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December 28, 2011

Top 10 Writer’s Bloc Blog Posts of 2011

While reviewing the events of the past year we compiled a list of our top 10 blog posts from 2011. The results are based on page views, comments, emails and a few other things and they are listed in chronological order. We enjoyed taking a look at the past year and hope you do too!

Refillable Felt-Tip Highlighters

Seems a lot of our readers are concerned about the environment, reusing, recycling and perhaps even saving a little money. This post focuses on highlighters that are specifically made to be refilled.

If Fountain Pens Were Cars

Do you “drive” a fountain pen? If so, what kind of driver are you? Find out in this comparison of fountain pens and cars.

We Love Pencil Pouches!

Anyone that writes needs a place to store and organize their pens and pencils. Spread the pencil pouch love!

Does Fountain Pen Ink Fade With Time?

Fountain pen ink does fade with time, so find out what choices you can make to minimize the fading.

Get Organized with Multiple Subject Notebooks

With my personality I’ll always feel that being organized is a challenge, but it’s nice to know that there are notebooks out there designed to help!

Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

Left-handed writers certainly have a variety of writing methods, hand positions and paper orientation. Here’s my personal experience with using both left and right-handed nibs.

Dual-Purpose Planners With Room For Notes

Combine two books into one by using a planner that gives you extra space for writing notes.

Fountain Pen Friendly Planners

Here’s a list of all the Rhodia, Exacompta and Quo Vadis planners that contain premium 90g Clairefontaine paper. There’s a pretty good chance that if you’re a Writer that uses a fountain pen you’re going to love these planners!

Myndology Bare Memo Pad Review

The most eco-friendly notepads and journals from Myndology are those from their Bare series - find out why in this blog post. As a bonus, they work great with fountain pens!

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

Do you use a fountain pen? How would you define fountain pen friendly paper? Give us a list of your favorites here.

We’re looking forward to a new year of blogging as well as to a new year of insightful, thoughtful and creative posts from the pen and paper blogging community. Thanks everyone for a great year!



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December 21, 2011

Introducing R by Rhodia

R by Rhodia was a new addition to the Rhodia family of notebooks in 2011. What features do these new Rhodia notebooks have to offer?

The paper inside R by Rhodia notebooks is an ivory colored high grade vellum paper. It is made by Clairefontaine and as expected it has that luxuriously smooth finish that is so wonderful to write on. From what I can see, the paper is either the same or very similar to the paper inside the Rhodia Webnotebook. The paper is PEFC Certified so we know it comes from sustainably managed forests and only uses water-based, non-toxic inks. It is 90g and most writers will agree that it works very well with fountain pens.

R by Rhodia notepads have a “soft touch” cover which is coated with a matte finish. It’s a little hard to explain what the “soft touch” finish is exactly – it’s not hard and slippery feeling, but instead feels soft to the touch and gives you a little bit of extra grip. When you flip one of the orange covers over, the reverse side is matte black and when you flip one of the black covers over, the reverse side is matte orange.

There is a piece of stiff cardboard inside the back cover to add support while you’re writing or sketching. The front of the cover is thoughtfully scored so that you can neatly fold it back over the top of your notepad. Each page is microperforated so that you can easily and cleanly remove pages when you want to.

At the time of writing this post, R by Rhodia is only available in the top staple-bound format and comes in three sizes: 3 3/8” x 4 3/4”, 6” x 8 1/4” and 8 1/4” x 11 3/4”. The covers come in either orange or black and the 70 sheets of paper are either blank or lined. We can’t help but feel that the large size notepad’s beautiful ivory colored paper would be great coupled with a fountain pen for use as stationery!

This paper performed well with all of the pens I tried, and I would have to say it performed exceptionally well with fountain pens! Fountain pen ink takes a little while to dry on this smooth finish paper, so because I’m a lefty I smeared the ink a little bit. There was little if any ink feathering, ink bleeding through or ink showing through the paper (except for the Sharpie pen). A very fine quality paper indeed!

(R by Rhodia Ink Test - Front)

(R by Rhodia Ink Test - Back)

Have you tried R by Rhodia yet? What do you think of these premium Rhodia notepads?



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December 14, 2011

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

If you are a writer that uses fountain pens you may have noticed that not all paper is created equal. The performance of your fountain pen may be spectacular on some paper, but less than desirable on others. How do you determine what paper is fountain pen friendly – that will give you the performance you want with your fountain pens? 

