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August 23, 2006


Gray Miller

I think, possibly, I've found my balance point. I plunged into the moleskinesquerie with all the fervor of a young lover meeting a paramour, fondling the books in stores, reading sites such as this and seeing the magnificent potential in these blank...or lined...or graphed pages. The small graph notebook became my companion for a while, and I recall the distinct pleasure of feeling it open under my hand during a showing of a documentary about Burning Man, the way it has become a net for my thoughts and the thoughts of others. But it was small, and I bought a pack of the larger thin lined notebooks, which now is drawn out for the specific purpose of writing. A story was lost when my bag was stolen, but somehow I found myself wishing it well, hoping the thief would read it and perhaps even keep the notebook simply because it had those bits of me in it.

Still, it wasn't enough. The constraints of the lines and graph began to chafe against my creativity, and I found myself looking longingly at the blank pages filled with sketches and diagrams...and so I took the plunge, purchasing a reporter blank. It contains, at the moment, sketches of the collaborative performance art piece we've proposed, t-shirt designs, and doodles made at a bar shortly before a performance.

The three of them go with me everywhere--the small one helps me find my place in the world and time, the lined one helps me create new places and times, and the blank page is raw chaos captured and refined. It took about 6 months, but I've found my balance with these, and couldn't be happier.

Except...still haven't found the perfect pen...

Tricia Harvey

I used a Moleskiene for a very long time, but at some point the problems that the orginal sketchbook had with taking watercolor started to bother me and I started to look for alternatives. That is when I truely became a tool junkie and I have tried many many different notebook/sketchbooks. Now I am using a book called the Kilimanjaro which is pretty nice for taking water media (300lb paper), but is terribly rough and I worry that I'm going to wear out my drawing pens very quickly and having already broken a nib while drawing in this book.

Shirley Braley

There has been a lot of talk (and some noice) recently about the purchase of Modo e Modo by a French company, by production in China, by possible declining quality. I admit that I have stockpiled some of the older "pre-China" books, but when they run out, will I switch to another brand? The answer is a resounding NO!.

I have carried a notebook with me for the past 3 decades or so, but never found one that truly inspired me to write daily, to write constantly, to fill books, read them over and over, try new styles of writing, just because it's fun to write. Some notebooks were too clunky. Some, the lines too wide. The covers on others crumbled. The square corners got bashed if I dropped it. Some were just plain awkward to hold and write in.

But the Moleskine changed all that! I got a small plain to try out, even though I had never liked notebooks that small. But it turned out that the small size encouraged me to write MORE, because I could quickly fill pages and that made me feel more . . . productive, I guess. And I began to write smaller, and with that, I began to concentrate more when I wrote, and now I go through several notebooks a month. The cover is rigid, and has rounded corners, and it fits into my bag, or a pocket, and, every night, under my pillow.

At some point, an expandable pocket is going to come unattached from a cover. I'll glue it back in. An elastic band is going to break, sooner of later. I'll sew it back together. Perhaps one cover will feel less smooth than another. But frankly, after carrying a moleskine for even a few days, it's got food on it, it's a little scratched and dinged up from being tossed in to my briefcase, its pages are somewhat crumpled and warped from being taken on backpacking trips, and just generally being well-used. It's part of the character of a moleskine that it becomes uniquely yours just from being with you all the time.

Since the moleskines are intrinsically just what I like, I wouldn't even try to find anything else. Insist on good quality from the manufacturer? Of course! I love high quality. But to me, any Moleskine is better than any perfect specimen of another brand. And why? Because although I am enamored and obsessed with minutia of pencils, sharpeners, nibs, the "tooth" of paper, the smell and touch of paper, when it comes time to write, I don't want to think about my pen. I don't want to think about my notebook. I just want to write. If I'm thinking about my notebook, I'm not WRITING, I'm just using a notebook.

I think about my Moleskines a lot, but when I start writing in one, it's just me and my words. And that's the way it should be!


