Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review: @iPenStore Rosetta Pocket Notebooks

iPenStore launched pocket notebooks that are produced locally - paper milled, manufactured, and printed in Michigan! Keri contacted me to help them give them a rigorous test to ensure they are fountain pen friendly and to see how they perform in general.
Review @iPenStore Rosetta Pocket Notebooks 1_RWM

ABOUT

Color: Black, turquoise, brown, orange, wine
Ruling: Lined, blank, dot grid
Paper Color: White
Paper Weight: 105 gsm
Sheet Count: 24
Page Count: 48
Size: 3.5" x 5.5" / 89 mm x 140 mm
Price: $12.00USD - SALE $7.99
Where to buy: iPenStore

APPEARANCE

These are cute notebooks. They're a little plain in terms of design but not in a bad way. They have firm card stock covers with smoothly rounded edges, and white paper inside that sits flush with the covers. They are staple bound on the spine, and they are simply branded with a compass logo on the front and a few notes on the back cover. They are pretty basic notebooks available in several colors so you'll probably find a color you like! I have one of each and my favorite is definitely the orange, turquoise, and wine!

The paper inside is bright white with a gray ruling (dot grid, lined). I like the ruling - it is also clean and precise - not obstructive to look at or write on.
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PERFORMANCE & FEEL

What about that French paper? iPenStore says:
French paper has been made in Michigan since 1871. Our history with French paper goes back to the 1950s when we purchased duplicator paper for the Chicago public school system. They are one of the last American, small independent paper mills.
The paper in these notebooks feels smooth to the touch and I wasn't sure if it was coated or not because it feels so smooth! As it turns out, it is not coated (ie. not vellum coated like Rhodia R). 

Since I have the paper anyway, let's do the rundown for pencils and ballpoints, etc. Pencils work just fine, of course. The paper does not give much to smudging. As usual, I don't care for hard leads on this paper - that works better with toothy paper. Ballpoints and gel pens work well with little to no skipping, no feathering, and low show through. Markers work well, do not feather, and only bleed if they are something like Sharpie/Copic. Brush pens were fun to use - the ink shaded well on the page and I noticed minimal feathering and no bleed through. Low show through, but that's ok as both sides could still be used! In fact, both sides could be used in all cases except for Sharpies/Copics. 
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The paper reminds me of high-quality printer paper. It feels a little thick, it's smooth but not coated, it's bright white and clean (ie. no little bits or fibers in it), and it tolerates a lot of writing instruments quite well.
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Ink shading looked pretty good, especially with saturated use (ie. swabs/wide, wet nibs/splats), but even with regular writing, I could see shading. With average or normal use, there was minimal feathering, low to no bleed through, and low show through. I did experience bleed through with heavy splats of ink or swabs. Really wet writers bled through and there was some show through and feathering but dry writers did not have this issue. This is not unexpected, of course. I expect that most users - at least for typical use - are using "regular" nibs such as extra-fine to broad with medium ink flow. As such, this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
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I found some inks feathered at some parts of the page and I couldn't find a pattern. It's very low feathering but I did see it here and there.
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Particles and sheen were visible. Particles were easy to spot but sheen was not as abundant as you may find on other paper (like Tomoe River).
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Overall, I would give this the fountain pen friendly ok but it's not the best I've ever used. The paper picks up oils quite easily and this affects where your nibs write both in terms of the feeling and how the ink behaves on the page. If you can, write on a piece of paper to protect the pages from hand oils. Other than that, I still give it the ok because bleed through is minimal for regular use and inks looked quite good on the page. Paper that is not fountain pen friendly feathers a lot, bleeds through a lot, and inks look flat and bland. At least they pop a little on this paper!
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PROS

  • French Paper 70% Smart White ultra-smooth, uncoated, 98 brightness text paper
  • Covers are 100% recycled paper cover stock (260 gsm)
  • pH neutral, acid-free paper
  • Milled, manufactured, and printed in Michigan, USA!
  • Pocket sized - works with a lot of journal covers.
  • Ruling is not visually obstructive. 
  • Covers are pretty tough and hold up well to being used and carried.
  • Covers protect the paper inside so there were no wrinkles or dog ears. 
  • Average drying times - a wait over 30 seconds is unusual with regular nibs. 
  • Both sides of the page can be used in most cases.
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CONS

  • As you near the end of the book, the book stays open especially if you break the spine to keep it open.
  • It doesn't lie flat without breaking the spine a little.
  • Paper picks up oil and it makes ink feather randomly.
  • The paper is a little thick for the amount of fountain pen friendliness you get. On the other hand, show through and bleed through is much lower than other fountain pen friendly paper (such as Tomoe River)
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OVERALL

As far as being a pocket notebook goes, the Rosetta notebooks are pretty solid. They are quite robust, hold up well to regular use, the paper is protected by the covers, and it is not super thick so it can be carried in your pocket or journal cover. I found the paper ideal for regular use but not super duper favorite fountain pen and ink use - as in, not something I see myself keeping forever because it was more so used for testing and keeping a to-do list. Once they were full, I recycled them.

The paper is on the fountain pen friendly scale - somewhere higher up on the spectrum, but it's not the best paper I have ever used. However, it's good enough that I would take it to a pen show or pen meet for serious pen, nib, and ink testing.

Performance aside, I love that the cover is recycled and the paper is milled locally to the company. Less shipping if you're buying from nearby, less resources used up.

I received this item/these items free of charge for the purposes of this review. This is a sponsored post - I was monetarily compensated for my time, feedback, and thorough review. I have done my absolute best to remain neutral in this review - everything you've read here is my own opinion.

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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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