Cognitive Surplus Journal Review

I am in a comfort zone with paper. I have my brands that I like but I’m always open to try new things. Cognitive Surplus is a company that offers recycled paper journals in some really cool covers and 4 different configurations. Besides being a unique name I had not heard of them before as a force in the paper or journal space. I’m glad they found me. They were kind enough to send over a couple of their journals for me to try out. A Hypothesis and an Experiment. I love the names and they offer two other variants as well called Test and Theory. See the whole line here.

I hope you’ll stay a minute and read about my experience with these two.

Size

Both of my review samples are slight variations of the A5 size. The hard cover is a little bigger than the paper itself and the soft cover is flush with the paper measuring in at 6 ¾” x 8 7/8”.

The soft cover Experiment is 112 pages coming out to ¼” thick and the hardcover Hypothesis with 192 pages pushes out to 5/8” thick.
Price

  • $18.95 Hard cover Hypothesis
  • $10.95 Soft cover Experiment

Covers

I’m not a flashy guy and typically I don’t buy printed cover journals but I’m glad the Cognitive Surplus team jolted my norm a little bit. They have a big selection of attractive covers with a wide appeal that does not really cater specifically to a masculine or feminine style. I would have a hard time selecting just one from their selection but I will admit to an affinity to bicycles from fond memories of my youth. Nice catch here. My other cover was Crustaceans & Echinoderms with an ocean theme in a pleasant greenish blue tone. They don’t do plain and now that I have carried the Bicycle version around for a couple of days I recall some comments from others about me stepping up my fashion game a bit. Although if you’ve seen my wardrobe you would have doubts, but a cool looking journal can’t hurt.

Construction, fit and finish are excellent and I tested the advertised waterproofness on the hard cover Hypothesis. The small puddle of water I put on the cover and let sit for a minute or two wiped right off with no trace.

Binding

The Hypothesis is a classic book bound style. It’s promoted as lay flat and it lays as flat as any similarly bound journal that I have used. Don’t expect spiral notebook type lay flat with any of them.

The Experiment soft cover model is 4 groups of pages folded over then those groups looked to be glued together. This type of binding construction helps it lay flatter I’m sure. You also get a little slimmer and lighter weight journal with the soft cover if space and carry weight is a consideration.

Paper

Cool covers are nice but the paper is where any journal has to deliver for me. I like purchasing recycled products in multiple consumer product categories but writing on recycled paper usually is not pleasant with anything wetter than a ball point.

Cognitive Surplus says their product is fountain pen friendly and I would agree. They suggest, with printing on the vertical belly band packaging, For best results use a small to medium tip fountain pen. That’s a good suggestion but by no means a requirement. You can see in my writing sample everything worked very well. The only ghosting I got was from my fire hose writing broad Faber-Castell Ondoro. Some thicker paper has fallen victim to it before so I will give kudos to Cognitive Surplus for their 80 GSM choice. Common with recycled paper is the off-white color. No surprises here and the tone is pleasant enough.

An additional feature of the paper is it’s FSC-Certified. The (FSC) Forest Stewardship Council is an organization that promotes and educates in the area of maintaining sustainable forestry. There are different levels of certifications within the FSC and I applaud Cognitive Surplus for their environmental contribution.

My review samples came with college ruling with 9/32” spacing. The line printing is consistent all the way to the edges and they looks like a medium shade of a forest green. It’s pleasing to the eye and well defined. The Experiment is lined on the front and the back. The option I tried on the Hypothesis is lined on the right, blank on the left.

Writing

Cognitive Surplus has done their research and produced the best recycled paper I have ever written on. The paper they have chosen has texture and you can feel it when you write, not nib drag or friction but a tactical feel that’s different from some of the popular brands’ coated paper. I liked it, coated paper is nice for its slickness and near impenetrability but drying time almost always suffers. The drying time for the Hypothesis and Experiment, with no smudging, was at 15 seconds. I have waited minutes for coated paper.

Conclusion

Thank you Cognitive Surplus for sending me out of my comfort zone with a splash of color in a quality journal. If environmental support is a passion for you I don’t think you’ll do any better with a recycled paper product that these. If the recycled thing is not a hot button for you I would still encourage you to give these a try. A quality product, at a fair price, with a wide array of cover choices and just enough customization on the inside to help you work like you want to.

