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Archive for February 8th, 2010

Fiorentina offers a complete line of Italian journals produced by small artisans as well as a fully established manufacturing plant that has supplied the gift industry for more than 30 years. The journals range from contemporary, pocket-sized journals, to elaborate, hand-crafted journals which ooze traditional, Italian design. They all have excellent paper, high-quality workmanship and beautiful design.

Fiorentina refill

A 5" x 7" Fiorentina refill is moderately priced at $10.99. It can be used with Fiorentina's line of refillable, leather journals. If used without a journal cover, the outside can be decorated with collage, paint, paper, fabric or a variety of art supplies for a custom look.

I chose to review a 5″ x 7″ Fiorentina refill for several reasons including:

  • The paper is beautiful and handles most mediums with ease
  • The price is reasonable and the quality high
  • It can be customized on the outside for a completely unique journal
  • There are lots of pages, 128 leaves, 256 sides
Fiorentina Refill Lined Pages

Fiorentina's 5" x 7" refill has 256 ivory, lined pages which have a slight tooth on the surface. There are 22 lines per page spaced approximately 7 mm apart. There is a small, screened logo at the bottom center of each page.

First Impressions

The paper is lovely. It is ivory in color, fairly opaque and has a a very slight tooth on the surface. I am not sure of the exact weight of the paper, but it feels comparable to the weight of the Cartesio journals, which is 110 gsm. The surface feels porous to the touch and there is no evidence of a coating. The binding is tight, even so, I am able to open the journal flat when working.

The pages are ruled with 22 gray lines that are about ½ pt. thick and are spaced about 7 mm apart.  The lines stop about 7 mm before reaching the left and right edges, leaving small, vertical margins. The refill measures approximately 4¾” x 6½” and fits Fiorentina’s 5″ x 7″ journals.

Fiorentina Leather Journal

This refill is designed to fit a variety of Fiorentina’s 5″ x 7″ journals. Pictured is a refillable, recycled, leather journal I received as a sample about a year ago when I was considering adding some new items to my store. Other refillable journals including a sunny yellow Smile Journal are available.

The Pen and Ink Test

For the writing portion of the test, the pens I tested on the paper include:

  • Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen, 0.5 mm point
  • Sensa Ballpoint Pen
  • Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
  • Tombow Fountain Pen with Medium Nib and Foray Ink Cartridge
  • Tombow Pixie Ballpoint Pen, 0.7 mm point
  • Pilot Precise Grip Fine Point Marker
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Fine Point
  • Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker

Please note that you may get different results using your pens than I do with mine. A lot of variables can come into play here including pen type, ink type, pressure used, nib style and environmental conditions, etc. I will do my best to be specific when possible and to include all of the relevant details, but sometimes these things vary.

I was quite pleased by how well the paper in the Fiorentina refill performed. The words on the page appeared clear and the depth of color was similar to others I have tested, with plenty of contrast for good readability. The inks went down clean without drags, skips or picks and the paper was a joy to write on.

The edges of the words written with the Pilot Precise Grip marker and my Tombow Fountain pen appear clear, but not as sharp as those written in the Rhodia Web Notebook. The difference is slight, but if you look very closely,  you can see it. I am guessing this is because of the difference in the surface of the paper. The Fiorentina paper is more porous, so the ink settles into the paper and dries more quickly, while the ink on the Rhodia paper sits on top a little longer and dries more slowly. This difference in the Tombow Fountain pen sample could be because of a difference ink. For this test I used a budget, Foray fountain pen cartridge in my Tombow pen and have found it to perform a little bit different than the original Tombow refill that came with the pen that was used for tests in other journals.

There was little showthough and no bleedthrough using any of the roller, ballpoint and fountain pens, so the showthrough was comparable to the Rhodia Webnotebook I tested in an earlier review. What really surprised me was how well the paper resisted bleedthrough from Sharpie Fine Point Permanent marker. While it did bleed through where I started the down stroke of my letters, most of the letters did not bleed through at all.

None of the ink samples had raised areas on the backside of the paper. It performed better than Rhodia’s Webnotebook which was my previous best performer.

I tested the paper using a variety of pens from several manufacturers. Overall, the paper was a top performer. The words written with the Pilot Precise Grip and Tombow Fountain pen are almost as clear as the samples in the Rhodia Webnotebook, but not quite, due to the porous surface. Because of this, wet inks dry much faster than on Rhodia's paper.

Fiorentina Refill

The paper is fairly opaque so there is little showthrough. While there was bleedthrough with the Sharpie Permanent Marker, it was only slight and much less than any other journal I have tested with exception of Leuchtturm journals produced after August 2009.

Pros

  • Clear text even when using a fountain pen and markers, although not quite as clear as Rhodia’s Webnotebook when using the wettest pens
  • Thick paper has very little showthrough
  • Pages lay flat when opened
  • No raised areas on the back from writing
  • Lots of pages
  • No bleedthrough except a small amount from a Sharpie Permanent Marker
  • Porous paper accepts ink nicely and dries quickly
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Good for use with ballpoint pens, roll pens and some fountain pens
  • Can be used with a variety of Fiorentina’s refillable journals
  • Reasonable cost

Cons

  • Heavier paper and higher page count makes the notebook thicker than the other samples tested
  • The ink from wettest pens not as clear as those in the Rhodia
  • There is a screened logo in the lower portion of each page
  • This is a refill and a cover will be an additional cost unless you create your own cover

Final Thoughts

For my uses, I like the paper in the Fiorentina refill better than any other I have tested to date because of the lovely paper and quick drying time. The paper is reminiscent of fine stationery and because of its thickness, it handles pens and other mediums without bleedthrough unless you are using a wet, permanent marker. Even then, bleedthrough is minimal. The page count and heavy paper does give you a journal that is thicker than many, but it is a reasonable tradeoff for the high-quality of the paper.

A large variety of pens will work well on the paper although this may vary somewhat depending on your pen and ink choices. If you use a wet fountain or roll pen, this journal may be a good choice for you if you want to avoid showthrough and bleedthrough. In my experience, I was able to use my fountain pen with great success, but since inks and nibs vary so much, you may have different results than I did. Who knows, your pen might perform even better! If you have had an experience with a Fiorentina journal or refill and you’d be willing to share with us, please email me at cynthia@journalingarts.com. I would love to hear from you.

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