Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My New Best Friend.

My New Best Friend

Is it silly of me to be so excited about my new pocket thesaurus?

I know that I can Google for synonyms, but those sites always seem to be filled with pop-ups and well, I just wanted something I could hold in my hand and carry from room to room and use when I'm not on the computer.

I almost bought one online, but ended up picking this one out of about a dozen at Barnes & Noble. I chose this one not just for its portability, but for the "I need bi-focals" factor as well. Many of the other books I found had such eensy weensy print that I had to pass... This one has each entry colored blue and is also in a larger font.

While this link appears to be the same book, (I checked the ISBN) it's showing a hardcover and mine is not. It's not showing on Amazon, so I'm wondering if it's published special for B&N.

And please don't ask me for another word for thesaurus... :o)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review: Borden and Riley Bleedproof Paper for Pens

Borden & Riley Bleedproof paper

Borden & Riley, considers this paper to the the "finest paper in the industry for all kinds of pen and ink work."

"It has a smooth hard surface for every type of pen including Technical Dip and Ruling Pen. No feathering, bleeding or breaking up of fine lines."

Permanent marker mandala

I bought this pad of 108# paper several years ago at a local art supply store, (You can find it online at Blick) and I was under the impression that you could use it with permanent markers (I was using Prismacolor at the time) and that it wouldn't bleed.

Bordon & Riley Bleedproof paper bleeds....

Not so... as you can see from this example where I used a Sharpie and a Bic Mark-it. The Bic actually bled through to the next page. I guess I misinterpreted what this paper was to be used for. I do love the shiny flat surface, and colors really pop - but I might need to reconsider my future use of this paper unless I can remember to place a blank sheet behind the one I am currently working on.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: Diamine Teal Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Teal

Diamine Teal fountain pen ink tested in an extra fine nibbed Lamy Safari fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal.

I think this color is pretty close to the Umber but a bit more blueish... or maybe grayish.

This pen is a slightly dry writer but the Teal is flowing great. Some shading, would probably be more evident in a wider nibbed pen.

Nicely saturated, it's a classy color. Not sure I'd have a use for it though - green inks just aren't really for me.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Similar Inks: Omas Violet, Diamine Violet & Herbin Violette Pensee

Omas Violet, Diamine Violet & Herbin Violette Pensee

One day when I was swabbing a number of new fountain pen inks, I noticed that some happened to look the same. The three above, Omas Violet, Herbin's Violette Pensee, and Diamine Violet all looked to be very similar in hue, though each looked to be darker than the next.

I haven't yet tried the Omas, and the Violet has been banned from my domicile because it was the ink that I spilled EVERYWHERE. Violette Pensee is quite nice, and the color is reminiscent of the old "ditto" copies that they would hand out in grade school.

Note that purple inks tend to not always reproduce accurately in digital form. They tend to shift more towards blue and as always, YMMV. (Your Mileage May Vary)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Diamine China Blue Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine China Blue

Diamine China Blue fountain pen ink tested in an medium nibbed Sailor Sapporo fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal & Bloc Rhodia pad.

I'm so lost on blue inks... tried so many (soooo similar) that I can't tell what I like any more.

A dark saturated great flowing mid-dark blue. I can't find any other similar colors.

Doesn't look like Herbin's Eclat de Saphir, Bleu Nuit, Bleu Myosotis, Lamy Blue, Sailor Blue, Diamine's Majestic Blue, Royal Blue, Presidential Blue, Washable Blue or Imperial Blue.

It's just a blue. A nice blue. Maybe I will keep it. Not sure. I like it better on off-white than white.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Spring Mandala - More painting with fountain pen ink

Happy Spring Mandala!

Ah spring.... I love seeing everything turn from cold and dreary to budding with new life.

This mandala was drawn using a fine nibbed Lamy Safari fountain pen filled with R&K Magenta ink. I drew it on Clairefontaine Ingres/Pastel White Laid Paper (one of my favorites) and then using a Niji waterbrush and a delicate hand, used plain water to draw out the color from the ink. As fountain pen inks are water based, they act like watercolor paints. (Note that some inks are more permanent that others... your results may vary.)

