G. Lalo Verge de France Paper

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Lalo Verge de France paper is about as far from bargain ballpoints and ReUse Centre finds as possible. This lovely paper is intended for handwritten correspondence. It comes in different shades but mine has a soft rosy tint to it with subtle raised horizontal lines which give it a slight texture. I’ve found it works well with any type of pen, even fountain pens, with no feathering or bleed through.

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The name comes from the founder, Georges Lalo, “Verge” refers to the lines on the paper, and of course, it is from France. In fact, the company is still based in Paris. They have a charming motto, “c’est savoir se faire plaisir, mais surtout faire plaisir à l’autre, qui vous en sera très reconnaissant”.

My paper is a A4 tablet. The size of this pad of paper follows the A-series paper sizes which is defined by an official International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard. A-series is used pretty much everywhere in the world except for the United States and those countries nearest them like Canada, Mexico and Dominican Republic. The letter size we commonly use here has archaic roots from when paper was made by hand, while the while the A-series is defined by a mathematical formula (sort of like imperial versus metric system).

I had been thinking that if this paper were a person, it would be a sophisticated French woman but then I saw a picture of Georges Lalo himself and that kind of ruined it for me. Still, I can’t bear to think of my beautiful paper as a pudgy, superciliousold white guy so I will still think of my paper as someone who loves quality, not just for its own sake but, for the joy it brings to others.

Coming next week: wax seals.

Greys Paper

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Last week on an outing to the Edmonton ReUse Centre, my sister and I came across a big stash of note pads and envelopes from Greys Paper Recycling. Greys was a local recycling company that unfortunately went bankrupt last year. Their products were made from used office paper and textiles without chemicals and with less water than traditional paper mills. The company got its name from the look of the paper.

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While there were no doubt a myriad of reasons why the company went under, a big part of the problem was that they just weren’t able to get enough consumers to buy paper that was not satiny smooth and white. This is really unfortunate.

In order to get recycled paper that looks the same as paper made from pulp from trees, it has to be chemically bleached and often is not made wholly of recycled materials but instead is a mix of virgin pulp, pre-consumer (leftovers from the lumber industry), and post-consumer (stuff from our recycling bins) materials. The more post-consumer content in recycled paper, the better for trees and the less waste in landfills. So Greys Paper, with its 100 percent recycled content, was a real winner environmentally.

Wouldn’t it be great if consumers could get over their expectation that all paper should be snowy white? Earlier in the week I was at a lecture by Japanese artist Akira Kurosaki who favors coarse, handmade Korean paper for the uniqueness it brings to his printmaking. I actually first came across Greys paper at a Edmonton Calligraphic Society mark-marking workshop at the Paint Spot with Carrie Imai a few years ago. It worked great with the watercolours we were experimenting with.

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So how does it fare with pens? I was amazed that there was no bleed through, even with the Sharpie! I will enjoy my stockpile of Greys Paper and hope that another company can take over their facility to resume making this recycled paper.

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As it was my sister who had the sharp eye to spot this paper at the ReUse Centre, I asked her to help me describe the Greys Paper person. With the Greys name in mind, this is an older person who is frugal and careful with their waste as a way of life, not as a higher ideal but rather the way they were brought up when patchwork quilts were made of bits of cloth cut from worn out clothing and when insulation consisted of old newspapers.

Papyrus

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As the word ‘paper’ comes from the word papyrus, I was thinking of calling this week’s blog Margret Puts Pen to Papyrus. Although papyrus is associated with ancient Egypt, it is still made today (mainly as a tourist item) and my work buddy Neil got a hold of some for me to test. This sample also came with a handy guide to hieroglyphics.

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First of all, I noticed how stiff and thick it is. You can clearly see how the fibres have been layered in such a way that it almost looks woven. Because the texture is quite coarse, I was surprised at how easily I could write on it. The fountain pen, sharpie and brush pen all went on smoothly with no feathering and did not bleed through to the other side. It also folds sharply without breaking. No wonder it is so durable that samples of papyrus thousands of years old still exist today.

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When I was in grade six our class studied ancient Egypt and we were each randomly assigned a different topic to write a report on and then illustrate on a large class mural. My topic was papyrus, both the plant and the paper made from it. I recall sketching in many clumps of papyrus along the banks of the Nile River, a much easier assignment than the Temple of Karnak.

As my memory on my grade six research is a little fuzzy, I did an online search of papyrus and found lots of information about the plant and paper, as well as other things called papyrus. For example, there is a font called Papyrus which surprisingly has several hate blogs. Sure, it’s not a font you want to use everyday but it’s no comic sans. There is also a comic book called Papyrus which spawned an animated series and Game Boy video game. In his graphic memoir, Shenzhen, French Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle shared his experience working on this series while living in China. It’s not his best book (I really liked Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea and Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City) but if you keep a special journal where you list all the books you’ve read in a year like I do, you find graphic memoirs are a great way of upping your book count.   

Fun fact from Wikipedia: Papyrus can also refer to a document written on sheets of papyrus joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, an early form of a book. The plural for such documents is papyri.

Although it seems too obvious, but if this sheet of papyrus was a person, it would be an Egyptian with olive skin, shiny black hair, eyes lined with kohl, a sly smile and great dance moves.

 

Clairefontaine multi-subject notebook

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In November I won a medium sized Clairefontaine multi-subject notebook from Quo Vadis. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it. From the outside, it looked like a basic coil bound student notebook but opening it up revealed a rainbow of tabbed graph paper, and what lovely paper it is. Satiny and opaque, my pens and pencils glided smoothly over the paper. Because of the smoothness there was some smudging with the fountain pen but no bleed through except for the Sharpie. With such lovely paper inside, I am surprised they haven’t done more to make the cover reflect the high quality.

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I am still not exactly sure how I will use this notebook. There are twelve tabs with each tab made up of five papers so would work well for a year long project or if you are trying to keep notes on a variety of topics.

Clairefontaine is in the same family as the Habana and Rhodia paper I reviewed last month. It is a French company with very high environmental standards, both with how the trees are harvested and how they manufacture the paper.

If this notebook was a person, it would be a meticulous student with large glasses whose idea of cutting loose is to use coloured paper instead of white. Their backpack has a special pocket with neatly arranged pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, and some novelty erasers. This student will go far!

 

Handmade Paper Valentines

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Many years ago, I took a course through the Edmonton Weavers’ Guild on paper-making. The link between weaving and paper-making may not be obvious but they are both made of fibre and involve creativity. I still have a large supply of paper that was made that day because as it is very porous, it is difficult to write on so really only has craft potential. I have mainly used it in card making.

I am glad I had the opportunity to try out making paper in a studio because unless you have a blender you don’t mind wrecking, sinks you don’t mind clogging, and lots of space, it is not a great activity to do at home. As well, the brightly coloured pages were made from pulp that was dyed with Procion dye which should always be used with caution.

As there is no point in keeping a stash of paper unless you are planning on using it, I decided to make some valentines. The designs of these ones were inspired by a delightful little book called I Love Stationery by Charlotte Rivers, featuring beautifully made stationery from all over the world. One great thing about handmade paper is that it is sturdy enough to hold up to sewing so I incorporated stitching in three of them. I hesitated in posting this blog before Valentine’s Day because some of my dear readers will be the lucky recipients of them but they won’t know which one is meant for them until February 14 so there will still be some surprise.

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If these Valentines were people, they would be chubby cupids showering their love on the beloved recipients.

Coming up next week:  Travel Journals

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

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.

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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!