Monday, August 17, 2020

Notebook Review: Endless Works Recorder Notebook

Not everybody shares the joy of writing with a fountain pen, and surely not everyone understands the happiness of finding paper products and notebooks that take fountain pens really well. When I shifted to full fountain pen use in 2008, finding suitable paper for pens and fountain pen inks became a challenge. Most of the local stationers did not carry such products, and some Pinoy fountain pen users had to import their notebooks. Since then, I have found paper products and notebooks that are friendlier to my fountain pens as more brands and manufacturers produced them and local stores made them available in the country.

As a broad and stub nib user, I have tried many notebooks with different paper types from various manufacturers. Some are local and others come from overseas. While some notebooks are well-crafted with excellent paper, most are not so. Through years of using fountain pens, I have selected a set of paper types and brands that are suitable for my nib preference, and one of them is Tomoe River, a high-quality paper resistant to bleeding and feathering. While on quarantine, I came across Endless Works, a premium stationery brand from India that uses Tomoe River paper in their Recorder notebooks. 

Packaged with love. Every Recorder notebook is shipped inside this lovely handmade cotton pouch. 

Endless Works sent a package that includes a cotton pouch, the Recorder, an Endless catalog, ToolKit, and Recorder ID. I read the story of Endless Works in the catalog, and it is as unique as their notebooks are. Endless Works started as two notebook loving people, Dheeraj and Aditya, management consultant and automobile engineer, tried to solve a simple problem: how to make a notebook that will be a place for ideas, dreams, sketches, or thoughts. Dheeraj and Aditya always use a notebook to record their thoughts, designs, and ideas. With their mutual passion for design and building products, they left their corporate careers to write a new page in their life—to build and design stationery with the user at the heart of it. Now let's meet the Recorder!

Meet the Recorder, designed to be the world's most ink-friendly notebook. 

Dheeraj and Aditya designed the Recorder to be the world's most ink-friendly notebook. Available in A5 size (8.3 × 5.6 inches), it has 187 numbered pages of white 68gsm Tomoe River paper suitable for fountain pens, inks, micron, and sketch pens. Tomoe River guarantees fountain pen writing with no bleeding and feathering, and its acid-free paper ensures the notebook's contents will last a long time. 

I received the Infinite Space dotted Recorder and the black leatherette cover looks classy and elegant.  It has a blank Table of Contents that one can easily fill out so it's easy to keep track of notes and ideas inside the notebook. The bright turquoise page marker would surely help anyone find their way through their Recorders. And if anyone needs a sheet of paper, there are 16 perforated sheets at the back of the notebook to tear without affecting the rest of the pages in the particular signature. Each notebook has an expandable inner pocket in the back cover to hold ephemera, receipts, tickets, and other bits of paper. It is also meant to store guide sheets from the ToolKit.

Endless Works offers the Recorder in four colors: "take anywhere" Infinite Space (black), "dense and subtle" Deep Ocean (dark blue), "head turner" Crimson Sky (red), and "wild" Forest Canopy (green). All four colors are available with ruled, dotted, squared, and blank pages. The dotted and squared layouts have 5mm spacing, and the ruled at 7mm.

The black leatherette cover of Infinite Space looks classy and elegant. Goes with anything, anywhere.
Imprinted on the leatherette of each Recorder's front cover is half of the Endless logo. The long line signifies content and the ellipsis (three dots) "proceeds to infinity."
The back of the Recorder is imprinted with the other half of the Endless logo.
The Recorder's leatherette cover is firm, but the spine folds comfortably so the notebook lays flat when open.
The elastic closure is firm, but not too tight. It's just right to hold the cover and pages together.
Happy to find the Recorder has round page corners. No sharp, pointed corners to bite into my hand and arm while writing. Also, rounded corners are less prone to fraying, so the cover and inside pages won't be worn down easily.
The pages of the Recorder are sewn so they are secure and lay flat when open. 
The bright turquoise silk ribbon page marker is used in all four versions of the Recorder. It helps you find your last spot in the notebook, or mark an important page. 
The inside cover page of the Recorder has space where you can write your contact details.
The Recorder has an expandable inner pocket in its back cover. I rarely use these pockets because their contents create bulges and make it uncomfortable to write on the notebook's pages, but I realized that this notebook's back pocket is also meant to hold the Recorder's ToolKit.
Dheeraj and Aditya thoughtfully built this notebook. It has a blank Table of Contents so it's easier to keep track of the notebook's contents.
Dotted Recorder notebooks have the standard 0.5 mm grid, a comfortable spacing for writing, calligraphy, or sketching. The dots are printed in medium gray so they are neat and unobtrusive.
The Recorder's pages are numbered and this is helpful in creating a directory for the notebook's contents.

