Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Canson 180 Sketchbook

Today I want to review an item that I have been using happily for some time now: the Canson 180 sketchbook.  Like all of Canson's products, it is filled with really great paper, and the book is sturdy as well as beautiful to look at.  But what really makes this sketchbook stand out (and what gives it the "180" designation) is the Coptic binding.  I don't know much about bookbinding, so I had some help from Wikipedia on this one -- suffice it to say that Coptic binding is one of the oldest bookbinding techniques.  It dates back to the second century AD, being first developed by the early Christians in Egypt (the "Coptic Christians," you know).  What makes a Coptic binding unique is that it makes a book automatically lie flat when it's opened, especially if the spine covering is left off, as in this photo from Wikipedia:

As my (less than ideal) pictures show, I have been using this sketchbook to practice my calligraphy and otherwise just play around on paper.  I have other sketchbooks that I also use for this purpose, but the Canson 180 is the one I keep coming back to.

The front of the sketchbook, with a little free advertising for the InkDrop from!

Beautifully flat -- with some rough-looking Gothic hand practice.

Playing around with lettering for a project intended for a friend of mine, using a quote her children are very fond of.  This was done with a pointed pen (Zebra Comic G nib) and Sumi Moon Palace ink -- and the substantial paper in this sketchbook can take all that ink with absolutely no feathering or bleedthrough whatsoever!

Some more practice, done with a Pilot Parallel Pen (2.4mm nib) and Pilot ink.  The tooth of the paper is a little much sometimes for a broad nib like this, and you get ragged edges on the lines, but a little pressure usually solves that.

The sketchbook has a magnetic closure that does a pretty good job of keeping the book closed.  It's a great size for calligraphy because it has a lot of space for words of all sizes on the page.  (However, I do have the largest version of this sketchbook, which also comes in two smaller sizes, according to the listing on Canson's website.)  Because of the way the binding lies flat, it would be a wonderful sketchbook if you have an urge to do double-page spreads.

The exposed binding doesn't leap out and scream at you with the whiteness of the book's paper because Canson has tastefully covered it up with a black gum coating (similar to the glue-top binding you might find on a notepad).  It's a really nice touch that finishes off this excellent sketchbook.

 The exposed spine -- classy and functional at the same time!

I got mine at Michael's (purchased it with my own money, I did!) but I expect you could find it at most art supply stores, both brick-and-mortar as well as Internet versions.  If you are in the market for a top-notch sketchbook, this is the one I would recommend!

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