Posts Tagged ‘notebook’

Review: Lokta Paper Goods by Monk Papers

Lokta paper is made from the fibrous inner bark of the high-elevation evergreen bushes in the Himalayans. This paper is often just called Nepali paper. Pen Boutique has started carrying a wide variety of lokta-based paper good from a company called Monk Papers including journals, notebooks, and stationery sets.

Monk Paper Computer Paper

I received a packet of deep violet printer paper cut to 8.5×11 to fit into US printers and copiers, an A5-sized hardcover journal and a boxed photo album.

The cut sheets are a deep vivid purple. I thought the dark color of the purple screamed for an opaque white gel pen and it looks fantastic.

Monk Paper printer sheets letter size

One side of the paper is smoother than the other and probably better suited to holding ink jet inks than the more textured side. Unfortunately the purple paper is too dark to be legible but I think other colors would work well and be great for invites, resumes or a typed letter.

Monk Papers Photo Album

I was also sent this festive photo album and matching storage box. Its about 8″x8″ in size. The dots are colored dots of paper attached to the cover. I think this is one of the best uses for this paper. It looks fabulous, durable and totally unique.

Monk Papers Hardcover Journal

I was also sent an A5 hard cover journal. The cover is the same color as the interior pages and the spine is covered in a contrasting colored paper . The binding is a traditional stitched binding that lays flat easily.

Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample close-up

I experimented with a lot of different tools with this paper because my standard habit of using super-fine pens just did not work on this paper. The super-fine gel pens and fountain pens stabbed into the soft, fibrous paper. Brushes, pencils and wider rollerballs and art tools work best on this paper. There doesn’t appear to be any sizing on the paper so wet tools like brush pens and watercolor absorb quickly. I think heavy water coverage would warp the paper pretty severely.

Monk Paper Journal reverse of stock

From the reverse of the page, there’s some bleed and show-through as I would suspect from such a soft paper.

The Lokta paper is unusual enough that I think everyone should have a chance to try it but it is like other specialty papers, not all the tools you normally use will work but other things might.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Boutique for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Letts of London Noteletts Notebook

 

Noteletts L6 Ruled cover

While visiting Daly’s Pen Shop in Milwaukee, I picked up a Letts of London Noteletts notebook. The Noteletts line is available three sizes, ruled or blank and in four different cover colors. I got the “L6″,  the medium size, which is 116mm x 172mm (approx. 4.5″x 6.75″) and features lined paper.

Noteletts L6 Ruled

The cover of the book is a black book cloth which collects cat hair and dust easily (pardon my dust!) but feels nice in my hand and gives the cover a bit more flex than other notebooks with  leatherette covers.

 

Noteletts L6 Ruled page spread

Inside the paper is a warm creamy ivory color with fine, light grey lines. There are 192 pages which is comparable to other books of a similar size. The line spacing is 0.25″ (6mm)  and the paper quality is above average. It feels thicker than the average notebook. I’d compare it to the paper weight in Paperblanks notebooks but the Noteletts has a bit more tooth to the paper. That might make it a little more absorbent but it also means those slippery gel inks have something to hold onto.

Noteletts L6 Ruled dated rules

At the top of each page is a place to write the date to keep your notes organized. The Noteletts branding is at the bottom of each page — a bit overkill but not too obtrusive.

Noteletts L6 Ruled Planner Pages

In the back is a 2-page monthly planner  spread. Its not necessarily enough room to be a full-fledged planner but would be a good spot to write key dates or birthdays. In the back of the book, there’s also a map with time zones, calling code info and weights and measures. I find it charmingly anachronistic to include this info in the age of smartphones but I appreciate it nonetheless. It makes me feel worldly and cosmopolitan to have this info at hand.

There is also the requisite expandable pocket in the back cover, vertical elastic closure and a ribbon bookmark with finished end. All welcome and well done.

Noteletts L6 Ruled writing sample

In writing tests, the paper is a bit heavier than the average but I knew it would not be as fountain pen-worthy as Clairfontaine/Rhodia. The paper would probably fare best with fine line pens of any variety but the show through was not terrible with the couple fountain pens I had on me today — both loaded with a blue ink, both fine European nibs.

Noteletts L6 Ruled reverse of writing

From the reverse, a little show through is visible and I suspect that a medium or broad nibbed fountain pen with black ink with definitely get more show through and probably dots of bleed through. Its not the most fountain pen friendly paper but its far from the worst. Dry time was  quite reasonable so it seems like a fair trade-off.

The price point for the Noteletts (MSRP is $13.50 for this size notebook), from the tony Letts of London, is up there with Moleskine but it carries a slightly different kind of cache. Letts of London has been making paper products since 1812 and focuses on planners (AKA diaries) and hangs its hat on its English-ness, where Moleskine prefers to tap into it Italian European-ness. I am inclined to be more of an Anglophile so if I had to pick one or the other, I’m inclined to choose the English Noteletts in part for its own heritage but also the cloth covers, better paper and lighter lines. I find the lined paper in Moleskine notebooks much too dark.

