Yippee Cahier!

innocent ramblings of a dilettante doodler

... and his curiously calligraphic predilection for pangrams, pens, and appalling alliteration ...

Sunshine On My Sketchbook Makes Me Happy

Take a look at how lovely your new Shelterwood edition can appear if you simply leave these cherry wood covers out in the sun for a few days.

While the wordworker in me has always been a fan of FieldNotes, my inner woodworker was immediately attracted to this innovative edition.

This Before and After shows the dramatic change that will occur to the cherry when exposed to sunlight. The toolbox I made for my daughter (15 years ago) and the "grip" on my jack plane are also made from cherry.

This Before and After shows the dramatic change that will occur to the cherry when exposed to sunlight. The toolbox I made for my daughter (15 years ago) and the "grip" on my jack plane are also made from cherry.

Black cherry (Prunus Serotina) is one of fine furniture's favorite woods, primarily because it ages so beautifully. Freshly cut it has a light pinkish-brown, cinnamon color, but over time its color will deepen to a distinctively deep, warm, reddish brown. This aging process can be accelerated by exposing the wood to direct UVA light.

Before & After of the raw wood when exposed to direct sunlight. TIP: Remove the "belly-band" before the tanning session or you'll have a stripe of pale showing!

On days when the weather refuses to cooperate furniture makers have been know to carry their projects into the local tanning salon. If you're stuck in the shade another option is to rig up a makeshift tanning terrarium from a foil-lined box and a visit to your local pet-store for a fluorescent "Lizard Lamp" tube to provide the UVA/B rays for a couple of days.

Here is a quick video I made showing how I then apply an easy, fine-woodworking finish to protect and pop the natural beauty of the wood without staining.

If you enjoy those few seconds of Vanessa da Mata's awesome cover of John Denver's hit the buy the whole track on iTunes

Pedantic Perusal of a St. Patrick's Day Pangram

I've chosen to celebrate comically "green" today, both in color and competency. My first Noodler's Ahab Flex has arrived; alongside a bottle of Private Reserve's Avacado and its peculiarly redundant additional "a".  Here you can witness my wobbly attempts at wrangling the resilient nib. The amazing ink makes my amateurish attempt appear much better than it deserves.

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs
— anonymous

The use of pangrammatic sentences (any sentence containing all 26 letters of the alphabet ) is a boundless fascination for type designers and calligraphers. This phrase, often mis-attributed to type designer Frederick Goudy, proved quite a challenge for me to space and spell but I claim my own typo as a tribute to the vibrantly verde (yet tragically titled) Avacado ink featured here.

Today's pangram and its friends; a lazy dog and a fleet footed fox, can be found in a 1924 booklet designed by Bruce Rogers for the Lanston Monotype Machine Company of Philadelphia to introduce Frederick W. Goudy's Italian Old Style typeface.

In the 8-point roman, Rogers sets: “A QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG” in capital letters then continues, “& xvj brawney gods flock to quiz them.” Continuing with lowercase he says, “This quotation, evidently from some lost mythology uses all capital and lowercase letters of the alphabet.”

In the 8-point italic, Mr. Rogers has a little fun. His complete quotation in this size is...

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs (old stuff). SEQUEL! (now first published?): FOXY JUDGES TRACK VAL’BLE PEACH WINE & QUIZ ME.

Of course, by 1924 Prohibition was in full swing in the U.S.A., hence Roger's sequel subject matter to “Pack my box, etc.” is an interesting and perhaps subversive commentary on the times. This classic pangram by unknown author was indeed a favorite of Goudy’s until the Prohibition era. Then, the legal thing to do, according to Fred was to return to the “Fox.”

Thar' she blows! A inky shadow of a whale reflected in the unique Ahab clip.

Nathan Tardiff’s pen is aptly named. A refreshing excursion it leaves you feeling more than a little shaky afterwards waiting for your “sea-hands” to readjust to writing on more solid ground. It's a beautiful pen with a warm and comfortable feel in the hand that eases the effort required to maintain a rhythm for its style of penmanship. Oddly? It even smells a little “fishy” when first opened, but that unpleasant connection to the sea will dissipate over time I'm assured by the many other internet reviewers who have gone before me.

A pen so aptly named that I hope its fishy smell dissipates soon.

My Favorite Reviews of the Ahab and the Avacado

NOW PLAYING: iPad Puzzler with a Pen Nib Protagonist

My fascination with fountain pens must partly arise from the simple fact that, like most of us, I spend my days tied to a keyboard and screen. But "digital" also refers to those ten tools we carry with us everywhere and today, I stumbled across an amazingly tactile iPad App that makes my fingers happy by turning guileful, galloping, gestures into a gorgeous game.


Blek (that can possible sound like it's spelled?) is a beautiful blend of calligraphy and code. This perfectly produced puzzle deserves a look by anyone addicted to the simple pleasure of making marks come to life.  

Creating a touch experience that truly delights is no easy task. I know from my own trials making my children's book Dragon Brush. I admire not only the detail and design of Blek, but also the care and craftsmanship lying just under the surface it so magically awakens. For $2.99 this extraordinary debut game by the Brothers Mikan can be had for less than the price of good cup of coffee, or a decent ballpoint pen, it will last much longer.

My Favorite Reviews of Blek

WIRED Blek: An iPad Game With Brilliant, Unique Mechanics by Kyle Vanhemert

INDIE STATIK Beauty Of Blek Is In Its Simplicity by Chris Priestman

Stroke of genius ... The magic of Blek is not only the logic behind solving the puzzles; it’s in watching my creativity come to life with precision.
— John Polson, IndieGames.com

Wishing Spring Would’ve Sprung

Early March in Chicago and still no signs of any serious thaw. Today's report calls for another 4 to 7 inches of snow, and It has driven me to ink!  

Therefore, I'm loading up my trusty TWSBI Diamond 580 with Noodler's Apache Sunset while I succumb to scribbling sunny thoughts that bring a smile to my face while you enjoy these links to learn more about this twinkling, tawny treat.

A quick shot on our backyard fence post as the temperature struggles to get to 20 degrees. Natural light (and not much of it ) shot with a Nikon D5100 18-55mm 'kit" lens.

A quick shot on our backyard fence post as the temperature struggles to get to 20 degrees. Natural light (and not much of it ) shot with a Nikon D5100 18-55mm 'kit" lens.

The Sator Square inked with my TWISBI Diamond 580 in a Rhodia DotPad 5x5 80 with a Nikon D5100 18-55mm 'Kit" lens

P.S. It does seem silly to embark on a blog where so many competent colleagues have gone before. What I humbly hope to contribute are these Sator Squares (seen side-by-side) upon pages torn from a coherent collection of common cahiers.

Ink Samples ...

Clairefontaine Basics, Doane Paper Grid + Lines, Fabriano EcoQua, Rhodia DotPad, Moleskine Journal Cahier, and a Neon Yellow Post-It.

My Favorite Reviews of Noodler's Apache Sunset

Noodler's Apache Sunset was the first subject chosen for Stephen B.R.E. Brown's detailed Inkcyclopedia YouTube reviews for FPGeeks.

Ed Jelly's Wonderful Write-up ( from March of last year! Something about the waning days of winter make this color inkdispensible)

Five Cat Penagerie's Exceptional Exemplar

Five Fantastic Flicker Fotos: Brad Dowdy, Jakob Wells, Another by Jakob, Margana, and Pira Urosevic