Thanks again to Cognitive Surplus, I am still enjoying my time with the Hypothesis and Experiment.

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Kaweco Traveler Case Review

Besides great pens Kaweco continues to venture out with accessories and products for the writer in all of us. Most of us don’t carry just a single pen so we end up with some type of pen case. The Kaweco Traveler Case I recently tried out proved to be a quality participant.front-closed

  • Weight 5.5 oz.
  • Depth: 1.5”
  • Length: 4.5”
  • Width: 6.25”
  • Price: $115

CONSTRUCTION

The leather construction is typical Kaweco high quality and surrounds a well-executed design case. The finish and feel is rich and should hold up well. The light color will probably show some daily travel patina but your pens will stay healthy inside. The zippered closure on three sides allows the case to open completely flat

back-closed

branding

flapWHAT’S INSIDE

Inside there are 6 elastic loops to hold a good collection of daily carries securely. The loops are close together and to fit 6 pens in a compact footprint your pens are snug. That’s good but if you are particular about your pens rubbing and you carry clipped or larger diameter pens you might consider taking a little bit of time in positioning each pen. Not a big deal or a negative of the case just a design consideration. A leather flap adds further protection in the event you want to stuff the case with other supplies.

full-openThe mesh pocket on the inside front cover is perfect to add that one other pen you need, ink cartridges or other small items that might help you prevent carrying another case or reducing the load in your pockets.

mesh-pocketIN USE

6 Kaweco Sports look great in this case and Kaweco was smart, they kept a small profile product that will carry other small to medium size pens in this case. The largest I see fitting is a Karas Kustoms Retrakt. That covers a broad selection of pen brands and model sizes to meet your daily carry needs.

6-kawecos-no-flap 6-kawecos-with-flap 6-other-pensCONCLUSION

Kaweco has put together a quality leather case that should stand up to daily wear very well. If your needs are carrying 6 pens or less, a compact design and a classy look and feel the Kaweco Traveler’s Case would fit you very well. Thanks Kaweco for sending this loaner over for me to try out.

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Galen Leather Moleskine Cover

Overall FrontI have never traveled outside the United States. My leisure time and resources available usually keeps my travel focused on many places in the US that I still want to visit. I know that limits my outlook and experiences and nothing proves that more than the pen hobby that many of us share. Such an international scope of enthusiasts of all things writing related. Recently a brother and sister team of leather artisans that make beautifully products under the Galen Leather name contacted me from Turkey. I was elated they found my little spot on the internet.

I became a fortunate recipient of their recent marketing blitz to promote their products that they have marketed through various outlets for several years. I have one of their Large Moleskine Covers that I would probably call a notebook cover as it works with any A5 5×8’ish notebooks that I tried.

  • Made from veg tanned bridle leather
  • Available in 13 colors, yes one three!
  • Overall Size is 6.7 x 9.1 inches and more on that later
  • $65.00

Packaging

Galen Leather went an extra mile on the packaging. They subscribe to giving the customer a wow moment as you open up any of their products. Gifting of a Galen Leather product would be a great experience for the receiver and giver. You get a little bit of the company’s story and a card filled out with the information on your product. All in a heavy weight box with tasteful printing on the outside that gives you the first impression that Quality is on the inside. That first impression is right.

box1box2Overall Construction Fit and Finish

Galen Leather uses thick leather, really thick. I was surprised that even as thick as it is it’s not stiff or rough. This is not a minimalist notebook cover, you know what your holding is built to last. The finish is beautifully uniform, the stitching is even and matches the strength you feel in the overall notebook. Burnished edges give a very finished look to the cover.

edge1edge2stitichingIn use

The Galen Leather website gives some great examples of what they were thinking when they were designing the cover. Inside pockets are well designed and functionally placed to store business cards, other small notebooks or just scraps of notes that usually get accumulated with daily use. Even the iPad mini or similar sized devices are figured into the design. The pen loop is nice and stretchy to hold big pens if that’s your fancy and I like the big pens.