Our new sponsors Pen Boutique stock the Noteletts line as well as purchasing them directly.

Review: Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

After trying out the Stillman & Birn sampler packet, I went ahead and got two sketchbooks. A 5.5×8.5″ Epsilon series hard cover and an 8.5×11″ Alpha series hard cover. I always think of the 8.5×11″ black hard cover as the quintessential artist’s sketchbook. This was the first sketchbook I ever got when I started art school. Its the book made popular by graffiti artists often just called a “black book” or “piece book”. Many companies produce versions of this book and, to be honest, I’ve always considered the popularity in the Moleskine notebooks attributable to the ubiquity of the “black book” sketchbook.

That said, in recent years, I’ve found the quality of the standard black sketchbook to be so-so. The paper seems thinner than ever and the construction is not nearly as durable as I remember it being. Until, that is, the Stillman & Birn books came into my life.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks

Both books feature a heavy 100lb/150gsm weight paper and have a textured, black leatherette over stiff hard cover boards. The interior pages (62 sheets/124 pages in each book) are stitched. There are no additional features to these books: no pockets, ribbon bookmarks or other embellishments. These books mean BUSINESS and they feel super durable.

Once the paper branding bands are removed from the book, the only branding is a blind deboss of the Stillman & Birn logo on the lower portion of the back covers.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook writing sample

The smaller Epsilon sketchbook has a smoother paper texture than the Alpha paper and the label describes it as “plate surface”. The recommended use listed is “…line drawings without feathering or bleeding”. With the smoother surface, the line quality is a little crisper than with the Alpha, especially at smaller sizes. The paper color in the Epsilon books is also a tiny bit whiter than the Alpha which is more of a natural white.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook reverse of writing sample

As you can see from the reverse, the only real show through was the Zebra Permanent marker (similar in formula to a permanent Sharpie marker). In person, I can see a bit more of the ghost of the writing on the previous page but I feel confident that I could use both front and back of each sheet without bleeding issues or obscuring the previous page.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook writing sample

The Alpha Series features a natural white paper with a slight tooth to the paper. The label lists the paper as “vellum surface” and lists the recommended uses as “suitable for all dry media, will accept light washes”.

I tested the Alpha paper with ink and some of my more arty tools since I expected that this, of all paper, would be able to handle it. There’s a tiny bit of show through but no bleeding at all, even with the wet ink that was applied like watercolor. The paper did not buckle with my light ink wash. I’m sure with a wetter application of watercolor, it might buckle a little bit but it seems more than adequate for a range of tools, including wide nib fountain pens, and a little experimentation.

If you are looking for paper able to withstand a lot of water application, try the Beta, Delta or Zeta line. Those are 270gsm paper designed for wet media. If you’re more inclined to do some light washes or mixed media, the Alpha or Epsilon books should be perfectly adequate.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook reverse of writing sample

From the reverse of the Alpha book, you see there’s very little show through. In person, I can discern a bit more show through than can be seen in the photo but not so much that I wouldn’t be comfortable using both sides of the paper.

Honestly, its hard to have any criticism of these books at all. The paper is beautiful and they handle fountain pen ink without bleeding or feathering. The construction is top-notch and super-durable. Stillman & Birn offer such a great range of products that if these books didn’t satisfy my needs, one of the many other books in their line would. The S&B sketchbooks are priced neatly in between budget-priced black sketchbooks available in art supply stores and the prestige notebooks like Moleskine and Rhodia.

I always like to have a “black book” handy at work for sketches and rough drawings and I think my go-to brand now will be Stillman & Birn. Maybe I’ll even start that sketch journal I’ve been meaning to do?

The best online source for Stillman & Birn is Goulet Pens or ask your local art supply store to start carrying Stillman & Birn.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Stillman & Birn for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Do I love lime green? You know I do. (See the matching nail polish for proof.)

Do I like Leuchtturm1917 notebooks? Yup.

Do I really like when the two things come together with all the genius of peanut butter and chocolate? Of course!!

Okay, on to the real review…

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

The Leuchtturm1917 notebook line was recently updated. They added four neon colors (orange, yellow, lime and pink) in their large and pocket-sized hardcover notebooks. The other notable difference with these neon books is a subtle dot texture in the cover leatherette material. As it catches the light, the dots are visible. Its really kind of a cool effect.

The only exterior branding is a debossed logo, centered across the bottom edge of the back cover. I appreciate when brands recognize that I don’t want their logo front and center of my notebook.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

I think it’s been awhile since I’ve used a Leuchtturm1917 but I noticed that the large hardcover notebook was a bit wider than most A5-ish notebooks I’ve used. It’s 5.75″ (14.5cm) wide and 8.25″ (about 21cm) tall. In comparison, my current notebook, the Palomino Blackwing Luxury notebook, is just over 5″ wide.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Inside, the notebooks feature the same 80 gsm ivory paper with light grey lines. The lines run from edge to edge and there is a top margin for the date. These books, like all the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include the index pages in the front as well as page numbers on each page to help to organize and archive your writings.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Inside the back cover is a gusseted pocket. The vertical elastic and ribbon book mark match the covers. I’m noticing some fraying on the bookmark already so I’ll hit the end with a little white craft glue (fray check will work too) to keep it from falling apart.

