Field Notes


Field Notes Fright 4

I just opened one of my Field Notes and the first page was completely torn out‽

How did that happen? I’ve always treated it well.

Any attempts at explaining what might have happened are welcome.

Malicious attempts by a third party and folding the page front cover to back cover can be ruled out. Like I said, this notebook was always treated well, that makes this so mysterious.


Field Notes storage – the Swedish way

I’m quite excited about Utility, the new Field Notes Quarterly Edition.

Finally a metric ruler. Ever since I got my first Field Notes from Michael I thought a metric ruler would be quite useful. Trying to measure a length using the squares (if the paper has squares at all) is just not the same.

I’m also looking forward to comparing the Mohawk Via Vellum paper to previous Field Notes paper.

In anticipation of the new edition here’s a look at how I store Field Notes at home.

Field Notes in an IKEA Förhöja box

They are on my desk in one of the three boxes from the Förhöja set which was the Pencil Pot of the Month last July. In the UK the whole set sells for £15. In Germany it’s €14.99 and in Australia it’s $24.99. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available in the USA.


Field Notes Black Ice 3

 

Here’s a look at the “Bright White” Finch Fine Smooth 70# text paper found in the new Field Notes Black Ice.

As in previous blog posts I have created violin plots of graphite samples on the  different papers.

To read under what conditions the graphite is put on the paper please read the explanation in Lunatic Paper or other blog posts.

four-field-notes

Field Notes comparison plus samples

The samples and their violin plots

Colour base paper shift

Previous samples were automatically adjusted by the scanner, so the violin plots were all closer together than they should have been, i.e. the base colour of the paper didn’t make a big difference.

This has now been changed, explanation in the video, so the results are more objective, but also feel more difficult to compare.

Conclusion

The finch Fine paper used in the Black Ice Field Notes is great, nearly as good as the Boise paper in the County Fair editions. For my purposes, i.e. writing with pencils, it is miles better than the Finch Opaque paper used in the original Field Notes.

One small issue with the Black Ice though: the paper at the bottom of some of my notebooks was ripped, see photo. Even though the shrinkwrapping was intact this might have happened in transport as my Field Notes calendar was also damaged in transport.

Ripped

Ripped


Lunatic Paper

 

lunarcoverThe next Field Notes edition, Black Ice, has already been announced, so posting this Lunacy review end of November means I’m a bit late to the party, but anyway: here’s a quick look at the paper used in the Lunacy edition, Domtar Earth Choice and a comparison with the best and the worst Field Notes paper I have used so far.

 

The Boise Paper (County Fair)

The Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “Whitewash” can be found in the Field Notes County Fair edition1

 

The Finch Paper (Original)

The Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T “Bright White” that can be found in the original Field Notes was a disappointment. Graphite is quite light on this paper – I guess it would make good paper for soft leads, though. Ink, from fountain pens and even from gel pens, get sucked into the paper and is happy to bleed easily through the page …unless you have a very dry pen.

The new Black Ice edition will use Finch paper again, but this time “Bright White” Finch Fine Smooth 70# text paper. The description on Finch’s website sounds as if Finch Fine is better paper than Finch Opaque, but the information on the website is written for people printing on these papers, not handwriting on these papers, so for me, it remains to be seen whether Fine is better than Opaque. If you own the America the BeautifulFrost Gray or DDC Orange editions you have used Finch Fine in a different colour so you might be able to judge whether it is better for handwriting, drawing etc.

 

The Domtar Paper (Lunacy)

So here’s the ‘new’ Domtar paper. According to their website it’s “the largest family of environmentally responsible papers ever assembled” (not the most environmentally responsible papers ever assembled).

Looking at the Domtar website I think Domtar Earth Choice “Gray” 60#T with “Moondust Gray” must be the Earth Choice Colors Opaque Text, but I’m not 100% sure.

Looking at this Paper weights table I guess the 60# weight used for this paper must be equivalent to 90g/m².

domtar

 

The Test

The paper is tested using the same parameters as in previous paper tests and explained here. In short: The pencil lead used has a nominal diameter of 0.7mm and an actual diameter of 0.68mm (more info about nominal vs actual  diameters can be found here). This is equivalent to a surface area of 0.36mm². A force of 1.5N is used, which, in this case, is equivalent to 4.17 MegaPascals for this surface area.

3fns

Left to Right: Boise, Domtar, Finch

The violin plots show how dark the pencil marks left on the paper are. The general idea is that darker marks are easier to read and are therefore better. Darker marks result is violin plots that are lower positioned and black values would be low (near 0 on the y-axis (left)), while light marks are towards the top.

The Outcome

Well, it’s grey paper, so there’s no surprise when we see that the violin plot shows that Domtar’s ‘violin’ doesn’t get anywhere near the white value reached by Boise or Finch paper. If you look closely you can also see that the Boise paper is not as white as the Finch paper.

If you look closely at the marks left by graphite you can see that the paper will ‘shine’ through the line written on the paper as the roughness of the paper means that graphite isn’t left evenly on the mark left. This is where the paper colour for the test can be ‘picked up’ by the violin plot.

The Domtar paper doesn’t take graphite as well as Boise (County Fair) paper, but certainly better than Finch (Original/Kraft) paper. Because of the lower starting point, due to the greyness of the paper, overall ‘contrast’ isn’t however much better than the Finch paper.

