Notebooks are probably one of the things that I have too many of… Nonetheless, I’m always looking for more. There’s a huge variety of ways that you could use notebooks so they end up being the easiest thing to hoard. I go through notebooks fairly often, I think. I like to have one in my bag all the time for on the go notes and then others for specific projects. So when I came across Papio Paper notebooks, I sort of fell in love. It was sort of love at first sight, to be honest. The minute I saw how gorgeous the cover designs were, I was floored. Today’s review is based on the Papio Press Tiger notebooks.
Papio Press have a huge variety of notebooks designs. These illustrations are done by the husband and wife team that run the company, which I think is pretty amazing. It’s one of those small businesses where you know that you’re supporting people’s dreams and livelihoods – and not just funding a corporate giant. Each illustration is absolutely gorgeous. I genuinely did struggle to pick just one favourite… So I just gave up! Perhaps a top ten of those I equally love would be more realistic.
Luckily I didn’t have to make that choice for this review as I was kindly sent a pair to review by Pocket Notebooks, who sent the tigers pack. These tiger illustrations are stunning. I absolutely love the detail in the designs, and the vivid colours. A black background really makes these colours jump out at you.
The unique covers are absolutely gorgeous. In this case, a picture should speak more than a thousand words – it probably says everything that needs to be said. If they haven’t spoken volumes with their beauty already then I don’t know if my words will do anything. I wouldn’t be much of a blogger if I only posted pictures… But just look at it. Seriously, take a minute to just look at it. There’s so much depth and detail in the illustrations that you’ll just keep seeing things you didn’t notice before. Have you seen the differences in the backgrounds? Did you notice the detail on each leaf? What about the gentle brush strokes on the stripes or the shadowing on the fur?
Now normally I don’t bother to picture the back of the notebooks. Mostly because they are just plain. However, I had share the back of these ones because they are equally as beautiful as the front!
The front cover of the notebook with the white tigers mirrored on the back cover. The design is just so beautiful. I love that this one is a mirror image but the other one isn’t. It just goes to show how unique each notebook illustration is! The notebook with the orange tigers actually has a continuous image. So flip it over and you instantly see a whole new scene laid out in front of you. I think that really shows how detailed these illustrations are – even the back covers have beautiful detailed images for you!
Each notebook is made out of recycled paper and card. Whether it’s the card used for the cover or the pages inside the notebook, it’s all fully recycled. In one pack, you get two notebooks – each with 48 pages. One of them is lined and the other is plain. Both of the ones I received were plain papers, so I can’t show you the lined version. Recycled paper is great for the environment but it does pose the question of quality. I think the most obvious expectation is that it won’t work well with fountain pens. So if you’re looking for fountain pen friendly paper then this one might not be for you.
I tested out several pens that I had lying around on my desk to see what the paper could handle.
The Paper Test
As the paper is quite thin, you can see the ink through the other side for most of the pens. This show-through happens in a lot of notebooks so I’m not really fussed about this. I was more interested in seeing if the ink feathered or bled through the page.
There is very little bleeding. The only ones that seem to have any bleeding at all are the fountain pen inks and the Stabilo pointVisco pen. This is understandable as the pointVisco lays down quite a lot of ink. It goes through most of the paper I’ve tried it on but I enjoy writing with it nonetheless so tend to always try it. I honestly expected a lot more bleeding with this pen so am pleasantly surprised by the result. In my opinion, there is minimal bleeding for a pen like this. In fact, you can barely even see the bleeding in real life – let alone in the photo and I’ve definitely seen worse results with this pen!
The best results came the less “inky” pens. Dry finer pens, essentially. There’s actually quite a few that came out really nicely – with no feathering, no bleeding and also barely visible (if at all) on the other side. Specifically, this would be the biros, rollerball, gel pens and a thin marker pen like the Marvy Le Pen. The Field notes biro pen and the Muji erasable pen aren’t visible through the page at all. The Muji gel pen is barely visible too. These pens are perfect if you prefer no show-through.
The Fountain Pen inks:
Just to make the test fair, I added in some fountain pen ink samples. As I expected, there was bleeding with the fountain pens. The J Herbin 1690 limited edition ink (emerald colour) which is a thicker ink that contains gold flecks, bled the most. There’s also a little bit of feathering on this one. With the normal J Herbin ink (light blue) and the Diamine ink, there was a little bit of bleeding but not actually as much as I expected. Surprisingly, there is barely any feathering too. It’s not what I’d call “fountain ink friendly” but it’s a lot better at handling the ink than I would have first guessed. If you’re a fountain pen user, try a very fine nib and a light ink and shockingly, you may actually be able to get away with using it.
Overall, I’m really impressed by these notebooks. I thought they’d be pretty but not very functional at first but I’m honestly pleasantly surprised! They take ink a lot better than I expected. With the staple binding, they lay flat easily and don’t “ping” shut again after applying a little bit of pressure. This makes it a lot nicer to use as nothing gets in the way. Without a doubt, these are some of the most beautiful pocket notebooks I’ve seen. The illustrations are absolutely stunning so if I was giving it a grade on looks, it would get a solid ten out of ten. I’m just really pleased with the results of this review as I’m glad they are beautiful but also functional too. In this case, go ahead and judge the book by its cover – because the inside eco-friendly paper is also great to use!
* These notebooks were kindly sent to me by Pocket Notebooks to test out, simply because they are awesome. I have no affiliation with Papio Press – other than the fact that I’m now a big fan of their illustrations. To purchase these beautiful notebooks or to see the full range, head over to Pocket Notebooks.
Note: I think these notebooks are pretty popular so this particular design might actually be sold out. However, below is a few other similar notebooks they stock. There’s lots of other gorgeous illustrations but these are a few of my favourite ones. Mostly because they have peacocks, monkeys, unicorns and a phoenix – all creatures I love! (And the red pandas, sloths and jaguars are so cute too). Go check them out! Did I mention that they are only £5 for a pack? And Pocket Notebooks offers free shipping when you spend £13.50 – or only £2 for orders less than that – so it’s a real bargain.