Posts filed under Notebook Reviews

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Review

Makers South Leather Notebook Cover

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

Several weeks ago, I wrote a review of the Midori MD Goat Leather A5 Notebook Cover. Since that cover was untanned, the instructions said to leave it in a sunny room so it could darken over time. I put it in the sunniest room in our house, the Florida Room, but this turned out to be a big mistake. The Florida Room is also where our cats sleep at night. One cat decided that my beautiful, sleek Midori cover made for a terrific scratching pad.

Scratched 1.jpg

I know I should have accepted this with grace and considered the cover Wabi-Sabi. But I bought this cover because of its soft texture and the claw holes just ruined it for me. The Midori MD is my poetry-writing notebook, and I want it to be in an aesthetically pleasing cover. Besides, it turns out I don’t like the color the goatskin turned. It’s an orangey-tan that reminds me of Calamine Lotion from childhood. Blech.

When I started hunting for a replacement cover, I happened upon Makers South on Instagram and loved the look of their leather. They are a husband and wife team who make all sorts of leather goods by hand. Although they often have items in stock, they didn’t have any A5 notebooks when I visited the site. Luckily, they also make notebooks to order, so I sent an email inquiring about some of their leathers. I received a quick reply from Chrispian Burks with pictures of the leathers I had asked about and a photo of a piece of leather that was totally unique. He said he didn’t know what it was called, but he thought I might like it since it was so interesting. I loved it!

I decided on a simple notebook with a snap closure and no extras. Of course, when you place an order, you have all sorts of options, including multiple pocket styles, closures, pen loops, and even a sewn-to-the-cover pen sleeve. The base price for an A5 made-to-order notebook is $70.

My notebook arrived in about a week and a half (much faster than the four to five-week wait time indicated on the site). It came in a square cardboard shipping box and was wrapped in brown paper. I gasped when I opened it. It. Was. Gorgeous!

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover

Whatever the leather is called, it has character. It’s a reddish-brown color with lots of tan crackles (I’m sure there’s a technical term, but I don’t know what it is). It’s smooth to the touch and rather thin. I wanted a sleek notebook, so the thinness of this leather is perfect.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook

The notebook has a simple snap closure. Unfortunately, after a few days of use the snap assembly came apart, and I had to send the notebook back for repair. It is holding up well, so far.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Snap

The back of the cover has two cool details. First, is the Makers South brand embossed in the bottom corner. It’s simple and melts into the leather so that you hardly notice it. Still, I think it looks really nice.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Logo

The second detail is the cool stitching attaching the strap for the snap closure.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Stitching

The thread used for all the stitching is thick and full of texture.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Thread

I’m really happy with how the cover came out. My Midori MD Notebook fits perfectly, and I’m contentedly writing poetry.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Midori

If you’re looking for some really nice leather goods (notebooks, wallets, keychains, etc.) I highly recommend Makers South to you. You can choose from a whole range of leathers and have any notebook made to order just for you.

And if anyone wants my cat-clawed MD Goat Leather cover, let me know.


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Makers South Leather A5
Posted on April 19, 2019 and filed under Makers South, Notebook Reviews.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook: A Review

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook 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.)

The Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook is a 7.5 x 10 inch notebook with 160 pages. The cover is gray with a soft, velvety feel to it and it’s flexible. The only branding is on the back cover where “Blackwing” is inscribed.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook
Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Cover

The inner cover is printed with a place for one’s name, notes, start and completion date, and contact information.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Inside

The first page is a “Notebook Log” with columns for date, content, and page numbers. Unfortunately, the notebook itself is not paginated, so you will have to write the page numbers in yourself.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Log

The book lays flat when open thanks to the sewn binding. There’s a pink ribbon bookmark that complements the gray cover well.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Flat

The ivory paper is 100 GSM with gray lines spaced 6mm apart. There are 36 lines per page.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Lines

