Review: Foray Notebook

This notebook happened to be included as part of a lot of notebooks that I bought on eBay. I’d never heard of the Foray brand, and it didn’t look like anything all that exciting, but I’m always happy to try yet another plain black pocket notebook!

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It turns out that Foray is made for/by Office Depot. I don’t have any Office Depot stores near me, so I’d never hear of it. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to sell this exact notebook on their website anymore– it’s still listed but shows no availability or pricing info. A similar larger size Foray notebook is still available at only $10.99 so the smaller one was probably pretty cheap.There are so many “Moleskine clone” notebooks out there– big retailers like Walmart or Office Depot probably just get the same few Chinese factories to slap their own branding on a generic notebook. And yet I’ve found that these store brands are not necessarily all identical. I’m sure each retailer is negotiating their own balance of unit cost vs. quality and features, and each factory may do things slightly differently, so there are more variations than you’d think.

As usual, the Foray notebook has many features that are exactly like those of most other notebooks– 3.5 x 5.5″ size, 192 pages, black faux-leather cover, elastic closure, ribbon marker, and expanding back pocket. The branding is mainly on a removable paper wrapper, which in this case wraps vertically around the front cover. The brand name is also stamped on the outside back cover. (Shown below next to a pocket Moleskine for comparison. The Moleskine is an older Modo & Modo one from the early 2000s, so somewhat different from those for sale today.)

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Inside the front cover, there are a few lines to write your contact info, and the brand logo. The back pocket has taped edges rather than being made only of paper, which is always a nice touch.

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The cover boards and the notebook as a whole feel slightly bulkier than a Moleksine. The corners are not as tidily turned as I would like, and the overhang is a bit more than I’d like, and is also not even, with some edges sticking out more than others. But other than that, the overall construction feels solid.

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The notebook opens flat, and the paper inside is a creamy off-white. The lines are made of tiny dots, and don’t extend to the edges of the page. This is not uncommon but I prefer the look of lines that go all the way to the edge. The paper feels smooth– not quite as smooth as Moleskine and some others, but it works very nicely with all my usual pens. No scratchiness with fine gel pens. Fountain pen users would be quite satisfied with this paper, I think– no feathering or bleed-through. At 5 seconds, the Lamy still smeared, but by 7 seconds it was dry. Show-through is about average, and bleed-through is a bit better than average– only the Accu-liner and Super Sharpie bled.

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I really was quite curious about the retail price for this Foray journal– based on the larger one being $10.99, I’d guess this one was maybe $6.99 or $7.99. If so, I’d say it was a pretty good value. The quality control may not be the most attentive to every detail, but it’s a good, solid notebook with decent paper, especially if you’re a fountain pen user. It’s too bad Office Depot isn’t carrying this size anymore. I couldn’t find any other listings for a pocket size model, but Amazon did have a listing for a 5 x 8″ squared version in a white cover: FORAY Hardcover Quad-Ruled Journal-192 Pages. Who knows if that version would have the same type of paper, but it might be worth a try! Has anyone else used this brand? Let us know about it in the comments!

Lisa Congdon’s Latest Sketchbook

Some excellent sketchbook spreads from Lisa Congdon– I love the density of the patterns:

She notes that she uses a Moleskine Sketchbook and glues the pages together with a glue stick to provide extra thickness. I’m curious to try this out– I wonder if the glue adds an extra layer of protection from bleed-through…


Read more at: Recent Sketchbook Spreads – Today is going to be awesome.

A Sketchbook Can Be a Passport

I enjoyed this Q&A with artist Karen Neale, who traveled around the world sketching UNESCO World Heritage sites:

Q. How did this idea emerge?
A. My passion is sketching and painting the world around me. Since leaving school, I have kept a sketchbook with me, all through my training, qualifying and working as an architect. Then, in 2000, while working as an architect in London, I realised I wanted to do more with my passion for drawing in my sketchbooks and if possible do some good along the way….

