Loose paper tasting

Trying out more papers to see if they're fountain pen-friendly

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Bea sent me some loose paper to do paper tasting, THANKS! Her pack included:

  • Borden and Riley #41 tracing paper
  • Crane Lettra 297gsm
  • Levenger dot grid (from Behance journals?)
  • Loomis and Toles (now Deserres) Superbond 15lb
  • Muji grid
  • Neenah paper, classic crest, stipple 118gsm

Separately I joined PowersWithin's paper order for some Cosmo Air Light 75gsm.


Borden and Riley #41 tracing paper

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  • Bleed: none
  • Sheen: pretty good!
  • Shading: nice!
  • Feathering: none
  • Texture: can be slippery
  • Other: ink line gets a lot fatter; other side is unusable because it's tracing paper (super ghosty); ink colours seem lighter because of translucency

Crane Lettra 297gsm

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  • Bleed: none (paper is thick)
  • Sheen: none
  • Shading: very subtle, if at all
  • Feathering: not much
  • Texture: has some grain; originally for letterpress
  • Other: nib feels dry when writing on this paper, everything becomes finer

Levenger dot grid (for Behance)

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  • Bleed: none
  • Sheen: none
  • Shading: decent
  • Feathering: none
  • Texture: kinda smooth but has some resistance?
  • Other: I was surprised at how well this paper performed. I used to use this paper at work 5+ years ago...

Loomis & Toles Superbond 15lb

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  • Bleed: none
  • Sheen: very subtle
  • Shading: decent
  • Feathering: none
  • Texture: has some tooth
  • Other: nib feels dry when writing on this paper, everything becomes finer. Not sure if it's the paper/pen/ink or something else that is causing the skipping for some pens/inks (like there is a more specific "sweet spot" for the nib/ink when using this paper). Kind of reminds me of Borden and Riley visual bond

Muji 5mm grid

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  • Bleed: some, for the very wet inks
  • Sheen: none
  • Shading: very subtle, if any; inks get flattened out
  • Feathering: some, paper is pretty absorbent
  • Texture: pretty smooth
  • Other: if you use light colour inks or thin nibs, this is a very reasonable alternative

Neenah paper, classic crest, stipple 118gsm

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  • Bleed: none
  • Sheen: barely
  • Shading: some
  • Feathering: none
  • Texture: stippled, your nib won't glide on this paper
  • Other: inks also feel dryer to me when I use this paper, but not as much as some of the others

Cosmo Air Light 75gsm

Image description

  • Bleed: none
  • Sheen: pretty good
  • Shading: seems high contrast
  • Feathering: none
  • Texture:
  • Other: ink lines get fatter; the paper is thicker than I thought, so went I went to make a notebook out of it, I didn't end up using as many pages as I thought I could for a single signature!

My top 3 from this batch

  • Cosmo Air Light 75gsm
  • Borden and Riley #41
  • Levenger

Today's music post: Thumbing Thru Foliage by YUNGMORPHEUS & ewonee

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Done one journal/notebook insert, so time for new paper tasting! Still using the traveller style cover for 2 notebooks: planner and journal.

Thoughts on the system so far

I've been marking down key events on the calendar view. I also track when I publish a post and what media I engaged with too. After the month is over, I write a short reflection on the right hand side. In some ways the calendar view will serve as a table of contents for the journal entries...?

photo of a planner spread, showing the month of february

Good! I like having a dedicated book for the planner part, and another dedicated book for the journal part. I wasn't sure this habit tracker would be relevant but it has at least two benefits:

  • Tracking what I've done, and when, as a method of recall and reminder
  • Great excuse to get inks flowing in my pens

photo of a dot-based habit tracking system. The habits are in the top row, while the days are on the left column

My pen writing rotation is like 2 weeks long now. I can't help but want at least 1 pen per ROYGBIV colour, and then there are the pens that I only use for waterproof occasions (that I don't actually journal with). 2 separate slimmer notebooks/inserts also means that my hand doesn't ever get to the edge of a page/book and I have to do the slightly uncomfortable/brief "hover" (where there is a large "step" between your notebook height and the table/working surface). I thought that I could potentially be annoyed by the elastic system (sometimes it feels looser than it should be) but it's not a deal breaker.

