Pocket Notebooks for Ink Geeks

As a keen member of the United Inkdom meta review group, various pocket notebooks have been despatched to the group by our esteemed leader – His Purpleness Scribble Monboddo – to investigate and critique.

I have been sent three – The Pebble Stationery Co Tomoe River 52gsm pocket notebook, the Made for Ink Pocket Junglist Special Edition 100gsm Fedrigoni Milk stock with Fluoro cover pocket notebook and one sent a long while ago, the Choosing Keeping Blue pocket book. But I’m also including the Seawhite A6 140gsm all-media cartridge paper sketchbook.

As all Fountain Pen Ink Geeks know, the inks we cherish are not like other art mediums. They are very particular about paper surfaces and the visual outcomes can vary enormously depending upon the paper used.

pebble tomoe river – ideal for sheen and shimmer inks

The Pebble Stationery Co Tomoe River 52gsm pocket notebook is 80 pages and measures 3.5 x 5.5 inches. It’s sewn stitched with a grey linen 350gsm cover and has rounded corners. It usually comes as a 2 pack. First impression are very good. It looks very smart and beautifully finished! This particular pocketbook came with a dot matrix and I liked it straight off because the dots were printed very lightly!  They are after all supposed to be there as a guide NOT the main feature. For all of you who have bought into monster sheen and shimmers, Tomoe River is without doubt the best surface available and in my opinion, this book is ideal for the job! See images for proof of this.

However! If you want to use this book for illustration and painting, then think again. Because the paper fibre is such a tight knit you will experience severe paper ruckles and very limited chromo effects. And don’t use anything other than a fountain pen nib or brush. A zebra G nib, for example will tear the surface the pieces! Another thing to remember is that 52gsm is incredibly thin and depending on the concentration of ink you apply, there will be show through and the reverse page will be unusable, BUT on the upside – you will be able to drool over the sheening and shimmer effects! And they are the best! At £12 for two you may think this expensive. I’d disagree. It’s a fantastic product!

made for ink junglist – ideal for writing

The Made for Ink Pocket Junglist Special Edition has a 300gsm cover with 52 internal pages of a smooth white 100gsm paper stock. This particular pocketbook is staple stitched and has a dot matrix page layout which for me is too heavily printed. Performance wise – some of the heavier sheening and shimmer inks do bleed through the paper, creating show through. But in general, most inks work well and you will be able to achieve reasonable sheen and shimmer effects. For chromo effects and illustration this pocketbook also works – not brilliant but better than the Pebble. I already use Rhodia dot matrix for handwriting tests and this is very similar. For handwriting and note making this book is ideal with no show through and at £4.65 who’s complaining?

choosing keeping blue – ideal for art journaling

Next up is the Choosing Keeping Blue pocket notebook for which I posted a review some months back. Here’s the link. The cover is a soft leatherette blue with what I think is a 75gsm tight fibre cream paper stock inside. The 64 page hand made book has rounded corners with a red edging and is staple stitched. This has many of the qualities of Tomoe River paper. Good sheening and shimmer effects. NOT as good as Tomoe but certainly not disappointing. For painting and illustration, this isn’t bad either. This comes labelled as an old fashioned looking product and the cream paper does deliver this if that’s what you’re into. For painting and illustration I got some good results. Despite the cream stock, I liked this and for £5 what’s not to like.

Seawhite a6 starter – ideal for fountain pen ink art

Last up is the Seawhite A6 starter sketchbook with a black cover and 40 pages of white 140gsm all media cartridge paper staple stitched together. For sheens and shimmers the cartridge paper will flatten the effects but for chromo effects painting and illustration this book is totally recommended and proven and at £1.05 for a book I think they’re amazing.

So, which one’s the winner? Well actually they’re all winners. As mentioned at the outset, this fabulous niche area of fountain pen ink fascination isn’t a one paper type for all inks. Each pocketbook has it’s advantages and disadvantages so to get the best from ALL of your fountain pen inks you’ll need pocketbooks of various paper types and paper weights and the good news is that there’s a plethora of pocket notebooks on the market for you to try out. That said, do research your pocket notebooks before buying as some are not suitable for fountain pen inks as the papers they use are too absorbent.

For reviews of other notebooks all things stationery, please visit the United Inkdom website for meta reviews and to also find links to my fellow reviewers blogs. There’s a great range of testing and reviews.

AND HEY! If you’re interested to know more about how to use fountain pen inks in more creative ways – whether it’s simply to observe their chromatic behaviours, or, to recreate one of my swatch cards, or, to learn how to use them in watercolour painting, illustration and calligraphy, why not check out my online course ?

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