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Old 03-07-2011, 08:47 AM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

How come all the really great, heavy paper that can take a lot of water media only comes WIRE BOUND??? This drives me insane. I hate wire bindings. I've found a couple of stitch bound books that will do, but none that I'm really crazy about. Here's my take on some of the stitch bound candidates:
  • Moleskine Sketchbook --- Heavy weight, but repels watercolor a bit and it beads up. Very nice with ink, gouache, colored pencil.
  • Moleskine Watercolor Book --- Paper isn't quite heavy enough, nice with ink and light watercolors, but the perforated pages are a deal breaker for me. Why have a stitch bound book if you want to remove pages? Those who use stitched bindings do so to insure their work will stay together as a volume, and the perforations make that less likely.
  • Fabriano Venezia (not to be confused with the flimsy paper in the other Fabriano books) --- Great paper, my favorite so far, very slight wrinkling with water media, wonderful with pen and ink, but doesn't like to stay all the way open like a Moleskine will do.
  • Fabriano Classic Artist's Journal --- Texture is disturbing to me, paper is too thin and feels flimsy. Okay for pencil drawings, some ink and light wash. Paper does wrinkle and you can see through to reverse side.
  • Hand Book Journal --- Not good with fountain pens (they catch and skip), but nice for drawing and a little watercolor. (Doesn't seem to be sized very well for watercolor work, which greatly affects color brilliance.)
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Last edited by JamieWG : 03-07-2011 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:08 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

I am not quite as strongly anti-spiral bound as Jamie. I do confess my preference is for bound, either hard or softbound, I have found a couple of great sketchbooks that are spiralbound that I proudly use.

First is the Kokuyo color-n-color sketchbook. It is a Japanese made unit, and difficult to find. Although I have only ever seen the 9x12 format, they also have a 5.5x8 version. The paper is 100#, with a texture similar to illustration board. Takes wet media fabulously, and I have even done gesso and oil studies without issue. And the hard plastic outer cover is a blessing.

My all time fave is the Aquabee Super Deluxe. At 93# it holds up to watercolor and gouache as well as markers. The surface takes a fair amount of abuse before becoming difficult to work with.

My daily carry about is the Pro-Art hardbound sketchbook. I typically use the 4x6, as it fits in my pocket. Not the greatest paper in the world, it will take light watercolor/gouache/marker treatment. But too much and it will bleed through horribly. But the saving grace is the binding. Even the horrid abuse I have reaped on mine, the pages are still tight and the binding unbroken.

I have two new sketchbooks that I can't wait to try. But I need to finish out the couple I have just started first. A deals a deal. The new books are both hemp paper and handbound from Nepal. The first one is about 5x7 with very thick (nearly 1/8") paper, with unfinished edges and rough surface. The other is about 6x9, with cut paper and a hotpress finish.

Andrew
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Last edited by Andrew : 03-07-2011 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 03-07-2011, 01:05 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Stillman and Birn offers hardbound books that are not wirebound with heavy weight 100 lb and 180 lb papers as well.

http://www.stillmanandbirn.com/

Sorry about the repetitions of my previous post. Not sure what happened.

Last edited by big foot : 03-07-2011 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:27 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

They do a moleskine watercolour without perforations too - this one

I've got the A3 one.

The paper is nice but not really heavy.
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:57 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Those look cool Bigfoot. . . from the link you give it looks like the 100 lb comes in both hardbound and wirebound but the 180 lb comes in only the wirebound?

Utrecht carries them but they say BackOrdered. They sound interesting. . . thanks.
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:10 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by big foot
Stillman and Birn offers hardbound books that are not wirebound with heavy weight 100 lb and 180 lb papers as well.

http://www.stillmanandbirn.com/

Sorry about the repetitions of my previous post. Not sure what happened.

This series has me feeling very optimistic, though the heavier weight paper is not available in the stitch-bound versions. Here's a well done review of the stitch-bound Epsilon:
http://rozwoundup.typepad.com/roz_wo...ketchbook.html

Jamie
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:02 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Jamie

I see what you're saying about the Stillman and Birn books. You could just contact the company (which is quite small I think) and ask them directly if they could make stitchbound books with the 180 lb paper. I think it would be worth it..

Thanks for posting the Roz Wound Up review too.

Abby
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:13 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by big foot
Jamie

I see what you're saying about the Stillman and Birn books. You could just contact the company (which is quite small I think) and ask them directly if they could make stitchbound books with the 180 lb paper. I think it would be worth it..

Thanks for posting the Roz Wound Up review too.

Abby

Abby, the 100 pound paper just might do it for me. I'll have to give it a try. I did write to the company for some information; perhaps if they answer I'll ask about heavier weight books, stitchbound.

Jamie
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Old 03-07-2011, 10:57 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Andrew

Hi. It was good to see your list of favorite sketchbooks. *Yours too, Jamie!

Andrew.. Could you say more about the Japanese sketchbook you mentioned? Did you buy it in Japan? Some obscure US store, online? Also, do you have photo? Also what is the paper's GSM. Not all 100 lb paper is equal.

Thanks!


