Posts Tagged ‘notebook’

Kickstarter: Spark Notebook

Just launched today is the Spark Notebook Kickstarter project. The idea behind this notebook is to provide one place for all your planning, ideas and projects in a sophisticated package. The book seems to embody a desire to help get you organized and focused on your project and goals above everything else. And in a really clean, appealing package in the process.

Between the simple black covers are 200 pages that feature:

  • Yearly Goals & Mission pages
  • Yearly Theme page
  • Monthly Overview (6 months)
  • Monthly Goals (one for each month)
  • 30 Day Challenge (one for each month)
  • Weekly Inspiration
  • Weekly Goals to prioritze goals
  • Weekly Overview
  • Project Planner
  • Meeting Notes
  • Lined pages for notes
  • 20-Blank, perforated pages
  • Two-page markers
  • Date-free calendars

Spark Notebook page view

The books are 5.75×8.25″ (145 x 210 mm) in size, comparable to a standard Moleskine Large notebook or a Leuchtturm1917 large notebook. The paper inside is 70# white, enough to keep most pens from showing through or bleeding to the reverse side.

Anyone who backs the project will receive access to downloadable PDFs of the page layouts to start using the moment the funding campaign ends, so you can start using the system right away.

For a  $25 pledge, you can reserve one notebook. Its a little pricier than the average lined or grid notebook but a lot of additional content is provided within the covers. A pledge of $79 will get you four notebooks to stockpile or share with co-workers, family or friends and reduces the per unit price to be quite competitive with the average Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 notebook.

Spark Notebook Info

I was just thinking it was time to pull all my note taking and project management between two covers. Maybe this is THE solution for me.

Will you back this project?

Ask The Desk: Pocket Telephone Books

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Looking for 2 7/8  x 4 1/8 pocket address book [ little black book]
Where can I get some ??
Sincerely, Howard

At-A-Glance Pocket Telephone Address Book

The closest I could find is from Mead or At-A-Glance. The At-A-Glance Pocket Telephone Address Book pages measure 2 1/8″ x 3 1/4″ and retail for $4.09 each. There is a larger At-A-Glance Small Designer Telephone/Address Book that’s page size measures 2 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ and retails for $8.69 each. This book also has tabbed pages with alphabetical tabs for quick look-up.

The Mead Telephone/Address book has pages that measure 2 3/8″ x 3 1/4″ and retail for $2.19 each. Mead also has a slightly larger 3×4″ version of the Mead Telephone Address Book which might be closer to your specifications for $2.49 each.

You might also check with your local office supply store or big box retailer to see if they stock these products. Best of luck on your search.

Mead Telelphone Address Book

Field Notes: Ambition (Winter Colors Edition is OUT!)

Field Notes Ambition cover

Field Notes is not resting on its laurels. The Winter 2014/15 Colors Edition “Ambition” is certainly an ambitious edition. The three books are stunning in rich autumny tones with gold embossed logo lettering on the cover and gold foil edges. Each notebook serves a different function: the olive cover features ledger lines (the same as what was featured in the Traveling Salesman edition – one of my favorite editions), and the wine-colored cover covers a book of graph paper, and the chocolate colored cover hides 56 pages of weekly planner pages. Get a jump start on 2015!

The paper inside each book is Cougar Opaque 50# Natural White text weight vellum and, of course, there are matching gold tone staples biding the books together.

Field Notes Ambition gold edges

No better time to start a Colors subscription ($97 for a year of quarterly offers plus a 3-pack of the classic Kraft editions) than with this edition. Or purchase individual sets for $9.95 per set.

Field Notes Ambition inside lines

I don’t have mine in  hand yet but I cannot wait for this edition and I’ll definitely have to order additional sets. It would make a good stocking stuffer too.

Review: Levenger Circa Leather Pro Folio Notebook in Black

 Circa Pro Folio

Honestly, the Levenger Circa Pro Folio is the most posh thing I think I’ve ever owned. Its a letter-sized, black leather folio with a Circa notebook inside. I’ve always been intrigued with the Circa system. It seems to be a great way to have flexibility with a notebook – add, rearrange or remove pages easily without the inconvenience of a 3-ring binder. The Pro Folio takes this to a whole new level.

 Circa Pro Folio Presentation Box

I’m not inclined to go into a lot of detail about packaging but the box that the Pro Folio came in deserves notice. It felt like a box worthy of the product inside. The Pro Folio came in a heavyweight, glossy bronze box with an fabric elastic closure and subtle “Levenger” embossed on the box – prestigious without being fussy.

