i am teetotally in love with a stillman and birn 'gamma' sketchbook as my new 'daily book'... you can truly do light washes in it, pencil and pen are beautiful on the paper, and calligraphy ink does not bleed through to the other side of the page.
this post is mostly about the 4" x 6" 'gamma', but towards the end i'll also say a few words about the 'delta' sketchbook (extra heavy paper). they make a series of five different books (i.e. different bindings and types/colors of paper).
the info that came with the 'gamma'...
the ivory paper is *beautiful*... a colored pencil face on the left and a watercolor face on the right. most of these pics were taken in full sun when i was out walking/drawing...
the left page is another colored pencil face, and on the right page i used mostly inktense pencils (with water). the rays coming from the heart are ivory mccaffery's penman's ink, which is a dense ink that didn't begin to bleed through (or buckle) the page.
j. herbin's 340th anniversary ink 'rouge hematite' here... my sister just gave me a bottle of it with a glass pen! woo!
the back side of the page with the anniversary ink on it - as you can see it didn't bleed through. if you look very closely you can see a hint of the writing on the other side, but it's faint.
prismacolor pencils and an .005 pigma micron pen... the paper has a bit of tooth, but the pen moves across the page beautifully.
and, maybe the most important thing, the book lays open flat no matter where you are in it! yes!
getting ready to walk home, the book resting on a tuft of grass... i'm using a sari ribbon to keep it closed while it's in my pack.
watercolors, goauche, oil pastels, and inktense pencils in stillman & birn delta sketchbook
the 7" x 7" spiral bound 'delta' is the only other stillman and birn sketchbook i've tried... mostly i wanted to see how watercolors did on the 'extra heavy' paper. i wondered if the colors would be vibrant and if the paper would buckle. the colors were fantastic and the page didn't begin to buckle. you could use plenty of water on this paper with no problem. i think this paper can handle *anything*!
both the extra heavy paper in the 'delta' and the heavy paper in the 'gamma' (my daily book) have the perfect amount of surface sizing for me. you can move paint around easily with little or no staining, and the surfaces are resilient - they don't disintegrate easily.
so yeah, investigate stillman and birn sketchbooks if you're looking for a new and improved journal! for me it's a real joy to work in a book using colored pencils, ink, and watercolors without preparing the page in any way.
you can go to their website to see if there's a retailer near you, or here are a few online sources:
jamie williams grossman has written extensive reviews of stillman and birn sketchbooks on her blog hudson valley sketches. here's part 1 of her review of the 'alpha', which is the same as my daily book except with white paper.
please feel free to ask questions if you have them!