Moleskine Watercolour Album (First Impressions)


I must admit that I’ve never been particularly impressed with Moleskine notebooks before. They’re not very fountain pen-friendly and they’re quite expensive. Since I’ve been trying out different watercolor journals that I can take around with me in my bag when I go out, I thought I’d give their watercolor notebooks a try. Maybe they will be suitable for urban sketching. I bought the smallest size first so I can try it out before committing to a bigger sized journal.

I was pleasantly surprised with it. The size is 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches, it has 30 leaves (60 pages) of 200 gsm, acid-free, cold-pressed paper that have 25% cotton content. I’ve only used 100% cotton paper and I love them a lot, but I wanted to try something smaller and with thinner paper.

Since it’s not 100% cotton, I expected it to buckle a lot after several washes, but it actually held up pretty well with a few light washes. You can add several layers without the paper warping. I do mostly ink and wash drawings, so I think the paper holds up pretty well because I don’t do a lot of super wet washes.

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I like that the blank ink of my drawing pen pops on the paper. It seems to be very picky about fountain pen inks. Some bleed horribly while some don’t, but pigment ink work very beautifully with it.

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It’s easy on my brushes too, since the paper doesn’t fight it too much. On the flip side, the paper absorbs the water pretty quickly so I have to work very fast if I want to do some basic blending. I need to be careful with blending washes on paper, though because it doesn’t seem like it will take a lot of abuse like 100% cotton paper does.

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I like the subtle texture of the paper too. It adds some character to the paintings.

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I picked this size because I thought I’d just test the paper out, but turns out I like this pocket-sized notebook a lot. It’s just big enough to accommodate some simple sketches, but it’s great for practicing layers and drawings.

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I like that the binding allows the little book to lay flat easily, and the hard cover also makes it easy to hold up when sketching without a hard surface. I think it’s great for urban sketching.

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I’ve tried other journals that have about the same cotton content and I’m so disappointed that the paper somehow makes the colors of the painting look dull. This one stays true to what it’s supposed to look like. It looks so vibrant, especially in person. It’s hard to capture the colors in photos at home (it’s a bit too dark in my study), but the colors really pop on the page.

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So far, the ink that works best with this paper (aside from the pigmented drawing inks) is J. Herbin Perle Noire, in case you want to use fountain pens in your drawings. I don’t have waterproof Noodlers inks yet, so I wasn’t able to test them. Iroshizuku inks don’t fare too well. They spider out and feather like crazy.

It’s also pretty nice that the paper doesn’t show a lot of warping, as you can see below.

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Overall, me likey. It fits my preferred style, at least. If you’re fond of using a lot of wet washes, I’m not sure that the paper can hold up well to it. But for urban sketching and some light washes and layering, it works well enough. I think I can commit to a larger notebook now.

Review: Rhodia Pads


Completing the roundup of my review on Rhodia products from Everything Calligraphy are Rhodia bloc pads in different sizes and colors. These are actually pretty nice. It’s a challenge to find fountain pen friendly pads because many will bleed through and feather in an awful way. A lot of pad papers I’ve used are only ballpoint pen friendly. A few do hold up well with fountain pens and rollerballs, but the texture isn’t as pleasurable to write on.

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Rhodia is a bit expensive. Relatively more expensive than most pads you’ll see in bookstores or school supply stores. The quality of the paper is a lot different, though. Probably the only locally available “rival” in quality is the Elias notepads. Once you use one of these, you’ll understand why they’re pricier.

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I tried out both the color and the classic pads. I’m leaning more towards the color pads because I like the texture of the paper better. I also like the color of the pages, they’re cream-colored and it really makes the fountain pen inks I tried on it look a lot lovelier. The photo below shows the difference in the color of the paper.

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Below is a photo of the page of writing samples. As expected, the paper held up very well with fountain pens, brush pens, and parallel pens. The 3.8mm parallel pen did have a bit of bleed through. Not too bad, but it’s noticeable since the ink I used was the default black cartridge, which is highly saturated.