 Circa Pro Folio in box

Inside, the leather Pro Folio was wrapped in a felt cloth to protect it. The wrap was tastefully stamped with the Levenger logo.It reminds me of how high-end handbag manufacturers provide a felt bag for storing purses when not in use. Very elegant.

 Circa Pro Folio

By the time I had completely unwrapped it, it felt like my birthday. Inside was this beautiful, black leather folio. The Pro Folio is made of a soft-to-the-touch leather but has a sturdy material stitched inside to keep the covers rigid. It would be easy to use this folio on your lap in a lecture or meeting, if necessary. The leather along the spine is supple and the folio easily opens flat. I suspect the cover could fold back on itself but I can’t bring myself to mar the leather spine trying it.

 Circa Pro Folio detail

 Circa Pro Folio

Inside the front cover are two pockets for business cards and a larger slot for loose papers. The back cover has a full-length slot for holding the Circa notebook in place. The folio came with a standard Circa notebook with black rings and a clear, frosted plastic cover. The Circa notebook has 0.5″ rings and contains 60 sheets of 90 gsm soft white paper. The paper is lightly lined in a pale grey with a wide left margin left blank and spaces at the top for date and topic headers.

The folio will accommodate up to 1.5″ rings and 200 sheets of paper so there’s definitely room to grow with this folio.

 Circa Pro Folio Paper

I was so grateful to discover that such an extraordinary leather folio contained equally stunning paper. It took ink beautifully. Since Levenger does sell fountain pens I would have been surprised if their paper didn’t behave well with fountain pens. However, I was delighted with how well it behaved. The lines were light enough to accommodate even the lightest ink colors and pencil without obscuring legibility while keeping all the fountain pen lines crisp.

 Circa Pro Folio Writing Samples

I had the tiniest bit of show through with the Mont Blanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey ink in my 1.1mm fountain pen but all the medium and fine nibs didn’t have a hint of show through which means this paper really can be used on both sides.

The Levenger Circa Pro Folio retails for $109-$129 depending on size.


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

Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 2 (and Giveaway)

Productive Luddite Notebooks

This is part two of the Productive Luddite notebook reviews. If you didn’t get a chance to read Part One, check it out.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper

The first up is the Blog Paper notebook ($14.95). Its another soft cover book with 108 pages between the 7×10″ glossy black covers. (I completely forgot to photograph the cover so I’m using the promotional image. You can see the spine in the stacked photo and the glossy stock like the New Daily Planner reviewed in Part One). Inside is bright white paper with tinted areas to plan a blog or a post or just employ the various sections for your next project.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper

The pages are laid out to emulate a traditional blog page with a header at the top, a notes section for writing, a sidebar area, a footer and a section for tags for your post. The layout allows for other kinds of note-taking too beyond blog posts or blog planning as each section allows for various content — the sidebar for to-dos, the center section for project, class or meeting notes and the header can just be for date and subject.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper writing sample

I find the form factor very interesting but, sadly, the books are glue-bound so it does not lay as flat as I’d like it. I’m more inclined to work on the left-hand facing pages as a result which makes me feel even like a weird lefty. Oh well.

The paper is good with most pens. Rollerballs, ballpoints, gel pens and pencils all worked great and fountain pens did not feather but there was a little show through on the reverse of the stock with wider nibs.

Productive Luddite Freestyle Really Big Notebook

The Freestyle Really Big Notebook $29.95 (and available in ten different colored covers) is an extra large notebook boasting over 800 pages of space for your biggest projects. The book is 7×10″ and as thick as a New York City phone book (when NYC still had phone books). The paper is the same bright white as the Blog Paper notebook but the only printing on the pages is a small grey page number in the lower corner of each page. With no lines to mar the paper, you can easily use a guide sheet or two behind your page to turn each page into lined, grid or whatever your whim.

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In the front of the book is an index to help organize and locate your idea in the massive book.

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook  writing sample

I found the paper particularly receptive to whatever tool I threw at it, even some juicy brush pens with minimum show through. Colors stay true and there’s enough heft to the paper to tackle some light washes, colored pencils and other art-making tools.

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook  writing sample

There was a little feathering around the edges of my Lamy Studio 1.1mm writing with the Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Permanent Grey but overall, with finer tipped tools, the writing was really good and would make this paper a good candidate for writing or drawing.

Because of the size of this book, there can be some awkward writing angles if you’re working at the very front of the book or the very back but there are some compromises if you need 800 pages in your notebook.

