Field Notes

Entries Tagged as 'Field Trip'

Field Trip:

Kern This

July 31st, 2013 by Jim Coudal

Watching Aaron adjust analog letter-spacing is a thing of beauty. He’s prepping our booth at The Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake City. Michele and Bryan are there this week too, so stop by the Pavilions area and say hello if you’re walking the floor. Our Expedition Editions, Space Pens and everything else are ready for your shelves.

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Colors · Field Trip:

“It’s So Bright and Clear That it Feels Like You Can Practically Walk Out on the Milky Way.”

June 19th, 2013 by Steve Delahoyde


When we were coming up with ideas for what to put together for a short film for the Night Sky Edition, we ran into a couple of issues: First, we’re in Chicago, which is a very large, well-lit city, something that isn’t generally conducive to capturing the infinite vastness of space (on a cloudless night, even a ways out in the country, you’re lucky to see even half a dozen stars). Second, how do you try and capture said impressive vastness? While we thought it all through, we made two determinations: clearly, we needed to go somewhere dark, and maybe we didn’t necessarily need to be constrained by the “short” in short film.


The idea was fairly simple, though complex in the making: for those of us in big metropolitan, light-polluted areas like Chicago who can’t see the night sky very clearly, we wanted to travel to this section of rural Nevada and bring the stars back with us, capturing a full night sky and playing it back in real time.



The story of how this all came to be, is below.
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Field Trip:

Small Farm Life

February 13th, 2012 by Bryan Bedell


“I’ve used a variety of sizes and styles of paper notebooks as I’ve built the cabins and planned projects at Two Mile Ranch. I’ve used calendar style journals to record weather, laying habits of chickens, garden plots, feed purchases, building and shelter plans, shopping lists, and the general diary of events.” –Fritz Nordengren. Iowa, December 28, 2010.

Thanks to Fritz’s oldest son for giving Field Notes (Iowa, of course). And thanks to Fritz for the lovely post and photo.

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Field Trip:

County Fair, A Field Trip

July 20th, 2011 by Jim Coudal

Last summer we introduced our “County Fair Editions” by taking a long, hot road trip to the Iowa/Nebraska border.


There are FIFTY versions available in the series, one for each state in the Union. Above is a look at “Alaska.” They’re sold in 3-Packs, as a special 50-State Box Set and also via our new ROAD TRIP KIT. Traveling the USA this summer? Make sure to take along the proper state books.

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Field Notes In Action · Field Trip:

The Grand (Ave.) Tour

April 2nd, 2011 by Bryan Bedell

Recent FIELD NOTES convert Pete Ruksakiati carefully documented his pilgrimage to our Midwestern Office “Local Will-Call Window” last week. Pete seemed disappointed to learn that our “Local Will-Call Window” was constructed for one photo then promptly disassembled, (though we do still have a “Will-Call Pile On A Desk”) but he had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see our storeroom, and our other storeroom, and our packing room, and our third storeroom, and see the Chicago skyline from our luxurious suites.

We can’t promise we’ll always have time to show visitors around, and we always suspect people will be disappointed when they see what goes on here (remember when Bart Simpson visited the Mad Magazine office?). But guests rarely seem disappointed, and it’s a nice break from our routine (when we have a few minutes to spare). Meeting folks who are excited about what we do… well… it gets us excited all over again! As always, thanks for the support.

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Field Trip · Film Archive:

Fused I Say, Fused!

December 12th, 2010 by Bryan Bedell

The inside covers and interior pages of the Balsam Fir notebooks were offset-printed in “Wet Bark Black” at Envision Graphics in Bloomingdale IL, then the covers were sent to Diecrafters in historic Cicero, IL for hot foil stamping. This is FIELD NOTES’ first foray into foil stamping, and the process is shown in the video above. The press is a Kluge EHE 14×22, manufactured by Brandtjen & Kluge in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. Hot foil stamping is fairly similar to letterpress printing (as seen in our Raven’s Wing video) but instead of ink, colored or metallic foil (or holograms!) are fused onto the paper with a heated die, In this case, a snow-white matte non-metallic ‘foil’ was used, rolls of the material can be seen mounted above the printer. Each roll was aligned to a specific print position on the sheet to minimize wasted foil. The finished covers went back to Bloomingdale to be cut, assembled, bound, trimmed, round-cornered, belly-banded, and shrink-wrapped, and they’ll be in your hands soon!

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Field Trip:

The Pace of the Place

July 28th, 2010 by Bryan Bedell

“OK, everybody make sure to use the bathroom, it’s a long drive and I dont want to be stopping every half hour.” A Field Notes Road Trip.

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Field Trip:

Field Trip: Monona County Fair (Part 4)

July 19th, 2010 by Bryan Bedell


monona“These are great, but I’m not a farmer.” We’ve heard this more than a couple of times tonight. Another was “I’ll have to send my husband is, because he’s a farmer and he’ll understand.” So we’ve come 502 miles to find authentic, rural Americana, only to find that it’s we who seem to rural and authentic. If movies have shown us anything, it’s that a road trip always leads to getting to know yourself better, and this must be our third act denouement, where we learn that our memo books look like (or really are) the real deal. But we’d tell people, “You don’t have to be a farmer. You can use them for anything,” and that’s seemed to work pretty well.

