Notebook Review: Ink + Volt The Founders Notebook (and Giveaway)

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

Ink+ Volt collaborated with Japanese stationery brand Kunisawa to create the new Founders Notebook ($33).

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

The Founders Notebook is a classic A5 size with a manageable 112 pages. The covers are a flexible soft cover with subtle shimmery patterns that look cool and professional. The Founders Notebook is available in three different cover options. When I was told one option was “camo” (it’s actually astro camo) I was skeptical but when it arrived and I discovered it was this amazing shimmery metallic that looks more like space-age terrazzo than military camo, my opinion changed dramatically. The deep “galaxy blue” is, well for lack of a more poetic description, flippin’ gorgeous. It has an iridescent glow to it that is subtle but eye catching. And the shade is edging towards that Ingres Blue that makes me weak. And then there’s the “starlight opal” which has a subtle horizontal patterning and a slight lavender quality to the silver sheen. Honestly, just from the cover colors, you wouldn’t go wrong with any of them.

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

Close-up of Astro Camo

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

Close-up of Galaxy Blue

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

Close-Up of Starlight Opal

The Founder’s notebook has gilt edges which are fancy-schmancy. While gilding the edges does not enhance performance or stability, it does make the book look pretty dang classy. Depending on the notebook cover color, the gilding color varies. The gunmetal astro camo has a golden edging, the galaxy blue cover has silver edging and the starlight opal has a pale gold edging. The only branding on each book is matching foil stamped logos and “The Founders Notebook” centered at the bottom of the back cover which is elegant and subtle. The paper wrap is, of course, removable.

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

The interior paper is a soft white, smooth paper that is fountain pen-friendly but still works well with all your other favorite tools too. The paper are lined on the right and blank on the left. The lines on the right are 7mm spacing but they are so light they are almost invisible. There is also a rule on the far left creating a box that can be used as a check box or to number the column or whatever suits your method of note taking. The blank left page can be used for doodling, diagrams or freeform content. My contact at Ink + Volt says the paper is about 70lb 81gsm and that sounds about right. It’s translucent enough to slide guide sheets underneath if you would prefer more structure or if you like graph or tighter ruling.

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

In writing tests the paper did, indeed, work well with fountain pens, pencils and a variety of other ink pens. I was even able to do a large doodle on the blank page with very little show through. There were just a few dots of bleedthrough where I was dotting color with my brush pens.

The starlight opal notebook has smoke blue end papers (the astro camo has lavender and the blue galaxy has black).

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook

Ink + Volt The Founder's Notebook


While the Ink + Volt Founders Notebooks are a little pricier than most notebooks, the covers are unusual and the gilded edges give them an upgraded look too. The covers are not leather but feel premium so that a plus for some consumers and a minus for others. There is no ribbon bookmark (Ah ha! There was a ribbon bookmark but it was tucked so snugly into the center of the book that I didn’t see it until it was pointed out to me. The ribbon bookmark is long enough to pass the “Can I open the book with the ribbon test?” but does not, however, have sealed end.) pocket in the back cover or elastic closure. Again, for some, those are not things they will miss and for others it will be a disappointment. For me, I think these are a beautiful addition to the notebook market. I have plenty of bookmarks I can use and I can buy a pocket sticker or make one if I find myself missing it, and I honestly never use built-in elastics on my notebooks.

THE GIVEAWAY: Ink + Volt has kindly donated THREE Founder’s Notebooks to giveaway to the readers of The Well-Appointed Desk. Three winners will be drawn at random and will receive ONE Ink + Volt Founder’s Notebook of their choice.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me which color Ink + Volt Founder’s Notebook you’d like. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.

If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the monkeys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, May 10, 2020. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 7 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.


Finally, apologies for the delay in getting this post up today. One of my cats was feeling particularly needy today. Working from home has its good points and its bad. Kitty cuddles are great… until you need to get work done.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Ink + Volt for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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  1. Our cats are wondering why the heck we are around so much now…

    Aloha from Hawaii. Stay safe and wash your hands…

  2. Love the Astro Camo cover. Plus can’t go wrong with gilt edges and lavender end papers. Thanks for the review. I’m with you on the issue of ribbon bookmarks (they always get frayed way before the notebook is finished), pocket in the back cover (I never use them) and elastic closures (I don’t use them and they get weirdly loose over time). Give me a plain old notebook any time…sturdy cover and good paper…what more do you need?

