Ink Flight Box #4

31 05 2017

I’m SORT OF trying to be SOMEWHAT more responsible this year in terms of gratuitous purchases, and focusing instead on enjoying the pens, papers, and inks I already have. So I don’t know what exactly Tom wrote in the Ink Flight announcement for May that made me overcome my sense of responsibility and decide that I had to have whatever extra mystery item was, but good job. The wheels of capitalism thank you.

I’d like to make a wheelie clever pun here but I’m too tired

My particular Ink Flight box decided to take some extra layovers through the US Postal Service for whatever reason, but Tom was super helpful in making sure my Ink Flight got to me (also super helpful in getting me sorted out when I somehow managed to accidentally place my order twice when trying to use ApplePay while half asleep). Prompt A+ customer service.

In spite of unforeseen flight delays, none of the surprise was spoiled for me online. A+ nice pen and ink community. The Ink Flight Box #4 came with 7 samples of J. Herbin ink —  4 regular colors, 2 special edition sparkly 1670 colors, and 1 scented color. All in all I think as good a representation of the brand as one can be expected to fit within 7 samples. Also included in the box: a Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book and a Neptune watercolor brush. The mystery items did not disappoint. I made squealy noises of excitement.

Please note if you want it to look like this, some effort will be required. But it’s worth it

My feelings toward J. Herbin inks have been all over the place throughout the years. I bought three bottles early on (Gris Nuage, Diabolo Menthe, and Vert Reseda) and some cartridges (Poussiere de Lune, Ambre de Birmanie), liked them well enough, then decided that they didn’t have enough shading or saturation for my tastes at the time and didn’t use them for a few years, got hooked on the 1670 anniversary editions (starting with Stormy Grey, the reformulated Bleu Ocean, and so forth), and have since gone back to my original bottles (plus a holiday gift of a bottle of Rouge Caroubier) and am loving them again. It’s a good time for more J. Herbin to come back into my life, even if only 3 of the samples are new colors to me.


Brief thoughts on the colors (asterisk for the ones new to me):

Emerald of Chivor — still haven’t reviewed it, though I have mentioned it in other reviews. It is magical and using it feels like I’m staring into the cosmos. It fills me with joy and I have no complaints against it.

Stormy Grey — love the shading, love the sparkle. I even have Stormy Grey in my bamboo brush pen right now. It’s like me: seems professional, but then the light hits it just right and you can see the mad gleam of insanity glinting in my eyes charming sparkle.

Rouge Caroubier — a very lovely slightly-pinkish-coral sort of red. Nice for spring and summer especially. Not a lot of very noticeable shading though.

Poussiere de Lune — a nice dusky purple. Writing with the paintbrush, it seems to have more shading than I remember when I last used a cartridge of it.

Eclat de Saphir* — what a vibrant blue! Much like Lamy Blue, but a bit more vibrant at its most saturated. Writing with the paintbrush has significant shading from a very vibrant blue to a slightly more muted one. I am intrigued to see how it will behave once I get it in a pen.

Bleu Pervenche* — it’s like a sky blue turquoise! The closest color I already have to it is Monteverde Turquoise, but not a lot of shading when writing with the paintbrush. I prefer turquoise and similar blues with more shading. But the color is so lovely, I’ll give it a chance in some pen on my next go-round of inking.

Cacao Brown* — it smells…kind of like vanilla extract?? But not quite. I like it. I don’t know that I really like this particular brown color. Can I add this scent to some 1670 Caroube de Chypre? That would be perfect.

Quick thoughts on the mystery items:

Neptune #2 Round Watercolor Brush — found it quite easy to use and write with. Could never seem to get it fully clean though. I’d think it was clean, and it would be clean on most of it except if I put a paper towel to where the bristles go into the metal ferrule (or whatever you call it), I’d always draw out a bit of ink. There’s probably ink stashed away up in there forever now. But using it didn’t seem contaminated with other colors so I’m just hoping for the best.

Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book — heckafreaking amazing. I am so excited to have one. I’ve already done swatches of every bottle of ink I own, Leigh Reyes-style, and am happy to report I own less than 100 bottles of ink and therefore have room to grow. More about the Col-o-ring by The Well-Appointed Desk here.

