Lays flat. Is notebook. Ok, I think we’re done here!
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.
…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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Denik provided these products at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)