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include a sticker sheet for labeling the cover and spine as well as a thank you note and a short history about the brand.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook writing sample

For my writing tests, I made sure all my pens color coordinated with the book, at least from the outside. None of the fountain pen inks feathered (not even the super watery J. Herbin) and dry time was pretty reasonable.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook writing sample reverse side

There’s a little show through on the reverse side of the page but no bleed through. I think the show through is more noticeable in person than in this photo. I would not be inclined to use both sides of the paper with dark inks or a wide nib fountain pen but with gel pens, felt tip, ballpoint and rollerballs, its not too bad.

Overall, I really like the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. The lines are pleasingly light, the index and numbered pages help get me a little more organized than I might otherwise be. And you can’t beat the color choices. The paper is a good upgrade from other similarly-priced notebooks (like Moleskine) but  its not as fountain pen-friendly as Rhodia/Clairfontaine which is a little more expensive, offers fewer cover color options and puts a big honkin’ logo on the cover.

The Leuchtturm1917 large hardcover notebooks sell for $18.95 each through Goulet Pens. And yes, there are several other, more sedate colors to choose from.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Thanks to Rachel for picking out the PERFECT color for me. Please see the About page for more details.

How many notebooks is too many?

From the top: Pen & Ink Sketch, Zenok Leather Field Notes Cover, Paperblanks Masaïque Safran, Palomino Blackwing, Leuchtturm 1917 lined

From the top: Pen & Ink Sketch, Zenok Leather Field Notes Cover, Paperblanks Masaïque Safran, Palomino Blackwing, Leuchtturm 1917 lined (review for this style to follow soon).

I was pulling everything out of my bag this morning to get situated at work. One, two, three… four… five! I found five notebooks in my bag and realized that maybe I had too many notebooks going at one time.

Then I started thinking about it and my Zenok leather Field Notes cover actually hides two notebooks so the total is up to six?!?! I also realized that several notebooks have overlapping purposes: personal notes vs. work notes (x 2) each. I need to start streamlining.

Okay, I can be excused on one of the six. The Leuchtturm 1917 in lime is a “to review” notebook I’ve been toting around but everything else is in active use.But everything else…?

I had intended to have the Zenok be my all-the-time notebook with one Field Notes for work notes and one Field Notes for personal notes. But its a bit too bulky to fit in a pocket so I started using the Pen & Ink Sketchbook for personal notes, to-do lists and such. The larger Palomino Blackwing Notebook was for personal project planning, longer thoughts and the like. And the Paperblanks had become my meeting notes notebook at work. So, they all have information in them that either needs to be consolidated or I need to keep working in this “lug a whole New York phonebook with me everyday” method.

So, how many notebooks is too many? How do you organize your personal notes? Do you separate personal notes from work notes?

With back-to-school on the horizon, I’d like to feel all put-together and organized for the fall. Does the whole back-to-school make you want to “start fresh” too?

Review: Rhodia Ice Notepad

Rhodia Ice covers

I finally got a chance to see what all the hullabaloo surrounding the new Rhodia Ice pads is all about. In honor of its 80th anniversary, Rhodia has released a white covered version of its classic notepads. I got the No. 16 (6 x 8.25″) which is a good desktop sized, comparable to an A5 or Steno pad. The logo is metallic silver on the warm white, matte-coated cover. Inside, the paper is white with a light grey grid.

The Ice notepads are available in lined or graph, both with the same light grey ink for the lines. The Ice notepads all feature the same high-quality paper that the original Rhodia notepads use.

Rhodia Ice writing sample

Since my Rhodia pads tend to have the cover folded back from the moment they are unwrapped, the color of the cover isn’t all that big of a deal. But I’ve avoided anything but the blank Rhodia notepads because I find the purple lines to be too dark and distracting for me. The grey lines in the Ice notepads is such an improvement! The Ice notepad is a lot more usable to me than the standard lined or graph in the orange or black notepads.

I much prefer the grey lines to the standard pads. I might have to stock up on the Ice pads in case they discontinue them.

Prices for the Rhodia Ice pads range from $2-$9, depending on size, on Goulet Pens.

Tested with my Kaweco Skyline Mint with Kaweco blue ink. Seemed like a good icy companion.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Rhodia for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Upcoming: Blackwing Slate Notebook

Blackwing Slate profile view with elasitc pencil loop

It’s a week chock full of new notebooks. The new Blackwing Slate is an updated version of the Blackwing Luxury notebook. This time the notebook is hardcover but uses the same polymer leather-like material. The branding is center at the bottom of the back cover and not central across the cover.

The size looks like an A5-ish at about 5×8″ and has 160 pages.

The spine is canvas with an elastic loop along the spine to hold your coveted Blackwing pencil. The paper inside is 100gsm and is available light grey lines (that look quite similar to the current format) or blank.

