Review by Jessica Coles
Dingbats* notebooks (yes, the star is part of the full name) are not new to the stationery world. The notebook line began in 2011 in Lebanon and is produced by their parent company, Société Kamel Bekdache et Fils SAL. The parent company has operated since 1800 as a family business and is the oldest established business in Lebanon.
What sets Dingbats* apart from other notebooks? It’s the materials that are used and their manufacturing process. Dingbats* claims to care deeply about the environment and they certainly uphold that claim with their notebooks. No animals products are used in the production of these notebooks which are certified as vegan. The factory returns water to the environment cleaner than before, trees used as paper sources are harvested in a sustainable manner and all materials in the notebooks can be recycled or will naturally degrade if they find a way to a landfill.
But what about the notebook that comes from all of this? At the beginning of each notebook in their new Earth series ($22.95 from Dingbats* website), Dingbats* has printed a two page spread about various habitats that are at risk throughout the world. The notebook I received happened to be focused on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Ocean theme is repeated throughout the design. I love the endpaper and the embossed decoration on the cover is a wonderful detail as well.
The notebook includes an attached pen holder (no need to purchase that!) and an elastic band to hold it closed and both are made of high-quality elastic. The pen holder can comfortably hold a Pilot 823 pen.
Another feature of the Earth notebooks is called Page Tabs. Two pages are reserved in the front of the notebook as a key. Each entry on the Tab Key has a corresponding half circle.
Throughout the rest of the notebook, fill in the dot that matches the topic in your key. The mark from this half circle can be seen on the edge of the notebook This is amazingly useful if you have information you would like to find quickly such as reminders or appointments and each page can belong to as many topics as needed. This isn’t a new idea, however, the process of filling out the key and the presence of the empty circles on each page serve as a reminder to keep up the practice as you go.
Dingbats* contains 192 pages (96 sheets) of 100 gsm cream paper with dot grid ruling. All pages are numbered and the last 16 pages are perforated. An index (in addition to the tab index pages) is included in the front (3 pages), along with a section titled “Dingbats key”; this is meant to be filled in with symbols used with bullet journaling to indicate the type of task. This notebook is absolutely bullet journal friendly!
Ok. The manufacturing and the design both get high scores. But what about the paper? Well, I threw everything I could at this notebook in order to find the limits. Here’s what I found:
- No feathering even with wet inks or broad nibs.
- The paper loves sparkly inks (both fountain pen ink and gel) and pencil.
- No visible sheen from any inks.
- Ghosting with about half of the pens used.
- Slight bleed through dots where the ink was particularly heavy.
- It holds up very well when your cats knock over a glass of water during the testing. The dried paper wrinkles slightly, the ink runs unless it is iron gall and you get kitty paw prints on the page. The paper will hold up well to a light watercolor wash.
My impressions (after my cats and I had fun with ink and water);
- The paper reminds me of Leuchtturm paper, but better. Dingbats* holds up to more ink on the page, shows no feathering and smells very light and clean.
- I love the inclusion of the pen loop. Because it is built into the notebook, it feels more secure than one I install myself.
- The cover is sturdier than other notebooks I have used, the bookmark ribbons extend further (3-4 inches past the edge of the closed book) and the elastic is more elastic-y. Overall the materials used are much nicer than similar notebooks and only stuff that’s good for the environment is used.
- At $22.95, the price is also similar to other notebooks on the market. These do come from Lebanon, but shipping costs are low and an order qualifies for free shipping to the US at $37.
- I deeply appreciate the ideals of Dingbats* and the lengths that they go to with this notebook. The company is committed to protecting and improving our environment while creating beautiful, affordable, and well-made products. I’m glad that I can help support those ideals!
DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this review were provided free of charge by Dingbats* for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details. No cats were harmed during this review, although they did get wet.