Here’s my calling card.

All in all a very satisfying purchase. I got to experience new colors, I gave away the two 1670 anniversary ink samples to a friend and spread the love, and I have a Col-o-ring now! The Ink Flight isn’t a subscription, so if I decide to go back to being responsible there’s nothing else I need to do. And if I decide I gotta have it, I can hop back on. The differently priced options for an Ink Flight are 1. just the 6 samples; 2. the Starter set including the 6 samples, a bonus sample, an InkJournal Black notebook, and a random piece of InkJournal swag; or 3. the 6 samples, bonus sample, and surprise mystery item(s) for fountain pen and ink lovers. The next Ink Flight is available to order now and ships out this Friday, June 2nd!

 





Denik Layflat Notebook

10 04 2017

Lays flat. Is notebook. Ok, I think we’re done here!

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Go home everyone, you’ve done great

While I’m still not certain I’m certified cool enough to own any of these notebooks, Denik has once again reached out to me to give my opinion on their latest release, the Layflat notebook. Picking one notebook among a huge host of awesome designs was challenging. I convened a panel of the coolest people I knew to weigh in on my life choice. Ultimately I went with a blank Copper Frost.

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surprise!

…but also ended up with a lined Mandala Bloom and a lined Meadow Lark! I’ll be spreading the generosity with a giveaway on Instagram. In case you’ve forgotten, generosity and general goodness is sort of baked into the fabric of Denik as a company, with purchases supporting the artists who designed each notebook as well as helping third world communities where they’re building or have built schools. More here.

thankartist

Mesmerizing

I don’t really need to go into detail on the artwork, because it all speaks for itself. Freaking beautiful designs. I love them. I want them all. If I were made of endless dollars and thoughts to fill them all, I might actually buy all of them. But I’m not. So let’s get to the actual construction. I carried this notebook for about a week strapped onto the top of my lunchbox like a culinary stationwagon topped with creativity. I may not be as painfully hip as the beautiful people in the Layflat advertisements carrying their Layflats to all sorts of fancy trendy outdoor places, but I can fit at least a month’s worth of notebook abuse into a week or so.

spineandwear

A pancake stack would be more physically nutritious, but a notebook stack is more mentally nourishing?

The only damage I’ve done so far is a little wear to the copper foil. The cover is still delightfully textured with its soft-touch velvet laminated cover. It’s this magical smooth matte finish that you just want to rub all over your face. It’s also water resistant, though I wouldn’t go so far as to drop it in your nearest body of water. Just no need to fret if you set it on a wet desk or countertop.

laysflat

Layflat. Flat. Lay….flat. Life flat. Life flight. Life Alert. My notebook has fallen and can’t get up. Because it lays flat, you see. Alright, time for a nap.

I was surprised to see that all my pressing open of this notebook has not resulted in any cracking of the spine. No doubt due to the smyth-sewn binding. It doesn’t exactly lay flat on its own unless it’s open right in the middle, but it lays quite flat to use. Significant effort is not required to make it flat.

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My collage skills were not coming together to put the backsides of these pages in this example. If you want to see the back, let me know and I can email it to you. Also, per Denik the paper weight for both the lined and blank notebooks is “100gsm text (67.6lbs)”

Once again, the paper isn’t perfect but did bring some pleasant surprises. I was not expecting to see shading like I got from the 1.9mm Lamy calligraphy nib loaded with J. Herbin Indien Orange, and with no bleedthrough to boot. But with broad and/or juicy fountain pen nibs, you get some spots of bleedthrough, and some feathering (mostly feathering moreseo than fuzzing). This isn’t going to be a book to draw in with heavy applications of fountain pen ink.

