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

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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. 

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

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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.

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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. 

Hobonichi Weeks Planner Review

I thought that my Quo Vadis Weekly Planner would be enough for school assignments. Then I started missing my other non-school appointments. My Quo Vadis was so crowded with schoolwork and exam dates that I didn’t have much room to write down other obligations. I’m naturally a very disorganized person so as school gets harder, I have trouble juggling all my commitments. I thought about using Google Calendars, but technology distracts me. So I bought a Hobonichi Weeks of course!

Specs:

  • Cream 52gsm Tomoe River paper
  • 3.7″ x 7.4″
  • 240 pages
  • $25, though there are variations that are more expensive
  • Calendar format, yearly overview, monthly pages and weekly pages
  • Extra pages at the back
  • Thread and glue binding

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The Hobonichi Weeks is different from its more famous sibling, Hobonichi A6 Techo. It is taller and narrower, and comes into a horizontal weekly format. It also has cream 52 gsm Tomoe River paper instead of white. It’s also less expensive at $25 compared to $37 for the A6 and $52 for the Hobonichi Cousin.

My Weeks has a red fabric cover. I was supposed by how flimsy the cover felt! It’s not very protective. I already accidentally crumpled the pages inside so I wrapped a rubber band around the outside to keep it shut. The cover does feel nice to touch though! There are two thin bookmarks that are already unwinding. 2020 is embossed on the cover in gray ink. The Weeks doesn’t lay flat sadly. I always have to push the pages down with my hand. It’s very light because of the thin pages inside! It doesn’t weigh down my backpack at all. I really like how slim and light this planner is. It came with an adhesive pocket sticker that I attached to the back.

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The interior has cream 52 gsm Tomoe River paper. I love this paper but it’s somewhat impractical for a planner. I keep on leaving ink stains on the opposite side of the page because it dries so slowly. Fountain pens feel great on the paper. Shading and sheen show up in my pen test. My Zebra Sarasa and Pilot Precise V5 work well on the paper, but the Pentel Energel takes forever to dry. Using Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu ink, it took 20 seconds to dry on the paper! That’s quite a while for a planner I’ll be opening and shutting constantly.

There is a calendar, yearly overview, monthly pages, and weekly pages. There are pages in the back and quotes throughout the pages but they’re in Japanese. A set of memo pages are in the back of the book, which is helpful for making lists or activity tracking. I enjoy the light 3.6mm grid that is used in much of the book. It gives me structure but isn’t too distracting. There is one month per spread, with room on the side and bottom for lists. I’d rather that the calendar was bigger though. The weekly spread has the week on the left side and grid paper on the right side. I’d prefer if the week continued on the right side so there’d be more space. However, I’m using this only for writing down appointments and deadlines so it doesn’t matter as much.

Overall, I like the size and slimness of the Hobonichi Weeks but its format and paper isn’t perfect for me. I’ll keep using it this year then switch to Google Calendar or another planner. But if you like the format and its size, I’d recommend it. The Weeks is unique among the Hobonichi planners because of its horizontal weekly format. There is also an April start planner available. It’s not too late to pick one up at Jetpens!

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

 

Quo Vadis Scholar Weekly Planner Review

I didn’t use planners consistently until college. I always buried the half-used ones my high school gave me in the bottom of my backpack. Then I realized that college was much more complicated and I needed a planner to keep me organized. As a freshman, I visited my college bookstore and found the planner for me! It’s called the Exacompta Scholar Weekly Planner. It goes from August to July so it’s the perfect student planner. There are several other styles available, with vertical weekly pages, daily pages, etc. You can buy them online at classicofficeproducts.com. I’ve been using these planners for three years now, so it’s due for a review. My pictures are from autumn, but the planner looks much more worn now!

