When it works well with fountain pen ink, Paperchase is just right. When it doesn’t, it fares no worse than Moleskine and with less bleed-through. At the price point, it is a viable alternative and with many inks, it is a better paper for clean, clear writing.
For testing purposes, I purchased the Purple Metallic Notebook (7.5 x 5.75″). It has a textured softcover, rounded corners, and sewn binding that holds 128 pages/64 sheets. This is a no-frills cahier style notebook with only a small, discrete logo printed on the back. Count me a fan of its minimalist but colorful design.
The off-white paper has a smooth finish and pale gray lines, a good combination for fountain pen use. Line width and line color are identical to Moleskine while the paper is slightly less yellow. Half the inks tested produced clean lines and an unusual degree of shading. The other half experienced some uneven outlines though little feathering along the fibers that paper like Moleskine can produce. Bleed-through was evident with some inks, though for the most part only the occasional dot.
Worthy of note is that most inks dried slowly so lefties beware.
Show-through or ghosting depended on ink flow and was evident with all inks tested. Some inks produced too little to be offensive especially when paired with a fine nib. With thin paper, this is common and frankly I don’t mind the look of it. Wide, wet nibs deposited too much ink making the backs of pages less useful. Free-flowing inks may produce the same result. To demonstrate how unpredictable I found this problem, Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu and Iroshizuku tsuki-yo in Pelikan italics exhibited more show-through than Diamine Dark Brown in a Platinum #3776 Music Nib. Platinum Pigment Ink showed through the least even with a very wet broad nib. That does not hold true on Moleskine where the same pen and ink made a mess with both feathering and bleed-through.
Confusing? This is one of those situations where matching ink, pen and paper could make Paperchase work well for you. Or you can take a more relaxed perspective and just write with whatever is at hand. Most of my journaling will never get read so it doesn’t matter whether a page has marks from the other side that show through. As long as I am writing, all is well.
For convenience I often carry a green metallic Lamy EF loaded with Noodler’s Black. The duo performed perfectly in the Paperchase journal. The ink did not bleed through so both sides of the paper were usable and since black is highly visible even in low light conditions, I could write anywhere. Thus all of my off-site requirements were met. In addition, the Lamy barrel is a pleasing contrast to the purple notebook cover. Attractive tools do tend to trigger my creative urges and that is a significant plus.
Along with the notebook, I picked up a packet of three larger cahiers (8.5 x 5.75″), one blank, one lined and one printed with a pattern. I couldn’t resist the foldaway bag in the Secret Garden pattern and put it to work immediately. It travels in a diminutive carrying case with a clip that will make it a steady companion for shopping excursions or a carryall for my doodle kit and journals. I managed to stuff it with purchases from two shops plus my daily notebook and writing instruments. Not too shabby at all.
Despite the iffy performance with a few inks, I will continue to purchase Paperchase notebooks. The form suits me very well and the ease of buying it at a local store along with the reasonable price, makes it a worthwhile addition to my paper wardrobe.
All of the Paperchase items were purchased at Staples and are available in several patterns. The metallic notebook was $4 and the 3-pack of larger notebooks was $8. Even my frugal budget monitor cannot frown at those prices, and if he does, he will get laughed at to be sure.