Category: Paper Alert

Hobonichi Plain Notebook

I’ve been using a regular-sized Traveler’s Notebook exclusively as my journal for the past few years. I like the size and portability, and I like having different inserts all in one place. I do miss having a bigger notebook, though. So I tried Hobonichi’s Plain Notebook (A5) and it did not disappoint.

The notebook itself is pretty plain-looking. It has a mustard yellow-colored cardboard cover. Minimalist in design, it only has some Japanese characters at the front and the word Hobonichi at the back.

It’s not too thick, only 10mm with 288 pages using Tomoe River paper. I was so glad to find out that you can easily slip it into a Hobonichi cover, it fits really nicely. I only have one hobo cover, a plain black one from the 2016 collection. That was when I decided that the hobo cousin really wasn’t for me. Actually, I realized that I don’t enjoy writing in planners at all. So I put the cover in storage until I bought this plain notebook last month.

You might feel the outlines of the pockets and their contents when you write on the left side of the notebook for the first few pages. Several pages in, it doesn’t bother me anymore.

I love how the notebook lies flat. The binding (stitched and glued to the cover) feels really sturdy and well-made. I was a bit worried at first because they had no blank pages. I don’t like grids or dots on paper because my writing is really small and I like to crowd my lines together to save space. Regular-sized grids are awkwardly-sized for my handwriting. It’s a good thing that this notebook has 3.7mm grids, though. It’s the perfect size for me. The lines of the grid are light-colored so they don’t look too obtrusive on the page. The notebook is divided into 4 sections of 72 pages each, and each section has a different colored grid (red, blue, green, and purple).

Here’s a close up of the grids. I like that they’re not too obvious on the page. At Y1296, I think the price is well worth it. You can purchase it from the Hobonichi website. I purchased mine from a local seller, Joan’s Journals. I’m not sure that I would want this to replace my regular TN inserts as my default go-to journal, I think I’m just going to keep both. One can’t have too many journals anyway, amirite?

Victoria’s Journals Copelle Gold Edition

Last year I was able to try out Victoria’s Journals’ Copelle Gold Edition which was raffled off to a few lucky people at the Fountain Pen Network Philippines’ Christmas party. We enjoyed trying this because the paper was really nice thin. I have been waiting for it to be available at National  Bookstore branches near me ever since, but it was only yesterday that my husband was able to find one for me (w00t).

The cover is faux-leather textured and very light. It’s soft to the touch and the binding is stitched. I’m not too keen on the colors, though. I picked the dark grey one because it’s the least shiny-looking one in the collection,  but it’s sparkly. I would love to see them come up with a non-shiny looking cover, that would be awesome. The elastic is thick but soft, easy to pull on and off the notebook.

As you can see in the photo above, you can lie the journal flat. That’s great, and makes it easier to write in. I like the stitching and binding on the journal.

      

It has a few pages for a 2-year calendar spread, table of contents, trip planner, and a couple of pages of blank Eisenhower Decision Matrix (instructions included).

It also has 8 pages of ink test cutouts. Each page is divided by 4 sections with perforations so that that you can tear them off individually. I think that’s a nice touch, especially since it shows on the cover that the notebook is “fountain pen friendly”, which means it’s targeted towards a market of fountain pen and ink enthusiasts.

At only 55gsm, the paper does remind you somewhat of Tomoe River but it’s thicker and smoother. You can feel by touch that the paper has more coating than Tomoe River, and the quality feels premium. Unfortunately, they only have dotted paper, no blanks. Still, the paper is white and the dots are light grey, which makes it easier to ignore them. I personally prefer not to use the dots to guide my writing because I like to space my lines closer to each other. I really would prefer a blank page but the light grey dots aren’t exactly a deal breaker for me.

The paper might feel a little slippery if you’re using very fine nibs or dry writers, but overall I find the experience of writing on it very pleasing. It doesn’t feather but it does show a bit at the back if you’re using thick nibs.

Not particularly bothersome for me, Tomoe River shows through a lot more than this. It also holds up better to dye-based stamp inks. It doesn’t bleed through to the other side.

The paper holds up okay for light washes, it doesn’t tear up or fall apart when you apply light layers of watercolor on it, but it warps a lot and it doesn’t flatten out too much afterwards.

The color is pretty vibrant,  but it’s hard to get the watercolor to behave how you want it to, with all the warping going on. The smooth paper also makes it too easy to rub off too much pigment with just a few brush strokes. Overall, good for simple watercolor illustrations but don’t go crazy with it.

