Review: Inky Fingers Currently Inked Notebook

Inky Fingers Currently Inked Notebook - coverMatt from The Pen Habit has a line of notebooks that he sells, newly branded as Inky Fingers around the time of the Washington DC Pen Show. They were at the Vanness Pens table so I could see and touch them. I decided to try out the Currently Inked version in the Travelers Notebook (TN) size.

The entire notebook line is available in either a standard pocket size (89mm X 140mm) or a Travelers Notebook size (110mm X 210mm). I’d tried a similar notebook in a pocket size in the distant past but it didn’t stick. The TN size seemed more usable, at least for me, so I decided to try one. I probably wouldn’t have added it to my cart if shopping online, but at $8 it was my least expensive purchase at the show.

The short review – it’s worked well for me and all 24 pens inked up since the show have been recorded in the notebook.

I like the TN size because it’s easy to find in the clutter of my desk. It doesn’t get lost in a pile of pocket notebooks. While the TN size is common, if not an actual standard, it’s still unique for me making it easy to identify by either sight or touch. Of course this would change if I had a desk drawer full of Travelers Notebooks rather than pocket notebooks.

The cover is glossy card stock. Each notebook type in the line has a different cover color and the Currently Inked covers are green. There are 44 pages (22 sheets) in the notebook with four inking slots on each page. So as math will prove, there’s room for 176 ink records. Each record has room for the basics – Pen, Nib, Ink, Date Inked and Date Cleaned. There’s also a space for a swab (labeled “swatch”). I’ve never been keen on swabs since they rarely reflect how the ink will look in my typical thin nib. So I use this space for a writing sample. I like how there are labels for the basic information, but they get out of the way if you want to do things a little different. It’s a very clean design.

Inky Fingers Currently Inked Notebook - facing pages with blank

The paper is 80 gsm wheat straw paper. I’d never heard of wheat straw paper so I hit up google. I’d compare it to sugarcane paper in that both are made from what is typically farm crop waste. But the resemblance to sugarcane paper ends there and this feels like quality paper made from trees. It’s relatively smooth but does have a little texture, which I like. I find the ink dries quickly but does not bleed-through or show-through. It’s not a thick paper so if there is light behind the page it will show through, but not in normal use. Thanks to the lighting the show-through is worse in the photos than in actual use, it’s not noticeable. I haven’t used any ink that is known for bleed-through, such as some quick drying inks designed to be quickly absorbed, so your experience may vary. I’ve begun using a Travelers Notebook and I like this paper enough to consider it for other style notebooks as inserts.

As an ink record I find it quick and easy to use. Unlike previous attempts I’ve been able to stick with it and there’s an excellent chance I will eventually fill the notebook. The paper, notebook size and clean design of the Inky Fingers Currently Inked notebook seem well-suited for me.

Quick Look: Nockco 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards

Nockco opened their online store this week. Even though I already reviewed the remaining Kickstarter pen cases I thought it would be good to post a quick look at their 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards since Nockco is more than just pen cases. I received this pack of note cards when I won the Pen Addict 100th podcast giveaway.

I’m not a index card type of guy so I don’t have a regular use for these (or any other) index cards. I keep index cards at my desk for occasional use (preferring notepads) but consider them one level above scrap paper. They end up in the trash within days, if not hours.

The DotDash name comes from the lines of the grid pattern printed on the cards, front and back. The lines are a subtle orange made up of dots and dashes. I typically don’t like grid paper but these are subdued and I like them. Similar to Doane Paper, the grid doesn’t dominate the card. According to the Nockco website the cards are 80lb. (216 GSM) cover stock, the grid is 4.25mm and the color is Pantone 143.

My only niggle is that the lines aren’t exactly perpendicular to the edges. There is no true back and front, but based on the way I took the cards from the package I didn’t notice the skewing on the front. Then I turned the card over and it was obvious, much worse on the back. And then I couldn’t stop myself from noticing it on the front too.

The cards are fountain pen friendly. The only noticeable feathering was with MB Racing Green in a wet stub nib. There wasn’t any bleed or show through with any of my nibs. Drops of Franklin-Christoph Black Magic did bleed-through. But that stuff bleeds through every paper I’ve used it on with anything thicker than an Japanese extra fine nib. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a glass dip pen (which is wet and puts down a thick line) did not bleed through, although there was just a little show through when the pen had been newly dipped and there was extra ink. I was surprised that swabs of Syo-ro and Infinite Grey did not show through.

