My Favorite Back to School Supplies

As a student, the stationery I use is essential to me! I like incorporating my favorite hobby into school while having pretty lecture notes. Although some students at my university use laptops, plenty of us still use paper and pens. Actually, writing notes by hand helps students to retain information better. So I wrote up a list of my favorite notebooks, pens, and pencils, among other items, that I use in my daily life.

Some factors that influenced my choices were price and accessibility. A student’s budget is much different than an adult’s when it comes to stationery. You can find notebooks for cheap, but they may not have the best paper. But other fountain pen friendly notebooks, like Tomoe River, are unsuited for taking quick notes. I like to splurge on stationery so my recommendations may be more money than some people are willing to pay for. For current students, check out your college bookstore. They stock Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebooks at mine! Here’s my daily carries:

Quo Vadis Scholar Weekly Planner, $16

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I found this planner at my college bookstore. They have a huge collection of Quo Vadis planners, from A6 size to 6 x 9 inches and with pretty covers. This is my third one, after using one each year! The Scholar has thick, bright white Clairefontaine 90g paper. It comes in a weekly format with plenty of space for each page, which is much more useful to me as a student than a page-a-day planner. Monthly spreads are helpful for writing down exam dates and paper due dates. A review of the Scholar is coming soon!

Kokuyo B5 Soft Ring, $11.75 at JetPens

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I love these notebooks because they have soft plastic rings that don’t bite into my hand as I write (yes I’m a leftie). They have silky, thick ivory paper with light 7mm lines, perfect for fountain pens. The paper doesn’t take too long to dry either. Mine have 80 sheets/160 pages, enough for my copious note taking.

Clairefontaine A4 Spiral Bound, $7 at Goulet Pens

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For Latin class, I need a giant notebook for me to stuff all my notes and tears into. The Clairefontaine A4 does the job. It has enough space for writing down all the declensions and conjugations my heart desires. It’s also super sturdy and lasts the entire semester in my bag. It has 50 sheets/100 pages.

Pilot Metropolitan and Kakuno, Lamy Safari

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The Pilot Metropolitan and Kakuno are often considered the best beginner fountain pens. They’ve been part of my collection since the beginning. I don’t feel too bad about losing them so they are carried around the most. I love their smooth M nibs that show off shading and sheen. The Lamy Safari is light but balanced in my hand. I love its slightly pebbly texture. It has a juicy M nib.

Blackwing pencils

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This is certainly the more expensive choice of pencils, but I have no self control when it comes to limited editions. I love how smooth these pencils are. They put down lovely dark lines. The limited edition pencils are gorgeous. My favorite is the Blackwing 54, which I reviewed here. It has a Surrealism art theme. I use them for Latin and math classes, where I can erase my mistakes easily.

Papermate Flair

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If I don’t use a fountain pen, I use a Papermate Flair. They’re cheap, come in numerous colors, and take only a few seconds to dry. I like color coding notes in Latin with them, or with their cousin, the Papermate Inkjoys.

Nock Co. Holdout, $25 

IMG_0646The Holdout is a sturdy case that can hold three fountain pens. I don’t need to carry my entire collection around (but sometimes I still do lol). I love Nock Co. cases because they are made of flexible canvas instead of leather. I don’t worry about tossing it into my backpack.

Other Supplies:

  • Mini stapler
  • earbuds
  • sticky notes/tabs
  • Blank index cards for Latin and Art History
  • Anker battery charger

Self explanatory. My mini stapler has saved me when a paper is due but there’s no stapler in the vicinity! Earbuds are essential on campus when you’re studying in the library, walking to class, sitting on the grass chilling out, etc. I also carry around flashcards in a plastic case because Latin and Art History classes use up SO MANY of them. Another essential is a battery charger. My phone loses battery so quickly that I carry one around in case. I bought an Anker one on Amazon for around $25.

I hope you enjoyed my daily carry post! It was fun to write.

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.

2019 D.C. Pen Show!

Long time, no see! It’s been several months, but I’m finally back from the dead to blog once more. I always feel sad when I see people’s abandoned blogs floating in the vast internet but now that’s me! It takes SO MUCH work and dedication to keep a blog going, especially when social media is easier and gives instant validation. But blogs and reviews in particular are great for giving more information before purchasing expensive stationery. So, I’m back to my blog to give you quality reviews! Also I finally linked my own domain to the site, so links should redirect to notebookjoy.com instead of notebookjoy.wordpress.com hopefully!

