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Codex of Endeavors

In my post on the four things makers should have, I mentioned that I had a sketchbook to record ideas and plan future projects:  a Codex of Endeavors.  This Codex is a more recent development because, despite what you might think, I wasn’t always this organized.  Originally when ideas hit, I scratched on any available paper from legal pads to post-it notes to napkins, so I have quite a mix of loose pages in storage.  After building up a stack of notes, and using the floor as a collating device, I decided it was time to streamline my operations and switched to sketchbooks (of various sizes) instead.  I’m on sketchbook #3 as of this post, and while they work well, I need to standardize on a size and type of Codex.  Here are the viable options I see:

  • Notepads
  • Binder with Loose Leaf Paper
  • Sketchbook
  • Factory and User Made Journals/Art Books


Notepads are inexpensive and readily available.  They hold up well but the paper is thin and they are difficult to store in a protected manner.  Additionally, the pages are lined which is great for writing but can get in the way of sketching.  The notepads that I’m familiar with have a cardboard back but this does not provide enough strength for field use, so I typically clip my notepad into a clip board.

Machine Lathe Cabinet Project Notes in Notepad Codex, Oct 2007

Machine Lathe Cabinet Project Notes in Notepad Codex, Oct 2007


I’ve used binders for many years and they work reasonably well.  For instance, all of my original antique records and pictures were stored in binders using archival sleeves.  To be useful though, a planning journal has to be something that you can easily write and draw in and this is were binders fail the test.  The loose leaf paper used in binders tends to tear at the punched holes.  My earlier Codices have torn out pages because of this.


Sketchbooks are readily available in many sizes at art and hobby stores.  They feature heavy paper well suited to writing and sketching and typically have micro-perforation to make it easy to tear off a sheet without creating a ragged edge.  I’ve used sketchbooks lately and they work rather well.  However, their large size and somewhat loose coil binding makes them difficult to hold and use in the field.

Ring Turn Codex Page, January 2015

Ring Turn Codex Page, January 2015


Factory made journals are making an appearance at art and craft stores and are available through online retailers.  They are available lined and unlined with various paper thicknesses.  I’ve noticed quite a bit of quality variation between journals, so I recommend looking at journals in the store and picking the one that speaks to you.  Below is the most Antiquarian looking journal that I could find.  It’s unlined and the paper is heavy weight.  There are no paper perforations.  This is starting to look like the ideal solution because while bookbinding fascinates me (our last option in the list at the beginning of this post), taking up a new hobby just to create a standard journal is not feasible at this time.

Factory Made Journal, July 2016

Factory Made Journal, July 2016

Writing Instruments

With factory journal in hand, what do you scratch down your thoughts with?  You could collect a few ink bottles that define the antiquarian in you.

However, I think writing with quill and ink may be a bit of a hassle.  I’ve used pencils of all varieties and both regular and gel ink ball point pens, but they don’t convey any of the feeling of the world I’m trying to create.  So, might I suggest splitting the difference and using a fountain pen?

Antiquarian Fountain Pen & Codex of Endeavors, July 2016

Antiquarian Fountain Pen & Codex of Endeavors, July 2016

Amazon and many other retailers sell fountain pens and the requisite ink cartridges.  I’ve enjoyed using my fountain pen and despite the troubles others have had, mine has never hiccupped once.  If used daily, you won’t have any problems because the ink will stay fresh and continue to flow through the nib for several weeks.  On the other hand if you don’t use it daily, the ink will dry up and the nib will have to be cleaned and the cartridge replaced.  Regardless, I love my fountain pen.  The old writing technology combined with my Codex of Endeavors helps me to plan the elegant world I’ll soon create.

Your homework assignment this week is to put together a codex that represents you and the world you want to create.  Pick something that speaks to you and fits your needs.  Once you have the tools in hand and are able to immerse yourself in your planning, the image in your head will find its way to the page.

One comment on “Codex of Endeavors

  1. Jay Cameron Hooper

    I am restoring a Victorian writing slop/desk. The ink bottle does not fit correctly. I am looking for a max height of1 5/8″; base round or square 1 3/4″ diameter or square. Lid not important, I’ll fins a small cork one. Looking for a replacement.

    Many thanks, kind regards, Jay.

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