Outgoing journal: NTU Press Bookstore A5 notebook

I filled this one with journal entries for January - February.

photo collage of several journal spreads, written in colourful ink

There are a few problematic inks, but those inks tend to be problematic on various higher quality papers that I have:

  • always Sailor Kobe kounan maroon
  • sometimes Noodler's Eel cactus fruit
  • sometimes FPR royal flush blue

Otherwise I like that the paper absorbs the ink quickly, though at the expense of sheen. I don't care as much about sheen as I do about shading! I'm swapping this insert out for the one below.

Incoming journal: Kleid 2mm grid notes A5, 2mm grid

I thought I'd use something with some ruling this time because of how crooked I wrote in the other one/ These ones use OK Fools paper, which according to the maker...

OK Fools was the first Fool's Cap paper produced in Japan by Ohtori Paper. In Japan, the term "Fools Paper" has long been used to refer to high-end writing paper. British Fool's Cap paper was first imported into Japan in the late 1800s. The popular Japanese version was produced at the Oji Ogura Factory, where the name OK comes from. While the current iteration is being made by Nippon Paper Industries' Yatsushiro Factory, they have kept the OK name for brand recognition.

I have the one with the blue cover. The cover itself also has the 2mm grid pattern printed in light blue ink, and there's some silver stamp foil in the bottom. There's also an informational belly band (is it still a belly band if it runs vertical?) that is removable.

Photo collage of the cover of the Kleid navy blue notebook with 2mm grid pattern printed on top.

  • 32 sheets / 64 pages
  • 2mm graph paper
  • white paper
  • side-sewn bound

The grid pattern itself is very small and I wouldn't say it looks visually obtrusive, but some it does seem to resist water-based fountain pen inks, so if you were writing really small, the grid might break up your writing. I'm personally not sure what I would use a 2mm grid for, that I can't achieve in a bigger grid, but I mainly just write or doodle freeform.

photo collage of the interior paper found in the Kleid notebook

When held up to the light, the paper also has some regular columnar watermark and another emblem (probably some manufacturer logo?) that appears in different spots, depending on where the page was cut.

Photo of the Kleid notebook's 2mm grid and paper, on top of a midori MD notebook 5mm grid cream paper

As anticipated, all the inks did good, aside from the usual suspects (already listed above). I think the shading is fine, but maybe sheen feels less obvious than some other papers I've used.

Photo of pen and ink tests on the final page of the Kleid notebook Annotated photo showing the backside of a page where pen and ink tests were done the final page of the Kleid notebook Photo collage of close-up shots of pen and ink tests Photo of close-ups of pen and ink tests

For an ink that's more expensive, I'm surprised that Sailor Kobe kounan maroon feathers and bleeds through on so many of my higher quality papers (using EF nib). I finally finished my sample and am quite please to be RID OF IT.

Photo of pen and ink tests

I found a new favourite pangram:

Two driven jocks help fax my big quiz.

I like to imagine Jake and Austin trying to use a fax machine on my behalf.

After using the 2mm grid for a bit, I have to say that I'm not a fan, primarily because when I'm writing fast, I can't "track" what line I'm currently on and how much line spacing to use when moving to a new line (line break). The paper is otherwise quite nice!

Today's music post: Unspoken by Moderator.

Planner and paper tasting kick-off for 2021

Midori MD planner and NTU notebook

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I talked about this in passing in my analogue daily journal post, but I added a few more things to round out the system, after using the other journal/planner combo for a few months.