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I think the paper is different from the Webnotebooks, but the writing experience is close to the Rhodia color pads. I love the texture of the paper. It’s different from the classic pads (which tends to be too smooth for some of my fine-nibbed, dry-writing pens). Rhodia’s color pads are 90 gsm and the classic pads are 80 gsm, both handle ink pretty well, but I personally like the color, quality and texture of the paper used in the color pads.

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I noticed the white pads are more resilient to calligraphy pens, though. I’m not sure why, it could be just the pens that I have (I don’t really have that many to test it with).

Here are a few closeups of the writing samples for the color pads:

Here’s a close up of the writing samples for the classic pads.

I love that these pads can really show off the shading, sheen and shimmer of the inks and the unique character of each ink and pen combination. Such is the pleasure of using good paper. I also like that the binding makes it easy to fold the cover. It’s very durable and doesn’t break apart when you’ve been using up the pages and not tearing them off. I used up my last large Rhodia pad without hardly tearing a page off, and the binding held up really well. If you do need to tear off the pages, the mini perforations make it easier to do just that without compromising the binding.

Overall, these are good quality pads, no surprises there. 🙂

Rhodia pads and other paper products are available at Everything Calligraphy.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A PAID POST, I DON’T DO PAID REVIEWS.

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Review: Rhodia Classic Stapled Notebooks


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Here’s another Rhodia paper product that I’ve only tried recently. It’s the Rhodia Classic Stapled Notebooks. It’s a lot more affordable than the web notebooks (P199 per piece) and only comes in lined and graph.

The cover looks pretty simple. Just the basic soft cover in orange, black, and white. It looks like something I would have loved to use for class notes.

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As the name implied, the notebook is staple-bound, which is why it’s more affordable than the other kinds of notebooks. While it’s pretty useful for basic writing, note-taking and other casual writing, it does have some drawbacks. The cover is pretty thin, and it’s a lot harder to lay flat unless you weigh the cover down.

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It doesn’t have the premium feel of the web notebooks, but course this was not designed to be the luxurious leather-bound journal, it’s the affordable, rough and tumble cousin that you can take anywhere. It’s light, it’s no-frills, and the paper (while different in texture and quality) is still quite good.

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The paper is 80 gsm, with lines that are a bit purplish-blue, reminiscent of the notebooks I used back in my school days. The lines were noticeably farther apart than the webnotebooks.

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Personally, I prefer the width of the space between the lines of the webnotebook, and the light grey colored lines. Here are a few

The paper is not as smooth as the webnotebooks, but it’s still very fountain pen friendly. Doesn’t show off sheen or shimmer too well, but shows off shading just fine. It also holds up well to parallel pens and brush pens. It doesn’t feather or bleed through, and the show through is very minimal. Pretty good for an affordable Rhodia notebook. If you need a good fountain pen friendly notebook for casual writing and note taking, this is a great choice.

Rhodia Classic Stapled Notebooks are available at Everything Calligraphy.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid post, I don’t do paid reviews.

Review: Rhodia/Rhodiarama Webnotebooks


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The first Rhodia product I ever tried was their winter white notepads. I thought it was pretty elegant, and the paper was excellent. I’ve been curious about their notebooks ever since, but they’re always out of stock (at least it always is here in the South). Good thing Everything Calligraphy now offers these notebooks. So are these really as nice as people say they are?

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In a word, yes. These are very good, premium notebooks. They’re relatively expensive, but I believe it has a good reason for being pricey. I tried out the plain Rhodia Webnotebooks (photo above) and the more colorful Rhodiarama Webnotebooks, and there’s just so much to like about them.

