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Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 1

07/12/2012

If you hanker for quality, the folks at Stillman & Birn really know how to choose paper. Their journals are excellent and come highly recommended as the links at the end of this post demonstrate.

To date all journals come with a black, heavy cover and in a variety of sizes. The line is expanding so check the S&B website for the most recent specs. Each series comes in ring-bound and sewn-bound editions, whichever suits your fancy. Page count varies.

  • Beta Series – Extra heavy weight paper, natural white, 180#, 270 gsm, rough surface, enhanced wet strength suitable for mixed media renderings.
  • Gamma Series – Heavy weight paper, ivory, 100#, 150 gsm, vellum surface, suitable for all dry media and multiple washes.
  • Alpha Series – Heavy weight paper, natural white, 100#, 150 gsm, vellum surface, suitable for all dry media and multiple washes.
  • Epsilon Series – Heavy weight paper for pen and ink, natural white, 100#, 150 gsm, plate surface, suitable for line drawings without feathering or bleeding.
  • Delta Series – Extra heavy weigh paper, ivory, 180#, 279 gsm, cold press surface, enhanced wet strength suitable for mixed media renderings.

All Sketchbooks are archival quality and bound in the United States. They are high density, resistant to warping and comply with international standards of responsible forestry.

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

These journals came to my attention late last fall when they received high marks from a few people who wrote early reviews. Since then and especially in the last month or two, the number of adopters amongst my friends as well as artists whose work I admire, has gone up significantly. When it comes to recommendations, you can’t do better than that.

The Epsilon Series for pen and ink is more my cuppa since I am a fountain pen user first and a dabbler in water media second. There is a very slight amount of character to the surface but not enough to make the paper feel anything other than smooth. If you apply significant pressure when you write, your pen might catch but that’s from thick paper rather than texture. A light touch is best for fountain pens anyway.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook Writing Sample

Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook Writing Sample

No printed lines in the Epsilon so this journal is aimed at sketching. A heavily lined template placed behind might work but the lines would have to be extremely dark to be visible. There is a wee bit of show-through with a few inks so the most persnickety users might stick to just one side of the paper. I would use both sides and not waste such a treat for my pens.

The Epsilon is outstanding at fountain pen use especially for writers who like wide open spaces to add drawings and embellishments. This is the journal I will pass down to my children.

Frankly, Stillman & Birn has produced a fantastic line of art journals. If you paint or draw, you won’t be disappointed. The ring-bound journals are particularly nice for mixed media and collage. The extra space between pages from the looser binding makes it possible to attach multiple bits to your work yet keep the cover flat for archiving.

There is one caveat. Keeping the sewn-bound journals open requires effort or at least following the classic method for opening new hardback books. If your hands aren’t up to the challenge, seek help flattening the book. It’s worth it.

For more on these art journals:

Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 2

Gentian has filled three S&B journals already.

http://twitpic.com/81vzzc for use in an Epsilon

Recording Thoughts: Stillman and Birn Sketchbooks – First Looks

How to make a S&B journal lay flat: Hudson Valley Sketches

S&B review by Jeanne Forsyth

Lynne Hoppe loves her S&B Gamma Sketchbook

European Paper Company offers S&B Sketchbooks

Cathy Johnson used watercolor in a S&B Beta Series Sketchbook

Pen Pencil Paper – a sketchblog: Working in a Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook

Mabeloos dishes in a Stillman & Birn Gamma Series Sketchbook.

LifeImitatesDoodles: Comparison of the Stillman & Birn Sketchbook Series

Comfortable Shoes Studio: Review: Stillman and Birn Gamma Series

Nikira sketches in a Gamma.

Thank you, Stillman & Birn, for the samples. Your excellent products will turn many paper lovers into addicts. May you live long and prosper. Otherwise, where will we go for a paper fix?

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10 comments

  1. [...] & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 1 « An Inkophile’s Blog Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 1 « An Inkophile’s Blog. Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponRedditDiggLinkedInEmailPrintTumblrPinterestLike this:LikeBe [...]


  2. Awesome review, if I won’t be already addicted to Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, I will fall in love just by reading your article. Also Noodler’s Pecan ink looks beautiful, gotta try it. :-)


    • S&B paper is such good quality. More soon in Part 2 in which an Alpha Sketchbook takes on Chinese Brush Painting tools.


  3. [...] Inkophile's Blog Fountain pens, ink, paper and more « Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 1 Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 2 [...]


  4. [...] Lamy Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – The Awesome Review The Pen Addict – Ink Links Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 1 Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks, Part 2 Ink Nouveau: FP101- Nib Sizes and Grinds Solid Titanium Pen [...]


  5. [...] Best new paper product was any Stillman & Birn Sketchbook. [...]


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  7. […] Ethereal VoicesReview: The UGLee Pen Ergonomic Pen – Gourmet PensInkJournals – WhateverStillman & Birn sketchbooks, Part 1 and Part 2 – InkophileLouis Cartier Transatlantique wooden fountain pen – House of […]


  8. […] Stillman & Birn sketchbook review (via Inkophile) […]


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