Magenta Mandala - Rohrer & Klingner ink, Lamy Safari fountain pen, Niji Waterbrush

Finally bought a bottle of Rohrer & Klingner's Magenta fountain pen ink from Pear Tree Pens, the only current US retailer for this ink. R&K is a German ink company and of the colors I've sampled, I'm totally in love with their Magenta & Purple. (Solferino) The colors are bright, warm & vibrant and so far, seem to have excellent flow. $12 for a 50ml bottle.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: Diamine Presidential Blue Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Presidential Blue

Diamine Presidential Blue fountain pen ink tested in an extra fine nibbed Lamy Accent fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal.

Great flow, similar in saturation to China Blue, but greener than China Blue. Some shading is evident.

Running out of things to say about blue inks.... To me, this blue just isn't anything special. Not similar to Lamy Blue, Sailor Blue or any of the other Diamine blue inks.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review: J. Herbin Cafe des Isles Fountain Pen Ink

Herbin's Cafe Des Iles

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

Herbin Cafe des Isles

J. Herbin Cafe des Isles fountain pen ink tested in a extra fine nibbed Lamy Accent fountain pen. Clairefontaine Basics journal with 90g bright white paper.

Similar in saturation to Terre de Feu but not as reddish. This ink has really good flow. Dark caramel in color.

I'm not usually one for brown inks but I like this shade & love the flow so I think I'll keep it around for a while.

All J. Herbin inks provided by Exaclair for the purpose of review.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Diamine Woodland Green Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Woodland Green

Diamine Woodland Green fountain pen ink tested in an extra fine nibbed Lamy Safari fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal & Bloc Rhodia.

This ink is more subdued on the off white, brighter on the Rhodia. That's probably typical with most inks, but I find all inks easier to see on off-white paper. Less contrast.

Lots of shading, great flow, nicely saturated.

I usually don''t care for green inks and that makes it difficult to review them becasue what do I say? "It's a nice shade of green that I will likely never use?"

It's good. If you like green inks, it's a very nice green ink.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Diamine Amber Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Amber Ink

Diamine Amber fountain pen ink tested in a extra fine nibbed Lamy Studio fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal.

Slightly darker version of the Sunshine Yellow though not as bright. Very nice flow and pretty well saturated for a yellow. Nice shading but difficult to see.

Unsure of what conditions would be right to use this ink with how difficult it is to see. I'd be more prone to paint with it or at the very least, use it in a very wide nibbed pen.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Diamine Florida Blue Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Florida Blue

Diamine Florida Blue fountain pen ink tested in a medium nibbed Sailor Sapporo fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal.

I had to re-write this review because I had previously stated that it was too thin and causing this nib to be scratchy. NOT TRUE. I found that the nib tines were out of alignment. When I flushed and filled this pen, I had unscrewed the nib to clean it better and I believe I must have screwed it back in too tightly because the nib was being mis-aligned by the feed. I unscrewed it just a smidge and viola! Now its writing as smooth as can be.

This ink has tremendous flow. A nice mid blue similar to Mediterranean Blue. Great shading. Fairly well saturated.

Only thing is that this ink is causing tiny blood spots on the back of the page in this Paperblanks journal and also in the Rhodia Webbie. It bled and feathered quite badly in a Moleskine. Herbin's Perle Noire, Bleu Pervenche & Rose Cyclamen sometimes does that as well - pushes just a bit through any paper. My first time seeing a Diamine ink do that.

No, wait... looking back through this ink book I see it again with Royal Blue and Steel Blue. I didn't use those colors in the Webbie so I can't compare. Maybe it's the inks because they are in the same color family, maybe it's the paper. Though I find that to be strange since I tested well over 60 different FP inks in this and two other Paperblanks journals with no ill effects.

Diamine Florida Blue

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Review: New Clairefontaine DCP Digital Color Copy Paper

Testing new Clairefontaine DCP Paper
(Blueish cast to paper in above image due to my shooting in direct sunlight.)

People looking for individual blank sheets of Clairefontaine paper (for art, writing or bookmaking, etc.) will be pleased to know that Exaclair will begin importing Clairfontaine's Digital Color Copy Paper into the US in the spring of 2010. Intended to be an alternative to expensive glossy paper for color prints, DCP is A4 in size, 8 1/4 by 11 3/4".

