Fabriano Ecoqua Gluebound Notebook Review

I bought the Fabriano Ecoqua Gluebound notebook at my school bookstore some time ago. I’ve seen the Fabriano brand in art stores before but not commonly elsewhere. So I picked it up, not realizing that it was gluebound! It’s not my favorite binding but I think the notebook will be useful for people who want to tear out notes or make lists. Here’s my review:

Specs: 

  • 85gsm “Bioprima” acid-free paper
  • $5.20-6.50, based on where you buy it
  • 90 sheets, 180 pages
  • 5.8″ x 8.25″, A5
  • 4mm dot grid
  • gluebound

IMG_9054

The Fabriano Gluebound is a slim A5 notebook with a textured paper cover. Mine is gray, but there are several bright colors to choose from. Fabriano is printed faintly on the front in silver ink and it looks classy. The corners aren’t rounded so they could get dinged up easily. Some of the paper sticks out from the edge. I don’t think the notebook would last long in my backpack with its thin, light construction. This is more of a desk pad to me.

Inside is a slim block of 85gsm paper. It’s cool to see the binding on the side. The notebook lays flat easily due to being gluebound. However, I’m not sure how sturdy the binding is. I’ve seen reviews where people say the pages tear out by themselves, but that hasn’t happened so far for me. The pages are easy to tear out and don’t leave any pieces behind.

Now, onto the paper! The dot grid is smaller, 4mm compared to the average 5mm. However, the dots are light and fade into the background easily. The paper has some texture to it, that my finer fountain pens catch on. However, I like some texture when I’m writing. It’s not as toothy as Baron Fig paper, but not as smooth as Tomoe River.

I was surprised by the quality of the paper! It shows some shading and even a bit of golden sheen in my sample of Taccia Momo. I didn’t see any feathering or spreading of ink. The paper is ivory but shows off the ink well. Pencils do well on the textured paper. However, I felt like my finer pens felt more scratchy. The showthrough isn’t bad either. The juicy Zebra Sarasa and Pentel Energel left more showthrough. I’d use both sides of the page. It took 10 seconds for fountain pen ink to dry. It’s a good budget option for fountain pens.

I’d suggest using this notebook for taking quick notes and making lists. Don’t use this as a journal or repository for important writing because the pages are meant to be torn out. I’ll use this for making lists of my homework and tasks to complete. They are also easy to find online or in art supply stores. There are several types of Fabriano Ecoqua notebooks, including in pocket-sized, staplebound and spiralbound versions. I bought a pack of Fabriano pocket notebooks so look for a review of those soon!

I bought this notebook with my own funds. I was not paid for this review. 

Musgrave Tennessee Red Pencil Review

I bought the Musgrave Tennessee Red pencils after hearing that Musgrave revamped their brand and added new pencils. I’ve mostly stuck to Blackwings and Japanese brands, so I haven’t tried many American pencils. There are only a few American pencil companies left, so it’s important to support them! Also, a dozen Tennessee Reds are only $9, compared to $25-28 for a dozen Blackwings. They are made of Tennessee red cedar instead of California cedar. Apparently, that’s what Musgrave pencils were made out of until the ’60s. Luckily, Musgrave found a new source of the wood!

However, there are quality control issues with the pencils, which I want to mention up front. In their blog post, Musgrave says that because they are new to working with this wood, some pencils will have off-centered lead or will be slightly warped. I’ll explain the issues I found with my pack later.

Specs:

  • $9 for a dozen
  • #2 core
  • natural finish with clear coat
  • sharp hex

My pencils came in a beautiful red slipcover, with the words Tennessee Red in vintage-looking letters. They are stunning! The pencils are natural but have a clear gloss over them. Tennessee Red reminds me of a hardwood floor, with a similar smell. They aren’t as fragrant as Blackwings but still smell delicious! There are interesting whorls and variations that make each pencil unique. One of my pencils looks like a black and white cookie, with one half a lighter color than the other! I love the vintage red imprint but I wish that it showed up more against the dark wood.

IMG_8939

They also have a very sharp hex, which means the edges are hard. It digs into my fingers. I wish that the edges were softer like Blackwings. I liked the combination of red with the golden ferrule and white eraser. Sadly, the eraser isn’t very usable, but most aren’t!

The hex is #2 but feels softer. It’s similar to Palamino HB. It’s smooth and dark on paper with some tooth. I tested it on Write Notepads and it was great. I didn’t feel any grit or scratchiness like I do with some pencils. It also has kept its point despite writing pages of notes. It’s a contender for my favorite lead, with the Blackwing 602 still holding first place.

IMG_8936

However, I had quality control problems with my pack of pencils. I’d say 3-4 of mine are off-center. Even worse, one of them was completely messed up. It looked like the two slats were misaligned. It looks impossible to write with. They are also hard to sharpen, especially in hand-held sharpeners. The wood is thick and dense. I used my brass Möbius and Ruppert sharpener which worked but it took some effort. Finally, the hex is much too sharp for me.

IMG_8920

I also was given two free pencils in a sleeve, a Musgrave 600 News and Musgrave Bugle. I loved the dark, smooth lead of the News, but I broke the tip instantly. It seems perfect for sketching! I didn’t like the Bugle, it was too light and scratchy. Both pencils felt lightweight without a ferrule and eraser.