inside1inside leftinside rightThe belly band is a vertical orientation in a complimenting color and quite stretchy. On the inside it goes through the back cover of your A5 sized notebook of your choice. I’m using it with my current daily journal by Shinola. The other side of the band can be used to stretch over the front and keep the notebook safely closed during travels. As mentioned above the heft of this notebook could survive a lot of traveling around while protecting the inside. I don’t use the band to keep the cover shut so I enjoy the full beauty of the leather cover sitting on my desk.

backI did find the wide spine a little unusual at first but now I think I have picked up on a great design feature. Looking at the cover it’s 6.7” x 9.1”. Not a lot of extra space on the height but the width really gives you room for other paper and notebooks you may like to carry or a big pen will ride easily in the large spine area. Most of the other notebook covers I own fit the traditional A5 size almost perfectly and that’s fine but it limits other things you might find yourself carrying outside your notebook. The Galen Leather just has more capacity, even some examples on their website with a tablet.

Conclusion

I like it, I really like it. I have been using it mated up to my daily journal and slowly finding other things to carry along with it. The construction gives a rich look and I’m sure a long useful life.

Visit Galen Leather and see their whole product line, I don’t think you will be disappointed with any of their products.

Other blogger Reviews

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Visconti 3 Pen Case Review

A pen hobby can only be enjoyed if you have pens with you. Depending on your activities during waking hours many of us will have different needs for pen carry. This could be a shirt pocket, pants pocket, bag or purse or any number of options for a single pen. Being pen nuts most of us carry more than 1 pen so besides integrated pen sleeves in a briefcase or bag the pen case business is growing with many options for us.

I have eyed the Visconti line of cases for several years now but never pulled the trigger. I recall once even adding it to my online cart but before checkout something else got priority funding and I went without this Italian version of a classy carry.

Recently The Pen Company sent over a 3 pen version for me to try out. Now my daily commute is quite utilitarian so my pen carrying needs have been adequately cared for with an open pen case that my sister made me some time ago. I go from my house to the car, drive to my office and have very few needs to leave the office until the end of my work day

I have been carrying the Visconti case now for a few weeks and I have really grown to like it.

Front

  • Available in Black, Black or Black
  • Available in 1, 2, 3 or 6 pen capacity models
  • $73 (3 pen model)
  • 2 7/8” wide
  • 6 3/8” long
  • 1 1/8” thick

My Shawn Newton Shinobi, Visconti Home Sapien Maxi and Visconti Divina, all larger pens, are currently in residency. The Shinobi is probably the biggest pen I would carry in it. Coming in right at 6”, I consider it a big pen. I think you get a tiny bit more room from the middle slot due to the slight corner curves in the body of the case. The Shinobi will fit in all three slots but I reserve the middle slot for it. Toothpick not included.

Hood Open Space AvailableConstruction Fit and Finish

Visconti never disappoints here. A smooth black leather outside with a tight black felt on the inside for all surfaces that touch your pens. The interior has three slots with two full height dividers that keep all three pens away from each other. The clip on your pen is not utilized for the encasement..

InsideA chrome zipper pull, chrome V medallion on the front and the Visconti logo embossed on the back of the case wrap up a very attractive package for work or play. Tasteful without being in your face gaudy.

SIde Front2 Back LogoIn Use

The zipper is smooth and extends about 2/3rds of the way down both long sides and across the top. Fully unzipped your access to the pens is easy without requiring any balancing act to prevent any of the pens from falling out.

The opening is the coolest part to me. Visconti has creased the front cover somehow to make a natural bend point in the case and it opens almost like a car hood. After opening the hood the pens are easy to remove and even easier to put back in. Here again the 6” Shinobi is probably the maximum you want in here. 6 1/8” would probably fit but the removal is going to get slowed down with anything over 6” as the pen needs to be angled slightly to get it out.

Hood Open2Conclusion

Many thanks to The Pen Company for sending this great case over for review. I will probably own a 6 pen version one day as I find myself wanting more than 3 pens inked up at a time. I lasted a month carrying a single pen but I find more enjoyment throughout the day with a variety.

