The Ink Blotter, A Dirty Little Secret


If the ink blotter seems like an old fashioned idea, think again. It is the easiest solution to slow drying, too much wetness, “where did that blob come from” problems that you ever met. Really.


Blotting Paper with Pelikan M215 and Apica Journal

Blotting Paper with Pelikan M215 and Apica Journal

My 6″ x 3″ blotting paper has been in use for at least four years. It is very heavy paper and resides in my daily journal between the most recent passage and the facing page. It serves as a bookmark plus I never have to wait for ink to dry, handy when you think about what gets written in a journal. Should someone walk up behind me, I can slam the book shut instantly without fearing a mess when I return. Two disasters averted!

Before my work space became inundated with bottles of ink and stacks of paper, a small but very cute rocking horse resided on my desk. These days I would never find her so I sweep the side of my hand over the blotter paper if I want to continue writing. Pentrace has a good article on how to use a blotter if you want more details.

Once you get the hang of it, which will take a matter of seconds on practice paper, even the most slow-drying inks can be tamed. I have a Pelikan M215 cursive italic that lays down a luscious swath of color but it is often inconvenient to let dry naturally. The blotter makes the writing tidy and as close to instant drying as this nib will ever get.

As if collecting ink and pens wasn’t engrossing enough, there are collectors of rocker blotters and even those who collect blotting paper. To be sure there are some gorgeous antique ones that turn up now and again. Ebay can be a good source but so can Pendemonium. Modern ones are available like this simple design from J. Herbin and are carried by a variety of retailers.

J. Herbin Rocker Blotter

J. Herbin Rocker Blotter

Art supply stores stock felt-finished paper but it is not as absorbent as blotting sheets from a fountain pen purveyor. J. Herbin offers light-weight paper measuring 3 ¼” x 1 7/8″ that appears malleable enough to bend around its wooden rocker. Pear Tree Pens is due to release its own heavy-weight blotting paper in January. I suspect this one will be more similar to the blotter in my journal.

J. Herbin Blotting Paper

J. Herbin Blotting Paper

Whether you want the full-on experience of the rocker blotter or the simple ease of heavy blotting paper tucked between pages, this is one dirty trick every pen user should have to hand. It even works on those untidy gel pens that spew dabs of ink at unwelcome intervals. Not that you would ever use such an instrument but just in case…


  1. Thankfully, I decided to tackle the smear problem head-on and early-on in my writing hobby.
    I have a J. Herbin ink rocker blotter and the corresponding strips, but I also have purchased poster paper sized sheets of “blotter paper” from an art shop, which I put on my desk, sort of a cheap “desk blotter” (google that one). I have some blotter samples I got from Pendemonium that have been great, too. I keep them in my journal and my No.13 and No. 16 Rhodia pads.

    It really takes the frustration out of fantastic inks!


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Margana and others. Margana said: The Ink Blotter, A Dirty Little Secret: http://wp.me/pfSKv-Oh […]


  3. Great post! Makes me want to start using blotting paper.


  4. I love blotter paper. I recently got a package of J. Herbin large sheet blotters. They are 7.5″ X 4.75″ (from Goulet Pens.com) and I keep one in my Rhodia lrg Webbie for everyday use. They are absolutely necessary if one uses Noodler’s Warden Series inks, which I do. Also keep one in each class notebook for school.


  5. I like my Visconti blotting papers, about 2″x4″, that I bought from Fahrney’s. Their size makes them convenient for carrying about in wallet or purse.


  6. I buy 100 lb. blotter paper in 11 x 17 sheets (I thought I got it from John Neal, Bookseller, but I couldn’t find a product link on their website). Blotters also make a great thing to rest your hand on if you don’t want to smudge existing writing or get hand-grease on your nice fresh journal pages.

    The Victorians made blotter-books, which I find very handy: take two 9 x 6 pieces of Davey board, cover with decorative paper as if you were making a book, and quarter-bind using either bookcloth or book tape, leaving a gap of about 1/4″ inside. On the inner surfaces (what would be the endpapers) glue down pieces of blotter paper, using PVA rather than paste. You now have a portable folding desk blotter that you can put on bars and cafe tables for a nicer writing surface, carry letters and postcards in, etc.


    • Joseph, that’s a great idea for dealing with writing on surfaces with less than ideal conditions. Thanks!


  7. Here’s ink blotting cards listed on Craislist – http://brainerd.craigslist.org/atq/2985065149.html


  8. […] The Ink Blotter, A Dirty Little Secret […]


  9. I’ve been thinking about getting some blotter paper. However, I’ve been using Fahrney’s ink and it hasn’t been an issue. You don’t list Fahrney inks in your short list. Perhaps that is because Fahrney’s is a local store in Washington, DC.


    • Blotter paper is helpful when ink doesn’t dry fast enough on the paper in use. It is a collectible item for some pen people and old blotters can still be found.

      I believe Fahrney’s ink is made by Private Reserve so any comments I’ve made about PR would apply.


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