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Commercially Bound Journals

January 10, 2010

Update December 16, 2022

This month I put the majority of posts on Rozwoundup.com into a non-public archive. (October 9, 2008 to December 31, 2020.) I have plans to update and revise some of these currently archived posts. 

Sadly some of these posts are included in the archiving and when you click on a link below you may not reach a public post.

The good news is that this type of art materials review page is the sort I’ll be revising first. (Keep in mind I’m one person actively working on her own art, so this revising will be slow.)

Current Favorites as of December 2022

Book Binding

For those of you who desperately want to know what my current favorites are I’m writing this new section. It just states what I like and what I look for. You won’t have access links to any in-depth reviews.

First please remember that I bind my own sketchbooks. I like to use the paper I like to work on, and create books in the dimensions I like to work in. Many of the papers that I use in current work have been DISCONTINUED! You will see new work on those papers popping up because I held some books back from binding batches to hold my own work. In the 2017 Big Bind the majority of those books were held back to be used by me because I know that at least 3 of the papers I was binding were discontinued! 

Please be aware then, when I note the type of paper I’m working on, if I say something like “Old Gutenberg,” that refers to a discontinued form of the paper that is obviously no longer available. If I say nothing about the current paper it means there 1. isn’t a new version, or 2. I don’t recommend the new version. (Typically I will add the disclaimer, but not always.)

If you are new to art and book binding you may not realize that papers change or become discontinued with regularity. There are lots of forces behind this. Commercial forces of course for the mills making the paper; also popular demands and trends, such as the move to vegetable sizing on most papers, replacing the animal gelatin sizing used for over 400 years on some of the long-lived papers, like Fabriano for instance.

When these changes happen the changes will effect how you can work on a paper and it may cease to be a favorite, or even useable. Keep that in mind too. So in other words, when you find a favorite paper, USE IT, don’t put it under your bed or in a flat file to save for a “rainy day.” USE IT. (I don’t believe is scarcity-motivated thinking and hoarding of papers which I see causing emotional and economical stress in my students. While your favorite paper may be gone forever, you’re a creative person and you’ll find new ways to work on the new papers or new versions of papers.)

What I Look For In Commercially Available Journals and Sketchbooks

While I do enjoy binding my own books I also enjoy working on other papers already bound and sold commercially.

I look for sketchbooks that have SEWN SIGNATURES. This ensures they will hold together for years to come without shedding pages. (Books with glued bindings are particularly fragile and I avoid them.)

I like to work in hardbound books for the most part. These can be carried with me all the time and withstand the wear and tear of daily transit and use.

In general I prefer hardbound books with fabric covered book boards for covers. I find that fabric is more pleasant to hold and it also wears well through use. HOWEVER, there are some manufacturers who use impregnated fabric to strengthen their covers and these are not pleasant to hold. I will use these books if they have great paper inside; but they are not favorites.

I am a mixed media artist. Primarily I work in pen and ink with watercolor. But I use a variety of other materials such as water soluble crayons, color pencil, and acrylic markers to name a few. 

Because of the way I work I look for papers that will take wet media—but I do not insist on using only watercolor papers. I have found, basically while journaling as a child without the money to buy expensive journals with watercolor paper pages, that there are often drawing papers and notebook papers that will withstand wet media,  if you simply scale back your water usage and slightly change your working method.

I have always done that in my life. Therefore I am often working in commercially bound journals with non-art papers in them. Often these are odd books found in bookstores and it’s unclear who is making them; or they are made in a limited production run until the season’s colors and trends switch. I can’t point you in the direction of these books, but I can encourage you to test these types of books for your own working methods. Buy one and paint and test your pens on a couple of the pages at the back of the book. If it isn’t suitable for wash can you use pen and ink? And if not, can you use graphite pencil? And if only the last is true, then take the book to life drawing co-op and fill it completely full in one or two sessions—this is the way you learn to spot your favorite alternative papers. These are always inexpensive books so there is no reason to hold back—experiment.

Commercial Bound Journals and Sketchbooks I Currently Use

I almost always work in PORTRAIT ORIENTATION. I do not like landscape orientation journals. Portrait orientation should be understood in all the following recommendations. There are often excellent landscape journals available, but while I may test them I don’t repurchase them. Journaling is fun for me and I don’t have fun with landscape journals.

