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Clairefontaine Makes Smooth Work of Flex Nibs

02/13/2010

Not one of my flex pens has demanded a workout in months. All save one are clean and tucked away. The lone exception is a Namiki Falcon that gets pressed into service for the occasional signature.

The Falcon’s nib can at best be called soft and is capable of very mild line variation. Pushing it to its limit is hard work for it resists doing what I suspect its designers never intended. While it may balk, sometimes I make it work for a place in my rotation and today it performed as well as it is capable. In so doing this pleasant little pen offered a eureka moment that went something like, dang, but smooth paper reduces drag.

They say it’s the simple things.

Namiki Falcon on Clairefontaine French-Ruled Paper

Namiki Falcon on Clairefontaine French-Ruled Paper

The paper that made the difference is Clairefontaine in the French-Ruled style, the one that keeps me on the straight and narrow. Other pads and notebooks in the line might be as smooth but I haven’t tried those with a flex nib, not yet anyway.

So now I have a new pastime.

Clairefontaine French-Ruled paper + flex nib pen + J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir ink = Writing that is seriously fun.

Caveat: The paper and ink were provided by Karen at Exaclair who must think I have far too much time on my hands.

Sample on French-Ruled Notebook

Sample in Clairefontaine French-Ruled Notebook

Writer’s Bloc carries Clairefontaine French-Ruled notebooks in several sizes. My orders with them have turned out very well plus they always have good things on sale. Hmmm, now that I think about it…

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30 comments

  1. Thanks for this beautifully written review!

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    • My pleasure. 😉

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  2. I’ve been using a Falcon for over 10 years. It used to be my “carry around” pen for a long time.

    I have a Clairefontaine pad and I agree it’s pretty smooth. I just wrote on Amalfi Paper with my new metal body Falcon on Amalfi handmade paper. The texture actually made it quite nice.

    Great pens and great papers…love it!

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    • Since the nibs seem to be the same, I’ll stick with the resin Falcon but I can see the appeal of the new metal model especially since the nib remains the same. Good to hear you are enjoying it so well.

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  3. Really nice. 🙂

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    • While I can’t do what you can with pen and paper, I can still have plenty of fun with them. 🙂

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  4. I’ve got a French rule notebook on order and several dip pens waiting. Thanks for the great post!

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    • That should be a lot of fun. Let me know what you think of the paper especially when used with your dip nibs.

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  5. The paper seems interesting. Only problem is that sprials do not work well for southpaws. I did learn today that recylced paper does not absorb fountain ink.

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    • Recycled paper is notorious for bleeding and feathering with fountain pen ink. Even the good folks at Rhodia have tried in vain to find one that meets their standards.

      Clairefontaine makes paper in a number of formats. Even the French-Ruled has a notebook or two without the spiral though I have only found paper with that ruling at Writer’s Bloc. If lined paper will do, there are top bound versions from Clairefontaine that can be purchased from a number of retailers in the U.S. Lots of options though it can take a bit of searching to find just the right thing.

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  6. Fantastic color and writing style… I particularly like the dots over your I’s in the top sample.

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    • Thanks. I’m still learning and experimenting. Someday I may even settle on a style and stick with it. Nah, that’ll never happen. It’s too much fun changing things about. Good thing banks no longer pay much attention to signatures since mine is constantly being transformed/modified/messed up. 😉

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  7. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by inkophile: New post at Inkophile: Clairefontaine Makes Smooth Work of Flex Nibs. http://wp.me/pfSKv-nF #fountainpen #paper…

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  8. Beautiful!!

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  9. Great review! I wish my handwriting was that nice…

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  10. Thank you for posting this review. I’ve just decided to order a few Clairefontaine French-Ruled notebooks for practicing my penmanship. I think both my connected and unconnected script hands will benefit from practice using this paper.

    The only time I had ever seen this paper was in a documentary called “Into the Great Silence.” It was being used by a monk in the film and since then I’ve wondered about this type of paper.

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  11. awesome review!