The new Blackwing Slate adds a ribbon bookmark and a pocket inside the back cover. Since I’ve been using my Blackwing Luxury notebook as my daily book for awhile, I can tell you that the absence of the catchall pocket is keenly felt. I’m glad they’ve added this feature.

The new Blackwing Slate will retail for $22.95 and is expected to be available in limited quantities by the end of July. Check with your favorite retailer or pencils.com to order.

Blackwing Slate notebook branding

Upcoming: Moleskine Voyageur Notebook

Moleskine Voyageur

Moleskine recently announced a new addition to their notebook line, the Moleskine Voyageur, A Traveller’s Notebook. The notebooks start shipping this week so this seemed like a good time to take a closer look.

The Voyageur notebook does not follow Moelskine’s standard sizing. The Voyageur is 4×7″– a little smaller than the regular A5-sized “medium” and a bit larger than the “pocket”. Its also clothbound instead of leatherette. And currently, it is only available with a brown cover. I feel like this is Moleskine’s attempt to capture some of the enthusiasm that exists around books like the Midori Traveler. Even the name is awfully reminiscent.

Moleskine Voyageur

Inside the front of the notebook are pages with information about creating printable sheets to insert into your notebook as well as a map.

Moleskine Voyageur

The pages are color coded along the edge to visual indicate three separate paper choices: lined, dot grid and blank sheets for various projects or type of note-taking. There are three color-coded ribbon bookmarks that match the various sections in the book.

Moleskine Voyageur

In the back of the book are pages that are perforated along the vertical to make to-do lists.

Moleskine Voyageur

And finally, in the back is a pocket for storing ephemera. A sheet of stickers is included with the notebook as well. I’m not sure how useful the stickers would be but I appreciate the effort.

MSRP for the Voyageur notebook is $24.95 US but vendors like Amazon are offering the Voyageur a little under retail.

Is this a notebook you’d consider ordering? I’m intrigued and I like the multi-functionality of it. I don’t think the paper will be any better with fountain pens than standard Moleskines but all the little extras make it seem like its a better value than a plain Moleskine. What do you think?

Review: Pen & Ink Pocket Sketchbook

Pen & Ink Sketchbook cover I picked up the Art Alternatives Pen & Ink Sketch with medium weight paper in the pocket (3.5×5.5″) size. I chose the blank version though it is also available in graph and lined plus a heavyweight paper version. In the images on Jet Pens, the lines on the lined and graph looked much too dark for my liking. I’d rather use a blank book with a guide sheet. It’s described as medium weight (80gsm) paper, but it feels like the same weight, maybe a tiny bit heavier, than Moleskine’s standard paper.

Pen & Ink Sketchbook Pocket

From the outside, its pretty indistinguishable from a Moleskine pocket hardcover. It has a stiff leatherette cover, elastic closure and a ribbon bookmark. Upon opening the book, the paper is a soft white and there is a gusseted pocket in the back. If you like Moleskines but wish for a cheaper alternative, at first glance, this would make a great option at a mere $8.

Pen & Ink Sketchbook writing sample

Pen & Ink Sketchbook  reverse of writing sample

Comparing Moleskine to Pen & Ink Sketchbook

There’s a few things that actually make the Pen & Ink Sketchbook a better value than a standard Moleskine. First, the bookmark is sealed on the end so it shouldn’t fray. Also, the paper is slightly better quality than the Moleskine paper. Not epically better but, in a side-by-side comparison, there is less feathering and splining with the Pen & Ink paper than Moleskine (shown on the left). With everyday writing tools like rollerball, ballpoint, gel, pencil and fine-nibbed fountain pens, I found the paper totally acceptable. Yes there is a little showthrough but nothing that wouldn’t be expected at the paper weight and price point. The elastic closure also feels more durable. We’ll see how it performs overall but it feels like it will survive longer than a Moleskine elastic.

This is an everyday pocket notebook at a very reasonable price. It has 96 pages (192 sheets) which is comparable to three Field Notes for about the same price. So, if you prefer a hardcover pocket notebook with the classic good looks associated with a Moleskine, this is a good alternative. If you’re hoping for more substantial paper, you might consider the heavy weight paper version (145gsm) instead.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

 

Field Notes Colors Edition “Arts & Sciences”

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition

I finally got around to opening my Field Notes Color Edition “Arts & Sciences” notebooks.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition size comparison

The Arts & Sciences edition really do feel like a Hagrid-sized version of the classic Field Notes. At 4.75″x7.5″ they are substantially bigger than the standard Field Notes’ 3.5″x5.5″ size but not as large as a standard A5 (6×8.25″) notebook. They live in a happy, in-between place.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition

This Colors Edition, due to the larger size and slightly increased page count (64 pages compared to the regular 48-pages in a standard pocket Field Notes), came with two books instead of the standard three-pack. Everything about this edition seems to similar BUT different! And I like that.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition Inside Pages

Inside, the pages are printed on the right hand sheets. The Sciences edition is printed with quadrille graph lines and the Arts edition is printed with lines. Both are printed in a pale “Academy” grey.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition Back covers

Both the covers have embossed logos with metallic silver ink and a coordinating icon on the back. The red book is the Arts edition and features palette, paintbrush, ink, tape, pencil and more on the icon. The Sciences edition in the dark grey color with an icon with a DNA chain, beaker, celestial bodies, and amoeba and more. How long before someone gets one or both of these as a tattoo?

