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Pelle Leather Journal


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25 replies to this topic

#1 subbes

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 15:34

I've recently begun using my small collection of fountain pens and ink to journal (rather than merely sitting around gazing at them adoringly). Until the beginning of November, I was using cheap Staples steno pads, and was vaguely satisfied with the results as long as I only wanted to use one side of a piece of paper.

I began thinking about switching to a journal with more utility and carry-ability at around the time I saw a post in Market Watch about Pelle journals, complete with a 50% off coupon for the first 10 orders. How could I resist?

I picked up the 5 x 7 (Medium) in black and, because I'm contrary and difficult, asked if it would be possible to substitute a lined linen refill in place of the plain linen refill the journals ship with as standard. There was a bit of a mixup in shipping, and I actually ended up with the 5x7 journal and both a plain and a lined refill - all for 50% of the price of the journal alone! :thumbup:

Presentation
My order arrived in a black heavy paper/light cardstock package, sealed with a red elastic band closure (those of you with long hair - or relatives with long hair - will recognise the type). The packaging was imprinted with the pelle name, URL & "Made in USA." The picture below is of the package after it has been a little banged up by my carrying it in my handbag.
1 pelle package.jpg
Pelle journal packaging.

The package contained one black journal cover with a red elastic closure and fabric bookmark, plus one black elastic closure. I immediately swapped the red closure out for black, and pulled the other red elastic closure off the packaging, so now I have one black elastic closure attached to the journal itself, plus two red elastic loops I use to further wrap the journal when I'm carrying it in my bag. I also removed the bookmark, as I do not need it.

Here are three shots of the journal when filled with 2+ refills & closed:
2 pelle journal.jpg
Pelle journal, with red elastic loop and detached bookmark in foreground.

8 pelle closed.jpg
Pelle journal with black closure, feat Pilot 78G.

2b pelle journal daily carry.jpg
My pelle journal, as I wrap it for daily carry. This is overkill.

Details
The journal smells of good leather. I know that's an odd thing to reference, but when you live with cats, it's important to be aware of (my cats have expressed great interest in the journal cover but have not yet tried to eat it).

The front cover contains a small "pelle" brand embossed on the bottom right corner, and the pelle url and "Made in USA" on the bottom-left of the back cover. Both imprints are small and unobtrusive and I did not originally notice them.
3 pelle imprint.jpg
Poor-quality closeup of the imprint on the bottom right of the front cover.

Without any refills, the journal cover will lie flat. The spine of the journal shows both the securing loop and parts of the interior loops which hold refills in place. The elastics form a "T" at the top and an inverse "T" at the bottom. A small silvered ball on the elastic at the top marks "which way is up" (or, I suppose, down, if you decide to use your journal differently or are Australian).

4 pelle exterior empty.jpg
Exterior of the empty pelle journal, showing fastening loop and interior loop fastenings.

The interior of the empty pelle journal shows four vertical elastic bands, plus the unused end of the elastic fastening loop. The elastic bands, except for the fastening loop, are held together with brass fasteners. They seem sturdy enough, but one did leave a browning mark on the plain refill paper. Though there are four elastic loops, only three can be used with Pelle's refills, as the fourth elastic is too short.
5 pelle interior empty.jpg
Interior of the empty pelle journal, showing elastic.

Paper
Just before my pelle journals arrived, I tried a Rhodia notebook and was blown away by the paper. It's significantly changed my standards for paper, which you should bear in mind when reading the below.

Pelle journal refills are available in 4 types: Drawing (80lb "textured" linen), plain (28lb "super smooth" linen), lined (28lb "super smooth" linen) and grid (28lb "super smooth" linen). I have the plain and lined refills.

6 pelle refills.jpg
Pelle 28lb linen refills: the blue cover is lined, the brown is plain.

7 pelle refills inserted.jpg
The pelle refills insert snugly into the journal.

The 28lb linen paper is an off-white, almost pale ecru, approximated by the following color values:
HSV: H46 S22 V93
RGB: R237 G225 B185
CMYK: C0 M5 Y11 K7
Hex: #EDE1B9

Unfortunately, I did not get along superbly with the pelle refills (though I suspect that had I not just experienced Rhodia paper, I would have been more forgiving). The paper is nicely smooth (with the "off" side exhibiting a little more tooth - possibly some pages are sized) and a little absorbent. My Lamy Safari M nib exhibited some feathering, while my 78G M nib experienced less; lines were wider than on Rhodia. I also tried a Noodler's flex (not pictured) and found that the paper could not give me fine lines.