I am happy to say that the Domtar paper behaves much better with ink than the Finch paper.

For pencils, there is better paper out there, e.g. Atoma, Banditapple or Silvine, but the paper quality is not the main attraction of the Field Notes anyway.

A violin plot comparing Boise, Domtar and Finch paper

The Links

If you like to read more about the Field Notes Lunacy edition have a look at Ed JelleyFountain Pen Follies,  OfficeSupplyGeek or Pens and Junk. For anything Field Notes related please visit Three Staples.

Update 25 Nov 2016: I just finished listening to The Pen Addict Podcast #232, where Brad and Myke give further insights into the paper used for different Field Notes. The question about Field Notes paper starts at 1:10:10. 


In case you wonder about how I use the Field Notes in the photo: The yellow County Fair contains notes from medical visits from our son, the Lunacy one isn’t being used yet, and in the Original one, labelled ‘Ausgaben’, I try to follow Sola’s example and try to keep notes of money spent.

  1. More about this paper can be found in this blog post. []

Comparing different types of paper 6

For quite a while I’ve been planning on having a closer look at how different paper performs for pencil use.

I think it started because I loved the County Fair Field Notes I got from Koralatov, but when I tried the Original Field Notes (FN-01 to FN-04) I didn’t like the paper at all. (According to the text in the back the County Fair edition is using Boise Offset Smooth 50#T paper, while the Original version is using Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T.)

Well, I thought I better have a closer look. Long term, i.e. if this is of interest to readers, I plan on also measuring how abrasive the paper is, but I haven’t found an easily reproducible way of doing that yet that can be measured accurately, so I am focussing on how dark a line the different papers will produce with the same lead.

Following Kent’s post about the Lumograph being a good standard pencil, because it is good, not expensive and available world wide, I wanted to use the Lumograph, but for several reasons (I don’t want to bore you with them) I went with the next best alternative: Staedtler’s mechanical pencil lead.

Violin plot 6 papers

Violin plots showing the distribution of darkness of the marks left by the lead on different papers

Methodology

I try keep it short, but more details are available if there is interest.

Force used: 1.5 Newton (roughly equivalent to 150g)

Lead used: Staedtler lead, 0.7mm, the one that came with the Mars micro. I assume it is HB, but I have added a Staedtler 0.7mm HB lead to a recent order from The Pen Company, so that I can use those leads for future comparisons.

Pressure used: 4.17 MegaPascals

As seen in this blog post a 0.7mm lead has a diameter of 0.68mm, that’s a surface area of 0.36mm2. With a pressure of just over 4 MegaPascals the equivalent force used on an 0.5mm lead to produce this pressure would be 1 Newton.

I found these parameters to be a suitable trade off between force and diameter size. More force means more problems with me providing consistent, reproducible results. The obvious way out would be to reduce the lead size (= more pressure per square mm), but a smaller diameter means measuring the lead’s darkness becomes more difficult and less representative.

Notebooks used for the comparison

Notebooks used for the comparison

Paper

Some quick comments on the paper.

Atoma

Great and extremely dark for pencils. So unusually dark that you can easily switch to a harder pencil grade and get a similar darkness compared to other paper. My wife started using an H lead for writing in Atoma notebooks.

I did a control sample to confirm that the plot shown in the diagram is correct.

Banditapple

As always great paper! This is the latest generation of Banditapple paper: 4G, just released.

Silvine

Very common in the UK. Most Post Offices will sell Silvine products, but unfortunately the red Memo Books have become a rare sight. Silvine is planning to revive their red notebooks.

Boise

Used in County Fair Field Notes. Great paper.

Tomoe River

Very light and smooth paper. I expected a smaller standard deviation. The notebook used is a handmade notebook from Shangching, previously seen in this video.

Finch

Used in the Original Field Notes. I don’t like it for pencils. I should probably switch to using softer pencils in this notebook, then this paper might be alright. Also not good for fountain pens.

Box plots including two control samples on the right

Box plots including two control samples on the right

The diagrams

The diagrams show the distribution of dark and light marks left by the lead on he paper.

I first planned on using box plots. I have heard that they even teach box plots in school these days, but I went with violin plots instead. violin plots are basically box plots with a rotated kernel density plot on each side. I thought this provides more information, compared to box plots, in the same space.

I have taken samples of exactly the same size from the mark left by the pencil on all these papers. In the diagram 3.0 represents white, 0.0 represents black, so you can see the distribution of dark and white in the mark left by the lead on the paper. A darker mark, like the one on Atoma paper, will show as a plot further down (closer to 0.0) in the diagram.

Smoother, finer paper should produce less variation, i.e. a more even colour, so the plot should be more condensed. Rougher paper should have more ‘peaks and troughs’ on the surface, so the darkest areas should be darker and the lightest areas should be lighter, resulting in a stretched plot.

There are two control samples, only visible in the box plots. They are taken from the cover of Field Notes Byline edition. They are just used to see whether using different samples in different scans will produce close enough results in the plots.

 

Where to go from here

If this is of interest I could look at the different types of paper used in different Field Notes. I could put the R code used to produce this on GitHub. I also have a great paper sample pack from Scribble I could have a look at. Long term the darkness could be plotted against the abrasiveness of the paper.

If there is at least one comment on this blog post I will continue exploring paper, if not I will write blog posts about topics other than paper that might be more interesting, e.g. pencils.