How to create your sanctuary

How to create your sanctuary

Chances are, you know a few people who seem anxious, worried, rushed, distracted, or unhappy when you talk to them. Some may say they aren't centred in that moment. It happens to the best of us.

Another way of looking at it is finding our sanctuary. A co-worker once asked me, "do you have a happy place? A place you can go to in your mind whenever you want?" What a brilliant idea!

The beauty of an inner sanctuary is that we can take it with us wherever we go. It's portable! To make full use of this practice, however, we'd do well to have a few reminders around to ensure we visit more often. Creating an outer sanctuary is a wonderful way to access our inner one.

It can be as simple as creating a positive trigger: every time I walk through the front door, I will take three deep breaths and take in my surroundings, for example. I can create a ritual for the morning, evening, or both! I can make a cup of tea and walk around my garden with it, pay a visit to my plants, and check in to see how they're doing.

For some, it's creating a room of their own. A place to journal, sketch or read. Maybe it's a home office or studio decorated just as you like. It might be a favourite armchair next to the fireplace or window, a seat on the terrace, a garden shed turned into your own yoga or music studio. Chacun à son goût!

There aren't any rules about creating your sanctuary, other than, maybe, that it has to work for you. If it helps you reach a state of peace and calm, it's effective.

And a great thing about reaching that state of peace and calm is you're then much more effective in whatever you do. You'll be better positioned for a positive interaction with others. And they may 'catch' your sense of peace. After all, our moods are contagious.

Featured Products from Woodlot

 

 

After some peace, quiet and centring, you may wish to venture outdoors and mingle a bit. Join us next week as we head out to the farmer's market!

Want to know our tips & tricks?

Want to know our tips & tricks?

As a little bonus to our series on writing instruments, we thought of giving you a bunch of related tips and tricks. You may have wondered at times, what is the best way to store this pen? Or, what do I do when my pen is clogged?  

We've also created a game for you to play to reinforce what you may have picked up from this series. Keep scrolling to check all of it out...

How to store your items

Also note:

  • When in doubt, store your pens horizontally.
  • Try to avoid storing pens with the tip facing up since this makes ink run to the bottom of the pen and creates air pockets in the refill or cartridge; this can in turn cause hard starts or inconsistent flow. It can even cause the tip to dry out completely.
  • Remember to recap your pen or retract the tip when you finish writing. This keeps your pen from making marks on pencil cases and also prevents it from drying out.

 

Reviving dry pens

SHIMMERING INKS

Due to the glitter particles in shimmering inks, there are special considerations.

Shake it, but gently. Those sparkles that make your ink glitter will start settling to the bottom of the bottle after ten to fifteen seconds, so you'll want to fill your converter relatively quickly. Also, shaking the bottle gently and slowly is important. If you shake it aggressively, you're more likely to develop air bubbles, which will interfere with capillary action. This means you'll likely experience stops and starts when you write.

Shake it again, gently. Once your pen is filled with shimmering ink, you'll want to roll it in your palms gently each time you use it to write. This moves those glitter particles around to increase suspension. Again, don't shake the pen aggressively in order to prevent air bubbles (and ink in your cap).

Consider your paper. Paper has a noticeable impact on how your fountain pen writes. This is especially true for shimmering ink. You want to use a paper that doesn't eat up all the glitter in your ink, which is what very absorbant paper does (e.g. Moleskine, Inkjet copy paper, most recycled papers). Chose a smooth, ink resistant paper that is fountain pen friendly, such as Tomoe River (found in Midori's Traveler's Notebook), Clairefontaine Triomphe, and Rhodia paper.