My favorite commercially bound journal is the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Soft-Covered Journal. Yes this breaks my “rule” on using hard-covered journals, and on having fabric covered boards—but I adore this paper for my work and I find the soft-covered journal opens flatter than their hard-covered version. Over time I have learned to live with the cover in my hands, though I often make a dust jacket for the book to wear while I’m using it! (I use the one that is 7.75 x 9.75 inches as it my default page size.)

I also enjoy working on toned paper and my favorite toned-paper journal is the Strathmore 400 Series Toned Mixed Media Journal. This book has thick mixed media paper that is toned gray or tan. Be careful as the packaging looks the same as their toned lightweight drawing paper! Make sure you are getting a book with only 48 pages! If it has more pages than that it’s the lightweight drawing paper—that’s lovely paper too, but not for wet media. (I use the one that is 7.75 x 9.75 inches as it is my default page size.)

The one exception I have to using landscape journals is that I will use the Hahnemühle Toned Watercolor Paper Sketchbook, in either the tan or gray version. I do this because I LOVE THIS PAPER. I wish they would bring it out in a 7.75 x 9.75 inch size!!!!! Then I would use it even more. But I keep one of these in my purse or backpack all the time.

I love working with pen, ink wash, gouache, and water-soluble crayons in the Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook. I use the portrait orientation 8.3 x 11.7 inch size.

I only use the PORTRAIT, 5-3/8 x 8-1/4 inch Hahnemühle Travel Journal. The spine is just under one inch wide. It’s about the same size as the 5 x 8 inch Moleskine, except that the Hahnemühle Travel Journal is much thicker. This is a drawing paper. It is not a wet media paper. I post so much about this book, because I always have one in progress, that you can find lots of posts with my work from it and comments about the paper—even with all the pre-2021 posts not archived! Here’s one to start you off.  As much as I love this book for so many reasons I have art friends who hate it. If you are not comfortable, or fond of, or accustomed to working wet on drawing paper you don’t want to buy this book. The link I have provided here is to an open post which presents an alternate view on this journal. 

Hand•Book Watercolor Journals come in a 90 lb. and 140 lb watercolor paper. I like these books because I’ve grown to like the paper they contain (it’s not as great as painting on my favorite watercolor papers, but many of those are now defunct…). I find either weight is fun to use. I typically have one of these in my purse in the Portrait or Square format! I love square formats more than anything so it is a huge plus for me that this book comes in a square version.

Anyone who has read my blog from the beginning in 2009 knows that I enjoy working in APICA Notebooks from Japan. First I love the fact that they have sewn signatures so I can forgive the soft paper covers. Next I love working on lined papers. Really there is nothing more fun FOR ME. I love these so much that a post about them is one of the first I opened up from the non-public archive. You can read that post here. This recommendation, however comes with a huge caveat! Several years ago it became difficult to find the same notebooks I’d been enjoying. Large versions were only available in smaller versions and only with what was thinner paper (yes, we measured the paper sheet thickness). This is another example of “things change.” So when using any Japanese notebook please buy one to start with and test it. (If it doesn’t work out you can fill it with pencil sketches at the life drawing co-op!) You’ll see some of my work on these papers going forward as I had a few I purchased for a project that didn’t need as many books as I thought—but these are the OLD versions. I do not know how any of their current papers hold up to visual journaling in mixed media.

A more recent sketchbook adoption for me is the Canson 180 Sketchbook. While many of my posts incorporating art done in one of these sketchbooks are in the non-public archive, I continue to work in them and posts like this one explain some of the joys I experience working on this paper.  Besides being excellent for brush pen and other ink pens, I watercolor on this paper as well and examples of that will continue to pop up in the public posts as this blog continues. This book has sewn signatures. It’s open-backed spine (no cover board on the spine) allows it to open very flat. The paper is light-weight and will buckle a little when you paint on it, but I love that aspect too—as the pages make a lovely crinkling noise when you turn them. I don’t experience bleed through on this paper. In fact the sizing is rather nice for watercolor, and you can even do a little bit of lifting color. But it is not a wet-media paper so you’ll want to be aware of your water use on this paper.

So the above books are my regular favorites. I’ve tried pretty much everything I can find out there because I love to test things, but since 2019 and my last cataract surgery I am doing hardly any testing of new papers or re-releases of revised papers. I’m enjoying spending my work time on papers that I enjoy.

Happy testing. And thanks for your patience as I try to update these other links to other books I don’t regularly use.

