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  1. In my remote corner of the world, which does not include the abundance of shops dedicated to writing among its many wonders, the appearance of a new type of paper is almost sensational news. On Saturday, my wife and I ventured out for a walk in the "outside world" and passed a shop selling fine arts products, paper, and even some good (and expensive) pens from the Count of Faber Castell. Who could resist poking into a shop like this for the umpteenth time? Among the pads I saw one of Fabriano that I did not know: Fabriano Unica. A thick paper, 250 grams, proposed for art prints and drawing, etching, graphite, charcoal and pastel, and offered in a nice A3 size of 29.7 × 42 cm. Of course, the cover of the pad makes no mention of the use of this pen paper, but the 50% cotton content bodes well. And then, twenty sheets for just over 20 Euros (here in Costa Rica!), with a slightly rough texture and half a promise to work for my calligraphy entertainment, well, it was a frankly irresistible toy for the weekend ... And now at home, to try it, almost running ... Sometimes one has a nice piece of paper waiting for him, but he doesn't have a good idea what to do ... Sometimes he knows what to do, but he doesn't feel like he has the right paper. As for the pen, for those of our group of crazy people, one or ten good pens suitable for the purpose, those are never lacking! But in this case, I had all the ingredients, plus a craving for the test. For some time I had been working on an aphorism dedicated to the "light and firm hand" that is required in calligraphy, and it was only a question of perfecting it a little to put it on the paper in good letters. I had already decided to write a bilingual version, taking the opportunity to compare the flexible nibs of a modern pen and an extraordinary vintage, and now I had 20 large sheets to make my work, as long as the Unica paper worked fine with a pen. Good? Better! Better? More! According to the producer, Unica was born from the collaboration with a group of artists who tested it "in extreme conditions" with various techniques and various media. Whatever the reason for creating this paper, the result is truly remarkable: with a roughness just hinted at, and I would say a little more on the front than on the reverse, a beautiful neutral white color and that weight that, in an A3 sheet, makes it look almost like a cardboard, the Unica is, to see and touch, a superior paper. The ink test has completely convinced me. No feathering, exceptional hold, a superlative ability to retain fine strokes, and that slight feedback on the nib that, at least for me, is essential for controlled writing. Magnificent! I tested it with Montblanc's Permanent Blue, a dense pigmented ink, and the behavior of the 149 Calligraphy's nib was flawless: no hard starts, no reduction in flow, no railroading, and an immediate response to the pressure and release of the pressure on the nib. The Perle Noire by Herbin that I used in the OMAS Gentlemen is a more lubricated ink, but even in this case I have not observed any plucking and the paper has perfectly returned its beautiful dark and neutral black tone. Only in three or four points did the extremely “sharp” tip of the OMAS Extra nib, when closing a curve, scratch the paper fibers, slightly lifting them. Calligraphy test passed with honors! Before letting the image speak, however, I want to say a few more words about the two extraordinary pens I used for the test, the Montblanc Meisterstück 149 Calligraphy and the OMAS Gentlemen with Extra nib, extra-fine size. The latter can be considered, in my range of pens, the one with the sharpest calligraphic nib, due to its fantastic characteristics of flexibility. It's my touchstone for evaluating the capabilities of any sharp writing nib, both fountain and dip nibs. Competing with this nib is difficult because, in my opinion, it is practically perfect. The contender, the Meisterstück 149 Calligraphy, is a pen that I have had for almost a year now and with which I am in love. She has ensured that my other 149s have hardly seen any use in a whole year, except to "pamper" them a little from time to time. And in this test the Calligraphy proves to be a unique example in the panorama of contemporary flexible nibs, holding the duel head to head with my favorite calligraphic nib. There is a difference between the two, again in favor of OMAS, but my Calligraphy is (and will be for some time now) the pen I use the most due to the ease and adaptability of its nib. For this work I put the 149 Calligraphy to write the text in English with a very slanted Spencerian (45 degrees) to differentiate it even more clearly from the Copperplate of almost 60 degrees slant of the Italian text written with the OMAS. It's a difficult inclination, for which the Calligraphy nib was memorable. Its extra fine but round nib really slips nicely on the paper and, even if after pressing it has a less immediate "spring-back" to the quiet state of the OMAS nib, it surpasses it for smoothness and ease in making curves. For the record, I have tried, with both feathers, some "flourish" or embellishment, which I had never tried before. I looked for some examples on the net (there are really breathtaking ones, but they require an expertise that I don't have ...), and I drew all the flourishes on the left side of the texts. Then, on a light-box, I traced them onto another sheet, I turned it over and, on the same light source, I again traced with pen the specular flourishes on the Unica paper. I guess that's not the most orthodox way, but it more or less worked. The two pens performed very well, and the more rounded nib of the Calligraphy is, I would say, easier to "turn" on tight curves. Good week everyone.

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