Give it a good clean. To prevent the sparkles from building up in your pen, clean it out regularly. You may need a little extra time and a few extra flushes for glittering ink. Consider using a fountain pen flushing solution and taking out the nib, if you can. A toothbrush can also be used to clean the feed.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • J. Herbin ink bottles have a built-in pen rest at the top for your fountain pen. A clever, discreet design feature.
  • A converter can be installed into a fountain pen just like a cartridge.
  • TWSBI fountain pens do not use cartridges or converters. Ink is filled directly into the pen.
  • LAMY fountain pens are designed with removable nibs, so you can swap nib types without changing your favourite LAMY pen, if you wish.
  • To change your nib, use a piece of tape. Stick it to the top of the nib and pull straight out from the tip. The nib will stick to the tape and slide off the pen.
  • As a rule of thumb, the smaller your nib, the more scratchy it tends to be (EF & F), B will be buttery smooth. Actual results vary by brand and model, and may also be impacted by type of ink and paper used.
  • If you suffer from hand cramps, rollerballs and even more so, fountain pens, keep you from pressing down on your pen too hard and provide a more ergonomic writing experience.
  • Dye-based inks are the most common and low-maintenance for fountain pens. Dyes are inherently water-soluble, so even if they clog your pen from drying out, you can clean it with water.

Featured Products

Kaweco pen TWSBI Fountain Pen
Mystique Shimmer Ink Firefly Shimmer Ink 
Rhodia meeting book Lamy Safari Pen
  1. Kaweco Al Sport Collection Vibrant Violet Fountain Pen
  2. TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain Pen ALR Nickel
  3. Diamine Ink Bottle Mystique Shimmer
  4. Diamine Ink Bottle Firefly Shimmer
  5. Rhodia Classic Meeting Book A4+
  6. LAMY Safari Terra Red Rollerball Pen
Figg Street Co. Crossword
We hope you enjoyed our series on writing instruments. Did you learn anything new? Are you inspired to try out a different pen, type of ink, or technique? Let us know! We love hearing from you and aim to help you in creating joyful moments for yourself and those around you.
We promise: no squids here!

We promise: no squids here!

Ink is the lifeblood of a pen. When you buy ballpoint and rollerball pens, you choose your ink at the same time. Most are waterproof. Also, some of these pens offer refills, which is a more environmentally-friendly option.

Pen ink

Fountain pen inks are predominantly water-based and dye-based, though document proof options do exist. Most come with the choice of using a cartridge or converter. There are also models which allow for ink to be directly filled into the pen itself.

 

Cartridges are great for beginners, since they are easy to use and less expensive up front than investing in a bottle of ink. They are also convenient when you travel with a pen and need to refill or change colours on the go.

 

Bottled ink is more economical in the long run, and since it is usually made of glass, doesn't create plastic waste. Also, the colour options and varieties of ink are much, much greater for bottled inks than they are for cartridges, which typically have only a few options.

 

The grandfather of fountain pen ink is J. Herbin, founded in 1670. The "Jewels of Inks' ("La Perle des Encres") was created in Paris in 1700. They use natural dyes in their inks and floral waters (hydrosols) from Grasse in Provence for their scented versions. These inks are still made in France today.

 

Another big name in fountain pen ink is Diamine, which offers over a hundred colour options and is known for its many specialty shimmering and metallic sheen inks. Diamine is based in Liverpool and continues to make its inks in the UK.

 

A couple of qualities you may like to consider when choosing an ink are saturation and shading.

 

Saturation refers to the intensity of colour. Highly saturated inks are vibrant and darker than less saturated colours, which are paler and more transparent.

 

Shading refers to the variation in saturation on the writing surface. Ink may pool in certain parts of the text you are writing or lines you are drawing. This creates darker and lighter areas within a single letter or line. Some inks tend to shade more than others. The pen and paper you use will also have an effect.

 

Inks with metallic effects are often referred to as inks with sheen. The effect is created when crystals form on the surface of the paper. A couple of examples include Diamine Majestic Blue and J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor.

 

Another glitzy option is shimmering ink. These are inks which are infused with glitter particles. To showcase the ink to its full effect, broad nibs are recommended.

 

If you want something special, but a little more subdued, scented inks are fun to try. J. Herbin makes a line of these called "Les Subtiles" (The Subtle) and each colour is matched to a fragrance. These inks evoke a sense of romance and may be a great choice for a handwritten love letter.

 

 

   

 

 

Well, we hope you've enjoyed this series on writing instruments and have come away with a greater appreciation for these everyday tools in our lives. As a little bonus, we've decided to add a seventh issue next week to feature some special tips and tricks when using these items.

