Review – Leuchtturm 1917 Pocket Notebook

Notebooks again. Is Moleskine your style but you find the paper a little lacking? Well Leuchtturm claims to have you covered with the 1917 line of notebooks. Specifically I’m reviewing the black pocket (dot) hardcover version.

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Starting with the outside, the dimensions are nearly the same width- and thickness-wise as the Molsekine, but about half an inch taller. As the Field Notes and Clairefontaine pocket books are the same size (lacking thickness) you could compare it to them as well. The cover is in the black Moleskine style and is almost indistinguishable. It is also fairly flexible, something entirely absent in the Moleskine. It has an elastic band that feels slightly cheaper, but nonetheless works well. The most disappointing thing is the spine, which constantly creases, cracks and groans. The problems appears the be that the cover on the joints is separate from the binding. The binding does feel solid, so I don’t believe it will fail, but the spine will definitely encounter cosmetic damage with prolonged use.

Inside there is a standard back pocket, an address and name blank, and several table of contents pages, helpful little things if I do say so. Also the last few (six) sheets can be torn out and are as such perforated. Each page is numbered and of course there’s a bookmark ribbon. It has about the same sheet count, and same page color as the Moleskine, but with better paper. The Leuchtturm has 80 gram paper that is supposedly ink resistant. I can say it is, I didn’t even get bleed-through with a flex pen. That being said, everything shows through to the point of being annoying, even a ballpoint pen. Only pencil makes for a clean, two-sided drawing experience. Though the paper, unfortunately, is not very smooth at all, especially not as much so as the Molsekine or Clairefontaine books. You’ll get a lot of feedback on this one. The rulings are all standard and nothing to write home about.

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So, how does the Leuchtturm perform? Well. It performs well. It’s cheaper than the completion and better in some ways. Most of these things are up to personal preference. I would say the binding is a little weak on this one, but other than that it’s up to par.

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Review – Micron Rose, Brown, and Sepia Colors

So now we get to the final group of the Micron colors that came in the 8 pack of Micron colors. These are the weird or non-standard colors, in my opinion.

The first is Rose, which is a pink: they just call it Rose to make it fancy. It’s a very deep, pleasant, pink color, not like the very vibrant, in-your-face pinks that dominate what is considered pink these days. It doesn’t really approach purple, but it is darker than most roses I’ve ever seen. It’s surprisingly nature-y for a pink, though. It does have some problems with bleed-through on thin paper, but not a lot.

Next we have Brown, which I would call light brown. I would say it’s sort of a fertile, soft, earth color. Again, for a light color it’s fairly subdued, not like a Crayola pencil or anything. Again, it’s surprisingly real looking. It has no problems with bleed-through at all really, and goes well in a landscape.

Finally we have Sepia, which I call dark brown. It’s very mud-like. Another deep, saturated color. It can get very saturated though, and end up looking like black in the final product, so it does take careful application. It also tends to pool, resulting in spots of darker color. Some skill is required to get it to look right. Surprisingly, though, it has very little bleed-through even on thin paper.

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These ‘non-standard’ colors are very nice overall. If one is looking to do nature sketches, landscapes, etc. these are quite nice. They are very subdued and blend in nicely. I find them much more pleasant than the bright reds and blues of the other Microns. If you just want standard colors for organizing or technical things, these are not the pens you need.  However, if you’re drawing a lot of the outside, or in cool colors, these are fantastic.

Review – Micron Red, Blue, Purple, and Green colors

I have reviewed several Micron pens in the past. But in case you were wondering if they could add a little more color to your life, here are some Micron Colors in .05.

It is an eight-pen set of colors from Micron that I’m looking at. It includes black so that’s out. The first four colors I will look at are what I call the ‘standard’ colors. They are red, blue, green, and purple.

I have already talked about the blue and the red so I’ll cover those quickly first. These pens are larger than the ones I reviewed previously so the ink is a bit more saturated. They aren’t as glaringly red and blue as before, but they are still some of the brightest and most vibrant of their colors on the market, aside from the awful nano-liner. Getting this large also makes them more prone to bleed-through, of which there is a slight hint in the blue.

Next we have the purple, which, in the Micron style, is a very aggressive purple. It is very deep, and in low lighting could be mistaken for black. It is very highly saturated, and changes little to none when applying pressure for some time to just tapping it on the paper. Amazingly at this darkness it isn’t very prone to bleed-through.

Finally the green. This is, surprisingly, a fairly sedate green, falling in the middle of forest and lime. It is unmistakably green, but rather unremarkable. It doesn’t jump like the other inks in this set. It just sits there, making it rather like greens in real life which you have to look closely to appreciate. Again, surprisingly enough this color is the most prone to bleed-through in the entire set, even writing fairly fast it leaves dots on the other side of fairly thin paper.

