Friday, September 7, 2012

Review of the Daycraft Expresso Notebook

Today, I'm going to review the Daycraft   Expresso Notebook. You can find my review of the Executive Diary 2013, and my review of the  Animaland Diary 2013 from Wednesday.   

Most people are going to laugh when they first see the Expresso.  It's a pre-stained notebook, lol.                                                                                                  
How strange we are.  If we spilled coffee on our notebook, we'd be upset, but here it is pre-stained and it is just too cool!

The Expresso comes in 2 styles, the Kraft shown here, and one with a white cover (the stains are different on each style).  

The letter that came with my package (thank you Mr. Foreal Lee) explains the title spelling.


Specs
No. Pages: 176
Size: A6 (102x146mm / 5.8 x 4.1 in) 
Page color: Creamwith brown lines
Paper weight: 100 gsm/67.56 lbs.
Cover: Kraft or White Cardboard
Layout: Ruled
Extras: Back pocket

Look & Feel

Besides the funky cover is there anything striking about the Expresso notebook? 

Well, the brown lines fade toward the center and have blobs at the ends, as though they were put down with a fountain pen.   They are dark enough to guide the eye, while light enough to fade from attention when you don't need them.  And the brown on ivory provides a pleasant page to write on.  I found them almost serene.

Beyond that the Expresso is a fairly straight forward notebook.  The size is too large for back pockets, even if the cardboard covers were flexible, but they are a nice size and weight for purses or briefcases.  I would have liked an elastic closure.

The paper is smooth, and just the slightest bit slick and the pages have some spring, but lie flat if you fold the book back a little.  

The binding has sewn signatures glued to the cover but I was able to fold the book back completely easily, with no cracking or popping loose.  The cover creased minutely--I suspect it will crease wil continued use.  But hey!  It's already stained, lol.

Performance
I ran the Expresso through more paces than I did the two diaries, because I know I'll be using it for art rather than writing--but I did use a wide range of pens because I know many would want it for writing.  Permanent pen ink, fourntain pen ink in several colors and different nib sizes, ballpoints, gel pens and rollerballs--great performance.  No smearing, feathering or skipping.

There was some show-through but I couldn't get my scanner to pick it up.  There is enough show-through with the darker inks that some people might be unhappy.  There was no bleed-through at all--not even a dot.

Erasable Pen

I did a test with a couple of Pilot FriXion erasable gel pens for two reasons.  One just to see the quality of the line, and the other to see how easy it is to erase on these pages.  The FriXion requires a little more pressure to erase than a pencil does, but the erasers don't leave those ugly streaks.  I had no problem erasing and the lines came out nice and clear.  The FriXion is compared to color pencil, and you need to build up values in the same way, but it was fairly easy to do so.

Color Pencil

Next, I used real color pencils.  I like the color and was able to get decently dark values, but wasn't able to layer beyond two or three colors before the pigment refused to stick.  Still, ?I wouldn't hesitate to use this book for simple color pencil work.

Wet Media-Tim Holtz Distress Markers

I applied color in one corner and used the waterbrush to blend it.  After that, I just colored and did not add further water.  Besides the fact that the color paled unpleasantly on the front, bleeding through to become darker on the back, there was quite a bit of pilling (fibers coming off the paper and/or the pen).  Pilling has been a problem with the distress markers.  Some papers just a little and others worse.  It was quite bad in the Expresso, and not worth the damage to the paper.  Especially since the color looks very nice without the wet blending.

Even without adding water, distress markers are a fairly wet medium, and there was some bleed-through spotting here and there.

The black shows through, even though it doesn't show on my scan (I think my scanner may be scanning too light.  It used to pick up this kind of show-through.)

Rubber Stamp
 Well--not exactly rubber stamp, lol!  I used a LaBlanche KingFisher Collage Silicone Stamp 1199 with a Ranger Big and Juicy Rainbow inkpad.  As the name might imply, the Big and Juicy is a wet inkpad, and there was quite a bit of show-through.  It looks nice though--sort of like a watermark on the back of the page.

Alcohol Marker Bleedthrumanade-Spectrum Noirs

The color from the Spectrum Noirs was slightly muted, but it's a pleasant look to my eye.  The bleed-through was about 75%.  

Conclusion
While there was show-through and bleed-through with the various mediums, it was no more so than I have encountered in similar notebooks.  Lines are sharp and clear.  Color is on the muted side, so I would use it more for earth tones--nature studies, maps, etc than for work using jewel bright colors.  

It's portable, pleasant to work in, and pleasing to the eye.  I'm exceedingly happy to have it in my collection and want to thank Mr. Foreal Lee for giving me the opportunity to review the Expresso

The Expresso Notebook can be purchased at Daycraft.com.hk.   Remember that the prices are in Hong Kong dollars.  You can find programs online that will convert prices to the denominations used in your country to get an approximate price.  If you use Paypal, it will automatically convert according to the current  going rate of exchange.  

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