Furrow Book lined guideline insert

Furrow Book Notebook Review

Furrow Book review

The Furrow Book is made by the Zeller Writing Co. and available direct from them. It’s available in two sizes – roughly A5 and A6 (Field Notes size) and two colours: “Great Plains” (white) and “Founding Supporter” (blackish). The A5/large size is available in a two-pack for $11.99 and the pocket size is available in a three-pack for $9.99.

Furrow Book open

I’m reviewing the Great Plains version here. The photos are of the larger A5 but the smaller notebooks are pretty much identical in every way but size. I picked up mine as part of the Kickstarter campaign. The exact specifications for the larger notebook are: 5.5″ by 8.25″, 96 pages of 60lb (90gsm – good and thick) recycled paper, held together with three staples. The smaller notebook is 3.5″ by 5.5″ with 48 pages of the same paper and three staples.

Furrow Book staples

The cover is a nice thick card and a creamy/ivory colour. If you are so inclined this lends itself to decoration. If you’re not so inclined, it lends itself to getting a bit grubby. Obviously the Founding Support edition wouldn’t have this problem.

Furrow Book cover

The branding is restricted to a small section at the bottom of the back cover.

Furrow Book branding

The paper is plain and this is your only option. However each Furrow Book comes with a cardboard insert with grid markings on one side and lined markings on the other.

Furrow Book grid guideline insert

These make the notebook very versatile. While it’s perfectly possible to make your own I like that these are included and it does mean you have all options available to you as well as some extra support if you’re resting the notebook on your lap.

Furrow Book lined guideline insert

I’ve been using this notebook to record the pens and inks I’ve been using. There is very little feathering – only the very wettest pens and inks have any difficulties at all. The paper shows inks off well.

Furrow Book ink test front

Ink does show through the page, though, and there is a lot of bleed-through too. I can’t use fountain pens on both sides of the paper. This won’t be a problem at all if you use other kinds of pen or use pencils.

Furrow Book ink test back

These are perfectly reasonable notebooks. They cost about the same as other notebooks and perform as well as most which is to say, fine with anything but fountain pen. They definitely have appeal if you want to spend time decorating the covers with doodles or art. The guide inserts are a nice addition. Otherwise, there’s little to separate them from others, which is neither good nor bad.

Kaweco Sketch Up Brass and Aluminium retracted

Kaweco Sketch Up Clutch Pencil Review and Giveaway

Kaweco Sketch Up Brass and Aluminium clutch pencil review

The Kaweco Sketch Up line is a range of clutch pencils available in a variety of finishes, mostly taking 5.6mm lead. (Some take 2mm lead.) There are two kinds, one with a grip section (costing around £30 in the UK) and one without (costing about £27). Here I’m reviewing an aluminium pencil with a grip and a brass one without.

They are a similar size and (octagonal) shape to the Kaweco Sport range. The clip that fits the Sports also fits these. (The previous version of the Sketch Up was a different shape and the clips don’t fit those.)

Kaweco Sketch Up Brass and Aluminium together in peace and harmony

Both versions are solidly built and fairly weighty. The best word for describing these pencils is chunky.

Kaweco Sketch Up Brass pointer

The push button end releases the clutch mechanism and doubles as a lead pointer when unscrewed. It works well as a pointer and the mechanism grips the lead very firmly. The only problem I have is that because the pointer and the business end (nose) both screw into the barrel they’ll often work loose a little and, although this could be my incompetence, I always seem to start by unscrewing them even more before working out which way to turn each part to tighten it all up.

That is a little annoying, I can’t pretend otherwise, but the brass version in particular has such much old-school charm that I am prepared to forgive it. The patina mine’s developed over the three or four months I’ve been using it is delicious. I’m biased, I know, because I absolutely love brass pens, but what can I say? It’s gorgeous and I love it. (As well as using it for drawing, my children and I have played umpteen games of hangman with this pencil. This is especially entertaining with an 8-year old who spells phonetically.)

Kaweco Sketch Up Aluminium business end

The supplied lead is pretty good. Nice and smooth and dark without being too waxy.

Kaweco Sketch Up Brass and Aluminium retracted

The aluminium grip pencil is more comfortable to hold, due to the extra centimetre or so and, of course, the grip itself. Despite this perfectly sensible reason to choose the aluminium grip I myself prefer the brass one because, well, it’s brass. (And also the simpler lines appeal to me more.)

Kaweco Sketch Up Brass and Aluminium not really talking to each other any longer

Kaweco sent me these two pencils to review and to keep. I’ve not let that influence my views, which have come from using the brass version day in day out for quite a long time. I don’t need two of these pencils though so I’m giving the aluminium one away to one lucky reader. (No-one is going to take the brass one away from me. Not ever.) To have a chance of winning, in the comments tell me about a game you play with your children or played with your parents when you were a child. A game you are or were fond of. The closing date is 9am GMT Sunday 31st May. You can only enter once. You can enter anywhere in the world but I won’t be held responsible for dodgy postal services or customs charges. I’ll use random.org to pick the winner.

Kaweco Sketch Up handwritten review

To the Roof Terrace

To the Roof Terrace

Here’s a painting of the scene I posted a charcoal sketch of last week. It’s the top of the stairs leading from the calm coolness of the riad to the blazing heat of the roof terrace, in Marrakech.

Windsor & Newton paints, Windsor & Newton Bockington Water Colour Paper, Windsor & Newton Cotman brushes