With the soft covers, I don’t know how well this book will hold up after you fill all 800 pages, the spine and covers might show some serious wear. If you finish a whole Freestyle Really Big Notebook, I want to see pictures!

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook reverse writing sample

Overall, I think Productive Luddite is doing some really unique things with their products and the prices are really good.

Giveaway:
Productive Luddite is kindly allowing me to give away three Freestyle Really Big Notebooks and three Matte Black Star-Studded Samplers. Six winners in all. Winner’s of the Really Big Notebook can pick the color of the color. Just “like” Productive Luddite on Facebook to be entered to win and then add your entry via the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest eligibility limited to US Continental addresses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 1

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The folks at Productive Luddite sent me a massive pile of notebooks to try and share with you. When I mean massive, I mean MASSIVE. The Freestyle Really Big Notebook is letter-sized and features 800 pages. So they are serious when they say “REALLY BIG”. The Matte Black Action notebook features ten different styles of paper in ONE BOOK. So, its a complicated task to review — its like reviewing a dozen notebooks.

I decided the only way to give each notebook its proper due is to split the review into two parts. First up is the New Daily Planner ($8.99) and the Matte Black Action Notebook($9.95).

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The New Daily Planner is an interpretation of the Chronodex-style daily planner. It’s a soft cover, perfect-bound, 6″x9″ with 104 bright white pages. The cover is a gloss black cardstock with bold white lettering.

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Inside, on the first two pages are places to include your personal information and instructions on using the clockwork-style planning system.

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The first few pages include monthly and yearly planning on a clock which I am not sure how useful that would be but the rest of the book is daily clockwork pages. Because of the perfect binding, the book does not lay flat easily but the soft cover means that its easy to fold the cover back if you prefer to work that way.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I tested an assortment of pens in planning out my day. There is some bleeding with fountain pens on the paper but rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils and gel pens all performed well. The paper is thick enough that with non-fountain pens, there was no show through on the reverse side of the page.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I use a lot of fine and exra fine nibbed fountain pens so you can see that the ink does spread. As cool as the planning calendar is, this notebook definitely requires a specific set of writing tools for best results. I think I’ll pair it long-term with one of my multi-color gel pens like the Zebra Prefill or Uni Style-Fit so I have lots of color options and no need to worry about bleed, show through or squishy-looking writing. I might assign specific colors to specific sorts of tasks: blue for work, green for blog, red for home, etc.

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The Matte Black Action notebook has a matte soft-touch coating on the cover. I believe my husband’s exact words (as a printer) was “matte aqueous soft touch coating on coated stock”. Thank you , Mister Specific. The bottom line is it gives the book a pleasing feel similar to the finish on the Field Notes Drink Local Colors Edition. Inside the book is 100 ivory-colored pages in ten different form factors including blank, lined, grid, dot grid, and many more.

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I tested the 8″x8″ sized notebook but the Matte Black Action Notebook is available in several other sizes if square is not your cup of tea.

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Toward the back of the book is journal and list-making pages with grey printing to demarcate the header area from the rest of the page.

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In the very front of the book is a page for personal information and pages to index or tag the pages in the book. This would be particularly helpful if you are using blank pages for sketching, list pages for to-dos and lined paper for writing — all for the same project. You can list the page tags in the front of the book to make it easy to find the various pages.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

All the pages have page numbers in the lower right hand corner unless you are a contrarian left-hander that flips the whole book upside down regularly to get the best writing angle (see above).

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

I tested most of the various paper styles. What I found quite exciting is that the paper was quite fountain pen friendly. I had no issues with bleeding, feathering or show through with any of the pens I tested. The paper did seem like it was slightly heavier than the white stock in the New Daily Planner so maybe that little extra weight made it epically more fountain pen friendly?

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The paper styles, though, seemed to have inconsistent line weights. I found that the dot grid dots seemed overly large for my tiny writing. I mostly wanted to play connect-the-dots with these pages. The graph paper lines seemed much heavier and darker than the plain lined paper. I quite liked the color and thickness of the lined paper which is at the front of the book so when I got to the grid and dot grid I was a bit disappointed.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

Towards the back of the book was reverse grid  and dot grid paper (grey with white lines) which I much preferred to the lines on the regular grid and dot grid.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The great thing about the Matte Black Action Notebook is that its a great introduction to all the various forms that Productive Luddite offers in their Everyday Carry Notebook line.  All the EDC line notebooks are available in ten different sizes ranging from 4×6 up to 7×10 in horizontal, vertical, square and some variations. There are definitely lots of options!

