Of all the seemingly never-ending stream of products coming out of Baron Fig these days, the ones that have me the most excited might be the ones that have received the least fanfare. A week or so back, Baron Fig announced the launch of the "Mastermind" desk pad and the "Nomad" sticky notes. Both fill a gaping hole in my stationery arsenal.
I'm always on the lookout for a good desk pad. I've experimented with various formats, from the cheapest of At-A-Glance tear-off blotter calendars, to Levenger Oasis Pads, to the Rhodia No. 38. The blotter calendar holds a special place in my heart, since it's what I used on my desk from high school through college, and I loved that at the end of the month you would have a collage of various notes, lists, telephone numbers, doodles, scratches, you-name-it for the past 30 days. Sometimes, of course, you'd forget to tear off the page for two or three months, and then you'd really have some exceptionally interesting works of art.
The point was that I never actually used it as a calendar. Rather, it was a giant scratchpad that I had at my disposal while I worked on whatever it was I was doing at my desk. Of course, as I grew older and started using rollerballs, fountain pens, and other wet writers, the blotter calendar grew less useful and I stopped using desk pads entirely. I still break out the Levenger Oasis from time to time for brainstorming sessions, but it's an awkward size for me: too small to use as a true desk blotter, but too large to have sitting to the side while you work on a keyboard or with another notebook open in front of you. It's more of a lap-based tool to use while you're in an armchair or on the couch.
This is where the Mastermind excels. Baron Fig's desk pad is big enough pad (8" x 12") to make it useful for sketching out ideas on a larger canvas, but it's still small enough to be unobtrusive. Some might prefer the slightly larger, 80-sheet Rhodia No. 38 pad, but I prefer the Baron Fig paper because it's some of the most pencil-friendly paper out there. For brainstorming and sketching out ideas, I enjoy using a pencil. That said, if you're looking for a pad of paper with sturdy backing and a fold-over cover that you can take with you and use as a sort of lap desk, the larger Rhodia pad might be more your thing.
I recall there being a debate on the Pen Addict Podcast a few episodes back about the best fountain-pen friendly sticky note. I'm not a sticky-note or Post-it connoisseur, but I do use them frequently. Honestly, it doesn't really bother me whether or not a sticky note is particularly high-quality, much less "fountain pen friendly," though often a super-cheap generic sticky note will feather uncontrollably with anything other than a pencil or a ballpoint pen. Fortunately, my office stocks the Post-It Super Sticky, which generally works well enough for my needs.
So what's the niche for the Baron Fig Nomad? For me, I just like having a dot-grid sticky note, and the slightly-textured paper is nice to write on, even if it's a bit thin. The paper seems like a lighter-weight version of the standard Baron Fig paper. For the true paper geeks out there, the Nomad actually resists feathering fairly well, though wet fountain pens will definitely bleed-through. (Again, I don't really care whether a sticky note suffers from "bleed through," since I've never used the back of one in my life, but if this is something that concerns you I'd recommend that you stick to EF and EEF nibs, or very dry inks.)
Takeaways/Where to Buy
While these are definitely "YMMV" products, depending on how you work and what you're specific needs are, I'm grateful to Baron Fig for putting these out there, especially the Mastermind. I picked up two packs: one for home and one for work. The Mastermind runs $15 for a pack of two pads at 35 sheets each. which is roughly comparable to the 80-sheet Rhodia No. 38. The Nomad runs $8 for a three-pack of 70-sheet pads, which is more expensive than your standard post-it but still fair. You can buy both directly from Baron Fig.
Disclaimer: I purchased all of the products featured in this review with my own funds for my own use. This post does contain affiliate links.