Here are a few close ups of the writing samples, to show how the paper shows off shading and sheen. Continue reading “Victoria’s Journals Copelle Gold Edition”

11_11 HandmadePH Passport Sized Synchronicity Journal

I got this passport sized traveler’s notebook from 11_11Handmadeph because I thought it would be nice to carry something smaller for a change. My journals are always so big and heavy. I figured I wanted something that’s easy to whip out and lighter to carry around. I decided to try 11_11Handmadeph because I met the maker behind it a couple of years ago during the Fountain Pen Day at SM Aura, and one of the members showed me her nice, fat, white TN that she had with her. I think that’s called natural colored leather, and the patina on that piece was gorgeous. I made a mental note to try out this journal when I decided to give a passport-sized TN a try. It’s a bit hard to buy leather TNs through shopping online because I really like to touch the leather first and make sure that I like how it feels first, so I’m grateful I got to touch one of 11_11Handmadeph’s journal before I decided to get one.

I like that the seller (Anne) was responsive and accommodating to my questions. She showed me photos of the color that I liked and we finalized the transaction in a matter of minutes. It was shipped promptly and I received it in this carefully wrapped package.

Part of what I really like about handmade goods is the kind of personalized care that makers put in everything, including the wrapping. I was excited to open the package, and of course I was so delighted to see the handwritten note and this little slip of paper that introduced the product and provided a guide on how to take care of it properly.

My first thought when I touched the leather of the journal was that I’m glad the quality of the leather is the same as I remember it. It was delightful to touch the smooth texture of the leather and see the little creases and natural markings that show the unique character of the leather hide.

This leather is just the right thickness that I like. It doesn’t feel floppy or overly tough. The cover retains its shape when I open and close the journal. I also like the quality of the elastics they used on it. It feels firm and secure. It’s also not overly thick. I like the color Anne picked for this journal, it matches really well.

I also really liked how the holes in this journal are placed. Unlike my other traveler’s notebooks, the holes are placed along the spine and not at the rear flap. This means that I don’t feel the knot of the elastic when I lay the journal flat while writing.

The holes for the inserts don’t look too intrusive, and it gives me four strands of elastic inside. Plenty of room if you’re into chunky TN setups, but it’s really more than enough for me since I usually only use 3 inserts. I like how the edges are neatly burnished and rounded.

It also  has this cute little bookmark. I’m supposing it has a letter P on it because of my name, I thought that was a nice touch. The velvety part of the leather inside was not too fluffy, I’m not sure what the term is. Overall, it just looked nice and clean. From the way the elastics are laid out to the burnished edges, rounded corners, the cut…everything about it is just nice and neat. I love that.

The journal comes with two inserts; one with cream-colored paper and one white. They’re pretty nice too. The paper is fountain pen friendly, it took even my broad nibs without any bleeding at the back. I can’t wait to customize some inserts for this journal.

Overall, I really am quite pleased with this journal. The product is well-made and uses good quality leather, and the maker behind it was really pleasant to deal with.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

Here is something pen and ink fans will find truly interesting and delightful. I used to keep a software database of pens, but I haven’t been very good with keeping it updated, until I eventually just forgot about it. Here’s a truly analog way to document an analog hobby.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

Everything Calligraphy came up with its very own pen and ink journal! It’s soft-bound and uses their own 90GSM ivory colored paper that’s fountain pen, brush pen, and pointed pen friendly. Hardcore, man.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

The theme of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo is the thread that runs through the different sections of the notebook, from cover to cover. When I first held the journal in my hand, it really felt like something that you can keep as a “pen memoir”, and I felt sorry I wasn’t able to document the old pens that I had already sold, or the inks that I already used up.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

There is a simple Elias logo on the binding, and the spine feels nice and tight. It’s bound securely, though it’s not going to lay flat by itself. It’s not difficult to write in or leaf through, though. The journal is bound by plain white, textured card paper, and there’s a translucent, waxy paper that wraps around it. I really like the illustration used in that decorative wrap. It’s printed neatly and is really like a slice of a story.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

It also smells good. Mmmmm. Yum. The journal has several sections. I’ll show each section in this review.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

The first section is the Pen Journal section. It has space for every kind of information useful in a pen. Like brand, model, nib size, rating systems, etc. The opposite page is dedicated entirely to writing samples, or (like what I did) a review of the pen. You can put anything! How you got the pen, its little back story, anything that helps you either catalog the pen’s specifications or document its history. You can even stick a printed photo of the pen, if you like. You can get as creative as you want, there’s space for it!