PicMonkey Collage

Put this together using Pic Monkey collage, which was much more convenient than bringing all these together individually on my own in something like Pixlr. Most of the collages in this post I did with Pic Monkey, until it decided it had been too helpful and started loading only half of each image on the big writing examples

Watercolor washes also didn’t do very well. That  said, small applications of watercolor did great, no bleedthrough. Fine nib sketching with Rohrer & Klingner’s two iron gall inks (Scabiosa and Salix) gave crisp lines with no bleedthrough. Brush pen full of fountain pen ink was a no, but the Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen brush pen was a yes. For writing, the situation was similar. Some bleedthrough on the broader, juicier, heavier sorts of pens, but not much that was too egregious. With these notebooks, it’s worth your time to draw/write up a test page to figure out what all combos work best for you. For me, the sketchbook works best with pencils (wooden and mechanical), ballpoint pens, thin gel pens, Sakura Pigma Micron pens, PITT Artist pens, Uni Live Sign Pen, Sharpie pen, and fountain pens with thin nibs/crisp italics, especially with Scabiosa and Salix as the inks. And some spots of watercolor.

dada

I went to a prestigious university and what do I remember? This. Mostly this.

For the mixed media experience, I present to you washi tape on a precious adoptable catvertisement, and Dadaist poetry secured in poem 1 by generic tape, and in poem 2 by Zig Memory System 2 Way Glue pen glue. I think we’re done here.

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Time to ride this copper foil train horse off into the sunset

These are wonderfully portable notebooks in my favorite size, in a wide range of enviably attractive cover designs. The blank style is good for basic sketching techniques but not really the place for heavy media and tons of ink. Provided you’re using the right pen and/or ink, you can use both sides of the page in the lined version. Priced at $11.95, I think it’s a good deal for a good notebook supporting good causes.

 

Layflat Softcover Notebooks in Lined and Blank, So Very Many Designs at Denik.com

(Denik provided these products at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)





Palomino Blackwing Slate

27 03 2017

In my mind, I’ve only made it to sometime around October of last year. It really isn’t, nor can it possibly already be, nearly the end of March 2017. This is some kind of trick of the light, or perhaps part of a marketing campaign by some cringeworthy brand that thinks making any type of commercial with the phrase “going viral” is gold, rather than something that should be quietly placed in a fire and never spoken of again. Surely not part of actual reality.

No, it really is reality, and I really took way a bit too long to getting around to this review

So, about six moons ago, I received the Palomino Blackwing Slate Drawing Book from Pencils.com for review. If you’re working on reviewing a Palomino Blackwing Slate, I suggest quickly getting over the first month of reverent adoration in which the notebook feels too pretty to open, or even touch. The wear-resistant polymer cover has a wonderful smooth matte feel to it, that I can successfully verify after several months of rough transport in an overstuffed lunch suitcase (it can’t really be called a box when you could probably pack a week’s worth of clothes in it) really is wear resistant.

Classy

The canvas spine is a simple design element that makes the Slate stand out from all your other typical black notebooks. The pages are sewn-bound together to form a block, then the canvas spine is sewn-bound to that block for a spine that is strong, sturdy, yet flexible that opens quite flat without hassle. But the really stand out feature is that elastic holster on the spine. It comes loaded with the fantastic Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil, but what else can fit on there? Any pen or pencil of comparable thickness of course, but pushing the limits I was surprised to fit (one at a time, of course!) a Rotring Art Pen, the Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, a Pilot Vanishing Point, and even a Lamy Al-Star (though that was really pushing the limit, and might wear down the elastic more than a less girthy pen). I like the spine as a convenient, handy, yet out of the way place to stash a drawing implement so the notebook is never alone.

Don’t mind the show through and such. It means nothing to me

This paper. This 100 gsm paper. This delightfully smooth, cream colored, wonderfully chosen paper is beyond what I’d hoped for. This paper is GREAT with fountain pens. I’m talking crisp lines, shading, sheen, no feathers, no bleedthrough. Let’s move in for a close-up.

I can’t pick just one. Must look at all

Delicious. Also did well with watercolors/water brush pen, Kuretake and Koi brush pens, and PITT artist pens. Not so great for Sharpie markers, Copic markers, the Pilot Twin Marker, the Sakura Gelly Roll Gold pen, and the Pentel Tradio felt tip pen, all of which showed signs of bleedthrough. The downside to this paper is that there is showthrough so significant it almost defies logic. But you get 160 pages, in a slim and easy to transport format. It’s a tradeoff. For sketching and brainstorming, I prefer thinner drawing paper, and especially prefer fountain pen friendly paper. And with all the Hobonichi Techo use in my life, I have come to fully accept a world of showthrough. But if showthrough bothers you, this might not be the notebook for you.