  3. I like all the colors… and if I can’t get one that’s the color of the cat, I guess my favorite is the “camo”.

  4. I like all the colors. If I can’t get one that’s the color of your cat, I guess “camo” is my favorite. 🙂

  5. I was going to enter for Astro Camo because it looks like clouds.

    However, I would like to enter for Starlight Opal because I have an Opal ring. The description of it sounds intriguing.

    1. Starlight opal looks unique. Not something I have in my notebook stash.

  6. Hm, opal, no astro… Opal!!! Tough choice – they are all quite stunning! Thanks for introducing them to us.

  7. The Astro Camo might be the one I like best. Unless it’s the Galaxy Blue.

    After that, if I didn’t have dogs, I’d choose a cat like yours. My dogs, alas, are serious predators where cats are concerned.

    Thank you for the notebook review. I’m a fiend for paper.

  8. If I had to pick, it would be starlight opal, but all of them look great! And may the fourth be with you!

  9. I’m torn between the galaxy blue and starlight opal, but might actually be leaning opal.
    I’m also literally leaning right now.

  10. The blue is amazing! Would love that one. And to make it not as boring, I was thinking about my first pen show, which was last year at DC. You were so friendly and helpful at the Vanness table! Hope all is well!

  11. Ooooh the blue one is gorgeous!! That’s definitely my pick. (Also, I have two cats who have not enjoyed me spending so much time at home and now switch between super grumpy and super needy, so that’s been fun, lol.)

  12. Ooooh def the galaxy blue. It’s my wife’s fav color and may help me continue to spur her towards a pen and paper love like mine!

  13. Galaxy blue would be my first choice – blue is my favorite color! Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Starlight Opal. At the word “lavender” I was intrigued. But I’ve been following them on Instagram too and haven’t been able to commit. Thanks for the review! It helps!

  15. Wow. Those are all amazing and any of them would be a treat. If forced to choose, I think I have to go with the texturing of Astro camo, but it is a close thing.

  16. The galaxy blue really jumps out to me, especially with that sheen!

    Kitties are very helpful co-workers!!

  17. Totally love the starlight opal notebook has smoke blue end papers – opal is so hard to do without it looking like something meant for a 5 year old.

  18. The starlight opal is beautiful! Honestly they are all beautiful, but I am a sucker for purple!

  19. That eggshell opal for me. I just lost a rainbow bird to eggbinding and I would fill it with rainbow writing in her memory. The blue endpapers match too – she had secret blue at the base of her feathers!

  20. I’d never heard of this company before. They have some other cool stuff on their website. I like the different cover designs–nothing that i’ve seen before as other people have said. I like the galaxy blue the best though.

  21. Being a military vet, I’m particularly fond of the camo pattern. I pray you are healthy and safe in these times and to everyone else reading this good luck, God bless

  22. The depth of the galaxy blue looks amazing, but I’m too much of a fan of grey and purple colors to pass up something like the starlight opal. That’s the one I would want.

  23. I would love the blue, although I know I would like any of the colors! Could we have more pictures of your cat? I’m retired and, in “normal” times, travel a lot, so I don’t want to have the responsibility of a pet but I miss the times I had with my pets.

  24. This seems like an unfair question . . . how does one decide between these three colors? From your pictures, they all look spectacular in their own way. I am a blue person and would normally go that route, but I think I would start with the starlight opal just for something different (and to enjoy that texture).

  25. Ana! I am torn. Blue or the White really. I was leaning towards the blue because I generally use Pentel Energel Blue-Black inked pens but heck, either one would make my favorite pen look good.

    PSA: don’t post before coffee, readers… it can lead to excessive rambling.

  26. The blue is lovely and I thought I would like that best, but the texture on the Opal is amazing and different.

  27. The blue one, definitely. If my cat could speak he would say “hi!”.

  28. I’m going with the galaxy blue, solely based on the photos. I have a feeling that these will look much better in person.

  29. I would pick the galaxy blue, because I will nearly always pick the blue (ask anyone) plus it looks great.
    I liked the picture of your cat. Our cats aren’t turning out to be the best co-workers either!