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

The next section is the Ink Journal. It has all the pertinent information you need to catalog your ink. From the cost, to the properties (shading, sheen drying time, flow), a portion for swabs and water resistance tests, and your comments. Here’s a photo of my first ink journal page, documenting one of my new favorite inks, Kyo Iro Moonlight of Higashiyama. It’s a straightforward way to catalog your ink collection. The paper being Elias paper, it shows off any shading and sheen so well. The paper also holds up very well to my water resistance test.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

I had to chuckle a little at the next section, the Future Pen and Inks. It’s like a wishlist. You can note down pens and inks that caught your attention and would like to purchase in the future. This is a list you can really have fun ticking items off of.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

The next section contains coloring sheets. Line drawings of scenes and excerpts from Noli and El Fili. It adds a really Pinoy flair to the entire thing. I like how the line drawings are made. They have a folk-artsy feel to them. The pages remind me of these traditional Japanese line drawings before anime became popular. There’s a story going on in each drawing and it really captured that overall theme of the journal. The person who drew them is Julz Riddle (a Filipino teacher and artist). Her Instagram account is @hulyariddle. Here are a couple of samples from the journal.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

Those who are into practicing calligraphy will love the next section.

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

Elias Pen and Ink Journal

These pages with guide lines can help you achieve consistent strokes. Even if you only want to improve your handwriting by practicing writing in script, this can be really helpful.

The remaining pages are blank sheets, doodle pages. If you look at the back of every single journal I have, the last pages are basically doodle pages. Figure eights, “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, baybayin scribbles, anything! A blank space to doodle and free the mind. How wonderful that there’s a space in this journal for doodling.

Overall, I don’t think I’ve come across a journal that’s exactly like this, and with a very Filipino flair. It’s really a great way to celebrate your fascination with pens and inks (and doodling!). I’m glad that Everything Calligraphy came up with something so special for pen fans like us, and I’m planning to fill up my journal soon. It would be a great way to keep record of each pen and ink color that I have. Maybe someday when it’s time to pass on my pens to my nephews and nieces, they can have this journal as a companion of sorts, to help them appreciate the pens not just as writing instruments but as little things that brought me joy at some point in my life.

The Elias Pen and Ink Journal is available at Everything Calligraphy.

Moleskine Watercolour Album (First Impressions)

I must admit that I’ve never been particularly impressed with Moleskine notebooks before. They’re not very fountain pen-friendly and they’re quite expensive. Since I’ve been trying out different watercolor journals that I can take around with me in my bag when I go out, I thought I’d give their watercolor notebooks a try. Maybe they will be suitable for urban sketching. I bought the smallest size first so I can try it out before committing to a bigger sized journal.

I was pleasantly surprised with it. The size is 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches, it has 30 leaves (60 pages) of 200 gsm, acid-free, cold-pressed paper that have 25% cotton content. I’ve only used 100% cotton paper and I love them a lot, but I wanted to try something smaller and with thinner paper.

Since it’s not 100% cotton, I expected it to buckle a lot after several washes, but it actually held up pretty well with a few light washes. You can add several layers without the paper warping. I do mostly ink and wash drawings, so I think the paper holds up pretty well because I don’t do a lot of super wet washes.

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I like that the blank ink of my drawing pen pops on the paper. It seems to be very picky about fountain pen inks. Some bleed horribly while some don’t, but pigment ink work very beautifully with it.

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It’s easy on my brushes too, since the paper doesn’t fight it too much. On the flip side, the paper absorbs the water pretty quickly so I have to work very fast if I want to do some basic blending. I need to be careful with blending washes on paper, though because it doesn’t seem like it will take a lot of abuse like 100% cotton paper does.

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I like the subtle texture of the paper too. It adds some character to the paintings.

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I picked this size because I thought I’d just test the paper out, but turns out I like this pocket-sized notebook a lot. It’s just big enough to accommodate some simple sketches, but it’s great for practicing layers and drawings.

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I like that the binding allows the little book to lay flat easily, and the hard cover also makes it easy to hold up when sketching without a hard surface. I think it’s great for urban sketching.

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I’ve tried other journals that have about the same cotton content and I’m so disappointed that the paper somehow makes the colors of the painting look dull. This one stays true to what it’s supposed to look like. It looks so vibrant, especially in person. It’s hard to capture the colors in photos at home (it’s a bit too dark in my study), but the colors really pop on the page.

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So far, the ink that works best with this paper (aside from the pigmented drawing inks) is J. Herbin Perle Noire, in case you want to use fountain pens in your drawings. I don’t have waterproof Noodlers inks yet, so I wasn’t able to test them. Iroshizuku inks don’t fare too well. They spider out and feather like crazy.

It’s also pretty nice that the paper doesn’t show a lot of warping, as you can see below.

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Overall, me likey. It fits my preferred style, at least. If you’re fond of using a lot of wet washes, I’m not sure that the paper can hold up well to it. But for urban sketching and some light washes and layering, it works well enough. I think I can commit to a larger notebook now.