 

Antoinette signature

 

What's the difference between fountain and calligraphy pens?

What's the difference between fountain and calligraphy pens?

The Cambridge dictionary defines calligraphy as "the art of producing beautiful writing, often created with a special pen or brush". People who practice calligraphy would likely add that it uses specific, basic strokes.

Calligraphy

 

There're many different font styles and influences worldwide, including Old English, Latin, Gothic, Chinese and Islamic, among others. This method of writing declined in popularity from the 15th century onward, after the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. However, its popularity was revived at the end of the 19th century due to William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement.

 

How do fountain and calligraphy pens differ? Fountain pens that use extra-fine (EF) through broad (B) nibs create lines of consistent width, sometimes called 'monoline'. Calligraphy pens use flexible nibs with a wider tip, which allows for different pressures to create thin and thick lines with the same writing instrument.

 

Calligraphers may use fountain pens with specific nibs designed for calligraphy, such as italic or stub nibs. Stub nibs are usually denoted by their width (e.g. 1.1mm) and may come in different sizes. Other options include felt tip marker pens with brush tips and dip pens. All these allow for basic strokes to be drawn with both thick and thin lines.

 

Calligraphy is typically much slower than writing cursive, which is generally a faster way of writing than printing. Once the basic strokes are learned, many find calligraphy to be meditative and calming. It's certainly a very personal and creative way of handwriting. You can express yourself with your choice of font style and size, pen and nib types, and ink.
Featured Products
Dot Paper Marker Pens

 

  1. A Rhodia Dotpad is the perfect place to practice your calligraphy. This Rhodia notepad is staple bound and folds over very cleanly; there are horizontal fold lines embossed into the front cover. Dot grid, 80 fountain-pen friendly acid-free micro-perforated sheets for easy removal.  
  2. Dingbats* Ātopen brush markers work beautifully for calligraphy practice. Each marker pen is double-ended. One end has a tapered brush that is ideal for calligraphy and the other end is fine-tipped. Therefore, it's like having 12 pens that only take up the space of six in your pencil case!

Pauline Hall

Figg Street Co Gift Card

 

Whether you chose to write in cursive or try your hand at calligraphy, one thing you'll need for sure is ink. There's a whole world of ink out there! More to discover next week, in our sixth and final newsletter in our six week special series on writing instruments.

Go with the flow...

Go with the flow...

If you enjoy the feel of ink flowing smoothly while writing, you'll enjoy using a fountain pen. Although they've been around for a long time, the exact date and place when the first one was created are unknown. Historical references to writing instruments made with ink reservoirs date back to 974 AD in Arab Egypt, and during the Renaissance by Leonardo da Vinci.

History of fountain pens

 

Each fountain pen is made up of a barrel (the casing for the body of the pen), a grip section, a feed which connects the ink reservoir with the nib, the nib, a cap, and a converter or ink reservoir. A small slit in the nib is what allows ink to flow through it and onto the writing surface. This flow of ink occurs in part due to gravity, but mainly by a process called capillary action, which means that liquid will flow into narrow spaces, even if it's counter to gravity. It's similar, in effect, to the concept of wicking. This also explains why many refer to fountain pens as a "controlled leak".

Nibs are usually made of stainless steel, but some more expensive ones may use gold or palladium. The tip, which makes contact with the paper, is much harder than steel or gold. It's usually made of iridium, a very hard metal. Iridium can be ground into different sizes to make varied line widths, called nib sizes. Common ones include Extra-Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), and Broad (B).

Extra-fine nibs are good for tiny handwriting, razor sharp lines, and use less ink than broader nibs. However, they may feel less smooth and show less shading and the shimmer effect of specialty inks.

Fine nibs are comparable to most ballpoint and gel pen tips. It's the most popular nib size and since it doesn't use too much ink, the writing dries relatively quickly.

Medium nibs are a great option for beginner fountain pen users since there is less scratchiness than finer nibs; this size tends to write buttery smooth, akin to a gel pen.

Broad nibs are great for specialty inks to show them to their full effect. However, it uses more ink, which takes longer to dry. Also, such nibs may require high quality paper because feathering and bleed-through can result on papers not made for fountain pens.