Planner: Midori MD Notebook Light, A5, grid ruling

Midori MD Notebook light (grid) serves as the planner for the year, with monthly view spreads. I've put it inside an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket. There's 1 spread for the year, then 13 spreads for each month (Jan-Dec 2021 + Jan 2022). I drew a different little plant icon on the corner of every monthly spread.

Photo collage of 2 notebooks on a grey desk. The left-hand notebook is a Midori MD Light Note book in A5 size with grid ruling. It is slipped into an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket that has an integrated zipper pocket. The jacket is light tealed in colour, with dark brown cartoon animals printed on the front. Collage mainly shows the hand-drawn yearly and monthly calendar interiors of the Midori MD notebook, which I'm using as a planner. The right-hand notebook is a brown kraft covered one from NTU.

I added a few pages for projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

Photo collage showing the interior spreads of the Midori MD Notebook planner with grid ruling Spreads shown include- projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

I'm doing fountain pen "paper tasting" for 2021, meaning I'm going to journal in separate and different lower-page count notebooks, every 2 months or so. The first one to go is...

Journal: NTU Press Bookstore 臺大出版中心校史館書店 notebook, A5, no ruling

The National Taiwanese University Press Bookstore (Pinkoi storefront) has branded stationery, including fountain pens, notebooks, and more. This also includes the Taiwanese-designed Take a Note planner that uses Tomoe River 68gsm paper that I've only seen places like Shigure Inks stock in North America. The planner design won a Good Design award in 2017.

I got some of their basic sewn brown kraft notebooks that were marketed as being suitable for fountain pens.

Photo of 2 brown kraft paper notebooks with NTU (National Taiwan University) branding on the front cover. Covers are plain and minimal, other than the University's name printed in small font on the covers.

Pages are blank/unruled, 米道林(楓林紙) 100gsm paper, 64 pages total. The paper isn't white, more like a cream stock (comparable to the colour of midori MD, perhaps a tad lighter).

Photo collage of fountain pen ink tests on an interior page of the NTU cover. The left-image shows consecutive rows of handwriting, done in different coloured inks. The right-image shows the back-side of the page that was written to, to show that there is minmal ink bleedthrough (only when there was flex nib used, or certain inks used)

Most of my inks did fine on the paper. The ones that feathered and bled were Sailor Kobe Kounan Maroon, Platinum Carbon Black, and J. Herbin Emeraude de Chivor. FPR Royal Flush Blue was also a bit more prone to feathering, but not in a significant way (to me).

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting, using flex nib/applying pressure on the nib.

Pushing down on the nib with "flex" also caused the ink to selectively feather and bleed through on some other inks.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Compared to Midori MD and Tomoe River, shading on this paper feels slightly flatter for some inks. There is practically no pink sheen in FPR Royal Flush Blue here, and Lamy Turmaline shows very minor pink/purple sheen. Overall I find that inks appear brighter/lighter in appearance, much like they would on regular printer paper.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Overall, I think it's a solid performer! Dry time seems good too, at least good enough that I don't even think about it.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

I bought some cute illustrated and perforated calendar sheets that I can paste into my journal. I might try to experiment with a bit more collage for this journal. Sometimes when the paper is expensive and optimized for FP ink I feel like I have to maximize all surface area for the ink, and not paste anything into it.

Photo collage of a dark brown leather traveler's style notebook in A5 size, which serves to hold the 2 notebooks mentioned in this post, together. The photo also shows a few fountain pens, a roll of dot-washi-tape stickers, and perforated date rectangles.

I also have this daily chinese calendar for FUN. I'm into this aesthetic sometimes; I was close to getting a chinese almanac, Tung Shing/通勝 for the year too. I wouldn't say that I'm particular about fengshui, astrology, or auspicious dates, but I wish I knew how to read the bottom part.

Photo of a traditional looking one-page-a-day chinese calendar, bound at the top with screws.

Today's music post: A compilation of Jane Zhang's (张靓颖) cover/rearrangement performances from the TV show Sound of my Dream (梦想的声音).