Baron Fig Maker Edition.

The good folks at Baron Fig sent a set of their new Maker edition books to HQ recently, and this is just perfect, since I am staring down the last two dozen pages of my current journal.
I’ve ranted about this paper being Super Graphite Friendly on the Erasable Podcast on more than one occasion. The soft white paper is wonderful on the eyes and fits well with grey writing. While I enjoy the contrast of a very white page, sometimes the soothing paper fits well with the fainter grey of a pencil (vs. a very black pen). The texture is perfect for less-soft pencils. My German HB pencils get more use with this book, and when your humble blogger here grabs a pen first, the paper loves gel pen as much as it loves the Better Angel of graphite.
I find these books to be extremely relaxing. I have a Pandora station called “pencils and flannel” which revolves around mellow music I enjoy while writing in my journal at night. I curl up on my graphite colored couch with headphones and something caffeinated, with an assortment of pencils, and I just write for a spell. I am finishing up the Three-Legged Juggler Confidant that I received for Christmas. The soft paper and tactile cover fit perfectly with a wind-down session at the end of the day, and I imagine these books would be friendly companions for morning pages as well.
The covers are fabric-covered, with the fabric being super tight. The lack of stiff backing in the spine really does allow these books to open fully. Completing the Lap Effect, the backing that is in the covers is extremely stiff. I often sit and write on one of those large clipboards used by Comrades with actual Artistic Talent, and this is unnecessary with a Confidant. The Maker edition is several shades darker than the “regular” Confidant. I don’t own a regular one; so I can’t take a comparison photo. But this is a similarly mellow grew, just more…Pencilicious.

The new Maker Apprentice is darker also, coming in with a nice, warm grey. These put me in mind of a muggy, rainy day. They make me want some strong iced coffee with condensed milk. These little books are handy for toting around, and they have a lot of pages. This makes Charlotte happy, when she forgot to bring something to color in and mooches Daddy’s supplies. I have beaten one of the Lightbulb edition books up pretty badly, and it stayed Healthy and Strong. I enjoy the contrasting stitching.
A lot. The gold bookmark on the Confidant got me when it came out. These are some of the touches that set Baron Fig apart.
Many thanks to Baron Fig for the review samples! Get one of these while the getting is good. These don’t last forever.

Bullet Journal.

The stationery blogosphere is spreading the word of the Bullet Journal. While I go through notebooks too quickly to organize them (and perhaps this would make me a good Bullet Journal Canditate), this system looks like it could do some folks some good.

So, in the interest of doing good, and with much respect, I feel I should correct something that, as a pencil blogger, seems absolutely vital to me:

“For the most part, I use pens because pencils fade. One of the great benefits of Bullet Journaling is that over time you create a library of them. The only time I use pencil is when I’m sketching or adding items to my Monthly Calendar’s event page, because all plans are subject to change.”

Indeed, pencil marks are graphite, which is carbon. Pencil does not fade. Ink fades (most inks). Soft pencil marks that get fondled a lot and graphite marks which fall victim to Nefarious Weilders of Plastic Erasers can lose their marks. But, generally, pencil marks last longer than marks made by some smelly ballpoint, bleedy rollerball, greasy gel pen or pricey fountain pen. Water, dirty hands, UV light and time can damage most inks.*

That is all. That said, is anyone trying this out who might like to share her/his experience?

*(Yes, I know, there are bulletproof inks like some Noodlers and Microns. But those are not most inks. If we include those, let’s include pencils which are not erasable also.)

Review of Daycraft Signature Notebook.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Lee at Daycraft sent us a box of samples. Daycraft is a leading Hong Kong brand of planners and diaries:

Daycraft diaries, notebooks and planners are designed in Hong Kong and manufactured in Dongguan, China by Tai Shing Diary.

Tai Sing Diary was established in 1988 and has over the years won a well-deserved reputation for getting things right. (more)

I was immediately struck by two things, which where somewhat related. First, these notebooks are sort of small. By no means is that a bad thing (and they do make larger books also). Being used to Moleskines, I didn’t expect the scale with the detail that Daycraft books have. What I mean is that these are just really carefully designed and carefully made books! See the photo below showing the size, compared to a Field Notes book, which is very pocket-friendly.  But they have all the symmetry and care we find on larger, much more expensive notebooks.

Cover Material: “Fine Italian PU” — Human-Made, flexible material.
Paper: 100g cream-colored paper with 6.5mm lines in grey ink.
Binding: Sewn.
Size: A6.
Page Count: 120.
Unique Characteristics: Beautiful design and construction; colors end-papers and page edges.
Origin: China.
Availability: For now, mainly Asia.  You can get them online with international shipping here.

The book in question today is the Signature Notebook. These come in two sizes (A5 and A6 — we were sent the smaller size) and have a softly textured cover. It looks and feels like soft leather, but it’s some kind of human-made material. Aside from leather issues (if you have them that is), this means that the softness does not preclude durability, the way that soft leathers often (not always) do. The bookmarks, end-papers and edges of the pages have colors that coordinate with the covers. In our case, we have the brown cover and red-orange accents. The effect is striking, while still being nicely low-key.

The cover is completely flexible.  The binding is sewn, with a satin bookmark. The paper is cream-colored 100g, lined paper, with 6.5mm lines printed in about the same grey as Moleskine lines. The cover is slightly rounded at the corners, but the papers are not rounded at all. Because of the generous over-hang, this is not an issue. The entire book is very light-weight and flexible. At A6 size (a little larger than a small Moleskine), it’s not exactly pocket-sized. But it could fit into a jacket pocket, purse or bag easily. I carry mine in the pocket of my puffy vest with no problems, especially since the book is so light.  Once you get past the first page, the book lies flatly on the desk or table, and the binding feels very very secure.

(Comparing size to a Field Notes Raven's Wing.)

We promised Mr. Lee a pencil-specific review, and this book is a treat for pencil lovers.  The paper looks a lot like the color of Moleskine paper: cream with grey lines.  It’s much more stiff and at least twice as thick, however.  While soft pencils prone to ghosting (Palominos, Faber-Castell 9000 4B, Blackwings, soft General’s Pencil Co., etc.) do ghost, they do not ghost with the intensity that they do on thin paper.  Daycraft’s paper has a texture which is very nice for graphite, having much more tooth than Moleskine paper but slightly less than Field Notes.  It doesn’t wear your point away, but it doesn’t shy away from taking some of that graphite off and keeping it to make marks, either.  Smearability is about average, which accounts for the majority of papers I ever use.  The lines are definitely not dark enough to distract you when you write in graphite (which I’ve noticed can be a problem with some papers lately), and they are nicely-spaced for using wooden pencils.

This is a notebook that surprises you with its price tag, especially considering the design and quality upgrade over Moleskines and some other books. Frankly, this notebook (and the other items they were kind enough to send us which we’ll write more about in the future) puts to bed the stupid supposition (don’t laugh; people claim it all the time) that quality goods cannot be made in China.
While it’s disappointing to see some companies move production overseas (I’m thinking of Dixon and it’s serious American heritage), Asian production does not mean a lack of quality any more than American production necessarily means that something is better made.  There are better made than a lot of American and European notebooks I’ve used and seem more carefully assembled than any Moleskine I’ve bought in the last three or four years.

Unfortunately, Daycraft does not currently have an American distributor, but you can purchase from an Australian dealer that will ship worldwide. It’s worth it.