When Lee and Sarah Rubenstein of ArtSnacks let me in on the creation of their own art supply company last year I was excited to see what they would come up with. The secret was revealed to all in the November ArtSnacks box with the introduction of the Plumchester 1.5 Fine Brush Pen. It was met with excellent reviews, and seeing it in action on the Plumchester Instagram feed, I could tell it was well done.
With a successful launch behind them, it was time to branch out and expand the brand. Enter the Plumchester Square Sketchbook.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a sketchbook guru. Watercolors, charcoal, brushes, and other media with a more artistic bent are not my forte. But I know what I want in a notebook, I have a plethora of pens, pencils, and ink to throw at one, and I know how paper should act. I think Plumchester nailed it across the board right out of the gate.
If nothing else is obvious from the pictures, this is not your old school black sketchbook. For that, I am thankful! The purple vegan leather hard cover is vibrant, and the yellow elastic closure and bookmark ribbon add the perfect amount of pop. The branding is minimal, with only the Plumchester “P” logo stamped on the back cover. Inside contains 48 pages of blank, white, acid-free, 160 GSM paper, all bound to lay flat when in use.
I wasn’t sure what to throw at it first. The Sakura Pigma Micron seemed like the obvious choice, as well as other drawing pens. They went down on the page as expected. The feedback from the paper is smooth, not rough, so it’s not exactly made for the products I mentioned above, like watercolors. There is no feathering or bleed. Gel pens, ballpoints, and pencils worked as expected also.
Fountain pens on sketchbook paper is generally a no-no, but not with the Plumchester Sketchbook. None of the nibs I tried dug into the paper, and the inks behaved as if they were writing in any other fountain pen friendly notebook. The ink dried quickly, with no bleed to speak of. I didn’t expect this at all, but I’m certainly happy about it. Even Sharpies worked well, and were the only pen to show even a hint of ink on the back side of the page.
One format that I enjoy that doesn’t get used enough, for various and valid reasons, are square notebooks. For a sketchbook this size, it is wonderful. It is the right amount of space all the way around. 8.3” in each direction to be exact, sort of like a double-wide A5. It’s an ideal size for sketching and still fits easily in your bag or backpack.
For $18, this is close to no-brainer territory. Even if you are not an artist, as I clearly am not, this is a sketchbook that you can find a myriad of uses for. Using it is an enjoyable experience. It gets out of its own way and does its job. Simple as that.
My thanks to Plumchester for sending me an advance copy of the Square Sketchbook at no charge for purposes of this review.