  30. The texture and the color of the starlight opal is very cool – I’d go with it.

  31. I think I would use my Amethyst d’Oural ink in the astro camo book. Love those purples!

    Your cat looks so pettable! No wonder you couldn’t get anything done!

  32. Flippin’ gorgeous blue? Astro Camo? Lavender vertical sheen? I’d take any of them! Thanks for the opportunity and happy kitten cuddles.

  33. Astro camo looks cool, although they are all beautiful. I had to stay in bed late this morning because my cat was snuggled in my armpit, facing out and hugging my arm. He was so very sound asleep I didn’t want to disturb him. So now my shoulder is sore from one-handed use of my phone.

  34. Galaxy Blue is stunning, my first choice.
    I hope your cat is doing well. I am absolutely the best and most fearless person to have on hand if someone is hurt, or ill but when my cats have to go to the vet I use any tactic to employ my spouse to bring them.
    Thank you for the joy your content brings to the world.

  35. I like the Astro blue (well all are nice, but if I had to pick…) and my go to ink right now is DeArtremis Alexander Hamilton.

  36. Those notebooks are gorge! I’m not a fan of ribbon bookmarks; I usually use a page flag or a pineapple paperclip to mark my place.

    If I have to choose, the blue would be my top choice! It’s the same color as the blue in my company logo. And it would make a great book to use at my upcoming board meeting (meeting planner here!)

    Thanks for the giveaway! And thank you for the reviews that show how notebooks do with fountain pens.

  37. That Galaxy Blue would be my pick, hard to pass on a nice blue, though they all look lovely.

  38. What a gorgeous blue! I’d have to have that blue… more than half of my inks are blue, my hair is blue… it has to be blue!

  39. Does the cat come with the notebook? ;^)

    In all seriousness, I particularly like the Galaxy blue, but I would take any of them~

  40. The Astro Camo is gorgeous, with its softer vibe it gives, though Starlight Opal and Galaxy Blue also are appealing! It has a aesthetic to it that makes you want to write!

  41. Astro Blue looks amazing!
    I would pair this with Papier Plus Calle Real, my go to blue.

  42. Galaxy Blue and Starlight both look amazing!
    It’s nice to have a Notebook with a nice cover especially after I’ve gone through them, or when they just sit there waiting for the next entry.

  43. I like the Astro Camo of the three covers, and the paper is great. This is a solid notebook I would definitely buy it if it was 200 pages for $33 as is I would pay $25.

  44. I’m having trouble deciding which color I like the best, but at the moment I think I would go with Starlight Opal.

    I really feel you about needy cats. My husband is working from home and every time he gets on a work call our cat finds him and meows loudly at him. So I spend pieces of the day picking up our cat and carrying her around to keep her quiet when a call comes in.

  45. Ana–thanks for sharing these notebooks. It’s great to learn about products I am not likely to see otherwise. My first choice would be the Astro Camo; it’s so unusual.

  46. Hi! I would love the galaxy blue. I want to try out all my new pens and pencils. I am having fun collecting new supplies for my stay at home writing. Thanks!

  47. This may be the first time I’ve ever asked for Camo anything. But then, Starlight Opal. They are all gorgeous!

    A cat in my lap is helping me get through chilly days of WFH when it’s not quite cold enough for a fire in the wood stove.

  48. That galaxy blue looks stunning! I would love to ink up some shimmery inks like all my Diamines and use this bad boy as my new evening journal!

  49. For me I would pick the blue notebook and keep it simple with black ink – a nice, really dark black ink. I’ve been using J. Herbin’s Perle Noire.

  50. They’re all great, but if I have to choose, I’d pick the blue – I like the silver edging.

  51. The Galaxy Blue is very pretty and I like the close-up texture!

  52. While I’m lucky enough to have a job, and be able to work from home, my dingy temporary workspace could do with some colour. I’ve gotten my hands on some beautiful ink (Sailor 452), my pen is at the ready, and I think a Starlight Opal notebook would beautifully capture my great (hopefully) thoughts! Of course, I will also use the Starlight (its abundance of room is one of its best aspects, as far as I’m concerned) to capture my mundane thoughts (vast majority of the day), action lists, random noteworthy happenings, things to be grateful for, and ideas about increasing my resilience, but I’ll probably use a different ink for that…

  53. The Camo is my favorite but they are all so beautiful. They really hit this one out of the park.

  54. The starlight opal would be an interesting change of pace as most of my notebooks are usually blue or black. And I think the vertical texture looks fun.