With one $9.95 purchase, you have the chance to try all the form factors and determine which is your favorite. If you’re inclined to use some grid, some lined, some lists and so forth the Matte Black Action notebook may be the right choice for you.


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

Review: Knock Knock “Dress Your Desk” Accessories (& Giveaway)

The fine folks over at Knock Knock sent me a few of their Dress Your Desk office essentials. I received two sets of Not-Your Average Index Cards, a Random Notes notepad,  a Whatever Lined Pad and a set of Honest Acronym File Folders.

KK-folders

I cannot tell you how much the Honest Acronym File Folders make me smile. The set comes with six different files folder ($9) with bold acronyms on the front in an array of bright colors. They are tabbed with a white area on the tab to write and inside the folder is a full lined “page” for adding additional notes to your file. The folders are super-thick cardstock with a gloss matte finish which means they’ll stand up to lots of abuse. I recommend writing on the tabs and inside with a ballpoint pen or alcohol-based marker like a Sharpie ultra fine marker. I plan on using some labels, typed on one of my vintage typewriters. I think that would look fab. I’ll be using the ASAP (As Slow As Possible) for bills and there’s a project at work destined for the WTF (What’s This For) file.

Knock Knock Index Cards

I received two sets of the Not-You-Average Index Cards ($6 per set), the “tabbed” index cards and the “indexed” index cards.

There are 60 cards in each set, tied together with a printed rubber band. Each set of cards came with three colors. The “tabbed” set is an assortment of of yellow, lime and green with 7mm line spacing and the “indexed” set is an assortment of red, pink and orange with 6mm line spacing. I didn’t notice that the index cards were different line spacing but if you have a preference it’s good to know. Both sets have die cut notches about a half an inch from the left edge that is wide enough to hold the rubber band  that’s included with each set.

The cards are a bit heavier weight than the average office supply store grade index cards. The printed border colors and lines are vivid and fun but not so bright or dark as to obscure most standard pen and ink colors. Where I work, we live and breath 3×5 cards and these will certainly beat the plain ol’ white cards I normally use.

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In writing tests, the index cards performed admirably. None of the fountain pens, rollerball or felt/fiber tip pens I used feathered or bled at all. and the inks did not show through or bleed through to the other side either meaning that both sides of the cards are truly usable.

Knock Knock Index Cards Writing Samples

Knock Knock Index Cards Writing Samples

Knock Knock Random Notes Pad

The Random Notes pad ($7) is a 6×9″ gummed pad printed with an assortment of areas to take notes, doodle or make lists all while looking like you’re paying attention in your next droll meeting. There’s 60 sheets in each pad so you’ll have plenty for every dull meeting.

Knock Knock Random Notes Pad Writing Sample

Overall, I was quite impressed with the entertainment value AND the paper quality of the pad. There’s a blank area, a dot grid space (4mm spacing), a gridded section (about 3.5mm grid) as well as a lined area (7mm spacing). At the top is space to add a date and time of the note-taking adventure.

Knock Knock Random Notes Pad Writing Sample

Using my TWSBI Mini with a dark blue-black ink, I got a little show through and a little bleeding in the darkly colored areas. There were a few dots of bleed through on the next sheet. Otherwise, for a novelty scratch pad, this is good paper.

Knock Knock Whatever Lined Pad

The Whatever Lined Pad ($7) is a classic pad styled like a legal pad with the folded paper binding at the top, perforated, lined and a creamy orange color with green and grey lines.

Knock Knock Whatever Lined Pad Writing Sample

The paper is definitely better quality than the average budget, legal pad. At the top is three ares for “Who(ever)”, “When(ever)” and ‘Where(ever)”. Along the left side is  a large, blank  for an additional list, check marks or cross-referencing. There’s a large margin at the bottom as well.  The line spacing is 6mm.

Knock Knock Whatever Lined Pad Reverse Side

I tried all my currently inked fountain pens with pleasing results. There was no feathering of any of the inks or pens that I used and only a little bit of show through, though I admit, I seldom use the reverse side of legal pad paper. Do you?

Overall, I loved all these products and I have to admit I was not expecting such a high level of quality in what I’d thought of as “novelty products”. Knock Knock really knocked it out of the park.

So, how can you get your own “Dress Your Desk” Essentials?

Dress Your Desk Campaign:

First, check out all the great Dress Your Desk Essential products.