Q. What were some of the learnings and unlearnings along the way?

A. This truly was a journey of a lifetime. My sketchbook was my passport to people and places. When standing or if lucky, sitting somewhere for several hours, simply drawing with just a black BIC biro, I became a part of that place for a time. Sketching erodes cultural and linguistic barriers, as a picture and the process to create it can be universally understood. Everywhere, people were friendly, informative, and inquisitive and offered me great hospitality.”

Read more at: Heritage in a sketchbook – Life and style

David Bowie’s Notebooks

It’s hard to imagine a world without David Bowie… I can’t say I’d really thought of him in connection to notebooks at all, but I was happy to find this, from a 2014 review of a David Bowie exhibition in Berlin:

David Bowie, original lyrics for “Ziggy Stardust” (1972) (courtesy the David Bowie Archive, image © Victoria and Albert Museum)


“But the real treasure is the stash of original pages of his modest spiral notebooks. In them, he composed lyrics and how they might be put to music, performed, and turned into video, all simultaneously. His handwritten script changes not just over the years but from page to page. The writings are often surrounded by surreal drawings: night scenes of empty cities, colored in multiple impressionistic shades with markers. The drawings are beautiful — cinematic descriptions, like a director’s notes for a film.”

Read more at: David Bowie Is Everywhere

Notebook Addict of the Week: Jenny

This week’s addict blogs about pens, paper and more at The Finer Point. Jenny has accumulated a prodigious collection of Field Notes and other brands of small staple-bound notebooks, both used and unused. I love the way all the used ones look in the first photo– so much color variation but such nice, neat bundles of all the same sized notebooks!

These ones are unused:

“My issue seems to be really prevalent with pocket notebooks. Initially this was in part fuelled by the crazy collectable, and in part, competitive nature that exists around Field Notes. You don’t really have to search very far to see people desperate to have all the new releases and buying up large quantities of limited editions. Many people will have a problem of hoarding notebooks so I am not alone, and my stack is probably much much smaller than most, but to get a real idea on how bad it was I decided to write a post on the number of used and un-used notebooks I own.”

Read more at The Finer Point
Found via The Cramped

Colonel Littleton Pocket Journals

I love hearing about new brands of notebooks– this latest discovery comes via The Gadgeteer (one of my favorite websites back in my days of Palm Pilot obsession, so it’s cool to see her reviewing notebooks too!)
Colonel Littleton is a Tennessee based company specializing in leather goods, and these notebook covers look yummy:

They hold commonly available notebooks such as Field Notes or Moleskine Cahiers, or you can use Colonel Littleton’s own refills, though it’s unclear what their paper is like. The packaging is cool too– they come with a rather elegant box that can be used to archive the filled inserts.

Read more at: Colonel Littleton No. 27 & No. 28 Pocket Journals review

Happy New Year!

New year, new notebook? New planner? New diary? Or just resolutions about how you’ll use your notebook,  journal, or sketchbook in the new year? Tell us your 2016 plans in the comments!

Best wishes to everyone for a safe and happy New Year!

Pebble Paper Design

Cute floral notebooks from Malaysia:

 “The 22-year-olds met at Sunway University where one was studying design while the other did corporate communications. Anni Tai and Rachel Chew then decided — right after graduation — to take some time off to explore their creativity. And Pebble Paper Design was born.”

Source: Pebble Paper Design: Homegrown stationery brand with whimsical offerings | Life | Malay Mail Online

World War I Sketch in a Notebook

An amusing sketch from a World War I notebook:

Helston Museum’s new World War One exhibition will throw light on the lives of women carrying out war work with the display of two rarely seen artefacts belonging to local women.As part of the new Women in the First World War exhibition, the Helston WWI Heritage Project will show the public an autograph book which belonged to a local Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, Olive May Bowden of Porthleven, and which she took with her while nursing during the First World War.

Source: Never before seen notebooks on display at new Helston exhibition (From This is The West Country)

Star Wars Chewbacca Notebook

Ok, Moleskine makes Star Wars notebooks too, but this one goes a step further!

Buy at: PYRAMID – Chewbacca furry a5 notebook |

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