Quo Vadis Habana Pocket Notebook

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During the summer, I won a Quo Vadis Habana Pocket notebook from Exaclair, the American distributer for some great French stationery supplies including some of my favourite papers like Rhodia, Clairefontaine, G. Lalo, and Quo Vadis.

A Quo Vadis blogger noted that this notebook had been mentioned a mystery novel, So Close the Hand of Death by J.T. Ellison. While product placement is common in movies, it seems it happens more and more in novels too. I listened to the audiobook of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes while travelling this summer and a Moleskin notebook showed up in it. I am not sure what I think of this trend. In one way it adds realism to the characters and setting, but it also seems like another way advertising is creeping into every area of our lives when we can’t even avoid brand names in books.

To get back to this particular notebook, it is a fairly small (4 x 6.38 inches or 10.16 x 16.21 cm), ruled notebook with a black “leather-like” cover, an elastic band closure, and a built-in ribbon bookmark. Although the notebook is made in the USA, the paper is French. I reviewed this creamy lined paper before in my blog post on Rhodia and Habana paper samples. The size of this notebook is not one I would normally choose for myself as it is a bit small for a journal but a bit fancy for just jotting down notes. It would fit well into a pocket or bag though and I like the expandable pocket in the back cover.

20171005_172038 At 162 grams it is lightweight too.

20171005_172250 Note the nicely rounded corners.

If this notebook were a person, it would be slim and elegant, taking note of others while revealing very little about themselves. You would always wonder, is this person just discreet or are they involved in espionage?

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Visual Journals

As I have written about before, I keep a daily journal. I have also experimented with visual or art journaling. I say experimented because I have tried a couple of different forms. One is to include doodles and ephemera to my regular daily journal. I like doing this, especially on trips, but I do find that you need a loosely bound journal in order to accommodate a lot of additional stuff being glued or taped in. My other type is more like an art journal. I have a sketchbook where I like to do creative play like drawing, painting, and collage. I save one page each month to somehow illustrate and record the noteworthy things that happened in that month. This is a fun exercise in reflection that I probably wouldn’t otherwise do and I find it is a quicker way to look up when something happened than flipping through all of my unindexed journals. I don’t usually share these pages with anyone but here are a few from the past to give you an idea of what I mean.

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I enjoy looking at blogs for inspiration but sometimes it is nice to just flip through a real book. I recently discovered Jen Morris’ blog and found that she was combining two of my favourite things, a discussion about journaling and a giveaway! She reviewed an intriguing book by Helen Lehndorf called Write to the Centre. Because it is published in New Zealand, the shipping rates are a bit high for Canada but she is providing an opportunity to win a copy through her blog. http://www.jenmorriscreative.com/writetothecentregiveaway/

If a visual journal was a person, I am pretty sure it would be a woman. She values creativity and knows it is not just best for herself, but everyone around her, if she makes time to nurture that aspect of herself.

Canson Universal Sketch Paper

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I feel like have been neglecting the paper part of Margret Puts Pen to Paper so I thought I would work my way through a sample book of Canson paper I was given at a product demonstration at the Paint Spot way back in 2014. Canson is an old French paper company that goes back to 1557. On their company website, you can see how the history of paper-making is closely linked to larger technological innovations as well as political upheavals.

It’s an odd book with art papers interspersed with product information so I was unsure just how I would use it but I think just using it as it was intended, to try out papers, is probably best.

The first paper featured is called Universal Sketch. It is the thinnest paper in the book, but still had a nice feel and no bleed through to the reverse side with the fountain pen, Staedtler pigment liner, or brush pen, and only slightly with the Sharpie. The paper has a fine texture so even though it is a pure white, there is no glare. I tried two different pencils and although the very dark 8B pencil did not erase completely, I can barely see where I erased the 4B pencil.

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While this paper is meant for sketching, hence the name, I think the 5½ by 8½ size would make an excellent journal as the paper is fairly lightweight but was very nice to write on with the fountain pen. The paper is acid-free if you want your journals to last for posterity.

If the Universal Sketch Paper was a person it would be unassuming and hardworking. You could always trust this discreet person.