If anybody is interested, the reason I’ve been away is that spring semester of college was really stressful. O_O Turns out I shouldn’t have had a campus job while taking five classes and trying to socialize and find internships. This summer I’m working more than I would prefer but at a much cooler job — at a used bookstore! I feel like I’m in an indie romcom movie sometimes, but with more annoying customers. I’m also learning to drive by myself without being terrified and cooking simple meals in preparation for my apartment next semester. So this summer has been productive even if I haven’t read or written too much. I also went to Portugal and found nice stationery there. Maybe I’ll post a quick review.

I also went to the D.C. Pen show, for my fourth year! Sadly I only went a few hours on Saturday but it was so much fun. I also RSVPed to join my local pen group for dinner! I focused on purchasing “unusual” inks, since I have most colors at this point. Interesting notebooks and leather products were also on my list. But I didn’t expect to come away with a Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 pen with a gorgeous lava resin! Walking by the F-C table, this pen instantly grabbed me. Normally, I ordered expensive pens online after much research, but I gave in and bought it for $180 with a speciality SIG medium nib. It felt good having a job to give me extra money. 🙂

The pictures don’t do it justice! The Pocket 66 glows iridescent under a light source, lit up with swirls of yellow and orange and red. It is the perfect size posted for my small hands. I got it as an eyedropper, my first one. I’ll be very careful with it, so no bringing it to class in case it explodes.

 

I also bought several notebooks, Life Stationery Spiral, Life Stationery Vermillion, Life Stationery Recent Memo, and Kyopodo Notebook, all from Vanness Pens. The Vanness table is always so friendly and has a great selection. I liked the lady at the Sailor USA table too, she helped me pick out a Bungubox to buy, Clown Tears. Sadly, Brad from the Pen Addict wasn’t at the show this year so I didn’t get to say hi. Neither was Anderson Pens. As for inks, I bought Robert Oster Rose Gilt Tint, Bungubox Clown Tears, Kobe Arima Amber, Akkerman Sapgroen, Pilot Iroshizuko Tsutsuji, Krishna Brown Pink, PenBBS 137 Wisteria, Vinta Sirena and Sailor Yodakai. I also got a beautiful three pen leather case from Galen Leather! I love the smell and how supple the brown leather is! I wanted to buy the Galen Writing Box so badly but resisted the temptation.

 

Even better than the show was going out to dinner with the D.C. Metro Pen Crew, my local pen group. We all compared purchases and tried out each others pens. I’ve never felt so included in a hobby before. Everyone understands what I’m talking about for once! Even though I was the youngest there, I had an easy time making friends and talking about our shared passions. My advice for any convention goers is to meet up with people after the con, whether it’s online friends or a local group or people you meet in the hotel bar! Even better than buying stationery are the friends you make along the way.

For my few readers, thanks for still being there! I appreciate it.

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. 

Blackout Pocket Notebooks!

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Decided to use all-black pocket notebooks for the next few months. The first three from the left are for writing down story ideas, while the last two are for random lists and doodles.

Field Notes Lunacy is my favorite FN edition by far. I was lucky to grab a pack right before they sold out everywhere. I love that it has gray paper with reticles and it’s even fountain pen friendly! There are facts about the moon on the inside pages. The set contains a full-moon, half-moon and quarter-moon cutout on the cover.

Field Notes Three Missions is another favorite because of its space mission-themed covers and light gray grid. However, it’s not fountain pen friendly so I use gel pens on the paper.

Story Supply Co. has amazing paper suitable for fountain pens. This edition, Morning, is based on misty autumn days. It has a lovely faded logo that blends in with the misty cover. I want to review this one on the blog soon.

The two on the right are for lists only. I have an Elemental pocket notebook which actually isn’t too bad except for the very dark dot grid. I don’t mind the dots for quick checklists. Then there’s the Field Notes Pitch Black, which I love but know it’s always available so I might as well use my limited edition ones for writing my story ideas.

Stationery Shopping: Jenni Bick Fine Custom Journals DC

I always am on the lookout for new places to buy quality notebooks and pens. D.C. doesn’t have as many stationery stores as NYC, but it does have the homegrown Jenni Bick. I visited it a year ago, and finally had the chance to go again with a friend. The store is located only a few minutes walk from the Dupont Circle metro, if you take the 19th Street exit. There is also a Krispy Kreme nearby, if you hunger for fresh donuts and paper. 🙂

The store is easy to see, with a giant selection of notebooks displayed proudly in the window. Once inside, a rainbow of Leuchtturm1917s greet you, stretching across the wall to your left! Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the 1917, this display makes me smile.

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I couldn’t capture the whole row in my picture!