All in all, I love that Field Notes continues to experiment with each version of their Colors Editions. Now that they’ve added size as a variable, it seems like the possibilities are endless.

Remember, the Colors Editions are limited so order a set or two today ($9.95 per 2-pack). Or subscribe and receive the Arts & Sciences edition and future editions as soon as they are available.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Field Notes for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Plumb Goods Notebooks (& Giveaway)

Plumb Notebooks from Knock Knock

The folks at Knock Knock recently launched a new line of paper products called Plumb Goods. These are a collection of notebooks designed by artists to help inspire creativity. Every book in the collection includes a full-color card with information on the artist.

The products were each so different that this is a super image-heavy post. Every book deserved a full view so this is really a review of FIVE notebooks, not just one.

(more…)

MosseryCo Paper Goods

MosseryCo Pocket Notebook

Whimsical illustrations on the covers of the MosseryCo pocket notebooks are what caught my eye when I wandered into their Etsy shop. These 3.5×5.5″ rounded corners pocket notebooks feature 52 pages of acid-free 120 gsm paper. A set of 9 different, illustrated pocket notebooks can be purchased for $36 or individual notebooks can be bought for $6 each. Plain paper covers are also available, individually or in a set.

MosseryCo Pocket Noteboos

What really caught my eye was the hardcover, refillable notepads. The covers looks like vintage books with the quaint illustrations ($20 each) and refill paper can be purchased as needed in different designs ($7 each). The notepads are about 4.25″x6.5″ and are also filled with 110 gsm acid-free paper. There are 110 sheets in each pad and the pads are perforated for easy removal.

MosseryCo Notepads

MosseryCo Notepads

(via MosseryCo’s Etsy Shop)

Ask The Desk: Long-lasting, Archival Notebook

Ask The Desk Header

 

Brody recently emailed me this question:

Since I got back into pens, I have become really enamored with Fountain Pens. I have been burning through notebooks trying to find good fits for FPs. I also started journalling – one for my daughter, one for my son, and one for me. I started off with the Piccadilly leather-something… and now I realize that if I keep going with this journalling, when I start vol. 2 I might not find a good match. Piccadilly seems to be erratic and in odd supplies. Are they going down for the count?

Anyway – I want to find a good journal that is solid and will last a long time, as well as something archival AND in a format that is likely to be around over the years as I fill them up. Knowing that nothing forever, what’s a good bet? Although I don’t use Leuchtturm 1917, I thought maybe it would work well… many colors and solid paper. Other thoughts?

 

Piccadilly does cater to the budget market like overstock shops so it can be hit-or-miss to find their on a regular basis. Their web site lists retailers who stock their products. Some people have mentioned issues with the binding over time with Piccadilly so I wouldn’t rely on it for archival journals and keepsakes. I use a Piccadilly for work notes which are not relevant by the end of the week so I don’t plan to pass mine down to future generations.

If you are actually looking for multi-color pages, The Ciak Multicolor Journal might be to your taste.

fabriano-classic-blue-large-artists-journal-6.25-x-8.25-pfa503lg-2

Fabriano used to make one too, for years, but I can’t seem to find anyone selling them now which is sad. They do make a version with an array of white, cream and kraft colored paper but not the rainbow of colors they used to make.

Fabriano has made paper for centuries I think so they would be a good bet though I have not used the paper with fountain pens but it is designed for artists using pencil and pen so it might work well. You may be able to find some Fabriano sketchbooks in a local art supply store.

Rhodia Webnotebooks might be a good option. Excellent paper for fountain pens, well-constructed hardbound books and Clairefontaine has been around for awhile and people love the Webnotebook line so they should be available for years to come. There aren’t a ton of cover colors, black and orange at present but their smaller Rhodiarama line have many different colored covers.

Leuchtturm 1917 neon covers

I think the Leuchtturm1917 should be around for awhile, its good quality and reasonably priced. Its not super high end paper so some wider nibbed pens might bleed but it has the potential to be a book you’ll be able to find for years to come. They come is several sizes and configurations and have lots of cover color options, including a up-to-the-moment neon option at present.

The classic black, artists sketchbooks from Stillman & Birn, Canson or Cachet might also fit your needs since they are all similar sizes and designed for artists so the paper quality is good (usually 65lb or higher) and reasonable priced (between $10-$15 for a 8.5×11″ size). They are available in an A5 and a US Letter size no matter which brand you choose. Some offer a square or spiral bound option as well. And, to butcher a Henry Ford quote,  you can have colored cover you want, as long as you want black. Any art supply store will carry one of these brands (or something comparable) so you’d always have access. I’d recommend the Stillman & Birn to start — the Alpha series paper is not too thick and excellent with fountain pens — though its not as widely available as the other more widely distributed brands.

