Friday, 20 May 2011

Daycraft Animal Pals Notebook

Recently I received a small consignment of notebooks (and one sketchbook) from Daycraft, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer. I shall review them over the next couple of days, and I thought I would review this, the Animal Pals notebook, first.

It's an A6-sized pocket notebook with soft covers, and designed with this cute abstract animal design stitched into the lilac-coloured "Italian PU" (sic) cover. Have you guessed what it is yet? Actually this one is a hippo, and is one of a range of five designs, each with a different animal from every continent. The others on the website are penguin and baboon; sheep and panda versions should be available in 2012, if I read the catalogue correctly.

First impressions are that this is a very nicely-made notebook indeed. The cover is soft and flexible, unlike the small Moleskine hard black notebook. At A6 size, it is also slightly larger than the Mole (106mm x 150mm, compared with the Moleskine's 90mm x 140mm). I wonder how hard wearing this cover actually is, though, inside a briefcase or handbag, because from experience, I have found the Moleskine to be pretty tough. I'm also slightly surprised that Daycraft have chosen Italian-made material to cover their notebooks, but they make a feature of "imported" materials for their range. It feels very similar to a soft leather, and only the plastic smell betrays its hydrocarbon roots. There's the regulation pocket inside the back cover for ticket stubs, stamps and receipts, and a baby-pink page-marker ribbon, too.

The paper, which is probably 100gsm stock, is printed with 6.5mm ruled lines. There's also a subtle animal print on some of the pages - you may be able to spot a monkey's tail curling across one of the pages below. The animal prints are very subtle, as I did not notice them at all until I began to write this review; they are more apparent on the photographs.

As far as the paper is concerned, I did not test it in quite the same way that AK from the superb Notebooks Loves Pen blog tested it when she reviewed Daycraft's Signature Sketchbook a little while back. She used a variety of pens including a felt-tip and found some significant bleedthrough. I am a fountain pen user, however, and tested a page with various pens and pencils I had to hand, and found very little bleedthrough. Some of my pens are a fairly stern test of the integrity of certain papers, so I am pleased to report that I could detect no readily-visible feathering or other defects, at least from the paper. I did note some minor changes to the lines of the fountain pen ink where the FP ink met the printed animal designs on the pages, where the printer's ink used (I'm guessing it is oil-based) forms a barrier to the fountain pen ink to bond with the fibres in the paper. This is the most minor of quibbles, probably of no interest to anyone but FP fanatics, and one I only noticed when editing this review. With a ballpoint or pencil, it is not an issue, but on the photo below you can see some thinning of the lines, for example on the sample I wrote with the Kelly Green ink:

With the fountain pens, drying time is normal, though as usual, the Noodler's Bulletproof Black took the longest to dry, hence the smudges on the page. The creamy paper is very pleasant to write on and the 6.5mm gap is a sensible size for most handwriting. It is case-bound, so whilst it does not lie flat on the desk, you can flatten it out to write in.

Overall, this is a fun, very well made notebook, which I think would appeal to children or adults who are young-at-heart. It appears to be available widely around Asia and Australia, and Poland, but nowhere else yet in Europe as far as I know.


Dimensions: 106mm x 150mm
Pages: 128 cream colour pages, 6.5mm lined, animal pattern printed
Cover: Italian PU (polyurethane)
Binding: Case-bound, with pocket inside back cover

My thanks to Mr Foreal Lee at Daycraft for the samples.

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