The demolition derby got started a bit late, with the announcer getting on the PA system every once in a while to tell corny jokes and let everyone know that they were still getting some kinks worked out. What kinks you need to work out at an event where the point is to forcibly disable things, we’re not sure, but the wait wound up being good for business, as much larger crowds started filing in around 6:00. Like throughout the day, most of the people who stopped by our building were there for the 4-H vegetables, but they’d swing by after checking out grand prize winning stalk of corn to see what we were all about.

Once the derby finally kicked off, the arena being directly behind us, the building started rattling and sounding like you’re sitting next to a couple of 747’s engines going at full bore. Strangely, we never heard any distinct car crash noises, though at one point something big and loud smashed into the side of our building, maybe something flying off a car, and that put us on edge for a while.

Another volunteer for the Friends of the Onawa Library showed up for her spot to run the booth. She talked to us a bunch about the area, explaining the Loess Hills and how no one over 65 has to pay state income tax in Iowa, which is why so many people like her have retired here. She told us that they were planning to close their booth down early, so if we wouldn’t mind watching after it once they’d left, they’d appreciate it. We told them we’d collect any money for book sales (25¢ for paperback, 50¢ for hardcover) and drop it through the mail slot on our way out of town.

After the burly man carrying (and regularly using) a backscratcher came in to chat and Daniel spotted a farmer in overalls who had large diamond earrings in both ears, our friend the 4-H kid, showed back up again. “So you sold anything yet?” he asked. “Yep,” we told him. Then he talked to us for a while about why he didn’t want to exhibit meat goats and why he prefers to show sheep. Sometimes it would get bit technical and he’d lose us, but we tried to keep up.

Around 9:45, the sun nearly all set, we started packing up. It’d been a long day, but a fun time. We’d met a lot of great people, learned some about the town with the widest main street and the birthplace of the Eskimo Pie, and sold a few of our new County Fair books along the way. By 10:15, the fair was all shut down, we’d loaded up the car and were heading to the one restaurant still open: the BBQ place next to the interstate attached to the truck stop. Covered in a mix of bug spray, sunscreen, and sweat, we were exhausted, but very happy we came. After a well-deserved night of sleep and 10 hours on the road tomorrow, we’d be home.

Video soon.

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Field Trip:

Field Trip: Monona County Fair (Part 3)

July 19th, 2010 by Bryan Bedell


mononaIt looks like we may have survived the heat. The building we’re in has two open doors, but configured in such a way so that no breeze can come in. Instead, however this works scientifically, it seemed to trap the heat. We started taking turns going outside to stand in the sun to cool off.

Throughout the afternoon, we had a number of people pass through and say, “Man, they gave you the hottest building!” One of regulars is a boy of 9 or 10, wearing a 4-H shirt and boots, who would come in and ask us pointed question about what we’re selling. “Why does your sign say ‘Iowa and Nebraska & 48 Other States’?” He’d leave, but be right back with more questions in 10 minutes. Last we saw him, he’d made friends with a handful of girls slightly older than him. We figure we’ve been replaced.

The other regular is the small, lawn tractor-driven train that passes outside the door every few minutes. It pulls empty, halved oil barrels on wheels that have been converted into single cars for kids. Every once in awhile its conductor asks them to wave at us and they do.

Every now and again, we’ll take turns wandering, mostly around the animal pens. Had no idea there were that many different kinds of rabbits.

So the sun is dipping now and the clouds have come in, so it’s much more comfortable. We’ve both had our Knights of Columbus meal deal (hamburger, chips and a drink: $3.50) and we’re gearing up for the demolition derby crowd that should be arriving shortly.

More soon.

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Colors · Field Trip:

Field Trip: Monona County Fair (Part 2)

July 16th, 2010 by Bryan Bedell


mononaWe started the morning at the Onawa Cafe, which only takes cash, but you don’t need much of it to get giant plates of hash browns and perfectly-cooked bacon.

Once the County Fair gates opened, we hauled everything in and began setting up. We’re maybe the first overly design-conscious vendors in the whole of county fair history. As such, we spent way too much time tweaking and adjusting and saying to each other, “Does this look centered? We need to make sure everything is symmetrical.”

However extra time it took us didn’t seem to matter much. Most of the action at the fair right now seems to be down at the 4-H building, where the animal competitions are going on. We’ve had just a few people come, bit they’ve all been here to either check out the winning vegetables or talk to the librarian manning the booth next to ours. Understandable, because she’s very nice. She came over to say hello after we were set up. “So what’s your booth all about?” she asked. We told her and showed her some Iowa editions. She said, “That’s neat.” so now we have our first official endorsement. I think her name is Nancy.

Business should pick up later, once the sun goes down and the demolition derby starts. Right now it’s hotter and stickier inside the building than out in the sun. We found a fan and plugged it in and that helped. An older guy wandered in, the guy who apparently the fan belongs to, and said, “This thing shorts out, so watch it.” It just shorted out a second ago, so we’re back to sweating.

More later.

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