Punch-drunk and paper-happy (featuring William Hannah and Filofax notebooks).

If you found your way here, it’s safe to assume you have, at one time or another, agonized over which notebook or pad to bring, and ended up taking them all. This happens to me everyday. “I really should just stick with the Crossfield… But one of my pens has this new ink… Wonder what that will look like on Kraft paper? Or MD Cotton? And there’s that new gold ochre I need to try in a wash to see if it granulates… Oh so that means I should bring the hot-pressed block…”

Enter the punch experiment.

CultPens shipped me the Atoma punch practically overnight, and it joined the William Hannah journal in my hotel room, waiting for playtime. My Filofax punch showed up while I was in a meeting, and that was it, pretty much; there was no room in the bag for anything else!

Hello, Atoma punch!

Hello, Atoma punch!

I must admit I did zero research on Rollabind vs Atoma vs UltraSpectacularDiscSystemZ, because I chose the journal first. William Hannah makes the loveliest journal covers and I was determined to start with the Whiskey leather and Ultraviolet lining.

The fab William Hannah box

The fab William Hannah box

The paper wrapping and sticker speak of care. I felt equal parts delight and regret as I slid the journal from its wrapping. (There should be a word for that, yes? I also feel the same way opening any gift or product packaging done with skill and beauty.)

William Hannah inner packaging

William Hannah inner packaging

Look at that leather (first and last time it was this pristine).

William Hannah whiskey cover

William Hannah whiskey cover

You can specify the paper when you order.

William Hannah lining and notepaper

William Hannah lining and notepaper

I chose the blank sheets, and I’m happy to report they play well with light watercolor washes. I put the Atoma punch to work, and filled the journal with Tomoe River (folded), Life Noble paper (also folded), black Strathmore paper, tracing paper, Rhodia 90 gsm unlined… Anyway, you get the picture.

Folded Tomoe River paper in William Hannah journal

Folded Tomoe River paper in William Hannah journal

Finally, paper variety in a single journal. The Traveler’s Notebook lends itself to the same purpose, and many fans also sell and make their own refills. Still, this goes pretty granular – page by page! – and even if you’re not borderline obsessive, this can be an enjoyable experiment.

William Hannah on the go

William Hannah on the go

The Roterfaden holds two notebooks, and carrying that plus the William Hannah is more than enough leather journal for one person. (Especially a person with incipient back problems from lugging around too many notebooks and pens.)

William Hannah journal and Roterfaden

William Hannah journal and Roterfaden

It is possible to have way too much fun with this.

Punchity punchity punch

Punchity punchity punch

Having all these options is worth the Atoma punch, which is admittedly on the higher end of the office supply spectrum.

Strathmore Artagain coal black paper

Strathmore Artagain coal black paper

Tracing paper takes a sharp crease. Reinforced with washi tape, it makes a useful pocket that can come off if needed.

Tracing paper and washi pocket

Tracing paper and washi pocket

It’s a hodgepodge seen from the side, but what a happy hodgepodge.

All the paper, side view

All the paper, side view

You can find the Filofax refillable notebook online and at many retailers (including National Bookstore in the Philippines). It doesn’t have metal discs. Instead, it has pairs of wire forming the spine. It folds back on itself, and lies flat. For those with limited table space, that’s a great convenience.

Filofax refillable notebook

Filofax refillable notebook

I haven’t found the punch locally, but it’s also available online. It’s less of a dangerous weapon than the Atoma.

Filofax paper punch for refillable notebooks

Filofax paper punch for refillable notebooks

The double wires don’t hold Tomoe River paper as well as the Atoma discs. So this notebook has thicker paper, including test sheets from Legion/Stonehenge, 100% cotton rag, and Clairefontaine 250gsm multi-technique board. I remove the bottom tray from the punch because bits of paper can get stuck, and without the tray, I just shake the punch or poke out the paper bits with a used Zebra G nib.

Is there a word for the paper that punches punch out?

Is there a word for the paper that punches punch out? The paper equivalent of swarf?

Different paper sizes in one notebook. I don’t mind it, but it could be an issue for other people (if thinner paper on top of thicker, the ridge can interrupt your writing).

What else can I punch and add in here? Hmmmm.

What else can I punch and add in here? Hmmmm.

Folds back upon itself, like a torus in the space-time continuum, or an extremely flexible yogini.

It's like notebook yoga

It’s like notebook yoga

Here’s a tiny video:

The Atoma/disc system I have seems more robust overall. The Filofax notebook is more widely available and serves a similar end. Both can be made to work with 52gsm Tomoe River, not single A5 sheets but folded A4.  Both accept up to 250gsm board. I’m sure there are many other systems out there that will work! So go forth and have a go at making your own hodgepodge. 🙂