The first thing you’ll notice is how beautiful these notebooks are. They’re very different from handmade leather notebooks, of which no two creations are the same. These look like they’re churned out of machines to make them look precisely the same, and there’s a beauty to that too, as much as there’s something beautiful about unique, handmade journals. I love the stamped Rhodia logo, and the quality of the cover is pretty excellent. I like the brushed steel look of the journal on the right, but the classic black journal really hits the spot. It has a soft, velvety feel, almost like high quality silicon. It’s very classy, very well put-together.

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The more colorful Rhodiarama Webnotebooks are made of the same material and they’re also ridiculously perfect-looking.

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I have a soft spot for happy colors, and I find the colors of Rhodiarama to be quite eyecatching. When you open up the notebooks, it’s even prettier.

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A nice splash of happy colors! Also, psychedelic zebra. ^_^

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All Webnotebooks have a pouch at the back for little slips of paper and whatnot. Pretty useful, though I personally don’t really use the interior pockets of any journal so it doesn’t add to the bulk when I close it.

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The spine is neatly bound. Again, ridiculously perfect-looking. I find the bookmark a bit on the short side, I wish they made it just a little longer.

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The notebook also lays flat quite easily. The smaller Webnotebooks don’t lay flat as easily, but that’re pretty much expected because of the size. These bigger notebooks are easier to write on because it takes little effort to make them lie flat as you write.

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Aside from the aesthetics of these notebooks, the important thing is how they hold up to writing tests.

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The paper they used in Webnotebooks doesn’t seem to be the same with the ones they used with the notepad. These have a different look and feel to it. According to the specifications of the notebooks, it has 96 sheets (192 pages) of ivory-colored brushed vellum paper at 90gsm. It’s thinner than how I remember the pad paper that I tried before. First impression was that the paper did not feel heavy or too thick.

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The grey-colored dots of the dot grid notebook aren’t too intrusive to writing or drawing. The lined pages look pretty nice too.

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I like that the space between lines isn’t too wide, and that the lines are light grey in color. Not too obvious, just right for a nice-looking journal. Writing on the paper gives some sort of feedback. It’s not glossy or smooth, you feel the texture of the paper as you’re writing. I find it pleasant. Here are a few close ups of the writing sample:

Even if it’s textured, it shows off sheen and shading. It doesn’t feather and has no bleed through and minimal show through at the back. It seems the paper is most pleasant to use with wet writers and wider nibs. Brush pens can feel a bit rough on the paper. It absorbs ink a bit too fast, making it feel like there’s some drag as you write.

Overall, pretty good! Expensive, but good quality notebook. I would recommend it for journal writing, things that you really want to keep over a long period of time. Not exactly suitable for watercolor and whatnot, but really great for regular writing, especially if used with fountain pens.

Rhodia and Rhodiarama Webnotebooks are available at Everything Calligraphy.

Disclaimer: As I mentioned before, I am not affiliated with Everything Calligraphy. This is NOT a paid blog post and I DON’T do paid reviews.

Review: Contrail Street Journal


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I saw these cute little journals on my way to a mini pen meet last Sunday at Glorietta, when I dropped by Powerbooks at Greenbelt. They’re kinda hard to miss because the covers are just so pretty! I wasn’t familiar with the brand, so discreetly printed at the back of the cover, but the paper seemed nice so I bought three. A quick search on Google showed that Contrail is made by Itoya, a Japanese stationery company. I’ve had such good experience with Japanese stationery that I was pretty sure I’d like this one too, and I was right.

I just love the design of their covers. Really. I love the colors that they used, and the patterns. These are very tastefully designed covers. I also like that the binding is neatly stitched with white thread. It looks very cleanly done.

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I’m not sure what you call these lines. They’re grids but rectangular instead of square, and they spacing is pretty tight. I imagine it could be designed specifically for Japanese characters? I’m not sure. I’m not too crazy about the guide lines, but they don’t bother me much. I like that the lines are light brown, you can just ignore them completely when you write.