  55. Let’s be honest, they are all gorgeous. I’m not usually a camo person, but that one definitely caught my eye.

    I feel you with pets and working from home. My 50lb dog is frequently flopping down on the floor next to my desk these days. I’m home but not playing with her, and that is apparently unacceptable

  56. I really love the Galaxy Blue color. I need to get back into practicing with my pens. Maybe I could make it more intentional and take notes on my coffee endeavors. Thanks for the chance to win and really great review!

  57. Wow, these are gorgeous. I’m having a hard time choosing between the camo & galaxy blue.

  58. The Astro camo is cool, it reminds me off the glass windows In the bathhouse at a campground we used to visit when I was a kid. Ahhh, nostalgia

  59. Wow these journals look very well made and would really heighten the whole writing experience, especially the Galaxy Blue one. I have been improving my writing experience to heighten the whole journaling experience to really make it rewarding to self reflect and create in these journals.

  60. How gorgeous!!! The cat and the notebooks!! I’m with you- Galaxy Blue is amazing! How fun it will be to pull that beauty out of my bag the next time I go to the coffee shop, whenever that happens. ☹️Astro Camo and Starlight Opal are also beautiful. Any of these would be a lovely gift. Also terrific names for Zappa children. Thank you!!

  61. I would love to see these notebooks up close! The astro camo is my choice because of the textured pattern.

  62. All three are spectacular. I think my order of preference is the order you posted the color photos- camo, galaxy, opal.

  63. Galaxy Blue knocked my socks off! So great to have more fountain pen friendly notebooks

  64. Galaxy Blue knocks my socks off!! So great to have more fountain pen friendly notebook choices.

  65. The astrocamo looks like an elevated version of a Mead composition notebook cover! This would be my pick from the different finishes.

  66. I’m liking the Galaxy Blue! It would fit in with my 42 bottles of blue ink!

  67. Wow, what beautiful notebooks! I love how unique they all look. If I had to choose I’d go with Astro Camo, but any of them would be a special treat.

  68. I spent years in camo, love the color blue, and opal is my birthstone….so yeah all three colors speak to me…but I’d probably choose the blue first.

  69. I l-o-v-e that galaxy blue! For a while I’d been letting my various fountain pens sit unused, I’d gotten frustrated with upkeep. I just sat down and cleaned up / refilled everything and reminded myself how lovely it is to have them to write with. Even if it’s just a meal plan for pandemic grocery runs lol.

  70. Astro Camo has an interesting pattern. Definitely my favorite among the choices.

  71. The Starlight Opal is delightful. It reminds me of my favorite glowy nail polish!

  72. Ooh, paper. Never enough good paper. Really, I like and would carry all three colors, but if I had to pick one to make this comment more interesting 🙂 it’s the blue. Or the astral camo. But probably the blue.

  73. Would love to try out the notebook in Astro Camo! How gorgeous and original of a design!

  74. This is a beautiful notebook that would be a welcome change from my trying to finish filling up some old journals with bad paper and loose endpapers. With the Scorpio Full Moon, I think it is a good time for new beginnings, and the Galaxy Blue cover is perfect for a Water Sign like me.

  75. I like the Galaxy Blue notebook and I would use it for notetaking for meetings.

  76. Definitely Galaxy Blue one. It closely matches my companies primarily color, royal blue, so I’d be tempted to use it for meetings.

  77. I love the Camo! I love the Opal! I would be so happy with either of them! I will use it for everything! It will be my new planner. Thanks for the offer…

  78. Oooh that Galaxy blue is indeed, as you say, “flippin’ gorgeous”! So that would be my pick. It instantly reminded me of the deep blue/texture of Wancher’s glass nib pen in the blue moon color, which I have coveted…unfortunately, it’s about as expensive as it is gorgeous.

  79. I think I would like the blue – But really I’d be happy to try any of them! I’ve got several journaling ideas in mind already…

  80. I don’t usually go for blue, but you had me at flippin’ gorgeous, so blue it is.

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