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(click on Oberon and Exacompta photos for enlarged view) I have…

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(click on Oberon and Exacompta photos for enlarged view)

I have owned this now discontinued journal cover from Oberon Designs in this green for about ten or eleven years.

It shows hardly any wear, though the leather has softened with use. I was not fond of the plain black hardcover blank book with stark white unlined pages that came with the cover, so it was given to someone who did like that style. For a long time I preferred pretty hardcover blank books, stamped with gilt or silver designs, or covers of nostalgic waterstained paper with lines of poetry handwritten in French and watercolor roses circled and stained with coffee rings and spills, or with travel motifs, or Japanese landscapes, writing motifs, all with cream or ivory pages, some wide-ruled with faint lines, some without any lines at all. Narrow lines and grids cramp my hand and stop my flow, so I go for blank pages, or wide-ruled lines. I'm a huge sucker for all things stationer-related, and blank books are high on that list. Many of those slipped easily into this cover, so it's seen a lot of use.

More recently, I've been using these medieval-bound leather wrap and tie journals

From Barnes & Noble. They come in two sizes: 8 1/2"x 6 1/4", and 4"x6", in black and brown leather, with heavy unlined cream-colored watermarked parchment pages. I went a little crazy and took H's wood rasp to the page edges, so the paper now looks hand-torn.

There are four signatures of 16 pages folded in half and hand stitched to the leather cover: 128 pages total, 256 front and back. The books are soft and flexible, a joy to the sight and to touch. I happen to like the smell of leather, so they please my sense of smell, too.

One of the reasons I like medieval-bound journals is they lie flat to write in. Another sort of blank book that lies flat are the Paperblanks journals, and I picked up two or three of those, slightly oversized at a little over 9"x7", which gives some scope and freedom for writing fast. Some of these have a pocket in the back for collecting small things, some have a magnetic flap closure.

Among my favorites of the Paperblanks are the Laurel Burch cats, horses, and women.

The LB journals are slightly undersized, at 5"x7", easy to tuck into small spaces. And their colors are bright and joyous, touched with gilt and foil. At present I have one of the leather-wrap journals and an LB in use, for different subjects. And of course, I have a minor stockpile of others like them waiting in the wings.

I stopped using the Oberon journal cover. I realized that with a hardbound blank book inside it's stiff and bulky, difficult to cozy up to. And most hardbound blank books don't lie flat for writing. And then, a dear friend gave me this

in this tan color, which is an interpretation of this picture.

It's so beautiful I couldn't not use it, but the stiffness and bulkiness still was offputting for me. Until I found these.

Exacompta journals, very wide-spaced lines, paper heavy enough for bottled ink to not bleed through, with a woven-in bookmark. They are softbound, with tagboard covers and cloth spines. The brown ones' pages are edged in gold, the black ones' in silver. They're 1/2 inch too short in length to be perfect fits for the Oberon covers, but they are perfect in width. The covers, stuffed with these, are supple, and the journals lie flat for writing. Exacompta also makes sketchbooks in the exact same size, with unlined pages of watermarked slightly heavier paper.

I can't seem to write fast enough...
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