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Friends of Type Postcards Review

Cover

I’ve been on a postcards kick lately as my inventory of stationery has dwindled and my discretionary income has been mostly allocated to the Christmas season. In the past I would pick up a batch of vintage Florida postcards from eBay or a few antique shops I’ve been in sell them as well. Usually the linen stock is good for the ink and pen options I choose. A postcard send I like is when I meet someone new I will ask them where they are from or even where they live currently if they are visiting from out of state. I go over to eBay and invariably there will be a vintage postcard from that city or town. I order it and in a couple of weeks I get a call from my new acquaintance about how much they enjoyed the postcard. A bit more expensive than the required $.36 stamp but generally a bargain to put a smile on somebody’s face. Plus if it’s a business or networking connection, they will remember you.

Besides the slight difference in postage I find my message is different sometimes too with postcards. My words are a little more guarded since the audience is potentially wide open. It also makes getting a card or two off quickly easier when I may not have the time for a longer letter. I still think it beats an email for the personal touch.

MY NEW COLLECTION

Listening to a recent Pen Addict podcast I heard about this batch of postcards sold as a set from Friends of Type. Friends of Type is a group of designers that got together, I believe on a casual basis, and in their spare time they doodle these works of art using creative typefaces. They blog over at friendsoftype.com .

Some of the cards are fun phrases, others are sentimental and some are just a single word. A really great variety that I find myself thumbing through frequently to think about how to tie in a complimenting thought or story to send to someone I’ve been thinking about for one reason or another.

Samples

Back

The paper stock they chose is fountain pen friendly which is nice. I think it’s coated with something so expect, and plan, for a little bit of an extended dry time with wet writers. I usually compose it and then just leave it on my desk to dry instead of taking it direct to the post box.

The cards come in an attractive storage box that has since become home to a few other miscellaneous post cards I had waiting to be used. The Friends of Type team organized them into categories which saves you a little time picking one out.

  • Salutations
  • Optimism
  • Audio / Visual
  • Affections
  • Strong Language
  • Correspondence
  • Introspection
  • Encouragement
  • Destination
  • Just For Fun

Tabs

The strong language editions I could have done without but the work is still beautiful, I’m just probably an overly conservative crotchety old man. I’ll give these away to the first interested party that responds (they have been spoken for).

CONCLUSION

With 100 cards under $20, fountain pen friendly stock, famous designers and an excuse to exercise your brain to match your quips with theirs. What’s not to love ?

Get you a set at the Friends of Type store or from Amazon here

So are you a postcard sender?

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Shinola Notebook Journal Review

Cover Shot2My product review today is not from a pen or stationery company. It’s a product from a company I just wanted to buy from and support. I love what Shinola is doing for the Detroit community and the economy as a whole. I first become interested in the company and their products through another hobby of mine, watches. After their watches came some really cool bicycles and I think they have expanded even more now. Wanting to support their growth and ambition, even in a small way, I purchased one of their journals. A green 5 x 8.

Shinola Medium Hard Linen Journal

    • Forest Pine (also available in other colors)
    • 192 Ruled Pages (also available in grid and plain)
    • 60 lb / 90 GSM Acide Free Paper
    • Black elastic closure band and black page marker ribbon
    • 8.25″ x 5.25″
    • $17.95

Specs LabelTHE PURCHASE

The user experience with their website, order fulfillment and shipping speed were all top shelf. My journal came quickly and packaged well. The clear shrink wrap is a good protector and it’s well executed with a nice marketing wrap inside the shrink wrap. Popular today is the user experience and companies trying to connect with their customers on a personal level by sharing and bringing you in on their story. I may not be part of the family yet but I feel good about supporting them

COVER

The cover is a warm, dark, almost evergreen in color. The texture is more fabric than smooth vinyl or leather, with a grippy feel and a classy look. Drawing no real attention at the board meeting or on the soccer field.

Plain CoverFront With Shrink WrapBack with shrink WrapBranding is attractive without being obtrusive on the bottom of the back cover. The front cover is completely blank.

Brandong on back coverStandard for this genre of notebooks is the manila pocket on the inside back cover. I have never been a user of them but this one looks typical.

