Loving pens and inks is one thing. But you kinda gotta have a place to put all that ink. Like, you know, a notebook. I've tried a lot of notebooks over the years from a lot of different manufacturers. I'm not proud to admit it, but I have a bit of a notebook and paper obsession. Recently, the awesome folks over at John Neal Booksellers sent over a couple of notebooks I hadn't heard of before: The Dream Catcher Accordion Fold Journal.
The Dream Catcher is a 4x6" notebook with a sturdy, hard cover. I received both the drawing and watercolor versions, although for this purposes of this review, I only used the drawing paper version and I'm going to give away the watercolor version (details to follow later in this post). The size and sturdiness makes these the perfect travel notebook. Something you can easily tuck into a small pocket in your favorite bag or pen case.
The accordion-fold styling of the pages is unique and is definitely not something I've seen in another notebook before. It's an interesting style, for sure which allows you the opportunity to draw and write in a 4x6 size, or, if you prefer, you can open the book up a bit and spread your entry over several of the "panels" within the book. This gives quite a bit of versatility for journaling or drawing. I used mine as one continuous panoramic panel to illustrate the letters A-K which made for a really fun, creative project.
The paper in the drawing book is a heavyweight, bright white paper that held up well to Chartpak AD Markers, Montana Acrylic Markers, and Ink from Richtone, Noodlers, Iroshizuku, Organics Studio, Platinum and others. I used everything from a Platnium Preppy 02 (EF) to a Luthis Fan Folded Pen and it didn't skip a beat. The only places where it faltered was when I used a watercolor brush as the water caused the paper to break down a bit and when I applied too much of the acrylic marker which, again, caused the paper to break down a bit. This isn't unexpected considering it's drawing paper. I would imagine that the watercolor version would hold up better to this kind of treatment. Perhaps the winner of the giveaway will tell us how it works out for them...
You get 8 individual panels, which you can expand to 16 if you use the backs of the pages (and if you use the inside covers, you'll get even a couple more after that), which I was unable to do because of bleed through. Again, I abused this notebook fairly heavily for the purposes of this review, but I think the drawing book would hold up perfectly well to, well, normal drawing (pencils, pens, etc.). If you want to use watercolors, inks or markers like the Chartpak AD, you may wish to explore the watercolor version of this notebook.
At $13, I think these notebooks are a fair value. They don't offer many pages, but they are unique enough and offer enough versatility that I think they're worth the money. I can see landscape or architectural illustrators using these for wider or taller pieces. I do think that having at least 24 panels (48 with the backsides) would make for a better value, but these are very high quality and the paper is really nice so I'll leave you with that and let you decide how you feel about the overall value of the books.
All-in-all, I'd give these notebooks a thumbs-up. While I think they fulfill a small, albeit interesting niche in the market, they are a unique take on the standard travel notebook. The covers are sturdy and the paper is thick and very usable for a variety of mediums. If you're looking for a versatile notebook that allows you to expand your journaling and illustration projects across multiple panels, these are the way to go.
I'm extremely thankful to the folks over at John Neal for sending these books my way for the purposes of the review and giveaway. If you get a chance, be sure and check out their extensive catalog of pens, inks, papers and calligraphy supplies. They offer a wonderful range of products for both the beginning calligrapher and the seasoned scribe. Their delivery is quick and their customer service is top-notch. Be sure and head over to their website and pick up a few things from them. They're an excellent company.
Now for the giveaway details... All you have to do is drop a comment below between now and 11:59 pm EST Thursday (22 October 2015). I'll put everybody in a spreadsheet and use the random number generator over at Random.org to pick the winner. This is open to recipients worldwide. Shipping is on me, but you're responsible for any customs fees on your end if they apply to you. Winner will be announced on Friday morning.
If you get a chance to check out these notebooks, or if you've used them in the past, please give me a shout in the comments below and let me know how you feel about them.
Thanks for reading,
Disclaimer: These notebooks were provided to me free of charge by John Neal Booksellers for the purpose of this review and giveaway. I have not been compensated for this review in any way. I have no connection to John Neal other than as a satisfied customer.