The List of Reviews (Which May Not Be Revised and Public Currently)

Updated September 13,  2020—I added the Strathmore Toned Mixed Media Journals and Stillman & Birn Toned sketchbooks. I also made an entry for Hahnemühle’s Travel Book/Journal.

Updated December 5,  2017—additional problems with Fabriano Venezia (see note below)

Updated November 21, 2016—to add new entry for Seawhite of Brighton Sketchbooks.

Updated October 24, 2016—to add new entry for Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbooks.

Updated January 11, 2016 to add new information about Fabriano Venezia spine failures.

Updated January 31, 2015 to add new information about Hand•Book Journals. The first link begins a 4 part review which ran on January 28, 2015; January 30, 2015; February 2, 2015; and February 4, 2015. Please read these reviews for my most current experience with this brand.

Updated May 2, 2013 to add information about the Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook. Please read the updated information below under “Writing Journals.”

Updated May 22, 2012 to add information about the new Strathmore Hardbound Art Journal Line. Please read below in the opening section for updated information. The Mixed Media version of this line is my favorite commerically bound journal for visual journaling, just inching out the Fabriano Venezia which I also love.

Updated September 29, 2014 to add information on the new wirebound Fluid Watercolor Journals from Hand•Book, the softbound Strathmore Journal, the Leuchtturm 1917 SKETCHBOOK which has thicker paper than the notebook from Leuchtturm, and the Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal. See this information integrated into the post below.

Since starting my blog in October of 2008 I have reviewed a number of commercially bound journals and sketchbooks. It is my goal that more and more people keep visual journals. I would love it if everyone also bound his or her own journals but I’m realistic. The most important goal for me is to get more people observing and sketching their lives.

So if you aren’t a bookbinder and want to start keeping a visual journal, check out the following posts to read about some commercially available options. I will endeavor to keep this list updated as I add future journal product reviews.

I do not believe there is one book or one paper that is the perfect solution to anyone’s needs. Therefore I try in my reviews to point out the pros and cons I’ve discovered in a test of the paper in these books.

I use a variety of media and explain what I encounter when using those media in that book, on that paper. I try to be specific about how I use a given medium—for instance if a paper can take only light washes of watercolor or if I can really slop on the water. Even so, my idea of light washes may be wetter than yours or vice versa. Bottom line, something that is a deal breaker for me might be just the thing someone else is searching for.

A book must have sewn signatures for me. No matter how wonderful the paper in a journal is, if it is perfect bound it’s sure to start falling apart. I’m also looking for a journal that will take the mixed media I use for my visual journaling. And I always have my eye out for a commercially made journal I can rely on when my binding life ends.

Wirebound journals have their fans, as well as some great abilities and papers, so I also list a couple of those in the “Other” list.

The best way to discover a journal’s characteristics is to take one for a test drive, exposing it to your methods. Use one every day for a month and see how the paper and the size fit in your life and your methods. It’s a worthwhile investment that may provide just the creative jog you need. And it’s always an adventure.

Strathmore Hardbound Art Journals. This line, debuting in May 2012, includes books with drawing paper, toned drawing papers, watercolor paper, and one of my all-time favorite papers—Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Paper. I’ve very excited about this commercially bound journal and encourage you to check out whichever one contains paper that suits your working methods.

Strathmore Softbound Art Journals. These have probably been available since 2013. I used a small one for my first journal in 2014. I used a medium sized journal containing Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper for my 2014 Minnesota State Fair Journal. Its 7.5 x 9.5 (or so) inch journal pages were a perfect size for onsite sketching. I did discover one problem with this journal in the tough field conditions of the Fair—it was HUMID. The soft covers got very limp in the humidity and because I stand when I sketch there was less support than I like. However, I love this paper so much that I adapted quickly. I just want to give you a heads up. If you like a solid support and want to use this paper I recommend that you buy their 8.5 x 11 inch hardbound journal. The softbound journal is still Smyth-sewn and of course has the wonderful 500 Series Mixed Media paper. (Watercolor and toned drawing paper versions are available in various sizes.)

Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media Toned Paper Journals (added Sept. 13, 2020)—this paper, which is the heavyweight toned paper sized to accept wet media is now available in soft cover journals. I love this paper. You can see some monochromatic ink wash work on this paper in this post.

Just be careful when ordering online because they sell a book with lightweight toned paper for sketching with dry media. What you want is the book that has 64 pages as opposed to 100 and something. And look for the heavier weight. 

Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbooks. On October 24, 2016 I posted a review on this sketchbook. It uses one of my favorite papers for ink. The paper is also suitable for gouache and anything you like to do on a very smooth surfaced paper. I have a lot of fun with the paper. I really like what the company has done with the construction of their journal. The fact that they are now binding this paper into journals means I can have immediate gratification without having to bind, I love that. Anyway, you can read the full review with photos and scans at the link.

Hahnemühle Travel Book—Hahnemühle doesn’t make it easy for you to get this book. I was giving a small booklet from a paper rep and told it had the same paper as the hardcovered book he was carrying around. I assummed hardcovered book was the journal. However, on my blog you’ll find examples of this favorite sketchbook listed under Hahnemühle Travel Journal as well as Hahnemühle Travel Book. Their website page doesn’t make it easy either.

I have found the best place to find the Travel Journal (which is what I believe the hard covered book is called) is photo/camera supply stores. I don’t know why this is, but perhaps it’s because Hahnemühle sells a lot of injet photo printing paper to those stores and they buy some of the journals as well.

You must be careful that you get the orientation you want. I only use PORTRAIT. Landscape is also available. The book I recommend is roughly 5-3/8 x 8-1/4 inches with a spine that is just under one inch wide. It’s about the same size as the 5 x 8 inch Moleskine, except that the Hahnemühle Travel Journal is much thicker. And of course the paper is very different.

The paper in this journal is really for dry media and notes in pen and ink. However, I love sketching in it using light ink washes and even light watercolor washes. 

Review both those posts and search for Hahnemühle Travel Book and also Hahnemühle Travel Journal in this blog’s search engine to see the variety of things I do in this book.

I first started using them in late 2018 or early 2019 (My journals are packed away at the time of this writing). Since that time I have almost always had one going. And I can truthfully say that the long, long road back from cataract surgery and the decisions about what I was going to do with my life and career were all made with the help of this book and I love the non-wet-media paper it contains and the way it supports my contrariness. It’s like coming home. It’s very like the commercial journals I bought in high school. 

It is not for everyone, even if you understand your watercolor process and can control your water. This paper will complain, and the results may end up looking ugly. But as I sit here writing on Sept. 13, 2020 I freely admit that I love the freedom of this book. I love the ugly it helps me create.

Hahnemühle Toned Watercolor Paper Sketchbooks—Review added to the blog April 15, 2020. I love this paper. check out the blog post review.

Seawhite of Brighton Sketchbooks, On November 21, 2016 I posted a review of this sketchbook. They come in a variety of sizes and formats. U.S. residents can get them through Amazon (link is provided in the link review post.) I found it to be a good quality binding and paper at an economical price. I used all sorts of media on the pages with great results. The paper particularly loves ink, 

Fabriano Venezia (Also see the following review for comments about this book.) I provide some additional specifics about painting on the paper in the Fabriano Venezia here. (July 2011) Before May 2012 this was my favorite commercially bound journal.

UPDATE December 5, 2017: I’ve only used one of these journals this year, beginning in January and working until today in the studio. I use this journal type for a “scrapbook” mostly now after discovering the spine issues (see below) but having a couple on the shelf to use up. The journa’s large size allows me to keep large prints of my work that I want to make notes on, keep project notes, and also keep scraps with notes and other ephemera. I tested a lot of other commercially bound journals this year and so I didn’t work much in this one, until, laid up with an ankle/foot injury I wanted to finish it. I painted in exactly the same way I used to paint in this type of journal, but for the first time in this particular journal. The paper allowed the watercolor to BLEED THROUGH THE PAPER. It was awful. And when the paint doesn’t bleed through it soaks into the paper in a way it never used to in older versions of this journal. The result is artwork that looks faded and dull. Since I was painting in the same manner I’d always painted in this brand of journal it was frustrating too. Besides the spine issues (see below) with this journal this paper change has made it a no-go for me. I have a couple left unused on the storage shelf and I’ll use them as scrap-book note saving journals only. Very disappointing to see one of the low cost good paper 9 x 12 inch journals decline in this fashion.

UPDATE January 11, 2016: Read Fabriano Venezia Journals Spine Problems: Product Review Update here. I am no longer recommending this journal.

It is reasonably priced, often on sale, and readily available. I love using this book as an in-studio journal in the 9 x 12 inch size. (NOTE: THE JOURNAL HAS CHANGED AND I CAN’T RECOMMEND IT, see above.) I rarely bind books of that size, and if I do the paper is pretty expensive, so this is a great bargain for me. I particularly love working on this paper with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist’s Calligraphy pens.

