Review: Renaissance Art's Moleskine and Index Card Cover

Leather products these days are a sign of upper class and longevity. Who doesn't like the fresh smell of leather and its cool, slick feel? I know that when I want to show off my elegant and classier sides with my productivity toys (whether at work or at home) I turn to leather to give my journals a facelift. Enter Renaissance Art. This small company, based in New Mexico, builds hand-made leather products. They produce a wide variety of handmade journals, bags and cases.

Recently, Renaissance Art added a few new products to their line. Products that a lot of us on D*I*Y Planner have been drooling about. I'm here to tell you about my experience with just one of these new products, the Moleskine Cover with Single 3x5 Card Case for a pocket-sized Moleskine. Bottom line, I think this little product is worth adding a touch of protection, class and usability to your Moleskine.

I purchased a two-tone Moleskine Cover with Single 3x5 card case from Renaissance Art a few months ago. This little gem is the perfect cover and companion to any small pocket-sized journal. It's made of rugged leather so has that worn in and well loved look. This little case combines my two passions into one location: index cards and journalling. Opening the case exposes a slide in area for index cards on the left side and easy access to journal on the right.

It comes in three different colors: brown, black, and a two-tone brown/black combination. Renaissance Art even gives you three choices for your pen loop (small, medium and large). In comparison with Levenger's leather Renaissance Art's leather feels like it's been around the globe and well traveled; while Levenger's feels smooth as if it stayed put in one place, like a coffee shop or a table, and listened attentively as your companion all day long. The price is also right, at $50.00 to start (the price does quickly add up as you select various options like monogramming, starter Moleskine, and a gift pouch.) But is this little case worth the price? I think so.

The pouch holds at least 10 index cards (and you can even use Circa index cards). Sliding cards into the case is easy: first you place the small set of cards into the bottom holder, then you bridge them as if they were a slim pack of playing cards and slide them up through the top strap. This holds them snugly so they don't slip out.

Immediately upon purchasing the Cover from the online store, my mind flooded with ideas and uses. Barring the traditional uses for a Moleskine (like journals or planners), here's what I came up with for various types of people and how they could use this case:

  • Programmers: Use the index card pocket to keep track of current stories in your Agile development project. Use the Moleskine to keep track of meeting notes, extended story and feature requests, and comments from potential users.
  • Writers: Use the index card pocket to keep track of your stories, characters or settings. Use the Moleskine side to plot out the actual story.
  • Students: Use the index card pocket to keep track of essay ideas or cram notes for tests. Use the Moleskine side to take class notes, write essays or compile study questions to use before your tests.
  • Artists: Use the index card pocket to keep a paper-style watercolor palette of colors. Use the Moleskine side when you travel to capture sketches and scenes from your journeys in a watercolor Moleskine notebook. Replace the pen in your pen holder with a water brush for quick and anytime painting.
  • Tarot enthusiasts: Use the index card pocket to slide a daily personal card or card to meditate on. Use the Moleskine to capture thoughts and meditations on the card as the day progresses, or various spreads done to clarify goals.

Having had a few months to play and use this wonderful product, I'm very happy. Just looking at it makes me smile. Ordering was a breeze and the product came very quickly. The craftsmanship was also high and excellent quality and I know that the case protects anything inside of it throughout any weather. I've gone camping with this case and its taken quite some abuse having sat in the bottom of my various travel bags.

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Couple of questions, if you don't mind.

How is the snap holding up? I've had several snap-closed wallets in the past, and it seemed like the first thing to go was the snap -- one side or the other would tear free from the leather, and that's that. :(


What do you do with an index card once you've written on it? Do you have to pull the whole packet out to insert the used one on the back of the packet? Or is there a storage pocket somewhere?

Can't speak for Inno...

...but the Moleskine books come themselves with a 3x5 card pocket at the back of the books. It would seem to be an ideal place for the cards, once filled in. :-)


more info


So far the snap has held up pretty good, after a few months worth of use. But yeah, i see your issue. Renaissance Art DOES make Moleskine covers without the snap (but without index card holders). You can see those products on this page:

When I am done with the index cards, I file them away in my archive box or recycle the card (if the note is something I don't want to archive).

And yes, the storage pocket in the back of the Moleskine itself is good for short term card storage. :)

Hope this helps,


Oooh. The one with the wrap and braided tie looks stellar.....

