Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bigtime Journal Review Teaser......

Very large stack of journals - many yet to be reviewed

It's certainly starting to look as though I have a problem now, doesn't it? As many of you might know, I've been on a kick to find the perfect journal. Seems simple enough, doesn't it?

Not necessarily - especially if like me, you use a fountain pen as your daily writing implement. And why should that be an issue? Because many, many, types of paper are not tolerant of fountain pen ink. So why am I even using a fountain pen? Read all about that here.

I'll wait.

Okay, so now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's back to the paper. Many low grade papers found in office supply stores are not acceptable for these inks. Neither are many brands that you would find in some of the larger bookstores and stationary shops.

One of the most popular brands of journals in existence, is the Moleskine brand. At one time, (for about 200 years) Moleskine was a brand of journal that was used by some of the worlds greatest names. Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway- you get the idea. Around 1980, they went out of production and in 1998, an Italian company bought the rights to the name and started manufacturing the Moleskine notebooks as we now know them...by machine...in China. And that wouldn't be such a bad thing if they didn't cost $16.99 (large hardback model) and if the quality was consistent. (It isn't)

Now don't get me wrong, many many people, (including myself) use the Moleskine's on a regular basis. Take the Moleskinerie group on Flickr as just one example. Over 9500 people from around the world belong to that group, sharing images of the journals themselves, as well as their contents. So it's a pretty trendy thing, to spot the black book with the elastic band - so why am I so bent on finding a replacement for this book that so many people love so well?

Because of all of the dozens of brands and hundreds of colors of fountain pen inks, only a rare few will behave in a Moleskine. And by behaving, I mean not bleeding or feathering. (pretty much making a mess of your carefully thought out words.)

So if I don't like the paper, what DO I like about the Moleskine? What qualities am I looking for in my "Ultimate" journal? (If one should even exist...)

For one, I like the size of the large Moleskine, with it's rounded corners, (easy to jam in a purse without getting damaged) the elastic closure, (gives a certain sense of security) and the hard back cover. (Great for writing on the go. On your knee while waiting in an airport, doctor's office etc.) The fact that it LIES FLAT is a huge selling point for me. I can't stand writing towards a spiral or a hump. Ugh. {{{shudders}}}

And what's the most important quality that the Moleskine doesn't have? Quality paper. I personally prefer an off white paper with 5-6mm ruling (or unruled is acceptable) not too shiny, and no tooth. No bleeding or feathering with any fountain pen inks. I want to be able to use any size nib, with any brand/color and not have to worry about ditching a bottle of ink because I can't use it.

Check my archives and you will see that I have tested the following: Fabriano Classic Artist's Journals, Quo Vadis US Made large & small journals, Rhodia's ePure, Nomad Adventure Journals, Quo Vadis Memoriae, Apica Notebooks, Derwent Travel Journals and the Stifflexible from Italy.

And what's on the Horizon? What exactly are you seeing in the image above?

How about this: Ciak lined, unlined & colored paper versions. Mood. Cartesio. Field Notes. Kunst & Papier. Perhaps a few Miquelrius, and I should probably back peddle and review the Moleskine regular, sketch book, watercolor book and the Cahier's while I'm at it. And maybe the Rhodia squared too - just for fun. (because I already have one.)

So what am I missing folks? I've tried sheets of Clairfontaine, but I know that they don't have a hardback book that lies flat. I should probably pick up an Examcompta... I think I have a Pen and Ink on the way... Oh no... I'm starting to lose track!

And amongst the piles of notebooks, I promise that I will eventually get around to reviewing my two new fountain pens as well. A (F) Sailor 1911, and a (F) Lamy Studio.

So stay tuned - more reviews are a coming!


Ted said...

Have you tried Black and Red? I just got one of the 81/2x11" hardback, but spiral. It's 24 pound paper with just enough shine to make it smooth. Works really well with my Lamy Al-Star medium--SUPER smooth combo. No bleed through at all with Waterman's black.


Speedmaster said...

LOL, holy cr@p! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Have a look about for Pentalic's "A La Modeskin". The right shape and in my experience very FP accepting.

--Ernst Bitterman.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I don't think Pentalic comes in a lined version, and the cover might be a bit too flexible for Biffybean's needs.

I've tried most of the journals mentioned, including Pen+Ink. Pen+Ink wasn't the answer to my personal perfect journal quest, either--I had trouble with inks feathering and line spreading with their paper.

Maybe Canteo notebooks? I believe the paper is off white, ruled, and the notebook has an elastic band (though it's diagonal across the top right corner) and rounded corners, and the cover is pretty stiff. I recently obtained one, but haven't gotten a chance to try it out yet.

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