Specs:

  • white 90gsm acid-free Clairefontaine paper
  • 6 1/4″ x 9 3/8″
  • 124 pages not including the separate booklet
  • $14.75, $9.45 for refill only
  • 12 months, August to July
  • sewn binding
  • refillable

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The outside of mine has a red vinyl cover. It is removable and Exacompta has other covers offered online. The planner is very slim. It seems like it would be flimsy but the flexible exterior allows it to bend to fit in my backpack. The pages don’t get crushed inside my bag unless I’m careless and pile textbooks on top of it. The cover gets scratches easily but I’m not concerned about how it looks. The planner is taller and thinner than average, closer to B5 than A5 paper size. The pages also lay flat!

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The interior is crisp, white Clairefontaine paper. It’s great for fountain pens and gel pens. Pencil feels too smooth and skate across the surface of the page. My Pentel Energel takes forever to dry. I generally use fountain pens and Papermate Inkjoys on the paper. In my pen test, shading and some sheen appear. White Clairefontaine paper really makes the colors pop! It took ten seconds for Kobe Arima Amber to dry.

The Weekly Planner has pages to write down your daily schedule, a vertical overview of the year, monthly pages, and weekly pages. There is a tiny three year calendar page and a separate booklet for passwords, contacts and scrap paper. I generally use only the monthly and weekly pages. As a student, I appreciate having a weekly format with plenty of room for writing down assignments and upcoming due dates. In comparison, the Hobonichi Techo’s daily format doesn’t work as well for me.

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The week is in a two page spread, with three days and space for notes on the left side, and four days including a shortened Sunday on the right side. Honestly, my weekends aren’t too busy but this should satisfy people who are annoyed by minuscule sections for the weekend. There’s still space near Sunday to write in. There are 11 lines for each day, except for Sunday which has five lines. The lines are made up of light gray dots and are inconspicious. A darker ink lists the date to the side of the lines. This is plenty of room to write my copious assignments in.

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The pages have perforations at the bottom corners so you can tear them out. It’s helpful because you know exactly where you are in the planner and can flip to it.

Overall, if you’re a student or a professor, this planner will be very useful to you! If not, Quo Vadis has many other options for planners with the same luxurious paper.

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

 

Notebook Shopping at CVS

I continued my quest for back to school composition books, but I didn’t see much at my local CVS. There was one CVS brand set of notebooks out. Here’s a quick review:

CVS Brand Composition Book

  • 100 sheets
  • A few dollars?

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The cover is made of a thick cardstock with a purple cosmic pattern. The twee words, “Make Today Magical”, are printed in silver letters. I like the white tape that binds the notebook. The design is pretty terrible. It feels like it was trying to be hip like the Target designs but also as low-budget as possible.

The paper itself is slightly rough. It has light blue lines for once! Ink performs okay. There is no feathering but no shading or sheen either. Ink went down smooth and dried very quickly.

Looking at the back, there is moderate show through but no bleeding. It doesn’t look as bad as the picture!

 

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend. The design is really ugly compared to some of the lovely Target designs and the paper isn’t that good. I want to hit Staples soon and also review some notebooks from my school bookstore! Also look out for an overview of all my fountain pen inks.

Notebook Shopping at Target

I loved back to school shopping as a child! It was the one time where I was allowed to pick out a giant stack of notebooks, pens, pencils and other stationery. I stalked the aisles, grabbing enough supplies to last the whole year and then some. Some of my favorite notebooks had floral designs, T.V. show characters, or glittery covers. There were fun trends too, like the year everyone bought Japanese erasers and bendy rulers! As much as I love fountain pen friendly stationery, the designs are often muted and boring in comparison. So I decided to look for that childhood wonder at my local Target. The mission was to find cute, but fountain pen friendly composition notebooks. Yes, I was inspired by Les from Comfortable Shoes Studio and her reviews of back to school notebooks. 🙂 I tested paper using an EF Blackwing, Sharpie Pen, Papermate Flair and Papermate Inkjoy, along with my currently inked pens.

