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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rustico Leather Travel Set Review


There is nothing that quite matches the sensual joys of using a well-crafted item made of real leather.  This is true of the items that I recently received from Rustico Leather, which sent me a complimentary leather passport cover, a leather and wool felt luggage tag, and a "Good Book" leather soft-cover journal.  When I opened it, the entire set screamed "Geordon!" to me - so I turned it over to him to tell you all about it.  Thanks so much to my husband for this lovely Rustico review.


There's not a whole lot of "wow" that can go into a luggage tag and a passport cover, but these do admirably.  The passport cover is sized to hold a standard passport, with a full edge pocket in the back and a slip pocket in front.  It is (handsomely)  machine stitched around all four edges and laser engraved with the word "PASSPORT" on the front.  The leather has a sort of velvety feel which is quite pleasant, and the rough underside is textured in such a way that it will not shed little particles of leather all over. This item  can be personalized with up to two lines of text of up to 20 characters, for $10.00 per line, and is available in five colors, for a cost of $ $24.50

The luggage tag is backed with a very nice wool felt (ours is in grey, though other colors are available) with a leather frame for the front panel, with a clear plastic sleeve to protect the contact information.  The clear sleeve seems to be either glued or sewn into the whole thing, but I'm not certain.  The tag is machine stitched around three edges, with a leather hang loop to attach it to your luggage securing the contact information page.  I would have liked to see the plastic protection sheet fully cover the contact info, but it doesn't.  It leaves about 1/4 of an inch exposed, which means that it could feasibly get caught and damaged in shipping.  It is available in seven colors of wool for $18.00.  There is a hand-sewn version available for the same price, with the same seven colors.

The real winner, though, is the "Good Book" journal.  Before I go into this, I feel obliged to admit that I am a book dork.  I love hand-sewn books, and have done some hand bookbinding myself.  I own several books dedicated to bookbinding, I love the feel of pen on paper (especially liquid inks), and own more journal books than I should, even though most of them are empty.

Anyway, back to The Good Book.  In technical terms, it is bound with an exposed long-stitch spine and five, 8-folio signatures.  In other words, the book has five sections that are made up of 16 leaves for a total of 160 pages, and is sewn directly to the leather that makes up the cover. The cover is unadorned, but can be personalized with up to two lines of text of up to 20 characters, for $10.00 per line, and is available in five colors, for a cost of $44.75

The cover is a nice soft (but not floppy) leather with waxed threads along the outside of the spine, and a flap secured by a wrap-around strap to close the book.  The inside of the leather is manually (machine) textured, rather than being "raw" and is not likely to shed bits and pieces of leather through use.  The leather, while imperfect, is smooth and evenly dyed.  The strap is self-secured to the flap, rather than being sewn to it.  I think this has a very nice aesthetic to it.  Though initially unblemished, the leather will almost certainly develop scuffs, scrapes, and signs of wear that will give it great character as time passes.

The paper is rough cut, meaning that the edges are not smooth, even though each section (signature) of the book block was cut together.  The edges of the pages in each sewn section have the same distinct and random pattern, which gives the book character.  The paper had a definite texture to it.  There was no watermark or makers mark in the paper that I could see, but there was the marking from the web that the paper was made on.  It was a nice weight to take writing and page turning with gusto.  Being the information junkie that I am, I would have liked to know more about the paper, such as the weight and what (if any) finish it had.  I would have been interested to know who made it, because it's nicely serviceable paper.

As I said, I'm a book nerd, and I love writing paper.  Because this paper was not familiar to me (and there were no details given by the company about the paper), I used three different writing instruments to get a feel for it.  First off, I used a 1.15 mm pencil (Retro 51 Tornado) to write a few lines.  The paper felt soft under the pencil and the pencil marks left un-marked areas in the line due to the texture of the paper.  I would call the paper "toothy" under the pencil.

Next I used my Retro 51 Tornado rollerball pen, which has a liquid ink.  The paper took the ink really well.  It wasn't sucking the ink out of the pen, and the liquid ink did not bleed through the paper.  There was only minor show through on the flip-side of the page, just a faint shadow.  I expect that a fountain pen, though, would bleed into the paper rather heavily.  The liquid ink pen felt a little like writing over sandpaper due to the paper texture.  I would not like to write with that pen on this paper for very long.

The last pen that I used was a Fisher Space Pen ballpoint which has a paste ink similar to what you would find in most commercial pens (though not a gel pen, which I don't like).  The paper took that ink very well, too, and the texture of the paper was such that that the pen didn't skip.  A couple of days on, though, and the ink is a little smear-y. I don't have this often with the notebook that I carry in my pocket, so think that this might be partly due to the paper not absorbing the ink very much.  Writing with the ballpoint in this book was the happy medium between the pencil and the rollerball.  There was enough feel of the texture to know it was there, but not enough to be annoying or uncomfortable.

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