Then submit photos of your desk to Knock Knock. If selected, your desk could be the “Featured Desk of the Week” on the Knock Knock blog and our social channels. To share with your photos, just tag Knock Knock on FB, Twitter, or Instagram and use hashtag #DressYourDesk for your chance to be the “Featured Desk of the Week”.

The Awesome Offer for Well-Appointed Desk Readers:

All readers can get 20% off at Knock Knock by using the code DESK20 on their next order. The code works one-time use per customer code and its only good through 11/1/14.

Also, if you sign-up for the Knock Knock newsletter, you can get 15% off orders over $50.

and finally, THE GIVEAWAY:

Knock Knock has kindly offered to give away a new set of these Dress Your Desk Essentials selecte by The Well-Appointed Desk. Winner will receive all the products reviewed here:

  • Tabbed Index Cards
  • Indexed Index Cards
  • Random Notes
  • Whatever Lined Pad
  • Honest Acronym File Folders

I’m trying out Rafflecopter this time around so leave a comment on the blog and tell me what your favorite “desk essential” is to be entered.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Commonplace Book Ideas

Throughout my life, I’ve made various efforts to keep a journal or diary of some sort. Sometimes, I was at a crossroads and needed a place to think through my plans, goals, needs and wants. Sometimes, I just wanted to be able to remember who I met and where I went. Today, so much of our lives is documented in someway digitally– Facebook, Instagram and Twitter catch bits of our thoughts, photos and memories– but I still yearn for something tangible.

I found 10 Commonplace Journal Ideas on Quinn Creative and love the ideas that were recommended to jump start a commonplace book. Quinn recommends documenting the weather; the foods you eat; the music, film and other media you consume; how much things cost; maps; quotes and ideas as well as looking back over previous years to see if your ideas or opinions or tastes have changed over time. This seems like such a simple way to keep track of a few moments in your life without committing to writing lengthy, soul-searching entries that might require carving out hours from each day to accomplish.

I’ve actually been employing some of the ideas mentioned in my Hobonichi this year but Quinn’s suggestions gave me a few more ideas to add to it.

The Commonplace Journal Ideas post lead me on a hunt for more information and other ideas about keeping a commonplace book and there are pages of search results on Google. Some focussed more on the more traditional use of a commonplace book which is seen to be a place for writers and poets to collect quotes and fragments of story ideas to be used later.

I found a post that talked more about a system to organize a commonplace book on yihogyun.com that seemed to integrate some of the same principles used in the Bullet Journal system (indexing, page numbering, etc).

If you have the passion and/or the time to write or draw or document at length, I would not discourage doing something bigger but, sadly, most everyone I know says they never have nearly enough time to do all the things they want to do. So, maybe a commonplace book is a good way to capture the flavor of each day without requiring an excessive amount of time?

Do you keep a commonplace book or something similar? What do you record in it?

Tomorrow is Social Media Blackout Day

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The good folks at KnockKnock are launching the Anti-Social Network Journal, and encouraging folks to participate in the Social Media Blackout Day tomorrow, Thurs. Oct. 16—a day to log off all those social networks.

SocialMediaBlackout_Profile_FIf you’d like to participate (or share on your social networks), show your support by changing your avatar/icon to the image attached and post a status of “Today is #SocialMediaBlackoutDay and I’m unplugging for 24 hours. Join me!” Their goal is to raise awareness on the impact social media has had on our lives and encourage people to log out and live in real life again, or at least for 24 hours.

Since my post yesterday, I think a little 24-hour detox from Instagram, Twitter, blogs and such is just the thing I need to recharge my batteries — and maybe get a few reviews done and a few letters written.

I’ll see you back here on Friday!

Art of the Day: Oliver Jeffries

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Oliver Jeffers sketchbook illustrations for the United Airlines in-flight magazine. It looks like they were drawn a pocket-sized Moleskine Cahier using waxy colored pencils and some white ink or gel pens. Gorgeous!

I made a bunch of maps for the United Airlines inflight magazine. They are all geographically accurate.

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Visit Oliver Jeffers site to see all the images from the collection and admire his other work as well. Check out the sketchbook section to see some amazing collages and messy, well-loved sketchbooks.

(shoutout to The Cramped for the tip)

Review: Monologue Journals and Sketchbooks

Monologue journals

The folks at GrandLuxe sent me a whole heaping pile of their new Monologue journals. I received four A6 (5.5″x3.5″) sized books and three A5 (approx. 8.25″x5.5″).