Specs are as follows:

Clairefontaine DCP paper

While I typically do not print photos from my computer printer, I was very interested how this paper might work for various art applications. I also know that there are people that have been looking for single blank sheets of Clairefontaine paper for making their own journals and I think people will be quite pleased with the results.

I first tested several different permanent markers on the DCP paper: Sharpie, Staedtler Lumocolor and Bic Mark-it. Each of the markers were quite vibrant on the paper.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

There was some bleed through with the permanent markers - but truth be told, I've yet to find a paper less than watercolor weight that didn't bleed. Even my Borden & Riley marker paper bleeds through like this.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

Each fountain pen ink I tested flowed smoothly & effortlessly on this paper. It's similar to the Clairefontaine Triomphe in that aspect. (Mandala drawn over top with a Pitt Brush Pen.)

Clairefontaine DCP paper

Faber Castell Pitt Brush pens POPPED on this paper and I'm willing to guess it would be like that with most markers, solvent based or not.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

I tested three different kinds of colored pencils on this paper. Regular Prismacolor, Derwent Inktense & Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor pencils. Whatever the Prismacolor pencils are made of, they did not go down smoothly on this paper. As the surface of this paper is super smooth, the pencils didn't have anything to grab onto and it was not a pleasant experience to work with them on this paper. I also tried one of the Rhodia pencils, (HD lead) and the results were similar.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

The Derwent Inktense pencils went down on the paper a little better than the Prismacolor. In the above example, I colored in the design and then went over the pencil with a Niji Waterbrush. This paper does not love water - in fact - the less used, the better. (It gets a little crumbly when too much water is used)

Clairefontaine DCP paper

The Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils worked quite nicely when doodling on this ultra smooth paper - much better than the Prismacolor or the Inktense. In the above example, on one half I tried coloring in the design & then washing with the brush and on the other half, I touched the tip of the wet brush to the pencil & then painted with it. That method worked better than running the brush over the color on the paper.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

My Caran d'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayons went down on this paper as smooth as silk. Two similar doodles but on the second, I washed over the doodle with a waterbrush.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

Keeping in mind that this isn't specifically a paper to be used with water based media, (some resistance to water and buckling occurred) single strokes of a light wash seem to do fine. Artist grade watercolor paints were used in the example above.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks - same results as mentioned above. Colors are really vibrant.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

Testing to see if both sides of the paper react the same when water is applied and the answer was yes.

Clairefontaine DCP paper

I wanted to see of there was any liquid substance that this paper would really agree with and painting with J. Herbin China/India ink worked like a charm. Filled in with J. Herbin Rouge Opera fountain pen ink that I have in a Niji Waterbrush.

Of note, looking at a sheet of this paper next to the Triomphe, (which is a bright white) the DCP has a very slight bluish tinge to it. I'm guessing this has something to do with how the colors are able to pop on this paper. It is not a distraction to me and unless you hold it against another paper, it may not even be noticeable.

To the best of my knowledge, it appears as though 100 sheet packages of the DCP will sell for around $12.00. Once again, this product is not currently available, and is expected to arrive later this spring.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

49 Songs from my Roller Disco Days or 1980-81's The Soundtrack of my Life

Quite possibly one of the worst photos of me...ever.

Perhaps you remember the post I wrote about a year ago about my return to the roller rink of my childhood. The image above was taken sometime around 1980-1981 and this time around, I'd like to talk about the music from that time that stays with me to this day.

I grew up primarily listening to AM radio and Mom's record collection- which at the time included Barry Manilow, The Bee-Gee's, Barbara Streisand, Sonny & Cher, and the soundtracks to Saturday Night Fever and Grease. (Some other time I'll tell you about how I threw out my Dad's old Santana and Jimi Hendrix 8-Tracks because the music scared me... D'oh!)

Around 8th grade, I started to spend an excessive amount of time at the local skating rink courtesy of neighbors who were there 4 days a week. While these days, my iPod is filled with extreme diversity such as heavy metal, ambient, world music, rock, jazz, swing, etc., the music below is what's really in my blood. It's why I can skate, dance, drum & shake the hell out of a shekere. Let me send out a big huge THANK YOU to the rink's DJ (I wish I knew who they were!) who helped create the soundtrack to my life.

