In a world dominated by the likes of WhatsApp, sliding into Twitter DMs, TikTok (whatever that is!) and ubiquitous impersonal emails, writing is something that’s gone out of fashion. Sometimes, though, it just feels right to, well, write, and Bark & Rock has a journal that makes it a pleasure.
Produced by hand at its Surrey workshop, Bark & Rock’s journals are a luxurious twist on an old idea that’s never quite disappeared. Over the last few pandemic-affected months, one in five home-bound Brits have been ordering stationery, no doubt keen to revive pastimes long since forgotten about, and get creative in a way that doesn’t rely on staring at a computer screen.
Bark & Rock’s luxury stationery encompasses a range from high-end notepads and diaries to this, it’s new Walnut Burr journal.
The B5-sized notebook is made from the burr of the walnut tree, in a growth normally found in the root system offering wonderful wood grain patterns. The walnut veneer is only extracted once the tree has passed its peak nut harvesting when the tree is cut down and replaced with a new one. This veneer is not cut from a log but rather sliced into very thin sheets around 0.6mm thick, so it is more sustainable.
“We source the veneer from the UK and make all our books from hand. It takes our craftsman four days to make a book from start to finish,” explains Luke Gosling, Bark & Rock director.
“This wood is full of holes and knots, originally caused by insects and fungal attack, so it can be a challenge to work with. The final finish is worth it because no two books are the same due to the natural nature of the wood.”
Each collection of veneers are inspected, with 24 leaves able to produce as many as 12 books, each of them unique thanks to the natural grain. Left under pressure to ensure it’s completely flat, each veneer is then cut and bonded to create a double-sided panel that is then sanded, laser-cut, sprayed with oil, and then sanded again. This can be repeated a number of times, with the panels left to dry for days between. Once complete, it’s put together into a notebook, and the Bark & Rock plaque attached to the rear side.
If it looks like the dashboard of a Bentley in the photos, there’s a good reason for that; it’s much the same process that the Crewe carmaker uses, and ensures a remarkably even, deep and lustrous finish.
But what is a journal to be used for? Many have been jotting down their daily thoughts, clarifying how the pandemic has been affecting them and helping maintain their mental health. For us, they’re best used for travel – while current restrictions mean that it’s likely to be more along the lines of wishlists, taking a journal while you travel allows you to record details and memories that can’t be captured with a smartphone snap.
The workmanship evident in the Bark & Rock journal makes it a pleasure to use. The walnut cover is remarkable, showing detail and depth that belies the wafer-thin veneer used. As odd as it may seem, it’s the spine that steals the show. Carefully cut, scored and glued, there’s real delight in simply opening and closing the journal, watching how the walnut veneer changes as the light moves across the rounded fold. It’s a piece of engineering that borders on art.
Your memories are invaluable, and this journal gives a suitable home to save them. Each is made to order and can be specified with either journal, plain or lined FSC-certified paper. The journal should last a lifetime, refill pages available if you’re particularly creative.
Prices for the refillable journal start at £300, with more details available from Bark & Rock online or on 020 8941 3481.
We’ve got our review sample to give away to one lucky reader.
To find out more, head to the competition page here.