You’ll find many types of notebooks here, both the usual Moleskines and Paper Blanks, to Japanese brands like Midori or Stalogy, to more obscure companies. The selection has only gotten larger since last year, to my delight. The Leuchtturms take up much of the front. There is a section for Nuuna notebooks, which I had never seen in person before! There is also a clearance table, a Moleskine display, some fountain pens behind clear glass and fountain pen ink from Lamy, Faber-Castell and J. Herbin. Jenni Bick also has a selection of store-made leather journals. They are beautiful but extremely expensive. If you need a memorable scrapbook or journal, this section is for you.

There also is some art supplies in the back! There is a table with notebooks for people to try out and write in. This is a great idea because often I am enthralled by a notebook’s cover but disappointed when the paper ends up being terrible.

The employees are so nice and helpful here! They are knowledgable about every type of paper. Honestly, I’d love to work at Jenni Bick so I could be around stationery all day. I was heading to the Phillips Collection afterwards, so I couldn’t buy anything too big or bulky. So I settled for a blue inkpad, a Stalogy365, a discounted Semikolon notebook and some elastic bands for my Traveller Notebook.

If you’re in Dupont Circle, I recommend stopping by. There are other great stores and museums nearby. Second Story Books is a treasure for anyone who loves used books for cheap!

How to Keep a Diary In These Fraught Times

Lately, the world is feeling more crazy than usual. I doubt I’m the only one that feels this way. But one of the best ways to unwind is to keep a diary!

I have to admit, this is a recent habit of mine. I only started writing in a diary consistently three years ago. There are some failed attempts shoved in the back of my closet, but we don’t talk about those wretched journals. 😉 Here are the supplies you need:

  1. One object in which you can write upon (ex: notebook, stack of printer paper stapled together, the pristine walls of your house)
  2. An instrument to write with (ex: pen, pencil, quill, stick?)

And that’s it! The next step is to write consistently. Your entries don’t have to be daily, but try to set aside a few minutes every week to sit down and write. Use those extra minutes spent browsing on your phone to do something productive instead.

Your diary doesn’t have to be an exact recording of everything you did that day. Unless you really want to???? Instead, here are some other ideas. What’s on your mind today? What are you grateful for? What do you hate? What’s your best vacation memory? Do you have an unpopular opinion? Are there any changes you want to make in your life? I have a great list of writing prompts in this post, if you need more ideas.

A diary is simply a place for you to put down your thoughts, in however form they take shape. I’ve doodled, collaged and pasted newspaper clippings in my diaries. It’s also not a contest of how pretty your pages are. Nobody is going to see it except for you. If you enjoy drawing then go for it! If not, don’t worry.

Diaries are also great therapists. Write something that infuriates or saddens you! Then you have a few options:

  1.  Keep it as is
  2. Tear out the pages, dispose of them however you wish (shred em!!!)
  3. Cover up the pages with pieces of paper and tape
  4. Make the offending pages into art. I remember seeing somewhere on reddit that someone collaged and watercolored over an entry in their diary. Turn a painful memory into something beautiful. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this guide. Happy diary writing!

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Some of my amazing notebooks I use in college

Mini Review: Oasis Notebook

Sorry about not updating! I’ve been busy settling into school and getting used to my course work. Here are my thoughts about a new notebook I found: The Oasis Notebook.

I first discovered the Oasis Notebook when I received it as a gift at the July D.C. Pen Meetup. It was elegant, sturdy and lay flat too! I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find it again. Luckily for me, they were available at the D.C. Pen Show, right next to the Sailor table.

Profolio is a new brand from Japan, made by the famous Itoya stationery company. All of their products feature a hybrid graph ruling, using both grids and lines. They can be used for taking notes, making diagrams or tables, or writing lists. There’s a space at the top to write a date. I bought the regular A5 Oasis in a “stealthy” black and a limited edition A5 with white paper.

The Oasis lays perfectly flat, perfect for long term writing. The paper is a nice cream color. There’s shading but no sheen unfortunately. I didn’t see feathering or bleed through but there is some show through because of the thin paper. It’s very smooth and pleasant to write with. The limited edition is the same except it uses bright white paper. It’s staple bound, so doesn’t lay flat. The cover springs up once I opened it up. I prefer the bright white paper but the ruling does look harsher on it. The lighting is kind of off but I tried my best to show the contrast in paper color.

I enjoy these notebooks and can’t wait to see more from Profolio! They are available online at Amazon and Anderson Pens. The Oasis comes in black, green and red covers. I haven’t seen the limited edition for sale online.

