It’s been several years since I’ve tried a Paperblanks journal. I used one of their planners for a couple years but moved on to other planning systems and had sort of forgotten about Paperblanks. The most recognizable and notable aspect of Paperblanks notebooks and planners are the beautiful, often antique-inspired covers that they use which incorporate emboss and often gold.
I had mentioned Paperblanks to someone recently and it led me back to their website to discover that they now list the paper weights they use and noticed that they listed 80gsm, 100gsm and 120gsm paper stocks. Clearly, it was time to give Paperblanks another look.
I ordered one Flexi Midi notebook (approx. 5 x 7 “) with 100gsm paper. The cover featured artwork by Catrin Welz-Stein whose work I am enamored with. I also ordered a hard cover Midi notebook with 120gsm paper. Included in my order was a free A7 sized Paper-Oh lined notebook which is part of Paperblanks contemporary line and featured a metallic grey wave texture on the outside.
Upon further research, the Paper-Oh line is only available in 80gsm and 100gsm papers (when shopping on the Paperblanks site, select “more filters” to reveal the paper weight options if you are specifically looking for the heavier weight.
So, let’s start reviewing the notebooks.
Oceania Diamond Rosette Midi Hardcover Notebook
The Oceania Diamond Rosette Midi ($18.95) Notebook in Hardcover is beautifully embossed with antiqued gold foiling and a textural look though the cover is actually a matte soft-touch wrapped paper hardcover notebook.
The hardcover Midi version of this notebook includes a black elastic closure which I don’t particularly like how it looks with the antique centered design. But its nice that its been included.
The back cover includes a gusseted pocket for miscellany and a red satin ribbon bookmark that is cut and sealed on the end so it doesn’t fray. The book includes 144 pages.
The Oceania notebook features the 120gsm and this is what I wanted to try. The paper is a soft white ivory (which is very difficult to photograph correctly) and I purchased the blank version. The only other option was lined.
I tested several “everyday” fountain pens and a small assortment of felt tip and gel pens. They all performed beautifully.
Writing on this paper provides a little tooth and texture and feel velvety to write on. The Midi size also hits that sweet spot between an A5 and A6 size. I really like it.
From the reverse side of both pages, there was no bleedthrough and no showthrough either.
Wordscapes Flexi Midi Notebook
The Wordscapes “Free Your Mind” Midi Flexi ($15.95) Notebook is the same size and the hardcover Midi but features a more flexible “softcover”. The design printed on the cover is done in the same way as the Oceania notebook — soft touch matte but this cover features a more contemporary, vintage-inspired illustration by Catrin Welz-Stein. The illustration is accented with gloss varnish and some metallic details on the figure’s dress.
This notebook also features a light, printed edge painting that reminds me of marbling. It’s very subtle and might be missed if I hadn’t looked closely. It would have been nice for the edge painting to be a little more bold to be more evident.
The secretary pocket in the back of the Flexi notebook is not gusseted and the Flexi notebook does not include an elastic for closing the book.
The Flexi notebook features more pages than the hardcover notebook — 176 pages vs. the 144 pages in the hardcover. The paper is also only 100gsm instead of the 120gsm option in the hardcover.
Compared to the velvety texture of the 120gsm paper, the 100gsm paper seems a bit smoother, silkier. I enjoyed writing on it despite knowing that it was more likely to bleed or showthrough. The advantage of the lighter weight paper is that a guide sheet is much more easy to see under the blank pages.
The lighter weight paper becomes evident with more showthrough and a little bleedthrough with heavier ink applications like the music nib and the broad brush pens. It’s not awful and if you use a lot of fine nib fountain pens and a mix of ballpoint, gel and other tools, you might not mind the lighter paper.
Paper-Oh A7 Yuko-Ori Lined Notebook
The Paper-Oh A7 Yuko-Ori Metallic Grey ($4.21) Lined Notebook was included in my order as a bonus and it gave me a chance to see and try the lined paper without investing in a third notebook. The Paper-Oh line is more contemporary looking and feeling with the textural paper cover and a “perfect binding” rather than the wrapped paper covers (hard of soft) of the traditional Paperblanks line.
Included in the tiny notebook was a paper bookmark which I could not figure out how it was meant to be folded and a little brochure about the development of the Paper-Oh line.
The Yuko-Ori notebook appears to use the same 100gsm paper as the larger Midi Flexi notebook. However, the paper seemed to behave a bit differently with inks. I believe this was a result of the printing necessary to add lines to the paper. The lines are very thin and printed in a light brown so they are very subtle. If I needed a lined notebook, this is the kind of lines I’d want. However, the alteration to the paper as a result of the lines is a bit of a disappointment. I may be reading more into the paper than was there. Maybe it’s just a slightly different paper?
The inconsistencies in the way the fountain pen ink adhered to the paper turned out to be difficult to capture in a photo so I guess it’s not as bad as I am making it out to be.
In the end, I am more inclined to stick to the blank pages to avoid any additional issues, especially with the 100gsm paper. The 120gsm paper may stand up to the printing process better. If anyone decides to try the heavier paper with lines, please let me know if you run into any issues.
I am glad I tried Paperblanks again. I am 100% sold on the the 120gsm paper and I do like the unusual Midi size. I look forward to trying more variations of the Paperblanks notebooks in various sizes.
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me and I was not compensated to write this review. Please see the About page for more details.