have ideas/note pages each month, or have a few blank pages at the end for jotting things down. 

You can create your diary however you want, with whatever pages you’d like to add, but hopefully I’ve given you some ideas for a way to start it off. 

Happy journaling!

Don’t forget, you can shop my range of blank handmade journals and notebooks in my Etsy shop 👇

Categories
Art Handmade leather journals Inspiration Notebooks Paper Stationery Stationery

A quick guide to using colour in your handmade journal: pens, pencils & paints

Do you want to use your journal for painting or colouring? Will the paper take it ok? Well, it does depend on the paper type; but generally, if you’re buying a quality handmade notebook, it should take some form of paints. I’ve chosen a few things here for adding colour, including coloured pencils and felt tip pens – just to cover different options!

As mentioned in the pencils/pens write up (which you can find here) the paper in my journals is 140gsm cartridge paper; it will take paints and inks, but some better than others. Ideally for watercolour, you need proper watercolour paper; however, if you’re just starting out or experimenting, the sturdy paper in my journals is fine for testing things out.


Coloured pencils are readily available and easy to use. You can create more in the way of shading and texture with coloured pencils, simply by pressing harder for a darker tone. You should be able to work quickly and easily with pencils, starting light and building up colour where needed.

Felt/fibre-tip pens are nice and bold and bright, creating clean defined lines. While you can’t shade with them as you can with pencils, you can create a graduated effect by overlapping colours slightly with swift, light strokes. Issues? Leave the pen on the paper too long and it’ll bleed through. You can easily write or draw with pens too, making them more versatile. 

You can create simple watercolours quite easily. Start with the lighter colours and build up to the darker washes. Blend/merge colours using wet on wet paint; for more defined areas, you’ll need to wait for the previous layer to dry. The paper may buckle slightly, but will warp if you get it too wet. You can place a scrap piece of paper or card under the page you’re working on.

As with watercolours, you can get heavier paper to use with acrylics, but the paper I use is great for a mixed media art journal. Acrylic paints are easy to just pick up and use. They’re quick drying and, once dry, you can easily paint over the previous layer. You can thin them with water. 

Here you can see the other side of the paper from the mushroom drawings – it shows how much you can see the colours on the other side, and how much the paper warps. If you’re using watercolour or acrylics, I’d suggest not using paints on the other side of the page, but pencils should be ok to use.


Head to my Etsy shop for handmade blank
journals and notebooks.

Categories
Handmade leather journals Notebooks Paper Stationery Stationery

Choosing the right pencils & pens for your journaling journey

Should you use pen or pencil for journaling? What’s best to use in your notebook? Whether you want to use your blank pages for writing or drawing, it’s nice to know how your pens and pencils will work with the paper. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The paper used in my journals is 140gsm cartridge paper (it’s been made using upcycled takeaway cups!). This paper is quite sturdy and will take different mediums; pens and pencils, and also some paints (more on that another time). Here, I’ll be looking at some of the different pencils and pens you might be using for writing or drawing in your journal – you’ll be able to see what each of them look like on paper.

Ever wondered what the letters and numbers on pencils mean? Generally, HB is your bog-standard pencil: H = hard, B = blackness. You can get various grades of H & B pencils. With H pencils, the higher the number the harder the pencil, creating a harder, lighter line. When it comes to B, the higher the number the softer the pencil, creating a softer, darker line.
While you normally associate pens with writing, you can use them for drawing too. There are loads of different types of pens; I’ve chosen 3 I think fit best with using in journals.

So, what difference does this all make when it comes to drawing and writing? Here are some simple doodles to give you an idea:

Use H to create hard, clean lines. The fact that they produce lighter, more precise lines makes them good for writing and technical drawings.

B pencils can be used for sketching and adding texture. Because they’re soft, they can be more expressive; it also makes them easier to rub out!

Biros (or ballpoint pens) are best for writing – great for everyday journaling. But you can doodle with them too!

Fineliners are perfect for journaling; you can use them for writing, drawing or doing your layouts.

Dip pens are just that – pens that you dip… into a pot of ink! They’re often used for calligraphy, but you can use them for sketches, too. Using the different angles of the nib means you can create various line widths and strengths. They can take a while to get used to, but are very satisfying to use once you’ve got the hang of it.

What else would you want to know about the paper quality of a journal or notebook? How about how much it shows through to the other side? As you can see, with the paper I use in my handmade journals, you can hardly see the pencil, while the dip pen and fineliner show through the most.

Head to my Etsy shop for handmade blank

journals and notebooks.