But the one with card holder & moleskine says:

"The Pocket sized Moleskine Journal and Planner covers will show one card on the left with the ability to store more directly underneath and then even more in the pocket below."

So, have you overlooked the storage pocket? Or did they change their minds on the design?

Because I'd like the cards, but not if I have to go with a snap. Hmmm.

Oh! But look at this:

If it'll hold two moleskines, it'll hold one plus a good wodge of index cards..

This is a tough decision.

Storage Pocket on the Moleskine


Moleskines come with a built in pocket in their back. This pocket is good for storing ephemera, index cards and money. Or whatever you want. That is the storage pocket that jon and I are referring.

Yes, the Case I review only allows for a display of one index card. For me, this is enough. However, if you need to have more than one card showing at a time, you might be interested in one of the other cases. Specifically the 3x5 Case for Large Moleskins that has 4 pockets for cards. Go here to view this product's page. Of course, the price is significantly more. Unfortunately it has a snap.

I don't think my case could hold two Moleskines. Maybe the non-index card variety might, but don't quote me on that.

And yes, it is a tough decision. :)
Good questions, got any more?

seems nice

but is it full grain leather and what are the shipping rates.

Levenger stole ALL of my money, but the left with all these nice, shiny organizational tools.

About the leather


Go here to learn about the leather.

And for information on shipping, go here

To paraphrase the site:

Where we ship:
We ship worldwide
We ship to APO and FPO addresses but not to P.O. Boxes

What does it cost?
For your convenience, a shipping calculator is located at the bottom of each product page and in your shopping cart.

Just enter your postal code, state/province (US and Canada only) and click calculate. All your shipping options and prices will show either to your right on the product page or in the drop down menu in the shopping cart.

Hope this helps!

Great Product

I have had one of these for a few months. I have been just as happy with the quality of the product. Being able to hold a pen, Moleskine and several cards securely is a great tool. The experience with R.A. was great, and they're very easy to work with.

ooo pretty

:salivation commences:

my artwork | my blog

RenArt Moleskine/Index Combo

Just tossing my thoughts into the mix....

I've been using one of these for a few months myself. I'm a bit of a rustic guy, and this does have a rustic, albeit well-produced, feel to it. The hand-stitched leather is fairly thick, and with the Moleskine and cards inside it, the cover about doubles the thickness of the Moleskine alone. It's certainly protective: the thing will take quite a strong beating and just continue to get better looking. The button snap is still firm and strong after opening and closing it a few thousand times, and the pen loop (in which I carry a matching Levenger Ebony Metallist fountain pen) is firm but supple and non-intrusive during use.

Overall, it's a high-quality product and definitely a great buy if you love pocket Moleskines, index cards, and the old-fashioned (almost medieval) leather look.

all my best,


"Who doesn't like the fresh smell of leather and its cool, slick feel?"

I don't, nor does anyone else who is active in animal protection.

Leather is an important element of the economics of the animal slaughter industry and its continued use justifies indescribable cruelty.

For those who consider it to be a 'by-product' (there is no such thing as a by-product in economics), it has been a very long time since there has been scientific evidence that any animal product has been necessary for the furtherance of human interest.

By all means indulge your passion for animal skin, but ask yourself if it worth killing a rather gentle, intelligent animal for.

Sermon ends.

I prefer Alcantara anyway.

Matthew Bate
productivity coach, vegan.

Apple iBook - Filofax Domino A5

what about the vegatables

they're living too...

it's worth it. absolutely. and if it wasn't for killing animals and using their skins/meat, you wouldn't be here today to fight your "cause".


Simply not true.

The AMA has ruled that a vegan diet is suitable for all ages and for maternity. The rest of the world agrees, as I said in the post, it has been a long time since anyone came up with a health reason to eat animals.

I became a vegan a LONG time ago when i realised that I didn't have the courage to walk up to an animal and stab it in the throat and wasn't happy to pay someone else to do it.

I'm interested in the basis of your argument, or was it just a knee-jerk reaction?

Either way, it made no sense to me.

Anyone else?

lets please remember where we are...

