Tekukor 160gsm Dotted Notebook Review
You all know how much I love Tekukor, right? I’ve been using the 100gsm A5 dotted journals for the past couple years and my current everyday carry is the smaller A6 Tekukor with 100gsm paper. And now they have a brand new notebook option with ultra-thick 160 gsm paper that is perfect for those of us who like to use art supplies, paint, and inks to our bullet journals. I love these new notebooks and I’m sure you will too.
Before we dive into learning about this new version of their notebook, let me just remind you how much I love the original notebook. After testing lots (and lots) of notebooks in my quest to find the perfect bullet journal I settled on Tekukor as my favorite. And no matter how many more brands I try, I keep coming back to Tekukor. Their notebooks have 100gsm paper that holds up to most any ink I throw at it with minimal ghosting (often no ghosting at all) and no bleed-through.
This past winter my beloved Tekukor notebooks went out of stock on Amazon. Oh no!! They were gone for so long that I feared they would be gone forever. In fact, many of you reached out to me expressing about that same fear. So I reached out to my friends at Tekukor to find out what was going on! Turned out they were busy improving their product selection, expanding the line of notebooks, and then (unfortunately) waiting in line for production with their manufacturer. But when they finally came back on Amazon for sale, we were all delighted with the new color selection for covers and….. also the NEW 160 gsm notebook option. OMG!
OK, enough rambling, Pam! Let’s get on with it already.
Features & Specs
I’ll give a summary (and plenty of commentary) of the specs and features here, but if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, there’s a chart with every single detail along with the ratings they received for this review.
Let’s talk about the paper
Before we dive into the features of the notebook, let’s evaluate the paper itself. Obviously we’re dealing with 160gsm paper, so it’s thick. It doesn’t feel any more or less thick than any of the other 160 notebooks we’re testing now. But the surface is a bit different. It’s not smooth. But it’s also not rough. I feel that there’s a slight coating to the paper which is evident in the way it performed in the pen and art supply tests that I talk about below. Feathering? Nope. Not at all. It’s smooth to write on with a fountain pen and feels good to touch.
Cover Color & Emblem Options
The cover is a linen fabric that feels luxurious. I feel fancy when I carry it. There are three color options (navy blue, olive green, wine burgundy) and each notebook has coordinating bookmark colors to match the cover. In all of them you get yellow and white bookmarks, but the third bookmark is the same color as the cover (blue, green, or burgundy). Also matching is the gusset on the back pocket which is a paper-backed satiny ribbon-type material to make it extra strong.
On each cover is a gold hot-stamped emblem. The navy blue cover has a fern leaf; the olive green cover has lotus leaf; and the burgundy has a palm leaf (at least that seems to be the consensus of the nerds in the Stationery Nerd Herd Facebook group).
Durability of Gold Hot-Stamp Emblem
When I emailed with the team at Tekukor, they asked me specifically to test the durability of that gold hot-stamped image. So of course, I’ve run my fingernail over the image to see how it holds up. I’m happy to report that it passed the Pam-abuse test. With a normal amount of scratching the gold didn’t flake off or rub away.
But you know me… I always have to go one step further, right? So I scratched it hard (really hard!) and tried to actually make the gold come off on purpose. And yes, with major abuse the gold did start to come off a tiny bit… but not really “come off” so much as just rub away the top particles. You know that look you get with an old t-shirt that has a silk-screen image on the front and you’ve washed it 100 times and the image starts to fade and look all vintagey…. That’s what I mean when I say rub away. The gold is still there in the crevices but that top perfect layer came off when I really scrubbed my fingernail over it and tried to damage it.
So that gold hot-stamp emblem – yeah, I’m pretty impressed. I deem that a success and it passed with an A+ for durability.
Warning to all notebook makers – if you ask me to test one specific feature of your notebook, I’m going to be brutal with that feature and see how far I can take it! You can count on me to try to break things!
Of the possible features I’m judging notebooks on, the Tekukor has an average amount. We don’t see all the bells and whistles (or chutes and ladders?) of other brands, but we are not light on features. And the features we see are high quality and thoughtful.
