PaperStax Canvas: A Good Cause Gives Us A Great Notebook

PaperStax CanvasThe marketplace probably has never had so many notebooks, journals and notepads available to a growing analog-minded buying public as it does now. And yet new notebooks keep popping up despite a seemingly endless supply of variety available. And yet, now and then, one shows up to shine above the others.

To evaluate the PaperStax Canvas Edition pocket notebooks without understanding the mission and drivers behind it does a little disservice to what the PaperStax Project is all about. Still, this notebook could thrive and survive based on its own merits.

The PaperStax project’s mission from their Web site:

The Paperstax Project is committed to inspiring self-actualization through journaling. We do this by designing and manufacturing pocket notebooks, then donating those notebooks to—and creating curriculum for—organizations working with young people to achieve measurable success—especially in the arts.

Based on their story at the site, they’re doing great things to help young people rise up above the challenges of growing up, especially in underprivileged areas.

PaperStax Canvas Inside Front CoverThe PaperStax Canvas notebook is, on first glance, quite different from most notebooks. Sure, it’s the typical pocket notebook size and holds 48 pages, but from there it goes in some new directions. For starters, it’s a beefy notebook, which I’m happy to see as most pocket notebooks I carry around rarely last until I’ve finished the last page. These stand a good chance of hip-pocket survival, due in part to their 100# covers and 70# inside papers, but also due to the choice of paper stock. Time will tell, but they feel much more substantial than the typical pocket notebook.

PaperStax Canvas Inside Back CoverI find their off-white cover and darker cream inside papers a striking combination that helps differentiate them, and I absolutely love the paper stock with its bits and flecks of stuff scattered. It’s the French Speckletone line of papers and I’ve always thought those had character and a slight earthiness that I feel in using these PaperStax Canvas notebooks. They are elegant and yet down-to-earth. I’d feel good using my best fountain pen in them or my grungiest pencil stub. As for how they write? Anything you throw at these papers writes well. Fountain pens show no feathering, no bleeding, no show-through. There is some tooth to the paper, so graphite and fountain pen both feel good but there is some feedback from the paper (in a good way). FP ink flows smoothly, and works really well, but it’s not the smoothness you’ll find on Tomoe River paper; more a workmanlike smoothness that befits an every-day-carry pocket notebook. I so often have to match my tool to the notebook I carry, but that’s not necessary with the PaperStax: all the tools I tested worked very well.

PaperStax Canvas LayoutI really only found one thing to point out that I found slightly odd, but would not call it a negative. Some will love the innovative page spread in this notebook that offers ruled lines on the left page and blank on the facing right page. If you write, then sketch, this may be perfect for you. Those who only write may find this quirky yet interesting. For me, my brain wants to write on the right side and sketch on the left, which is the opposite of what the layout provides (assuming I choose to write on the ruled side which I normally would). I am right-handed, so perhaps that’s why my thinking led me to the right side. I think I could overcome that initial preference by being captivated by the paper type, color and weight. I plan to get a pack and use them for work where I tend to note or list, then add sketches or visuals, and the ruled/blank layout really makes this work well.

These are available in limited quantities at the PaperStax site, but as expected with quality paper and what’s probably not a huge production run, the per-notebook cost is higher than average at $15 per three-pack. Worth it if you’re someone like me who works between gels, graphite and fountain pen regularly to have a hefty go-to pocket notebook that handles them all well. And worth it to help support the great work and cause that’s behind the PaperStax Project.


PaperStax graciously provided me with two single Canvas notebooks to review and I’m giving away both of them to two lucky winners (sorry, US addresses only).

Congrats to the two winners: John Coakley Jr. and Keith McCleary!

24 thoughts on “PaperStax Canvas: A Good Cause Gives Us A Great Notebook

  1. Shankar

    I love beefy notebooks… Ones which can stand the test of time and rough use. All that makes a everyday carry object timeless.

  2. Judi Delgado

    Just a thought – you could always hold the notebook upside down, so the lines and blank pages would be in your preferred format. Hmm…of course, that does present yet a different problem, LOL.

    1. Gary

      I considered that, but these have a bit of a header at the top, but a possiblity, as is unstapling and flipping the cover. Or just tell my right-handed brain to deal with it! LOL

  3. Charles Gill

    You want lines on the right and blank pages on the left? Just turn the notebook upside down! If the covers bother you that way, paint ’em, cover ’em with stickers, or whatever…

  4. Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, Gary. We are glad that this edition is rating high on the quality marks as most of the comments regarding the first run were about how nice the paper choices were. My brother Franky says that whatever we do, we MUST stick with the heavier paper. I’m inclined to agree as I carry my notebooks in a pocket cover and want them to be able to withstand EDC as well as being taken out and put back into the cover as often as required.

    As for the page layout, I tend to think verbally first, and then would illustrate whatever I’m thinking, however I’m seeing that for others the process might be reversed. It is definitely something to consider with regards to other runs.

    We appreciate all of the nice words on here, and are glad people are excited. One of our goals with this current fundraising campaign (notebooks and other things) is to get our pricing down to $10 a pack. That has ALWAYS been a part of the plan, but printing these on a very small budget has not allowed us to achieve that and still grow our donations. We are hoping this next run will allow us to reach that point.

    Thank you for following along on our odyssey.

    Jason Crespo
    Founder/CEO of the Paperstax Project

  5. Great Job with this Gary!

    I also like the homegrown quality of charitable donations that projects like this create…it’s a win-win!

    I wonder if they are planing a grid pattern version of this notebook.

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