I’ll admit right off that I’m biased. I have two suppliers when I need something to write on: Crane for more formal stationary and Clairefontaine for daily use items like notebooks or pads. That’s why when I discovered the Vice President of Marketing at Exaclair (who distributes Rhodia and Clairefontaine products in the U.S.), Karen Doherty, was offering a notebook for review I jumped on it.
Not too long later I received an example of Clairefontaine’s “Basics” cloth-bound journal in the 6 x 8 ¼ inch size. Looking at the attractive, understated textured brown cover and smooth white, ruled sheets I thought: “So, how do I review this?” Originality is not my strongpoint so I’m going to do what everyone else does with this kind of thing.
First, let’s take a look at the journal itself. It’s spine shows that, indeed, this is clothbound with sewn signatures. When open it’s pretty flexible and lies rather flat. Still, there is a bit of a peak to the page edges nearest the spine but I found this acceptable in this type of binding.
The paper is 23lb high resistant, pH neutral, white vellum (yes, I got that from a sales blurb) and, as usual, a delight. The wonderfully fountain pen friendly sheets between the covers are the reason I’ve bought Clairefontaine products for so many years. Since I’ve never found a more satisfying paper then this, which you’ll find in many of their products, I haven’t much in the way of criticism.
With that love fest over let’s put some ink on the paper. I used a variety of fountain pens from a Vacumatic with one of my finest (width) nibs to a Danitrio that puts down a small river of ink. As expected feathering is almost non-existent and bleed through very minor in my simple test. One could not ask for more in something like this.
The journal itself does not look or feel “basic” in the least. The grained cardboard covers feel good and are flexible. Rounded corners are another little extra that helps to raise this item above the fray. While this Clairefontaine journal is not incredibly fancy or hand crafted it’s sturdy and delivers in all the important areas. I’d even buy one…but first I’m going to enjoy this free one.