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Picture of 16-Page Disposable Notebook EDC

Notebooks and Sketchbooks.

We use them to collect our thoughts, flesh out concepts, make lists, OR collect dust. From a young age, I’ve had a troubled relationship with notebooks and sketchbooks. I would receive beautiful, high-quality and often expensive notebooks as gifts from my caregivers as they believed burgeoning artists required them. They weren’t wrong; however, they became so sacred that I was never able to deface their pages with my mediocre sketches and average (at best ) ideas.

By making them precious objects I was limiting their potential influence on my development as an artist and maker. So, as I would stare guiltily at the stack of empty notebooks on my bookshelf, I would scratch out my ideas and flesh out sketches on random bits of paper which became strew across my room, eventually occupying every vacant parcel of hardwood floor real estate. In a futile attempt to organize the chaos, I started making piles of paper sorted by theme or by project. Eventually, I would stuff those piles into 3-ring binders, blissfully ignoring how beneficial using those sacred journals would be.

This went on for years until I went off to art school and was forced to use a sketchbook. Upon receiving the black hard covered 8.5'' x 11'' sketchbook, I noticed that my peers immediately cracked the spines of theirs and began sketching. I gingerly opened mine and wrote my name on the inside of the cover. This was the only luxury I permitted myself regarding notebooks. My professor weaved in and out of my peers, nodding silently in approval at their dancing pencils, but when she was finally close enough to peer over my shoulder, she exclaimed in irritation that inspiration is something you work towards and never wait around for. So, I started to deface my sketchbook. It took months before pages filled with sketches remained in the sketchbook, as I would tear them out to pretend that the sketchbook was unadulterated.

Soon after, my system became to use the sketchbook as a type of folder for the transport of other sketches on loose leaf pages. This worked because of all the sketchbook pages I had torn out prior. Eventually, my sketchbooks were so abused and improperly used that using them as intended didn’t make me feel like such an iconoclast.

One thing that I retained from my sketchbook struggles was how much I loved being able to grab any piece of 8.5'' x 11'' paper, draft ideas or flesh them out completely, then fold it up and put it in my back pocket. This enabled me to pull it out whenever I was struck with a solution or new idea.

This disposable notebook continued to evolve as the years progressed and eventually, I found a solution that worked for my current practice. When recently asked by a student, who was also having sketchbooks struggles, how I documented ideas efficiently without having to carry around a notebook (even one as portable as a Field Notes ) I pulled out my 16-Page Disposable Notebook out of my back pocket and my Ultra Fine Sharpie EDC pen out of my front pocket.

Quick and simple 'able but it just might change your quotidian practice !

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Essential Materials:

  • 8.5’’ x 11’’ sheet of paper (colour and weight are a personal preference thing )

Optional Tools:

  • Pen
  • Bone Folder
  • Ruler
fadecomic4 months ago
What does "EDC" stand for? Google isn't helping me much because that acronym seems to be used for many things.
Ham-made (author)  fadecomic4 months ago
Everyday Carry. Don't fret, the acronym is illogical and you aren't the first to ask the question.
Mr. Ham
gcai_fwb Ham-made4 months ago
neat little bit of origami!

since you seem to like erudite phrasing :) EDC is actually an initialization (sort of) rather than an acronym - acronyms are spoken as words rather than spoken as a series of letters
NASA - acronym
TLA - initialization even though it stands for Three Letter Acronym
IBM - initialization - a company where all projects must have a TLA as a first order of business - at least in my experience
CICS (anachronism I know) is an acronym in Canada (pronounced "kicks") and an initialization in the USA - why I do not know - cultural? (Customer Information Control System)
SQL another weird one - either 'sequel' or S Q L
WYSIWYG - definitely acronym

keep folding paper :)

DougL56 gcai_fwb4 months ago
Let's not forget OCD (not that anybody here could). It's an acronym if you pronounce it "ocked".
LOL - we really need a LOL button here!
agreed ! agr
gcai_fwb gcai_fwb2 months ago
pls. ignore the 'agr' - it was supposed to be an emoticon but it got lost in translation - LOL buttons rule!
I'm glad some one asked. I will be sure to update my LOA, Chapter two TLA, as well as the PCMCIA supplement
Every day carry
Every Day Carry
Every Day Carry
stone34084 months ago
If you do this with a piece of graph paper it can be useful as well for writing in either direction.
Here is the dot graph paper I use.
Whoa - almost went blind at first sight of that paper! May be my astigmatism that makes the dots jump around; I've needed new glasses for a while...
Ham-made (author)  stone34084 months ago
Hey stone3408!
Great suggestion! I'll have to print some off and try it out!
Mr. Ham
dragon flyer2 months ago
You might be surprised how hard it is to find out what EDC means...
(Those caregivers may have been sadly disappointed that their gifts didn't get used - communication is a wonderful thing...!)

ladybgood4 months ago
for years I've made edc "notebook" on
dpeach ladybgood3 months ago
I've been using the Pocketmod since at least 2006. I have made maybe a few hundred. I used to make them up for each week and date them. But I found that many weeks I would only use half of a book or some weeks I would use 3. So now I just build them as I need them.

I am always on the lookout for nice paper for my books. I like nice paper that is printed on just one side since I never turn them inside out and mark on both sides.
Ham-made (author)  ladybgood4 months ago
Hey ladybgood!
Great ressource! Thanks for sharing!
Mr. Ham
1roesop3 months ago
great steps
remy88xoxo3 months ago
This is approaching TedTalks level stuff here, guys.
procter3 months ago
What appears to be an 'Ergonomically Diminutive Compendium' that could comprise an 'Exciting Durable Chapter' of your life, indeed an 'Enduring Diaphanous Chronicle', is in reality a 'Existentially Disappointing Creation' and 'Emphatically Denounceable Codswallop'.

