My Eternal Dilemma With The Sketchbook

No matter what format my sketchbook has, I am always dissatisfied with it. Before I think about the right paper quality, I already despair about the ideal size. I can stick all my travel mementos (tickets, maps, etc.) in an A4 book and still have enough space for sketching and writing. But do I take A4 in portrait format or rather in landscape format? And do I always want to carry around such a "tome" when I travel?

So A5: fits easily into almost any pocket, but leaves little space for text or other small extras. An intermediate format would be a solution. Stillman & Birn Beta Series Softcover in the size (20.3 x 25.4 cm) has been with me for a long time. I can only report good things about this sketchbook. Lately it has become too bulky for me, especially when travelling. In the meantime, I tried the watercolour book from Moleskine, whose paper quality is really unbeatable. So far I have not used any other paper on which the colours granulate so beautifully. It also copes easily with the enormous load of water I need for a sketch. I don’t mind if the paper curls afterwards, I think it gives the books a touch of vintage. Unfortunately, with Molesinke A5 is not the same as A5. It is almost 2 cm narrower and that bothers me a lot. It’s time to do it myself. I have the utmost respect for the time-honoured craft of bookbinding, which is why I don’t presume to write that I have bound a sketchbook myself. Rather, I took the paper out of a Moleskine A4 landscape book, folded it and sewed it together in A5 format. (Youtube is overflowing with instructional videos on this.) It holds neatly and doesn’t look bad. Only the long side edges are a bit "frayed". Maybe I’ll buy a cutting machine like this one day. (It’s not so much the price that scares me, but the weight: the thing weighs about 20 kg!)

I put the so-called textblock, in this case more of a paperblock, into a Traveller’s Notebook. Depending on its condition, several notebooks fit in there.

I now own three Traveller’s Notebooks (all made of leather).

Paper republic; 31,7 x 22,7 cm; 178 g

Falcon Travelers; 35 x 21,8 cm; 160 g

Staybay Notebooks; 36 x 22,2 cm; 205 g

The Staybay and Falcon are better in terms of size. Both have space for 4 inserts. The one from Paper republic has practical compartments on the inside, but it is smaller and only has room for one insert, although you can help yourself with a trick. But the leather is a tactile experience.

I took the one from Paper republic with me on my last trip and it worked out just fine. I will certainly stick with this solution until next spring and then my dilemma will probably start again.

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