Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Paperblanks Handstitched Tao Blossoms Blank Journal

Paper Blanks Hand Stitched Tao

From the Paperblanks site:

Handstitched Tao: four masters of stillness

"Traditional Chinese painters aimed to capture the inner essence of the visual form. Their rhythmic brushstrokes on silk or paper were attuned to give form to the invisible forces of the universe — the Tao that pervades the world we inhabit. These paintings by four Chinese Masters of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries reveal the workings of the Tao through the vitality and expressiveness of their brushstrokes and the harmonious rhythm of composition. "

Ultra — 7″ × 9″ — 128 pages
Midi — 4¾″ × 6¾″ — 128 pages
Handstitched binding — Memento pouch

Paper Blanks Hand Stitched Tao

Paper Blanks Hand Stitched Tao

The way this binding is stitched allows the book to open and lie very flat.

Paper Blanks Hand Stitched Tao

My only issue with this book is that since the cover paper/design is flat on this model, it allows the cover to become easily scratched.

Stabilo Marker Mandala in Paperblanks journal

Off white paper makes markers look bright and vibrant.

Sketching in a paperblanks journal

Fountain pen inks work well on this paper and you can refer to my original Paperblanks review for more fountain pen ink comments. In fact, I've been using a different lined Paperblanks journal for all of my Diamine ink tests.

Still trying to figure out these Derwent Inktense pencils

Doodling with a Pitt Artist Pen and Derwent Inktense pencils. Water was applied with a Niji Waterbrush to the first layer of pencil. Colors came out vibrant on this paper.

Groovy people

Painting with artist grade watercolor paints. As this paper has a high clay content- which allows it to resist inks, (this means no feathering or bleedthrough) it's not the world's greatest paper for painting with watercolor. It seems as though the less water you use, the better.


Image was colored with Neocolor II Water Soluble Crayons and then brushed over with water. See the way it's difficult to get the strokes to blend?

Watercolor mandala in a Paperblanks Journal

On the above image, I touched the tip of the wet brush against the crayon to pick up the color and then painted with the brush. This method allows you to use less water and apply a thicker layer of color.

All in all, I like Paperblanks products. I like that their paper is fountain pen friendly and that they have about a million cover options. (Except for plain black. LOL) I think this book would make for a pretty decent art journal with its ability to lie flat. Pencils, pens, markers all love this paper - and when you paint with watercolors, I recommend doing it in a way that uses less water than more.

Buy Paperblanks at Barnes & Noble, Borders,, and

Product was provided by manufacturer at my request for purposes of review.


philip said...

I have exactly this version of the PaperBlanks book. It's fantastic!

inkstained said...

I've seen these notebooks in shops here in Italy but the price kept me from purchasing them so I'm glad you wrote this review :)

Stephanie said...

I'm a huge Paperblanks fan. I'm glad to see that other people agree with me that they make great journals! I've just started using fountain pens and I'm very happy with they way they hold up in my journal. I don't do much watercolour though so I wouldn't have tried that, myself.

Anonymous said...

Hi, love your work. The type of binding on this book is called coptic binding. It's very big among bookbinders at the moment. There are heaps of people selling this type of binding on Etsy, with a variety of papers.

Sarah said...

I use a lot of PaperBlanks notebooks and I love them but I have never tried drawing in them using inks. I am impressed with your images, particularly with the lack of bleed in your designs.
And, I agree with inkstained, I am glad you wrote the review.

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