I posted about my new journal the other day, and have been trying to find some free time to post some pictures. Technically, I purchased the Exacompta sketchbook, not the matching journal, but I prefer to write on a blank unlined page.
In the past I’ve discussed my distaste for both the Moleskine corporation and the moleskine “culture,” and my transition toward making my own books. I’m still binding books for friends and for myself, but I wanted to experiment with a store-bought book that was:
- of superior quality to moleskine (particularly the paper quality)
- not overpriced
- not over-marketed (i.e. no “legendary” claims)
- produced by a fairly ethical company
- classy, customizable, and unique.
Of course I know that no store-bought book is going to be unique, and it’s silly to make that claim about any mass-produced product. By “unique,” I really mean basic enough for me to fill, alter, and abuse it to the point where it becomes mine.
Enter the Exacompta sketchbook. By now I’ve spent a few weeks with this delicious book and I can say that it’s hands down my favorite store-bought basic black book (BBB).
The sketchbook (5.5″x8.5″) is cloth bound, and sewn, so the pages open completely flat. A lot of small and medium sized books have trouble opening flat so this has been a total blessing for a carpal-tunnel-stricken scriptophile like me. I thought that I wouldn’t like the embossed “sketchbook” logo on the cover, but I’ve found that I don’t mind it too much. I added a label with my name to the front, and I’ve been holding the book closed with a plain rubber band.
The book is filled with gorgeous off-white laid paper. It’s lighter than moleskine-yellow, which means that my colors show up brighter. The laid lines result from the pattern of the screen against the paper pulp during the paper-making process. I really love the texture that these lines create because it reminds me that paper doesn’t just appear out of nowhere– it goes through a process of creation, beginning with harvested trees. I’m not enough of a treehugger to stop using paper journals (and besides, computer laptops have a larger carbon footprint than a Hummer, so paper journaling is not my greatest sin), but it’s good to be reminded that the products we use everyday don’t come from the store; they originate from nature somewhere.
The paper takes well to my fountain pen, and also surprisingly to watercolor. I used my sister’s cheap watercolor set to play around a little while I was home over break. I had forgotten how neon those basic elementary school watercolor sets are! I’m looking forward to painting some more with my own set when I have the time.
Regarding my desire for a book “produced by a fairly ethical company,” I haven’t yet found any evidence one way or the other for Clairefontaine/Exacompta. I found a company profile, but there doesn’t seem to be much underground networking regarding their history. Nevertheless, I do know that their production has remained in France (not shipped over to China, a la Moleskine).
After searching a bit online, it turns out that a few others have discovered the beauty of this book before me: both Inkophile and Spiritual Evolution of the Bean raved about this sketchbook as well.