Cachet Classic Black Sketchbook

Most modern notebooks should have fairly low acidity paper, even if its not labelled “archival.” The artist-grade sketchbooks are definitely archival. I would recommend storing completed journals and notebooks in a dark, dry location (like an opaque plastic tub in  a closet or attic) after its completed to protect it from light degradation or moisture which will could be a bigger threat than the archival-ness  of the paper.

Out Of Pages Notebook Subscription Service

Out of Pages Notebook Subscription Service

Out of Pages is a subscription service that will send you a new notebook on a specified schedule — every month, or every 2,3,4, or six months or once a year. They break up the costs for the more frequent delivery to an initial fee plus a monthly charge spreading out the costs of the notebooks throughout the year.

They have a limited selection of notebooks: just Moleskines and Field Notes at present but if either of these are your notebook of choice, then this is a great way to keep a fresh one coming as you need it.

You can get a fresh kraft paper Field Notes sent to you every month for $4.20/month. Or a large (5″x8″) Moleskine hardcover can be delivered quarterly for $12.80 up front and $5.60/month. Or get a combination of notebooks on differing schedules.

I love the idea of subscription delivery of items you use regularly, be it socks or notebooks so I think there’s a lot of appeal to this. I hope Out Of Pages will add some other notebook options like Rhodia Webbies or Doane pocket notebooks for a greater variety or options in the near future.

Would you subscribe to a service like this?

Field Notes: Arts & Sciences Colors Edition

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition

Today Field Notes announced the newest edition of the Field Notes Colors series: Arts and Sciences. The books are most notable because its a set of two different notebooks– one for arts, one for sciences– and because these books are larger than your average Field Notes at 7.5″ x 4.75″. Isn’t that awesome?

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition Size Comparison

Both notebooks have Mohawk Loop 110lb covers printed with  silver ink. Inside are 64 pages of Finch Opaque 50lb paper, the same stocks used in many earlier editions of the Field Notes. The Arts edition has a brick red cover and features “Academy Gray” lined paper on the right hand side and blank sheets on the left for a combination of drawing and writing. The Sciences edition has a dark grey cover and engineering-style grid on the right hand side and blank on the left hand page in the same “Academy Gray”.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition Paper Stocks

On the back covers are seals for the two houses of thought: arts and sciences in the same silver as the cover logos.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition seal

Pack of two (one of each) is available for $9.95 or subscribe to the quarterly Color Subscription for one year for $97. Remember, the Colors editions sell out fast.

Stillman & Birn Paper Sampler

Sillman & Birn sketchbook paper sampler

At the Spectrum Live Art Event I was lucky enough to pick up a couple packets of paper samples from Stillman & Birn. I’ve always been a little flummoxed by their notebook naming system so actually getting a little 4×6″ bit of each paper available was such an eye-opener.

There are six different kinds of paper; three types of paper at the 100 lb/150 gsm weight (Alpha, Gamma and Epsilon) and three types at the 180 lb/270 gsm weight (Beta, Delta, and Zeta).

For the most part, the lighter 100 lb/150 gsm is plenty heavy enough for most writers. If you are planning to do more mixed media, collage or art journaling, you might want to consider the 180 lb/270 gsm papers. To me, these feel more like cardstock than paper.

Sillman & Birn sketchbook paper sampler

I used the same tools on all six papers from an assortment of pens to a brush loaded with ink and a Sharpie marker. All the papers performed admirably and I don’t think anyone would be disappointed by any of them. Even my flexible nib dip pen did not bleed, though on some of the papers it took several minutes to dry (not uncommon for dip pens though).

Stillman & Birn paper grades

The Delta (180 lb/270 gsm) and the Gamma (100lb/150 gsm) are both warm ivory stocks. The Alpha and Beta papers are both cold-press (which means they have some texture to the paper like watercolor papers). Because the Alpha is a lighter stock the tooth to the paper is less noticeable. The smoothest papers are the Epsilon (100lb/150 gsm) and the Zeta (180lb/270 gsm).

Sillman & Birn sketchbook paper sampler

The lighter weight papers were my favorites. I could see using them to write or draw and were thick enough to handle a little water color or ink washes. They would be more than enough for me under most circumstances. The Alpha sample got a lot of ink pooled on it and buckled a little bit as did the Epsilon. The cream ivory Gamma paper stayed flat. The Alpha and the Epsilon were my favorites. The Epsilon is smoother so my tools had very little resistance. The Alpha paper is a little toothier, providing a bit of friction which is helpful with rollerballs and slick gel inks. The Epsilon is probably the most comparable to Canson and other makers of the classic black sketchbook though the paper is a bit heavier weight (better).

Sillman & Birn sketchbook paper sampler

The heavier 180 lb270 gsm papers withstood all the inks and the Sharpie marker without being worse for the wear . The Zeta is smooth to the touch, the Beta has a little tooth to it and the Delta is the creamy ivory with some texture as well.