Nockco has also designed the unique Fodderstock pen and index card case. This is not for me, the non-index card guy, but it’s a cool design for those of you who aren’t me.

If your like me and consider index cards to be borderline scrap paper then these probably index cards aren’t for you due to the price. But if you want fountain pen friendly index cards, or just want a change from the horrid blue grid lines, then these Nockco 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards are highly recommended.

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Staples Sustainable Earth Notebook

Photo of Staples Sustainable Earth cover

Front cover

I stopped into Staples the other day to get a Black n’ Red wirebound notebook. They didn’t have any in the size I wanted so I looked for alternatives. The Staples Sustainable Earth 9.5″ X 6′ wirebound notebook caught my eye at less than $5.

The paper is sugar-cane based which is where the sustainable comes from. The paper seemed rather flimsy but I decided to give it a try. The pages are perforated and at 100 sheets I figured I’d find some use for it.

The wirebound notebook has a thick cardboard cover and two pockets inside the notebook. The spiral binding is thick wire so the notebook seemed like it would hold up fairly well being carried in my bag. After I got home I did an internet search and it seems the paper quality varies widely. My notebook was made in Egypt. There’s a whole line of sustainable earth notebooks and I have no idea if the variation is between styles or within the same style, so your mileage may vary.

The paper is thin so there is show through, even with my thin nibs. Since wirebound notebooks are uncomfortable half the time (if bound on the side) I don’t often write on the back so this isn’t a huge issue for me. But when I did write on both sides the show-through didn’t bother me.

There wasn’t any bleed-through to speak of. One small dot did soak through when I repeatedly wrote over the same area. A swab did bleed-through just a little. Thick, wet nibs may not like this paper.

The inks I used behaved surprisingly well with this paper. It’s fountain pen friendly in my opinion. It’s not Rhodia, but it’s not priced at Rhodia levels.

The paper holds up surprisingly well even though it seems so flimsy. I use the notebook at work and flip back and forth through pages all the time and the paper has not torn or come loose from the wire. It wrinkles a bit, but doesn’t tear. The micro-perforations work well.

I’m not sure I buy into the eco-friendly marketing. I bought the pad because of the low price and trees can be replanted. According to the marketing blurb inside the notebook the paper is

… made from 80% sugarcane plant fiber waste. After sugarcane is processed and crushed to make sugar, the waste is converted into paper.

Using more parts of anything to reduce waste is good, so apparently it’s not just because less trees are used.

I find the notebook suitable for my use – work notes and checklists. The price is right at $5 but I’d be sure to check the paper before each purchase. Just like the Black & Red notebook I went to Staples to get.

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Review: Doane Paper

I think I first learned of Doane Paper from Brad Dowdy’s Flickr stream where Doane Paper was almost always the backdrop in the pen photos and what he used to write his pen reviews. But since I’m not a fan of grid paper it wasn’t until last year that I gave it a try. I’ve been using it since. The two writing tablet sizes along with the large Flap Jotter are standard for me. The written review is in the photo gallery along with writing samples. The large writing pad is the same paper as the smaller one, so I only did samples on the small pad.

The written review doesn’t make it clear that there are two “Flap Jotter” sizes, I use the larger of the two. The smaller pad does use the same paper.

I don’t mention drying times in the hand written review, but they are generally pretty good. Inks dry faster than on Rhodia but slower than on cheaper paper that absorbs the ink. I don’t have to be especially careful when writing (I’m a righty) but I tend to use thin nibs and quicker drying ink as a general rule. I do occasionally get careless and notice a smudge.

On to the written review and writing samples. Click any thumbnail to open the gallery.

Rhodia DotPad Quick Look

The Rhodia DotPad has become a mainstay on my desk. I use it for quick notes, doodles, lists and more. At first I thought the 80g paper was a little too slick and I put the pad aside. Finally I gave in to the near universal consensus that it was great fountain pen paper and pulled it out again. I’m glad I did because after using it awhile I came to like it. The paper is a little thin for my taste and I don’t think it would travel well in my bag so it stays inside.

The dots are just on one side of the paper although they do show through. This isn’t really a problem as I typically only use one side. There is also some show through with darker ink, but again not an issue for me. I’ve never experienced any bleed-through although I typically use extra-fine and fine nibs.

A review written on the Rhodia Dotpad, click the image to see it full size.

Picture of the Rhodia DotPad hand written review

Rhodia No. 16 DotPad hand written review