One of the other sketchbooks I received from Exaclair was the Clairfontaine Graf It pad. I’d seen these on several occasions at Artist & Craftsman and passed them by due to the cover being… well, kinda lame*. In addition to the plain black grainy text and images, each cover is made with various colors of card stock that folds behind the staple bound pad. The back is supported with sturdy heavy chipboard. Each page is microperfed for easy removal. The perf is sturdy enough that you can turn the page and it won’t tear out, unless you want it removed, it stays. The pad is often sold on American websites as “6×8.” That may be the outer dimensions of the pad but the actual sheet size is 5.75×7.5 inches. There are 80 sheets in each pad.
I did my usual battery of tests on this paper and it withstood them all. I have to say that this paper is amazing. Though it’s only 90g (41lb) it’s super sturdy and accepts a lot of media without issues. It takes some serious effort to get stuff to soak through. When I say stuff I mean ALL the stuff I’ve tossed at it. See the pic below.
With watercolor it accepts the color well. The paper cockles as is expected with paper this thin. I find this to be a great paper to experiment with techniques and color. It responds well to puddles of water as well as thin washes. Color stays true and doesn’t get muddy on the page.
While drawing with ink I was able put down multiple layers of ink without cockling and bleed through. Heavy layers that would have bleed through many other heavier papers did not bleed through on this paper. Noodler’s black bonded with the paper well enough that I didn’t worry about it lifting much with my water brush. Colors seem to pop off the page.
I did try gessoing the page but I don’t see the point as the paper is tough enough to survive most stuff without the gesso. I also scrapped acrylic paint over the page to see how it would work, and it worked just fine. This paper is also amazing for pencil. It has just enough texture and tooth that pencil feels really good on it and it hold a lot of graphite, so darks are really dark.
My final verdict on this pad is that it’s great. The paper is awesome. The format it’s served in is where it is lacking. I hate perforations (my own little quirk.) I prefer a pad that allows the pages to stay together. The staple binding is crap for keeping stuff together, I made a little folio out of a USPS priority mailer to keep my drawings together. For art journaling it would be a great pad to do drawings in and then cut out and glue into your regular art journal. The paper is thin enough that if you draw a face and cut it out the edges won’t be all that noticeable.
The pad is pretty cheap. I found it online for $4 to $6 the larger size is pretty reasonably priced too at around $9. These are prime pad for binding into a sketchbook. If this came bound like a moleskine or a Rhodia Webbie I’d buy it. I know that the reason this pad is so inexpensive is that its bound inexpensively, 2 staples straight through to a sturdy backer. I like this paper a lot, in fact the next time I’m at Artist & Craftsman I’ll be picking up another one of these in another size. Perhaps I’ll bind the large size into a nice art journal!
For full disclosure I was given this sketchbook/ pad fro review by Karen of Exaclair. I received no compensation other than the sketchbook
*One of the things that I hate is when established companies go after "youth culture." Similar to this pic of the Black Book I found at B&N, stuff like that is usually thought up by some corporate big wig who things it's a good idea to "go after a market segment we're missing out on." Stuff is said around tables like "How can we reach our target audience?" ARGH And then something like the "black book" is brought forth from the loins of hell. Thing is, black books are just like any other sketchbook, the only difference is who's hands they are in. You have a graf artist who messes around with markers in their black book, well there you have a "black book."You put a black sketchbook in my hands and it's an art journal.
Now I can't say that a bunch of French big wigs decided to go after youth culture with their Graf It pads but when I first saw the pad it's what when through my head. They hit a home run with the paper so I'll begrudgingly give them a thumbs up here, even with the lameness of the cover and name of this product.