The Top 5 Things I Wish I Knew About Paper When I Started Using Fountain Pens.
1.) Not all paper is created equal!
When I first started out with Fountain Pens, I was so excited! I hard ordered a couple of "nice pens" from Goulet Pens along with some various ink samples to try out. I was so excited when they showed up on my doorstep, that I didn't even think about the fact that my paper might not be suitable. I inked up my Pilot Metropolitan with a good dose of Noodler's Bad Green Gator and pulled out a Moleskine notebook I had purchased for practicing my handwriting. Little did I know, it was probably the worst combination I could have put together. That Japanese Fine nib was writing wider than most of my Broad nibbed European pens I own, and the feather was horrid.
I soon learned that not all paper is created equal and there are brands, and even models within brands (think Field Notes) that are more suitable for the demands of liquid fountain pen ink than others. Some of my favorite brands include Rhodia, Claire Fontaine, and the beloved Tomoe River.
2.) Just because it's expensive doesn't mean it's fountain pen friendly!
For many years before I started using Fountain Pens, I was a Moleskine fan. I used them with ballpoints, rollerballs, gel pens, and pencils. Never once did I have a problem with bleed through, feathering, or ghosting. They are expensive notebooks, and I've quickly come to find that price does not always denote quality of paper. When it comes to Moleskine notebooks and Fountain Pen Ink, I've not found them to be the best combination. Horrible ghosting, bleed through, and feathering even in the finest of fine nibs with the driest of dry inks.
Instead, I turn to Leuchturm 1917, Rhodia, and Quo Vadis for similar sizes and shapes of notebooks in more Fountain Pen friendly papers. Right now, I use the Leuchtrum 1917 A5 Dot Grid notebooks for my bullet journals, and the Rhodia Webnotebooks for my writing journals.
3.) Different paper and ink combinations create different effects.
For me, one of the more fun, and desirable qualities of Fountain Pen Ink is it's ability to sheen. That is to say, the ability of the dyes in the ink to pool and oxidize into an altogether different color than the ink itself. My favorites are the blues that sheen a bright ruby red, like Bung Box Sapphire. However, not all papers produce the same amounts of this effect with the same ink.
I have observed that the more resistant to bleed through and ghosting (through coatings on the paper) the paper is, the more it produces this effect. This is presumably because the coatings and mesh of the paper force the ink so sit and pool on top of the paper instead of soaking it up, allowing more of the liquid dye to oxidize.
4.) Some of the best paper comes from unexpected places!
Tomoe River. For some, the name is a sweet and sultry sound that evokes thoughts of sheen and the smooth gliding of pen across paper. For others, a catalogue printing paper? That's right folks, the beloved Tomoe River paper from Tomoegawa paper company in Japan was made as a printing paper. It's meant to be lightweight, and resist bleeding and ghosting from the printing process. Thankfully, it lends itself nicely to fountain pens as well!
Different companies have adopted the paper to Fountain Pen friendly applications. Hobonichi Techos, Nanami Seven Seas notebooks, Goulet Pens notebooks, just to name a few. It just goes to show you, sometimes you find hidden gems in the most unexpected of places!
5.) Paper is just about as addicting as Fountain Pens and Ink!
After only a year or so of collecting, I find myself with a substantial collection of papers, notebooks, and miscellaneous stationery. It really is almost as addicting as the Fountain Pen and Fountain Pen Ink that they're bought for. The variety of sizes, colors, and textures that are available is somewhat mind boggling. From cream to stark white, from super smooth to a more toothy surface, from lightweight 52gsm to heavy duty 90gsm.
I have managed to collect enough notebooks and loose leaf options to supply a room of writers with paper for a few months at least. I have slowed down on the purchases, as I believe I've found my favorites but the urge is still there to stock up. Maybe it's a Utah (always be prepared) thing?? But instead of stock up on canned veggies and Jell-o in my basement it's Rhodia Webnotebooks and Nanami Seven Seas Writers!