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So overall the ‘standard’ colors in this Micron package are great. They’re not really the best for sketches of nature or the outside world, but for labeling and organizing they are great. For example, different color parts in a schematic. It’s nice to have colored pens around and these hold up the Micron standard. I can definitely find a use for them.

Review – Clairefontaine Staple Bound Pocket 3.5″ x 5.5″

There is a new contender in the pocket notebook category. Well, not new, but new to me. The Clairefontaine staple bound 9 X 14 cm pocket book. This is not really very comparable to the other two pocket books I’ve reviewed as it is much thicker, but it is still around the same size, so here we go. The book is twice as thick as a Field Notes book and about a millimeter wider, and the rounding on the corners is about the same.

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The cover is a fairly thick but flimsy card stock. There is a website URL, paper weight, dimensions, and page count listed on the back cover, and no other information save the logo. The inside cover is a simple white, while the outside is the standard Clairefontaine cover, which I consider to be fairly ugly. The cover also has a blank space which I assume is a subject line or a name space.

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Inside is 48 sheets of 90 gram Clairefontaine paper, which is superb. This is one of the few notebooks where the page count, rather than the sheet count, matters, as you can write on both sides, even with a fountain pen. The paper is lined with a 7mm ruling, a small margin at the top, and an infinitesimal margin at the bottom. The lines are a very pale purple and not at all intrusive. As far as I know they only come in a lined version at this size. Writing-wise, the paper is buttery smooth. Very easy to write on, but ink resistant enough to have little to no bleed through, except for the nano-liner which can bleed through tables it seems. The paper is also heavy, it takes effort to bend it along the spine to write with it, and once you have bent it, it stays there.

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Finally the binding: it’s bent over and squared with two staples each about a quarter of the way in. It seems far from the sturdiest binding, but it can take a fair amount of flex before buckling. Though with no support at the edges they do tend to get a little banged up. Because of its interesting folding style and large page count, the binding does seem a bit weak, in mine the staples aren’t even fully stapled, so pulling this book apart intentionally would be easy. But unintentionally it seems to hold up fine, more due to the paper than the binding. It will buckle and get bunged up at the edges, though. I’m skeptical about it’s ability to take some hard wear and tear for all 96 of its pages to be used.

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Overall this is a great little pocket book. I personally won’t use them as much as some other books because of the terrible, intrusive cover designs and its thickness. But for writing or drawing with fountain pens, dip pens, or ink brushes, this thing can’t be beat. It’s a great, sturdy little notebook with especially good paper.

 

Review – Noodler’s Nib Creeper Flex Pen

Fountain pens don’t particularly lend themselves to art. That’s more in the realm of brush and dip pens. But for the more artistically inclined fountain pen users, there are flex pens. Though most examples are ludicrously expensive, Noodler’s Ink brand has several flex pens at a reasonable price. Let’s see how the Noodler’s Nib Creeper Flex holds up to scrutiny.

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The one I personally have at hand is a plain black one. They come in all sorts of wonderful colors and you should really look into them if you’re thinking about buying one. The black itself is quite nice, though shiny enough that scratches are noticeable. The trim is a nice metal, not sure on the specifics but also shiny. The clip says “Noodler’s Ink” and rotates on the cap; it also does a very good job of holding the pen in a pocket. In the middle of the pen there are a few semi-transparent windows with which you can view your ink volume, though they are not the most accurate things. The cap unscrews to reveal more of the same design to the nib. Both the body and the cap are made of a nice plastic, which feels a little too light and smells a bit. But it is quite sturdy and the smell does subside.

The pen fills nicely by twisting the back all the way out and then down several times (to eliminate as much air as possible) while the nib is immersed in ink. The plunger mechanism unfortunately doesn’t come out like several other Noodler’s pens, or at least not easily. But the nib and feed can be removed simply by gripping them in the mid-section and pulling them out as they are friction fit into the pen. This allows for easy customization of the ink flow. It also allows for easier cleaning when changing inks.

Now to the nib and the actual writing. On paper the nib is wonderfully smooth. Not as smooth as a nice Cross or something similar, but up there. It flexes when pushed down, though not very easily. It does require some force, and at times feels like it may have problems, though these have never materialized for me. The thickness of the line varies depending on the nib and feed configuration. I would say it goes from about a Micron 01 (005 if you go really, really light) to just over a Micron 08 or about the size of the Micron Brush. After that it starts to railroad (split into two lines) even in the wettest of configurations. It also tends to write fairly dry, having a faster ink drying time and less bleed-though than other pens. But this is only minimal.

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Overall this is a very nice pen. If you’re looking for a sturdy brush replacement or just something to add some variation to drawings it may be the thing for you. For me it strains my had a little, and I prefer less variation in my line, which limits my use for it. But it is still a superb little pen, and a very good value. It can also double as a fancy signing pen, and a note pen. Just something to carry around. It’s great, and if you’re looking for a flex pen it’s definitely the place to start.