Chroma Stationery make a selection of A5 notebooks, perfect bound (like this one – glued) or spiral bound. The one I’m reviewing is the Nebraska: 50 pages of uncoated 80gsm paper (plain or lined) and thick card cover, for £8.50.
The paper is quite good. There’s virtually no feathering. In my tests, the broad Vanishing Point with Kon-Peki feathered ever so slightly but nothing else did. This combo was the only one that showed any hint of bleedthrough and, again, that was only the slightest hint. Writing does show through to the over side of the page though. Overall, the paper is better than your average notebook but not as good as your best Rhodia/Clairefontaine.
The cover is going to bend and scuff, as can be seen from mine, which has not left the house but is already showing signs of wear. The finish looks great, though. Chroma notebooks come in a wide range of colours each of which has been given a name and personality. This blood red colour is Zoe. From the website:
Zoe is my listening ear. She is the person you can go to to sound anything out. I have thought long and hard as to why this lovely deep red reminds me of Zoe, it is just her colour.
All Chroma notebooks can be embossed and this is included in the price. You can choose virtually any font and pick from white, silver or gold. The ‘Pens! Paper! Pencils!’ on mine looks fantastic.
The binding feels sturdy. I don’t think it’s going to come apart without a lot of abuse. The nature of this glue binding means pages are reluctant to lay flat without some persuasion.
This is a good notebook. It’s quite expensive compared to similar notebooks (such as the Clairefontaine Age Bag) but they don’t come with embossing or such a range of colours. If you want a notebook that’s literally personalised just for you, this is an excellent choice.
This notebook was sent to me free of charge by Chroma Stationery for review purposes. I’ve tried not to let that influence my opinions.
Private Reserve Plum is a fairly standard purple, with just a little shading and fairly lengthy dry times.
I struggled to get the colour right with this one but what’s on my screen is about the same as the ink. Obviously screens vary a lot but I do what I can do…
The Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth 5311 is a 5.6mm clutch pencil. It costs about £13 in the UK. I picked this one up second-hand from eBay.
It’s quite a heavy pencil. I suspect it’s made from brass but I can’t be sure. It’s built like a tank. You will never need to worry about breaking it.
The clip is a strong wire loop and is held in place with a bolt. It’s firmly sprung and performs its function well.
The pushbutton includes a lead pointer which works a treat.
The lead is held firmly in place. The lead this came with is great – nice and smooth and dark. I don’t know if this was the original lead, though. There are three indents running along the length of the barrel and this makes it easy to hold the pencil firmly and, also, comfortably.
This is a pencil that means business. It’s heavy and solid and strong and, well, really rather manly. If you tried to use it to sketch a pretty little flower it would implode. It’s a pencil to use in the workshop, while drinking beer and designing a shed.
The good thing about drawing is that you never need to be bored. This was drawn while waiting for someone to arrive for a meeting, sat in my car in a beautiful Dorset village.
Platinum #3776 Sai, fine nib, Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-Iro, Calepino notebook
The Forest Choice is a wooden pencil available in #2 (HB) grade. It comes with an eraser and is available in boxes of 12 for about $3.
The pencil is made from incense cedar and lays claim to being the first FSC-certified pencil. The barrel is lacquered and is simply branded. There’s no barcode but there is a URL where the barcode would usually be. Personally I find the juxtaposition of a website address on a traditional-looking pencil a bit jarring but that’s perhaps just me. I also prefer my wooden pencils to be unpainted.
The lead is quite smooth and holds its point well.
This pencil sharpens nicely. The lead gets to a nice point without breaking with a clean finish to the barrel. The barrel is comfortable to hold.
The eraser is pretty good and removes the pencil without smearing.
The Forest Choice is a cheap pencil that writes very well and has a nice simple finish. It’s not quite to my taste but if you like the almost-but-not-quite natural finish then this is an excellent pencil and extremely good value.