Clever little pocket, how could I have doubted you?

 

The Slate also has all your typical features: ribbon bookmark, elastic closure, unobtrusive branding on the back, and a back pocket…with a slot cut into it whose purpose I could not intrinsically divine. Apparently, it’s a pocket-in-pocket for holding things like business cards in a more accessible place. I was very suspicious of the functionality. It seemed like a dangerous set-up just asking for a business card to fall out. But then I actually tried putting a card in for photographic purposes and discovered that there’s a lip there for the card to tuck into.

Accept the corgipillar

In summary and conclusion, I love this notebook. Would I change anything? Not that I can think of. I guess you could make it in other colors?? Other sizes? But I really like this size, not too big and not too small–perfect for portability and usability. You’ve got me stumped. Good work, Palomino.

 

Palomino Blackwing Slate at Pencils.com

(Pencils.com provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)

 





SQ1 EDC Pen by RNG

28 02 2017

Better lit picture pending either the return of the sun or the revival of my scanner


Have we had a lot of Kickstarter pens designed around the Fisher Space Pen refill? No offense to any creators if we have, but I can’t remember many if any that caught my eye until I saw the Shipwrecked finish SQ1 sample on the Clicky Post‘s Instagram feed.

Caption typed by my dog: Q`1

This was something different. This was all thumbs up and a basket of yes. And at the Kickstarter special price of two for $40, I didn’t even have to choose between my two favorites. Ryan did a good job of communicating and updating throughout the project process, and a good job of getting product out (estimated delivery October, actual ship November)–especially for a one-man show machining some quality pens.

In my Kickstarter experience, you only earn the right to complain about the project timeframe if it’s been so long you forgot you even backed the project. Lookin’ at you, Fidget Cube.


The bodies of the SQ1 are all 6061 Anodized aluminum or stonewashed aluminum (I opted for a black and an olive drab green anodized), with four cap material/finish options (polished brass, polished copper, and then the two I chose: brushed copper and shipwrecked copper). In spite of reading how long the pen would be (5″ long, with a 5/16″ diameter), the thing itself in my hand was smaller than what I’d expected. Unless I actually measure and draw out a scale representation, I never really have an accurate conception in my mind of how big a Kickstarter pen will be.

But I guarantee, even with reference images including normal every day objects, my mental sization will be inaccurate


The aesthetic is a simple but satisfying arrangement of circles and lines – dimpled lines of circles for the grip, circles carved around the ends to create a visual of lines, all on the straight-line cylinder of the pen body. I like that the cap isn’t flush with the pen body; it makes the grip more comfortable as there isn’t a step down between the pen body and the nose cone, and it gives the pen a stylized matchstick look.

I’m going to end up looking at actual shipwrecks some day and probably be very disappointed that the colorations aren’t as pretty as this


But the biggest draw for me is that gorgeous shipwrecked finish. Every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped, and then some. The steampunky brushed copper looks great too. I’ve had both pens knocking around in bags for some time now, enough so that the anodized body of the black pen shows a bit of wear to it, but the finishes on the end caps look as good as the day I got them. I appreciate whatever protective or magical force has accomplished that, because I would hate for those beautiful patterns to get worn off.

The nose cone isn’t shipwrecked. Magic, or conspiracy??? ConsPIRACY ???? Arr.


Speaking of wear, here’s the wear I mentioned on the body. In dim lighting it’s hard to find but in sunlight, it’s visible. As long as I’m not losing my shipwrecked finish, then the more character the merrier. My only complaint for these pens: the threading on the nose cone. The cap doesn’t easily catch onto the threading. I have to take care and pay attention to make sure I’ve got it right. If anyone reports stripping the threads after a hasty or drunken recapping of the SQ1, I won’t be surprised.

