Notes on Materials — Moleskine Mod


The modification has so far gone well. The stubborn curve is starting to come out of the pages and I’ve enjoyed the versatility and portability of this “frankenskine.” But shortly after starting to use it, I became aware that I did NOT refill this moleskine with the same paper I tested out in the weeks prior.

The paper I originally used seemed thinner and slightly off-white, whereas the paper I put into the book was a bright white and somewhat thicker (and as a result, stiffer).

See if you can tell the difference between the two in these photos:

Martha’s instructions at Trumpetvine Travels call for Fabriano Artistico 90lb (200gsm) Hot Press. So which one was which …and how did this happen? A trip back to Blick art supply (on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles) quickly answered that question when I took a look at their watercolor papers and saw what a mess they were! It’s no wonder I grabbed two different papers. They were totally mixed up, with at least three different kinds of paper shelved under each label. By looking at the item numbers penciled on the edges of each sheet, however, and comparing them to the numbers on the shelf labels, I was able to at least figure out which ones I had bought.
And it turns out that the paper I initially tested on was in fact Fabriano Artistico 90lb (200gsm) Hot Press (what Martha suggests) and the paper that I put into my modified Moleskine was a different one — still a Fabriano Artistico Hot Press, but Extra White and 300gsm. The paper is indeed a bright white and it is 150% the thickness!
This mixup explains why the bookblock was such a tight fit for the Moleskine cover. Fortunately, Martha’s recommendations allowed for some leeway, so the bookblock did at least fit and I’m finding it works well enough for my needs so far. One possible advantage is there’s less show-through when using ink, but the downside is I think the ink from my brush pen does not flow quite as smoothly on this paper, although the difference may be pretty slight.
More notes on materials in my next post, when I talk about the pros and cons of different watercolor sets (I bet you can’t wait! I know this is REALLY exciting stuff!).

8 Responses to “Notes on Materials — Moleskine Mod”

  1. 1 leslie herger

    Check out Cheap Joe’s Art Supply. (google it) You’ll be able to order 5 sheet packs of paper for much cheaper than at the art store and it will be pristine and all the same paper. dickblick is also another good option. i HATE buying paper at the art store- because it’s always over priced, dirty and not always the same brand they say it is. Fabriano has a heavy water mark in teh lower left- if it isn’t there you don’t have fabriano.

  2. 2 Lee-Roy

    Thanks for the recommendation, leslie! The store I went to is a Dick Blick store, but it seems like you recommend ordering from the web site versus in-store. You are absolutely right. The papers are dirty, damaged, and mixed up. But I imagine the online purchases would have to be rolled in order to be delivered, am I right? I want to try and avoid the “stubborn curve” next time, though I think accidentally using a heavier weight paper contributed to it.

    I will try ordering online next time and see how I like it, if it seems like a worthwhile savings.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. 3 Bob

    I couldn’t help but notice the watercolor field box with what looks like WN Cotman watercolors. I don’t recall ever seeing that particular design of box. I am an Art supply-o-holic.

    I might have to try making a Frankinskine sometime. Looks interesting.


  4. 4 Lee-Roy

    Hi Bob! I’m not sure which one you’re referring to. There are actually two different sets that make slight appearances in the edges of the photos in this post, but I’m assuming you’re referring to the one where some of the pans are still wrapped.

    You can see a wider shot of this set in my post on watercolors (it’s the larger set). (

    This one is the Cotman Watercolor Painting Plus Set.
    Available with tubes or pans. You can find it at Graphaids here.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. 5 Bill

    Beautiful sketches and nice post about your materials. I use a very similar kit and was recently inspired to write about it as well. I’ve used Martha’s instructions for sketchbook binding for a while now. They’re the best binding instructions I’ve found anywhere. I no longer buy moleskines for the cover, however and make my own.

  6. 6 Lee-Roy

    Thanks, Bill. Yeah, Martha’s how-to is the best! I’m impressed that you make your own covers. I will probably stick with buying the Moleskine for the time being, though, myself. I use a number of different moleskines in the small format and like the conformity or uniformity of them all. Also, not sure I’d be able to do it at the same level of quality. Of course, the cost of the Moleksine is a little high, considering I’m just going to gut it and refill it, but the planners are a “time-sensitive” product, and so if your timing’s right, sometimes you can find them at clearance prices.

  7. 7 martha

    Glad you sorted out the paper issue, Lee-Roy! Buying paper in the store is indeed a pain: I’ve been bitten by the wrong thing in the wrong bin too. Now I buy the paper online by the 5-sheet package as Leslie noted above (from Blick last time, I believe). Not only do I get the right stuff, but it comes flat in a nifty cardboard box suitable for storing full sheets of whatever paper.

  8. 8 Lee-Roy

    Hi, martha! Good to know that the paper is delivered flat. I’ll have to give that a shot next time. Thanks for the info!

    When I lived in Seattle, I bought paper at Daniel Smith. They had a good system there. You’d choose from samples on the wall and then give the ID numbers to a salesperson who’d then get them from the back where I assume they were more safe from clumsy and grubby fingers and mix-ups. Too bad more places don’t use this system.

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