I've always held the theory that the music from your early teen years, that time before high school and when things start to get all pubescent & wonky, is the music that stays with you forever.

Let me first preface that I have been working on assembling these songs for YEARS...... Many were only available on 12" EP's and later on compilation tapes. (Which I would later replace with CD's) iTunes helped tremendously to fill in the final missing pieces with the exception of one song which I could never find, (one of my all-time favorites) "On the Beat" by the BB&Q band which I finally found on You Tube - a tinny mono version but a version nonetheless that allowed me to stop thinking it was a figment of my imagination.

These are the ones that I specifically remember skating to. (or at least I think I did.... cut me a break, I'm old.) When one of these songs would come on you'd suck up the last bit of Pepsi from the cup, toss it in the trash and skate like hell to get out on the floor and feel the beat.

Oh heck. I just realized that I don't have a copy of "Always & Forever" or "Superfreak" or "17" or "Double Dutch Bus" arrrrgh!!!! I thought I was done! How could I forget those? iTunes, here I come! (I guess the more time passes, the more I recall though I can't seem to remember what I did 5 minutes ago...)

And so here you go. 49 songs from my roller disco days. There were 50, but I had to cut Michael Jackson's "Wanna be Startin' Somthing" because that came later.

Ai No Corrida Quincy Jones
Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now McFadden & Whitehead
And the Beat Goes On The Whispers
Apache The Sugar Hill Gang
Boogie Oogie Oogie A Taste Of Honey
Boogie Wonderland Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions
Brick House Commodores
Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me) The Gap Band
Celebration Kool & The Gang
Circles Atlantic Starr
Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) Chic
December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Disco Inferno The Trammps
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough Micheal Jackson
Donna Summer - Bad Girls Donna Summer
Early In The Morning (12" Version) The Gap Band
Fantastic Voyage Lakeside
Forget Me Nots (12" Version) Patrice Rushen
Get Down On It Kool & The Gang
Got to Be Real Cheryl Lynn
The Hustle Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony
I'll Be Around The Spinners
I Got My Mind Made Up Instant Funk
I Will Survive Gloria Gaynor
Instant Replay Dan Hartman
It's a Love Thing The Whispers
Knock On Wood Mary Griffin
Ladies Night Kool & The Gang
Let's Groove Earth, Wind & Fire
Let's Start the Dance Bohannon
Mama Used to Say Junior
Never Can Say Goodbye Gloria Gaynor
Off the Wall Michael Jackson
On the Beat BB&Q Band
Que Sera Mi Vida Gibson Brothers
Rapper's Delight (Long Version) The Sugar Hill Gang
Rock The Boat Hues Corporation
Rock With You Michael Jackson
September Earth, Wind & Fire
She's a Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked) Carl Carlton
Stomp! The Brothers Johnson
Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It) Kool & The Gang
Take Your Time (Do It Right) The S.O.S. Band
Too Hot Kool & The Gang
TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) MFSB/The Three Degrees
Vertigo / Relight My Fire Dan Hartman
Working My Way Back To You Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
You Dropped A Bomb On Me The Gap Band
8th Wonder The Sugar Hill Gang

Note: There of course were a few quintessential disco songs such as Chic's "Le Freak" and Lipps Inc's "Funkytown" that I really didn't care for which is why they don't live on my iPod.

Please enjoy.

FYI - Amazon often has music (MP3's) cheaper than iTunes. I'll give you one to get you started.

Mandala: Center of Bloom

Mandala: Center of Bloom

You know it's funny, but though I've created over 1,000 mandalas in the last 3 years, I don't color many of them in.

There are two main ways I create them. Either by using a single colored pen or marker on paper, or by putting watercolor on paper and then coming back and creating a mandala over top of the painting. I think I do it this way because I kind of like doing the mandala part more than adding color. Coloring them in doesn't seem to hold the same rhythmic pleasure for me and so I think once I finish one, I abandon it in favor of working on another. (It's less about art for me than the meditation of creating it.)

