Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journals

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journals (And friends)

Exacompta Basic Journal. (In front) Similar in size to the Pen & Ink Sketchbook, Clairefontaine Basics, and Large Moleskine. (Exacompta Sketchbook is to the left of the Journal)

These are: Livres d’Or “Basics” Journals and Blank Books. Not to be confused with the smaller "Forum" series, which use completely different paper and have product numbers such as 1400 & 1401. These have product numbers 992 & 993, and they also have the graphics on the covers, while the forum basics do not.

Product Specs for the Livres d’Or “Basics” Journals and Sketchbook:

• Lined with tan cover & gold edge (993/1)
or black cover with silver edge (993/0)
• Blank with black cover & silver edge (992/0)
• Cloth binding to match cover – grey or brown
• Textured hardboard covers
• Sewn binding
• 100 sheets (200 pages) 25% cotton, pH neutral, 100g off white paper
• Ribbon marker

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journals (And friends)

Exacompta Sketchbook - the cover is black, despite how it appears in this photo. Some people don't care for any images on the front of their journals, but I find the designs on the Journal and sketchbook to be rather unobtrusive and somewhat classy. Similar to the Clairefontaine Basics journals, the Exacompta Basics have a stiff cardboard/hardboard cover. Unlike the Exacompta Forum journals, they do not offer covers. Perhaps you could get Renaissance Art to make you one?

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journals (And friends)

A little birdie suggested these journals to me based on their paper quality. I would have *never* tried them simply because I don't care for gilded journals. The journal is gilded in gold, and the sketchbook silver.

I am mostly going to be discussing the use of the sketchbook.

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journal

The Basics books are clothbound and include a festive multi-colored ribbon. Signatures are sewn.

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journal

Ahhhhhhhhhh... One of my favorite features in a journal. Rounded corners are so much easier on the hand as you reach the end of a page.

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journal

The Basics opens and lies mostly flat. It gets even flatter with a tiny bit of encouragement. (It's flat enough for me.)

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journal

Paper in the Basics are a glorious shade of off-white. The sketchbook is plain, and the journal has 10mm ruling (???) that doesn't run the full width of the page. I'm used to the 6mm ruling in a large Moleskine. (shown on the left) 10mm ruling reminds me of a children's diary. I just can't take it seriously, though I know there are some of you that use broad nibbed pens and prefer a wider line. The ruled Basics journal is not for me.

Exacompta Livres d’Or “Basics” Journal

100 sheets (200 pages) 25% cotton, pH neutral, 100g off white paper. LAID paper.... as in the little glorious grooves that you find on quality stationery..... As with all laid paper that I've seen, the grooves are heavier on one side of the paper than the other. In this example, I tested both sides of the paper. No problems with either. Every fountain pen tested, regardless of ink or nib used, wrote super smooth. No bleeding, no feathering, no spreading or see-though. I was kind of knocked over by this paper.....

This is not Clairefontaine paper, but instead, comes from a paper mill that Clairefontaine owns in the Netherlands that also manufactures the Lalo paper. You can read more about the mill, Here.

Close up of laid lines in Exacompta sketchbook

Close up of the laid lines.

Watercolor in Exacompta

100g plain quality paper? I decided to throw everything I had at it.... In this image, watercolors & Pitt Artist pens. Watercolors work WELL on this paper. They can be blended on the paper, and re-wet once dry. Yipee!

Colorful Mandala Hand in Sketchbook

Mandala Hand painted by brushing the tips of Neocolor II crayons with a Niji Waterbrush then applying directly to the paper.

Mantra doodles in Exacompta

Sennelier China/India Ink applied with a Cretacolor Calligraphy pen. Derwent Inktense pencils.

Watercolor expression in Exacompta

More watercolor, Noya Calligraphy Marker & Stabilo 88 marker.

Deep thought in a sketchbook

Caran D'Ache Neocolor II Water Soluble Crayons. Sharpie Marker & Staedtler Lumocolor. Sharpie & Staedtler bled, but not through to the next page.

Inky doodle in Sketchbook

Page painted with Private Reserve's Burgundy Mist Fountain Pen Ink. - note that the image is showing the ink WAY lighter than it looks in person.

Acrylic paint in journal...waiting for more

Page painted with acrylic fabric paint and is waiting for it's next application. This paper is remarkably resilient to all media I tried on it. It seems to love and welcome mixed media.

While I would love a hard cover and an elastic closure, this is one of the most unbelievable products I've found so far. It's so versatile. I want more. A whole bunch more. The sketchbook works great as a journal, or an art journal.

HIGHLY recommended. Love, Love, Love it. I had a hard time putting it down long enough to take the pictures. Additional pictures from the Exacompta review can be found Here.

This product was provided by Exaclair for the purpose of review.


thethirdrat said...

Oh no, something else for my shopping list!

Jared said...

I wonder if this paper is available in any other format. It's almost as good as Original Crown Mill's laid stationery.

fuddmain said...

Another great review. Thanks!

According to the dimensions these are the same height and width as a large Moleskine, but they appear to be considerably thicker. Is that true?

I too have been searching for a fountain pen friendly Moleskine replacement. I'd pretty much settled on trying to make a clone myself with HP 32# paper. Given this review I'll have to give these a try instead. I'd like an elastic closure, but maybe I could add one myself.

Off topic: I've recently taken up the djembe and ordered Jim Donovan's DVD on your recommendation. It's great! Thanks again.


Biffybeans said...

Adam - LOL!

Jared - I'm pretty sure the G. Lalo Verge tablets are the same paper...

Brian - In the top photo, the red book is a large Moleskine. Exacompta is a little shorter, and a little wider. Because the pages are a heavier weight, the book is about twice as thick as a Moleskine.

And Bravo on taking up Djembe!! Jim's DVD is excellent - very good choice. My favorite part is the "One Drum" exercise. Doing that in a room with 80 people is awesome...

Kaseygirl said...

The Writer's Bloc has The Basics Journal and Sketchbook with a very nice red leather cover on sale for $20. It is marked down from $52. I love a bargain!

The paper is great and I can't wait to start mine. I just need to finish my current journal first.

Biffybeans said...

Kasey- that is a great deal- shipping is $8.50 - and since the journal includes both a cover and a journal, still makes for a really great deal!

Beth T Irwin said...

I've treated myself to massive orders from the Writer's Bloc - good service from them.

I am soooo hooked on these - both lined and unlined. Totally functionality with my wettest B, BB, and stub nibs no matter what ink I use.

zquilts said...

I covered mine with DecoPatch papers and it looks even greater. I love this journal also --- it rates up there about at the top of my list!

Laura K. Curtis said...

Alas, I cannot deal with wide-ruled paper. I like very narrow rules!

Jacqueline Stephens said...

Hey, you think you can work your magic and get Rhodia to offer a blank Webnotebook with this paper?

Biffybeans said...

Jacqueline - It's two different companies... (Under the same parent) If you really like these but want a stiffer cover, I'm sure Renaissance Art could make you a leather cover if you asked them.

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