Monologue offers a variety of notebooks and was kind enough to send several for review. Their generosity provided ample opportunity to test two grades of natural white paper, the 80 gsm ruled and the 140 gsm blank version. There are pluses and minuses to each.
The form is very well executed for all of Monologue’s notebooks. Details are available elsewhere and there was nothing disappointing in my use of their products. Okami covers the subject very well so head over there for info on those attributes.
Notebooks in this line include elastic closures, ribbon bookmarks, pen loops, and inner pockets. Some have paper with gilded edges for those who like a little bling. The handsome bronze covered notebook above is pictured with a Platinum #3776 Century Nice fountain pen, an eye-catching couple to be sure. All of the notebooks have unadorned covers with the Monologue imprint placed low on the back cover. My favorite is the green Contrast Ruled Notebook with its orange elastic closure that is perfect with orange ink and an orange fountain pen. (Don’t mind me. It’s a seasonal affliction.)
My experience with the paper is slightly different from Julie’s. My acid-free, 80 gsm Platinum notebook showed less bleed-through and show-through though performance was inconsistent. Finer nibs produced the best results and Noodler’s Black with a Lamy EF was perfect. Other inks and pens were almost as good displaying faint marks on the reverse. Diamine Royal Blue, Violet and Aqua Blue as well as Sailor Nioi-sumire are worth recommending. Unfortunately, there was mild feathering with a few inks from wide or free-flowing nibs.
All other writing instruments tested had no issues though they did produce very faint show-through at a level that would not interfere with writing on the reverse. I wouldn’t call it even a whisper and for writing purposes it would be insufficient to bother me.
Monologue Basics paper is great for fountain pen ink as well as art tools including light washes of watercolor. The acid-free, 140 gsm Italian paper is heavy enough to tolerate a decent amount of abuse. The texture claims to be rough but I found it quite smooth. The binding is sewn and the book will lay flat, an important feature for the artist. The paper did buckle with paint from a traditional brush, though it did not buckle when using a waterbrush. It really gets down to how much water is applied to the paper. Dry media like charcoal and graphite won’t trigger that effect. Even crayons will do nicely. Journals are made for having fun, no?
A notable difference between Monologue Basics sketchbooks and most other brands, is that the paper is perforated. Detach a sheet and it won’t affect other pages. That makes it easy to remove a drawing that turns out especially well or to hand a sketch or notes to a companion. So much better than a napkin or the back of an envelope and the paper has no issues with fountain pen ink.
Both grades of paper have lots of applications. The variety of sizes and forms is another plus. Monologue should appeal to both those who journal as well as those who make a journal an art form.