Fountain pens are considered environmentally friendly since they're refillable. Most use pre-packaged cartridges or converters, which means you can use bottled ink. Some models are made with the ink reservoir built-in, so you can feed ink into the pen directly, without using a converter.

Fountain pens write very smoothly, which is enjoyable and makes for faster writing than a ballpoint pen. Also, using one requires less pressure, so it's more ergonomic and comfortable for long writing sessions and for anyone with a hand, wrist or forearm ailment. One of the reasons for the resurgence in the fountain pen's popularity is how personal it can be. There are an assortment of models, nib sizes, inks, etc. so writers and artists can express their personal style through their choices.

 

 

 

Here are two of our favourite fountain pens available at Figg Street Co. Browse our fountain pen collection to find YOUR favourite!

  • Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen - The Kaweco Sport fountain pen dates back to 1911. The brand created a fountain pen that was compact when its cap was on, making it pocket-friendly. It was targeted to specific customers, including sports people, which is where it gets its name.
  • Ferris Wheel Press Duck Duck Goose Brush Fountain Pen - Each fountain pen is handmade from copper, brass, and stainless steel for a well balanced yet substantial writing experience. Each intricate detail of the grip is now engraved to enhance the tactility and feedback of a design that is bold as brass.

 

Flow state drawing

 

Fountain pens are one of the most personal writing instruments out there. Their nibs make some of us think of calligraphy, especially when we're new to them. How do calligraphy pens differ from fountain pens? Find out next week!

 

Antoinette Signature
Get the ball rolling...

Get the ball rolling...

Now, since you know ballpoint pens are the most commonly purchased pens world-wide, you might be wondering, why would I want to use a rollerball? Moreover, what exactly is a rollerball pen?

Rollerball Pens
Rollerball ink is usually one of two types. Water-based ink, which uses dye for colour, or gelled ink, which is pigment suspended in water-based gel. Water-based ink rollerballs were introduced first, in 1963 by the Japanese company Ohto. The gel-type rollerball pen was patented in 1982 by Sakura Color Products, also Japanese.

 

Gel-based inks allow for a greater variety of bright colours because pigments are better suspended throughout the liquid medium than in water-based inks. (Pigments sink in water-based ink, like sediment). However, even water-based ink rollerballs offer more colour choices than ballpoint pens because of more water-soluble dye options.

 

Why else might you choose to use a rollerball? It's more ergonomic than a ballpoint pen. Writing with a rollerball pen uses less pressure and the less viscous ink provides for a smoother experience (no blotches). This is especially beneficial for those who write for long periods or develop hand or wrist cramps from ballpoint pens.

 

Also, the diameter of the ball at the tip of a rollerball can be smaller than ballpoint pens, making for finer lines when writing or drawing. Refills are commonly offered, which make them a more environmentally friendly option than disposable pens.
Featured products
 

 

Here are just two of the fantastic rollerball pens available at Figg Street Co.

  • Lamy Al-Star Rollerball Azure - The casing of this rollerball pen has a distinctive transparent and ergonomic plastic grip for comfortable writing sessions. It also comes with a spring-action chrome plated metal clip. Available in an assortment of colours.
  • Lamy Swift White Rollerball Pen -The LAMY swift rollerball pen needs no cap at all (rare among quality rollerball pens). The metal casing has a perforated grip area, which helps you to hold on, and simultaneously gives the pen a stylish look. It has a push-button retractable clip in a classic style that demonstrates the basis of Bauhaus design: form follows function.

Do you enjoy the smooth feel of flowing ink? If you do, you'll want to join us next week when we look at a classic pen with many loyal users and a resurgence in popularity: the fountain pen!

Ball tip or Felt tip?  That is the question...

Ball tip or Felt tip? That is the question...

Sometime after you learned how to print and draw with a pencil, you likely moved on to using a pen. And chances are, you used the world's most popular type of pen, the ballpoint.

Ballpoint pens with journal
There are several features of a ballpoint pen that distinguish it from other writing instruments. Most of these pens use a viscous (slow flowing) oil-based ink, which includes dye suspended in alcohol. This is quick drying and waterproof, which means it's less likely to smudge or bleed through paper than many water-based inks.

