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.

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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)

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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)