I won my Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketch Book last year from Life Imitates Doodles along with a tin of watercolor postcards, a pack of Zebra fountain pens and a very cute cat-shaped zipper pouch. I dabbled in the sketch book a bit but, as I was finishing up another book and working on other projects, I really didn’t get going with this one until recently. In these pandemical times, I was looking for some inspiration and joined an online project called Sketchbook Revival. This gave me a great opportunity to try a variety of styles and media in my sketch book.
First a bit about the sketch book itself. The Nostalgie is solidly made but is bound fairly tightly so it doesn’t lay open completely flat. I use a binder clip or rubber band when I want to hold it open. It has a nice grey cloth hard cover with a subtle rooster debossed on back so you can tell which way round is the front. It comes in three sizes. I have the A6 (105 x 148 mm or 4.1 x 5.8 in) in the landscape orientation which is a relatively small sketch book for me. In fact, at first, I thought it was a bit too small but once I started working in it, I found I liked this size. It’s easy to fill a page so it was a very doable choice for developing a daily practice. It would also be good for travelling. I’ll go through some of the ways I used it.
Pen and pencil
The paper is fairly thick and smooth making it perfect for pencils (regular and coloured), pens, and markers. Pencil lines erase really well and as for pens and markers, there was no bleed through or feathering, even with Sharpies. It’s perfect for zentangling and any other kind of drawing.
Again, the smooth, heavy paper held up well. I did the little portrait by following along with a Canadian artist Melanie River on Sketchbook Revival. The exercise was to draw a face using a permanent pen with your non-dominant hand and then use your fingers to apply the paint (two colours plus white). I never thought I could do this at all so I was quite happy with the result.
The sturdy paper in this book was a good choice for mixed media collage but I don’t think that you could do a lot of it in the book because of the tightness of the binding. There just isn’t a lot of room for extra layers.
This is not a watercolour sketch book so if that is your main media, is would not be the best choice as it’s not designed for it. In spite of that though, I didn’t have a lot of problems using watercolour in this sketch book. It buckled somewhat after it dried but didn’t really curl when I was working with watercolours. I painted a quick floral design with Juliet Meeks and, as a test, I painted the same picture demonstrated by Chiara Mazzetti in both the Nostalgie and on a Hahnemühle watercolor postcard. You can see a difference but I don’t actually think the one in the sketch book is worse. However, it may not have held up as well with wetter paintings.
Overall, I am pleased with the Nostalgie but it is called a sketch book for good reason; using it with pen and pencil is where it excels. That being said, it doesn’t bother me that the pages have buckled a bit when using wetter media. I think unused art supplies are sad so it pleases me to see I’m filling it up. One feature I would like is an elastic closure to keep it together. This would be more useful than the little red bookmark that is attached to the spine.
If this sketch book was a person they would be versatile, go-getter. They like to get around and try new things.