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My go to used to be Studio C, which always had pretty covers but also had paper that showed off shading and sheen! Unfortunately, they went out of business and don’t show up on shelves anymore. 😦 My stockpile won’t last me forever, so I was looking for a replacement. Here are the specs for one of mine:

Studio C College Ruled Composition Book

  • 100 sheets
  • $3.49

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The one I tested was from the Silver Linings collection. I love the silver tape and motivational quote, “Live Your Dreams” on the front cover. The inside is just as lovely as the inside. The lines are college ruled and a pale blue. The paper skews cooler than the other notebooks I tested. It is wonderful for fountain pens, showing shading and sheen! The notebook is durable. The cover is made of thick cardstock that doesn’t bend easily.

Mead College Ruled Comp Book

  • 70 sheets
  • 99 cents

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The hot pink cover and tape lured me in, despite the ugly page of coupons attached. The plastic cover is sturdy enough despite not being cardstock. It also has a plastic page sandwiched in between the cover and pages which is nice. However, the paper inside was disappointing. It was rough under my pen. In my drying test, the ink was absorbed in under three seconds. The lines are a dark blue and don’t blend in. Nibs were a size larger on this paper. There was no shading, only a flat color. I saw feathering too. There was show through and bleeding too. I don’t recommend this paper! Even my Blackwing felt unpleasant.

Mead Five Star College Ruled Composition Book

  • 100 sheets
  • $2.49

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I was really hoping this could live up to the Studio C, but sadly it doesn’t. It has has 100 sheets but is a lower price. The cover has white tape and a pretty image of swirling paint.  The plastic cover sticks to the front and back pages so I have to pull them apart every time I open the notebook. My writing size stayed close to normal instead of increasing in width. There was also shading. But there was feathering in my larger nibs. My blue inks, like PenBBS #44 and Bungubox June Bride seemed to bleed through to the back more than Kobe Arima Amber. I could still use this with smaller nibs and red colors apparently. Show through is okay except for blue and green inks which bled more!

More than Magic Wide Ruled Composition Book

  • 80 sheets
  • $1.99

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This was the best notebook of all! I only wish it came in college ruled and had more pages. More Than Magic is a Target brand that sells sparkly, holographic, cosmic- themed school supplies. I was attracted to their “stand” instantly, guess I’m still a child at heart. 😀 The notebook has holographic tape and writing that says “Find your light” behind a purple space background. Inside is another quote, “You are amazing”. The lines are wide ruled and not too dark for me. This was the best paper yet! All my pens behaved well, with shading and a bit of sheen. No feathering either. It took longer to dry fully, 15 seconds, but that means ink had time to pool and create shading. There was a negligible amount of show through on the back.

West Emory Composition Book

  • 50 sheets
  • Forgot the price

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I know this wasn’t a real composition book despite being labeled one. But I couldn’t resist the holographic cover. This notebook had light gray lines and space at the top for headings. Sadly, the paper also was absorbant, so ink took only five seconds to dry. My lines increased in width. There was splotching where ink usually pools. Show through wasn’t bad except for the PenBBS #44, which is a very pigmented ink.

Overall, if you’re looking for cute, colorful composition books I’d check out More than Magic, Mead Five Star if you experiment with inks that work, or Studio C if you find any remaining stock!

Ink Review: J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques

Lately, I’ve been searching for more unusual ink colors. My collection is mostly blue, purple and red which gets boring. One of my new favorites is J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques. It comes closer than any other ink in capturing the summery coral color. The ink itself comes in a small 30ml bottle. It’s possible to suck up ink without using a syringe, but I’d recommend one anyways because the bottle is so small.

The color is a lovely pink with orange tones. My photo shows it as more orange than it is! The ink is smooth in my Faber-Castell Ambition with a medium nib. It isn’t watery like other J. Herbin inks sometimes are. In the M nib, the color is dark enough to be legible. It is harder to read in long passages. I wrote a ten page story using this ink and I had some trouble reading my text at first. However, my eyes got used to the light tone. I would use a larger nib with this ink.

Monteverde Coral, a similarly named ink, is much darker and oranger. I really didn’t like it so I don’t have any picture to show. :/ So Corail is the best option for a coral-colored ink! It may be too light for some people’s eyes but I enjoy it overall as a summery ink.