Sillman & Birn sketchbook paper sampler

From the reverse of the papers, you can see the top row is all the 180 lb/270 gsm papers and the bottom row is the 100 lb/150 gsm papers. There is the merest hint of the Sharpie marker but no actual bleed through.

All-in-all, these are excellent papers and I can see what all the fuss is about now. The best source for Stillman & Birn sketchbooks is Goulet Pens. They stock all six paper stocks in the 5.5×8.5″ A5 size and a few of the other available sizes of the Zeta (smooth, 180 lb/270 gsm). Prices start at $18, about the same as a Moleskine and the S&B books are considerably better for fountain pens.

GIVEAWAY: Oh, I have ONE sampler pack to give away. Its just a little thing with one sheet of all 6 grades of paper. Tell me which grade of paper you’re most interested in trying in the comments to be entered to win.

UPDATE: The kind folks at Stillman & Birn have offered to provide the winner of this giveaway with the notebook of their choice and I’ll still send you the sampler pack as well so now there is even more reason to enter!

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, June 13, 2014. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Sunday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. I’m feeling generous today so, this contest is open to any reader, US and international readers!

Kickstarter: SketchyNotebook

 

Sketchy Notebook Kicktarter project

 

If you liked my post form yesterday of the template guides sheets, you’ll really like the SketchyNotebook Kickstarter project which is an A5 notebook that specifically focuses on providing an assortment of high-visibility page templates for more than just lined paper. There are templates for grid, film/animation storyboarding, 3D perspectives, and more — all printed on water-resistant vinyl stock for durability.

Sketchynotebook templates

One notebook plus your choice of three templates starts at $30 and there is about two weeks left in the campaign.

Sketchynotebook drawing sample

Hop over, check it out. Let me know what you think and if you’ll be funding this project.

(Shout out to My Pencil Draws Worlds for the tip)

Review: Rite in the Rain All-Weather Notebook & 3×5 Notecards

Rite in the Rain All-Weather Notebook and 3x5 notecards

Reader RJ recently retired from the Marines and sent me some spare Rite In The Rain products to review. RJ sent me a standard All-Weather Field Book in sand, a package of 3×5 Index cards and some pens that are recommended for use with the Rite In The Rain paper.

What I learned from my experience with the Rite In The Rain materials is that, if weathering the outdoors, this paper is the bomb. It is limited in the type of writing equipment that will work with the paper though. That said, when outdoor endurance is a factor, the tools that do work with the Rite In The Rain paper work great. I compare it to hiking gear. A good pair of boots, the right wicking fabrics and cushioned, wool socks are all important but may not be the same outfit you’d wear to your sister’s graduation. Rite In The Rain notebooks and notecards are not what you need if you work in an office park. But if you go spelunking on the weekend or need a place for game notes for your rugby team, you might want to consider Rite in the Rain a viable option. If its good enough for a Marine, its good enough for your weekend camping trip.

Rite in the Rain All-Weather notebook cover

The notebook itself is a clean simple design with a soft cover tan cover printed with brown ink branding. Simple and a little bit “retro cool”.

Rite in the Rain extra pages

In the back are all sorts of tactical keys for notetaking. I was fascinated by all the various symbols and diagrams and envisioned how I might utilize them for my own short hand. Could designing greeting cards benefit from being mapped out with range card prep graphics? Probably not.

Rite in the Rain tear test

The paper itself is tan to match the cover with brown solid lines running horizontally and finer dotted lines running vertically to create a combination lined-and-gridded paper. Because of its water resistant properties I wanted to test if the paper could be torn (as shown above). It can tear fairly easily with your fingers so its not indestructible but it will resist water and live to tell about it.

Rite in the Rain Notebook

At the bottom of each page is  a scale indicator “1 square = ________” which I found charming but probably not useful for most folks, most of the time. Also, I discovered that after I had opened and closed the book a few times, it did not close flat. The book does not include a ribbon bookmark or elsatic. The binding is pretty tight which will probably make it more durable but I’d definitely recommend a belt or elastic of some kind or smash it between stuff in your backpack.

There are no added pockets or accoutrements in this notebook. If any notebook had a right to be all business and no frills, Rite in the Rain would be it.

Rite in the Rain Recommended Tools

But let’s get down to the tools and how they perform on the paper. When I started testing the papers, I used a bunch of tools trying to see how many worked. In the end, I decided to show you what did work. If you want to invest in this sort of field book, use the right tools for the job. And a fountain pen, no matter what ink you choose, is NOT the right tool.

So here goes:

Rite in the Rain recommended markers

Markers with an alcohol base work great on the Rite in the Rain paper. Basically any plastic-tipped or felt-tipped pen advertised as permanent or waterproof should work. Sharpie markers, Zebra Mackee Double Sided Name Markers, Staedtler Lumocolor Permanent, Marvy LePen Technical Drawing Pens  and even the Pilot Envelope Pen (though its a rollerball, it seems to work okay once it gets going).

