My take-along journal for a recent vacation was a Basics Forum. It was wonderful sitting beside the river and tangling away.
The Forum was a nice size, and despite the number of pages (365) it is surprisingly light. If I was worried that I might mess up the beautiful leatherette cover, I just slipped the journal out, and carried it without.
Look & Feel
Specs: Basics Forum Refill
Size: 5x7 (11.9 x 16.9 cm)
Format: Blank (comes in graph & ruled, as well)
365 pages/ 190 sheets
Smooth satin finish, pH neutral white 64 g paper-25% cotton, pH Neutral
Textured brown board cover
Easy Tear-Off Corners
White, 64 g Paper
Nostalgie Leatherette Cover
Decorated in 22 styles, plus plain. The cover reviewed here is the 'Swan' style.
Leather look; saddle-stitched
Fits the Basics Forum Refill Journal
The Basics Forum has a nice textured flexible cover that could easily be customized. The leatherette cover, though, adds protection and undeniable elegance. Both are pleasant to feel. In fact, I found the Forum pleasant in many ways.
Lots of pages, handsome styling for the Basics Forum refill, sturdy binding. The cover is elegant to look at and pleasant to the touch. I think if you were an avid journalist, a row of these sitting on the shelf would look awesome.
The first page of the journal has a two-sheet insert glued to it with information about Exacompta's history, philosophy and quality.
The second flap of the insert has some interesting information on Swans. I assume that this information would differ according the leatherette cover you have, and is probably not included in the Basics Forum refill bought separately.
The paper is very thin and it creates a padded, pillowy effect that is comfortable to write on. That has a down side. The pillowy effect means there is a little give--you do need a stable surface underneath to ensure it doesn't give too much.
The journal lays fairly flat when open, with only a little spring towards the middle of the book, but with so many pages, you do get a slope in the middle. You can fold it back, but it is too thick to lie flat when you do.
There are no pockets, but the flaps where the journal slides in can be used as a pocket.
The journal is a good fit for the cover. It is held snugly, yet the cover has enough give so you can easily slide the Forum in and out.
The tear-away corners are nice if you are want to get to the most recent page immediately, as you might with a planner or daily journal, however, I don't like them. When drawing the pen catches on the perforations and they disturb the look of the page.
The thin paper does mean that you'll have show-through and even some bleed-through if the ink is wet enough. The amount of both varies according to the pen and ink used, of course, and was much more apparent when drawing than when writing.
The above example was written with J. Herbin Blue Myosotis ink using a J. Herbin Rollerball. I consider it to be of a medium wetness. I wrote the left page while standing up, with no other support, and you can see how the ink gets lighter because the page gave a little. I had better support when writing the right side.
Below you can see the back of the above spread. I don't think the scan shows it well, but the show-through is definitely apparent. However, I wouldn't hesitate to write over it. With most of my drawings though, I would not use the back of the page.
The paper is reasonably fountain pen friendly in other ways. As usual, with fountain-pen-friendly-paper drying times are longer, but I had no problem with feathering.
At the front of the journal, on the first couple of pages, I experienced some skipping with the ink. It didn't occur after that, so I think it was probably residue of some kind, and I don't know if it would be common.
Colors are vivid, and it takes fairly wet medium with no pilling or tearing. The smoothness and padded effect of the paper make for a comfortable writing and drawing surface. It's great for pen and ink or marker work.
The paper is thin, and does dimple if the medium is wet, but not as much as I expected it would.
Bleedthrumanade with Marvy Alcohol Markers. Colors are bright but not brilliant. I used my J. Herbin roller ball pen and fountain pen inks for the line work, with some shading and texture done using color pencils.
Front of two-page spread
Back of the left page.
Back of the right page.
Pen and Ink: Drat. I can't find my notes, and durn if I remember what I used to draw this one. Getting old! I do know I did the smudging on the Panda bear with my finger.
This second B&W was done using the J. Herbin Roller Ball pen with Pen&Ink cartridge.
Colored Pencil/Pitt Artist (India Ink) pens. I used Soho Urban Artist watercolor pencils for the background and the Pitt pens for the line work. The paper is smooth, so the pencils did not blend as well as they would with textured paper. Pencil marks do show, but they blend enough that they add energy without distracting. I was able to build up to three layers of color before the pigment started sliding around.
The Exacompta Basics Forum journal is a good product in middle high end of the range. The Nostalgie leatherette cover adds elegance, but just the plain textured cover is nice. While I feel the Rhodia Webbie or Quo Vadis Habana provide a better writing experience, most would be more than happy with the Forum. I have a tendency to want to use my Webbie and Habanas for 'ART' and hate it when I mess up in them. The Forum has a more casual feel. It's nice enough to use for art, but I don't mind scribbling notes or just playing around with patterns that I'm developing.
The 365 pages will appeal to some as more bang for the buck, while some would prefer less pages and more ability to lay the journal flat or fold it in half.
DISCLOSURE: Other than the products I'm reviewing, I did not receive any compensation from Exaclair, and all opinions are my own.
I want to thank Exaclair for sending me this Basics Forum journal and Nostalgie cover. It is always a pleasure to review their products!