But once in a great while, I get the urge to color one in... It's usually a just little urge because I just don't have the patience to stay with it and so I take an inked piece like the one above, and I will add just enough color to make me happy.

Since I treat this work less about art and more about personal growth, I wonder if there is a part of me that worries about "messing up" if I try and think too much about adding color and making it look "pretty.". But isn't that what I teach in my workshops? That the end result is irrelevant? That it's about the journey rather than the destination? I think once you start to turn a subjective eye on what you create, it can muck up the original intention.

Right now, I think I'm going to go and color one of my mandalas and I'm not even going to TRY and stay within the lines....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Review: Diamine Dark Green Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Dark Green Ink

Diamine Dark Green fountain pen ink. Tested in an extra fine nibbed Lamy Safari fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal.

A bluer green than the shamrock green of "Ultra Green." Very nice flow with some shading.

I myself could never really warm up to green inks. If any at all, I like the muted earth colors like Emerald and Umber.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: Diamine Burnt Sienna Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Burnt Sienna

Diamine Burnt Sienna fountain pen ink. Tested in an extra fine nibbed Lamy Studio fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal.

I put this next to the Monaco Red - this is more of an orangey brown to the Monaco's reddish brown.

A medium brown, not as interesting as I first thought. Too light for me. Great flow, nice shading.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mandalas everywhere...

Rhythm Renewal 07 051e

Ever since I started drawing mandalas, I see them everywhere. Car rims, manhole covers, ornamental building designs... This is one of my favorites. It's a wrought iron table that sits on the rear deck of the college dorm where I stay during my yearly summer drumming retreat. I enjoy being out there all alone with a journal and my thoughts. I reflect on the events of the day and imagine what fun there is yet to come... I'm looking forward to seeing it again this coming summer, as it has become much like an old dear friend.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

That hallway needed painting anyway....

This hallway needed painting anyway...

My husband and I have lived in this house (which we own) for just under twenty years. As strange as this might sound, I just never think about carpets or paint or even new furniture.

For the first 21 years of my life I grew up living in apartments. Apartments that got re-painted white once every 5 years and had the same carpets until you moved out. It seemed as though it was just never an option to decorate an apartment so I guess I got to the point where I just don't see the color of the walls any more.

We painted this house when we moved in back in 1991. I know it needs to be painted but I just don't think about it. If you asked me the color of my living room, I'd have to give it some thought though I sit in in every day.. sitting in it right now as I am typing this. Let me quick look.. .oh yeah - it's a light sandy pink.

At least every year or two I go over to Lowe's and pick up some paint chips and tape them to the wall. And eventually the tape gives out and they fall to the floor and then I toss them away.

A while back I asked my husband if he would mind if I painted mandalas on the walls. He said "Go right ahead" and so this was my first - in the hallway that needed to be painted anyway. (I guess the colors of the walls aren't important to him either.

It was my largest mandala to date and my first time using acrylic paints that I bought from the craft store. It's about 3 1/2 ft in diameter and it makes me happy every time I walk past it. So maybe I should paint a few more. After all, all it would take would be a few brush strokes and it would be gone.... though I'd always still know it was there.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review: Diamine Dark Brown Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Dark Brown

Diamine Dark Brown fountain pen ink. Tested in a .7 Cursive Italic (Binderized) Pelikan M200 fountain pen. Paperblanks off-white ruled journal.

FANTASTIC shading with this ink. (In this pen) Not sure I've seen another Diamine ink with this much shading- but then again, I didn't use this wide nibbed of a pen in testing every ink.

If you are looking for a medium brown ink with great shading, try this color.

Diamine Dark Brown

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review: Ecosystem Blank Journal

Moleskine, Webnotebook & Ecosystem Journals

From the Ecosystem website: "With a mandate to protect the environment, ecosystem journals, planners, and notebooks were developed with only 100% post-consumer recycled paper." Read more about Ecosystem's commitment to the environment here.

Large: 7 3/8" x 9 7/8" Medium: 5 1/4" x 8 1/4" Small: 3 5/8" x 5 5/8"

Ecosystem products utilize both hard cover and flexible cover options. A variety of colors are available such as, Onyx, Watermelon, Lagoon, Clementine and Kiwi.