Rite in the Rain recommended pencils

Pencils are aces on the Rite in the Rain paper. I tested both wood-cased and mechanical pencils and they booth work fine. Softer leads like HB  and softer worked better than 2H pencils and harder. Partly because the paper is not a crsip bright white but a soft tan so softer leads show up darker and more legibly.

Rite in the Rain recommended ballpoints

My least favorite writing tool is the ballpoint but, for Rite in the Rain, they work well. If you’ve got a drawer full of neglected dime store ballpoints, Rite in the Rain paper will welcome them and withstand the elements.

I forgot to mention that the 3×5 notecards use the same heavy weight paper in the notebook (or just a tiny bit heavier). The notecards are only printed on one side, the backs are blank which I think made them extra useful.

Rite in the Rain reverse side

But the big “ah ha!” was that there was no bleeding, feathering or show through when the recommended tools are used on the Rite in the Rain paper. That’s right. If you love Sharpies, this paper is for you. The ink sits up on the paper and does not blur or feather like Sharpie markers normally do on most paper. The same could be said for all those wide, inky behemoths like the Copic Ciao brush pen. No bleeding. No show through.

Rite in the Rain, in water

And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for… how water resistant? THIS water resistant. I drop the two notecards I used in the earlier photo into a bowl of water. Plopped them in and fully submerged them. I even let them soak for awhile until they got limp. Then I pulled them out of the water wiped them with my hands and set them on the ledge on the patio to dry.

Rite in the Rain, dry

You can see the water droplets still clinging in some places but not a bit of the ink or pencil budged.

In the end, the notebook is probably a bit too rugged for most of my needs. My idea of outdoorsy is going to a yard sale but I really like the 3×5 notecards. I think keeping a stack of these in my glove box along with an all-weather writing tool like the Rite in the Rain ballpoint. It is a perfect emergency note kit. No cup holder coffee spills will mar my next grocery list!

Final note: The Rite in the Rain products definitely got me thinking about the advantages of all-weather paper and notebooks. Despite their pen-variety limitations, in the right circumstance, its more important to capture those notes, ideas or tactical maneuvers than it is to use your favorite fountain pen. It makes me want to go back and try the Expedition Edition Field Notes again with this in mind.

(Thanks to RJ for his kindness in sharing these products with me. Its readers like you that keep this blog going and I appreciate it immensely)

Link Love: Four P’s and some I’s

Link Love Link Mascot

Inks:

Pens:

Paper & Notebooks:

Pencils:

Penmanship:

Field Notes: Shelterwood Edition

Field Notes Shelterwood

Finally! Its the new Colors Edition of Field Notes called Shelterwood. I’m sure you’ve already heard about it already and probably already opened your order, but in case you haven’t… admire it here.

These memo books are covered with a veneer of real wood, laminated to kraft paper. Inside is the same 70lb Finch text weight stock that Coudal has previously used in the “America The Beautiful” edition, this time with lines in “Maidenhair Green”. The staples are gold toned and the logo is silkscreened on the covers in white.

Field Notes Shelterwood

Other people have mentioned it but once the shrink wrap is removed, the books don’t close completely. The covers still feel fairly flexible though I probably wouldn’t risk folding the cover all the way back on itself for fear of cracking the spine.

Since I carry my Field Notes in a leather cover, the not-quite-closed covers don’t bother me at all. If you’re inclined to carry them in a shirt pocket, this might be a little annoying.

Field Notes Shelterwood

Opening the package, the books smell so good. It was like the books were imbued with fresh pencil shavings.

Field Notes Shelterwood

You’ll notice the book in the middle has faint “tan lines”. I had the books in the shrinkwrap with the belly band on, laying on my desk for about a week. For whatever reason, that caused the uncovered parts to darken slightly. If you are hoping to keep your Shelterwoods MINT, keep them out of the light.

Field Notes Shelterwood

Since the paper is similar to America The Beautiful, I didn’t do an extensive writing test. I know that some, but not all fountain pens, pencils, gel and ballpoints work great and markers like Sharpies will bleed terribly. So this time, I just lined them up and gave them a quick test. Results were consistent with the America The Beautiful.

If you love Field Notes, you’ll want to grab this limited edition while you can. If this is your first foray into Field Notes, be aware this is very different product from the regular editions. Enjoy it, collect it but just know this is something a little different.

A Knitter’s Notebook

notebook_pic

All specialty skills have their own languages, knitting is no exception. In fact, it has its own codes to convey patterns and notes in a way that might baffle non-knitters. The new True Brit Knits knitter’s notebook provides a great place for knitters to track projects and pattern notes complete with standard pattern abbreviations and symbols on the inside front cover and a ruler in centimeters on the inside back cover, perfect for measuring your swatches. The kraft paper covers feature red, foil stamped knitting needles too.

It’s compact, A5 size is filled with 28 sheets (56 pages) of 100gms paper with clean white paper, alternating plain sides and 4:3 ratio graph paper printed in a pale blue.  £10.00

(via My Life in Knitwear, shoutout to Laura at The Corner of Knit and Tea for the tip)

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