I’ve been testing the Clairefontaine Goldline Multi-technique A5 sketchbook for sometime now. It was something that was brought to my attention specifically after I bemoaned that Exacompta was no longer making a blank refill that contained excellent paper for sketching and drawing.
The book contains 140g/65lb smooth white paper and a classic “oil cloth” cover. The only branding is a sticker on the cover which looks fairly easy to remove.
The pages are inset so the edges are protected and the cover binding looks clean and well-made.
I did regular pen tests though the paper is a bit heavier than necessary to be used for a writing notebook. If you are combining sketching and drawing, you’ll find the paper is more than pleasant enough for writing.
For watercolor, it is definitely closer to hot press because it is a smooth finish but for street sketches, it did not buckle too much for as many pages as you get for the price.
For mixed tool use is where the paper really shines. This is a page of combination doodles with watercolor, fountain pen, and ink washes. The paper is smooth but not glassy which meant that I maintained control of my pen work and still got good values from ink and watercolor.
This last photo shows a little bit of the paper bowing. As you can see, its not too bad. The board covers will help to flatten the paper back out as well but for 65lb paper the warping is very minimal. I was also able to use both sides of the paper with little to no show through.
These sketchbooks retail for $18 which is on par with Stillman & Birn and other brands of this quality. They are not currently available in the US however. The Goldline is Clairefontaine’s fine art line which I’d love to see more brought to the US. I think this sketchbook would be a good first step. Fellow sketchers and artists, would you be interested in Clairefontaine USA importing these? I would!