Posts Tagged ‘fountain pen paper’

h1

Moleskine Surprise

08/05/2016

When it comes to journals, Moleskine has set the standard for form. Sturdy, but lays flat. Natural white paper. Ribbon marker. Elastic band and rear pocket. The size is just right in the hand. But in recent times, the paper has left much to be desired when it comes to fountain pen ink.

When I started using Moleskine some twelve years ago, my pens were quite happy with it and the few inks I owned would cozy up to the paper and leave marks with clean outlines. Extra-fine and fine nibs were perfect, especially a vintage Parker 51 fine-medium that was the pen I carried everywhere.

Skip forward a few years and the paper quality suffered. Spidery feathers bloomed from every letter and blobs of ink showed through on the backs of pages making them worthless. One-sided writing cut the value of the pricey journals by half. Moleskine betrayed my trust and I swore off for good.

To be fair, paper sources can change over time and being ever hopeful that the company had come to its senses, I tucked a squared notebook into a recent Amazon order. The wrapper says “Mix. Paper from responsible sources.” What does that mean? It also says the notebook was manufactured in China. Lots of paper comes from China, but most of it isn’t fountain pen friendly. Hoping to be surprised, I put the Moleskine to the test.

Every instrument except the fountain pens worked well enough that both sides of the paper were useful. Clean outlines and almost no feathering with only very faint ghosting from the Sharpie Pen and the Pentel Touch make the Moleskine an excellent choice.

The scan shows a new Moleskine at the upper left with a Rhodia notebook to the right. The bottom two are Moleskine journals purchased several years ago. The recent Moleskine has paper that is more white than in the past which is another indication that the paper is from a different batch.

Fountain pen ink produced mixed results. To the good, feathering has been reduced. Not gone entirely, but spidery offshoots did not happen. That is a significant improvement over the Moleskine journals I last purchased. Outlines are less jagged though under magnification still imperfect with some inks. It isn’t Rhodia quality, but it will do.

Bleed-through on the reverse proved frustrating, but ink and nib width made a difference. Noodler’s Black in a fine nib was perfect. Sailor Peach Pink did not bleed even from a Platinum #3776 Music Nib. J. Herbin Bleu Azure from a Platinum Century B Nib left only a couple of dots. Other inks in wide nibs left so many spots that the reverse was unusable at least by my standards. However, a dry nib or an extra-fine to fine nib should have less trouble. The narrow nib for many users will be more suitable for the size of the journal and the 5 mm grid spacing anyway.

The bottom line is Moleskine has improved the quality of its paper at least in the grid notebook I tested. Some pen and ink duos will work beautifully on both sides of the paper. If you only write on one side, use any pen and ink. With the feathering reduced, Moleskine is no longer off my list. Is it time to put it on yours?

 

 

 

h1

The Leuchtturm1917 Finds A Few Mates

06/15/2016

The Leuchtturm1917 paper is so nice to write on that finding compatible inks and pens has become a quest. Every duo on hand whether for personal use or testing purposes gets a page to itself in the search for suitable matches. With a few exceptions, wide and flex nibs have caused dots of bleed through. There is some show through, but it isn’t a deterrent for me. At least in my journal, neither is the tiny degree of Moleskine-like feathering. How the pen moves across the paper is more important for private musings and the sheer joy of writing.

Best duos

Most disappointing duos

  • Platinum Nice M with Diamine Wild Strawberry
  • Platinum Yamanaka SM with Diamine Merlot
  • Pelikan M200 italic with Iroshizuku tsuki-yo
  • Noodler’s 1820 Essex Konrad Flex with Noodler’s Dostoyevsky

The paper is absorbent so free-flowing inks produced the most bleed through. After testing more than twenty, this is now a predictable characteristic eliminating some inks from use in the Leuchtturm. No hardship since other inks work just fine.

However, the tendency to feather along a few of the fibers will be off-putting to some users.

A Pentel Pocket Brush Pen with J. Herbin Lie de The or Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan showed no feathering or bleed through. Good mates for this journal are to be found.

What continues to surprise is the way in which the paper handles light watercolor washes. There is very little buckling though with some colors I had to work at getting enough paint down. The paper held up well considering the abuse. No bleed through, but watercolor is more dense than ink. With more coarsely grained pigment particles and less water than ink, paint dries on the surface. It isn’t as translucent as ink, but for a hit of color or some doodles in margins, watercolor will do the trick.

This might seem like heresy, but the Leuchtturm1917 journal provides a wonderfully soft surface for my Autopoint mechanical pencil with HB lead. Should the need arise, a FACTIS extra soft eraser will leave the paper’s surface intact. It can even be used gently on art paper.

The deal here is that I love the paper and needed to persist to find good mates for it. Hey, persistence is a positive trait, isn’t it?