Inside Made in Michigan CardBINDING

The binding is unique. Ok maybe the actual binding is not unique but how the spine of the notebook behaves is unusual to me, in a good way. I have lamented in many posts that a notebook that doesn’t lay flat is a deal breaker for me. I have renegotiated that deal a little bit but not in a way I ever expected to. Barring a lot of brute force the Shinola spine does not waver from perfectly vertical when you’re in the beginning pages of the notebook. The pages lay flat on their respective side of the notebook with the left side (the backs) being at a slight angle due to the vertical spine. After unsuccessfully trying to make the notebook go traditional flat for me I was annoyed for a moment that the writing experience would be unpleasant but I gave it a try and learned it’s perfectly fine. About a quarter of the way through the notebook I am seeing a slight tilt to the spine and moving to the center of the notebook I see the more traditional laying flay behavior. Writing on the back (left side) of the pages is different but the slight downward angle of the paper for this rightie didn’t distract from my writing at all.

I’m not sure if all of this was part of the design process but it was a new experience for me and I certainly wouldn’t shy away from another Shinola because of it, it’s just different.

SpineOpen Book

PAPER

The paper Shinola chose is good quality. The lined format is a pleasant beige with grey lines printed front and back with a slightly larger header at the top of each page and a tiny blank footer at the bottom. Lines go full bleed all the way across the pages, front and back, and meet in the middle through the binding. Line spacing is ¼” or about 6.5 mm. Fine with me.

With my fine nib fountain pens and all the rollerball / ballpoints I could throw at it the paper performed very well. The paper has excellent drying times but with the bigger nibs the feathering and show through was more than I like. One could argue that ¼” line spacing is a little tight for broad nibs anyway. You can still get away with using one side of the paper if you like the fatties laying down rivers of ink. Again, fine nibs and rollerball / ballpoints were a wonderful experience and dry quickly if you’re a multi pager at one sitting.

You have to look close for any ghosting with fine nibs and gel inks.

Show ThroughSome spread and feathering with the broad nibs

Broad Nib WritingBleed and show through with the fatties

Bleed Through BroadCONCLUSION

I love the Shinola brand and the company. My dream is to own one of their bicycles but for now my Shinola notebook is serving me well as a daily life events diary. After about a month it still looks like new and after I fill this one up I strongly suspect there will be another one in my future.

Check out what Shinola is doing, even if you don’t buy anything or you’re happy with your current notebook, their story and their passion is inspiring.

Remember: Write something nice……

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BLACKLIST Journal Review

BL Journal OpenerI recently received a very thoughtful gift for my birthday that combined my love and pens, paper and my favorite TV Show The Blacklist . The gift giver knows I love the show and love my pens so opening the package put a real smile on my face. The journal is from the GIFT section of the NBC website and I’m sure they have similar promotional paraphernalia for the other major shows.

The journal made by JournalBooks, a companion division of the Leeds Promotional Products that market the slightly upscale commodities of the coffee mugs, key chains and pens variety that typically promote a service or product. Although I loved the gift, I did not have high expectations of the paper and expected the performance of a typical inexpensive giveaway. I’m happy to report I was proved wrong.

The Blacklist journal has a nice reddish brown faux leather cover that has a bit of padding to it that reminds me of a ‘80s era corporate padfolio vinyl legal pad holder.

The paper was not overly smooth or coated. Dry times were good with no bleed through. I did get a little bit of ghosting on the back and my really wet writers feathered just a tiny bit but I have definitely experienced worse.

BL Journal Writing SampleThe biggest drawback I’ve had is the journal does not lay flat when open, no amount of effort helps either so I think the binding is that tight and stiff. Not a huge deal for occasional meeting use but I couldn’t use this one daily.

The Blacklist show is a favorite of mine. Though on hiatus for the season right now I found myself planning my days and weeks around the premiere of each episode AND I bought the season on NetFlix just in case. James Spader is just a really cool character as Raymond “Red” Reddington. The story lines and the characters’ abilities are a little far-fetched but I think that’s what makes it entertainment. The show carries a little bit of human bodily injury that can make me grimace occasionally but no overt violence or sexual overtones. The joke when opening the gift was I was afraid to open the journal in case it had the names of the next 20 targets on the BlackList for next season, thereby putting my life and family members in grave danger. (You’ll have to watch the show)

BL Journal Red RSo if you’re in the market for some promotional products to buy for your company or want to buy something for your favorite brand or product look for the JournalBooks brand on the back. I think you’ll be pleased.

