Category Archives: Object Series

Questions from Readers

Here’s some questions from readers that have come in over the last few months. Some of them are stumpers, for me at least, but I hope some other sharp-eyed readers will be able to answer!

From Chris:

Do you by any chance know what type of notebook/journal Bradley Cooper is using in the movie ‘Burnt’?

I haven’t seen the movie, so I hope someone else can chime in!

From Ernie:

Do you know of a spiral notebook that uses yellow pages like a legal pad does? I’m looking for a spiral notebook but the pages yellow like legal pad instead of white.

This may depend on whether you want top-opening or side-opening. There are definitely spiral bound legal pads that open top to bottom, like this one. I also found this side-opening notebook that is only 6×9″ but the pages are yellow with legal ruling on one side and squared on the other.

From Fuzzy:

I’m trying to find a sketch journal that has both lined and blank paper, lined paper on one side and blank on the other. I’m not looking for the journal where the page is blank at the top and lined at the bottom.

The Dialogue notebooks I reviewed have this feature. I also found this though I’m not sure what the quality would be like. The ArtTrails Nature Notebook sounds like an interesting option, as it contains alternating pages of recycled lined paper and unlined watercolor paper.

From Jenn:

I’m experimenting with fore-edge painting.  Acrylic paint sits on the outside of the page where I want it, so when I bend the pages the image can show, but it flakes after too many openings and when you separate stuck together pages.  Oil and wax bases stain the inner paper.  So far, water bases are either not opaque enough or stain the paper.  Of course, the type of paper is also an issue.  The pages of a watercolor pad would be too thick, but too thin paper would soak through to the next page, the finish on the paper is an issue, etc.  So maybe a fake gild edge that I can paint then shut the book and wipe off would be the answer.  This would need to be a plain blank book.  Everything online is expensive and/or has leather.  It would also have to be cheap enough to experiment with and throw away if it doesn’t work.  If it really does, I’d buy more.  Do you have any ideas of cheap, plain, fake gilt edge notebooks?

I have not seen anything particularly cheap with gilded edges. The Object Series notebook I reviewed is $16 with gilded edges but it does have a leather cover and might not be suitable for painting on.

From Frances:
I do lots and lots of note-taking and have been using 3×5 cards (cheap ones) since I have filled up entire shoe boxes with my notes (separated in small cheap envelopes with the content indicated on the outside). Using so many, I can’t justify those nice cards from Levenger at 10 cents a piece! But, the Oxford/EssLT card packs in stores here (middle of nowhere New Mexico) are so rough I can’t hardly stand to use them. Back when I was still working, I used the Levenger circa junior size paper/notebooks and some smaller sizes, but have not been buying those lately due to budget constraints. Have you found a ‘system’ that includes nicer paper AND is economical AND with refillable pages?
I haven’t tried the Staples Arc system notebooks, but they are said to be pretty comparable to Levenger yet lower priced. I wish I knew of a brand of index cards made from nice paper, but I don’t!
From Doug:
I have used the following sketchbook for a while, and generally like them… the Hand Book . I live in Canada however, and sometimes this can make it harder to find. Anyhow, I use it for art, sketches, etc. I like the buff colour (not pure white), and I like the slight tooth it has. Do you have any recommendations for similar style notebook style sketchbooks that are good for artists?

Check out the Art Alternatives Sketch & Draw sketchbooks I reviewed, or the Hahnemuhle travel journal. These both have very similar paper to the HandBook.

From Richard:
Years back I bought a 7 x 10 notebook from a company called writers block. The paper was lightweight and had a dot grid. The book weighed only four oz.   It fit well alongside my iPad I’ve been searching high and low for something similar.
I am guessing you mean the Writersblok notebooks from Kikkerland. They have changed their offerings in the last few years, but their recent Writersblok notebooks are quite nice. The larger ones are the size of an iPad Mini. If you want something closer to the size of a regular iPad, the Extra Large size Moleskine Cahier might be a good fit. But neither of these options comes with dot grid paper. If you want dotted paper, Leuchtturm might have some options for you, particularly the medium or large softcovers.
From Dmitri:
I was planning to buy a Moleskine Hardcover, Plain, 5×8.25 notebook, but had heard the pages were very thin, which is something I am trying to avoid because I am planning to use pens, paints, glue, etc. in my journal. What I’m really looking for is a plain notebook around the size of 5×8.25 with pages thick enough for me to freely use whatever media I would like and sturdy enough so it can withstand thick pages and last a good amount of time.
You could try the Moleskine “Art Plus” Sketchbook in that size, as it has heavier pages than the regular “Classic” plain notebook, though they may still be not quite heavy enough for some kinds of pens and markers. HandBook Artist Journal would also be a good option, as they come in portrait and landscape versions in 5 x 8.25, as well as pocket and square formats. If you need something even sturdier, Stillman and Birn has lots of options for different papers and sizes and bindings. You can find a guide to their paper types here.