Please write responsibly


I considered taking off points for the slight complications involved in freeing the refill. You have to unscrew the back end, then take a 1/8 allen wrench (not included) and insert it to unscrew the set screw, and then you can shake out the refill. But the set screw holds the refill perfectly and firmly in place. And if you’ve ever assembled or at least thought very hard about assembling any piece of IKEA furniture, then your toolbox probably already has an allen wrench or two drifting along the bottom with every spare mismatched nail you’ve encountered in your adult life. It wouldn’t be worth increasing the price of the pen to include one. My only beef here is with the cap threads on the nose cone (the threads on the back end to post the cap don’t have the same problem).

Pairs well with a rugged Field Notes and/or a gin & tonic


Though I haven’t actually reviewed the Space Pen itself yet, I’m not going to get into that this time. The short of it: it’s not a Jetstream, but it never said it was. It writes in all manner of environments, as would befit an EDC pen. Would I hand write a novel with it? No. Jot the jotty sort of jots one would expect of an EDC pen? Gladly.

 

The RNG website isn’t ready for selling yet, but at time of writing there are a few SQ1 pens available on the RNG Etsy shop.





Quo Vadis 2017 Plan & Note Planner

30 01 2017

Welcome back, my fine friends, to a new year. New year, new planners. While the Hobonichi Techo has got a pretty firm lock on my heart, I do recognize that it’s not going to be perfect for everyone, so when the good people of Exaclair reached out to me many moons ago to see if I would be interested in taking the Quo Vadis Plan & Note for a spin, I was all for it. This is a planner coming from a good paper family (Quo Vadis, Clairefontaine, Rhodia are all of the same family), and I loved the Quo Vadis Miniweek back in my pre-Hobonichi days.

– All of my friends have decided that the texture of the cover resembles the peel of a banana. I am now questioning the sanity of all of my friends.

This is the Desk size Plan & Note in Violet. The cover is a rubberized soft-touch cover, somewhat but not quite like the Rhodia Webnotebook in texture, of a mostly firm, semi-flexible cardboard stock. The binding is designed to lay flat, and can be bent back on itself for added firmness and convenience when writing on the go.

On the go. The phrase sounded normal popping out of my head, and now looking at it on the screen is beginning to break down into inexplicable nonsense. How does one get on the go? Is the go going, or is it gone?

A matching purple elastic band holds the notebook closed. Size-wise, I was worried at the “desk” designation – I pictured some vast and endless windswept plain of fountain pen friendly paper, bound by the gods upon some ancient varnished desk. But who would need an elastic to hold that sort of notebook closed? Who would ever be able to carry such a thing anywhere to need to keep it closed? My fears were allayed by the actual facts of reality — the “Desk” plan and note, at 6″ x 8.5″, is an easily portable and slim planner, large enough to be useful while retaining the convenience of a semi-compact size. For at least three months I’ve been carrying this planner around (packed always next to my guilt at not having reviewed it yet), rarely taking care to protect it in any meaningful way. It’s important to see how such things hold up to the rigors and abuse of ordinary life.

The tell-tale puncture marks indicative of a feline presence


Looking close, you can find signs of wear, but the planner is still looking sharp. If you take even the slightest amount of care (i.e. not throwing it unprotected into a giant lunch bag full of knives, misshapen objects, and miniaturized kitchen implements) I’d wager you’ll still have a sharp looking planner by the time 2018 rolls around.

Unnecessarily dappled shading brought to you by my backyard trees


On to the features. In the front, a standard Personal Notes page, a 2017 reference calendar; in the back, an inexplicable nine pages devoted to contacts. In spite of all the signs, it IS 2017. Who is using this many, or any, planner pages to keep an analog record of contacts in a book only designed to be carried around for the course of one year? If you really keep an analog record of contacts, I hope you have a nice, separate book dedicated to such records, one that is not bound to any particular year. If a contacts section absolutely must be present, give it one, two pages at most. The rest of that space should go to notes, which this notebook currently only has two pages (a front and back) dedicated to. A Plan & Note planner should push the envelope a little more in the note department. Perhaps have the back free notes section include more than one type of layout to better facilitate brainstorming. Instead of all lined pages, you could have two dot grid, two grid, two blank, two lined, etc. This giant contacts section feels like a missed opportunity.

