I’ve been waffling about getting one of these since last year. I wasn’t sure I would like it, even after seeing some people’s TN setup. I honestly thought it was too expensive for a notebook cover, and I didn’t get all the fuss about it. This year, I finally took the plunge, promising myself that I will keep an open mind as I tried it out.
I forgot to take a photo of the packaging, haha. But I do like the way the starter set was packaged. It’s a reusable, recyclable cardboard case which looks really simple but oddly beautiful. I guess that’s part of the appeal of this TN. It looks deceptively simple but every little thing about it is wonderful.
I prettyfied it a bit by attaching a charm of two leaves on the bookmark. I decided not to put a charm on the band that holds the covers together because I am not sure if it will be intrusive when I lay it flat on the table to write.
The elastic that closes the TN is attached through a hole in the middle of the back flap. You’d think you’d be bothered by the knot that goes in there, but surprisingly, it’s not really noticeable. The elastic that Midori uses for their TN is thin but feels sturdy. I compared it with some of the elastics that I found in bookstores and they’re much better. Those I found in bookstores weren’t rigid enough, and they were too thick.
I like the quality of the leather a lot. It holds its shape and feels firm but supple. It will age really well, I think. Smells wonderful too. 🙂
The placement of the knot where the elastic pokes through, plus the stiffness of the leather, makes sure that the spine of the TN isn’t wrinkled up as it holds the inserts.
Here’s what the bottom looks like. There’s no wrinkling on the leather at all. The leather looks like it will age really well, and take all the abuse and beating of being lugged around everywhere. I know you can fit more than 3 inserts, I watched some TN hacks on YouTube, but I think three is a good enough number for me. The inserts are pretty thick, and I suppose they would get thicker as I fill up the notebook with journal entries and photos. This is chunky enough for me. I’m waiting for the Tomoe River paper insert to be restocked at Pengrafik soon so I can replace the notebooks with the thinner Tomoe River refills. More on that shortly.
The first thing you’ll see when you open my TN is a plastic card carrier, which I used to carry my favorite instax photos around. Six slots for both flaps mean I can carry 12 photos.
The fly leaf of all TN inserts have this box where you can write a summary of what your notebook is about. Or, in my case, I wrote my favorite verse.
The paper itself is good. I think I’m just too used to the Tomoe River paper to enjoy it that much. It shows of the shading and sheen, though the coating sometimes makes it hard for the ink to spread on the paper. I find the pages too thick but then again, I’m used to Tomoe River paper. There’s no bleed through or feathering, though. So that’s great.
I’m pretty disappointed that it doesn’t take watercolor well. The paper just absorbs the water too fast, so I cannot work with wet washes at all. I cannot layer the colors. The paper is only suitable for pen and ink sketches.
A good alternative would be the sketchbook insert, which is made of thicker paper. It’s still too absorbent for wet washes but at least it can hold up to simple watercolor paintings.
It’s a bummer since I can’t integrate watercolor paintings in my journal entries, but it’s nice to have a separate insert just for drawings and paintings. I like that it has perforated sheets, too.
Here’s a stippling of a koi fish that I drew last night. On a side note, I did not know that stippling was so much fun! A closer look at my little fishy…
The paper feels so nice for pen and ink drawings. It does add more chunk to the already chunky setup, though. Still, I like it and I decided I’ll continue to fill it up with pen and ink drawings. I think I’ll wait for the Tomoe River inserts for my watercolor paintings (which I prefer to integrate with my journal entries, anyway).
I also bought a locally-made fauxdori from a local leather artisan. I like it too, because it has a different feel to it. I’ll probably write about that in a separate blog entry and compare it with a Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Overall, I think the Midori TN is worth the price. I’m still learning how to maximize it, but I like my simple setup well enough. The size is comfortable, the leather cover is just gorgeous, and the simple details about it make it such a beautiful notebook cover. I’m happy I tried it out, looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time with it. 🙂