Like many designers, I’ve always used the ubiquitous Moleskine notebook to sketch out ideas. But, recently it seemed that the world and his dog had one of these cool little books – even client meetings had turned into what seemed like a big Moleskine love-in.

So, it was time to search out a new source of sketchbook – something that was a little different and more personal. Eventually, I chanced upon these beautiful handmade books from Five and a Half, a small design studio in Brooklyn. Each journal is made from recycled paper, including bits of comics and other found pulp ephemera. The canvas cover is made from a photograph taken by one of the designers, together with a belly band printed with a small personal story which, on this occasion, was about coffee and donuts. The whole thing just felt (and smelt) incredibly special and lovingly crafted, rather than something mass-produced.

But after seeing one of Five and a Half’s designers show how to make these books through a lovely little online video, I’m now making my own sketch books using found things, bound with my own photographs. As an interactive designer who usually makes things with pixels and code, it feels good to making things again with paper, glue and scissors.

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