The Moo Hardcover Notebook: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

I’ll be honest. For journaling, I’m a die-hard Nanami Seven Seas Tomoe River Paper Journal fan. I usually buy two or three at a time because I haven’t found a journal I like better, and they’re almost always out of stock.

That said, there are a couple of notebooks that definitely tempt me: one is the Baron Fig Confidant. The other is a new kid on the block: the Moo Hardcover Notebook.

I was sent a review copy of the Moo Notebook, and all I can say is, “Wow!” The notebook comes in terrific packaging—exactly what you would expect from Moo (makers of incredibly classy business cards). There’s an outer box that says, “Open. Write Now.”

The inside contents are tucked in rice paper with the statement, “Almost too nice to use. (Almost).” I love Moo’s sense of humor.

Next is the notebook itself which comes in a slip cover, so when you’re finished with it, you can store it.

Underneath is a foam insert with a mint green pencil engraved with “Go forth and write.” They really want me to write! Thanks, Moo!

When you pull the notebook out, the first thing you’ll notice is how delicious it feels in the hands. It is a dark gray, felted hardcover, and your hands simply glide over it.

Perhaps the most unique thing about the Moo Notebook is its open binding. Although some might think this makes the notebook look unfinished, I love being able to see the Swiss-sewn binding. I’m fascinated with book-binding, and seeing how the notebook is put together tickles the book-nerd in me.

Plus, the binding is practical because it allows the pages to lie flat no matter where you are in the book.

The first page is thick cardstock that provides a smooth writing surface for the left-hand pages. The notebook has 160 lined pages of white, non-glare Swedish Munken Kristall paper (100gsm). The paper will not yellow as it ages. The lines are a light gray color and are 6mm apart. At the bottom outer corner of each page is a circle where you can write page numbers or use for checkmarks or make smiley faces.

In the middle of the book are 16 pages of G. F. Smith’s Colorplan Park Green paper (135gsm). This paper feels more like cardstock or index card paper than regular paper. It’s thicker, unlined, and has some texture. These pages are for doodling or sketching.

Additional features include a pocket you can stick to the inside cover for business cards and there’s a dark gray book ribbon.

I tested the paper with several different fountain pens. There was absolutely no bleedthrough, even with the thickest, wettest nibs, though there’s a bit of show through.

I also did some ink swabs thinking that surely such wet, thick swipes would cause bleedthrough. Nope. The paper handled the swabs easily.

Writing in this notebook is a joy. The paper is fantastic, the lay-flat binding works as advertised, and the hard cover means your work will last. I’m very impressed with this notebook. It’s incredibly well made—so nice, in fact, that you do almost feel like it’s too good to use. Almost.

My only criticisms are that I wish the unlined paper in the middle was white or off-white instead of green. I realize that the green pages stand out and make for a nice color scheme, but white would be more versatile (for watercolors, for example). I also wish some (or all) of the pages were perforated so that you could remove them easily.

The Moo Hardcover Notebook is 5.12" x 8.15”. It costs $19.99 at Moo, but as of January 16 they are out of stock (they expect to have more soon). At present, the only paper choice you have is lined, but discussion on the Moo website indicates that they’re open to producing it in other formats including grid, dot-grid, and plain paper.

If you want a comparable hard-cover notebook that is slightly smaller, the Baron Fig Confidant is $18.00. It’s 5.4" X 7.7" with 192 pages for $18.00. The Baron Fig also has lay-flat binding, excellent paper, and comes in lined, dot-grid, and plain styles. Plus, it has 12 perforated pages at the back.

Although I don’t think I’m ready to abandon my Seven Seas Writer as my journal quite yet, I may use my Moo Notebook to keep track of my inks. The crisp white pages and sturdy paper make it perfect for swabs and pen testing.

(Moo provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on January 20, 2017 and filed under Moo, Notebook Reviews.

Palomino Blackwing Volume 344 Pencil Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

I'm not a regular user of the Blackwing pencils, but I've been impressed with each of the ones I've had the opportunity to try. And the Volumes Vol. 344 Series, a tribute to Dorothea Lange and her iconic photograph "Migrant Mother", is quite frankly the best pencil I've ever used. It hits all the high points for me.

On the purely practical side of things, this is a really nice lead. It takes a sharp point that doesn't shatter. It lays down a super smooth dark line, but the tip lasts for ages and doesn't wear nearly as fast as you'd think. The lead doesn't smear excessively, either. Any lead smudges a little, but this one stayed put nicely, even when I carried my sketches around. It erases well--leaving just a shadow behind. The eraser does wear down a bit quickly, but it can be replaced if needed. It's a very well-balanced compromise between dark and hard. I've often been frustrated looking for that balance. I think this nails it.

It's a good size in the hand, with a rounded hexagonal barrel. The coated wood is comfortable--smooth but easy to grip. The red foil ferrule keeps the black eraser secure. Everything about it feels solid and well-constructed. The wood smells good when you sharpen it and the shavings are gorgeous. And, maybe my favorite part--it's a creative tribute to a talented woman who highlighted important social issues.

This pencil is beautiful. The colors are meant to mimic what a pencil would look like under the red lights in a photographer's dark room. It's difficult to capture the deep red of the body color--it's a rich burgundy that almost looks like it's glowing from within. The bright red ferrule and black eraser set it off beautifully. They're very passionate colors, which I think are an excellent choice for Dorothea's passion--and compassion--for her photo subjects.

Image via the Library of Congress

Image via the Library of Congress

Her documentation of the working poor during the great depression led to intervention, and her photographs of the Japanese interment camps in California during WWII were so stirring that the government locked them away for decades. The red on this pencil doesn't just seem like the red of a darkroom light--there's a fire to it that is truly inspiring. Finally, the volume number, 344, is a nod to where you can locate her photographs in the Library of Congress. That's just so cool.

The reason I haven't used many Blackwing pencils is because they're usually sold by the box--and I just don't need or want that many pencils. Until now. Now I'm looking at my box of pencils and thinking I might need a few backup boxes.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on January 19, 2017 and filed under Blackwing, Pencil Reviews.