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

Elemental Notebooks Review

For the second time, I’ve been burned by Kickstarter. The first time was with the Hippo Noto’s long wait time and questionable sturdiness. At least the Elemental Notebooks delivered fast. Also, the chemistry-themed design is spectacular, living up to every picture released. It reminds me of another cloth-covered favorite, Baron Fig notebooks. I bought the Nitrogen and Hydrogen, and a set of Unobtanium pocket notebooks. (I forgot Oxygen had the blue cover, this is why I hated Chemistry lol) But the paper is more important than anything else for me, so the Elemental Notebooks were a massive letdown.

Once again, I’m late to the show. Check out Mountain of Ink’s review here. In the next paragraphs, I review the Nitrogen notebook and the Unobtanium add-ons.

Specs:

  • 100 gsm cream dot grid paper
  • A5 size, or 3.5 by 5.5 inches for Unobtanium
  • $20 per notebook, pocket Unobtaniums were add-ons for $12
  • 192 pages
  • two ribbon bookmarks
  • no table of contents or numbered pages

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Appearance:

I was impressed by the Elemental notebooks as soon as I got them. The packaging is gorgeous! The notebooks come in black slipcases that explain the element the notebook is named after. The cover is made of a slightly rough cloth, with no decorations on the front. It reminds me of an old library book, especially with the indent near the spine. The dark green of Nitrogen is beautiful. The endpapers are well thought out. There’s a space in the shape of the periodic table to put your name in. The bottom of the spine is imprinted with gold foil showing the periodic element. It’s a nice touch. The edges of the book are tinted black with tiny colorful stripes meant to emulate the emissions spectrum of Nitrogen.

The Unobtanium notebooks have the element stamped in green foil on the lower right side. It’s made of a soft pleather material. They are the size of Field Notes, but have stitched bindings like Baron Fig Vanguards.

Paper:

But the paper is where it all goes downhill… I opened up my Nitrogen to see large, dark, dots. I hate when the ruling is too dark. It distracts me from my writing and looks generally unpleasant. But then I used my new Sailor Kingdom Note fountain pen to write the header and was instantly disappointed.

Feathering everywhere! No shading, only a flat color. Something I’ve noticed with bad paper is that “splotches” appear, instead of shading. I experienced that here. There was more show through than I’d like, but it’s not terrible. The paper itself was an off-white color, with some tooth to it, like Baron Fig. This paper is really bad. It’s usable with gel pens, ballpoints and pencils, but the dots are still too dark for me. So I don’t know what to use these for? The Unobtanium has the same paper. At least I use those for taking quick notes and the dot grid doesn’t matter as much.

Honestly, I feel misled. The creators of Elemental notebooks specifically said the paper was good for fountain pens. They even posed the Oxygen with a blue TWSBI Eco-T in a promotional picture! They also said the dark dots were part of the prototype and would be lighter in the final production. I wouldn’t have spent $47 on these notebooks if I knew they weren’t fountain pen friendly.

Comparison to Baron Fig:

The Elemental Notebook just begs comparison with the Baron Fig! I’m a huge fan of the BF Confidant, so this newcomer had a lot to live up to. I’d say BF won, for pure stylishness and usable paper. My Nitrogen is a typical A5 size, while the Confidant is more compact. The ribbons on Nitrogen are longer, and there’s two of them. See how they lay flat and are easy to pull on? That’s what BF needs. The stubby bookmark isn’t enough for me.

The Nitrogen is more like a library book, complete with the crease near the spine and rough linen cover. The Confidant is like a luxury product, with softer covers and a modern style.

The Confidant wins the paper battle, by far. First of all, its dot grid is large but a soft gray. The Nitrogen has the problem of both dark and large dots, which makes writing very distracting.

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Comparing the dot grid on the Confidant, on top, with the bottom Elemental notebook

The Confidant doesn’t have the luxurious Tomoe River feeling, but I actually like the slight tooth while using my fountain pens. Nib sizes tend to spread a bit, but don’t feather. The colors are vibrant and accurate. Honestly, I’ve only used the limited edition Confidants, and other reviews have made me question the paper quality. I want to do my own test on the regular Confidant. But the Nitrogen feathers and spreads everywhere. Instead of shading, I get weird splotchiness.

Overall, if you want a cloth-cover A5 notebook with dot grid, get the Baron Fig. It’s cheaper at $18 and has better paper.

Conclusion:

I think I’ve learned my lesson about not funding kickstarters. Both times, I’ve been disappointed. The nature of a kickstarter is itself fickle. It’s easy to run out of money, find problems in production, or deliver months late. I don’t blame the creators for running into problems, but I’m done accepting them. From now on, I’m ordering notebooks that are in regular production.

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