InkJoy Ballpoint Pens

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On the opposite end of the scale from fine fountain pens are the Papermate InkJoy stick ballpoint pens I bought a few years ago when Target was still in Canada. While there are fancier versions of these pens that are retractable and have grips, the whole pack of these ones were on sale for only a dollar. One of the nice things about inexpensive pens is that you don’t care if the cat knocks one off your desk and takes it to his secret hidey-hole.

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Cheap pens come with low expectations. As far as performance goes, as with many ballpoint pens, the ink does not always start flowing immediately but once they get going I do like their vibrant colours. They come in black, orange, red, magenta, purple, blue, turquoise, green, brown, and lime green. My favourites are the turquoise and purple. The black one is missing but as I recall the ink colour was unimpressive, more of a dark gray than a true black. You could find nicer black or red pens but the novelty colours are great.

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I haven’t had any serious problems with smudging, blobbing or leaking. I also like that there is no bleed through to the other side of the paper, even on relatively thin, inexpensive paper. In fact, these are the pens I use for my daily journal because the one I am using right now does not have great paper so fountain pen ink leaks through to the reverse side. Plus I like adding colour to the page. These colourful pens have a great fun for price paid ratio.

As for how they rate environmentally, they are lightweight and came together in a plastic bag so I give them enviro points for less packaging, although that is cancelled out by their disposability.

If these pens were people they would be a group of giggly ten year olds who love to pass notes containing copious exclamation marks.

UPDATE:  A reader pointed out to me that no pen needs to be disposable in Canada as there is a pen recycling program https://www.terracycle.ca/en-CA/brigades/writing-instrument-retail-based-brigade. While that is better than ending up in a landfill, I still think it is preferable to buy products you can reuse like fountain pens.

 

Clairefontaine multi-subject notebook

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In November I won a medium sized Clairefontaine multi-subject notebook from Quo Vadis. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it. From the outside, it looked like a basic coil bound student notebook but opening it up revealed a rainbow of tabbed graph paper, and what lovely paper it is. Satiny and opaque, my pens and pencils glided smoothly over the paper. Because of the smoothness there was some smudging with the fountain pen but no bleed through except for the Sharpie. With such lovely paper inside, I am surprised they haven’t done more to make the cover reflect the high quality.

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I am still not exactly sure how I will use this notebook. There are twelve tabs with each tab made up of five papers so would work well for a year long project or if you are trying to keep notes on a variety of topics.

Clairefontaine is in the same family as the Habana and Rhodia paper I reviewed last month. It is a French company with very high environmental standards, both with how the trees are harvested and how they manufacture the paper.

If this notebook was a person, it would be a meticulous student with large glasses whose idea of cutting loose is to use coloured paper instead of white. Their backpack has a special pocket with neatly arranged pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, and some novelty erasers. This student will go far!

 

Journals

From writing to-do lists to keeping a journal, I still use pens and paper every day. There is something about handwriting that activates the brain in a different way than typing. 

In particular, I find that keeping a journal helps me pay attention to my life. My first journaling attempts were in a little diary with a gold lock when I was still in elementary school. I didn’t have much to say and even less staying power.

I tried again in my teens after being given a journal with a cool denim cover. While it is somewhat painful to go back inside my teenage mind, I do like that I stuck in some ephemera like a Wardair menu from a special trip to visit my grandparents. Ah, the days of glamorous air travel! I still like illustrating my journal with little extras I pick up during the day.  

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My next foray into journaling started in the early 2000s when I was trying to figure out the “what next” in my life after being at home raising my young daughters. At first I only wrote when I had time or felt I needed to work something out but after awhile the habit had become ingrained as a daily practice.

Over the years I have used many of types of journals and pens. I even tried an online journaling site, Penzu, which I still occasionally use. I like trying out new products and want to share my impressions about journaling and the tools I use. Although I love good quality, my budget means that I will focus on lower cost items. I hope you enjoy coming on this blogging journey with me!

Coming next week: Noodler’s Ahab Flex Nib Fountain Pen