What could be hidden inside these silky, black nylon bags? I wondered the same thing when they mysteriously arrived in my mailbox recently from This Is Ground, most known for their high-end leather goods designed to hold electronics like iPads and iPhones.
What I found inside the luscious bags were two perfect-bound notebooks (perfect, of course) and a supple French Grey Medium Format Notebook Holder which is designed to perfectly carry one of the notebooks as well as business cards, credit cards, a mobile phone and such.
One notebook was called the “Designer” which features grid lines and the other was the “Artist” which is a blank format.
I found that the inside lower slit was perfect to hold a pocket/passport-sized notebook, so I tucked a Baron Fig Apprentice in the pocket though an actual passport would also fit in the pocket if you’re traveling and the This Is Ground site shows the pocket holding cards instead.
The top slit held my business cards perfectly and the secretary pocket on the left can be used for loose papers or a mobile phone. The right hand pocket is for the notebook.
Its a very aesthetically appealing format. The whole arrangement looks very pulled together in a meeting.
I tested the blank “Artist” notebook first. The paper has a soft ivory color and the only printing on the inner pages in the Artist book is the initials “TIG” in the lower right hand corner of each page. I used my usual “daily carry” items for testing the paper: fountain pens, felt tip markers, pencils, gel pens and a few specific art tools. Most of the fountain pens I used on the paper tended to spread a appear a bit wider than they actually are. There was a little bit of feathering on the edges of the letters creating a general “spread”. It just seems to be a more absorbent paper. My guess is that there isn’t any sizing on the paper to prevent the more liquid-y inks for settling into the paper fibers. So, gel inks, oily ballpoint and pencil are going to behave much better on the paper. There was a little show through and bleed through which, after seeing the feathering on the front was to be expected.
I had the most fun using the Plumchester brush pen and the Papermate Flair with colored pencil and watercolor markers on this paper, even though there was show through on the reverse. They handled nicely on the front.
The perfect-bound format does not lay as flat as I’d like without working the spine a bit and then the book doesn’t really close flat. Luckily, the leather cover weighs the cover down so it looks tidy.
The “Designer” gridded paper has a light dotted line grid pattern. The grid is spaced at 0.25″ (7mm) which, at first, looked a bit wide but ended up being fine. The lines are quite light and unobtrusive which is excellent.
The paper in the “Designer” is the same as the “Artist” in terms of weight and color. Both books feature 60# natural off-white paper with 110# covers and measure 5×8″ with 48 pages. There is also a ruled option available, if that’s how you roll. Notebooks are $15. There’s a Warhol “Banana” edition of the “Artist” available for $17.
My dreams for the notebooks Version 2.0:
- Improved paper quality (it doesn’t have to be totally fountain pen-friendly but at least fountain pen-tolerant would be nice)
- Cahier editions (3-pack) that are stitched or sewn so they lay flat and users can fit one in the left hand slot and the right hand slot
- Artist edition has thicker, more art-specific paper. Maybe if has fewer pages but is actually more drawing paper rather than just blank paper with a catchy name
I love the leather notebook cover. It feels fantastic and looks ridiculously professional. While I love my Traveler’s Notebook, it doesn’t always look as upscale as I need to be at work. The This Is Ground Medium Notebook Cover definitely ups my “classy” game. The only down side is the notebook and that the cover only holds their proprietary-sized notebook. It becomes a serious limiting factor. I understand wanting to get the repeat business of selling refill notebooks, but the convenience of being able to refill with more standard-sized notebook (even in a pinch) might entice more people to invest in such a lovely notebook cover.
I am going to continue to use the Medium Notebook Cover and hope that This Is Ground will continue to improve the inserts for the cover. Because the cover, they got right.