Wide Elastic Closure
One of the features I love the most about Tekukor notebooks is the extra wide elastic closure. And I love that they’ve extended that feature across their entire line of notebooks. Not just this one, but also the 100gsm A5 dotted notebooks, and the A6 size too. Then there’s the beautiful B6 Tomoe River dotted notebook and they also used the wide elastic on that one. I know, I know, I know… seems like this wouldn’t be such a big deal, and it might not look all that impressive when you look at the photos of the notebook. But honestly, it’s one of my favorite things about this entire notebook line. It sets them apart and it makes the whole thing feel more high-end and luxurious.
Numbered & Dotted Pages
We’ve got page numbers! Unlike the Archer & Olive notebooks, this one has numbered pages. For some this is a deal breaker because numbers are essential to their workflow. If you are the type of person who keeps an index / contents at the front or back of your journal, the numbers help, right? Even though there aren’t any extra pages set aside for an index like some other brand (like Scribbles That Matter), but that style of page is easy enough to create with a ruler and pen.
The dots are small and a light grey. Not too light, but just light enough that they’ll disappear into the page once you start writing on it. The margins along the outside of the dot grid is even all the way around with no dots falling off the edge or creeping too close to the outside margin. The page number sits just below the bottom row of the grid, so it doesn’t get in the way of that bottom corner square. I’ve looked through the pages and it looks like all the dots line up across one page to the next, so the printing process was done in a quality way.
I’m not sure I’d call endpapers a feature, but let’s talk about it anyway. Endpapers are the pages you see when you open the front or back cover and are usually the page that holds the book together – adhering the inside block of pages to the actual front and back cover. It’s always nice when those pages are decorative because it adds a tiny bit of interest (sometimes an enormous bit of interest if you check out some of the examples from history). In Tekukor you have a pastel version of the gold emblem in a scatter/random pattern on the white page. It’s soothing and beautiful. You can peek at what that endpaper design is going to look like because the “belly band” (the label on the outside of the boom) shows that same design.
The Tekukor notebook comes to you in a sturdy storage box designed to protect your notebook while it’s on the bookshelf. The white box is constructed of a heavy chipboard material and has a cut-out along the edge where you can grab hold of the notebook to remove it from the sleeve.
Bookmarks and Document Pocket
I already talked about the bookmarks and back document pocket above, but it’s worth mentioned again here (you know, for those skimmers among us who don’t actually read the stuff I write. LOL!). So if you skipped that part above, just go back and read about the amazing set of three bookmarks and the matching back pocket design.
Styles & Sizes Available by Tekukor
Because Tekukor is my favorite notebook – and has been for the past two years – I’ve talked a lot about all the other notebooks they have in their product line. Here’s the lineup of the Tekukor brand:
- A5 dotted notebook with 160gsm paper and linen cover in 3 colors (this review!)
- A5 dotted notebook with 100gsm paper and PU leather covers in 5 colors
- A6 dotted notebook with 100gsm paper – comes in two-pack in black cover only (currently out of stock)
- B6 dotted notebook with Tomoe River paper with black cover
Two years ago we had one choice. Just the 100gsm A5 notebook and now today we’ve got an entire line of beautiful notebooks. And yes. I have them all. I’m a stationery nerd so of course I have all of them. And yes, I’ve used them all…. Or I’m in the process of using them. I love that they started small and paid attention to what was working before they expanded to other notebook sizes and styles. It shows me they have a very smart business model and they’re doing what’s right for their company (rather than randomly listening to whoever has the loudest voice of opinion in their user-base…wink-wink).
What I use my Tekukor notebooks for…
My A5 100gsm is my long-term collections notebook – it used to be my everyday bullet journal until I suddenly moved into the A6 100gsm notebook when I was halfway through the A5. I’ve just finished up my current A6 Tekukor and will be moving on to a new size and brand for my next bujo.
