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March 14, 2008

A piece about paper

Hello, friends! Sorry it's been so long. It seems like we've all been out of commission for a while.

I've been meaning to share with you a  new innovation in the world of quality paper. I ran across this from various websites and sources, and although Pencil Things isn't selling them, I thought this would be the perfect forum to share them.

As connoisseur of fine pens and pencils, I'm sure you are already well-versed in the finer points of what makes paper good. Thickness of each sheet, the smoothness which allows you writing instrument to glide across its surface smoothly, the whiteness, etc. I also look at the innovation of the design, size, and layout of the lines (if it is lined paper).

We all are familiar with Rhodia notepads (see my review here), Moleskine, Clairefontaine, etc. Some of you even may have read the awesome Black Cover blog, a search for the perfect little black notebook, and are itching to get your hands on a Stifflexible notebook (I know, it sounds dirty, but read the saga here, here and here.)

Meanwhile, I've been on the lookout for the perfect pocket notebook. Of course, there is the Rhodia cahier pocket notebook that Don sent out with the most recent Pencil of the Month club, but before I got that, I discovered Field Notes.Hero

Created by Coudal Partners, makers of a wide variety of cool and random products and online services, and the Draplin Design Company, these small notebooks are inspired by "the vanishing subgenre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers and the simple, unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list."

Well said, Field Notes guys.

I love it because it is simple, attractive, and really durable. I've made a habit of keeping it in the back left pocket of my pants, and I pull it out to jot down lists, memos, phone numbers, emails, and anything other little information bytes I know I won't remember but will need to later recall.

You can buy a 3-pack off their site for $9.95.

But wait, I say in a voice sounding like Billy Mays and his annoying Oxi-clean commercials, that's not all!

To be true to this blog, primarily about pencils, I have to mention the extremely good-looking and good-feelin' pencil that's included with it. An unvarnished round cedar wood casing holds a nice dark stick of graphite. And the lime-green rubber eraser works like a champ. I sorta wish the barrel was hexagonal instead of round, but eh, it is an extremely clean-looking instrument the way it is.

It also includes a somewhat blah-looking Bic-clicky pen with the logo on it. Personally, I think they should gussy it up to look like the old-school Skilcraft pens the US Government buys by the millions. Now, these are retro-rific. Check this out for more info about that (or just steal it from your local post office. But you didn't hear that from me).


So this notebook is really durable. I mean, really. Durable. It has to be, since I sit on it every day at work when it is in my back pocket in my trousers. And, well, as absent-minded as I am, I ran it through the wash. Here's what happened:2089890678_cc8de836f1_b

Yeah, it was destroyed, but it didn't break apart and disintegrate like other paper does. Those generic old Mead notebooks used to disintegrate right in my bag after a semester, without being sent through the spin cycle! I was still able to (carefully) pick out my notes and transcribe them to a new notebook.

Finally, I have to talk about the graph paper. I know I already talked about the benefits of graphs instead of lines in the Rhodia review (see link above), but it is worth mentioning again. Not only can you more easily sketch illustrations or graphs with it, and properly plot out proportions, but you can write portrait  or landscape. This is handy because, well, it  is  a smallish notepad, and sometimes you need to turn it sideways to get a proper grip on it.

Check out Field Notes (fieldnotesbrand.com) for more information.

Andy Welfle


Hey Andy -

Thanks for the compliments! I've been meaning to thank you for the recent link as well - I was wondering how my site randomly had several hundred more readers a few days ago.

Also, I totally dig the design of the Field Notes book. Personally, I'm not a fan of the cahiers style - too few pages, not as rugged, etc. - but I totally agree with you on the greatness of simplicity, and nothing beats those block letters on the front cover. Very cool.


I've always loved the pocket notebook, I've seen examples in my own family from the 19th and 18th century GREAT history resource,
day to day borrowing and lending as well as wages and names...+ little bursts of humor (rare)

These look great for everyday use, and they're far cheaper than RR field books. That said, I have to second v as far as in-the-field notebooks. RRs are spendy, but they are waterproof and completely bomber. The only major (and believe me it can be) drawback I have found is that depending on the ink RRs can be ink-resistant in addition to being waterproof. Be sure to smudge test the ink you plan to use, opt for pencil, or buy special RR pens. (Damn field book racketeers!)

Fun site. I'll be back.

John, True, but the Moleskine cahiers are only two dollars cheaper, and with the Field Notes you get a pencil and a pen, and I believe a little ruler. Plus, you get the satisfaction of supporting an independent design studio and bindery.

Sorry, didn't mean to be preachy.

I bought the field notes early on, and while they're neat from a design perspective, there's really no benefit over a moleskine cashier journal with the grid pages. I'll stick to the common ones I can pick up anywhere, and the moleskines are cheaper too.

I use Rite in the Rain field books for work and personal use - various line and graph paper formats, and also water resistant.


I'm holding out for the O'Bon bagasse/sugar cane notebooks, out of curiosity.

I like the new little black Rhodias I found at Dick Blick.

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