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Carried Away! book review

New Image_0006I have written numerous blog posts about the joys of letter writing and just sending and receiving mail. It’s a simple pleasure I inherited from my dad. Late last year one of my musings got national attention as a guest post on the USPS website. I was expressing gratitude to my letter carrier and encouraging others to tell their story, or at least tell their letter carrier they are appreciated.

Through that article I was contacted by Kate Drury who teamed up with Lois McNulty, both retired letter carriers, to collect and print a book about letter carriers’ adventures from across the country. I donated some money to the Postal Employee Relief Fund and in return Kate sent me some copies of their book of stories. Kate and Lois put a lot of work in putting together their book called Carried Away: True stories from letter carriers across America.

I’m not a big book reviewer but this one covered a subject near and dear to me. Many of the stories will make you laugh and most will make you smile. I have some copies to give away but if you miss out on this giveaway you can find the book at carriedawaytruestories.blogspot.com or the Smithsonian National Postal Museum Store

New Image_0007I have 4 copies left  ALL GONE ! that I would be glad to send the first 4 readers that send me an email to bob@mypenneedsink.com. No raffle or random post picking just the first four emails I get with mailing addresses based on the time stamp of the message. I will send them right out for your enjoyment.

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My new Edison Collier from Indy-Pen-Dance

Edison CollierI’ve been moaning and complaining lately about my experiences with the nib performance on brand new pens. Admittedly I do not buy a lot of pens but I don’t think my standards are all that unusually high either. I believe the answer for me is to channel my purchases to companies that are taking the time to ink up and test write with the pen they are shipping me. I realize I will pay for this service and I’m not knocking any company that doesn’t do this level of testing. A reasonable increased cost for this small bit of insurance is worth it to me personally. YMMV.

I have really been jonesing lately for another Edison Pens fountain pen. I have a 76 in Medium and a Huron XXF that are outstanding writers out of the box. Going to Edison’s site I saw that Indy-Pen-Dance was now a dealer for Edison’s production line. I recognized Indy-Pen-Dance from a study I did a while back on Gate City pens and learned Richard Binder is out of the retail pen business. He was one of my nibmeisters  of choice for buying new pens. I didn’t pull the trigger on a Gate City but decided to give Indy-Pen-Dance a try for my next Edison. I chose the Edison Collier which is just on the larger size of Edison’s production line. I drifted away from my usual dark colored pens and had already decided on a broad nib. Broad has been a trend with me lately and has really burned up some ink!. I decided on the Silver Marble and couldn’t be happier.New ImageThe Indy-Pen-Dance website was easy enough to navigate and give them my money and in a couple of days (I ordered on a weekend) I got a ship notice for a USPS Priority Mail shipment. $8.00 shipping I thought was reasonable for packaging and 2 day service.

Right on time I watched for the beautiful OUT FOR DELIVERY message on USPS.com. The pen arrived packaged in the usual nice pen box that Brian Gray of Edison packages with all his pens. A nice label on the outside shows the model name in case you’re a box keeper. Indy-Pen-Dance wrapped the Edison box nicely with bubble wrap, nice service.

Upon opening the pen I was very pleased with my choice to go light color for a change. Attached to the clip was a small write up from Mike and Linda explaining that my pen was inked, not just dipped, written with, adjusted as needed then flushed and repackaged. Upon inspecting the pen I saw some water droplets in the converter which made me feel good and assured me that happened.

Inking up the pen and putting it to paper for the first time was pen nirvana, ok so maybe some hyperbole there, but after my last big pen purchase disappointment it was a joy to experience a super smooth nib with perfect flow and no skips immediately. I knew Edison’s were great writers so starting out with Brian’s craftsmanship and then Indy-Pen-Dance double checking it made my experience that much better.

Thank you Mike and Linda for the great service and that extra care in every pen you sell!

