Review: 3 Journals

Three journals covered in this review.

Every time I fill up one journal, I consider before reaching for the same journal over again. It takes a while to get used to a journal. Starting a new one doesn’t always seem like a good idea. I’ve used Moleksine Sketch, and it’s a good journal. Ink doesn’t bleed, it is needle stitched to the binding, and I learned from Molkesine, that’s an important part of a tough, long-lasting journal.

If you don’t throw your journal in your bag or drag it around with you, a delicate journal could do the job. If you write in your journal in pen or ink, and don’t draw, glue, paint, collage, fold, or overstuff, almost any journal will do. But I abuse my journals. I use watercolor pencils, inks, alcohol markers. Alcohol markers will bleed through anything except  granite, and it’s tough to find a granite-paged journal.

I had three journals to choose from–two wire bound and a hand-made, Coptic bound journal meant to be a wedding album.

In the photo above, the red, wire-bound journal on the left is a Holbein, Multi-Draing Book/ OF. It’s a water color and multi-media book that’s made in China, purchased at Dick Blick. It has 60 pages in a 5-3/4 inch x 7-1/4 inch format. (Size approximate.) It has a cloth tie and ivory pages that are watercolor paper. The right side are a bit rough and the left page is a bit smoother than the other page.

The journal on the right is a Barnes & Noble Kraft Sketchbook. It contains 120 pages of smooth, white paper, the same on both sides. The book is 8-1/2 inches x 5 inches. The cover is embossed with three shiny black watercolor brushes. The covers are very heavy and sturdy.

The book with the flowered cover is a journal handmade by Erica Daschbach, known as Parkside Harmony at Etsy and

Top: Kraft-paper journal. Middle: Red cover journal. Bottom: Parkside Harmony journal

Twitter. Erica uses 90-lb Stonehenge paper in ivory and hand tears the pages. She stitches them with waxed linen. This style is 6 inches x 7 inches.

Here’s how the journals performed. Double-wirebound journals are easy to use. If they have a stiff cover, they provide a place to draw or paint. Wirebound  pages can easily be ripped out without a care–I love that. But wire bindings don’t work for me anymore. My work has gotten larger and more complex, and wire bindings don’t allow double spread drawing or collage. You have to stay within the edges.

If that isn’t a problem for you, both of these journals will do well. The red journal has great watercolor paper. Because there was no demarcation for front or back, I flipped it over to use the smoother side. No watercolor-paper  journals will work well with alcohol markers. The paper soaks up the ink quickly, and there is no chance to blend. I love heavy stock, and this is heavy enough so fountain pen or markers don’t soak through.Watercolor pencils blend beautifully and there is no buckling once it dries. The tie is a nice touch.

The Kraft-paper-cover journal has a paper that allows some blending of alcohol markers, but they soak through and bleed onto the next page. The watercolor pencils blend incredibly well, and there is no buckling. I began working in this journal only to discover that the very heavy cover makes it difficult to manipulate shut. It hangs up every time. If I were more patient, I’d love this journal.

Parkside Harmony’s journal is beautifully made, with lovely Italian paper on sturdy covers. The inside front and back covers have a well-chosen green paper as lining. The waxed linen thread provides support–Coptic bindings don’t have a back, so the signatures are exposed–and the thickness of the waxed linen is also protective of the signatures. The paper is hand-torn, leaving a lovely ragged deckle. The Stonehenge paper is heavy enough to stand up to collage and paint without buckling. Alcohol markers do show on the reverse, but it doesn’t bleed through to the next page. Best of all, Erica signs each journal, which alerted me that I had tested the book upside down. No worries, because this is my next journal. It’s pretty and will hold the extras I glue in.

I’m one of those journalers whose books get fatter as they pass through time. Tickets, receipts, fold-outs–it adds up. I like fat journals. You know what they say, after a while, a journal starts to look like the journaler.

-Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler. Her second book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art will be published in 2011.

8 thoughts on “Review: 3 Journals

  1. I am already a huge fan of Erica’s work. The paper she uses makes journaling a beatiful experience. I feel like I connect with the page more and WANT to add to them on a regular basis.

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