From Brent:

I have been looking for some notebooks I used to get at Target that I just loved.  They weer about 3×5 or maybe slightly larger and had a cardboard cover, were spiral bound (which was big enough to carry a pen in …. the main reason I liked them), and some had an elastic closure (the second reason I really liked them).  I used to get them all the time about 10 years ago, but have been unable to find them recently.  Are you familiar with these and if so, do you know where I might be able to purchase them?

I don’t have the opportunity to shop at Target very often so I’m not sure what these might have been. Hopefully one of our other readers might have an idea!

Thanks as always to our readers for sending in questions, and helping answer questions!

Review: Object Series Notebook

I love stories about notebook fans who turn to producing their own dream notebooks when they can’t find them anywhere else! Justin Woo wrote to me with his own tale of how the Object Series notebook was born:

“I had never come across a notebook I was actively searching for: black, flexible leather cover with gilded edges and minimal branding in the $10-20 price range.

So instead, I went ahead and had them manufactured under the Object Series brand name, and I have just launched the retail site to sell them. As the name suggests, this notebook is the first in, I hope, a series of many notebooks to come.”

Here it is:

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It looks very swanky with the elegant soft leather cover and the gilded edges. It’s a nice size, just a bit larger than a pocket Moleskine (shown below for comparison).

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The design is very minimal and chic with the dark grey endpapers and no branding except for the small gold letters on the inside back cover. (There is a removable sheet tucked inside with more info about the brand.) There is a ribbon marker with an angled tip (which is nicely finished off so it won’t fray), but no elastic closure or back pocket.

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When you first open the notebook, the gilded edges may stick together a bit– I rather like this, as it feels so crisp and new! The notebook doesn’t quite open flat– the signatures are sewn, but I think there’s a bit too much glue stiffening the spine.

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The paper inside is creamy and smooth– very pleasant to write on. Unfortunately I found that there was a bit more show-through and bleed-through than average, including a little bleed with fountain pens. Fine point gel ink pens worked the best.

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I have two issues with the notebook, the first of which is just my personal preference– I don’t care for the sharp squared corners of the cover and how far they stick out beyond the edges of the paper. I worry that the corners will get very battered with regular use. On the notebook I received, the cover was not attached to the book block squarely– you can see that the corners and edges are a bit off-kilter.

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This happens a lot with various notebook brands, and I try to have reasonable expectations about the level of precision you can get in notebook manufacturing, but I think here it bothered me a bit more given the overall context of quality materials. Then again, the price for this notebook is only $16, including shipping to the US, so I suppose you can’t have everything!

My other issue was with how my sample arrived packaged– it was well-protected between 2 pieces of cardboard, but the notebook was secured in place with a piece of double-sided tape, right on the leather! It left a nasty, sticky residue which I haven’t been able to totally remove– I know there are products like Goo Gone that remove sticky residue, but they usually say not to use them on leather. I hope this is not how other customers will receive their notebooks– it made me so sad to have this nice, fancy-looking notebook marred by yucky glue! [Update 1/27/15: Justin responded to the glue issue after reading this review: “I have found box packaging specifically for books, so all notebooks now arrive safely.”]

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Here’s all the official specs from the Object Series website:

Dimensions: 4×5¾”
Thickness: ½”

Finely-grained recycled black leather
Flexible and resistant to bending “memory”
Square corners
1/8” overhang (approx.)

224 smooth, unlined ivory pages with gilted edges
80 g/m²
Acid-, OBA-, and chlorine-free

End leaves:
Smooth, dark gray paper
150 g/m²
Acid-, OBA-, and chlorine-free
“Object Series OS1” embossed in gold on inside back cover.

Black and yellow head bands
Thread-stitched book block in 16-page signatures
¼” grosgrain bookmark

Made in China


Aside from the few concerns noted above, I really do like the Object Series notebook and it would make a nice gift. It’s definitely a cut above most other made-in-China notebooks in its price range in terms of its look and feel. And that Justin was able to get these manufactured at a reasonable price is quite inspiring for those of us who might also want to go after making their dream notebook come true someday!