Several paper versions are available including: Advisor, (planner layout) Architect, (Grid) Artist, (Blank) and Author. (Lined)

Available inserts fit in the back pocket of the journal or planner to add an additional functionality and include:

Calendar: A month at a glance - save the date!
Grid: Great for diagrams and planning.
Personal Info: Keep track of friends and colleagues.
Ruled: Write a little something, from haikus to inspirations.
To-do List: Keep yourself organized.
Blank: Sketch

All but the exception of the calender are sold in a set of three.

Moleskine, Webnotebook & Ecosystem Journals

Top to bottom - Large Rhodia Webnotebook 192 pages 90g ($20), Large Moleskine 240 pages approx 70g ($13-$18), Medium Eco System 240 pages *60lb ($17). I bought the plain Artist version for full price ($16.99) at Barnes & Noble. (Which were located at the front of the store right next to the Moleskines which were conveniently on sale at 20% off...)

*Note - I don't know the type of paper being used (bond/text etc) of the Ecosystem paper to convert it to gram weight. I'm guessing it to be in the vicinity of 90g.

Ecosystem journal

Nice tight elastic band. Journal has round corners on both the cover and the paper. Square edged paper digs into my hand as I reach the bottom of the page and I much prefer and appreciate the rounded edging. This is the blank Artist model, and it has bright white paper. Every page is micro perforated and if you fold the page back on the perf before you remove it, it comes out fairly neat.

Cloth ribbon (like a thin flat shoestring) bookmark is too short to be useful - barely sticks out of the bottom of the book.

Ecosystem journal

The cover has a really nice feel to it, but it's difficult to describe. The cover itself is very firm.. a huge plus in my book, (because I often like to write on my knee) and the material allows for a nice grip. It's almost sort of skin-like. Slight imperfections give it an interesting leathery look.

Ecosystem journal

Inside the front cover - romanticized blurb about the product and place to put your name & contact info.

Ecosystem journal

Nice sturdy pocket in back cover for holding ephemera. A pocket in a journal is not a deal breaker for me as I never use them but I know lots of people that do.

Ecosystem journal

Book includes a tracking ID that you can register on the EcoSystem website should your book ever go missing. Took me 6 times to enter my registration code because it was impossible to discern between the O's and the 0's.... (Letter "O" and the number zero.)

To me, this seems to be more of a convenience than a key selling point. I wonder if they removed this option if it would cause any reduction in price....

Fountain pen inks in Ecosystem journal
(Sample shown from "toothy side" of paper)

The one thing I noticed right away about the paper in this book is that it has two different surfaces. One side is smoother, the other is toothier. It's a slight different but to a fine/extra fine nibbed fountain user, it will be fairly noticeable. I found it to be quite bothersome.

Tested a number of different fountain pen inks and while they did not feather, they spread just a slight bit on the toothier side of the paper. By spreading I mean that if you look closely, the lines aren't quite as crisp and are a little wider as they would be on other more fountain pen friendly papers. On the smoother side of the paper, the pens wrote more true to their nib width.

Fountain pen inks in Ecosystem journal

Most of the inks behaved well, but there was some noticeable bleeding/see-through with some of the more saturated blue inks.

Pencil in Ecosystem journal

I find the smoother side of the paper to be way too glassy for use with a pencil - the toothier side is better.

Prismacolor Pencil in Ecosystem journal

Prismacolor pencils - a chore to fill them in on the smooth side of the paper. Wasn't a pleasant experience for me.

Pitt Brush Pens in Ecosystem journal

Pitt artist brush pens - these and all markers I tested worked fabulously on this paper (either side) and the colors just pop! The book opens and lies almost completely flat.

Watercolor in Ecosystem journal

Artist grade watercolors- come out very vibrant, but hard to apply. Much warping.

In closing, I appreciate this company's dedication to making an eco-friendly product here in the US but I have to be honest when I say that I would not choose a product solely on that merit. I am more concerned that the paper and the overall product suit my needs for that effortless writing experience. While this journal might not work for me, I am certain that others will find it quite satisfactory. I enjoy the product's design and think the only real necessary structural improvement would be to lengthen the bookmark.

See these books being made here.

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