 

Ballpoint pens work well on a variety of surfaces, including many slippery or coated papers. They are available as both disposable and more environmentally-friendly refillable models. They're easier to control than other pen types, delivering ink exactly where you want it. Its versatility makes it an excellent choice as a portable pen to keep in your bag or pocket.
Some new models use hybrid ink, which has low viscosity and make writing a smoother experience than typical ballpoint pens. Our Anterique Brass Ballpoint Pen, made in Japan, uses this quality of ink, which is well-loved by its users. [A bit of trivia: Anterique derived its name from combining the word antique with technique, which gives you a clue about the company's mission.]
Marker pens
These pens have tips made of porous material - ceramic or felt (hence 'felt tip'). Each pen has a container and a core of absorbent material which wicks the ink along it to the tip. Today, the ink is usually alcohol-based. However, prior to the early 1990s, inks used toluene and xylene. Not only were they unhealthy, they smelled pretty bad, which some of you may recall.

 

The variety of colour options for felt tip marker pens include metallic colours, such as our Stabilo Pen 68 Metallic pens. These marker pens look especially brilliant against black paper. Felt tip pens are a fantastic choice for bullet journal enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys adding some colour and line variation to their lettering, writing, doodles and sketches. They can also be used like pencil crayons in artwork.

 

Vivid and pastel colours and brush-like effects are also available in felt pens. Our Dingbats Atopens, made in Japan, use water-based, archival quality ink and are dual-ended. One end is fine-tipped for those perfectionists who enjoy a precise line and a brush end, which is a great way to express your creativity and personalize hand-lettering.
Featured Products
   

This week we are featuring some of our favourite ballpoint and marker pens. Which one is your favourite?

  • Dingbats* Ātopen 6-Pack Dual Tip Fineliner/Brush Pens - Available in Primary or Pastel - Atopen is a versatile marker pen with two different tips. You can use them to write, draw, for all kinds of arts projects, and for calligraphy. These archival quality marker pens are made with water-based, fade proof, waterproof, and lightfast ink. Xylene-free and odourless, too!
  • Stabilo Pen 68 Metallic - Wallet of 6 -STABILO Pen 68 is a colour-intensive premium fibre-tip pen for strong lines and large areas. The metallic effects are particularly vibrant on black backgrounds. Accidental blots or annoying pumping? Not with this pen!
  • Anterique Brass Ballpoint Pen 0.5 - Luxury solid brass shavings for optimum weight and balance. Equipped with an ultra-low viscosity oil-based "Mach Ball Ink" for an impressive smooth writing experience.
Rolling 'write' along (sorry, couldn't resist), next week we'll fill you in on a pen that some consider a great hybrid between the ballpoint and the fountain pen: the rollerball!
Pencil it in

Pencil it in

Have you ever wondered what all the different pencil types - HB, 6H, F, represent? Or what all the fuss is about Blackwing pencils? Today's the day you're going to find out.

Woman with pencil in hair
For several decades now, pencils consist of a few elements: the wooden barrel, the graphite core, and often a ferrule and eraser. The ferrule is the metal ring that holds the eraser intact. The graphite core is often called a lead, but lead has not been used as a core for centuries. Graphite is a crystalline form of carbon, harmless if consumed, and mixed with clay to create the central stem.

Here's a little lesser known fact about pencils: works written or drawn in pencil tend to last better over time than ones produced in ink. Pencil markings are water resistant and hold up well to light.

As for types of graphite cores, the variations are due to the proportion of clay and graphite. The more clay, the harder the pencil. There is no common standard among pencil manufacturers regarding how to grade pencils. However, many of us have seen commonly used European designations, which use the letters H, B & F, and are interpreted to mean hardness, blackness, and fineness, respectively.

