Sometimes colours (or names of colours) conjure up vivid images or memories. Whenever I see a tube of Carmine paint, I can’t help but think about The Sopranos, not only because of the characters Carmine and his son “Little” Carmine, but also for the fair amount of blood that was shed over the six seasons.

This little project of testing out the colours I have in my paint drawer has become something I look forward to every day. I was hoping to fill up a complete book or two with a variety of single-colour experiments, but after only three sketches, the newly purchased 5″ x 5″ Pentalic Aqua Journal is falling apart. Each time I paint a double-page spread, the pages detach from the glued spine. Has anyone else had this problem with the book? I know that James Gurney uses the landscape format of this and never seems to have any problems, so I am wondering if it is a defect with this small square version of the book. As someone who cherishes a completed sketchbook, especially if it contains a single theme or project, this is a huge disappointment. I’d love to hear from you if you have the same issue as me.


27 Comments on “Carmine”

  1. can you use a book binding glue to rescue it?


  2. Christine Walker Bird says:

    I’ve only used the landscape versions of the Pentalic Aqua Journals but I have had no problems. In fact, they are my favourite sketchbooks. /Christine


  3. Alison says:

    My Pentallic landscape cover detached at the spine. I sent a note and photos to customer service and they apologized and sent me a replacement. They admitted they had had a “bad batch”. I could immediately see a different binding structure on the replacement book. Definitely let Pentallic know (that was your advice to me. :-).


  4. Maggie Marszewski says:

    I have had two small landscape pentalics do the same thing.I do not use them anymore.


  5. Judy Sopher says:

    What a lovely painting. Really awful to have your sketchbook coming apart. No I have never had that but I never used one that size. In fact many of mine, I have made. (And it is a wonder they have stayed together) An entire sketchbook of your one color paintings would be quite a treat for us to see-if we could.


  6. Dana Burrell says:

    Like Maggie, I had two A5 landscape pentalics that came apart at the spine. I like the paper but that was a deal-breaker. I’ve moved on.


  7. Ching says:

    Hi Shari,
    Your single pigment project is inspiring! I have used the Pentalic Aqua 5×5 sketchbook and worked alright. It, however, was a replacement from Pentalic for another 5 x7 sketchbook, which i purchsed but fell apart.


    • It seems from the comments here that I am not the only one. I wonder if this was just one bad batch or if it is continuous problem. So sorry to hear this because I really like the paper.


  8. Elizabeth says:

    Seconding this. I’ve largely stopped buying anything but the Pentalic books with the blue covers, both in 5×7 and the larger one, and haven’t had any fall apart yet. Hope it’s just an anomaly for you and that you can save it. :/


  9. Gerri Dauer says:

    I was going to order one of those, but many of the reviews on Amazon mentioned that they had problems with them falling apart. Maybe if it was a bad batch, as someone said, they will hopefully get it sorted out and better ones out there soon. Thought I would give it a little time, as I have a few on hand I need to get through anyway.


  10. joantav says:

    Sorry your sketchbook is falling apart. That is not a good thing. The carmine is such a rich color. I am enjoying your project.


  11. Sheila Brown says:

    Hi Shari. I used it for your workshop- only one side and the pages also came out. Love the paper but it does have this problem.


  12. Hi Shari, regarding the Pentalic sketchbooks. I cannot resist a good mystery, so when you said that you could not find any other contact for the company other the online contact page, it got me very interested to find out more.

    A couple of weeks ago I purchased the 5 x 5 book and noticed that it does not have the signatures secured with a thread like the large one, 7 x 10. I have only used mine for a couple of sketches and so far is holding up.

    After looking at the wrapper of my sketchbook closely I realized that Pentalic is a trademark and not a company name. I searched the United States Patent and Trademark Office website and the owner of the “Pentalic” trademark is a company in Beaverton Oregon called C2F. If you go to their website, , under the Contact tab, they have an actual address and phone number listed. They are a wholesale business for a bunch of different art and craft supplies. So there is the “mystery” company behind Pentalic. I don’t know if this is going to help you, they might have contacted you already, but I couldn’t put it to rest. Did I mention I like a good mystery?


    • HI Katerina,

      I love a good mystery too, and I am glad you solved this one for me. I was perusing the Pentalic site yesterday, in search of more in depth contact information, and realized, as you did, that they must have a parent company. But I didn’t take the next step like you did to find out who they were. You are amazing!

      At the same time, I looked at the sketchbook and saw that there is no thread in the signatures which is indeed the reason why the pages are falling out.
      Just after that I received a message from Customer Service at Pentalic with this message:

      Hi Shari–
      Thank you for your email. Quality control is very important to us and we do apologize for the problems you have experienced with our Aqua Journals. We have traced the issue back to a production process and are working on resolving the issue. We currently have inventory of the 5×8 size (item PTL-018034) that was from a different production run that does not have the issue. I would be happy to send you one of these as a replacement if you can please provide me your name and address. Thank you for your continued support of our products.

      I was happy to receive this and thanked them for the service and also sent my address so I could receive the book.
      But I am wondering if they are sending me a different size because they realize that this size, without the stitching, is defective and has to be either discontinued or produced in a different way, with stitching.

      I’m glad to hear that your book is holding up. And now I know who I can turn to when I need a mystery solved!

      Many thanks,


      • Thank you for posting their response. I am very glad that they got back to you quickly and care about the quality of the product. I was hoping that you would receive great customer service since it is such a nice product.

        It is hard to tell from what they wrote if the problem was with all of the sizes of Aqua Journal, or just this one. But I guess it does not matter, you get to continue your project in a new book that will not come apart and we are all very glad for that!

        We just have to look for the sewn signatures next time, so we will know for sure if it’s from the “corrected” production batch or not. I will continue using mine but since it is only glue holding it together, I will not do any work across the seam.

        Just a side note, if you go to the C2F site, on the home page and scroll to the bottom, you will see that they own Pentalic, Bee Paper and also M.Graham. Nothing to do with the issue but interesting.

        Happy painting!


  13. Emily Neel says:

    My 3 x 5 pentalic fell apart also. I requested a new one from C2F and Pentalic directly. I purchased from Amazon. I’ll let you know what happens. Thanks for the info, Katerina.


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