Baron Fig Wander Dream Journal Review

Specs:

  • thick fountain pen friendly paper
  • 5.4″ x 7.7 inches, slightly smaller than A5
  • 192 pages
  • $24
  • numbered pages!
  • long ribbon bookmark!!
  • elastic band!!!

I finally got around to buying Baron Fig’s dream journal at the Baltimore Pen Show! You can tell how much I love BF in this post but this is my first review of their products. There’s just something about the clothbound cover, thick paper, and creativity that goes into each edition that draws me in. Baron Fig is best known for creating the Confidant notebook, but over time they have expanded to softcover Vanguards, pens, pencils and other stationery supplies.

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The Wander Dream Journal is a guided edition, meaning that it has templates printed on the page. BF doesn’t just want you to write your dreams down haphazardly but organize and analyze them. That sets it apart from other journals I’ve seen before.

Appearance:

The journal is a beautiful night sky blue, embossed with silver stars and a crescent moon. I love running my hand across the cloth cover. It is textured and sturdy but prone to staining if you’re not careful. Even better are two important additions: a longer bookmark and an elastic band! These satisfy the few quibbles I had with Baron Fig notebooks in the past.  The bookmark is a sky blue color while the elastic is a gray. I wish this notebook was available as a normal lined or dotted edition. I’d buy a stack of them!

The box itself is amazing too, decorated with beautiful surreal art that mimics a dream scape. BF definitely knows how to design a beautiful package.

 

Paper:

Inside, there is lovely, psychedelic endpaper with a space to put your name. The pages are numbered, which is helpful for reference. There are enough pages to write down 92 dreams! The first spread introduces the various symbols you can check mark to further categorize your dream.

 

  • Emotion: your mood during the dream
  • Sleep Quality: did you sleep well or not?
  • Time: Did the dream take place in past, present or future?
  • Color: Did you dream in color or monochrome?
  • Viewpoint: 1st or 3rd person perspective
  • Type: Is this dream Recurring, Lucid, Mundane, Fantasy or Nightmare?

These symbols made me think more about the significance of my dream and how it happened. This is important when you wake up and rapidly start forgetting a dream! BF did a great job designing these categories.

On the pages themselves are spaces for recalling, drawing and interpreting the dreams. At the top is a space to write the date and day of week. Recalling the dream took up the whole left page, while the right page was split between room for drawing and interpreting. The ruling was lined. I wish that there was more room for interpretations because I’m not a great artist and didn’t use up much of that space.

 

The paper is good for fountain pens and any other writing instruments. However, the paper feels lighter weight and the pages almost curl up on their own. Usually, they are very thick and lay flat. Maybe BF changed their supplier? I will do more research and buy a regular Confidant to test at some point. I used a Pelikan F nib with Bungubox June Bride ink to write down my dream. There was shading, but it does look a bit flat compared to Tomoe River, my paper of choice. To be honest, everything looks dull compared to TR! There was no feathering nor bleed through. There was some show through. Ink dries very fast on the uncoated paper. I didn’t smear any of my text with my left hand, as I usually do.

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Back of paper with some show through

Here’s my dream, if you have the patience to read it! And the showthrough is in the third picture.

 

I’m quite stressed out with midterms so this was probably a nightmare looking back on it. I used to have dreams about zombies breaking into a house I was hiding in (I watched too much Walking Dead as a 12 year old) but now most dreams have me wandering in a labyrinth where I can’t escape, whether it’s in an airport, school, or mall setting??? What do you dream about?

Conclusion:

This is an incredibly cool journal! I keep it by my bedside so I wake up and start writing in it immediately. Baron Fig is coming up with such innovative ideas lately. They also sell a recipe and guided planner book if you’re interested. The Wander Dream Journal is a good motivator to write down your dreams, before they disappear forever.

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

Baltimore Pen Show!