Rainy, Jamie
Stillman and Birn only offer the 180 lb paper in wirebound. I asked them about it earlier today and they were quick to reply. It's hard to bind such thick paper into stitchbound books. So, for now they don't offer 180 lb in bound books, but they may yet.

The people who run the company have been very nice and as you can see respond quickly to inquiries and comments.

I think that for wet media, the 100 lb paper is a bit light unless you're gentle and modest about using water. The 100 lb is good for sketching/ink, pencil, dry media and lighter washes. It would be worth comparing the 90 lb paper in the Stonehenge Wired sketchbooks with the 100 lb paper in the Stillman and Birn books.

The 180 lb paper is really amazing. What can I say? I have never worked with paper this dense and thirsty and lovely in a sketchbook. There are different textures depending on whether you choose the vellum or the more rough paper as well. 180 lb in both forms is perfect for all inks, paints.. mixed media, all sorts of washes and demanding media of all kinds.

These books are just very different. it's worth reading about the company and its history too. I am unabashed.. :-)

(Still, see previous posts.. I like to use other books for rough drawing exercises and experiments and I am on a slow learning curve. So, I use a mixture of these books.)
Abby

Last edited by big foot : 03-07-2011 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:38 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Thanks for the info, Abby.

Have you tried the 100 lb? I don't mind wirebound books myself, so I would try the heavyweight paper. . . but on the other hand, the Visual Journal mixed media is only 90 lbs and its great -- I have put heavy washes and layers on that paper with no buckling.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:45 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Rainy

Yeah.. The 100 lb paper is thin compared to some others. I just did a comparison.

The Stillman and Birn 100 lb papers are 150 GSM
Stonehenge Wired Journals 90 lb paper 250 GSM 100% cotton.


http://www.legionpaper.com/Our-Colle...Stonehenge.htm

So, I think I am enthusiastic about the 180 lb paper options they offer not so much the 100 lb. The 100 lb just isn't comparable to some other books. So the price/quality for the Stillman Birn 100 lb may not be worth it. The 180 papers are still quite impressive. I think I became infatuated for a bit there and lost sight of what the 100 lb actually is - by the numbers..

What is the GSM on the Visual Journal Mixed Media? I am now looking as much at GSMs for papers as I am just weight/lbs. It makes a big difference. And just feeling it. After a point, it's a personal choice. But by the numbers, you may have a good book there with the Visual Journals. The 180 lb books might be nice for the other media you use though.

Btw.. Rainy.. I do love the stuff you've been posting over at the all media thread. the barn is lovely ,but also those detailed and colorful portraits and the dog you've adopted here as your avatar. Very nice work!

Abby

Last edited by big foot : 03-07-2011 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 07:54 AM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Abby, your assessment mirrors that of Roz, who did that review. She found the 100 pound to be light, wrinkled a lot with water media, and showed through the page. So, I guess I'll have to continue my search, try to be content with what's already out there, or make my own. *sigh* Going to a spiral --- ugh --- probably not.

Jamie
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:00 AM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Interesting about the GSM. . . man, I never even looked at that! The VJ mixed media is 190 GSM at 90 lbs. The VJ Drawing is 163 GSM at 100 lb (I've not tried that one and don't think I would, just saying for comparision). the 140 lb watercolor is 300 gsm. Interesting though is that the Bristol which is 100 lb is 260 gsm so I'm curious about that one now.

Thanks!

BTW, there are quite a few other sketchbooks that I really like but have not had time to review. Hope to do next weekend.
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Last edited by RainySea : 03-08-2011 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:06 AM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by big foot
Andrew

Hi. It was good to see your list of favorite sketchbooks. *Yours too, Jamie!

Andrew.. Could you say more about the Japanese sketchbook you mentioned? Did you buy it in Japan? Some obscure US store, online? Also, do you have photo? Also what is the paper's GSM. Not all 100 lb paper is equal.

Thanks!

Abby

They used to carry the Kokuyo sketchbooks at our local community college bookstore. The last place I saw them was at a bookstore chain (not Barnes and Nobles), Borders I think. I have tracked down the US handler for Kokuyo products in Palantine IL. I want to see if I can find a more concrete source.

The paper weight is right around 200gsm.

Andrew
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Old 03-08-2011, 01:25 PM
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Re: Sketch Book Reviews

Okay I am glad paper weights are a bit confusing to others. Lately I am enjoying more often the light wash effects with pens, w/s graphite w/c pencils, and charcoal. I assumed my Canson Mix Media at 98 lb would cockle less than my Strathmore 400 at 80 lb. Not necessarily so! I don't care for watercolor paper for light sketch & wash pieces, and I am not digitally-focused so I prefer the soft white over the bright white papers. I have vascilated (dithered?) between Canson (bright white drawing) & Strathmore (natural white) for the past year, like it was a line in the sand, hahaha. But JUST IN CASE I create a masterpiece I want to be happy with the paper it is on. SO the winner for me, in general, is any size pad of Strathmore 400 Drawing. Yummers overall.
(PS Oil pastels work fine too, though I use other papers usually for them.)

I feel like I am obsessing over finding the perfect paper and size of sketchbook... How nice to have a thread to obsess in. Enjoying the input everyone!!!
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