The entire time I’ve been trying to edit this picture on my phone in bed, the cat has been trying to stand on my face, my hands, or both


Back to the front of the notebook, to the first intriguing feature–the Anno-Planner. It’s a two-page spread encompassing all of 2017 that gives each day a little usable line. The second page header bills this as “The Organization of your year at a single glance.” It makes me think of the Bullet Journal Calendex layout. I feel like you’d need to develop your own legend involving some color-coding and symbols to get maximum usability out of this feature, but it holds a lot of promise.

Top: March-April; bottom: January-February.


After the Anno-Planner, we have a feature I can’t live without–monthly grid pages. A monthly grid helps me best visualize my life, especially working night shift as I currently do. The layout is oriented sideways to allow for maximum writing space in each square, which feels a little odd but is admittedly useful. My biggest issue with these monthly pages is the repeating of lines at the end/beginning of months. Look at the last week of January and the first week of February up there. It is the same line twice. I find this visually off-putting and potentially confusing. At the very least, don’t print the dates in the same color–where you have overlap, use something like a light grey to print the beginning of February that’s on the January spread, and vise-versa the end of January that’s on the February spread. Or, given that the next line is right there, why print the overlap at all? This issue pops up on every monthly spread; several even end up with two weeks printed twice. It’s wasteful, inefficient, and really throws off my groove. If you’ve got page real estate to spare, leave it blank so it can be used for something like …notes!

I really need more commitment to the Note half of this Plan & Note theme


The rest of the meat of the planner is devoted to the year’s worth of weekly spreads. Each day gets an equal amount of space (which is really nice especially when trying to plan in a business that is open seven days a week), with a section at the end of each week just for notes (notes! finally!!). No complaints here; it’s a solid, standard weekly layout. Each page has a perforated tear-off corner in the bottom, to mark where you are in the notebook and theoretically make it easier to flip to. I prefer ribbon markers for that purpose, but the concept works. I might prefer the perforated corners to be on the top, for even easier flipping. After the weekly spread, there is a monthly grid for January 2018, a 2018 reference calendar, and a 2018 Anno-Planner spread to ease the transition into 2018.

I don’t know if any paper exists that does a decent job with the ink of those little stamps at the bottom. They were forged at the bottom of a volcano out of the decanted acid derived from demon blood. Probably


The pages of the whole planner consist of 90gsm white paper, very fountain pen friendly with no bleedthrough and minimal show-through. The paper shows off shading fairly well (not so much on the sheen factor), with a decent dry-time between around 7 and 11 seconds for fountain pen ink. Most surprisingly, I was able to lay down some watercolors with no bleedthrough and no noticeable buckling of the paper. Although the overall format of this planner doesn’t lend itself to the type of planning/journaling where watercoloring would typically be found, it can be done. Of course, with this brand I expected good paper; thankfully, Quo Vadis delivers.


(Exaclair provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)





Denik Brown Classic Notebook

10 11 2016

Even in my wildest hipster fever dreams, I would never come up with a collection of designs I want so much as nearly every notebook in the Denik collection of notebooks. They’re impossibly cool.

I am not cool enough for this notebook. A friend had to take this picture for me, while I hid in shame

I am not cool enough for this notebook. A friend had to take this picture for me, while I hid in shame

First a little about Denik as a brand, because we’re reaching the point in our reckless consumeristic acquisition where the first twinges of guilt appear at all the money spent with no good done, and the best way to assuage that feeling is to combine unchanged consumer behaviors with responsible companies that will somewhat redirect our funds for benevolent ends.

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I wrote this up several days ago, in case you were wondering if my saltiness were a recent development

Which is to say, when you buy a Denik notebook, it benefits not just you and Denik, but also the artists who designed the notebook, and communities in third world countries where some of the proceeds from notebook sales are going toward building schools. In 2015 they dedicated the Denik Middle School in Zambougou, Mali; with Pencils of Promise, they are currently working and preparing for the construction of a school in Guatemala which will start spring of 2017; and currently a portion of sales are going toward building a new school in Laos, which is 55% funded and set to be completely funded by the end of the year. Education is a splendid thing.