Dear readers: This is my third Edison pen and my first pen from Indy-Pen-Dance. I am not finished with either of these great companies.

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Paper-Oh Notebooks Review

opener_all4When I was little one of the most exciting things for me was when my parents would tell me they have a surprise for me. One could argue this probably contributes to the commercialization of our youth and always putting so much emphasis on STUFF and consumption of same stuff but it never really mattered to me if it was a 10 cent thing, a project to work on or a fun field trip. The anticipation was always the high that invariably ended with a smile. Sometimes it was way over the top cool and other times it was just cool. With 6 children I have carried on this habit from my parents and admittedly some of my children are old enough that the gleam in their eyes lack a little luster unless I produce the latest Apple iGadget from my bag of tricks. My 9 year old and 12 year old still get it, and its fun.

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from Chris over at Paper-Oh, a division of Hartley and Marks. They have brought their Paper-Oh notebook designs over to the United States and they wanted to get some in the hands of reviewers. To me that’s a “I have a surprise for you” tailored to my passion for pens and the stationery they write on. I didn’t know what to expect, which is half the fun. Mail call last week delivered a super cool surprise of 4 different models of their notebooks.

Paper-Oh Company

I have reviewed and used a fair amount of notebooks and stationery. The usual options are size, cover thickness, how the pages are held together and what is printed on the paper, grid, lines or nothing at all.

Paper-Oh takes the notebook design to a higher level. Even the names are cool. They use the popular alpha numeric sizing conventions which seem to be have been universally standardized. Colors, binding, closures and covers are a big part of the Paper-Oh differentiators. Here is a link to a great marketing document that shows the colors and size combinations that are available. Maybe it’s the analog in me but this approach seems so much easier printed out in front of me then online links of so many combinations.

Paper-Oh has partnered with Jenni Bick Bookbinding. If I have held your interest up to this point I would encourage you to go to the Paper-Oh website and read about how much thought and effort they have put into their product. Impressive.

The Paper

The heart of any notebook is the paper. The paper is what defines the experience and really controls how long you will use the notebook. Many cool, beautifully designed, notebooks are sitting on shelves or in drawers with just a page or two written on. Paper-Oh has put as much thought in the paper as they have the aesthetics. They market an 80 GSM and a 100 GSM weight. The notebooks I reviewed covered both.

Paper-Oh paper starts with 100% sustainable growth product. I don’t claim to know all the green environmental buzzwords but I think I know what this means and I applaud the company for putting such an emphasis on it. Performance with gels, ballpoints and rollerballs is perfect. Fountain Pens fare very well. I am a wet gushy nib fountain pen user so that is hard on paper. The best paper for no feathering and absorption is challenged with drying time. Paper-Oh has struck a very good balance. Dry times are very respectable with 5 seconds for the 100 GSM and under 15 seconds for the 80 GSM. Feathering was barely perceptible but I did get some ghosting on the back side. Remember these are wet medium nibs so if you’re a fine or dry nib writer I don’t think you’ll have any issues at all. I only write on one side of the paper anyway so it’s not a problem for me at all.

Paper-Oh explains their cream colored paper has no added coatings and is run through the press a second time to give a smoother finish. I don’t understand the technical piece of that but the result they achieved is a very smooth paper with no drag or sluggishness, regardless of the pen and very good drying time. I really like that combination.

Lines and grids are printed in a nice bluetone and consistent coverage across the whole page. Well executed.

GSM100_Paper_WritingGraph_Paper_WritingGraph_Paper_Writing2Dry_TimeGhosting 100 GSM

Bleed_Through_GSM100

Bookmark

Even the bookmark is different. A bookmark is included with some of the notebooks and its use can be customized for the user’s taste. This is the first bookmark I have ever received that comes with its own instructions. Not that it’s all that complicated but the graphic explains the flexibility and the thought put into the design. I am still experimenting with the different configurations and so far I really like attaching it to the front page of the notebook then folding it over onto the page I’m currently using. This makes opening the notebook an easy thumb grab.