I love the idea of the Tennessee Red pencils but I think better quality control needs to go into the next batch. At least Musgrave was honest and wrote a blog post explaining the issues. They also aren’t very expensive compared to Blackwings. If you’re okay with potentially getting off-center cores and love the beautiful red cedar, then I would purchase. I bought a pack for my mom and she loves them! Otherwise, I’d recommend waiting for the next generation of these pencils.

I bought this notebook with my own funds. I was not paid for this review. 

 

Goulet Notebook with 68gsm Tomoe River Paper Review

Sorry for not posting recently! My school closed because of coronavirus so I’m back at home now. Things are scary right now and I’m glad I’m with my family. I also have all my notebooks and fountain pens. Self-isolation gives me more time for reviewing at least…

Goulet Pens is a staple of the stationery sphere online. I bought my first fountain pen, a teal Pilot Metropolitan, from there in 2016! Not only does it sell pens, notebooks, and ink, but it also sells its own brand of Goulet Notebooks. Their brand fills a niche of slim, Tomoe River inserts that can easily be slipped into a cover. I’ve seen plenty of them on Etsy but I’m glad that Goulet makes their own that are simple and inexpensive. I don’t use inserts, but I bought a Lined A5 Goulet Notebook with 68gsm Tomoe River paper to try out. I prefer lines, but they are not always available with 68gsm paper.

Specs: 

  • White 68gsm Tomoe River paper
  • A5 size
  • 7mm lines
  • 64 pages
  • rounded corners

IMG_9075

The Goulet Notebook comes in a plastic wrap with a sticker on the front. Otherwise, there’s no branding. There’s no easy way to tell what the front or back is, so I stuck on a cute bee sticker that was included with my purchase. The notebook is slim and light. It’s a standard A5 size so it will fit into a cover. The cover is textured but not very sturdy. There’s 64 pages inside, which isn’t as many as the 96 pages inside of the 52gsm version. However, this paper is thicker and the type I prefer to use.

IMG_9072

The inside is luscious 68gsm white Tomoe River with lines, my favorite! However, it doesn’t live up to the dotted light-gray lines in the Hippo Noto. The lines are a bit too dark for my taste. The pages lay flat easily.

The paper is perfect of course. All my fountain pens showed shading and sheen. None of my nibs felt scratchy on the paper. There was no feathering. It took 20 seconds for my fountain pen ink to dry. The best part is that 68gsm TR has much less show through than its 52gsm cousin. I compared the showthrough on the back page of the Goulet Notebook with the back page of a Nanami Cafe Note B6. There’s much more with the thinner paper, which makes it annoying to use. It is easier to use the back once you write on it, but I still prefer 68gsm for its thickness.

Overall, the Goulet Notebook is a good choice if you want inexpensive Tomoe River paper, enjoy slim notebooks, or need inserts for a cover. But if you want a bigger journal, you should look elsewhere. The Goulet Notebook comes in several sizes and with 52 and 68gsm paper. Sadly, Goulet Pens isn’t fulfilling orders because of coronavirus. But when they are back, this notebook is a great choice to add to your cart.

I bought this notebook with my own funds. I was not paid for this review. 

I’m Back from the Baltimore Pen Show!

So I’m back from the Baltimore Pen Show! It’s my third year and the show is only getting better each time. This year I brought my friend who I’ve converted to fountain pen usage. 😀 It was her first convention ever so I hope I did a good job introducing her to this wonderful niche hobby.

I didn’t take too many photos but some of my favorite stops were at Vanness Pens, Schon Design, Nock Co. The pen maker tables were such eye candy! My biggest purchase was a Schon Design Pocket Six. There wasn’t any more of the Pink and Purple colorway, but I bought a beautiful blue swirled one that was only sold at the Baltimore convention!

I also got a photo with Brad from the Pen Addict! He was one of the first pen blogs I read and inspired me to start my own website. So thank you so much Brad!

IMG_8696

Overall, I focused on acquiring new inks and pens. The Pocket Six pen is really cool because it’s tiny but capable! If you screw the cap onto the end, it turns into a much longer pen. It only fits cartridges but that’s a good excuse to buy more. I also bought a TWSBI Eco-T in the mint color! It has a juicy broad nib that is perfect for Vinta Maskara. The Kaweco Perkeo was on the wishlist for a long time and I got it with the medium nib.

IMG_8693

As for colors, I bought Vinta Maskara, Organic Studios Emily Dickinson, Monteverde Cherry Danish, Diamine Velvet Blue, Colorverse Hayabusa Glistening and Franklin-Cristoph Urushi Red. Vinta Maskara is much more legible than Vinta Sirena. Somehow it looks purple with hints of blue and pink! I plan to make a review of it soon. Emily Dickinson is another favorite; it’s a bright magenta.

I bought a Nanami Crossfield with the new smaller crosses. I’ll try and make a comparison with the older version I have. I also bought a Clairefontaine with an Art Deco design, Kyupodo lined notebook, a laser-cut Drama Mama notebook, and a Schon Design x Write Notepads book. I also got a Nock Co.  A5 Lanier Pouch which is perfect for transporting one notebook with a few pens and even a pocket notebook!

I had a great time at the show but it was even more fun showing my friend the fountain pen world and seeing my favorite pen people!