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The paper is pretty good. It’s not smooth, it definitely has texture to it, but there’s very little feathering using my fine to broad nib. Some feathering can be noticeable with my 1.5 mm stub, though. Here are a few close ups:

The texture is beautiful. It’s not going to show off sheen, but it will show off some shading. It’s hard to explain why but sometimes I miss enjoying texture on paper because oftentimes when the paper has some texture to it, fountain pens bleed all over the place. It’s pretty rare to find paper that allows you to enjoy texture while you write without excessive bleeding and feathering.

The paper handles brush pens very well. It distributes the ink smoothly, and allows the pen to glide on the paper without difficulties.

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There’s a bit of ghosting at the back, though I would not consider it bothersome. There’s also a bit of bleedthrough where I wrote with my 1.5mm nib. It could be because I used a very wet ink (J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor). It’s not so bad either, in my opinion.

The size is about 3.25 x 5.75 inches. It’s pretty small and can comfortably fit in your backpocket or your bag. I heard they’re also available in National Bookstore, at P149 per piece. These are great for everyday writing and small brush calligraphy projects. I’m so happy we have Itoya here in the Philippines now. What a great time to be a stationery fan!

Comparison: Elias and Tomoe River Loose Sheets


EverythingCalligraphy sent over a few loose sheets of Elias and Tomoe River Papers for me to compare. These two are my favorite types of paper, and I was really happy to compare them side by side. I must admit it’s quite difficult to do that, though, because they’re quite different. To the uninitiated, paper is paper is paper. To the true pen and paper fans, it doesn’t matter if you have the best writing implement in the world. If you write on poor quality paper, it just grates on the nerves. Writing on good paper is such a pleasurable, tactile experience that I enjoy so thoroughly that it takes me a long time to pick a notebook, and only a few make it to my “staples”. These two are at the top rung.

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I tested the paper samples with different pens and inks. Here are a few close up shots of the writing samples.

For Elias’ 90gsm loose sheets

Elias paper is so easy to like. It’s smooth and creamy and makes your pen’s nib just glide on the paper. Even scratchy nibs feel smoother on it, and I’ve yet to see a pen and ink combo that will make it bleed through or feather. Here are some writing samples below.

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Review: Elias Traveler’s Notebook Insert


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I think many people have been waiting for Elias to come out with these inserts for a while. I’m so happy that they finally made these. Traveler’s notebook inserts aren’t very easy to come by in bookstores. They’re not always readily available, so it’s always good to find online stores that sell them. I bought a set of three inserts from Everything Calligraphy last week, and I couldn’t be happier.

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Here’s to give you an idea how thick the insert is. These are 40 pages of 90gsm, acid-free, ivory-colored, fountain pen-friendly paper. I suggest you buy the pack of 3, since it’s a little bit cheaper. I like the cover of the inserts. It’s easy to slip into a traveler’s notebook because the cover is sufficiently thick. I also like the color which is a very dark blue. I wish they would offer options, though, like craft or white. I like that the cover is plain and there’s a simple “ELIAS” logo at the back. Plain covers can be decorated with stickers, stamps, and other stuff.

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Note to self…buy white chalk-based stamp pads. ^_^

The paper and cover are stapled together. It’s nice enough for daily use. As usual, the paper is excellent. I can’t quite describe how pleasurable writing on it is, except to say that it’s creamy. It makes your nibs feel smoother.

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The word “February” was written with a brush pen, and it works great with those too. It’s smooth and shows off the gradients with the strokes. It works fabulously with fountain pen inks, and I’m glad that one can enjoy the same paper quality as with those in their bigger journals.

Here are a few writing samples below.

It also takes my Pilot Parallel pen without issues. The paper stays smooth even when I scrape at it with some very fast writing, like what I did below. There’s no feathering or bleed through either.

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Here is an example of Pilot Parallel pen over watercolor. It’s pretty neat. 🙂

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Overall, I love the quality of the paper and I think the price is really good. I’m glad we journal junkies have more options now, especially for the regular TN size.

Elias travelers notebook inserts are now available at Everything Calligraphy.