Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review of the Daycraft Signature Inspiro Notebook

Daycraft Signature Inspiro Notebook

I received one of the Signature Inspiro Notebooks from Daycraft  for review.  It's one of the Signature series, noted for the two-tone look, a cover in one color and pages edged with a contrasting color. The Inspiro comes in three different versions, each with a different saying on the front.

This is my favorite saying, and something I need to do!

Specs
Size: A5 (5.83 x 8.27 inches)
No. of pages: 176 pages (88 sheets)
Cover: Fine Italian PU, caramel color
Extras: Duo-tone Caramel cover/Purple-Edged Pages, Purple ribbon page-marker 
6.5 mm (0.26 inches) lined cream color paper
Other Sayings: Great Ideas Have to Start Somewhere (cover color-Applesauce);  Today is My Day (cover color-Ash Grey)

Look & Feel

All of the Signature notebook/sketchbooks are snazzy lookers, and the Inspiro is no exception, with its caramel cover and purple-edged pages.  The front and end pages are a matching purple. The marker ribbon is a lighter purple.  Overall, it's a notebook that will catch people's attention without being flashy.


At the moment, it only appears to come in the Lined format.  I find it hard to identify the line color--it seems to change a bit according to the light, sometimes seeming a navy, sometimes a dark gray-green or a purple-gray.  Even though the color is dark, it's low-key, so I don't find it obtrusive, even when I'm drawing on the page. It's a good color contrast for the cream-colored paper.

The paper is smooth and of medium thickness, which makes it a little heavy for its size.  I wouldn't hesitate to carry it around though.  The cream color is restful on the eyes, toning down the color of the inks somewhat.  Not too much though, as you'll see below in my drawings.

The lines are a narrow-rule (.26 inches), and might be a bit narrow for those with large writing.  Perfect for those who write small.  There is a white-space border around the page, with slightly more space at the top for titles.


The cover is soft Italian PU, which has a similar look and feel to leather.  It's quite flexible--you can fold back almost flat--but it's sturdy enough to give support while you are writing or drawing.



The notebook lies flat, but it has enough pages that there is a slope toward's the middle. It never gets in the way of your writing though.

The binding is sewn, very even, sturdy and unobtrusive.

Performance
There is no feathering, even with 'wet' inks such as the J. Herbin Vert Empire.   Show-through is light, better than most notebooks I've used in this quality range, and bleed-through is about average.

Of all the inks I used for writing, the Bleu Nuit is the only pen with bleed-through.  The Vert Empire is actually a wetter ink, so in this case, I believe the Flex pen contributes to the bleed-through.  





For my first drawing I used Tim Holtz Water-soluble Distress Markers.  I used them dry without adding any water.  These markers are fairly wet, even without the addition of extra water, and they tend to 'pill' a bit (as do most water-soluble fabric-tipped pens). With the Inspiro, it was only the fabric of the pen.  The paper itself didn't pill.

There was a slight curl at the corners, but no dimpling or buckling.

I used Pigma Micron pens for the line-work and the lines were clean and crisp.  White Pentel pen was used to add highlights and lighten color in a few areas.

Again, there was surprisingly little show-through, and about the amount of bleed-through I would expect. Where I layered fresh color over color that hadn't dried, the paper was saturated enough that it bled to the back of the page.  If you took care and waited for each layer of color to dry, there would be little to no bleed-through.

Even with the bleed-through, I wouldn't hesitate to draw on the back of the page. I'd just incorporate the color.  However, some would not want to use the back of the page.


For my second drawing, I decided to use a wetter medium, and used my J. Herbin inks in a roller ball pen and fountain pens.  The color of paper (and probably the sizing) turn the colors a bit more somber than I've found them to be on other papers.  It wasn't enough to keep me getting sharp definition and a good color range though.  

Almost no show-through occurred, but the bleed-through--well, there is a lot of it.  Because of the sombering effect, I layered color a lot, and I deliberately did not wait for layers to dry.  In some cases, the paper pilled a little but never tore.  After drying, the paper has a rough texture to the touch, but it doesn't show.

I like to take my tests to the edge and see just what the paper will do.  I could have prevented the pilling and some of the bleed-through simply by waiting a bit between layers.  That isn't my style, though, and now I know the worst-case scenario.


You can see how much bleed-through there is, but even with the saturation, the paper did very little dimpling, and very little curling.  You can feel more than you can see.



I started to do a color pencil work, but my arthritis is bothering me, and the pressure needed to build up color made it painful, so I stopped.  What I found was typical for color pencil on smooth paper.  If you apply pressure you can get reasonably bright colors.  After two or three layers it becomes difficult to add more color.

Overall
The Inspiro is a typical Signature series notebook, with snazzy looks and quality paper.  Fountain pen users may only want to use one side of the page, depending on the ink and pen in question.  Colors are a bit toned down from what they might be on other papers.

I find the show-through to be less than similar books in this price range and quality.  Bleed-through is about average, especially when you saturate the paper with 'wet' ink.

I wouldn't recommend the book for using colored pencil or watercolor, but small amounts of either would be okay.

This notebook has good quality paper that stands up well to the abuse I've given it.

Of Note
By default on the site, prices are listed in Hong Kong Dollars.  At the top of the screen, you can change to the prices to U.S. dollars by hitting the HKS arrow in the upper right and selecting USD$.


For other countries, you may need to google for a converter that will show the amount in your currency.

I want to thank Daycraft for sending me this notebook to review!

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