Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ecosystem Medium Blank Journal

After seeing the Ecosystem booth at the National Stationery Show back in May I was really interested in their journals, and kept reminding myself to get over to Barnes and Noble to check them out again. But as I tend to buy online at B&N for the MyPoints credit, Ecosystem took a back seat to other things. A few weeks ago I did get to the bricks and mortar store, and checked out all the Ecosystem journals available. What I wanted was a large Grape line journal, or a medium Clementine hard cover blank journal, neither of which seem to exist. So I decided to go with boring-but-dependable, and chose an Onyx medium hard cover blank journal.

What's interesting about the Ecosystem medium journal is that in terms of size it is right between the Moleskine blank journal and Rhodia's Webbie (as shown literally in the above pic: l-r, Moleskine, Ecosystem, Rhodia). The Ecosystem cover is not as glossy as the Moleskine or as leather-like as the Webbie, and it will pick up dings and dirt from being carried around in various bags.

In terms of paper, Ecosystem's 100% post-consumer recycled paper is amazingly bright. Granted I don't really have many blank journals with white paper, but the above gives a good idea of just how the Moleskine and Rhodia stack up against white: Rhodia is definitely a darker ivory, while the Moleskine has a lighter ivory shade. So if you're looking for bright white paper, it's Ecosystem FTW (for the win).

Like the others, the Ecosystem Journal has an elastic band to keep it closed and a back pocket for papers and other stuff. There's also a registration number, if you want to fill out the form in order to log in you journal should it go missing and some kind soul wants to get it back to you (or blackmail the dickens out of you, should you be so inclined as to write down everything).

But unless your journal is really a status symbol (here's looking at you, Hermes), it's main purpose is to be written in and not shown around. Ecosystem's paper makes for a really interactive writing experience, one that I hadn't thought about until I used this journal. I definitely liked using the Ecosystem blank journal, and it does a fairly good job of laying flat on a surface which I appreciated. There are some quirks that make it, for me, a more engaging experience--a word I hadn't thought to use for a paper journal, but which seems quite apt now that I think about it.

The bright white paper is fairly thick, but not in the Rhodia/Clairefontaine league. One very nice touch is that the paper is perforated, so if you want to remove a sheet you don't have a jagged, ripped edge to deal with later, which I do like. This recycled paper is quite thirsty, and it has a tendency to absorb a lot of ink and then bleed through on the other side. However, with some fountain pens and certain inks the paper was extremely well-behaved while some rollerball gel inks bled straight through and onto the following sheet.

For the most part, my Onyx likes an extra fine or fine point fountain pen and a drier ink such as the Pelikan 4001. Medium and up nibs are use at your own risk, depending upon the manufacturer. In these two pictures, the first pen was a Pelikan M205 Yellow Demonstrator with an extra fine nib using Pelikan 4001 ink, and there was no excessive ink absorption or bleed through on the other side. The Pilot Namiki 823 medium nib with Sheaffer ink also worked very well, but my Waterman Laureat with Diamine Syrah had a lot of ink absorption and bled through the paper. The Pilot Namiki Custom 74 with a fine point nib using Noodler's V-Mail GI Green had a lot of bleed through, the writing was extremely difficult as the paper was absorbing too much ink, and there were small blotches of ink on the following page.

Gel ink pens were not without problems either. My Parker Vacumatic Retrofit using a Monteverde gel ink refill definitely had a lot of bleedthrough, but the Pilot Hi-Tecs I used didn't even dent the white paper much less drink up lots of the ink. So some gel inks are very usable on this paper, some are not.

What I've learned is that the Ecosystem Journal is somewhat temperamental, and really does respond to the type of pen and ink that's used on the paper. That to me is more intriguing than frustrating, as it demands that I think about what I'm writing with when I pick up this journal. And I've started keeping a written diary of the different pen and ink experiences, which is also something I hadn't thought to do before.

Now, about the choices. Guys, can't you make a medium hard cover journal in Clementine? And a large hard cover in any color would be excellent (any type of paper would be fine, but blank and lined are my first choices).

As for buying it, for some reason Barnes and Noble at Union Square North near 14th Street in Manhattan decided to either get rid of Ecosystem or just hide their journals as they were nowhere to be found a few weeks ago when I went back for another look. So I may have to go online if I want to get another one, which isn't as fun as picking it up and using it right away.


  1. Juventus, Molie at "front and center" isn't strange at all when you consider that manufacturers are willing to pay slotting allowances to retailers to put their products exactly where they want them inside the store.

    I'm not sure that's the case with Molie, but slotting allowances are commonplace in grocery retail.

    Diane's massive review has me regretting that I don't "journal" (I guess that's a verb now).


  2. Juventus, the Ecosystem journal is definitely a problem with some inks. That V-Mail GI Green went straight through, but it was acting a bit strange on other paper as well. I'm going to have to really put this to the test and break out the Iroshizuku in a medium nib to really see how it holds up. But I've decided that if I can only use one side of the paper, so be it.

    Oh, and I hope the teeth aren't hurting as much.

    And Jack, at the Union Square North B&N the Moleskines are actually placed a bit to the end of the check out line, not really at it but 4 or 5 feet further back. Smart, in a way. But removing the Ecosystem journals is irritating, I looked all over for them, couldn't find a display anywhere on the main floor, and bagged it. That's really irritating.

  3. Diane, my local Borders has a few dozen Pilot pens in a point-of-purchase display just before the registers. Adhesive bar code tags on each one, but no price is shown for the customer on the tag or anywhere else. I'll buy at open-stock pricing, duh, but just tell me what the price is. Anyway, Diane, great review. Jack/Youngstown

  4. what pens do you find work best for these journals? can you give any recommendations I was using sharpie pens and they bleed a bit too much for me do you have any suggestions by the way you can get all colours and covers in all sizes on amazon and both blank and lined are there

    1. Hi Laura, good question. I looked through my Ecosystem journals and saw a lot of bleedthrough with medium fountain pen nibs, and not as much with a finer point. So I'd guess that the pen isn't as important as the size of the tip. Maybe a Hi-Tec-C with an 0.4mm tip would work (check JetPens) without the bleedthrough and shadowing. A Sharpie fine point might also do the trick. Basically, I've given up with double-sided writing in my Moleskine, and don't mind if I have to with my Ecosystems.

    2. Try the sharpie pens in the echosystem I am using them and you don't have bleed through more what I would call show though that's not distracting to reading on the back page i would not go as far as to call it bleed through with the sharpie pens (the new ones not the markers they bleed) the sharpie pens are about as bad as what you see in the picture I have given up caring because you can read both sides without issue and i think it adds character not to mention they come in tons of colours and are acid free pens on acid free paper good deal if you ask me :)