Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: The-Paper-Cuts A5 Tomoe River Notebook

The-Paper-Cuts has this on the home page, which perfectly describes this fabulous notebook:
Our notebooks feature the wonderful Hobonichi Diary Paper. This high performance, fountain pen friendly paper can withstand the wettest of pens without any feathering or bleed-through. What makes this paper even more amazing is that it is extremely thin and lightweight. The notebooks have 352 pages of 52gsm paper and are just 13mm thick. All while weighing less than 40 grams. 
We designed our notebooks with comfort in mind. The paper’s light cream color is warm and inviting to write on. The notebooks are sewn bound, which means they can easily open completely flat on the table. Combine the plain paper notebook with our included writing mat (7mm lines and 5mm grid) and you have limitless ways to use this notebook.
Review The-Paper-Cuts A5 Tomoe River Notebook (5)
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Size: A5
Weight: ~ 40 g
Thickness: 13 mm
Color: Cream
Ruling: Blank, supplied with guideline (grid/line)
Page Count: 352
Paper Weight: 52 gsm
Price; $26.00USD
Where to buy: Contact The-Paper-Cuts


I was surprised to receive this notebook in a slim, black, box, wrapped in black tissue paper. It was mysterious, romantic, and appealing. I was able to reuse both the box and the tissue paper. Lovely presentation.
Review The-Paper-Cuts A5 Tomoe River Notebook (4)
One of the most awesome things about this notebook is it comes in a fairly thick cotton dust bag with a draw string. The front has cute little images to indicate the paper weight (being feather light), the amount of pages of the notebook being very light, that the notebook opens flat, and that you can use a variety of media on the paper. It's really cute, reusable, and protects the notebook well, as Tomoe River can be a little delicate.
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Review The-Paper-Cuts A5 Tomoe River Notebook (6)
This notebook is simple and attractive. It's thin, because of the paper inside. It has very slightly rounded corners, a black front and back cover, and spine, with a linen-like texture. It feels more like a slightly plastic-coated cover, which I think looks really good and it's practical as well. The cover has A5 in gold on it.
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It's a very plain design, which I really like. Inside, the end sheets are purple, so that's awesome and fun.
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The paper is cream Tomoe River, flush with the covers, and also with slightly rounded edges. They are blank, but the notebook includes a semi-flexible plastic guide with a grid on one side, lines on the other.
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First of all, this notebook feels awesome. I love the size - it feels perfect in hand and is perfectly usable and convenient. The covers are just firm enough to give the notebook some structure, because otherwise, Tomoe River paper is really thin and floppy (because it's so thin). I also like that it is also really clean cut and well-made. The binding is snug, the notebook opens without any effort - not that it stays open, but if you want to get to a random page in the middle, it'll open easily without having to crack the spine, and it will lie flat. The great thing about the way the notebook opens completely and lies flat is you can use all of the paper, on both sides.
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The dust cover is really great. It's not too thin, and it has a draw string. I often put the notebook in it, along with my pen case. Everything I need, right there. It's really handy.

The paper? MAGIC. I have a thing for Tomoe River, as does everyone else who loves Tomoe River. There are people who don't like it, for various reasons - it's too thin, it crinkles too much, it's floppy. I do not have these issues. In fact, those are some of the reasons I love it.
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The paper itself is indeed thin. It is crinkly, after you have used it. It flows, it flutters. It's very smooth to the touch, with no texture and it doesn't look like it has a coating (like Rhodia's vellum-coating). The guideline provided is really useful and a great addition. I imagine it's difficult to print rulings on such thin paper, and blank paper looks so clean and tidy. I would have loved a dot ruling, but this will do. The guide is semi-flexible plastic, with rounded edges, and it fits under the pages perfectly, and is easily visible. If you get ink on it, it wipes off relatively easily.
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Drying times on this paper tends to be quite long, even with finer nibs, unless you're using a really fine, fairly dry writer. I generally do not use dry writers, but with something like a Platinum Preppy fine nib, drying times are fast. The nib size does not necessarily determine how long drying times will be, but more so how wet it is. If it's a wet writer, expect long drying times (up to a minute, or more). It might be handy to pop a blotting sheet in the notebook as well.
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In terms of bleed through, show through, and feathering, the paper is really tolerant. Show through is expected, because it's so thin, but it holds up really well against bleed through and it takes quite a bit of ink pooling to actually soak through the page. The paper is so desirable in the Hobonichi Planner for creative uses because it handles watercolors and other media. Although the paper can warp and thicken, it still holds up well.
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Even wet application of ink, such as from a double-broad nib, won't feather or bleed through. There may be some inks out there that will misbehave (perhaps Document inks), but in my experience, that is really unlikely and has yet to happen. What makes this paper really stand out is a few things: how smooth it is to write on, so the writing experience is so pleasant. The other thing is how spectacular inks look - shading, sheen, and particles all stand out.
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I even spared a few sheets to try out pencils, ballpoints, gel pens, and more on. Why on earth would I do that? I don't know. This paper is outstanding with fountain pens. It works with pencils, but best with softer leads that smear onto the paper. It's too smooth for hard, lighter heads. The Palomino Blackwing Classic was the only pencil I really enjoyed using on here!
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Pencils didn't have much show through, but print through was a bigger issue, since the paper is so thin. Gel pens show through more intensely, as did the darker pigmented brush pens and fine liners. Overall, it works, but still, why would you want to use anything but fountain pens on Tomoe River?
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  • Tidy, clean binding. 
  • Notebook is convenient, portable size. Not too thick. 
  • Comes with a dust jacket that is rather useful. 
  • Excellent ink shading, sheens, particle visibility. 
  • Smooth paper offers a wonderful, pleasant writing experience.
  • Guide is included in both grid and lined ruling.
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  • After awhile, and depending how you have bent it, the front cover can stay open a little. An elastic closure could fix this, and might be useful if you have filled your notebook with watercolor and the pages have warped. 
  • Currently, these can only be purchased by contacting The Paper Cuts directly
  • A blotting sheet could be included.

YES. YES YES. I wish this notebook was easier to buy online, but it's perfect for me. Although Nanami Paper offers the Seven Seas notebook, it may not be the most practical purchase for overseas buyers, so perhaps this is an alternative.

I received this item free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion. 


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