Welcome to Day 1 of our annual “12 Days of Inkmas”! Laura is going to start the season with an appropriately celebratory red ink from Korean ink maker 3 Oysters. Stay tuned for more inks as Inkmas progresses. Happy Inkmas! — Ana
Coffee is an essential part of my life. Most of my coffee consumption at this point in my life comes from a mug although I have gone through countless cups in the past. Especially at pen shows. So the jump from used coffee cup to paper seems like a great connection to make. Based on past experiences with recycled paper, however, I was worried about feathering and bleedthrough with fountain pen ink. So I was happy to receive a pack of these notebooks to try them out and see what they could take!
My first impression of the Coffee Cup notebooks (approximately $18.80 from Back Pocket Notebooks) was quite favorable. The notebook covers are made from 380gsm paper in a color called Moon Extract. The name of the color could inspire an entire review on its own.
Each cover in the set of three notebooks came with a different design, and each design is incredible and inspirational; each of the three designs was first created by the artist on coffee cups.
Inside, the 120gsm paper is printed in a cross-grid pattern using a light gray ink. Each book contains 18 sheets (36 pages) that are staple bound into a single signature (all sheets are folded one inside the next).
Inside the front cover is an explanation of the cover artwork from the artist, Rob Draper.
The inside of the back cover explains the project between Rob Draper and the paper manufacturer, G.F. Smith. I apologize for the cover being pulled away from the staple in this photo — it was taken after I’d been using the notebook for over a month and I have a tendency to fold the cover back on itself. I also throw this into a bag (NOT into a pocket because pockets are too small for everything) with a pen clipped to the cover (the cover is thick enough that the pen stays clipped, too!) However, this is the only place I see any sign of wear and tear!
The big question, however, is how the paper stands up to fountain pen ink. I ran several tests below with a variety of writing instruments. (The smearing of the Caran d’Ache ink was my fault. Cats and fountain pen ink are not a great combination.)
The Sakura permanent marker soaked into the paper and made the texture look somewhat blurry and the “o” and “t” on Pilot 912 feathered somewhat. Other than those two instances, there were no issues with writing from any instruments. The paper does not allow inks to show sheen. Another characteristic I noticed here is the texture of the paper; it is fairly toothy in a way that I found very pleasant. Writing in pencil on this paper is amazing, as was writing with the 14kt Franklin Christoph nib. I didn’t notice the texture as much with the other tests.
Looking at the reverse side of the test page, some of the fountain pen ink can be seen ghosting through, but this only comes out in the photo. During tests, I could not see these marks.
The J. Herbin Amytheste ink bled through a bit in the section where I laid down three layers of the ink, but not during normal writing. I was shocked when the writing from my Pilot 912 did not bleed through at all – that pen puts out a lot of ink!
All ballpoint and gel pens did very well in the test and while the Pentel Sparkle Pop pen shows through, I’ve found that it is up there with Sharpie markers. It goes through all paper. I was impressed that Pentel writing stayed crisp and dried quickly. I would not advise using alcohol-based inks on this paper (Sharpies, permanent markers) since it does come close to bleeding through as with the Sakura marker.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend these notebooks. I love supporting recycling efforts when I can and this is a great way to combine recycling with fountain pens.
Disclaimer: The set of notebooks in this review were provided free of charge by Back Pocket Notebooks for the purpose of this review. All other items used in the review were purchased by myself. For more information, see our About page.
The Shizen Journal (16.2cm x21.3cm or 6 3/8″ x 8 7/16″ though the actual paper is 6.25″ x 8.25″) is a PU leather hardcover notebook with a magnetic, folding closure and rounded spine. Beneath the protected edge is an elastic pen loop that comfortably holds a medium-sized fountain pen. Inside, the paper included is 80gsm and a combination of grid, blank and dot grid pages — 64 pages of each for a total of 192 pages. It’s a notebook with three styles of paper in one book!