Monologue journals

Even from the edges, you can see there are slight variations in each book to suit lots of personal preferences. The red A6-sized has pages that are  undersized to accommodate a golf-sized pencil tucked in under the edge for the cover with an elastic to hold it securely. The bottom two books have elastic loops to hold a writing tool. The orange book in the middle is a flip-top reporter-style sketchbook. The books and the top of the pile and the bottom are from the “platinum” line that include matching metallic edging on the pages.

Monologue journals

The books fall into two paper categories, the standard weight writing paper  (80 gsm acid-free) and the heavier sketchbook paper (140 gsm Italian high quality acid free). The black Monologue Basics sketchbook and the orange reporter-style Monologue sketh pad both feature the plain heavyweight sketchbook paper. The sketchbook paper is treated with a vegetable gel for long-lasting stability. All the other books have the lighter-weight, lined writing paper and additional paper treatment is labelled.

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Review: Clairefontaine ME Notebooks

ME Journal from Quo Vadis

The new Clairefontaine ME (Multimedia Enhanced) Notebooks are a combination of the Quo Vadis Habana notebooks in size and performance with the addition of a companion iPhone, iPad And Android app and QR codes on each page of the notebook to link multimedia content to the notes you take.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis inside cover

The most unfortunate part of this book is the horse-y type and the lame logo. It just kills me to see such beautiful paper and a well-crafted notebook saddled with ugly design. Luckily, these pages can be razored out once I get the hang of this app. (Hey, Clairefontaine! I’d happily redesign these pages and the logo for you. Call me.)

Moleskine worked with Evernote to create a notebook to archive your paper notes which is different from what Clairefontaine is doing. The ME Journal is designed to link additional content to your notes; be it audio, video, links or still photos. I could see this being useful in meetings where whiteboards are used and need to be referenced later. Linking photos of the whiteboards to paper notes would be hugely helpful.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis writing sample

The advantage of the ME Journal is the awesome Clairefontaine smooth, ivory paper at 85 gsm. Except for the over-sized QR code, the paper is the same fabulous quality as all the other Quo Vadis and Clairefontaine products. This paper loves fountain pens and almost any other tool you throw at it. The QR code is an added bonus for when you might want to link other content like sound, video, web link or photo.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis hot pink cover

Underneath the paper wrap is a debossed logo of the less-than-attractive “ME” logo. It can easily be covered with a sticker of your own choosing.

ME Journal + app

I test drove the combination of the ME notebook plus app while in Portland this weekend. I tend to build lists of books to look for whenever I go to a bookstore and Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland is a full city block worth of books. I was definitely going to need a big list and capture books I might want to purchase at a later date. I was able to combine images of book covers I found with notes in the book. I have been taking pics of book covers to remind myself for ages but being able to catalog it with the specific location where I found it will make it even more useful in the future.

I do think I need to put a note next to the QR code if I make a digital note so that I remember to cross reference. Once the QR is used or scanned, it cannot be used for additional content. So, just one piece of media per page.

ME app screenshot

The view from within the app shows a library of captured items. Clicking on each item will reveal more details including the date captured and play the sound or video. Its fairly straight forward to use. The only stumble is the “return” key in the keyboard is actually the “submit” to complete a text entry or tag on an image, video or sound clip. Once I figured that out, everything was pretty straight forward.

By the end of the weekend, I had covered the front of the notebook with stickers to hide the ugly embossed logo and I had ripped out the front pages with the instructions as well. In the end, I find this to be a very useful notebook and found several occasions to link written text to digital content via the app. I don’t shoot a lot of video or sound but was intrigued about capturing ambiance from my travels with the app to augment my written experiences.

The ME series is the same price as the standard Quo Vadis notebooks so the choice is yours. I find that the added benefit of the QR codes outweigh some of the aesthetic issues and you can still use the app at any point (or not at all) in filling your book.

ME Journals are available in large (6.25 x 9.25 ”) and pocket (4 x 6.375”) sizes in three colors: red, black or raspberry pink. Check your favorite online retailer to purchase (most of my sponsors are currently stocking the ME Journals).

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

The Rhodia 80th Anniversary Limited Edition Set is finally available for purchase at $10 per set. The set includes a No. 80 sized tablet with a black cover and special Rhodia logo cover design and a black Rhodia pencil with matching pattern printed on it. the whole set comes in a special orange gift box.

Details:
Graph paper with faint grey grid
90 gsm, acid-free ivory paper
140 Pages (70 sheets)
6 x 8 ¼” (14.8 x 21 cm)

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

I don’t have any of the Rhodia paper in ivory with the grey grid so I might buy it for that though I’d hate to break up the perfect collector set. How about you?

(via European Paper)

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.

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