I am currently using my B6 Tomoe River as a “whatever” notebook. I’m in the process of copying books of the Bible – I’ve started with Proverbs – so I’m using this B6 for that project. But in between those pages I use this notebook for project planning or journaling or memory keeping. Pretty much anytime I have an urge to write on Tomoe River paper, I pick up my Tekukor B6.
Pen Test & Paper Quality
First, let me just list all the supplies I’ve used for the basic pen-testing. I’ve chosen a variety of pens and markers in different categories including fineliners, gel pens, ballpoint pens, fountain pen inks, and various highlighters and markers. I even threw a Sharpie Marker in the mix as the alcohol marker you should never use in a journal. And because this paper is supposed to be bleed-resistant and ghost-proof, I also grabbed an art marker (a generic version of Copic markers). Whenever possible I used a black pen because that is going to give us the darkest possible ink to test ghosting or show-through.
Below is the full list of pens along with links for each.
Normal writing pens
Fountain pens & inks
Normal Writing Pen Test Results
There are really no surprises here. Everything was just fine – no ghosting, no bleeding – just as you’d expect with paper this thick. The only issue was with Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts fountain pen ink – which is the one that’s been giving all these notebooks problem. In fact, the more I learn about Noodler’s inks, the more I realize that this brand seems to perform differently than many other brands of fountain pen ink – it’s extra wet. In fact, a quote from JetPens says:
When thinking about wet inks, Noodler’s is, by-and-large, most people’s first answer. Nathan Tardif creates his stunning inks with a healthy dose of lubrication and pigment, resulting in a wet, juicy flow.
Because that ink is such a troublesome one for bleed-through and excessive ghosting on normal paper, I picked a Noodler’s ink to see how well the paper stands up to this tough one. But even with this tough ink, Tekukor performed really well. But also look at the photos below for the feathing tests. Ink loves this paper! No feathering at all and the paper is so smooth that the pen just glides across the page.
So there’s not really much to talk about here, right? It’s a no-brainer that most normal ink pens are going to work just fine on this thick paper. When we get to the art supplies test… that’s where the real competition begins.
Art Supplies & Paper Quality Archer & Olive Notebook
Art journaling is a huge consideration when it comes to a notebook that claims nothing will bleed through or ghosts on this paper. In fact, many of the videos you see in their marketing and advertising show heavily coated pages using various art supplies. One I recall seeing is where the entire page is painted in black paint then decorations are added on top of that paint. Very cool! But is it true? Did I see the same results? Of course, I’m going to test it!
I’m a long-time crafter and scrapbooker so I’ve got a room full of art supplies (did you follow along with my Craft Room Cleanup last year?). I went on a treasure hunt to find as many different types of art supplies I could in a variety of different categories of media. These are all supplies I have used in my art journaling attempts in the past (“attempts” because no matter how much I try it just never looks all that great). Here’s a list of the supplies I’m testing:
Art Supply List
The list of goodies used for the art test
- Watercolor paint wet – a wet application of watercolor paint then letting the paint air dry
- Watercolor paint dry-ish – another application of watercolor paint but with this time with less wet and I dabbed it with a paper towel to soak up any excess water and then let it air dry
- Tim Holtz Distress Paint – this comes in a dabber bottle and is an acrylic-based paint
- Ranger Dylusions Distress Ink – full-strength – even though this is a spray bottle I used it with a small paintbrush instead (spraying this stuff makes a huge mess!) This test was the ink straight out of the bottle.
- Dylusions Distress Ink – diluted with water – same as above, but this time I diluted it slightly with water to see if that made a difference.
- Tim Holtz Alcohol Ink – this ink is not really designed to be used on paper, it’s more for non-porous surfaces. But why not try and see what happens?
- Dye-based Ink – similar to the alcohol ink but there’s no alcohol in this version. It’s a water-based dye ink instead of being alcohol-based.
- Acrylic Ink – a thicker ink that is based on acrylic paint
- Copic-style Marker – I tried the alcohol art marker again on this page
- Noodler’s Apache Sunset Fountain Pen Ink – Using a q-tip I applied a swatch of fountain pen ink to the page to see what would happen. Assuming fountain pen ink is normally used in a pen, this will test if you are using a broader pen like a Pilot Parallel or a glass dip pen.
