|Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks|
Beta Series on the left;
Alpha Series on the right
Click to enlarge any and all photos
I purchased a 7 x 7 inch (17.8 x 17.8 cm) Beta Series with extra heavy weight paper and a rough surface as well as a 6 x 8 inch (15.2 x 20.3 cm) Alpha Series with heavy weight paper. Both papers are Natural White in color. When compared to Arches, Winsor and Newton, Fabriano and Strathmore, the paper was very close in color to these watercolor papers with some being a little lighter and one being a bit darker.
The paper in both books is alpha cellulose which is a wood pulp that has been processed to remove lignin and other impurities. It is consider to be a very strong paper that is acid and chloride free.
Daisies Test Page
Things to note: while you can lift (see daisy shapes in the background) it is nearly impossible to go back to white. If you do, the paper surface is damaged and it becomes difficult to paint over the area without it being obvious.
I found priming the paper with water was necessary to get a good flow to the paint rather than painting a straight wash. The paper tends to grab the paint quickly making it difficult to get a smooth was without hard lines or edges.
|Please forgive the crooked scan|
Private journaling has been blocked
at the top of the page
I also did an eraser test on another page to see how easily the paper erased and whether the paper surface changed. I noted no damage from the erasing and the pencil lifted easily.
Daisy Test Page
|Backside of the daisies page|
Note the buckling
Final Evaluation: If you use a lot of markers, heavy ink or moderate watercolor, your best bet is to opt for the heavier paper in the Beta Series. If you are looking to do very light washes, pencil work, colored or graphite, I think you'll be fine using the Alpha series. Writing on this paper (when not altered by heavy washes) was a dream no matter which pen I used.
The paper in both books has a nice feel to it and performs well. I think I'll enjoy using both books, however, I don't see myself purchasing more when these are filled.
Please note: The paper in each series is the same whether the book is hardbound or wire-bound. The Beta Series with the heavier paper is only available in the wire-bound form. To keep my unscientific tests as similar as possible, I opted for two wire-bound books.