Monday, June 10, 2013

Review of the INDIARY Genuine Buffalo Leather Writing Journal With Strap closure and Handmade Paper 5" x 7"

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I received this sample blank leather journal last week after Anja from Indiary e-mailed me about doing a product review of one of their sketchbooks. For some reason, it feels like the type of journal that you might find at the tent of an archaeological dig or Indiana Jones movie. It must be its rugged good looks, for its brown leather cover sports a few random veins and shallow wrinkles that give it character. It features a strap that loops around it twice, and it can securely tie it closed before you throw it in your rucksack
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At 5"X7"X1", it is the right size for a field sketching journal. Its 100 sheets bound in five signatures to its buffalo leather cover can open fairly flat for ease of use. The handmade 100% cotton paper with flower fragments feels pretty soft and it is visually interesting. I have been carrying it around for the past few days while trying some of my favorite sketching tools on it.
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My current favorite sketching pen, the 06 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen, worked just fine on this soft handmade paper. So did every single inking pen I tried (Sakura Pigma Graphic 1, Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen set, and Copic Multiler SP pens).
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When I tried some of my favorite pencils and leadholders, I found that blunt tips and harder leads (F, HB, and Caran D'Ache Sketcher) produced rather faint marks. The texture and softness of the paper can make it hard to render fine detail. Normally, I prefer to sketch on firmer even surfaces.
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The well sharpened softer 4B 3.15 mm lead of my Worther Shorty yielded the more satisfactory performance on this paper. Its sketches had greater contrast and crisper lines than the other graphite products I tried.
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Both the Copic multiliner SP pens and the Sketch markers yielded good results drawing and coloring on this journal, but I do get the impression that the paper does soak up quite a bit more ink than paper designed specifically for maker use. On this particular shot you can spot a couple of shallow cuts (on the crease near the markers on the interior of the leather cover) from the leather processing that are purposely left in that state to reinforce the unique look of each individual notebook. Given their hand crafted nature, I think it's pretty cool that not two notebooks are exactly alike. Yet if you prefer a smoother more uniform look on your sketchbook, I would suggest checking out this luxury version that seems to feature a more even leather texture with 100% cotton paper.
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Sample ninja sketch drawn with a selection of different Copic multiliner pen nib sizes. Pretty happy that I can use some of my fine nib pens (0.3, 0.35, and 0.5) for a quick sketch with some smaller details.
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The coloring outline for this test was drawn with a Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen Big Brush and painted with washes of Faber Castell Albrecht Durer aquarelle sticks applied with a flat Niji waterbrush. They looked their brightest when freshly laid, and shifted to slightly duller tones as they dried. The paper is pretty absorbent, so both watercolor washes and alcohol marker inks show through the back of the page in various degrees.
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The dry Uni watercolor pencils appeared rather pale, but the colored India inks from the Faber Castell Pitt Artist pens looked pretty bright and saturated on this support. The PanPastels also yielded nicely opaque saturated colors as shown on the Pegasus sketch below. Either one can work well enough as an effective coloring media on this paper, but the latter one does require fixing of the pastel powder to prevent smudges.
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While its soft handmade paper with floral inclusions might not be my first choice for a sketching paper, I like the rustic elegant look and fragrance of this Indiary buffalo leather journal. It would make a nice original gift for the artistic types in your list particularly if they prefer to sketch with inking pens. Thanks again Anja for the opportunity to test and review this fine sketchbook.

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