Art Supply Test Results
Well, well, well… look at this! Of the 10 art supplies that I tested, the Tekukor notebook stood strong for 6 (almost 7) of the bunch. I say “almost 7” because the fountain pen ink is almost a success. Yes there’s a tiny bit of bleed-through, but far and away better than the results in other notebooks. Only the QiHeng performed better with that ink. So I’m going to rate this at 65% success. But let’s take a closer look at which things failed and which didn’t.
Failures include the alcohol ink, copic marker and sharpie marker — so all of the alcohol-based art supplies. Which is to be expected. Alcohol ink and paper are not friends – even when that paper is 160gsm. However, if you look closely at the Sharpie Marker you’ll see that the show-through is more ghosting than it is bleeding. Sharpie didn’t actually saturate through the page as much as it did in other notebooks.
So moving on to the success in the bunch. Watercolor did not seep through the page even though I added plenty of water while testing. Once the watercolor dried, though, there was some buckling and crinkling of the paper. Obviously this can be avoided by not letting the water sit on the page until it dried .. instead soak up that water with a dry brush or a piece of paper towel.
Overall I’m very impressed with the performance of this paper with the art supplies I tested. Clearly you aren’t going to use alcohol-based supplies in a paper journal, but it’s nice to know how they’ll perform if you want to give it a try.
Pros & Cons
Let’s look at my thoughts on some of the good and bad things about the Tekukor 160gsm notebook.
- The construction of this notebook is outstanding. It feels solid in my hand and the spin seems sturdy and can withstand some abuse. Even the gold stamped emblem on the front cover stood up to the Pam test.
- The features we see in Tekukor notebooks are thoughtful and feel luxurious. The extra wide elastic, the decorative endpapers, the color coordinated bookmarks and document pocket gusset are done with class.
- Page numbers
- Competitively priced against Archer & Olive
- It would be nice to have a few extra pages at the front for an index – something designed for that type of use.
- Price is lower than Archer & Olive, but higher than Scribbles That Matter. So this might be a deterrent for the budget conscious.
Honestly, this review was a bit harder than I expected. Not because the product is bad (it’s definitely not) but because I came into it with a biase. I already love this brand and all the other notebooks they make. So I had to work extra hard to stay neutral as I was testing and reviewing this new product line. I wanted to love it from the moment I knew they were going to be produced so I had to work extra hard to test this notebook the same as I tested all the other notebooks in this class.
With that in mind, I think I might have actually been harder on this notebook than I was on the others. Maybe I was more heavy handed on the art supplies here than I was with other brands? Maybe not? Maybe that biase crept in even though I tried hard to squash it. But all in all, I love this notebook. Yes there are a few shortcomings (the price being the chief among them), but for the quality of this journal, I think the price is fair.
You know what I wish? I wish this notebook – the cover, gold emblem, luxurious feel of the construction… I wish it came with 100gsm paper. I know! I know! I know! But I just don’t think I’m the type of person who will ever use a notebook with 160gsm paper – at least not on a regular basis for my everyday journal. Don’t worry, I’ll find a use for it though – some form of art journaling, I’m sure.
But in the end, I’m proud to say that this 160 gsm Tekukor dotted notebook is officially Stationery Nerd Approved.
Specs & Ratings for Tekukor
Scroll down the rest of the way on this page for a detailed chart of all the specs for Tekukor as well as my scoring system and rating for each feature of the notebook.
|Model | Style||Dotted Notebook|
|Hardcover | Softcover||Hardcover|
|Cover Options||linen fabric | 3 color|
|Sizes Available||A5 | 148 x 210 mm | 5.8" x 8.3"|
|Binding Type||sewn binding|
|Paper Weight||160 gsm|
|Dots | Lines | Grid | Blank||dots|
|Dot Description||light grey|
|Grid or Line Spacing||5mm|
|Grid Count||39 x 27|
|Number of pages||192|
|Are pages numbered?||Yes|
|Elastic Closure||Yes | extra wide elastic closure|
|Additional Features||gold emblem on front | decorative endpapers|
|Price I paid (including shipping)||$26.95|
Journal & Notebook Review Rating Scale
Yes, I know that review up there is super long! You know me... I'm long winded and I think you might want to know every single teeny tiny thing about this product. Sometimes you just need the facts summarized in an easy chart. That's what this part is. Below you'll see my score for this notebook. I've based my score on the following criteria. Open each toggle box below to read more about the scoring system I use.