Please keep this civil... we are a planner and productivity group of people who all have that in common. I can understand both sides of this debate and really would prefer not to have it here at

Some of our members prefer leather... and others prefer synthetic based materials. Please lets keep it at that and agree to disagree.

my artwork | my blog

to each his/her own

Lets remember everyone is entitled to their own viewpoints on such things... :) Please respect everyone's choice and hope they will be similar and do the same in return.

my artwork | my blog

Please stay on topic

This is inappropriate, approaching rude, Mr Unverified Matthew Bate.
Please stay on topic.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


From Mr Verified, Registered, long-term reader, productivity podcaster (, professional productivity coach and project manager who has been researching ethics in animal agriculture for ten years.

This is on-topic. I answered a question in the post.

Who doesn't like leather?

I don't.

Please apologise for accusing me of being rude and off-topic.

I'm not telling you what to think, I'm just asking you if you are happy that an animal has been killed to give you a cover for your Moleskine.

I'm not, so I won't buy it. Simple really.

BTW, vegetables aren't self aware.

and cows are?


Your screen name on your posts, do say "unverified" and if one were to click on your name, they would be taken to your own web site--one of the signs of a spammer. (and I'm curious how you were able to accomplish that!) Hence the reticence towards your posts, which were more about petty moralizing of a personal weakness, turning it into a virtue. If you had said in your first post what you said in your second, about not being able to kill an animal, and not being willing to ask somebody else to do it for you, and left it at that, I don't think anybody would have said anything--it was your moralizing about it, and the superior moral attitude attendant (as well as the suspicious signs of a spammer I previously mentioned) that caused people to speak up.


There is a big difference...

between "I choose not to do something" and "I choose not to do something and you should also".

You come across as the latter.

I would agree that ethics in animal agriculture need some looking at, but you sound like you want to abolish the meat industry and have everyone go vegan.

On a slightly divergent note, Alcantara sounds interesting, but I wonder if its manufacture is free of any nasty by-products.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


Matthew Bate

I'm not saying that anyone should do what I've done. I'm asking people to think carefully about the results of their actions.

When you say I 'come across' as the latter, you'll find that isn't in my text, but is a common assumption. I'm often asked over a meal why I don't eat animals. In every case the person wishes they hadn't asked. No matter how you dress it up it is an ugly story. I've taken to asking people to ask me when they've finished eating.

In practice, almost no meat eaters/leather consumers could not look into a cow's big brown eyes, stab it and watch it bleed to death. I don't think I'm being weak not to want to do that. 'JonGlass' If you new about my life, you would not have said that. It was an insult.

All around the world, slaughterhouses are staffed with immigrant labour, not only because of the obvious economic advantages but because they are desperate for work and will do even the most heartbreaking task in order to feed their families.

I would ask everyone to look at my posts again. If you look at what I actually said, there is no trace of cowardice or rudeness and is entirely on-topic.

At no point have I said that anyone should do anything other than think about what it is you are doing.

I must confess, I am working to end animal agriculture for the sake of animals, people and the earth. As I have said before, it has been a long time since there has been any evidence that we need it. However, I arrived at this conclusion after a huge amount of research over a long time. I'm not asking people to do the same as I have done, but these comments would not have been made by someone has investigated the issues I mentioned.

Alcantara is pretty clean, cleaner that the tanning of leather in a vast majority of cases. Volvo have approved it and have been using it for years. Funnily enough, it was the main trim used in Maseratis in the 80s and 90s and everyone thought it was suede. See what I mean about not needing to kill? No-one would notice.

In reply to Jon's comment about my accomplishing the feat of getting my username to resolve to my site, I didn't. Again, an assumption has been made. I did include my site on the form I filled-in when I became a member but obviously I didn't hack the site. I presume I didn't notice that I wasn't logged-in when I made the first post. Sorry for any confusion.

Now, will you people please look at what I actually wrote and please stop accusing me of doing things I didn't do.

I notice that no-one has apologised for the accusations made; and I'm the coward...

Now, if you don't want to think about this, then don't, if just one of you has thought about this then it was worth my time.

Matthew Bate

Rule proving

I'll restrict myself to commenting upon this claim

In practice, almost no meat eaters/leather consumers could not look into a cow's big brown eyes, stab it and watch it bleed to death.

Well I have. I still eat meat --- even the stuff sold by the major British supermarket chains, which isn't the best quality stuff. I also only wear leather-soled shoes --- they fit better and don't give me athelete's foot like man-made soles do. Indeed my shoes are all leather. I know where the skins are taken from; and how they are treated as my grand-father worked in a tannery.

