Sunday, 20 October 2013

Leather notebook covers - review

A few weeks ago, in an attempt to pacify The Black Dog and send him away for a while, I treated myself to some leather covers for A5 notebooks, along with some A5 notebooks. Well, it didn’t pacify him and he didn’t go away, but that’s a different matter.

So, what did I order?

Two gorgeous covers and a pack of five (yes, five. Don’t start joining forces with my hubby. Five is a perfectly acceptable number of notebooks to order) Age Bag notebooks. Oh, and a couple of Clairefontaine handwriting books to practise calligraphy in, but more on those in another post. I’ll review the notebooks in another post too. This post is for the leather covers.

I ordered them from eBay, from the seller oldstaffcrafts. These were the covers I ordered: click here. I ordered an oxblood cover with a diary and a green cover (with no diary), both in A5 size.

They are made to order so took a couple of weeks to arrive (possibly this was longer than normal because the lady wasn’t well). If you want quicker delivery, don’t buy made-to-order. They came last week and are glorious! The oxblood is a rich red-brown (I would have said, the exact colour of dried blood, but that’s not all that appealing-sounding when the colour is gorgeous!). The green is very vibrant and intense, but I’m a bit worried that the colour/dye will rub off on things. I’m not sure if I should use some leather cream on it to try and seal it. Advice?

The cover:
The covers are simply made, with a straight piece of leather stitched along the top and bottom to make flaps into which the covers are inserted. The inside is the suede side of the leather and so is in the same colour. When they arrived, they smelled very strongly of the dye, but this has faded over the last week. I kept my covers plain, but you can have your initials, name or a small motif from a line drawing added to them for no added cost (though understandably, the seller will not infringe any copyright, so the motif/design must be yours).

Oxblood - front cover
Oxblood open showing diary
Green (front)
Green (back)
Green - open

The pen loop:
There is a pen loop for a slimline pen sewn into the back cover. I suppose this is my only gripe with the covers, in that none of my fountain pens fitted the loop. A bic biro fits absolutely fine, as does a pencil. I have a patterned pen (seen in the pictures) which also fits well and my Sharbo Zebra diary pen fits beautifully too (this is the pen I carry in the ultra-slim pen-loop in my Baroque and is a ballpoint and propelling pencil combined). These pens all have a diameter of 8mm (yes – that narrow!!) and sadly, none of my fountain pens have such a narrow barrel. My beloved Ohto Tasche compact has a 9mm barrel and can be forced into the holder but then will hardly come out again. I’ve been slowly trying to stretch the leather on the green cover (useful “stretching pen” = Pelikan script!) and can just about now get a pen in and out (with a slight wriggle needed). Failing that working successfully, anyone know of any nice fountain pens with 8mm diameter barrels? [though I suppose, since they are made to order, if this is a major issue to you, you could ask the maker to make the pen holder a teensy bit bigger]

Slimline pen in pen-loop

The diary:
I ordered the oxblood cover with a page per day A5 diary (without many hopes that the diary would be very good). Much as I use a day per page A5 diary for a personal diary/journal, I don’t think that this one will get used for that. It might make it into work as a day book (sans leather cover!). On that basis, I still gave it the full fountain-pen test, writing on the December 31st 2013 page, with the assumption that I wouldn’t be in work on the 1st January 2014!
The pen test was pretty much as expected: horrible. Significant feathering with ink pens. Very thin paper so even biro showed through to the other side and fountain pen bled through hugely (entirely as expected). A shame, because the diary wasn’t bad otherwise. It is made by Tallon (the same makers of the A6 diaries I reviewed ages ago) and has gold edging to the pages, a ribbon marker, is sewn rather than glued so lies flat and has a reasonable page layout. It’s a nice snug fit in the cover.

Pen test FAIL
Epic pen fail! (this is the reverse!!!)
The cover is a true A5 size, so ‘pretend A5’ (I’m looking at you, Moleskine) won’t fit well. But then, Moleskine make pretty rubbish diaries in my opinion and I wouldn’t ever, ever, EVER buy them again.

I never really bought these for the diary, so the fact that is sucks ink like there’s no tomorrow doesn’t bother me. I bought them to put Age Bag A5 notebooks in and for that they are perfect. The very narrow pen loop is a bit of a shame, but I am working on stretching out the leather so I can carry a fountain pen around with me! Hopefully the dye won’t rub off on the green cover (keep you posted on that).

1 comment:

  1. Very nice! Some Collonil leather gel might help to seal the colour against possible fading or rubbing off. Thanks for the write-up :-)