I like my notebooks like I like my economic future, on the rocks

I like my notebooks like I like my economic future, on the rocks

Back to the artists, they receive a royalty payment for their work, and get prominent billing inside the notebook and on the product pages online. If you like a particular notebook design, you will know who came up with it, and be able to find and support more of that artist’s work. Heck, you can even interact with them through social media. Is @khousdesign her Twitter handle, or Instagram, or both? Should I research the answer, or JUST TWEET BLINDLY?!

The answer is either B, or C: Forget the premise entirely. Yes, C. Who even uses Twitter anymore.

The answer is either B, or C: Forget the premise entirely. Yes, C. Who even uses Twitter anymore.

This notebook specifically that I received to review is the Brown Classic. It’s handcrafted (“meaning physical hands are touching the notebooks and helping to put them together. But automotive technology also helps put the notebooks together”) with leatherlike brown polyurethane and herringbone fabric, and a red ribbon bookmark for a pop of color. The whole notebook looks like the spirit of autumn called forth and captured in hardcover form. I’m not going to imply causation between the arrival of this notebook in my life and the temperature finally breaking out of sweltering summer digits, but I can’t entirely rule it out. Did warm brown boots spring forth onto my feet as I picked the notebook up? Did a scarf begin to grow out of my neck and artfully arrange itself over a tasteful fall bomber jacket? Who can say?

With enough spiked fall beverages, anything is possible

With enough spiked fall beverages, anything is possible

The paper (125 pages, paper of 70 lb weight) isn’t perfect, as my tests show some minor instances of bleedthrough, showthrough, and in some instances fuzzing or feathering, but it’s not a lost cause for the fountain pen world. Use medium nibs or finer with the right inks (such as Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa, which I love), just experiment a little and I’m confident you can easily find a combination that will work for you. Naturally ballpoints, regular gel pens (the Sakura Gelly Roll is most certainly not a normal gel pen), and pens like the Sakura Pigma Micron work just wonderfully. Rollerballs may take some of the same experimenting as fountain pens; my Retro 51 Tornado had a bit of fuzzing and near bleedthrough.

If it weren't for Adobe Photoshop's auto levels, all these pictures would have been a disconcerting near-dawn blue

If it weren’t for Adobe Photoshop’s auto levels, all these pictures would have been a disconcerting near-dawn blue

At $24.95, the Brown Classic Hardcover notebook is reasonably priced for both what you get and what you’re supporting. Considering the list price of a comparably sized Moleskine notebook is $19.95, and they are the epitome of everything that is wrong in the world of notebooks, I think the Denik notebook is at a perfect price point. Good people, good brand, good notebook.

Brown Classic Hardcover Notebook – Denik.com

Denik’s Artists

Denik on Instagram

 

 

(Pencils.com in collaboration with Denik provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)

 





Galen Leather Goods – Leather Pocket Moleskine Journal Cover – Purple

29 10 2016

Now for the second item from Galen Leather Goods: a rich purple leather notebook holder for pocket size Moleskine style notebooks. Since I’ve already covered the generalities of Galen Leather Goods and their excellent product packaging, I’ll summarize:

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Nice box. Nice band. Nice notes inside. Nice evil eye included.

Cool stuff.

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Brace yourselves for the blinding joy that is pictures taken of objects in direct sunlight

On to the particulars of this leather good. Designed to fit pocket size notebooks, this cover has a total of 3 pockets, a card holder, a pen loop, and a thick elastic band to hold the notebook in place and wrap around the whole contraption. The leather is thick and beautifully dyed, neatly hand-stitched with burnished edges.

