Notebook Review: Elemental Notebooks

Review by Laura Cameron

Back when the Elemental Notebooks Kickstarter launched, I was all in. I love me a good themed notebook, and I find anything geeky endearing. I was very impressed by all the thoughtful design features that Laurie & Greg had put into the notebooks. From the title page to the colored paper edges it looked like an excellent design.

The Kickstarter progressed well, and I have to praise Laurie & Greg for running a great campaign with lots of clear communication. While it was a bit until my notebooks arrived, it felt like not much time elapsed at all.

I ordered a pack of two notebooks, and selected Oxygen and Nitrogen. I figured I’d keep one and give my partner in crime one as well. It’s no surprise that Ana chose green right?

So for the purposes of this review I’ll focus on Oxygen.

Oxygen is designed for the element oxygen. Starting with the cover, Oxygen has a Lake/Azure blue cover because of the large amount of oxygen in water. The title pages and bookmark ribbons are color coordinated – blue and white. The Oxygen cover has silver foil for the element’s square on the periodic table. The design also boasts that the cover features a 3-piece construction which will keep the spine from creasing. I haven’t used it long enough to know what the long term results will be, but it appears it would be hard to crease the spine.

The book is a true A5 size, 5.8″ x 8.3″ (148cm x 210 cm) and contains 192 pages of 100gsm paper. I chose the dot grid version (5mm spacing) although lined versions are also available (6mm spacing). The pages are unnumbered.

So let’s talk turkey. I’ve seen both rave reviews of these notebooks, and reviews by people who are highly disappointed in the paper. I’ve heard Brad’s take on it (listen to the Pen Addict episode 329) and I was really curious to see what I would think. As I prepared for this review, I went back and looked at the Kickstarter which stated:

At 100gsm, bleed-through and bothersome ghosting are a thing of the past. The paper is acid-free for long-term storage and also has very little/no feathering with fountain pen ink.

So I tested a lot of inks on this page. I used extra fine nibs up to stub nibs (and all the nibs in between) and I swabbed it with a q-tip and an ink sample.

I don’t think I got the bad paper in my book. Most of the nibs and inks wrote beautifully, and there were only a few where I noticed a bit of feathering. Notably, I saw a bit of feathering with my Vanishing Point filled with Yama Budo ink. But that’s a medium nib, and it puts down a lot of ink and sometimes has the same effect on other papers I use.

However, I do have one quibble with what was promised. It won’t make me stop using the book, but I definitely got show through and ghosting.

My final minor complaint about the book, is that I had some spots on my cover where the fabric wasn’t dyed. Again, it’s not a major complaint, but it was a little disappointing since this is the front cover of the book.

So what’s my ultimate take on this project? I want to love it, and frankly, at this price point I like it quite a bit. It’s a fun little notebook, and paper issues notwithstanding, it reminds me a bit of the format of my Rhodia Goalbook, and I’ve been using the heck out of that one this year. I can easily see myself throwing the Oxygen in my bag and using it for all my to-do lists and notes. It’s not super heavy or cumbersome, and it’s my preferred format and size (dot grid, A5).  Is it excellent for my fountain pens? It’s not perfect, but I can stick to the pens that lay down a bit less ink and still make good use of it. If that’s more thinking then you want to do, then this one isn’t for you.

But if a science themed notebook tickles you, you can purchase one at Elemental Paper. I believe I purchased my Kickstarter set of two for $38, and the notebooks are marked at $20, but currently seem to be on sale for $15.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me for the purpose of this review. Please see the About page for more details.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

    1. Well what is the primary function of a notebook? There are a million and one writing tools that DO work in this notebook, so I’m not sure we can say that it fails at its primary function. And I was quick to disclose the positives and the negatives of this particular product. I purchased this notebook with my own money, and I do find that I have uses for it, so I stand by my review.

  1. They look weird to me. I’m used to medical gas colors, where oxygen is green, and nitrogen is black. Blue cylinders hold nitrous oxide.

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