I have been a journal keeper for over 4 decades. I love a fine quality book and have used Moleskines for about 6 years now for the everyday notes and special thoughts. I have been concerned about the direction the product has been moving in to and am hopeful the new owners will address this problem as they take over Modo Modo. Fortunately, I purchase a case of plain, pre-China books so am not as yet overly concerned about the paper.

However, for my primary writing book I use Crane. My journal is a refill book which fits into a nice leather cover. Crane stopped producing this item a couple of years ago and hearing this news I quickly contacted every store I could until I had what I believe is the last of the supply. Nothing can beat the 100% cotton rag paper of Crane. It takes every type of media I have thrown at it from crayon to watercolor, holding up very well to all. This truly is a fine paper journal.

I have also kept a separate book of Morning Pages (The Artist Way.) For my Morning Pages, I use another of Cranes products. A leather bound journal (have all been green up till now) made for them by Graphic Images and contains an extremely smooth, slick paper. I love the way the ink flows over this paper and am in heaven when I write in this book - always with a fountain pen, never a ball point for these pages. Once again though, Crane and Graphic Images have moved to a more toothy paper for these books. At $60 a pop I bought the last the St. Louis store had. I went through every book they had selecting the slick paper ones for my own. Lined and unlined and who cares about the cover color. Most fountain pen inks take awhile to dry on this paper (probably the reason for the paper switch) and I always use a blotter between the pages when I want to keep writing and the ink has not dried yet. (It is also dependent on the nib size used and always with Noodler's Bulletproof inks. Extra Fine point Sailor nib dries much fast than a bold nibbed Pelikan 400. Remarkably, my .9mm italic nibbed Parker Sonnet has the fastest drying time.)

Well, I got a little off point there. My pet peeve is notebook and journal sellers, particularly on-line sellers. They seem to concentrate most of their selling points on the cover and the closures and little or nothing about the paper within. I don't care as much about cover appearance as much as I care about the performance and quality of the paper. It does me no good to purchase a book that will not hold fountain pen ink without bleeding through the back side of the page. It would be great if these sellers would make comment about the paper in their ads for the books.

And lastly to Gray Miller's comment above: It isn't the perfect pen you seek, it is the perfect ink. For me it is a fine tip fountain pen with Noodler's Bullet proof ink, or a Pilot G2. You can't go wrong with one or the other when writing, sketching, doodling in your Moleskine.


Unfortunately, I am weighing in simply to disagree with GrannyKass. I firmly believe the pen is where it's at. That and the paper. Some pens work better with different ink, true. But I love pens so much I will sacrifice some things so that I may have the bliss of a nice nib on some good paper. I've found few inks that change the feeling. I look for (ie feel for) a nib (usually medium) with a good flex to it. Old Waterman's are great for this. The Parker Sonnet is also a greta writer. I've not found a shaeffer that I really like; the nibs always seem far too stiff. But it comes down to the nib touching the paper for me.
BTW, has anyone else noticed how quickly Noodler's runs through a pen. I have to refill far more often. But I've not noticed anyone discussing this. Hmmm.


I have used Noodler's bulletproof black after reading this'd be the perfect ink for moleskines. Alright, it doesn't feather or bleed through - but it rubs off to the opposite page of the notebook, just like graphite, even after drying time of hours and days!

Oh well, i guess searching for the perfect pen (and ink and paper) is just whats making it all so exciting...


I too am on a crusade to find the perfect ink and paper (I have found my perfect foutain pens!). I believe that this crusade will likely continue forever as my tastes are constantly evolving. However, for now at perfect paper is Clairfontaine or Rhodia (Clairfontaine hardcover journals) and the perfect ink is Noodlers Black. I can use this combination for journaling as well as sketching.....perfect.....for now......

Nancy Patterson

Although I use my notebooks for more of a sketching/art tool, I love to write my thoughts right along side my images. I started to do just a nature art book, and have a writing journal on the side, but I found I wanted to write when I had my sketchbook and do art when I had my writing journal.