One reason I love living near DC is the surprising abundance of stationery. Not only can I visit great stores like Jenni Bick and Fahrney’s Pens and go to local meetups like the DC Metro Pen Crew, but there are two major pen shows nearby! Those two are the DC Pen Show and the smaller Baltimore Washington Pen Show. I went to BWPS last year and was delighted by the small, cozy atmosphere. This year I went with my parents and college friend Klaudia!

There isn’t the largest selection of inks, pens and notebooks, but it’s much easier to talk to store owners and pen sellers! And that’s why smaller conventions are my favorite. It’s not just about buying every pen in sight, but talking to people from all over the world. The DC Pen Show is great but can be overwhelming. Baltimore doesn’t have the huge crowds and narrow aisles you have to squeeze through.

It’s always amazing talking to my favorite creators, bloggers, sellers and artists! Shout out to Brad Dowdy, who is legit the nicest person ever. His blog, Pen Addict, is the first fountain pen blog I ever read. I also love the Vanness Pens table, Drama Mama Bookshop (the creator, Alisa, is so talented and nice! Check out her laser cut notebooks), Bertram’s Inkwell, DC Metro Pen Crew and the Yafa table. Thank you Niv for being so kind and helping my mom pick out a rollerball pen! 🙂

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I didn’t buy a lot this year which was a good thing! The Taccia inks drew my eye so I bought Momo, a beautiful eye-searing pink, and Ugisu, an olive green. I was so tempted to get the Taccia pen show special but decided against it… As for notebooks, I got the Baron Fig dream journal, a Drama Mama laser-cut journal and a Curnow Bookbinding Tomoe River paper notebook.  Some other items include the Nock Co. Sinclair Case, Pen Addict Fire on Fire ink (Thank you Brad), Monteverde Coral (Also thank you Niv), Monteverde Rose Noir, J. Herbin Rouge Grenat, J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques, some assorted stickers and a pen and ink samples for my friend I’m trying to convert to fountain pens. 🙂

I had a great time today. The fountain pen community is such an amazing community! I love seeing people of all ages and backgrounds united by their love of pens.

Pay It Forward Kickstarter Rewards!

This weekend, I finally received my $20 rewards for backing the Pay it Forward Kickstarter! For those who don’t know, Pay it Forward is a group of fountain pen enthusiasts who want to make the community a more welcoming and inclusive place for newcomers. You can send your unused notebooks, pens and ink samples for them to hand out. Since 2017, they have travelled to many pen shows and offered a table with free pen kits for newcomers to the hobby and children. They also have a table for donated new notebooks! Last DC Pen Show, I dropped off all my extra Field Notes, limited editions and other goodies that were previously sitting in a shelf. It felt very good to give away paper for others to use! For myself, I picked out a little pen bag and found inside an amazing demonstrator Jin Hao pen and sample vial of ink.

I wish this group was around when I first started my obsession in 2016. I figured out what pens and ink and paper I liked through trial and error. The pen community was still a bit intimidating to me at the time so I didn’t participate online. Pay It Forward both recycles stationery and creates a welcoming atmosphere.

PIF created a kickstarter last year to raise more money for tables at pen conventions and to spread the word. I donated $20 for a pack of Story Supply Co x Pay It Forward dot grid notebooks and a bottle of “Heart of Gold” ink, made by Papier Plume.

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The notebooks are a reddish-orange and yellow. On the cover is the PIF logo, three hands holding stationery items. Inside is a place to write your name, date, and location. On the back cover is the mission of PIF. I liked that the cover was not a uniform red, but had yellow undertones. The paper is moderately fountain pen friendly like other SSC notebooks. The dot grid is a bit dark for me, but is much lighter than the Elemental notebook grid.

As for the ink, it’s a dark orange, with some nice shading. It reminds me of a sunset. The flow is nice and wet in my Sailor 1911S Medium nib. Compared to other inks I have, Sailor Apricot is lighter and has a silver sheen. Monteverde Ruby is much redder, like tomato soup.

 

I love PIF’s mission of creating a welcoming community. I’m happy to support their kickstarter and hope to see more PIF tables in the future.

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