Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review: @BaronFig Squire Rollerball Pens & Confidant Notebook

I reviewed a Baron Fig Confidant ages ago, and then the Limited Edition Three-Legged Juggler notebook (which was extra awesome). Currently, the Metamorphosis notebook is also available, but is limited so don't miss out! I've also spent several weeks with the Squire and Squire ABC LE rollerballs, and the pen and notebook makes a great package.
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ABOUT

Color: Grey + yellow
Ruling: Dot Grid, 5 mm
Paper Weight: 100 gsm
Sheet Count: 192 pages
Size: 5.4" x 7.7"
Price for notebook: $18.00 USD
Color: Charcoal or black (Squire)
Length (extended): 131.3 mm/5.17"
Diameter: 8.16 - 9.69 mm/0.32" - 0.38"
Weight: 23 g
Price for pen: $55.00 USD
Where to buy: Baron Fig

PACKAGING

Baron Fig offers pretty attractive presentation and the packaging is robust and cute enough to put on your shelf (or reuse). I'm not wild about keeping packaging myself, but the Confidant and both pens are delivered in such nice containers that it's tempting. It gives the notebook and the pens an extra touch of class. It also makes for a great gift! Imagine your recipient opening up a box and having these sitting in there:
Review @BaronFig Confidant Notebook & Squire Rollerball Pens 1
Forget gifting. Get one of yourself. A deep grey box snuggles the Confidant, and the pens are secured in a foam tube in grey or black, depending on the pen.
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APPEARANCE

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The Confidant notebook is so easy on the eyes - it's a medium grey notebook with smooth linen hardcovers. The bookmark is a highlight I love - it is a braided sunshine yellow braided bookmark with ends that don't fray as easily as the original Confidant's bookmark did. The corners of the notebook are rounded nicely. The binding is stitched, which I prefer over a glue binding. The paper is off white and is also easy on the eyes. The dot grid pattern is in a light grey, dark enough to be seen but not so dark that I find it obstructive. I also like the appearance of the paper, with its rounded corners to match the cover.
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The Squires are lovely little things. They are slim with round barrels and rounded back ends (which are actually the twist mechanisms). The Squire is in Charcoal, and it has the most adorable logo engraved in it, along with "Baron Fig". The Squire ABC is matte black with the alphabet engraved down the side. The ABC was a limited edition but the Charcoal is still available. Keep your eyes peeled - there will surely be more.

PERFORMANCE & FEEL

I love the size and weight of the whole Confidant notebook - it is bigger than pocket-sized so nice for larger projects, but not a giant notebook that is cumbersome to carry around and open on a table at your local coffee shop. Or on the airplane. You don't want to be one of those people who take up all the space. The paper feels like that you would find in a sketchbook, some kinds of sketchbooks anyway - heavy, fairly smooth, but also with a little bit of tooth. The Confidant is surprisingly fountain pen friendly and I would say the paper has improved over the last two I have reviewed. Significantly. I do not hesitate to slather fountain pen ink in this notebook. In fact, the paper is one of my favorites. Inks dry pretty quickly but bleed through is low, feathering is minimal (and is generally related to the ink itself and not the paper being an issue), and show through is low enough that you can usually use both sides of the page. With inky media, the paper does warp a little, but I love it.
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SHEEN! SHADING! SEXY!
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The notebook lies flat pretty well but I alway crack the spine a bit. I do find the front cover warps a little - it just does not want to close completely and there is no elastic closure to hold it down. If you prefer a pristine notebook, this might not be your thing. I don't mind so much.

From previous review: 
Pencils worked well on this paper, handling the tooth easily, especially pencils with soft lead like the Palomino Blackwing 602. It would be suitable and enjoyable to sketch and draw in this notebook with pencils because the paper is heavy but allows for smudging of pencil lead. As expected, and as with pretty much every notebook out there, Sharpie markers bleed through the Confidant's pages. No feathering though. Stick a sheet in between the page you're using and the next page to prevent the marker from bleeding to the next page though, and it's perfectly usable. Some Sharpie art is pretty cool. Gel pens work well on this paper, although as the tips get finer, they feel particularly scratchy as a result of the tooth of the paper. From 0.4mm tip size and up was about as far as I was willing to go without sacrificing smoothness, but hey, some people actually look for that bite from the gel pen writing experience, so this may be the perfect combination for you. Gel inks behaved well on the paper - no feathering. The ink did show through a little bit, but only one was bad enough that you might not be able to write on the other side (Dong-A Miffy 0.5mm). There was no bleed through.
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Liquid inks were absorbed into the paper more quickly than the gel inks were, so there is show through and it came very close to bleeding through. Wider tips, such as that on the Stabilo Easy Original rollerball exhibited feathering. Ballpoint pens, not surprisingly, were just fine in the Confidant. Honestly, I popped a Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 refill into a Retro 51 Tornado in the stainless lacquer finish. Looks pretty fine, hanging out with the soft grey Confidant. Also, the ink smells amazing. Okay, but this is a notebook review... Drawing & Calligraphy Inks: Tolerated well by the paper - very little feathering, very little show through, and no bleed through, barring exceptional cases where I actually applied way too much ink. The feathering is not visible to the naked eye either.
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The Squire is one heck of a rollerball - it's so simple but the refill Baron Fig offers (currently in black and blue) is really enjoyable to use. Other than that, the pen itself is smooth, light, well-balanced, and feels good in hand. The twist mechanism is super smooth, and the only downside is that I forget which way to twist and sometimes unscrew it a little. Minor thing. Most people can probably figure out the twist mechanism! The one issue with the ABC has a satiny matte black finish and it marks up easily.
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Two pieces of evidence that the Squires are amazing: my mom, who has little to no interest in pens, saw the Squire when it arrived and I had unpacked it. She said, “That is the best pen I have ever written with. It makes me want to write more”. Seriously. And she stole it. And I had to basically steal it back from her and then she kept asking if I was done with it. Then, last weekend, some of my family from Florida came to visit and we were going through my pens for fun. My mom showed him the Squire and he fell in love with it and said he needed three - one for black ink, blue ink, and red ink. Apparently, I need more too because I'm constantly having to steal mine back.
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PROS

  • Refillable.
  • Portable.
  • Well-balanced.
  • Comfortable.
  • Smooth.
  • Reliable.
  • Sexy.
  • Fountain pen friendly - sheen, shading, flex, delicious.
  • Classy.
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CONS

  • Squire ABC scratches quite a bit.
  • Notebook cover stays open after awhile.
  • Limited Baron Fig refills for the pens.
  • I'd recommend the leather sheath for your Squire pen, to protect the surface. 
  • The pens are rollers!
  • Squire pens are pricy.
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OVERALL

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I'm a huge fan of the Confidant notebook. I think they're classy, clean, and simple. They look good lined up on a shelf, they look good in their boxes, they're cute, they work really well, and I really, really enjoy writing in them. The Squires are a great addition to the Baron Fig line up. Super smooth, reliable writers and a perfect accessory for your Squire. They're expensive, and for someone who spends a lot on fountain pens, sometimes I have a harder time justifying ballpoints and rollerballs. I'd love to see this around $35 but hey, sometimes you have to splurge to get the pen you really want.



I was provided this notebook and the pens free of charge to sample, play with, get accustomed to, and review. I was not compensated monetarily to write this review. All opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links in this review.

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GourmetPens by Azizah Asgarali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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