But nevertheless fun and I will be introducing my 2.5 year-old granddaughter to it.

Regards, Edward Diablo Cacophony
TomC278 procter3 months ago
Your comment required Enterprising Dictionarial Consultation
procter3 months ago
(a) Complete FOLD-1, FOLD-2 and FOLD-3.
(b) After consuming the four exposed pages, unfold FOLD-3 and flip FOLD-2 the other way, then re-make FOLD-3.
(c) You now have four more exposed blank pages.
(d) After consuming those four pages, unfold FOLD-3, and unfold FOLD-2 and flip FOLD-1 the other way. Then re-fold as for the original FOLD-2 and FOLD-3.
(e) You now have access to the second batch of 8-blank-pages.
(f) Repeat (b).

Fun! Thanks.

Ham-made (author)  procter3 months ago
Hey proctor!
That's exactly right!
Mr. Ham
I hate to be the dummy that posts this because everyone else seems to be getting something that I am not. How is this any different from just folding up a sheet of paper and putting it in your pocket? I LOVE the idea of creating your own notebook. I have bought so many Moleskine and Leuchturm notebooks, but usually lose them, or just don't carry them, because they are too large. I am a song writer, and I love to jot down lyrics as they come to me throughout the day, but I don't see how to "use" this EDC notebook. It says 16 pages, but... it's just a folded up sheet of paper. At best it would be 8-pages. Are you supposed to fill up the 8 pages, and then unfold/refold the paper in another way to expose the other 8 pages?
I completely agree. For many years I've been folding sheets of paper like this and sticking them in my pocket, like many people (possibly everyone who uses paper). To be honest I'm seriously wondering if this Instructable is meant to be very dry satire. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
You may be on to something. Haha! However, I can see how his idea can actually organize the sections on the paper in a constructive sort of way. Something to play around with, anyway.
drzcyy DougL563 months ago
Exactly what i think!
By the way, i just made a 32 page notebook ;)
I don't get it either. I wonder who the author's intended audience is. Perhaps there are people out there that have never folded a sheet a paper before, or who don't easily grasp the idea that having pen & paper is handy when you need to write something down. It even made today's Instructables "staff picks". I'm dumbfounded as to why.
Owlherder3 months ago
Actually, I already do this, but also have scraps of paper in bags, purses, and drawers. I enjoyed your story, I too have several beautiful journals, sketchbooks, etc. Not a mark in any of them. I'm wondering if either of us would be successful in using a version of this where the disposable notebook is made to fit an existing cover (made for the purpose or recycled from a used notebook) perhaps cutting the page edges to make it more book-like and accessible, with some pages large and folded in for when large pages are needed. When it is full, replace with a new one. I can envision all kinds of lovely handmade covers. I think I'll try it. Gee, you could do another 'Ible on how to make the cover and fill it with pages. Please do!
MarietteM44 months ago
I see that the 8-page version with a middle cut has already been mentioned (when I used to work with children, we called that a "hotdog-hamburger booklet," as an easy way to remember the directions of the folds).

One other thing to note about that version is that it's a great way to recycle/upcycle paper that's been printed on one side, since the printing can all be hidden on the inside.
I usually deface one and then dislike my first two or three drawings because they aren’t “perfect” and then get a new notebook bc the first one has been “ defiled”. This also prevents me from using anything other than normal notebooks. Anyone else?

Also, Thank you so much for sharing this with me! And thank you to those who commented! I look forward to trying out these new ideas!
calichigal4 months ago
I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one who doesn't like to desecrate notebooks/sketchbooks by actually using them. I am also a big scrap of paper user, mostly recycling received envelopes or any other sheet of partially used paper. And yes, they're everywhere. This is a great idea, as is the one suggested by a couple of other commenters, which ends up more like a booklet. Each has its place and use. I'll be sharing this one with my husband, who is also a note jotter and list maker.

Gotta add something - there are a lot of mini pens out there, too, y'all, for your everyday carry (EDC). I have a tiny Zebra stainless steel pen I got back when I started using Day Timers, and nowadays there are so many more options. I recently picked up 2 little Pilots. One is a fountain pen, the other is a brush pen with the same body, and takes the same ink cartridges that the little fountain pen takes. Fun.

And it's good to learn something new, every day. I, too, didn't know what EDC stands for. So I learned TWO things from this Instructable! :o)
Ham-made (author)  calichigal4 months ago
Hey calichigal!
At this point I might have to start a support group...I knew that I couldn't have been alone, but I had no idea to what extent!
Working in a high school, I have access to a seemingly unlimited source of scrap paper that self-replicates beside the printers and photocopiers, so I recycle them into notebooks! Thanks for sharing your story!
Mr. Ham
Ham-made (author)  Ham-made4 months ago
Speaking of pocket sized pens, have you checked out my other EDC 'ible: Ultra Fine Sharpie EDC ?
Thanks again for the comment!
Mr. Ham
Yes! But only after I posted my comment. I checked out your page and went to it from there. Fun!

Haha! A support group! I'll be in it, for sure. As I was writing my original comment I was thinking about the countless notebooks I have, still waiting to have their pages filled with ideas, sketches and thoughts. Perhaps I will endeavor to fill 1 page each day with something. Anything. Just see what happens.

george574 months ago
I see someone else mentioned pocketmod. The key thing about these is the slit in the middle that enables it to be folded differntly to make it a genuine booklet, not just a folded piece of paper. I recommend taking a look.
nepperhanman4 months ago
See also for the ability to print lines, dots, grids and lots more in a pocket book format.
Ham-made (author)  nepperhanman4 months ago
Cheers for that tip nepperhanman!
Mr. Ham
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