The answer to this question is kind of like the answer to the question, “What is a comfortable pair of shoes?” Everyone has their own opinions and not all of them are the same, but there are some similarities in the answers. If you ask the question, “What is the most comfortable pair of shoes in your closet?”, then the answers will vary even more!

Many opinions of what fountain pen friendly paper is will include the following (but not necessarily limited to these things or in this order of importance):

1) The fountain pen ink does not bleed through the paper excessively.

2) The ink is not overly visible from the back side of the page.

3) The ink does not feather or has minimal feathering on the paper.

4) And for the lefties of the world I will add the ink must dry within a reasonable amount of time on the paper! In fact, this personally is my highest priority, otherwise I cannot use the paper with a fountain pen. I’m hoping the use of fast-drying ink will expand my fountain pen friendly paper selection.

If you ask the question, “What fountain pen friendly paper is on your desk?”, you’re likely to get a variety of different answers! Each fountain pen nib, each brand of ink, each color of ink and the paper in each notebook or journal will interact differently when used with each other. The equation pen + paper + ink = good/bad results changes each time you change a component of the equation. This is why in our online store we cannot say for certain which paper is fountain pen friendly and which is not. There are brands of paper that in general are known for good performance with fountain pens, but within a brand there may be several types and grades of paper, some of which may not be so fountain pen friendly.

There are many online reviews of various paper products that can be very helpful in making your choices. The Writer’s Bloc blog has a number of reviews with writing tests showing the performance of a limited number of fountain pen inks on specific paper and notebooks. Before purchasing your journal or notebook, why not do a search on our blog or use any search engine to find some reviews? From our own experience, experimenting yourself with pens, ink and paper will help you to find what you personally like the best.

So I must ask, “What fountain pen friendly paper is on your desk?”



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December 07, 2011

Does Fast-Drying Fountain Pen Ink Feather?

I’m a lefty, and unless I use just the right fountain pen, ink and paper combinations I have trouble with smearing ink all over the paper with my hand. I’ve been thinking of getting some fast-drying fountain pen ink to see if this will allow me to expand my regularly used paper selection. Online reviews of this type of ink sometimes mention that whatever changes are made to the formula of this ink to make it dry more quickly also cause more problems with feathering. Since Noodler’s Bernanke Black and Bernanke Blue just arrived in our shop I thought I’d do a very quick test of this ink on several types of paper to see the results. For this test I used both a J. Herbin glass pen which laid down a ton of ink with the Bernanke inks (the bold and broad writing) and a Platinum Preppy fountain pen with a fine nib. Here are some scans of the results:

Clairefontaine French Ruled Paper - the gold standard. Under a magnifying glass I could see an eensy bit of feathering using a Platinum Preppy fine nib fountain pen, but unmagnified it looks fine. Not shown in this scan, the plentiful ink flowing from the glass pen did cause feathering.

Rhodia grid paper. The abundant flow of ink from the glass pen feathered some, but the Preppy pen writing looked just as good as on the Clairefontaine French ruled paper.

Compendium Live Inspired “Her Words” paper. Same results as the Rhodia paper – the broad line with lots of ink has a bit of feathering, the writing from the fine nib looks good.

Exacompta Basics Forum Journal with blank paper. Bernanke inks behave quite well on this paper, even the broad line from the glass pen had only a little feathering (there is some bleed through, but that is typical of this paper – perhaps this reduces the feathering?).

Leuchtturm1917 blank paper. Some feathering with both the broad and fine tip pens.

Myndology Luna Note paper. More feathering with the broad tip glass pen, less feathering with the fine nib.

Office Max generic top-stapled notepad paper. I imagined that this paper would perform the worst, but it’s actually not too bad. The broad tip glass pen feathered some, but the fine nib is pretty good.

Rhodia Webnotebook lined paper. Under magnification I could see a tiny bit of feathering with the black, but without magnification it looks great! I have not been able to use the Rhodia Webnotebook with a fountain pen because ink usually takes too long to dry on this paper and I smear it. In this test I tried smearing the ink immediately after I wrote with it – probably within one second or less – and the results were pretty good. Bernanke fast-drying ink definitely reduces the smear factor!

My conclusion so far is that fast-drying fountain pen ink does seem to feather more than regular ink, however, I will probably do very well using Noodler’s Bernanke ink with a fine nib fountain pen. It also made me wonder – do the Noodler’s Bernanke inks would work well in dry-writing pens? Does anyone know?

Do you use fast-drying fountain pen ink? What results have you had with feathering? Do you have any favorite fast-drying ink, paper and pen combinations you’d like to share?



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