 

h1

Strathmore Writing® Paper

06/11/2016

The Strathmore Paper Company has been in business since 1892 so they know a thing or two about making paper. Their line of Writing® paper products is aimed at those who want the best in a writing experience and they have done a creditable job of achieving that goal.

Writing® paper is available in pads, envelopes, flat and folded cards as well as hardbound and softcover journals. The soft white paper has a mildly textured, wove finish that slightly resisted a few inks, but is otherwise quite nice for fountain pens. The stationery is heavy at 24 lb (90 gsm) and comes with 50 blank or non-photo blue, dot-lined sheets to a pad.

The artist who created the calligraphy logo, Heather Victoria Held, is given credit on the cover which is a very nice touch.

A few days ago, I wrote a letter on the paper and decided it has more texture and absorbency than some of my nibs can handle well. Round nibs worked better than italics though a very light touch with a free-flowing ink somewhat improved the latter. Pale inks looked a bit dull on the soft white paper, but aqua and blue took the paper color in stride producing very legible and attractive writing.

The sturdy cardboard back would make the Writing® pad a good traveling companion. For a simple pad, it is well-constructed and should tolerate a modest amount of abuse.

The lines are on only one side of the paper so presumably Strathmore does not expect double-sided use. Even so, there was absolutely no bleed-through and only the faintest hint of ghosting. In that regard, it is an admirable product.

The only version tested was the 6″ x 8″ pad, but the website indicates the same paper is used for the whole line except the cards that are 110# (297 gsm). That rivals watercolor paper which could make them useful for one-of-a-kind, original greeting cards. Strathmore lists the Writing® line under its 500 series paper which is their premium line for artists.

Currently, Amazon offers the pads and journals. Walmart and a few other retailers carry some items from the line, so that is another option.

Admittedly, I am partial to soft white paper and 8 mm line spacing for my widest nibs. Now to find the perfect pen and ink for the Strathmore Writing® pad. Isn’t that half the fun?

h1

Leuchtturm1917 Ink And Watercolor Tests

01/12/2016

Pen friends are great! One of mine sent a Leuchtturm1917 Squared Notebook that she thought I might enjoy. She was right. The soft surface of the paper is kind to nibs as well as my hand. The pale gray grid on ivory paper is even easy on the eyes. All to the good. However, a reader mentioned that he was having trouble with bleeding so I put my dozen ink rotation to the test.

Four of the twelve inks bled and showed slightly stronger marks than the photo. Iroshizuku tsuki-yo and Diamine Merlot left dots behind on almost every paper and remained true to form here. Great colors, but disappointing performance except with the finest of nibs. Earlier in the year, I wrote pages with Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu, Pelikan Violet and Iroshizuku yu-yake without bleeding. In order to use both sides of the paper, I have to be a bit selective with using free-flowing ink in a wide nib. Not a big deal since I love the paper’s texture and the size of the notebook.

The mild Moleskine-like feathering is only visible on close inspection and is not a deterrent for my purposes. The show-through was not offensive and in line with the 80gsm paper.

The surprise was that a light wash of watercolor did not exhibit any feathering or bleeding and so little buckling that the reverse can be written on with a fountain pen. That last is impressive and very convenient for my tendency to write about all kinds of things in my journal.

The form factor, paper texture, grid size and color, make the Leuchtturm1917 Squared Notebook a worthy contender for your affection. It may not be perfect, but it’s good enough for me.

 

h1

Review: Clearprint Vellum Field Book

12/13/2015

Since 1933 Clearprint has offered cotton vellum paper in a variety of forms from 100 yard rolls down to 8.5″ x 11″ sheets. Now offered as a portable field book, this unique paper can fit anywhere including a pocket.

As a child I loved the texture and crinkly sounds from the discarded scraps that came into my hands. To a budding paper hoarder, this was treasure. Not long after rediscovering fountain pens, a packet of vellum made its way into my paper stash and became a happy mate to any fountain pen ink.

What’s not to like about a notebook that is

  • filled with translucent paper
  • works well with any fountain pen ink
  • good for many uses and excels at layering
  • incredibly smooth and kind to nibs
  • good with watercolor though the paper may buckle mildly
  • tough enough to be primed for oil or acrylic painting
  • available in blank or grid (3mm) formats
  • outfitted with a substantial cardboard back for field use
  • made with removable pages
  • free of bleed-through with FP ink though translucency produces show-through

Note that vellum is not absorbent so ink can take a long time to dry. Blotter recommended. That or a ton of patience.

The notebooks come in 3 x 4, 4 x 6, 6 x 8, and 8.5 x 11 inch sizes holding 50 sheets each. Since the sheets detach easily, the 6 x 8 pages could be used for correspondence. I like the thin but sturdy paper for notes to slide between the pages of a book and it is perfect for tracing or overlays.

Got a thing for paper, but aren’t acquainted with vellum? You are in for a treat. If you have experience with vellum, a Clearprint book presents a handy form and size to take this lovely paper on the road if only so far as the local coffee shop.

