A while back I bought this Life Vermilion Notebook out of curiosity, was very impressed, but had other reviews to do first. Along the way, the notebook got buried and I forgot about it. Alas! I do this kind of thing too often!
While cleaning up, I found it again, was again impressed and decided I’d better do this review while I was thinking of it, because …have I mentioned…I was impressed.
Paper Weight; 84.9 gsm
Weight: 1.73 oz
Paper Size: A6 (4.1 x 5.8 inches/ 105 x 148 mm)
Line Spacing: 7 mm (9/32 inches)
Number of Lines: 21
Number of Sheets: 32
The Life Vermilion also comes in a graph format and B6 size.
Look and Feel
I’ve reviewed several high-quality notebooks in the past and the Life Vermilion holds it’s own, but why was I impressed? Because it’s different. It has quality, but stands out as it’s own animal. Again, why?
The sewn binding, for one thing. Rather than being glued or stapled, as many notebooks this size are, the Life Vermilion is sewn as one signature, with a lattice-style stitch. You don’t see the stitches on the inside, except for the middle page, but they are allowed to show on the outside, and make for an interesting texture. I found the binding, not only visually appealing, but I liked the feel of it. It does tickle though when I run my fingers across it.
This binding allows the notebook to lie flat when opened (though there is a slight spring to the pages)….
…and to be folded back completely, almost flat.. The pages look a bit crumpled in the photo, but those areas are actually ink I got on the edges while drawing.
The colors are also different. The paper is red-lined (vermilion) on cream. This gives a pinkish cast to the paper. I couldn’t get that cast to photograph or scan, so it may be a visual illusion and not present in all lights. Some people might find that color off-putting, but I like it quite a bit. I have not seen any other notebook with a similar coloring.
The coloring on the cover is the same red as the lines with a navy blue for contrast. The cardstock cover seems slightly more ivory than the paper but that could also be illusion.
With its border, two-color printing, and simple design, the cover makes me think of vintage cookbooks.
The paper is smooth to the touch with no hint of tooth. It has a hard finish, but is too soft and flexible to be considered card stock. When you shake or flip through the book quickly, the paper makes a bright, almost metallic sound (which I associate with quality papers).
The cover is thicker and heavier paper, almost more like construction paper than card stock.
The flexibility of the notebook is both a plus and a detriment. This is a book that you can bend and roll to fit most pockets or squeeze into the most crowded of purses. It will also pick up nicks and creases. The cover doesn’t provide much protection for the paper, and there are no elastic bands to keep the book closed.
For me personally, the vintage-like feel of the book means that I won’t mind the nicks and creases. They’ll just add to the look. Extra care would need to be taken if you are someone who like to keep their notebooks pristine.
At $3.00 U.S., I might buy this notebook just for the differences, even if the paper wasn’t quality. Fortunately, I don’t have to make that decision, because the paper is high end, taking even fountain pen ink in stride.
I would definitely qualify this as fountain pen friendly paper. The ink goes down without feathering and dries quickly. While there is some show-through on the back when the paper is held to the light, there is almost none when the paper lies flat. Even where I saturated the dots I only got a few pinpoints of bleed-through. I couldn’t get any show-through or bleed-through to scan.
The cream color of the paper seemed to call for Sepia, so I used a Sepia Pigma Micron pen.
I used a black Micron that was almost out of ink for the shading.
Even when a paper is clearly not meant for wet media, I like to try it. It tells me a lot about the strength and resiliency of the paper.
Although the paper absorbed the water quickly,which caused streaks and made washes difficult, there was only a little curl and very little dimpling. Color lifted easily–almost too easily. You would not be able to glaze with this paper. There was no pilling at all, even where I dotted and scrubbed.
None of the color bled through to the back.
As expected, the texture of the paper changed somewhat, but not as much as I expected.
Not good media for watercolor, but you could do limited studies without harming the paper.
And then I did a bleedthrumanade. That’s where I color one side of the page using alcohol markers, Copics, in this case. I then do line-work, and sometimes additional coloring with media that won’t bleed-through. When I’ve finished, I flip to the back of the page, and use the color that has bled through as the base for a completely different drawing.
Unless specially treated or very thick paper, alcohol marker will always bleed-through. It’s just a matter of how much. Sometimes the color is almost indistinguishable from the front. Other times, it’s a pale imitation.
On the front of this page I used Pigma Micron pen and a gray Fabrico pen.
|Front of the page
About 75% of the color bled through. I used Fountain Pen with J. Herbin 1670 Ocean Bleu ink for the line work, the gray Fabrico and Pigma Micron for the shading. None of the fountain pen ink bled through to the front.
I was a little surprised. Given the small amount of fountain pen and watercolor bleed-through,, I had expected less bleed-through with the alcohol markers. More like 50%.
The Life Vermilion is a notebook with a simple color design, unique binding and line color. It’s flexible and sturdy. The flexibility means it could easily be creased, but the vintage-like feel of the book makes that less disturbing than it might normally be.
The paper is high quality, fountain pen friendly, and even able to take the rigors of water media, should you feel the need for it.
Some people will love the red lines on cream paper (I do), others will find it off-putting. It does change the way some ink colors look.
At $3.00 for the A6 size, it’s cheap enough for you to give it a try and decide for yourself, should you be curious. You can find these books at Jetpens.
Disclaimer: I bought this book myself because I wanted to try it out. No person or organization asked me to do this review. I just wanted to share the information. I linked to Jetpens as a place of purchase because that is where I bought it, and I personally like the store. I always recommend that you compare prices, and look for local businesses that might carry the Life Vermilion book.