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!
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.
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:
Pelle journal, with red elastic loop and detached bookmark in foreground.
Pelle journal with black closure, feat Pilot 78G.
My pelle journal, as I wrap it for daily carry. This is overkill.
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.
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).
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.
Interior of the empty pelle journal, showing elastic.
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.
Pelle 28lb linen refills: the blue cover is lined, the brown is plain.
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
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.
Front side of lined paper.
Rear side - note the shadowing and a little bleed.
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.
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.
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.
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.