If you can’t find these notebooks locally, toss one into your shopping cart at Amazon for some good, clean inky fun.

 

h1

Review: Midori Traveler’s Notebook

10/17/2015

Are you acquainted with the Midori Traveler’s Notebook? It’s a journal/calendar/notebook designed to follow you anywhere. Jet Pens introduced me to this brand that has since become a staple in my writing arsenal. The original black and brown leather covers are suitable for even the most conservative work environments, while the flashy, happy, colorful ones made by devotees invite a steady stream of journal entries. But there is more.

In case you aren’t familiar with Midori, there are lots of video tutorials about making covers and inserts (cahiers) and other clever additions to personalize your journal. One useful benefit is that the inserts can be limited to single subjects and archived for future reference.

Midori didn’t invent the cahier, but they did devise a means of connecting several together. What looks like a book is actually a number of inserts that can be removed or swapped for instant customization. Currently my Midori contains three inserts with pen and art related notes and swatches. In January, a calendar will get added. The elastic bands make it simple and easy to add or remove inserts as well as other additions like pockets and folders.

Pictured below is a single insert decked out with washi tape, Post-its, colorful tabs and some pen work. The uncoated and unmarked cardstock cover got along well with a brush pen and glue.

For brief notes, the Passport (90mm x 124mm) will do. For more extensive writing or for large handwriting, the Traveler’s size (110mm x 210mm) will provide room to roam. From minimalist to loaded to painterly, Midori works well for all sorts of uses.

Many of the modifications could be adapted for other journals and notebooks like composition books and Field Notes journals.

Midori paper is excellent with fountain pen ink and comes in a large assortment of styles from blank paper to calendars. It’s easy to see why it has a cult following and a variety of groups on Facebook.

A few DIY videos:

Not into DIY? Let an Etsy artisan do it for you.

Want to try Midori notebooks? Jet Pens has enough variety to get you started. There are plenty of inserts and other goodies available in the Traveler’s size. My favorite notebooks are the grid style #002 and the ultra thin paper #013. However, the Passport is more portable and fits nicely in the hand. I took an old passport cover and adapted it with Midori elastic bands to hold two inserts.

The Midori system is a tactile adventure as well as an excellent journal. Hard to knock it on any level.

The #013 insert contains Tomoe River paper and shows only a slight amount of buckling with watercolor. At 128 pages, this lightweight paper refill gets my vote for best value for money especially since it is excellent with fountain pen ink. Leigh encouraged me to buy one and I am so glad she did.

Stuff&Things Review: Midori Traveler’s Notebook (A Man’s Perspective) Bradley is a fountain pen user and has positive things to say about the paper as well as the format. He has made additional videos about the Midori TN including a modification that makes swapping out a journal very easy.

h1

Another DIY Notebook For Fountain Pens

07/22/2015

Re-purposing binders and notebooks was covered recently, but a new idea has emerged in the last couple of days that deserves mentioning.

For some reason, pretty paper sneaks its way into my shopping cart whenever I hit one of the crafts stores or stationery shops. Recently, this very attractive pad of scrapbook paper managed to follow me home. I had no use for it at the time, but realized this morning that folding the sheets in half would make them fit perfectly into a checkbook cover. But would fountain pen ink work on the coated stock? Remarkably well to my surprise. The paper is textured which allowed some of the ink to appear to feather, but a smoother scrapbook paper might not. I wasn’t offended by it regardless. Even a Sharpie worked beautifully and there was no bleed-through whatsoever. So you can write on both sides of the paper and even over the printed designs. Does that not open all sorts of possibilities?

This is how I put it together. The package of Jodie Lee Designs Nature Garden Collection 6″ x 6″ Paper Stack contains 48 sheets and retails for $5.99. Sales and discounts can reduce that to much less. Since both sides are usable and they get folded to create four pages each, that’s 96 blank pages and 96 decorated pages on which to write. All it takes is a checkbook cover to protect it and a rubber band or 1-2mm elastic string to hold the pages in place. Make sure there is a little tension when the band is placed in the crease. If not, the paper will fall out too easily. A second band around the outside will hold it together and even secure a slender pen or pencil just inside the edge of the cover.

Another way this can be assembled is with vellum between the pages for a very fountain pen friendly paper and more room to write. The decorated pages will show through as a soft background to your musings. Torn edges might be especially nice and vellum does that very well.

Has your checkbook cover seen better days? Use washi tape to strengthen edges and cover worn areas. it’s all part of personalizing your notebook.

If you like the scrapbook paper idea, but are a Midori fan, the 12″ x 12″ pages can be cut to fit the Traveler’s version. The elastic band will hold the pages together without having to bind them together. Simply adding a few pages here and there inside a Midori would add a little color and interest.

For less than $5, I put together a new journal with some very pretty paper that works with wide nibs and fountain pen ink. I’d say today was a day well spent.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: