‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Prolog

Just before Easter, I received a small cool looking box full of goodies, kindly sent by Stewart from Pocket Notebooks which is a small British company who makes a great deal about portable good quality notebooks. The mission they have to bring back the power of hand written notes is very important and very close to my heart. The Pocket Notebooks slogan is:  Forget the App, there’s a Pocket Notebook for that … and I can’t agree more. This is actually why I am here dealing with inks and pens. This is why I returned to use fountain pens, which quickly became my passion three, or four years ago. I was using my tablet, phone and notebook as much, that one day I have realised  that I am missing something very important to me which I used to like a lot – a handwriting.

For heavy testing  purposes (which I did ! )  Stewart sent me a bunch of different notebooks he has in his store, made by different people and companies. Some of them are ‘big’ and ‘very small’ and here ‘small’ not necessarily means bad. Some of these notebooks are really good but also some are not that cool as they meant to be. But that is life, and I really appreciate the fact that I can compare them together side by side.

So, what I got? Well, I got seven notebooks total and I think they cover quite nicely a wide spectrum of different paper types, built and quality, which for me and as end user is one of the most important things. I got three Fieldnote size notebooks: ClaireFontaine Retro Nova, Story Supply  Co and Inky Fingers, then I got two completely different ones from Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork which have interesting size in between Fielnote and Midori passport. The last one is a fairly small but handy pocket notebook from Silvine. I will split this post into parts (likely 4) where I present some tests I did and what I honestly think about them.

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DIY Field Notes size traveler’s notebook leather cover (mahogany-red)

My interest in inks and fountain pens and everything about them I do is very closely related to another passion I have which are all sorts of notebooks, sketchbooks and travel journals. Few years ago I have purchased my first traveler’s notebook (or rather leather cover) from well know and recently very popular Japanese’s company – Midori. To many people Midori is a ‘cult’ and almost a life style. It sounds crazy but I understand it perfectly, even if I am more pragmatic person. Initially I got a standard size brown cover and I loved everything about it. The way how leather feels in my hand, the handiness and the cool Indiana Jones like look. Quickly, I ordered another one, camel in passport size which I transformed into my wallet (I love it and still using it after 3 years)  and another  standard size  but in black. However there are two major issues with Midori I had. First is economic – genuine Midori leather covers are expensive. The quality is is great, but still you have to spend quite a bit to get one. The second problem I had was its uncommon size which binds you to Midori products (some people are fine with it). There are plenty of DIY inserts out there or templates available so you can print them out, which make it is relatively easy to customize your notebooks – fine. However, if you like to have particular size sketchbook  or actually few of them in one place to carry arouns and if you like to have them looking like Midori, then you have to find someone who could do one for you or do it yourself. And here is the thing, DIY leather notebook covers (so called –fauxdori) are relatively easy and fun to do yourself. The only thing you need is leather (already dyed or not), dye, sealant and bunch of elastic cords. I’ve done few in different sizes over last 1-2 years and I using them for different purposes (business diary/calendar, sketchbooks, wallet, pocket notebooks, etc) everyday.

Because over Easter I was working on one as a birthday gift to my relative, I thought I will share with you what I got. Here it is. The 3mm thick veg tanned cow hide leather cover in dark red and mahogany to fit up to 4-5 Filed Notes size notebooks in.  The leather is slightly distressed to  get rougher (with better grip) but less rigid and having more rustic look cover.