I've also had personal experience of the bigotted attitudes held by animal lovers. My father was an RSPCA inspector. An organisation that treated him worse than any animal they were looking to protect. He lost his job because while taking our summer holiday his locum put down an injured animal. No care for our family was ever expressed just the outrage that some "poor defenceless animal had been put down". That the animal would have died any way was never considered at all. That my father was not even in the area when this henious crime was committed wasn't considered either. He was at fault because the owner of the animal was not asked --- they couldn't be found until days after the accident that mortally injured the beast.

As for whether I'd use a leather bound Moleskein notebook. No I won't ... not because of any naive belief that my rejection would bring about a vegetarian/vegan utopia but simply because I don't like their current products. However, if they or some other manufacturer produced a leather bound notebook that I did like I would buy it. And would have no problem defending my purchase.

My tuppence worth

I would like to express my reaction to this whole thing.

I'm not saying that anyone should do what I've done. I'm asking people to think carefully about the results of their actions.

Not directly, but in using words and phrases like slaughter and indescribable cruelty you put a spin on the conversation that implies that anyone disagreeing with you is not a nice person that does bad things to innocent and helpless little critters. How carefully do you think about what you are doing here ?

When you say I 'come across' as the latter, you'll find that isn't in my text, but is a common assumption.

If the assumption is all that common, perhaps it is because the approach does, in fact, produce the negative reaction, intended or not. Perhaps your cause could benefit from a bit of positive salesmanship.

I'm often asked over a meal why I don't eat animals. In every case the person wishes they hadn't asked.

Perhaps that is how you intend it, consciously or unconsciously.

I would ask everyone to look at my posts again. If you look at what I actually said, there is no trace of cowardice or rudeness and is entirely on-topic.

The initial response of "I don't" was on topic. Everything past that was, I believe, not.

In promoting your cause here, you are irritating and alienating people and that cannot be doing any good -- for your cause or for you.

I want to close with an example. Another area that can cause a similar level of "excitement" is religion. When I was in college, there was a guy who would stand on the quad in front of the undergraduate library and preach. My initial reaction was to ignore him as most "sidewalk preachers" I have encountered come across with the implied message to the tune of , "If you do not listen to me and let me save your soul, you will go straight to Hell". But this guy was different. Probably because I passed him daily, I could not help hearing what he was saying. Something finally caught my attention and I stopped to listen. It was his approach/delivery. Rather than the threatening approach described above, his was more like, "I am here to offer you help, should you choose to accept it." After I noticed that, I would stop and listen to him as my schedule allowed, and I really enjoyed listening to him.

I composed this very carefully because I firmly believe that it is all in the approach and delivery.

Having now expressed my opinion and feelings, I want to repeat that the discussions should be on the topics of planners and organization and such.

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

I agree!

I answered a question, there should be some comments here about the actual product!

I don't like the colour scheme, and I've had bad experiences with poppers and organisers. My Filofax Domino has an elastic cord, which looks very Leonardo.

What's wrong with a plain Moleskine anyway? A subtle classic surely.

The thing about the animal use is that I can't get away from the implications of what I do - I suppose it is a kind of weakness but it is one I will keep. If you prefer to ignore that, then its up to you.

Slaughter is the name of the process, inside and outside of the industry. There is no doubt that there is cruelty there and it is indescribable. You would not have thanked me if I had described it but there are many videos available. I don't watch them.

Ygor - I wasn't rude and my post was on-topic. The abuse regarding my previous use of animal products, the silly reactions regarding vegetables and accusations of cowardice were off-topic and the lack of apologies says a lot about the people who made the comments...

JonGlass - My point was not petty. There is also no moral implication, animals exist outside of the moral bargain that forms the basis of human society. From an ethical point you will find my argument very hard to counter, it is the product of a lot of intelligent people over a lot of time. People spoke up because they don't want to think about the path the material took to get from grazing in a field to be 'round their Moleskine.

Reepicheep - I'm sorry you did that, the experience you have with athlete's foot are surely not enough to kill for. I'd put-up with it personally. A lot has changed since the days your grandfather worked in a tannery. Leather is far from clean these days and was a pretty dangerous process even then. The generalisations you expressed about animal lovers are merely that. Your comments about the RSPCA have nothing to do with this thread. If you have thought about what you've done and decided that you would kill for a comfortable pair of shoes (although I have fifteen pairs of comfortable shoes without having harmed a soul - soul, get it? Sorry) and a notebook then I'm happy that you have found peace.