I think these refills would be fine for users with drier-writing or finer-nibbed pens or those who don't mind a little feather.
9 pelle lined ink test.jpg
Front side of lined paper.

10 pelle lined ink test back side.jpg
Rear side - note the shadowing and a little bleed.

11 pelle plain ink test.jpg
Front side of the plain paper. I need lined paper for journaling: a blank sheet of plain paper gives me performance anxiety because it seems too perfect. Also my lines wobble.

12 pelle plain ink test back side.jpg
Rear side of the plain paper.

Because of the show-through and feathering, I decided that I couldn't use the pelle lined refill for journalling. I've removed it from the journal and it will probably end up used for grocery lists or notes with my fine-nibbed Hero; or I may return to it later when I'm less of a paper snob. I've decided to use the plain refill for pencil sketches and drawing.

However, that leaves me without a lined refill in my journal. Clairefontaine to the rescue!

The pelle refills are 4.25in by 6.75in, and Clairefontaine makes a 48-sheet cahier of that size with white 90g lined paper. As you can see, it fits snugly in the journal. Because the Clairefontaine cahir contains more sheets than the pelle refills, you won't be able to fit three in there without their sticking out past the edge of the cover. Not a problem for me, as I'm unlikely to use more than one lined and one plain refill at a time.
13 pelle with clairefontaine refills.jpg


Overall
If you can take advantage of the 50% off offer, go for it; YMMV on whether you feel it is worth purchasing at the regular price (I do). Be aware that the paper is not CF quality, but is superior to cheap notebook paper. Their store has good service.


Availability
All sizes of journals and refills are available from the pelle store, and the small brown journal and small-sized linen refills are also available from JetPens. I purchased my 4.25 x 6.75 Clairefontaine notebook from Goulet Pens (the source for 80-95% of my FP stuff these days).

Oblig. "No affil.", etc.

Edited by subbes, 23 November 2011 - 17:27.

"Perdita thought, to take an example at random, that things like table manners were a stupid and repressive idea. Agnes, on the other hand, was against being hit by flying bits of other people's cabbage." (Pratchett, T. Carpe Jugulum.)

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#2 KrazyIvan

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 16:55

I saw these at Jetpens and was interested but the black verion sold out quick!

#3 subbes

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 17:25

Quick update - I tested my fine Hero (filled with Aurora black) on the pelle lined paper refill and while there was shadowing on the reverse side, there was no bleed-through even when I drew a filled rectangle. Because the paper is absorbent, the line I got wasn't as fine as it should have been, but it was acceptable.

I'll definitely be using this refill for something, I'm just not sure what yet...

"Perdita thought, to take an example at random, that things like table manners were a stupid and repressive idea. Agnes, on the other hand, was against being hit by flying bits of other people's cabbage." (Pratchett, T. Carpe Jugulum.)

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#4 sph33r

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 18:44

Thanks for the review, I was just looking at the large size Pelle today. The paper was my main concern and you confirmed my fears. I don't use fine nibs or dry pens which would most likely be painful with this paper. :( If only there were a good paper refill that would fit the 5x9 size without having to buy a larger Clairefontaine and try to cut it down. I'm not even sure if that's a task easy to perform.

Pelle says they have an A5 size coming but I prefer the long/thin styling of the 5x9. Both the Midori Traveler Notebook and the Pelle claim to be fountain pen friendly but the reviews don't agree. I suppose they think everyone uses an EF nib to write notes.

Maybe I'll break down and go for the medium size since your Clairefontaine solution is probably the best option.

Edited by sph33r, 23 November 2011 - 18:49.

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#5 French

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 20:38

I also purchased one of these, but, in the small size. I thought my experience was different, but, when really studying the line made with my TWSBI extra fine filled wit Kon-Peki, there is some feathering. Looking at the line made with Noodler's Black with my Namiki Bamboo extra fine, no feathering at all. Same story with an extra fine Al-Star and Noodler's Legal Lapis. So, I guess for those of us who do use extra fine nibs, this paper can work. As I use more pen and ink combinaitons, I will report on the paper's performance.
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#6 ghost rider

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 14:46

Thanks Subbes for the great review.

