One of the ways I used to "catalog" design ideas I like was to tear out pages from design magazines and shove them all into a pretty light-blue linen-covered document box from The Container Store. This, however, proved an unwieldy way of keeping track of things I liked. What's more, I tended to take the sheets out to look at them and then lose them.
Then, one day, I came across a BRILLIANT idea: I would paste or tape the pages into a sketchbook someone had purchased for me on the assumption that all architects are sketching fanatics. I prefer, however, to cheat, by building quick'n'dirty Sketchup models, tracing over them, and adding the details as I go. So far, it's proved a pretty good way to fake the sketching skills, and your perspective is never wrong!
So I began pasting magazine pictures, fliers, museum pamphlets and the like into this glossy red hard-bound sketchbook with "Sketchbook" helpfully printed across the front of it.
My self-proclaiming Sketchbook soon became full, however. Not to say that there were no more blank pages, but that I'd pasted so many images into it that the cover no longer closed into a nice rectangular cross-section; it was trapezoidal, in fact, and my slightly OCD self couldn't have that, so I began cutting out unused pages near the end, then some closer to the center that were unused, and the Sketchbook was once again aesthetically pleasing. It also no longer had room for more magazine images.
Fortunately, around this time, an employer presented me with a handsome sketchbook from England. In true hoity-toity British style, this sketchbook felt no need to proclaim its identity to the world, instead opting to be bound with navy-blue leather at the spine with hand-marbleized covers. My employer intended me to sketch in it, as did the person who initially gave me the Sketchbook. Poor misguided souls. No, my Papyrus sketchbook would be subjected to the same carnage of addition and subtraction that my first Sketchbook suffered.
I've filled both of them, and I now have a stack of magazine images and - yes - hand-sketches with nowhere to go. So I've been on a quest for a new sketchbook: something understated, yet still stylish, and large enough to handle the 9"x12" magazines I occasionally add to the pile of periodicals on my nightstand (and floor, and desk). I'd been to the Great Satan that is otherwise known as Barnes and Noble. I looked at DickBlick.com. All to no avail.
While in Houston, I asked my sister if my favorite hardware store, Bering's, might have some. She said she didn't know, but she didn't think they'd have one up to snuff. We went to Rice Village to visit the Pier 1 store there, and saw a sign that said "Stationary & Fine Writing Instruments" in the window.
"We should go in there," my mom suggested. "They might have a sketchbook in there you'd like." I disagreed. I tend to be pretty disenchanted with stationary stores, because they never have the stationary I want (I'm very particular about my papergoods).
I was so wrong.
It was the greatest stationary store I've ever seen. In addition to the ubiquitous Thank You notes and custom wedding invitations, they had a row of "normal" papergoods, like spiral notebooks and columnar account books, with which I'm obsessed even though I have no use for them. And they had sketchbooks. Not a huge selection, mind you, but a big enough selection to satisfy me. Because they had Moleskines. Huge ones. So I am now the proud owner of a 12"x18" Moleskine sketchbook, over which I've been oohing and aahing ever since.
On the way out, still high on the endorphines released by making a fantastic purchase, I glanced at a display case. In it were two of the most beautifully crafted pens I've ever seen.
One of them has a piece of the Titanic built into it. The other one was made of gold and stainless steel, and all the pieces of the pen were held together with little tiny rivets. Not fake ones, but real ones. I want one, but, as I just discovered by perusing the internet, these pins cost about what I took home after taxes over the course of 3 months. Ouch. But beautiful just the same. So if you've got a small fortune to blow on a pen, Jean Pierre Lepine pens are for you! (see image for example)
The owner/manager of the store saw the look on my face and was kind enough to take the pens out of their fancy display case to let me hold them. The weigh more than my packed-to-the-gills purse.
I still want one.