Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Review of the Clairefontaine Age Bag notebook

Apologies for the long delay in posting any new items. I was in Malawi for a while and I returned from there very unwell. Mostly better now (and thankfully I didn’t have malaria!).

Anyway, I know I owe a zillion other reviews of pens and ink and other things, but I’m going to review my new Clairefontaine Age Bag notebook from Bureau Direct for no better reason than I already want to write in it, and once I have written in it, I won’t want to take pictures for the blog of what I have been writing!

I wanted an A4 notebook because I’m wanting to rework the outline of a novel I’m writing. The writing filofax has been doing pretty well, but I have found that sometimes, I want the space to write and draw out huge mind-maps that A5 sheets in a filofax doesn’t help with. The first book I wrote, I planned out in an A4 Moleskine and loved that space etc. Admittedly, the writing filofax has been good for filing things and moving them around, but I really am missing that space.

I’d considered another A4 Moleskine, but frankly, they just cost too much! I wanted an A4 notebook with fountain pen friendly paper. Coming in at under £6, this notebook seemed ideal.

On to the walk-through.

Cover:
The cover is thick card with an embossed in pattern to make it look like leather. I bought the green, but there are several colours available. On the front, in the bottom right-hand corner, is the Clairefontaine logo, embossed into the card fairly discreetly.

Front cover

Embossed logo

On the back cover is a self-adhesive label describing the paper, both in terms of its texture and its origins. My book has now had the label removed! It peeled off easily without leaving a scummy mark.


Back cover

Close-up of the label

Binding:
The book binding is cloth-bound, rather than sewn and so it doesn’t quite have the flattability that a sewn binding would have, but, for £6 I can’t moan!

The only problem with it being cloth-bound is that the first lined page is starting to detach but as that first page is also stuck to the first page in the book – a white page – it’s not a problem for me. I will be using the first page as an index page.

First page becoming detached

Paper and Line-spacing:
The paper is white, with a gloriously smooth texture. Line-spacing is at 8mm, in feint, with no margins. There are 33 lines per page. The corners of the pages are rounded.

 
Closures:
There is no elastic around the book to close it – neither a vertical band like the Moleskine (which I hate anyway) nor a horizontal one like the Ciak (which you can put a pen in). Nor is there any ribbon marker to mark the page. Frankly, neither of these factors bother me. As I say, I don’t like vertical bands as you can’t keep a pen in them. I also recently bought a Papelote elastic pen holder (shown below) which will hold up to five pens or pencils and also hold the book closed and I will be using that on the book. [I will review the Papelote properly soon!]

Papelote elastic binder (currently empty)
As for the lack of a ribbon marker – if I was really needing to mark the page I would stick a Post-It note in! It isn’t a deal-breaker for me, for what this book will be used for.

Fountain Pen Friendliness:
Now, you may have to take my word a little for this as I don’t want to photograph much of what I’ve written in it! I have used the wettest, most challenging fountain pen to write “Index” on the front page. There is no feathering and a little (acceptable to me at least) bleed-through. That was with the Parker italic nib and Waterman violet tendresse ink – by far the most challenging combination for paper in my fountain pen collection!

No feathering
Acceptable level (to me at least!) of bleed-through

 My more modest (less challenging) combo is a Parker Vector with J Herbin Eclat de Saphir ink. I have written over most of the first page with this and there is no feathering and almost no bleed-through. Here are some close-ups of a few words!


No feathering - J Herbin Eclat de Saphir ink, Parker Vecor nib

Reverse side - acceptable bleed-through
 
Overall:
This is a good value, entry-level, fountain pen friendly A4 notebook. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a Moleskine, but it is a fraction of the price. If you want a reasonably priced, attractive-looking notebook that is fountain pen friendly, then this will suit your needs. If you want something with ribbon-markers and sewn-bindings and a bigger ‘name’ look elsewhere.

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