As to the concern of our paper when using fountain pen ink, we are looking into it and may offer an alternative or replacement of the original. So far with the help from Susan Wirth, we have found a 80 lb smooth (not super smooth) seems to work the best in regards to feathering and shading with less bleed thru.

We strive to accommodate all pen & ink users. Please email us direct with any other concerns.

Cheers
Andrew

#7 Zoe

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 00:18

Two months later, are you still keen on this journal. I love leather and compact and would be inclined if I could use the paper for both note taking and drawing.

#8 subbes

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 04:11

I'm still using it to carry my journal with me every day, which is the red notebook featured in the review, though I dont use so many loops around it any more. I also use the lined Pelle refill for grocery lists and jotting down fiction ideas with my fine-nibbed Hero, and have found the paper perfectly acceptable for that. The leather smell has gone away completely.


I'm still keen on it. :thumbup:

"Perdita thought, to take an example at random, that things like table manners were a stupid and repressive idea. Agnes, on the other hand, was against being hit by flying bits of other people's cabbage." (Pratchett, T. Carpe Jugulum.)

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#9 WOBentley

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 06:13

I have been using mine as a travel journal...using mostly a MB Boheme M nib with Visconti blue in cartridges. I have been very happy with its performance. No bleed through and minimal show through. I like the size...it is a non traditional shape being taller and narrower than some standard sizes but in practice that has not been a problem. I also am very happy with mine.
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#10 Silas

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 01:49

I ordered the SMALL Journal Cognac color from Jetpens. The leather part was really excellent!

I needed a small journal to keep in my pants pocket and this is perfect.

BUT....as I began a test with different inks and pens and nib widths, I came to one conclusion: EVERYTHING FEATHERS on this paper, no matter what size nib, or what ink.

Some nibs were better than others: Sailor Professional Gear Fine (pretty much an xxfine) worked OK with Bad Black Mocassin ink. The line was not definte or clear, but it was OK. Not good, not bad. Perhaps acceptable to some people: not to me.

Any MEDIUM nib I had feathered with pretty much ANY ink.

Here are the inks I tried:

Bad Black Mocassin.....probably the BEST on this paper.
Badger and Blade 5 O'clock Shadow....the next best.
El Lawrence....not too bad.
Galileo Brown.....really bad feathering
#41 Brown...feathering
Platinum Pigment Blue....actually, almost acceptable
Sailor Sei Boku Blue/Black....almost accetable.
Baystate Blue...feathering, but not too bad.
Diamine Green/Black...not bad with very fine nib.

I do have to say that there is NO BLEEDTHROUGH with ANY of the inks, so the feathering is the only problem. The paper seems to actually SUCK the ink out of the pens. Very strange! No other paper I have does this.

I have many more inks but one thing is certain: this current paper is NOT acceptable for almost all of my fountain pen/ink combos. If you are to use it, you would require an xxfine nib at least.

I am now looking for something to refill the leather journal with, since I find it is an EXCELLENT COVER!!

#11 jimhughes

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 03:34

This is a bit labour intensive, but did you consider buying a ream of say 32# HP Laser Jet Paper, which is great
reguardless of what pen or ink you use. Hand cut , via an old school Art Department paper cutter, replacement paper and insert in the leather notebook. If you've got access to a sewing machine you can stitch the paper into a booklet very easily or staple it down the middle like on the Rhodia or Moleskine Cahier notebooks. That way you can use what ever paper works best for your pens and ink. Excluding the labour involved, it would be quite a bit cheaper than buying the inserts from jetpens. YMMV, Jim

#12 Zoe

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 03:40

A great idea, Jim, and in fact almost any of the 24lb papers would probably work.

And I am somewhat surprised at the pen tests. I just got a small Pelle, and tested inks and pens and didn't experience feathering, and felt that the standard paper I received was adequate to the task.

I tested four pens, three fountain pens and one roller ball. The three fountain pens are a Reform with a narrow fine and Noodler's Violet Vote ink; Noodler's Ahab with Rohrer & Klingman Bordeaux ink; the Namiki Falcon Resin housing a soft fine with Noodler's Kung Te Cheng ink, and finally one of my favourite on the go roller balls, the Rotring Tikky.

