Review of the Clairefontaine Life Unplugged Roadbook

Clairefontaine Life Unplugged Roadbook

While I prefer a larger size notebook for my drawing, I do like having a pocketbook to carry in my purse, and to have on hand for taking notes while I do my artwork, so I can remember what products and techniques I used.

The Clairefontaine Life Unplugged Roadbook has proved perfect for this, and I've done quite a bit of drawing in it as well.  In fact, I've already used half the book!  I'd meant to post this review quite a while ago--had it all written and ready to post.  Then my PC died and one of the files I ended up losing was my review.  There's just something about having to rewrite what you've already done, lol!

But the Roadbook is a nice, sturdy little pocketbook, so it would be a shame if I didn't post the review! So here it is.

Look & Feel
Binding: Glued
Colors: Assorted (tan, black, red, green)
Paper Color: Bright White, acid-free. ph neutral
Ruling:Lined (7mm), Purple-blue
No. Pages:128 (64 sheets)
Size (mm):(90mm x 140mm)
Overall Size (in.):3.5in x 5.5in
Extras: Elastic closure with grommets, Map Illustrated Front page, Rounded corners

The covers have streaked, marbled texture.  I received one of the black covers, and much of the textured effect is lost.  I think it would be more effective with the lighter colors. The elastic band is also black, but a different shade so there is some contrast.  The covers are otherwise unadorned except for the Clairefontaine name and logo printed in the right corner.

The front page has an appealing map illustration.  It's light--almost a watermark, done in a monotone grayish-green.  There are lines for name and address or any label you might want for the book.

I wish the greenish-gray ink had been used throughout the book.  The lines are a purple-blue and go from edge to edge. Not that the purple-blue is bad.  I just like the  green-gray better. The lines are spaced at 7mm, starting at the top of the page and all the way down, with no extra white space at the top.

With 64 sheets of 90g paper, you know this is going to be a thicker book than most pocketbooks.  It is still a good size for slipping into a back pocket, but the thickness might be uncomfortable for some.

The thickness of the spine also makes it difficult to fold the pages back or to make the pages lie flat.

I'm fairly aggressive when I test my books for review, and I wasn't gentle in folding it back--I also shoved it in my pocket still folded and kept it there for a while.  I managed to expose some of the glue on the front page, but the signatures stayed tight and secure to the spine.  Normally, I avoid glued books because the covers can pop off.  But I feel confident that the Roadbook can take quite a beating before that would happen.  It might show the wear, but it won't tear.

The elastic band is held on with grommets, making it secure and I do like the look of them  However, grommets might catch when you are sliding the notebook into a pocket, and you do feel them when you are writing on the last pages of the book.

The Roadbook is filled with Clairefontaine paper so it is fountain pen friendly.  I used both Lamy fountain pens and J. Herbin roller ball pens with no feathering, minimal show-through and very little bleed-through.

Bleed-through occurred when I layered wet ink into wet ink.  It was very rare, otherwise.  I lost the file that showed the back of my writing samples, but below I have a sample from one of my drawings and I was realy saturating the page.

Drying time for the inks is slower than with most papers--the trade off for no feathering and little show-through.

I started out this review stating that I like a larger book for drawing, but the Roadbook is just fine for it despite the pocketbook size.  Most of the drawings below were done while waiting in lines or at the doctors or dentist, and except for first one, done with Pigma Micron , they are all done with J. Herbin fountain pen inks.

Pigma Micron


J. Herbin Roller ball Pen with J. Herbin Roller Ball ink cartridges-Vert Empire, Bleu Myosotis, Rouge Opera

Latte in Roses

Caught in the Net
Lamy Fountain pen with J. Herbin Fountain Pen ink-Bleu Myosotis, Bleu Nuit, Bleu Azur

Castle Courtyard

Spa Retreat

The Clairefontaine Life Unplugged Roadbook is sturdy, a pleasure to look at, and a pleasure to write in.  While I would prefer to be able to lie the book flat and to fold the pages back flat, I was still able to write and draw in it under uncomfortable situations with little trouble.  Although, the binding is glued rather than sewn, it is a well-made book that holds up to quite a beating.

Getting a larger number of pages will be more important to some than the ability to lie it flat or fold it back.  Others might prefer less pages for more manageability.

I think I would have hesitated to buy it, just seeing it in the store.  Having used it for a while, I'm quite happy with it as my 'everything' book--the one I have at hand when I just have to write something down.  It doesn't appeal as much to my sense of beauty, but it appeals to my sense of logic, meeting somewhere in the middle of both.

I want to thank Exaclair, as always, for sending me this Clairefontaine Life Unplugged Roadbook, and giving me the opportunity to share my findings with my readers!

Links to other reviews:
Spiritual Evolution of the Bean