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Me and this pocket situation have had some words

I’m pleased that this cutout was done on the edge to neatly fit the leather band that connects to the pen loop, but overall the functionality of this pocket structure eludes me. An iPhone 6 is a tight fit for the pocket, and only then if it has no case on. With a phone in the pocket, I can’t get a card in the card slot. The phone isn’t in any way usable in the pocket, so why put it there? What do you put in this pocket? I originally thought I didn’t have any notebooks slim enough/small enough to fit. So I purchased from Goulet Pens some of these impossibly tiny Apica notebooks, which are quite perfect for this pocket and boast fairly fountain pen friendly paper, if you need a small place to jot notes. And of course, after having made this purchase I realized that the little 48 page 3×4.7in Rhodia side-staple bound notebooks also fit. The Apica notebooks fit a smidge better, but both fit. Otherwise what fits here? Receipts? But why carry receipts in here? Maybe some sticker sheets? I’m confident that on the larger formats of this notebook holder that this is a useful and usable pocket, but on the pocket size, it’s much more of a challenge.

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This is what the notebook holder looks like held inside out. Valuable knowledge

The two pockets underneath, however, are perfectly sized to hold a passport or a Field Notes sized pocket notebook. Perfect usability here, no creative thinking required, no complaints.

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Small elastic, big function. Neat picture composition, needlessly high saturation? Too late, post is made.

The pen loop is a good size, with satisfying elasticity and grip to it. It’s holding onto one of my clipless Vanishing Points just fine as I write this. I’m not going to test how well it holds the pen were I to drop the whole thing on the ground, but shaking it around vigorously is no issue.

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Someone remind me in a few years to evaluate how this elastic is holding up

The positioning of the outer closing elastic is a consequence of where the elastic needs to be to hold notebooks in on the inside. The direction of use is counterintuitive—in every other notebook of my life, the elastic comes around on the opening side, which is almost exclusively going to be the right hand side. But here, to close the notebook holder you have to pull the elastic around from the spine side, aka the left-hand side (if you pull it around the right-hand side it is incredibly difficult and will probably contribute to an early death of said elastic). The elastic is secure and holds everything firmly in place, it’s just odd. There also isn’t a heck of a lot of stretch in the elastic right now, so it takes a little bit of strength moving in the opposite way of what you would normally…an altogether backward experience.

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Not bad. Just backward.

This product took me significantly longer to review because I spent so much time trying to find the right notebook to put in it. Rhodia webnotebooks fit, but just seem a little too thick. Moleskine notebooks are perfect, but the paper is awful. The Leuchtturm1917 is a bit tall–it fits, but I worry it may create a strain on the elastic over time. The back cover of a Field Notes-style pocket notebook is too thin for the elastic to hold it in place. I found a soft-cover Leuchtturm1917 that fit pretty nicely, but I still wasn’t entirely satisfied that this was how to fit this product into my life. For a while I kept a Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook occupying the position of honor, which I liked but was still not entirely satisfied with due to the peculiarities of Moleskine sketchbook paper. Watercolor paper would be better, but the Moleskine Watercolor Pocket Sketchbooks are bound along the short edge, and not compatible with this holder. If anyone knows of a nice Moleskine-style hardcover pocket notebook of sketch  or watercolor paper, bound along the long edge, please let me know! Currently I’ve switched back to a Leuchtturm1917 hardcover to use as a bullet journal, but it still doesn’t quite feel perfect.

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Perfection is a state of mind. And an arrangement of notebooks

I can see a rather specific configuration that would perfectly suit this setup as a mini portfolio, and if I could travel back in time to when I studied abroad I’d love it: notebook is a Moleskine Cities Notebook. Passport underneath that. Small Apica notebook for random notes. Small Field Notes style blank notebook under that to draw in. Pen of choice in the pen loop. Vaporetto pass tucked in the card pocket?! WINNING AT LIFE!

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I could still make it happen. My passport’s still good. How much do you think the maps of Venice would have changed in the past…8 years?

If you really love Moleskine pocket notebooks and want a nice leather holder, this is a winner. And you can still have a perfectly good experience with other pocket notebooks in this holder. But overall, I’d recommend getting a larger size, like the A5 Galen Leather notebook holder, for a much more easily usable product.

 

Leather Pocket Moleskine Journal Cover – Purple

 

A Handful of Reviews for the A5 Notebook Holder:

Ed Jelley

The Gadgeteer

The Pencilcase Blog

 

(Galen Leather Goods provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)