Blackwing notebooks are, of course, meant to be used with Blackwing pencils. Unsurprisingly, the paper and pencil combination works perfectly.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Pencil

But, I wanted to test my notebook with fountain pens and other writing instruments, just to see how it held up. The paper is smooth and thick and worked well with all the fountain pens I tried. I noticed a little show through and a tiny bit of bleed through with my wettest inks, but it was so minute, it didn’t show up in photographs.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Fountain Pen

With other writing instruments, the paper works equally well. The only pen that bled through was (as usual) the Sharpie. Highlighter did not bleed through, though I should have waited a bit longer to let the ink from my Pilot G2 dry (the smudging is my fault).

Other Writing Instruments

The Blackwing Summit is a no-frills notebook. It doesn’t have a pen loop or cover pockets or page numbers or any other bells and whistles. That suits me just fine. It feels nice in the hand, the paper is good quality, and the notebook should stand up well to abuse. I like the size because it’s portable yet large enough to write lengthy passages. It’s become my new Pen Addict review rough-draft notebook.

Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Writing

You can purchase this notebook from Vanness Pens for $21.95. It comes in blank, lined, and dot-grid versions.

(This notebook was purchased at a discount from Vanness Pens.)


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Blackwing 602 Summit Notebook Sample
Posted on April 12, 2019 and filed under Blackwing, Notebook Reviews.

Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO Paper Notebook Review

Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO Paper Notebook 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. And check out her first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, now available where books are sold!)

Kokuyo has earned a reputation for providing top quality paper for very reasonable prices, and the Campus High Grade MIO paper notebooks promise to be their best paper yet. I'm not entirely sure it keeps that promise. I think I personally prefer the thicker paper they offer. However, this is still excellent paper for the value and very good paper overall.

Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO Paper Notebook

The MIO paper is a premium paper that Kokuyo has bound into A5 and A4 notebooks. There are 6 and 7 mm rule lines available so far, though hopefully they'll add a grid option at some point. The paper is ivory colored and the lines are faint, so they don't interfere if you need to disregard them for creative purposes. There are 28 lines per page. The top of each page also has a place for the page number and date, as well as dots to mark vertical alignment.

Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO Paper

The notebook is glue-bound with a soft, very flexible cardstock cover. It's coated in a way that makes it feel like plastic, and will hopefully hold up well to wear over time. The spine is reinforced with a silvery tape that allows enough flex for the notebook to lie flat.

The paper is 60 gsm and the notebook contains 80 sheets, or 160 pages if you write on both sides. And you can indeed write on both sides, at least with most pens, so long as you don't mind a little show-through.

Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO

The lightweight smoothness of the paper reminds me a lot of Tomoe River paper, but it doesn't have the same level of impervious coating. It held up well for almost everything. Sharpie, of course, bled through. I tested an ink spill on it. The ink bled and spread across the page, and bled though the next page behind as well. That's the first time I've had a multi-page casualty from two drops of ink on fountain pen friendly paper, so I suspect this paper is not treated with whatever sorcery it is that keeps liquid inks on a paper's surface. True to this theory, my broad Pilot nib caused quite a bit of feathering when I wrote with it. It is a very juicy nib, though. With all of my other currently-inked pens, I had a pleasant writing experience and little show-through. Certainly not enough to bother me, though others may feel differently.

Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO Paper Notebook Writing

I don't think this paper will be the one pen addicts reach for when they want to show off sheens and shimmers or interesting shading--it's a bit too absorbent for that. But if you have a medium or fine point pen and a good number of pages to write, you can do that with one of these for only six bucks. That is, as I often find myself saying about Kokyo notebooks, completely bananas. When compared to many bound books of comparable paper, that's about half the cost. It's a good balance between luxury and practicality.

(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, for which I am very grateful.

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

Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO Paper Notebook Fountain Pen
Posted on March 21, 2019 and filed under Kokuyo, Notebook Reviews.