The range is typically from 9B, which is extremely soft and very black through to 9H, which is extremely hard and light grey. Standard writing pencils are usually graded HB, which falls between these two. The softer pencils along the B range are popular with artists for sketches. The hardest H pencils are used for special purposes such as cartography, and various printing techniques.
Blackwing Pencils
Blackwing was created in the 1930s, and Chuck Jones, the creator of Looney Tunes, produced his work using Blackwing pencils exclusively. Many other artists were loyal users, including John Steinbeck. The company went through several corporate changes over the years and the pencils were discontinued in 1998. This created a run on the remaining inventory, sending their prices up to $40 a pencil. Then in 2010, the brand was resurrected by a California company, Cal Cedar.

The pencils are created using cedar barrels, which smell great when you sharpen them. The quality of craftsmanship and materials is very high. No broken 'leads' or dry pink erasers that make things worse when you use them here - these pencils are second-to-none and the erasers are terrific.

The brand issues limited edition boxes of 12 in unique colours and graphite core combinations. Each edition has its own number and backstory. The standard, permanent Blackwing pencils are also sold individually, so you can give different types a try and determine your favourite. Be forewarned, once you use these, you'll have a new experience of using pencils. They really do make the ordinary extraordinary and make you appreciate such a seemingly simple thing.
Blackwing Pencil Sharpener
Featured Products
Blackwing Eras Blue Blackwing Eras Blue
Blackwing Eras Special Edition - Blue & Orange

 As the fragrance of blooming lilacs, lily of the valley and peonies draw you into the garden or park, it's a great time to sit with your pencils and sketchbook. Inspiration abounds! Or maybe you'd prefer to write in your journal. In which case, you'll likely use a pen. Have you ever wondered why there are different kinds of pens and what their special features are? We'll fill you in over the next few weeks, starting with the ballpoint pen to kick off the month of June!
Antoinette signature
Time to Thank Dad

Time to Thank Dad

Please tell us you've also bought your dad soap-on-a-rope. We can't be the only ones who've tried to find a cool, impressive, unique gift for dad only to end up with a tie. Dads can be tricky to shop for. How many grilling accessories, fishing gear items, or golf balls does a guy need?

Sitcoms know a bit about this. There's been a variety of dads who've provided us with laughs over the years. Steven Keaton, Martin Crane, George Jefferson, Phil Dunphy, Cliff Huxtable, and who could forget George's dad, Frank Costanza. Whether loud and obvious or quiet and emotionally unaware, comedy writers will find a trait to poke fun at.

 

In real life, dads can be complex. Their role has shifted a lot in the past few decades, and there isn't always a lot of empathy for their situation. A dad has a big impact on our life. Their presence can make us feel safe and stable, even when we're an adult child. And you know this to be true: there are some conversations and experiences that are just meant for dad. Calm dads in particular can be a great source of reassurance when our lives feel overwhelming.
  
  • Leather Rustic Book Photo Album ~ For the dad who loves to reminisce... preserve all his favourite family memories in Claire Magnolia's handcrafted Leather Rustic Album. Made of soft top-grain distressed leather, this rustic album features a wrap tie closure. It is bound with glassine tissue interweaving between thick ivory cardstock pages for preservation and protection.
  • Audubon Birds Puzzle 1000 Pieces ~ For the dad who loves puzzles... this delightful 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is perfect for bird enthusiasts. The image comes from the vintage archives of Cavallini Papers & Co. The puzzle is packaged in a 10 inch long cardboard tube, with puzzle pieces safely stored in a muslin bag inside.
  • HAM Fine China Mug ~ For the dad who loves to cycle... the perfect mug for his morning coffee or tea. HAM fine china mugs are hand decorated in Stoke-On-Trent. Each holds 300ml, comes in a HAM gift box and is dishwasher and microwave safe.

Mom isn't the only one who'd love to receive a handwritten letter. Many dads go without praise for long stretches of time, and we suspect he'll be touched to hear a few words of gratitude. Share with him what he's done that's meant the most to you. Remind him of some meaningful or humorous memories. Mostly, just appreciate him while he's here. It's too easy to let the years slip away without expressing your thoughts and feelings. Celebrate him this Father's Day on Sunday, June 20th.

p.s. Next week we'll kick-off a special six week series on writing instruments. Ever wonder what the difference is between different types of pens and ink? Why people are so passionate about fountain pens? Sign up for Tuesday's Tonic so you don't miss an issue. To subscribe, and receive treasured notes to your inbox each Tuesday morning, scroll allllll the way down to the bottom of our website and enter your email next to the button that says "SIGN UP"

Caps off!