Notebook Features & Specs
Evaluates the available features of the line of notebooks including special pages included (contact page, index pages, pen tests, perforated pages); special features (bookmarks, back pocket); and additional features (special elastic closure, stickers, tools, pen loop).
- 20 points • PLAIN JANE - notebook includes paper (and probably a cover) but that’s about it
- 40 points • PURELY BASIC - notebook includes one or two features but not anything outstanding
- 60 points • JUST AVERAGE - notebook includes some of the typical features but is missing some
- 80 points • FULLY LOADED - notebook includes all the typical features you’d expect in a notebook
- 100 points • LUXURY - notebook includes every feature you can imagine plus more
Notebook Construction & Durability
Evaluates the overall construction and build of the notebook or journal. Factors considered are binding and lay-flat design; cover durability; bookmark and back pocket stability; paper performance; and the overall feel of quality.
- 20 points • VERY POOR - notebook is not recommended due to poor construction, performance, and stability
- 40 points • BELOW AVERAGE - notebook shows poor construction and has many areas that need improvement
- 60 points • JUST AVERAGE - notebook shows an expected level of construction and adequate performance or durability
- 80 points • ABOVE AVERAGE - notebook shows good construction and is durable in all areas
- 100 points • LUXURY - notebook shows superior quality in construction and durability; feel luxurious
NORMAL WRITING PENS TESTING
I tested 16 different writing pens. These are the types of brands you’d expect to use in a normal bullet journal or standard long-form journaling notebook. Fineliners, gel pens, ballpoint, fountain pen inks, highlighters, and calligraphy brush markers. For this score I've based it on the level of ghosting and bleed-through of all the pens tested.
- 20 points • EXTREME - ghosting and bleed-through is so bad that you can’t write on the back of the page
- 40 points • MAJOR - significant ghosting and bleed-through makes it difficult to write on the back of the page
- 60 points • MODERATE - some ghosting and bleed-through is visible but writing over it is acceptable for some
- 80 points • SLIGHT - barely visible ghosting or bleed-through and only with wet or heavy inks
- 100 points • NO PROBLEMS - no visible ghosting or bleed-through at all
ART SUPPLY TEST RESULTS
I've thrown some tough art supplies at this notebook to see how far I could push the paper. I fully expected the alcohol-based materials to fail - there were 3 of the 10 that I expected all the notebooks in the 160gsm category to fail. Some surprised me and actually performed really well. The score in this category indicates how many art supplies PASSED the test.
- 10 art supplies were tested. Each supply is worth 10 points for a possible 100.
- It is possible to be awarded partial points for a "nearly failed" or "nearly passed" supply test.
FEATHERING | CAPILLARY ACTION
Feathering is when the ink penetrates the fibers of the paper and spreads outward from the line just written. The feathering happens when ink from your pen is pulled into an absorbent paper via capillary action. Typically seen with uncoated or low-quality paper (i.e. newsprint or cheap school notebook paper) combined with wet ink or broad nib styles.
- 20 points • EXTREME FEATHERING - the paper is so porous that ANY ink type feathers with every pen stroke. This is probably a paper towel or newsprint.
- 40 points • MAJOR FEATHERING - any WET ink shows significant feathering with every pen stroke
- 60 points • MODERATE FEATHERING - certain ink types show feathering but it’s not overly bothersome
- 80 points • SLIGHT FEATHERING - if you look closely you’ll see some periodic and insignificant feathering
- 100 points • NO FEATHERING - no feathering at all