The APICA notebooks are in at Wet Paint and they are great fun!
Above: Poorly lit photo (sorry, no time to get out the grey paper and put up lights) of some new paper and notebook options I found at Wet Paint the other day. On the left is the APICA 5-signature soft-bound notebook, on the right is the red "Scroll" (it has a scroll pattern on the front cover) one-signature soft-bound notebook, in the center under these is a test painting on the paper of the red "Scroll" notebook, and in the front, some highly acidic, but really fun (and thin) airmail paper.
Some papers appeal to me because they speak to the student in me, still lingering on, who remembers what it was like to work in exercise books, write reams of notes, and scribble on any slip of paper regardless of the line or grid pattern that covered that paper.
So if you've still got a connection to that inner student in you the APICA notebooks might just be something to look into. They just arrived at Wet Paint (I had begged them to call me as soon as they came in so I could run over and buy some to test out.)
Things are super crazy here right now, super busy. And I'm so thrilled with these notebooks that I can't write logical sentences about them, let alone string a paragraph of cohesive thoughts together, so I have just jotted down my thoughts about these products as points of interest. If they hit a nerve, you might want to get over to Wet Paint (they also do mail order) and buy some of these notebooks, because I know they are going to be popular with the kids and I don't want any ugly scenes of adult artists knocking middle schoolers over!)
1. These notebooks have quirky charms. The Scroll cover reads, "Note Book" and then "Most advanced quality Gives best writing features." How can you resist that!?
2. Well maybe by selecting the 5-signature book which says all that and adds: "& Gives Satisfaction to You."
3. The 5-signature book also has a printed contents page which has columns for the "epitome" (title!) and page.
4. The 5-signature book has a line for a page number with No. before the blank, a date line, and then ruled lines which run horizontally, but then also at the top and bottom there are tick marks—if you connect them they will make vertical columns. I guess this is if you want to make a grided page or columns, or make vertical lines so you can write in Japanese vertically? Who knows. It's really cool on the page.
5. The one-signature book has the same features but in a slightly different style (caps/lowercase).
6. These books have SEWN signatures folks, which means that even though they are soft covered they are bound well.
7. The paper in both notebooks is lightweight, probably about 20 lb., like typical copier paper weight.
8. The paper in the Scroll series is smoother and whiter. The 5-signature book's paper has a recylced paper look (little flecks). I got out my PH test pen and was sure both papers would test acidic but NO, big surprise, they didn't. I'm not saying they are acid free or anything like that, I'm just saying they came up the same color as the Claire Fontaine notebooks I love and a watercolor paper I had sitting by.
9. The airmail paper is ACIDIC like you wouldn't believe. But hey, it has cool lines on it and is tissue thin. It would be great for adding to collages for texture! (If you don't care about yellowing etc. and hey, that's just more fun "patina" right?)
10. Both books I tested are about 7 x 10 inches in size. There are slightly bigger ones and there are smaller ones in each line. Also in the Scroll line there are other colors: a green, a cream, a blue, and in the tiny size even a white. BUT BE WARNED: in the smaller sizes the cool type at the top of each page is ABSENT! They would be handy little pocket notebooks, but they don't have the same fun for my eyes.
11. I did a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch test on each and both passed with no bleed through of the pen ink. The pages are thin, however, so you can see some of what you put on the other page (an opacity issue not a bleed through issue).
12. I painted on a test page of each with Schmincke Pan Watercolors. You can see the painting from the Scroll book in the image that opens this post. On both papers you can move the watercolor around, even when it is very wet. It doesn't bleed through the page! (Tip: I painted with wet washes but I didn't rub heavily over the sheet. I laid in the wash and let it puddle and dry while I was working elsewhere on the page. I then when back and laid in additional color when the first wash had dried. I do not think this paper will hold up if you work and work in one area while the paper is wet, or if you put too many layers of color on before earlier layers get a chance to dry. You'll have to test this out yourself.)
13. BOTH PAPERS BUCKLE when using the watercolor. That's fine with me. If that bothers you avoid these books. Also in both books the MOISTURE from the watercolor washes goes through the thin page and even causes a little buckling on the previous page (or following page). This all dries out and calms down so you'll be able to paint on those pages too, but you should be aware of this.
14. I haven't had a chance to test the backside of painted pages yet, to see if this is more than the paper can take and the paint seeps through. I'll keep you posted on whether or not that happens, but right now I'm thinking that you can paint on every other page or not care about this, if you're interested in painting on lined papers.
15. The Scroll paper has a bit of a musty smell when wet that I don't care much for, but it isn't a total deal breaker. The 5-signature book has a slight smell when the paper is wet too, but it isn't as musty. I actually prefer the whiter paper in the Scroll book, so I'll probably put up with the smell.
16. All these books are economically priced. The size I purchased cost $7 for the 5-sig book and $3.40 for the Scrool book.
17. All my favorite pens worked great on these papers (both books); they created smooth lines, little drag, and the only issue was the thinness of the paper leaves that opacity issue to deal with (personal preference on what you'll put up with). I found that the 5-signature book took mechanical pencil work a little better, if pencil is your thing.
If you're looking for an inexpensive notebook and love the "student exercise/logbook" experience you should check one of these out. If you enjoy painting on paper that really shouldn't be painted on, but which begs to be painted on, check one of these out (knowing that the pages will crinkle and snap when dry and you turn them—oh lovely delightful sound, the sound of productivity and pages filled).
If you love to write on lined paper that takes any writing pen and makes a smooth and unimpeded line then these might also be a good choice for you.
If you want to keep a visual journal but don't want the "preciousness" of a handmade book to stump you—get one of these and have at it. (I intend to take one to life drawing. I may even use one of these for my 2010 Fake Journal—don't forget, April is coming up fast!)
Economically priced and fun. That says it all.
The usual disclaimer: I am not an employee of Wet Paint—though they put up with me and my whims and even let me unpack the new M.Graham watercolors when they came in. I purchase products I test. I tell you what I like about a product based on what I use it for. If you're going to use it for something else, well then I'd love to hear about it, but that's not what I was testing for.
If you're confused as to why I'm painting in books clearly not made for painting, then you don't really know me at all, and why are you reading this?