hand bound mini notebooks coming to the shop soon!

The holiday shopping season is upon us, which for me means it’s time to start thinking of cool gifts i can make for my friends and family. I got a little head-start in october when i decided to try canning for the first time. I wanted to make some applesauce for myself and thought it would make a nice gift too, so i made nine quarts (that’s right, nine) and preserved them in canning jars. It took an entire day and made a huge mess of my kitchen, but it all turned out great and now i get to make cute labels for them and give them away this christmas – yay!

red, kraft, and green mini notebooks hand bound with baker's twine

notebooks come in red, kraft, and green

But now it’s november and i really have to get started on personalized gifts. I never have trouble finding or making great gifts for women, but men are a different story. Socks, scarves, tech gadgets, food, t-shirts, pajamas, movies; i’ve given them all and more. The typical ‘guy gifts’ are great, but what do you do when you’ve already given all of them? My thought was to make personalized rustic notebooks with twig pencils. They’re cool, useful, unique, and gender neutral…which is why i’m making them for some women on my list as well  : )

I did a LOT of research, made a few prototypes, and came up with a winning formula of elephant dung card stock paper (more on that below), baker’s twine, brilliant white filler paper, and a cool binding design. Like me, some of the people on my christmas list are big fans of the hobbit and lotr books (btw, we are all geekily awaiting part one of the hobbit movie) so i thought a great way to personalize their

handmade twig pencil + hand bound mini notebook with 'gregory' inked in tolkien's tengwar elvish on the cover.

example of an elvish notebook with ‘gregory’ inked on the cover.

notebooks would be to ink their names in tengwar, tolkien’s elvish language. I also found the perfect sized kraft gift boxes to hold the notebook and twig pencil. Put it all together and you have a really fun personalized, geeky gift. They looked so good that i decided i had to make more to sell in my etsy shop, and i am now happy to announce that the listing will go up this week!

So now let’s talk about the poop. The covers of the notebooks are made of mr. ellie pooh’s elephant dung card stock paper which is a wonderful handcrafted product made of post consumer paper and elephant dung. I know, it sounds a little weird at first, but hear me out: this paper is eco-friendly, forest-friendly, supports elephants in sri lanka, creates ‘green jobs’, is fair trade, and is a high quality. Oh right, and it’s sanitary. I promise. So how exactly can dung paper help elephants, you ask? According to mr. ellie pooh site,

“Elephants in Sri Lanka are being killed at an alarming rate. Humans are encroaching on elephant habitats and cutting down trees. When elephants come looking for food, they are shot and killed. Our mission is to is to reduce some of the Human/Elephant conflict that is ongoing. We plan to open handmade paper facilities in rural areas, train local villagers to make paper and hire artisans to embellish our goods. We believe that this newly created industry can directly contribute to the local economy. Our hopes are that such an initiative will self educate the villagers into living, working and respecting the elephant.  Have them look at the elephants more as an asset instead of as a threat.”

I feel really good using this paper knowing that it’s helping people and elephants alike. And since it’s handmade and recycled there are lots of cool variations within the paper that add texture and visual interest. What can i say, i’m in love.

I’ll let you all know when the listing is up, still working on taking pictures. Good luck with your holiday shopping, and to my fellows in the north: bundle up!

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