Review-Quo Vadis Habana with White Paper

Did you know that Exaclair, Inc. is the exclusive U.S. distributor of Clairefontaine, Exacompta, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, G. Lalo, Brause, J. Herbin, Mignon and Decopatch products?  

Today, I'm reviewing the Quo Vadis Habana with White Paper. It's a bit of a tease because Habanas with this color paper are no longer being produced.  You might find them in stores here and there though, and wonder if it is different enough for you to buy.

The Habana comes in both lined and blank versions, with covers of Black, Anis Green, Red, Orange, Raspberry and Turquoise, whether the paper inside is white or ivory.  The informational paper band that wraps around the front cover has probably changed over the years, so I can't be sure what it might say.  None of mine mention the paper color, so if you can't open the book because of plastic wrap, you should look at the paper's weight.  The white paper is 90g while the ivory paper is 85g.  (I'll discuss this more under Performance, because you are probably wondering if that weight difference makes a difference).

During this review, my comments are specifically about the white paper Habana, except where I am comparing the two papers.

Size: 6" x 9"/15.2 x 22.9cm
No. of Pages: 160 Blank Pages (80 sheets)
Binding: Hardbound, Sewn
Paper Weight: 90g
Paper color: White   
Extras: Accordion Pocket, Elastic Band, Ribbon Bookmark, Rounded Corners, PEFC Certified Paper-acid & Chlorine free

Look and Feel
For me, the most stand-out thing about the Habana is how well it folds back.  The softness of the leather-look cover, the binding and the number of sheets are all coordinated, making it easy to fold back, easy to hold while it is folded back, with minimal effect on the cover.  You might get some creasing along the spine.  I haven't yet, but I don't hold the book this way on a regular basis.  

The paper has a smooth, hard surface but it's not glossy or slick.  The whiteness is bright but shy of brilliant.  

You can see the difference here, between the ivory and the white paper.

The cover has the look of fine-grained leather and is plain except for the Quo Vadis name and logo debossed on back and the logo debossed on the front.  The elastic band is a lighter charcoal color with darker stripes.

I've come to realize that I'm drawn to the sound paper makes when you are flipping through the pages. I'm a little crazy, so I've been paying attention to this lately.  I suspect I'm not the only one that judges paper by it's sound, so I decided to mention it.  The Habana makes a nice crisp 'shush' when your fingers slide across the page.  The sound of the paper flexing isn't metallic, but it does remind me of the sounds made while flexing a thin sheet of metal.  After wet media has been used (anything that causes curling or dimpling) the paper takes on a little crunch, but not too much.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the paper weight in the white paper Habana is 90g vs 85g in the ivory paper Habana.  It does make a difference, if not a dramatic one.  There is less show-through, less bleed-through and it handles wet media better all around.  Having said that, the difference is noticeable, but not great.  

Color is bright on this paper, though not brilliant.

 I had no problems with feathering, skipping, or pilling.  Some people would not want to use the back of the page because of show-through where I used fountain pen ink but I would have no problem myself.  With pens such as the Pigma Micron artist pen, there was almost no show-through.  With the saturated inks there were dots of bleed-through.  (Note: It looks like there was skipping in the sample of Rouge Hematite below--that was a fountain pen issue however, not a paper issue).

Drying times were on the slow side, most significantly with fountain pen inks.  Even quick drying pens such as the Pigma Micron were somewhat slower than usual.  This could be a problem for those that drag their hand across the page.

Colors show up as brighter on the white paper than they do on the ivory paper.
I had to use photos to show you the difference in brilliance between the white and ivory papers.  This leads to the most significant difference I found between the white and ivory papers.  When I tried to scan, I couldn't get the show-through on the back to scan on the white paper, but I could with the ivory paper.

Both show-through and bleed-through are heavier with the 85g ivory paper than with the 90g white paper.  However, while they look quite a bit worse in the photo below, the difference is not as bad to the eye in real life.

Fountain Pen Inks
I used a variety of fountain pens and J. Herbin rollerball pens for this drawing.  I reached the same conclusions that I had with my writing examples.  Considering how thoroughly I saturated some areas with ink bleed-through was to be expected.  It wasn't too bad, mostly spotting.  Some dimpling occurred where I applied the ink the heaviest.

Mixed Media
Although the 90g paper isn't a heavy one, I decided to see how it would do with the weight of acrylic and glue and added ephemera.  I used sprays and acrylic paint to color the background, then glued on paper and waxed string with polymer medium.  A glitter brush pen was used for the red and the linework was done with a Pigma Micron.

The paper held up well.  There was no curl.  The only dimpling occurred where the string was glued down.  The only show-through or bleed-through happened where I used the most spray, which is wet (the darker smears at top and bottom of the page are splash over, not bleed-through).

Although journals like the Habana are seldom used for watercolor sketching, I like to try it out.  It just tells me so much about the paper.

I totally dished it out this time, with heavy applications of water and scrubbing and lifting color. The paper curled badly while I was working, and while most of the curl flattened out with weights, there is still some left.  There is a lot of dimpling.

Still, I've had heavier paper do worse.  I wouldn't recommend the Habana for watercolor--but mostly because it doesn't have enough tooth and the washes don't move well across the page.  For a paper not designed for wet medium, it handles the moisture well.

This Habana has all the characteristics I've come to expect from the Habana, and I'm very pleased to have this one.  If you already had one with ivory paper, Is it worth buying, should you find one?

If you have a preference for brighter colors, white would be better for you.  If you like more subtle coloring, the ivory would be.  If you like both--you'd like either one.

The slight difference in weight might be important for those who use highly saturated ink, wet media or intend to glue down photos or ephemera.  Note, that I've done all those things with my ivory Habanas with no problems.  If I intended to use the Habana for mixed media I would buy the white paper over the ivory paper, if the choice was available.  Truthfully, though, I'd want both--because I want at least one of every journal/sketchbook in the world, lol.

The quality is there with both versions, so I think it is just a matter of preference.

I want to thank Exaclair for their generosity and for giving me the opportunity to review this product.

Disclaimer: I received this Habana but no other compensation.  All opinions and statements are my own.
Other Reviews

Mine- Here and here