(Note: 12.5.17—If your goal is to work only with the Pentel Pocket Brush pen or other ink pens and NO WATER or washes you might still like this journal, though you’ll still have to deal with the spine disintegration issue.)

I have found the books to be sturdy and to stand up to heavy use. (NOTE: THIS IS NO LONGER TRUE, the SPINES DISINTEGRATE WITH LIGHT USE.)

In books that I make myself I typically cut out a few pages and leave tabs to hold space at the spine for collage material on other pages. When using these books I never do that. At first I didn’t just so I could test the book’s structure. Now I continue to do it because the books can take it and I like seeing how plump they get. Artist Pat Beaubien creates beautiful nature journals using this journal from Fabriano. Her work involves traditional watercolor techniques.

NOTE: The spine disintegration issues happen in books with no added material, it is not an issue of stressing the spine, it’s an issue of poor glue and manufacturing.

A group review of the Fabriano Venezia, Clairefontaine’s Voyage, and Hand•Book’s regular journal, along with a bit on why I teach bookbinding, and what I’m going to do when I can’t bind any more. (I knew I’d written about the Venezia and the Hand•Book before but it took the new search engine for me to find it, this June 2010.) (See Update Review on Venezia here.) 

12.5.17 I have two or three more of these journals on the storage shelf. I will use them for “scrapbooks” to keep notes and ephemera in them, and the occasional brush pen sketch. I’m really sad to loose these as an option.

Clairefontaine’s Voyage (A landscape format watercolor journal that’s hard to locate, see group review above or click on this link.)

Clairefontaine’s Watercolor Sketchbook—Review added November 24, 2019. This is a group review. Several friends used the book in a round robin so we could test it in lots of conditions. Please read the review.

Hand•book Journals (These are their regular journals. A review of their watercolor journals is listed below. Also see the group review second on this list which mentions this book). NOTE: UPDATE January 2015, See “Commercially Made Journals—Hand•Book Journals: An Updated Review at this link. I can no longer recommend these journals for mixed media, but only  pencil, color pencil, and ink. And there are some caveats with inks. I do not recommend these for wet media at all. The 4-part review begins at the updated link. Paper thickness has changed, workability has changed.

Alvin Field Notebook (See also the short video I made of the completed journal. I talk about some of the paper characteristics.)

Exacompta 9920 Sketchbook (Drawing paper in a soft-covered book with sewn signatures and a fabric covered spine.)

Kunst and Papier journals

APICA journals and notebooks

Pen & Ink Watercolor Journals (that’s right the company name is “Pen & Ink”).

Hand•Book Journal Company’s WATERCOLOR journals (New in spring 2010 with different paper and sizes than their regular journals reviewed above.)

Update 9.13.2020—I’m now often using the Hand•Book Watercolor Journal in the 6 x 8 inch or so size for a purse journal. It’s not great paper, but it is good paper and it makes a good purse size journal. I do not get through one often because I’m not out and about much during the Pandemic, but you can see examples of my work in these journals/on this paper, by using the blog’s search engine to look for then watercolor journal version.

John Purcell’s TH Saunders Waterford Watercolor Sketchbooks, (sewn signatures), reviewed June 3, 2011. (These are from London, so if you live in the U.S. the shipping is going to be costly.)

I review the Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook in my March 17, 2013 post. From what I say in my review you’ll understand that it’s a writing, note taking journal, or best used for dry media sketching. But I went wild with my tests and it’s going to be the vessel for my 2013 fake journal which is definitely mixed media so I’m including it in this list. Also I love the design and construction of this journal which looks like a Moleskine but has none of the smells and imperfections.

This summer I reviewed the Leuchtturm 1917 SKETCHBOOK which has thicker paper than the sister notebook listed in the previous paragraph. You can read my first part of the Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook review here. I wrote a number of other posts reviewing this commercially bound journal. Part 2 of my review is here. There is a third part to the Leuchttrum 1917 SKETCHBOOK review here. Additionally I continued to post images from that test journal as I filled it up so if you enter Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook into my blog’s search engine you will find a variety of posts and examples.

On September 26, 2014 I reviewed the Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal. I really enjoyed sketching with pencil on the paper but there was a noticeable odor to the paper which was a deal breaker for me. (Less of an odor than with Moleskine sketchbook paper, so if that doesn’t bother you this paper won’t.) To read a full review use the link.