The paper is a creamy, natural white and the rulings are grey with 5mm spacing for both the grid and dot grid. There is a margin around each page and dots at the top to note the date or time or other coding as you see fit. The blank pages in the center of the book are completely blank.
There is no indication or divider between the sections of paper but, as shown in the photo above, the paper migrates from graph to blank to dot grid.
The only branding is on the back of the book — a subtle, debossed logo. There is one ivory satin, ribbon bookmark with unfinished end. It feels like an attempt was made to finish the end but it is already fraying.
The paper is not super heavyweight so my expectations for pen fidelity was not super high.
I first tested some sketching tools — gel, rollerball, pencil and some drawing inks. The only show through or bleed through issues were with the drawing inks which was to be expected.
So, I went ahead and tested some fountain pens. I had a range of pens from EF to a Pilot Parallel and a couple that turned out to need ink (not the paper’s fault, obviously!). The flex nibs had some bleeding issues but everything else wrote decently. Some inks that may be more absorbent might bleed a bit so this is definitely a notebook where Japanese ink and Diamine may be the best options.
There was a good deal more show through and some bleed through but the notebook was not excessively expensive so using only one side of the paper is not the worst thing.
Overall, it’s an interesting notebook. I like the three styles of paper in one book — I can take notes, bullet journal and sketch in one book I just wish the paper was a tiny bit more fountain-pen friendly to withstand not just fountain pens but drawing inks and other materials. The magnetic closure is nice and creates a clean, professional-looking notebook that feels appropriate for the work environment.
I could not find the notebook on the Artist & Craftsman website though I purchased it in store here in Kansas City. If you have a branch of this art supply shop near you, I recommend that you pop in and check out their assortment of notebooks, sketchbooks and journals. They have a great selection as well as a good assortment of Japanese drawing and calligraphy pens, markers and more.
Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-ho is the final bottle of ink that I purchased from Jesi at the St. Louis Pen Show (backed up much?). I was very intrigued by this one since Ina-ho translate to “rice ear.”
Ina-ho is a brown gold color, named as such after the fields of rice ears that turn golden before harvest.
This one doesn’t have any shimmer or sheen that I can see, but tons of lovely shading that ranges between a light gold to a darker brown. In most of the written applications (with a pen nib) the ink comes across very gold. It’s only in darker applications (ink drops or q-tip swabs) where it comes across as a dark brown.
In terms of color comparisons, I didn’t have a ton in my ink “stash” that looks like Ina-ho. Most of my browns are way too brown, and the few golds I have are much lighter. My closest match was probably Colorverse Gluon, notwithstanding the sparkle.
Platinum Citrus Black is a smidge lighter than the light parts of Ina-ho, and even my lighter browns (Noodlers Rome Burning and Platinum Khaki Black) are too dark. In a sense, this is happy making because Ina-ho is a shade I truly didn’t have before!
Ina-ho performs as well as I’ve come to expect from Pilot Iroshizuku inks. It goes down wet, but dries relatively quickly. I had no issues with it flowing through any of my nibs. The holidays are coming – maybe it’s time to add a gold to your list?
This week we have more gift guides from around the pen community (and satellites) plus two posts about the Trigg Life Mapper, a new planner on the scenes. There are two new guides from JetPens blog this week, one for heavy handed writers and an overview of fountain pen inks. If you’ve never check out JetPens resources, I recommend clicking on one or both of these links!
All our regular favorites are here too: ink reviews, notebook reviews, and more. Once again, my apologies for the delay. Hope you got a chance to listen to the Pen Addict Gift Guide episode I recorded with Brad and Myke yesterday. There’s lots of great ideas plus a special coupon code* for listeners for The Well-Appointed Desk Shop!
Apologies for the delay on getting Link Love up this week. This morning I got to participate in the Annual Gift Guide episode of the Pen Addict podcast. As a result, my daily routine was disrupted. So, for you, I skipped knit night in order to catch up on Link Love. See? I do care!
While you’re waiting, take a listen to the gift guide episode. A good time was had by all.