I was really excited to try writing on the Recorder because of the Tomoe River paper. I filled the last page with a set of fountain pen and ink combinations and also included some Pilot, Zebra, and Fast Writer gel pens, a ballpoint, pencils, and a Sharpie to test the paper. I'm glad to see that Tomoe River paper stood up to my pens' medium, broad, and stub nibs and their inks, except for Manila Copper, a notorious featherer and bleeder. The three Fast Writer gel pens also showed some bleeding due to the high water content of the gel inks, but that's fine because I'm not planning to go back to using gel pens any time soon.

I also tried a whole page of the 68gsm Tomoe River paper and it was a joy to write on. I used my Wality 69T with a (very) wet medium nib filled with Krishna Christmas Eve to do the test. The Wality wrote smoothly and simply glided on Tomoe River paper. 

On Tomoe River paper, fountain pen inks look more vivid and intense and it is known to allow inks to show their beautiful properties: shimmer, sheen, and halo. On 90gsm sketchpad paper, Krishna Inks Christmas Eve is already a beautiful dark blue ink with subtle red sheen. On Tomoe River, the color is more intense, and the sheen is just amazing.

The subtle red sheen on the dark blue of Krishna Inks Christmas Eve is beautiful. 
More of that beautiful red sheen.
I also tried doing an ink art on the Recorder's Tomoe River paper using a BENU pen with a sharp cursive italic nib filled with Krishna Inks Christmas Eve. The color in this ink art is amazing!

The Recorder was shipped with the Endless ToolKit, a unique feature I have not seen in other notebooks. The ToolKit is a set of journaling guide sheets to help users organize their notebook pages. These guide sheets were developed by Endless together with Recorder users and they are sized to fit the notebook's expandable pocket. They are available in different sets: Planner ToolKit, Geometry ToolKit, Page Layouts ToolKit, Calligraphy ToolKit, Architecture ToolKit, Ink testing ToolKit, Ruler, Paper Games ToolKit, and For The Year ToolKit. 

The ToolKit sets can be downloaded from the Endless website. A blank Recorder, however, is shipped with complimentary ruled and graph Guider Sheet. 

I received a combination of 10 sheets from the different ToolKits including the following: 2 column divider, 3 column divider, planner layout, 2 column page splitter, 3 column page splitter, common shapes (2 sheets), polygon shape finder, ellipse shape finder, 5mm dot grid, and 7mm dot grid.

Made by Endless, the set includes a cotton pouch, Recorder notebook, ToolKit, Catalogue, and Recorder ID for registering the notebook.
This sticker was designed by Sanjana Chatlani of the Bombay Lettering Co. It's inside the Recorder ID card that includes the notebook's ID and a QR code for its registration.

Endless Works' Recorder is an excellent, well-made notebook, with one of the most ink-friendly paper available in the world today. I like that it has a Table of Contents and numbered pages. The Tomoe River paper is friendly to most writing instruments, and it has that simple, "classic black notebook" elegant look. The leatherette cover is durable, the elastic strap keeps the pages together, and the round page corners prevent fraying. You can also get the Endless ToolKit and enjoy a selection of different guide sheets for specific uses. This notebook is perfect for journaling, calligraphy, note-taking, or for simply writing down thoughts and ideas. With the Recorder, ideas are endless! Get one for your pens!

The Recorder notebook in this review is provided by Endless Works for review purposes, but it is also available for purchase in a number of online and physical stores worldwide, retailing for US$22.95. To purchase one for yourself, check the Endless Store Locator:

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