holy moley*

Moleskine \mol-a-skeen-a\ is the heir of the legendary notebook used for the past two centuries by great artists and thinkers, including Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, André Breton and Ernest Hemingway.

Moleskine has just announced a new flexible, softcover version of their traditional hardcover notebook. That's 192 pages (96 sheets) of quality Moleskinerial goodness in your pick of ruled, graph or plain paper.

{ Win a softcover Moleskine today! I'm having a little contest. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for details. Play! Win! Or...buy one here. }

The little black Moleskine notebook, with its rounded corners, elastic closure and expandable inner pocket, was originally a nameless object. It was produced by a small French bookbinder that supplied Parisian stationery shops frequented by the international literary and artistic set.

In the mid-1980s, however, the original manufacturer closed down - the notebook was no longer available. In his book, Songlines, Bruce Chatwin tells the whole story of his favorite notebook, which he nicknamed 'Moleskine.' And this, as the tale goes, is where Moleskine got its name.

Fast forward to 1998. Modo & Modo, the old Italian publisher, brought the notebook back to life, taking the name Moleskine from Chatwin's writing. Since then, the notebooks have enjoyed extraordinary popularity - obtaining nothing short of cult status through fabulous sites such as moleskinerie, flickr moleskinerie pool and skineart. If you know of other Moleskine links, please, please, pretty please share the goodness.

In 2006, Modo & Modo began looking to sell the company or partner with someone to help it expand. According to an article in The Daily Telegraph, the company reported that its small staff was unable to keep up with demand. In August of 2006, the French investment fund, Société Générale, purchased Modo & Modo for 60 million euros.

So, (show and) tell us. What's in your Moleskine?

From a collage series, Pisanka, that I created last year in one of my watercolor Moleskines. I'm working on some others for Russian Easter '08 - coming up next Sunday, April 27, in fact.

Irina Troitskaya. Irina's website is magical.

Will Freeborn





Moleskine art (at the tippy top) courtesy of edgaroid. So. Cool.

* Win a softcover Moleskine.
Answer this: what is the etymology of 'holy moley?' Educated (witty, clever, but incorrect) guesses are welcome and will be rewarded along with correct answers, of course. You're on the honor system here. Email or comment today! The answer - and winner(s) - will be announced later this week.


katiedid said...

Haha! What a fun contest, and these moleskins are fab. :) The art you have shown is pretty inspirational to me, as I have always loved to draw and paint, but have gotten a little busy to do it. I must make the time!

Re: the "holey moley"...I am not sure but it reminds me of comic book expressions from when I was a kid....like from Batman when Robin would say stuff like "Holey ice cubes, Batman...I think that was the Penguin!" So, my guess would be that it came from a comic book originally.

Luisa Perkins said...

"Holy Moley" comes from the following legend:

In Wales, a brutal chief named Caradoc wanted to have his way with young Winifred, the niece of St. Beuno. Winifred spurned Caradoc's embraces and fled from him, seeking safe haven in the church; Caradoc followed her and caught her just before she reached the church and, in his rage at her refusal, lopped off her head with his broadsword.

Her head rolled down the hill, and a spring of healing waters came forth where it came to rest. That spot is called Holywell to this day, and has been an object of pilgrimage for hundreds of years.

(I have visited Holywell; it's one of my favorite spots in Wales.)

Winifred's body obviously fell to the ground where she was killed; local moles took pity on her remains and dug her a grave within the churchyard so that she could rest on holy ground. Caradoc was struck dead by Heaven for his murderous act, but his body was left for the crows.

Winifred is the patron saint of virgins and has a special love for the lowly moles who gave her a proper burial. The expression 'holy moley' was coined by British schoolchildren in reaction to this wondrous story.

I carry a Moleskine in my purse. It lists books I've read, movies and shows I've seen, and restaurants I've visited in years past. There is nothing so beautiful in its pages as on the images you displayed. Very inspiring.

Jane Flanagan said...

Love it!

Everytime I crack open a new moleskine I hope I'll fill it with all manner of sketches and photo-worthy pages... But invariably, they're filled with bad doodles and notes taken in meetings. Yawn...

/// said...

Wowza--- Luisa did her research! :)

And so have you--- these illustrations are fantastic, Diana! :)

Anonymous said...

Great post, Diana! Really inspiring examples of the endless possibilities of what the blank page of a Moleskine offers.

I'm still in awe of Luisa's definition (and still smiling at Katie's, too) ... but here goes ...

Holey moley: a slangily irreverent reference to any particularly delicious dish featuring mole, the classic sauce of Mexican cuisine.


blah said...

Diana - wow Luisa! I am impressed.

According to http://www.biocrawler.com/encyclopedia/Minced_oaths

Holy Moley actually refers to the Moley flower, believed to have miraculous healing power by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

It's been interesting to research this!

Relyn Lawson said...

I found my way to you from Studio Wellspring, and I am so glad that I did. I just spent nearly an hour exploring old posts and following links. I just wanted to say hello and thanks for the inspiration.

I especially love this post. I bought a pack of three molskines recently. So far, my 6 year old daughter has used two of them to make gift books for family members. Maybe I should snatch up the last one before it's too late.

paris parfait said...

Love the moleskin notebooks - I have way too many of them; became completely infatuated with them when studying Spanish in Sevilla. I saw some of the softcover ones in London last week - love how they keep updating their products. Great contest!

The Proud Primate said...

Ms. Perkins —

The legend of St. Winifred, minus the moles, is well attested. The whole point of the Holywell is that she was made whole by her uncle, the monk Beuno, to whom she was running for protection when Caradoc cut her head off.

No moles, no burial. Beuno put her head back on and she lived on, and the Holywell is replete with crutches supposedly abandoned by healed supplicants.

I suggest the expression "holy moley" actually originated in the immigrant population of New York and environs, first appearing in print in "Captain Marvel" comics in roughly 1930. Just as "Hocus Pocus" is a satire on "Hoc est corpus meus" ("this is My body", ie., the transubstantiation — the magical part of the Eucharist in Catholic masses), so "Holy Moley" is a satire of "Holy Mary" ("Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death") into a reference to a plain but pious Catholic girl, who was notable for moles on her skin, and too prudish to "play around".

In a comparable example, I remember an issue of Uncle Scrooge, where the duck brothers were reading several fan letters for what or to whom I don't remember, but one was signed "Mousey Mona from Corona". Holey Moley, what a name!

That's my guess. Sound reasonable?

Anonymous said...

Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.

- Kris

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