After years of research, I think I finally found the notebook perfect for me: I introduce you to my Midori, the traveler’s notebook that changed my way of live drawing (and also the weight of my bags).
For those like me, who are live drawing and moving often, one of the main problems is that of the tools to carry: the main advice to became a good sketcher is to draw any time you have the possibility; this means always carrying your notebook with you. However, not always when you go out for shopping or just for a coffee you want to carry a big bag with all the material you need. There’s the exigence for a solution very portable, light, still complete.
Smoothing day after day what I carry with me, I arrived to the winning couple made of a spiral A5 notebook and my multi pocket pouch with watercolours and the other tools. But this is a good carry if you decide to pass an entire day drawing. It’s not good, instead, in the case we were talking earlier, of someone wanting to draw just if there’s the occasion.
A5 + pouch = at least a backpack, since a bag is too little to contain and carry both and the rest of my stuff.
So I found myself with a satisfying setup, more or less portable. But not enough. And I continued to look around to find other solutions. We can add to this my passion for findind always new tools for drawing. So, while being in a group about stationery on Facebook I found that inside it there was a faction of fans of a japanese notebook called Midori. They said it is handy, portable, customizable.
Once I read the opinions, I went looking around and it was love at first sight!
The cost is pretty high (about 45/50 euro for the cover, that arrives with a white insert; you can find it here: Midori Traveler’s Notebook Black Leather), so before buying I went to read all I could find on the web. I discovered that there are forums, groups, blogs dedicated to it and a pretty loving and active community. I saw many marvels about it, the customization system conquered me, so in the end I decided to order one.
I don’t buy so often from the web, and generally I’m not in a hurry, but the wait for this notebook to arrive seemed infinite: I was in Italy and I informed my mom and all the family I was waiting for a package. When finally it arrived, I opened it and…it was awesome!
I chose the classic format (characteristic, with long and narrow inserts) in black colour.
The customization method, that at first sight could seem complex, is in reality pretty simple: by joining rubber bands with the main elastic you can fasten the inserts to the cover. Below there’s an explanatory drawing of the inserts’ connection:
Do not be fooled by this system: the bands keep the inserts steady, giving a sensation of a strong notebook, not loose at all.
Generally an original Midori can carry at his most four refills, but on the web you can easily find more spacious ones.
The available inserts are many: ruled, checked, plain, drawing paper, kraft paper…and there are montly and weekly refills too, in case you want to use it as a diary. Also if you search on the web you will find surely other choices from the original inserts (a bit expensive) and some printables for all budgets. Don’t forget, as well, the possibility of creating your own refills with the paper you like more since it’s pretty easy.
Other amazing feature of this notebook is the fact it has pocket inserts. There are those to apply to the cover to create little plastic pockets where to put sheets and memories. Then there are the true pocket refills. With my first Midori I got the Midori Kraft File Refill 02, made of two cardboard pockets, useful for carrying drawing papers and stencils, and the so called Zipper file (Refill 008), a plastic insert made by transparent pockets, one with a zip. This last one is fundamental if you use the Midori for sketching, since you can put inside pens and pencils.
To make my notebook complete, I inserted a big clip to carry the pen I use for drawing (a Pilot BP-S Fine); there is an original Midori accessory for pens, but it wrecks the leather as well and it costs a lot, so I thought the clip, that I already had, was pretty good for now.
Another thing I cannot do without are the little clips to keep the inserts open. Since the refills are more than just one, they open and move, making the use of the notebook not so easy; with the clips keeping them the problem is easily solved. I bought thes at Tiger for few pounds (two, if I remember right).
Now it’s some months I’m using this notebook to live sketch and yet I didn’t get bored of it even a little bit; many drawings I posted here during last times are coming right from there and I sketched them in bars, restaurants, sitting on benches, in airplane, train, bus…I always have my Midori in my bag, with inside the base colours for my sketches. I think it’s handy, portable, perfect and for now the best option I ever found until today.
Are you curious about it? Leave your questions in the comments, I hope I’m able to answer you 🙂
(And expect soon another article about the paper of the inserts I tried 😉 )