By the way, what's wrong with Utopia? It sounds pretty good to me.

Ygor - I use a positive spin wherever possible, ethics, environment, health - all arguments are effective. I was responding to a slightly fetishistic question. That would be another thread on another site. There isn't really a positive angle here, I did mention my own choices.

The reason people wish they hadn't asked me over food, and everywhere else come to think of it, is that when I give inoffensive and straightforward reply I get further questions and there is no alternative but to tell them the real reason, which puts them off their food. I always warn them but as can be seen from this thread, people tend to become desperate to find an inconsistency in the argument without realising that I've heard it all before. As I have said, a lot of people and a lot of time, inescapable conclusion.

I agree with Ygor about the preacher. What I'm asking isn't any form of religion because you can research this, find answers and decide. There is no faith involved and certainly no judgement day (I hope, or I'm in big trouble for the first twenty-seven years of my life...) and I am happy to coach people without charge. My site, (this link didn't work in the preview, no idea why...), offers free coaching in productivity at Starbucks, I'm happy to do that for ethics too although I'm far, FAR from being a nutritionist!

Anyway, on with the organisers, planners and GTD.

Has anyone seen a better idea for a Moleskine cover? Extra pockets would be good. I would SERIOUSLY consider a wallet with enough space and the right shape for a Cahier. Obviously only in Alcantara or human skin that was willingly given though.

Yes, I was joking.

Matthew Bate

Alcantara, et al.

I thought perhaps another spin on this would be interesting, if still off-topic. My apologies.

I noticed your comment to ygor about environment as "positive spin", then your chiding comments to reep about his podiatric health issues.

First, it may be your choice to ignore an infection of the feet, which undoubtedly could become a serious health issue, in support of your other moral/ethical choices. You have no place telling anyone else to do so. Next, regarding synthetic materials such as Alcantara and whatever plastics from which they've made your 15 pairs of comfortable shoes (without a sole being harmed). I have to believe that the long term environmental effect of producing these products will be far more harmful on the whole than the short-term effects to an animal bred for it's parts. Not to mention that the product itself is far more "green" upon disposal. How long will those 30 shoes sit in a landfill, Matthew?

Humankind did not evolve as a vegan species. We are omnivores, like many other species, and would not be here today without killing animals and using their bodies for food and many other products. For the record, I do kill some of my own food. I've had to look into thier eyes on occassion as I administer a killing blow. I can still sleep at night, as can many other people.

If you choose another way, and can live happly and healthy as you do so, then I applaud that. Truly, I do. But that does not give you the right to chastise those of us who live otherwise. As has been said multiple times here already, this forum is NOT the place for these views and you need to take them elsewhere.


i fixed it

Your coding was incorrect for the link in your message - I fixed it.

I just want to say that I have been called a "tree hugging hippy" many times and I can understand the desire for a peaceful, nonviolent, idealistic utopia.

However, you really must understand the forum you chose to join. We have many people here of diverse origins and viewpoints. We prefer to keep our discussions centered on the positive and productive.

If I were you... I simply would have stated "This type of moleskine is not for me. I prefer non-leather based goods for my planning paraphenalia." IF someone was curious to know why it could have been discussed via contact tab or elaborated on later. You decided to dive right into your beliefs... which was your choice.

I really must go with the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say - don't say anything at all". We have members that like some products and loathe others... and its simply quite easier to come from a positive angle... Please keep things amiable and kind. We all respect and care for eachother.

my artwork | my blog


just stop! no response wanted.


I absolutely think the leather products from RA are gorgeous! I believe it was Doug who stated that they are kind of rugged looking (for comparison to a Levenger Leather folio which is smooooooth leather)... I just think these are beautiful holders! Inno - keep us updated on how this holds up - curious to see if the pockets stretch after time - especially the single card holder on the left...

Thanks for the great review!

Happy Day,
nay nay

Shutting down comments

For the first time, I'm having to shut down comments on a thread. This has escalated from a simple review of a fantastic product into an idealogical battleground about animal rights. It does not belong on a site like DIYPlanner, whose members are there to support each other, not conduct open warfare.

I only wish that this flame war didn't detract from the initial article; however, I don't believe in getting rid of comments, or the censorship thereof. Let's just agree that, as human beings, we have the right to our own opinions, however much others may disagree with them, and try to treat people with the respect they deserve.

This thread is now closed.