Caps off!

When I heard JK Rowling say in an interview that she couldn't recall a single word from the commencement speech at her graduation, I laughed. The experience was mutual. Can you remember anything from the speech at your ceremony?

Graduation is celebratory, and yet it can often feel like a cocktail of emotions. There's the pride and relief of achievement, the anticipation of life's next stage... and maybe a summer holiday! There can be a sense of nostalgia recalling memories and knowing you may be moving away from classmates and friends. Sometimes there's a blend of fear and excitement about the future. The ceremonial music alone can bring on tears.

Whether you're graduating or not, it's always a great time to look back and think about what you've learned. How are you different today from the you a few years ago? What do you like better about yourself? Chances are, you've developed a new skill, attitude or picked up a dollop of wisdom. Celebrate yourself for it! And make sure your victories don't become long forgotten speeches - write them down.

Use cute little notecards and jot down one great thing you've learned or done today and put it in a jar. Keep this up, and at the end of the year, you'll see all the wonderful ways you've grown. Or, keep a journal that expands on moments you want to remember. Our brains have a negative bias when it comes to memory; override it and keep the positive alive by writing out the details. Remember the five W's & H: who, what, when, where, why and how. Add a little doodle or sketch, or snap a photo. Spray your notecards with the perfume you're wearing or add whatever triggers a pleasurable memory for you.
  
  • LAMY Aion Rollerball Special Edition ~ The smooth deep-drawn aluminium body components are the first of their kind and give the series a unique, harmonious appearance. Made in Germany.
  • Katie Leamon Luxury Personal Organizer ~ A beautiful keepsake gift for the new graduate. This luxury leather personal organizer is clean in its design, which lets the beautiful hide colour and texture speak for itself. Proudly made in England.
  • Pilot MR1 Metropolitan Rollerball Pen ~ A smooth bodied pen, great for everyday use. It has a metal barrel, tip and clip and smooth plastic grip. Comes with a black gift box. Refillable and more environmentally-friendly than a disposable pen.

If you or your loved one is graduating this spring, we say, caps off! Congratulations on your achievement! We wish you a joyful, prosperous, and fulfilling future!

Do you want to feel better?

Do you want to feel better?

Spring can make us a bit antsy for movement. Winter often means a more sedentary pace, but spring really calls out for us to stretch and move about. We all know it's great for our body, but some of us find out (sometimes the hard way) that it's also best for our minds and mood.
Bike riding
Want to try something really easy? Close your eyes (after you finish reading this paragraph, that is) and hold out one of your arms in front of you. Now ask yourself, how do I know my hand and arm are out there? Can you feel the aliveness in your hand and arm that makes you aware that you have a limb there, even though you can't see it? This is a great way to connect with yourself and feel more centered.

The Niagara region is rich with beautiful areas in which to exercise: the escarpment, fitness trails along the Welland Canal and Niagara river, the beaches along both Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, provincial and city parks, vineyards, and marinas. Whether you enjoy walking, running, cycling or roller blading, there's somewhere beautiful to do it close by.

If you prefer working out indoors, or you need to, there are many options. There're video workouts, which have become even more popular this past year. There're monthly subscriptions available though fitness instructors such as Tracy Anderson and Taryn Toomey. It's also great to check out your local yoga studio or gym. Many are now providing online classes. Free weights and home equipment are another option, if you have these tools. Otherwise, you can always design your own workout.

Anya Taylor-Joy, the actress known for her lead roles in The Queen's Gambit and Emma (2020) said she starts each day by dancing to three songs of her choice. Elizabeth Gilbert, the American author, said she also dances every day and that it has been an effective part of her healing process after the death of her partner. Both these women dance freestyle. No training required!

Featured Products

  

  

 

This week we are featuring our gorgeous new collection of Paperblanks notebooks.

