Wooden Paper Memo Pad

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A friend at work (thanks Neil!) gave me a wonderful memo pad from Lee Valley Tools made of paper thin sheets of wood. I had never seen anything like this before but apparently it is an old Japanese craft called Kyougi. (It seems like Japan produces some of the nicest stationery products.)

If raw, unprocessed food is considered good, how about unprocessed paper? Instead of breaking down wood into wood pulp to be made into paper, this paper is made by shaving a block of wood into thin sheets. The result is absolutely beautiful paper that looks and smells just like what it is, wood. It is hard to imagine that originally this lovely paper was just used to wrap food.

I love how the production of this paper not only keeps a traditional craft alive but also is part of sustainable forest management as the paper is made from trees thinned from managed forests.

I see this paper as having great craft potential, especially if you wanted to make a card with a woodsy feel. However it is very brittle and tends to tear along fold lines. This may be exacerbated by our dry climate.

So what does it feel like to write on wood? Except for the fountain pen, which feathered quite a lot, it was surprisingly easy to write on with very little bleed through to the other side.

If this paper were a person it would definitely be a true nature lover wearing a plaid shirt and hiking boots with the lovely faint smell of fresh cut wood that this paper actually has.

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Coming up next week:  Pilot FriXion Erasable Pen

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Noodler’s Creaper Flex Nib Pen

I have been using Noodler’s Standard Creaper Flex Nib pen for several years now. It is my first (and only) fountain pen and has a nicely tapered body which is a more comfortable size for my hand than the Ahab. I don’t make the most of the flex nib (#2) but it doesn’t cause any problems for me when I write. It can take a moment to get the flow going when you first start to write and makes a slight scritchy sound as it moves over the paper. I love the way the ink reservoir fills with a twisting mechanism. It works well but I always seem to end up with ink on my hands. This may be more a problem with my technique than the pen.

My pen was a gift from my daughter and she choose the panther pink for me but there are many other colours to choose from. At the same time, she thoughtfully gave me a bottle of blue-black Noodler’s ink with it. This is a very dark ink. Personally I would describe it more as black-blue. The blue tones mainly show up when I am trying to wash it off my fingers after filling the pen.

Like all Noodler’s products, both the pen and the ink are good value for what you get and don’t come over packaged.

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If this pen was a person it would be fun and unpretentious with a colourful style gleaned mainly from vintage stores and craft sales. It definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Coming next week: wood paper.

Rhodia and Habana paper samples

Back in November, I was lucky enough to get a variety of Rhodia and Habana paper samples from Laurie at Quo Vadis. Experimenting with them was part of the inspiration to stop just being a lurker in the paper and pen world to actually starting my own blog.  

First the Rhodia paper:

Four of the samples were 80g paper, one with a grid, two lined and then the one with a distinctive dot pattern. The dot pattern would be great for anyone who loves the look of a blank page but appreciates the subtle guide that the dots provide. I have also seen it used by zentangle designers and I imagine it would be great for working out ideas for other types of patterns like quilt designs. Of the two 80g lined samples, the difference between the regular Rhodia and the Rhodia Ice is slight. The regular Rhodia has very light blue lines (like the blue dots and graph paper) with the lines on the Rhodia Ice being closer to grey.

The Rhodia “R” Premium really is in a class of its own. All the Rhodia papers are smooth but the 90g premium sample has an almost satiny feel and a lovely creamy colour.

If the Rhodia graph paper were a person, it would be a meticulous engineer wearing a button-down shirt with jeans while the Rhodia dot person would choose the obscure novelty tee shirt (sweatshop free of course) to complete their look. Any of the Rhodia lined papers would be no-nonsense note takers with an appreciation for quality. There would be something about the Rhodia Premium paper person that would give you the sense that they don’t buy their clothes on sale. These papers are for those who know how to get the job done well without obnoxiously calling attention to themselves.

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The 85g Habana paper looks and feels very deluxe with an understated ivory colour. The lines are a soft gray and if you look very closely are actually made up of tiny dots . The lines are fairly close together (5 mm) so if you have a large scrawl you will have trouble containing yourself to just one line and would probably be better off using the Rhodia “R” Premium. This lovely high quality paper is very smooth. If the Habana paper was a person it would be an elegant and sophisticated international traveler with discerning taste wearing a string of pearls and smelling faintly of Chanel No. 5.

Because I am most likely to use lined paper myself, I did my tests on the lined samples. All of them were a delight to write on with only the Sharpie showing through to the back (Sharpies bleed through all paper in my experience). The gel pen experiment should be ignored because I ran out of ink (the pen’s problem not the paper). Because all of these papers are so smooth, it takes a long time for fountain pen ink, in this case Noodler’s blue black, to dry so smudging is a problem. However, there is no bleeding or feathering and the pen just glides over the page.

smudge tests

An important factor with all Quo Vadis papers is that they make a real effort to source their paper from certified forests and to treat their employees well. I have no problem if that adds to the cost of their products.

These were great papers to test!

Noodler’s Ahab Flex Nib Fountain Pen

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I borrowed my daughter’s Noodler’s Ahab flex nib fountain pen to try out. This popular pen was first introduced about 5 years ago and features a steel flexible #6 nib. The ink reservoir is filled using a slide piston mechanism which works like a syringe. It is made of a celluloid derivative (an early form of plastic) which gave it an unpleasant smell when it was new but has since disappeared. Her model has a distinctive striated look (this one is called “Apache Tortoise”) that adds to the retro look as does the fairly fat body with a nicely shaped curved clip.

I can’t say my handwriting style makes the most of the flexible nib. You really have to press quite hard to get the thicker lines that the flexible nib promises. You may appreciate it more if you were using the pen for calligraphy or sketching. Other than that, it writes smoothly and is excellent value for the price.

If this pen was a person it would be a cool hipster dude with tortoise rim glasses and skinny jeans rolled with a cuff last overheard recommending beard oil to his friend. And with a name like Ahad he would have to have a navy peacoat.

Coming next week:  Rhodia and Habana paper samples.

Journals

From writing to-do lists to keeping a journal, I still use pens and paper every day. There is something about handwriting that activates the brain in a different way than typing. 

In particular, I find that keeping a journal helps me pay attention to my life. My first journaling attempts were in a little diary with a gold lock when I was still in elementary school. I didn’t have much to say and even less staying power.

I tried again in my teens after being given a journal with a cool denim cover. While it is somewhat painful to go back inside my teenage mind, I do like that I stuck in some ephemera like a Wardair menu from a special trip to visit my grandparents. Ah, the days of glamorous air travel! I still like illustrating my journal with little extras I pick up during the day.  

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My next foray into journaling started in the early 2000s when I was trying to figure out the “what next” in my life after being at home raising my young daughters. At first I only wrote when I had time or felt I needed to work something out but after awhile the habit had become ingrained as a daily practice.

Over the years I have used many of types of journals and pens. I even tried an online journaling site, Penzu, which I still occasionally use. I like trying out new products and want to share my impressions about journaling and the tools I use. Although I love good quality, my budget means that I will focus on lower cost items. I hope you enjoy coming on this blogging journey with me!

Coming next week: Noodler’s Ahab Flex Nib Fountain Pen