A new week is a great time to unveil a new department: The Mailbox. When I started in the industry in the late ’90s, I would literally receive boxes and boxes of samples every day, notecards and notebooks, gift books and gift enclosures, tschotskes of every imaginable sort.

At first, it was so exciting to have so much stuff … then, over time, as it began to take up more and more space,  I realized just how easy it is to become a hoarder. Fortunately we had a “free box” in the office, where the majority would end up. However the economy changed, and overnight samples became far and few between. For an editor, getting to actually hold a product as opposed to reviewing a JPEG of it can be the difference between say, seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre … or on a postcard. When a release is really fabulous — as Knock Knock’s new Plumb line is — reviewing it in person is a bona fide treat.

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The line was inspired by artist Tucker Nichols, who hacked store-bought journals to his own liking, and knew other artists who did as well. Knock Knock got wind of the idea, and decided that the Plumb was the perfect solution. Each release speaks to the idea that “while it’s possible that better notebooks might not solve all of the world’s problems, we think it’s a good place to start.”

My big box ‘o samples of goodies included the Dot Notebook from Tucker Nichols. $16.

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It was created as if he were modifying an existing journal, with rounded corners, the page edges dyed bright orange — and the dots on the cover, in matte foil,  feel like actual globs of paint. I love the sunny yellow endpapers, perforated pages and lay-flat binding. Plus there’s a bound-in postcard of an interview with Tucker Nichols (below).

tnpainting1_300Next we go way down in scale for this Mini Superhero Notebook by Katherine Bradford. It is palm sized at 3½”x4½” inches, but chunky enough that it still feels substantial.

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The cardstock pages — in red, natural and blue to accessorize any modern American superhero — perforate out to become mini index cards, perfect for grand, high-flying ideas.  Like the Dots notebook, this one features a bound-in postcard with an interview with the artist.

Superheroes are a favorite subject of Bradford’s because they are mystical, dress in bright colors and appear totally free in midflight. On the postcard she explains, “Artists in the past had to provide verisimilitude, exactness, likeness. But today what we need most is the life of the imagination. Informal notebooks provide a space where you don’t feel intimidated, where you can experiment and vary your approach from page to page.” $12. 

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The last treasure in the box was created by the Sumi Ink Club, a participatory drawing project established in 2005 by artists Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck of Los Angeles. The group produces work collectively in meetings that are open to the public. Here, everyone draws: young, old, people who are considered good and people who think they can’t draw at all. The result is art that in the words of the Plumb catalog, “feels as if one impossible person created it.”

The Sumi Art Box is more than a journal, it’s designed for collecting and sharing, “a living scrapbook.” The clamshell box features a gusseted front pocket, a pad with dyed edges and starter drawings, and two-sided red and purple poster. A postcard features an artist interview and artwork. $28. 

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Here is an image of the Sumi Art Club at work. Wow!2825398855_b287fb1d13_o-b_retouched

So no matter what it is you make, these are designed to help you take a fresh approach to it. The line, after all, “originated out of the belief that creative people want more than blank or decorative repositories for their thoughts and ideas;” the goal of Plumb is to be catalysts for the entire creative process. So take a look around the site, you may just find that perfect something in which to express yourself.

Summer will bring new offerings from Linda Geary, Jason Polan (who is in the process of drawing every person in New York) and Nathaniel Russell. I for one can’t wait! Big thanks to Knock Knock for not only originating this amazing and ongoing concept, but letting me enjoy it person.

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