  • Joyous Springtime Dot Grid ~ Mila Marquis’s ethereal artwork combines sparkling emotion and unashamedly sweet depictions of fairies and flowers.
  • Floralia Lined Softcover ~ The eternal appeal of a classic floral design is captured in the work of Irish illustrator William Kilburn (1745–1818).
  • Dharma Dragon Lined Softcover ~ Ancient spiritual practices meet modern digital art in a kaleidoscopic reproduction of an original Android Jones artwork.
  • Madame Butterfly Blank Softcover ~ French author and illustrator Benjamin Lacombe lends his unique spirit to our collection with this lively Madame Butterfly design.
  • Violet Lined Hardcover ~ This captivating image comes from the first edition of Scottish poet and anthropologist Andrew Lang’s The Olive Fairy Book.
  • Blue Velvet Blank Hardcover ~ Inspired by a piece of a 15th-century velvet dalmatic on blue velvet, decorated in brocaded gilt metal thread.

Yoga Centre of Niagara

The key is to find whatever feels good to you. If you're someone who performs best when there's accountability, consider buddying up with a friend or family member over the phone. Or create your own exercise log. Perhaps even to share with others. Exercise is flexible - we can customize it to be a reflection of ourself and make up the rules, if any, as we go. 
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Do you want to learn how to use Japanese paper?

Do you want to learn how to use Japanese paper?

Have you noticed Japanese papers in the shop? Maybe you've thought they're beautiful, but felt a bit intimidated, uncertain about how to use them. Or maybe you're already as smitten as us and want to know some new things you can do with them. If this is the case, this week's topic is for you.

When you picture Japanese paper, what images come to mind? Chances are, you think of colourful patterned sheets of cherry blossoms, leaves, or other symbols and motifs. Such paper is washi that has undergone the process of chiyogami. This means a repetitive process of transferring a pattern onto paper by hand using wood blocks (used primarily before the 12th century) or silk screening.

 

The pattern on a chiyogami sheet is applied one colour at a time. It's a fiddly process! Each screen needs to be perfectly aligned so the colour transfers onto the correct places of the pattern. The traditional inks create a vibrant effect which stands up well to fading. Many chiyogami patterns have metallic accents added at the end, which enhances the beauty of the design.

 

Now, what can you use chiyogami sheets for? Truly, your imagination is your guide. Most commonly, it's used to cover books (including notebooks and albums), as envelope linings, to decorate tea tins and small paper boxes, for origami, gift wrap, collage, paper dolls, scrapbooking, iris folding and chigiri-e. What's that? What's iris folding and chigiri-e?

 

Iris folding is the method of folding strips of paper (usually coloured) to create an effect that looks like an iris - the diaphragm of a camera lens. These designs can be used to make greeting cards, album covers, or beautiful framed wall art.

Chigiri-e is a type of paper collage made with washi. 'Chigiri' means to tear or shred in Japanese, and 'e' means picture. You use a template to tear off a piece of paper in the shape you want and then glue it to a thicker paper used as the canvas.

   

   

  • Chiyogami Mosaics ~ Six colour co-coordinated sheets of larger and smaller sizes plus over 20 pieces of Chiyogami paper in surprise patterns, colours, and sizes.
  • Floral Collection ~ A package of Chiyogami papers measuring 8.5 x 11" (21.6  x 27.9 cm) each. Includes five sheets with Japanese floral patterns.
  • Japanese Traditional ~ Includes five colour co-ordinated 8.5 x 11" (21.6  x 27.9 cm) sheets of Chiyogami paper with traditional Japanese motif patterns.
  • Chiyogami Buffet ~ Package of 45 Chiyogami sheets in a "buffet" of assorted patterns and sizes.
  • Emergency Pocket Pack ~ Mix of 3 x 3" (7.6 x 7.6 cm) Chiyogami sheets in 24 patterns. For art emergencies!
  • Kimono Squares ~ 6 hand-printed squares of Japanese papers, each 8.5 x 8.5 " (21.6 x 21.6 cm).

Inspired? We hope so. Using Japanese paper is a great way to develop your creativity and learn a little bit about Japanese culture. There's a reason these papers and crafts have remained popular for hundreds of years.

If you try iris folding, chigiri-e, or find another use for your chiyogami sheets, let us know!