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  12. hi! i have just discovered your blog and i love it (i never thought you could have not only a green ink but a set of favourite greens)! i am sorry for the completely off topic in this post, but i dont know how to ask you a general question in another way.

    i used to use fountain pens to write when i was a student and i wrote a lot, i loved it, but after that i am more in the computer thing and now i barely write, but i want to use them again, although not in a aesthetic way, just to write when i need it.

    i have never been much in this world (i just used what i had) so i inspired myself in your blog to make an election. i have seen your favourites and i am glad to see you include the lamy safari, because i like it and it is cheap (that’s good, because i have the bad habit of loosing them), and the only black you put in your list (i love black) is the J.Herbin Perle Noire (over the Noodler, which was my other option after reading a little about it)

    so, my questions:

    what do you think about the combination lamy safari + herbin perle noire + any paper close at hand? do you think perle noire is not appropriate for my everyday use (because of the kind of ink + the price)? because i really want a black like that.

    and about the lamy, i read it has its own ink system, but i also read about adapters. do i need an adapter to use J.Herbin cartridges? i guess if so, i cant keep an spare cartridge in it. and what if i have an ink bottle, what should i do to use it? i think the cartridges are the best option for me, i cant carry the whole bottle every time.

    my calligraphy is quick, messed and small. i am thinking in the fine nib, extra-fine may be too scratchy and medium too broad, are you agree or extra-fine works well? i would prefer the extra fine.

    and that’s all. i am really sorry about my comment, it is a pain, but i hope you can help me

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    • Welcome back to the world of fountain pens! The Lamy Safari is a good, solid choice for a general use fountain pen. The extra-fine nib is what I use so I cannot comment on the fine or medium. My EFs are not scratchy but do have good flow. They are useful on a wide variety of papers and as you noted easily replaced.

      In my experience there are very few pens and inks that work well on all grades and brands of paper. The right level of paper absorbency is crucial to a non-feathering, non-bleeding result and cheap paper is just too absorbent for water-based fountain pen ink. However, some people have great results with some inks. Noodler’s Black is one of those inks that fares well even on poor paper. For the most part I use only fountain pen friendly paper and J. Herbin Perle Noire works extremely well for my purposes.

      If you want an ink converter, you will need to purchase one along with your Safari. It is essential to using bottled ink which is far and away the best value for money when it comes to using fountain pens. If you want to use cartridges, try the one that comes with the Safari first. The color is blue but it will give you an opportunity to see what you think of Lamy ink. I have no experience with the adapter so can offer no advice on that count.

      For more information on fountain pens, inks, and paper compatibility, check out Fountain Pen Network. There are lots of helpful folks and tons of information that should help you get started right.

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  13. thanks a lot for your quick and accurate response. i will follow your advice while i keep reading information about this world (there is a lot… i must be patient) and keep learning.

    thanks!

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    • My pleasure!

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  14. Thanks for using that J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir — its the perfect blue, and I’ve already ordered a bottle. I also ordered a French-ruled notebook because I’ve hear it can help you train your handwriting. Do you find hat to be true?

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    • French-ruling does help tame as well as add consistency to letter forms. I am enjoying it immensely.

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  15. Thanks to this post, I’m now practicing daily using French-ruled paper from Clairefontaine (purchased through shopwritersbloc.com). The ruling does help one to see room for improvement and make that improvement. I find that my Waterman fine points are very good for practice using this ruling, the medium points, rather less.

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    • Glad to hear you have found the Clairefontaine helpful. I would purchase reams of it if I could find it and use for everything except correspondence. I might even use it for that to understanding pen people. Hard not to enjoy it at every opportunity.

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  16. Beautiful handwriting! I personally don’t have a flex nib pen (yet) and wondered if it was a good type of nib for taking fast notes, or is it better for slower, more deliberate handwriting? Do you know of any lefties that use this type of nib? Your results using this nib look great!

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    • Thanks for the nice words, Cheryl. I am a right-handed writer so can’t help with the lefty perspective but I can answer your other question. With certainty flex nibs slow down my writing enough that I prefer firm nibs for note taking. Extra-fine nibs can be more inclined to catch or dig into the paper so I stay away from them for fast notes as well. The smoother the nib the better if speed is the issue. Another thing that can help is an ink that flows really well and of course good quality paper can make the best of both ink and pen. It’s kind of a package deal but everyone has to find just the right tools for their needs. Much trial and error but worth the effort.

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  17. […] sure to check out the review by Margana at Inkophile as she takes a look at Clairfontaine’s French-Ruled notebooks and gives her Namiki Falcon a workout on that wonderful paper. “Clairefontaine paper is […]

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  18. […] calligraphy or flex nib practice, Clairefontaine French-ruled paper rules here. Thick, juicy ink lines dry slowly but it is definitely worth the […]

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  19. […] Clairefontaine paper […]

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