Writing Journals

Clairefontaine notebooks—lined, blank, and lab-ruled—with stiff and colorful cardstock covers and fabric covered spines (with sewn signatures of course!) The paper is smooth and perfect for writing on using either a gel pen or a fountain pen. I use these for my written journals. Sometimes I use them for specialty journals.

I have to list the Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook here even though I’m using it for a mixed media fake journal in 2013. It really is best used for writing. 

You can see how the structural characteristics of the Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook held up to the abuse I dished out in April 2013 here.

 

Other Notebooks and Sketchbooks with Wire Bindings

Great Canadian which I use for life drawing. The paper is heavy enough that you can do light washes on it.

Stonehenge Journals, available in July 2010, reviewed at this link. Wirebound with cream or white Stonehenge paper, in various sizes. If you don’t mind having a wirebound sketchbook or journal than this is definitely a journal you should check out. The paper is great for drawing on with dry media and pen and ink. It will also take watercolor washes and gouache. There are some fun sizes of book available. And you can decorate the cover yourself!

Strathmore Visual Journals, reviewed on June 24, 2010 are wirebound and available in 3 sizes with a variety of papers: drawing, mixed media, watercolor, or Bristol. In 2011 I taught an on-line class for Strathmore using these journals. My particular favorites are the plate Bristol, vellum Bristol and the mixed media paper. I liked the Strathmore 500 series Mixed Media paper that is in these journals so much that I begged the company to make it available in sheets so that I could bind my own books with it. Now they also make hardbound books with it (see first category above). If you like wirebound journals these books are great.

Canson Mixed Media XL Series wirebound sketchbook. I review this book and paper in the linked post. I am definitely not a fan of this paper.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series Sketchbook, reviewed March 2, 2011. Update: March 2012—I’m not satisfiedwith the paper in these journals for note taking and sketching. I used two of them for taking notes in a 15-week Memory Drawing Class. Work included sketching in the journals sometimes with pen other, times with ink. I also had to take extensive lecture and discussion notes. I found that the soft pencil leads required for the sketching (4B to 6B) smudged horribly on this paper and a simple swipe of the hand could almost totally erase the graphite. Cross spread contamination was ugly. I also found that even as a right-handed note taker the ink from my Nexus and Stadtler Pigment Liner pens (both of which normally dry quickly on any other paper) floated so long on the paper that there are countless smears all over the notes, as I paused, looked up and listened, then shifted my hand, and returned to note taking. It has been a very disappointing experience. I won’t be using these books again. Update: April 2014: I’ve since tried the newer releases of heavier weight paper options from this company. I’m not satisfied with the working capabilities of the paper or the construction of the books when compared to competing books currently available. I am not pursuing additional experiments with this line as long as there are suitable, useable journals available, such as the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Journal and the Fabriano Venezia journal, which both suit the ways in which I like to work.

Update 9.13.20—since writing the original post with the Stillman & Birn update I’ve tried their Nova series books. The paper worked OK for pen/ink and for watercolor, but had an odd smell, and the drag on the paper wasn’t for me. I’ve reviewed it elsewhere on the blog. Additionally I tried their tan and gray toned sketchbooks and didn’t enjoy them either. (See Strathmore for the heavyweight toned Mixed Media paper journals I love.)

Aquabee 808 Super Deluxe Sketchbook, (ringbound), reviewed June 20, 2011. Additional information on the Aquabee 808 Super Deluxe Sketchbook can be found in this guest post by Karen Engelbretson, posted July 1, 2011.

At the end of the Minnesota State Fair in 2014 I took one of Hand•Book’s new wirebound watercolor journals on my last visit. The journal is filled with 140 lb. Fluid Hot Press watercolor paper. I didn’t review the journal, but can tell you it is a solid wire binding and the covers are hard, stiff, and durable. If you enjoy wirebound journals this might be an option for you. I’ve reviewed Fluid watercolor paper on the blog before and you can find my reviews through this blog’s search engine. I don’t like it for everything, but over time have become quite happy using it in specific ways when sketching. I prefer the cold press to hot press. If you would like to see the final two images I sketched at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair you can see them in my journal flip through located here. I drew two turkeys and to one sketch I added watercolor. (Unfortunately I don’t have the sketches posted as stills anywhere. The rest of my 2014 Minnesota State Fair sketches were on Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media.)

If you read this page and notice I’ve missed one of my reviews on this topic, please let me know. It’s hard for me to keep them all in my head!

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