Chronicles of Knitterly Misadventures

The Ciak Journal: One More Review
March 5, 2009, 11:26 am
Filed under: Review, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Something I don’t think I’ve mentioned on this blog yet is that before I knit, I journaled- prolifically. I have about ten or eleven books dating from 1998 filled with my thoughts and observations on my life and the world around me. I have specific feelings about each of the journals I use and thought I’d try my hand at reviewing my newest acquisition, the Ciak (pronounced “Chack”) journal.

Ciak appears to be an Italian company, and the journals are advertised as handmade- I have no idea whether or not this is true. Trivia: The medium Ciak with the red cover made an appearance in the 2005 film V for Vendetta as the journal of Delia Surridge, a document detailing her role in the Larkhill Detention Center and labeled as inflammatory by Chancellor Adam Sutler, possibly anything from an elaborate forgery concocted by V to the psychotic ramblings of a doctor who should have resigned ages ago for psychological reasons.

I own three of them in red, blue, and yellow and acquired them from The Journal Shop, a mail order company based in England, during their 3-for-2 sale on journals. They cost £13.50 each, which according to XE is currently around $19.07. Shipping ran me $22.68 for a total of about $60.85, a number that works out to the cost of three journals at full price plus a shipping fee of $3.64. What can I say about these books that haven’t been said already? I have no idea, but I’ll give it a whirl.

The medium, cream & unlined journal in the blue cover

Immediate observations:
– Horizontal rather than vertical elastic, string rather than band
– Covers are attractive and available in a rainbow of colors from black, pink, red, orange, yellow, lime green, to blue; bookmarks vary accordingly. However, there is some kind of visible weird rippling effect on the cover, which as far as I can tell is only present on one of the three books I own, so it may be a dud
– Good sized journal: the medium is listed at 12 x 17 cm and contains 140 pages. Small enough to be portable, hefty enough that it should last me a decent amount of time
– Paper appears very thick and smooth, the ivory unlined version is an attractive shade of off-white

The first thing I notice when opening the book is that it won’t lie flat and doesn’t want to open flat either. I think this has something to do with the way the cover curves around rather than clings to the spine.

This is as flat as I can get the book. It gets just a little flatter than that with some more effort, but not by much.

However, the cover seems flexible and sturdy enough that I don’t have any qualms about bending the spine back to create some memory in the book. As mentioned earlier, the Ciaks boast a horizontal elastic string rather than a vertical elastic band as found in most other journals: the website touts this as being part of the ingenious design.

Being so used to the vertical bands that disappear behind the back of the book, I was initially put off by the horizontal string; it dangled limply to the side of the spine and I worried it would get in the way, but it didn’t, and I quickly realized that it was a convenient way to keep my FP with the journal. If you’re as absent-minded as I am, this is a very good thing: you will never be without a pen again!

While these two faults made writing in the Ciak awkward and tedious at first, the paper made it remarkably easy to overlook them. As mentioned before, the paper in the Ciak is listed as ivory, acid free, and archival quality: these words mean nothing to me (save for the color, of course), but it doesn’t matter. The fine point nib of my Lamy Vista runs like a figure skater on ice across the pages of the journal. They’re so smooth I actually find myself frequently taking out the book just to run my fingers across the paper- it’s really an incredible tactile experience. It does take ink well with no evidence of feathering and bleeding minimal enough to even satisfy my tastes (even the tiniest show through grates on my nerves). Initially I noticed some skipping when using the fine nibbed Lamy Vista, but have insufficient information to determine whether this is the fault of the paper, the pen, or the ink (instinct tells me to blame the pen).

(I know, I know, this is a downright crappy photo. Sorry about that)

This journal is definitely an experience in and of itself, and is available in a myriad of varieties with cream, white, or multi-colored pages either lined or unlined with a rainbow of covers to chose from, all of them attractive in their own right. I wish Ciaks were more widely available stateside; my local Barnes and Noble only carries the medium blue with lined, multi-colored pages, Amazon only lists the black cover with lined pages that takes anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks to ship out, and only the multi-colored versions seem to be available from most other US-based merchants. I’ve never seen the journal in any of the smaller bookstores in Seattle proper, and the largest selection I’ve found was from the aforementioned UK based “The Journal Shop”. If you’re in the US and willing to pay the $22 shipping fee, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them as a reputable company.

Ultimately I think the medium Ciak will make me a fine companion; its cover is soft and flexible enough that I toss it into my backpack with the rest of my college textbooks and find myself worrying more about stains rather than tears. It’s small enough to be portable and hefty enough to last even a prolific journaler a good long while, and reminds me why I continue using pen and paper despite how tech-obsessed American society has become.

ETA: Ciaks also available from Journaling Arts, a mail order company based in Kentucky. Seems like they have a pretty large selection; owner posts on The Fountain Pen Network that there might be more items in stock than listed on the website and to contact her (link leads to a page of contact information on the website) if you don’t see something you want.

More reviews of the journal from Spiritual Evolution of the Bean and Black Cover