Bookmark_and_PaperBookmark_Visual

B5 Ondulo

B5_Ondulo_Front

  • B5 Ondulo
  • 100 GSM
  • Blank
  • 112 Pages
  • 7” x 10”
  • Corrugated Cover
  • Flexi Page Marker
  • Magnetic Wrap Closure

The Ondulo is a good meeting notebook and the cover has held up well with the running around that I’ve been able to put it through. The cover is corrugated and the best way I can describe it is imagine peeling the layers of a cardboard box apart and that rolled construction is corrugated. Now the Ondulo is much classier than a cardboard box and the resulting cover is easy to grip, unique and holds up well. Writing in the Ondulo is a pleasant affair with the pages lying flat and after a short amount of exercising the flap stays back out of the way.

B5_Ondulo_InsideB5_Ondulo_LabelB5_Ondulo_BackB5_Ondulo_CoverA6 Circulo

A6_Circulo_Front

  • A6 Circulo
  • 80 GSM
  • Lined
  • 128 Pages
  • 4 ¼” x 5 ¾”
  • Flexi Page Marker
  • Magnetic Wrap Closure

I feel in love with the Circulo. For many years I have carried a Field Notes style book in one of many leather covers I have collected over time. I was finishing up a book right about the time the Paper-Oh products came in and I started this little notebook as my daily to do manager. The magnetic cover has the right amount catch to make my constant opening and closings a breeze. I’m getting used to the bookmark which is ingenious and the paper is great when I need to jot down a note quickly on the go and I can close the book without worrying about smearing.

The most important criteria for me, after paper quality, for a daily notebook is how well it lays flat when I’m thinking and composing in my head. Paper-Oh does a good job there. As with most notebooks the first few pages are a bit of a struggle but after that it’s among the best I’ve used. Reading the website they take great pride in the engineering and experience they have with book binding. I am certain it’s more complicated than I think but for me the proof is in the use and I really like what they have done.

The cover is a unique two layer, two color, almost like an attractive pegboard look. I think it gives it a nice grip and quite unique in its style and look. This one will see a lot of use in my paper stable.

A6_Circulo_BackA6_Circulo_LabelA6_Circulo_InsideA5 Circulo Cahier

A5_Cahier_Circulo_Front

  • A5 Cahier Circulo
  • 80 GSM
  • Grid
  • 80 Pages per book
  • 5 ¾” x 8 ¼”
  • Pack of 2 Books

The Circulo Cahier is a thin profile notebook with what appears to be a conventional center bound folded paper construction. Not my favorite for lying flat but that’s not any design fault of Paper-Oh, it’s just the price one must pay for the ultra slim profile.

With the Circulo Cahier they did a nice contrasting color with the dual layer pegboard design. Mine is a very attractive red and black. Want the Paper-Oh coolness factor in a form factor that can reside easily in full briefcase? The Circulo Cahier may be your choice.

A5_Cahier_Circulo_BackA5_Cahier_Circulo_End_ViewA5_Cahier_Circulo_LabelA5_Cahier_Circulo_InsideA5_Cahier_Circulo_Graph_SpacingB6 Buco

B6_Buco_Front

  • B6 Buco
  • 100 GSM
  • Lined
  • 112 Pages
  • 5” x 7”
  • Elastic Band Closure

The Buco is probably the most conventionally covered notebook in the bunch that I reviewed but don’t think its run of the mill boring. Where most default to black closure bands Paper-Oh includes a contrasting colored elastic band that runs horizontal with the book. Another aesthetic touch is the edges of the paper alternate between the cream color of the paper face and the color of the cover. All the paper is the standard cream offering but Paper-Oh has taken the effort to add a splash of color to the paper edges. Very Cool.

Great binding again that give you a very flat laying notebook. Another thoughtful feature is the tiny cut out on the covers that trap the elastic closure band. That made me smile as one of my personality defects would have forced me to spend way too much time making sure the band was perfectly centered if those notches weren’t there.

B6_Buco_BackB6_Buco_LabelB6_Buco_BandB6_Buco_InsideB6_Buco_RulingConclusion

This was a fun (Long!) review of some unique notebooks with great paper, a fair price, a splash of style and even some bindery engineering thrown in. Thanks Paper-Oh!

Remember: Write something nice……

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