So, I went in search for the "perfect" journal in which to satisfy both my creative urges.

I have a watercolor moleskine which will be my next journal. Right now I am using a leather covered journal, which is adequate..but doesn't take water media very well. It does have beautiful cream colored pages and does ink very well. I have noticed that it takes watercolor pencil well....which goes fine with my nature journaling.

I tend to use just a plain Pilot V5 or a Uniball for my ink work. I like inks that are waterproof, but I don't feel as I need to have a special pen. I tend to lose things in the grass! (Recently lost a nice Rotring mechanical pencil!) So, cheapies are good for me. (Although I do have a wonderful fountain pen if I feel fancy!)

I'm very happy to see sites like this encouraging the act of keeping a notebook and journaling. I am an avid journaler...and love to read journals of past eras.

Thanks for this opportunity to share!

Daniel Thompson

The pen I have found that works best on Moleskin is the Uniball Vision Elite. The finer line is nice for me and it dries a bit quicker than the Pilot G2 everyone is touting. I find it's style smoother than the G2. Uniball has always had a line that I find writes the best for my taste. For a cheaper version, I am also liking the Pilot V5. Great writing pen at a better price point.


Interesting, the mania that notebookism brings out in us all. Are these notebooks we're so fond of, our grownup teddy bears? We're so attached to them. Currently I'm cleaning out a closetfull of old sketchbooks and notebooks. And it's a wrench to choose which will stay and which will get tossed. Fortunately blogging and Flickr offer another way to preserve these old friends. Regarding the perfect pen, the perfect ink - I'm drawn to the imperfect companion for my notebook. I love the way a crumby ballpoint smears across the page or even on my hands like a tatoo. And I like the bit of accidental texture it adds to the paper. Plus adding watercolor on top makes ballpoint ink go nuts. It adds an oily aspect to the washes. I suppose I'm disrespectful to these books at times, but they can be the best of friends at all times.

Gray Miller

Teddy bear? Don't be silly! It's nothing like that (don't mind me compulsively stroking my notebook as I type, really, I could quit any time I wanted to...)

You did bring up a good question: what do I do with the notebook when it's full? I'm a relative newbie, so it's my first one, and I feel like I'm going to hit a wall, that I'm going to lose something when I have my new book. Flickr is a good idea, if I want to take the time to archive the pages through scanning...and I suppose there is just getting a dry, cool place to store them in boxes for posterity. But it's a question...what do I do when it's full? Practice non-attachment, I guess...


What is the first thing you write in your moleskine? Is it your name? A serial number to indicate how many moleskines you have already filled? Do you follow Chatwin's paradigm and promise a reward in case it's lost?

For me, it is always one of the most inspirational phrases I've come across:

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..."

Keep on creating,



Well, I finally lost a Moleskine. Kinda. Maybe. Sorta.

I'm just back from visiting friends in Chicago. Sadly, my luggage is MIA. Southwest lost it on the way to my vacation, meaning that I started my visit with only the few carry-on belongings deemed non-liquid, sharp, scary, explosive, or, uh, lip balm. My pocked-sized sketchbook was with me; but my big zipper pouch of Pitt Artist Pens and a large Moleskine sketchbook were amongst the missing. So was my cell phone charger, walking shoes, etc.

At first, what I wanted most was a clean change of clothes, lip balm, and some meds. After a trip to a drugstore and a clothing store, what I missed most were my art supplies. My friends laughed as I sighed like a junkie with a fix, when I broke down and bought a six-piece “landscape” set of Pitt Artist Pens at the art museum and drew Chicago’s famous “Cloud Gate” sculpture with a few gleeful strokes.

I'm still hopeful the bag will eventually be located. My email address was on the inside cover of the sketchbook, along with a tag with name, ID number, and "if found please call this 800#/visit this website" information. Here's hoping!

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