Zoe


This is a bit labour intensive, but did you consider buying a ream of say 32# HP Laser Jet Paper, which is great
reguardless of what pen or ink you use. Hand cut , via an old school Art Department paper cutter, replacement paper and insert in the leather notebook. If you've got access to a sewing machine you can stitch the paper into a booklet very easily or staple it down the middle like on the Rhodia or Moleskine Cahier notebooks. That way you can use what ever paper works best for your pens and ink. Excluding the labour involved, it would be quite a bit cheaper than buying the inserts from jetpens. YMMV, Jim



#13 jimhughes

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 19:51

I was somewhat surprised the OP had feathering issues. I use predominately XF nibs with currently, DC Pen Show Blue/Conklin Steel Fine, a Edison Pearl XF gold with Pearl Noir and Estie Dollar Pen with a 9555 Gregg Shorthand XF Firm Steel and Diamine Dragons Blood. All 3 work great, but I do use XF nibs, like a 7/10 wet nib and have a fairly wide tolerance for minor issues. In the past my thoughts of minimal Show through on a Zenquenz Notebook collected a lot of comments on my poor grading. A lot of replys felt I was way off. 24# should work fine too. When I was looking for a Copier/Printer paper, the consensus was 32# HP was the Gold Standard for Fire Hose BBB and Oblique Nibs. YMMV, Jim

#14 subbes

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 22:49

Ah, well, I'm not a fan of fine nibs; I like juicy mediums and flexy nibs.

(The 78G I was using was actually pretty dry; I've since deepened the feed channels to improve the flow.)

Edited by subbes, 14 February 2012 - 22:51.

"Perdita thought, to take an example at random, that things like table manners were a stupid and repressive idea. Agnes, on the other hand, was against being hit by flying bits of other people's cabbage." (Pratchett, T. Carpe Jugulum.)

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#15 French

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 23:30

My experiences are similar to jimhughes, no terrible feathering, regardless of nib and ink combination. However, my big caveat is I use fine and extra fine nibs, mainly adjusted to 6-7 on the wetness scale (1 being sahara desert, 10 being niagra falls -- the Binder scale). I've used the unlined and lined small notebooks, the size is perfect,the paper is very good for my use.


French

ps. inks I've used (in no particular order of performance)

Violet Vote

Legal Lapis

Galileo Manuscript Brown

Kon Peki

Tsyu-yo

Montblanc Midnight Blue

Baystate Blue

Yama Guri

Yama Budo

Noodler's black

#16 inkypete

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 00:27

Really like the look of these but the negative comments on the refills are a deal breaker for me.
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#17 robynsnest

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 15:51

I purchased one direct from Pelle and love it. I actually like it better the Rhodia paper which I don't really like. To me Rhodia is TOO smooth; thought I think I'm in the minority with that opinion :0) I use fine and extra fine nibs so that may account for my preferences.

That said the journal is great and the customer service is outstanding.

#18 Silas

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 16:46

I really like the small leather Cognac journal, even though I find the refills unaccepable.

So, I did some research and find that there IS a refill that should fit the small Pelle. It is the MIDORI PASSPORT TRAVELER'S Refill. Passportd No. 001.

I found these at THE JOURNAL SHOP in England and ordered a couple of the LINED refill.

Admittedly, the cost of 2 refills and shipping was VERY high! About $22.00.

But....I have such a liking for the cover that I'm willing to get the better paper. (And, I'm not one to make my own....weird, I know!)

I'll let you know when I get them in from over the pond. Presently I'm using the lined refill that came with it to do grocery lists.....aaaaahhh, the lowest of the low!

Just found out you can get refills at MYMAIDO.COM for $5.25 with free ship over $25. Also, I found out this this design is a copy of the MIDORI TRAVELLER/PASSPORT line. Of course, the Midori Passport costs $55 and the Traveller, larger one, $65.
I'd be happy to see a comparison of the two lines.

Edited by Silas, 16 February 2012 - 17:17.


#19 jimhughes

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 18:35

Sorry I didn't think to suggest the Midori Passport Refills. I could have saved you a trip to London and a bit of pocket change in shipping. Maido has an web site online and a store outside San Francisco, which I see you've discovered. Great service with quick shipping, I'm a big fan of theirs. Hope the Midori inserts work for you.Jim

#20 Silas

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 22:04

Jim, while I was looking around for the Midori refills, I came upon the Nordic Pens site...in Sweden, I believe.

They had a sale on and their Midori Passport was only a couple of dollars more than the Pelle....and, get this...Free shipping! So I ordered the Midori to compare it with the Pelle.

I will give one as a gift after I compare the two.

Edited by Silas, 16 February 2012 - 22:05.







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