In this day and age of low-cost, mass-produced paper products, it is so difficult to find a good quality, clean and simple notebook. Nanami Paper’s Seven Seas notebooks are just that. They are meticulously designed notebooks that are meant to pack a punch in a sturdy, unassuming exterior. It started out with the line-ruled ‘Writer’. Then came the blank ‘Standard’. Last month, they released something new: the reticle-graph-ruled ‘Crossfield’.
My first notebook from Nanami Paper was the Seven Seas ‘Writer’. I wrote a review detailing my experience with it, but long story short, I loved it. I use it as my journal and I couldn’t be happier. When the Crossfield came out, I was hesitant about buying it because I thought it would be excessive. However, I was so tempted. In the end, I caved because I wanted a better calligraphy and watercoloring practice notebook. (Excuses, right?)
Like all the Seven Seas notebooks, the Crossfield is an A5-sized (210mmx148mm / 8.27″x5.83″) notebook with 480 pages of Tomoe River paper. Unlike the others, the Crossfield is a 5mm reticle grid (2mm crosses). It also has a burdundy colored flexible fabric cover. I noticed that they also changed the end papers from a smoother ivory-colored paper in the Writer to a rough, lightly textured one. I don’t care because I typically don’t write on the end paper, but it was worth noting.
Here’s a list of Nanami Paper’s detailed specifications:
- Size A5, 210x148mm, 15mm thick, (8.3×5.8×0.7 inches)
- White-color (which is really an off-white) Tomoe River “Notebook” paper
- 5mm cross grid (not actually a full grid; rather, 2mm crosses
- 480 pages (240 leaves), no lines, rounded corners
- Lay-flat thread binding
- Flexible, tough, thin water-resistant coated-fabric cover
- Ivory-colored end sheets
- Comes with one A5 blotter paper
- Made in Japan
Comparison between ‘Writer’ and ‘Crossfield’
I’ve talked about Tomoe River paper here and here. Needless to say, the writing experience is amazing. It is smooth, buttery soft, and so thin. There is no feathering or bleedthrough. The main cons are showthrough and long ink drying times, but otherwise, there is no better paper for fountain pens. If you don’t like showthrough, Rhodia has really nice Clairefontaine paper. If you want shorter drying times, you’ll need more absorbent paper, like perhaps the Leuchtturm 1917 (haven’t tried it, so can’t fully recommend). However, I cannot say this enough: if you use fountain pens, I highly recommend at least trying the Tomoe River paper.
Beyond the wonderful paper, I want to talk about the style they went for and how I feel about the writing experience. First of all, both the ruled ‘Writer’ and the blank ‘Standard’ had cream-colored Tomoe River paper. For the Crossfield, they decided to change it to an almost white paper. The white pages are great for showing off the ink color, so I’m really happy about that design change.
Second, the reticle grid ruling.I love grid ruling in general because I love making charts and checklist and I like having a guideline. I never got a chance to try a dot grid ruling, but I’m sure I would like it. Initially, I was ambivalent about the reticle grid. After trying out the Crossfield, I decided I like it because it gives me structure but isn’t taking over the entire page. I also like that it makes the paper feel accessible because it isn’t just a blank canvas.
There is one thing that I’m not a huge fan of and that is the light blue ruling. Since the white pages were so great for showing off an ink’s color, I wish the ruling would do the same. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it. I think blue gives the book a more utilitarian feel. I also like the shade of blue they used, but having the blue ruling so evidently there was a little bit distracting when writing.
In my opinion blue doesn’t fade into the background well enough. I would’ve liked a light brown, sepia, or taupe better. (Preferably it would be olive-colored, but I’m just biased because I love green). Perhaps even a neutral color wouldn’t fully solve that problem, but at least it wouldn’t stand out so much next to my different colored inks. I want something that would pair well with any ink and I don’t think blue is that color.
I decided to add this section because I talked about it previously. If you want to read about my first watercolor on Tomoe River experience, check out the Friday Flex Issue #3. My conclusion was that Tomoe River paper is definitely a viable candidate for watercolors. Obviously, since it is really thin, the page will buckle really badly. It will also show through to the other side and you can see the reticle grid through the watercolors in some places. However, the watercolor doesn’t really bleed through and once dried, the paper stays intact without losing any of its awesome fountain pen friendly qualities. I also like how the color shows up on the paper. All in all, if you don’t mind the paper staying a little crinkly or even prefer it that way, you can try out the Crossfield as a watercolor/art journal.
Try the Crossfield. That’s the conclusion. Of course, if you don’t use fountain pens, there are so many other wonderful notebooks out there that work well. There are options that are cheaper, more available, and perhaps better looking. However, if you consider fountain pens/inks something you regularly use, try the ‘Crossfield’. If you can’t get on board the reticle grid, then try the ‘Writer’ or ‘Standard’ when they are available because writing on Tomoe River paper is magical and these notebooks are incredibly well-designed. Either way, I hope this review was helpful. The Crossfield was bought with my own money and I am not paid to endorse this product. I just love it.