Mohawk’s Raw Materials: Journals

You’ve seen one journal, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong! While the resurgence in journals + notebooks (especially and even amongst tech-industry types) is evidence of a cultural shift dubbed by New Yorker contributor David Sax the revenge of analog, makers are infusing journals with their own personal stamp. Here are three who use the Mohawk papers literally as the blank pages to bring their own visions to life. All are produced not only with an eye towards inspiring creativity, but sustaining the planet.

Karl Heine is the founder/fabricator of DesignerJournals, who entered the market by happy accident. “While teaching and lecturing at design schools, I noticed many students weren’t writing anything down — so I decided to make journals by hand and give them away. After numerous requests, I started crafting larger batches. I believe strongly that writing or sketching during a talk, conference, or event is an important element to keeping that connection between ideas and remembering.”

He also noticed that the market is saturated with a wide variety of what he describes as mystery papers and covers. “We wanted to create a line of journals with highly recycled paper geared towards the design community with unique covers and fabrication techniques not available before. Our first line experimented with Marmoleum® covers made with natural materials and 100% renewable material previously only used for flooring and counter treatments.”

designer_journals_5Another cover features 100% recycled Italian leather made with a latex skin.  

designer_journals_7And another, Flannel Asphalt, mimics a street surface. “This cover is resilient with exceptionally great foil and debossing qualities,” Heine told me.

designer_journals_3Meanwhile, the WetSuit cover has a supple, slightly rubbery feel and is also resilient and takes well to foil and debossing. designer_journals_9Inside each is Mohawk Options 70lb text, “based on our need for the highest quality of 100% PCW paper available made with wind power,” Heine noted. “We also wanted a local New York source.”

Also key was the paper’s smooth drawing surface, with the Inxwell technology combining the tactile feel of uncoated paper with the ink density and sharp detail of coated. And, it doesn’t bleed with a Sharpie! 

“Our relationship with Mohawk is a true partnership,” Heine finished. “Over the last eight years, visits to the mill and collaborating with the experts about paper and best practices for digital printing keeps us connected. It is vital to our success to deliver an outstanding product to the design community. Plus, we are extreme journal addicts, with no cure in sight, except for feeding our need to create.”


WOODCHUCK USA’s mission is very simple: Bring nature back to people; bring jobs back to America; and bring quality products back to consumers.

Untitled 2 copy 2 CEO & Founder Ben VandenWymelenberg noted that while there are obviously a lot of different journals out there and they all serve the same basic purpose, what they lacked was “a focus on high quality materials and craft that would ultimately result in long term use and overall sustainability.”

Mohawk was selected to fill their FSC-certified birch, cedar, ebony, mahogany, rosewood and walnut journals “largely based on the way their paper is manufactured,” he told me. “It’s all created using manufacturing methods that take the impact on environment into account. From drawing on renewable energy sources like wind power to using postconsumer fiber to decrease the amount of forestry necessary to create their paper, it was clear that Mohawk was taking important steps towards impacting our environment in as positive a way as possible.We use 100% recycled paper in our journals which was a significant draw for us.”

woodchuck_2 WOODCHUCK USA determined that in using recycled paper, “We saved about 118 trees in the past year — and that’s just one of many impressive stats we received from the calculator!”

“We take a lot of pride in the materials and craft of each of our journals,” VandenWymelenberg concluded. “Mohawk allows us to add to the care we take in manufacturing our journals with the paper options they provide. We knew they would be a good company to align with because we’re both working towards the same goal of using sustainable practices. Our hope is that in choosing to partner with companies like Mohawk, we can spread sustainability and encourage others to join us.”


Last up in our journal trio is Cast Iron Design from Boulder, Colorado. Co-owner Jonathan Black noted that there are a lot of great journal options, but not many created with an eye toward sustaining the planet. “We also saw an opportunity to use a notebook as a helpful reference,” he told me.cast_iron_1 “Our notebook is geared towards graphic designers — and to anyone that works with commercial paper — and provides a guide for choosing sustainable paper, which can be confusing with the various processes, acronyms, certifications, and so on. A majority of graphic designers use a notebook at various points of the creative process and by embedding the information into an oft-used tool, the designer has continuous and readily available access to it.”

cast_iron_6In order to create a product that stands up to the design house’s mission — and practices as it preaches — “We looked for a paper that was 100% postconsumer recycled and made with renewable energy, in this case, offset with renewable energy credits, or RECs,” Black continued. “Mohawk’s Loop line contains some of the best eco papers available.”

However, there was more to the choice than that, Black noted. “It was important to find a paper that is pleasing to write in. Loop paper delivers high quality, 100% PCW paper that works great with digital printing and has a subtle, toothy texture that’s perfect for writing.”cast_iron_4Finally, using products that contain recycled paper — whether in a notebook, wrapping paper, or even toilet paper — is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint, Black observed. “Recycled paper also has many unsubstantiated benefits, such as the fact that people who use recycled paper experience 17% fewer pebbles trapped in their shoe.”