Continuing my little journey with pocket notebooks I kindly received for testing from Pocket Notebooks (UK) I got hands finally on Dark Star notebook made by UK based company (in Wales) who creates hand made notebooks.
Dark Star offers few different designs. Pocket notebook I received is called Nomad. They are available as set of three and cost in the UK £ 8.0.
Dark Star Collections – Nomad contains 56 pages of 10o gsm, white dot-grid paper with classic light brown Kraft cover. I quite like idea of Kraft cover and nicely contrasting simplistic black 5-fold star logo looks very attractive. Simple designs works well in general especially in terms of logo designs and typography. Easy to memorise brand.
For some reasons Dark Star came up unusual size for this notebook – 14cm x 10 cm which is slightly shorter than A6 format and also slightly wider than popular Fieldnotes size type of pocket notebooks. It may works fine as a stand alone notebook, however if you wish to stick Dark Star Notebook into one of your favorite leather covers as an insert, then you have a problem. Of course if you can always stack together 3-4 Dark Star notebooks and mage cover only for this specific size. Giving this I actually think that notebook which is slightly wider tank Fieldnotes is not to bad idea.
All pages are stapled together and corners are rounded in a consistent way. Again, sewed pages will possibly add more character, especially if you wish to use this notebook standalone.
The 100 gsm paper has ‘dot-grid’ pattern, which in fact is a small light blue cross instead. Grid position is consistent across entire notebook, which is good.
So far so good, but let’s see how it performed with fountain pens and inks.
When I picked Dark Star notebook I was very pleasantly surprised how the paper feels. It is smooth and feels well in hands. Writing experience as such is pleasant as expected, however paper Dark Star uses causes some issues with fountain pens which I found a bit unfortunate. The first problem I found is that different combinations of fountain pens and inks give quite different experiences. Some inks are perfectly fine, whereas other can bleed through and feather…some severely.
First set is Sailor Jentle Souten, Oku-Yama and Diamine Safari. These inks used with fine or medium nibs performs decent. There is no issues with bleeding or feathering at all. There is not much show through either. Colours look saturated, but if you are expecting to see on this paper any sheen this paper may not be for you. The reason is that, 100 gsm paper Dark Star uses is absorbing inks to some extent.
Robert Oster inks give tiny amount of feathering and some degree of bleeding through especially with more wet pens. There is also no characteristic for RO of Fire and Ice red sheen and colour look rather flat (or ‘absorbed’) comparing to the results I got with TomoeRiver or paper made by Silvine.
Dark Star paper definitely give the worse results with wet inks and pens. The same ink may be all right with finer nib but feather when more ink is laid on the paper.
I also did an ‘Ultimate Baystate Blue’ test and as expected results were not great. Giving that only some types of paper pass this test with decent score.
I tried it also with a standard graphite pencils and writing was very pleasant.
Dark Star Collection Nomad gave me mixed feelings. I really like the understated ‘rustic’ way it looks. The built quality is good. Pages are stapled but feel secured. The main problem I have is paper. It is lovely smooth and basically works fine with number of popular inks, but this is true only if you are using standard M/F nibs. Once your nib gush more ink, problems with feathering and bleeding occur. Personally, I found it a little unfortunate, especially seeing many other very positive reviews Dark Star notebooks have received. I would be very interested to test those from 2016 and compare with the new set.
I think Dark Star is a nice looking pocket notebook with unusual size. I love how it looks. Simple and noticeable. I would definitely recommend it for ‘standard’ writing for all writers who use ball pens are graphite pencils mainly but with reservations for the fountain pen users. I my opinion Dark Star Collection – Nomad is not for those who like wet fountain pens and those who expect their inks to show ‘all glory’ they may exhibit. However, if you find (which is not difficult) ‘ink-pen’ combo which works and you need this notebook simply for taking notes, then you should be happy. Notebooks are for taking notes. Are they?…or maybe something else? This is what you need to consider.
- interesting and simplistic look
- well built
- smooth 100 gsm paper
- works well with pens and pencils but with some reservations for fountain pens and inks
- it may occasionally bleed through and feather (sometimes badly)
- could be better with fountain pens and inks
(*) Disclaimer/ I have no affiliation with the all brands and companies mentioned above and this short review reflects only my personal views and findings about the product.