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  1. Milligram has been offering its stock of black-covered Bloc Rhodia No.18 80g/m² lined (A4-sized, 7mm-ruled, with blue horizontal lines and a red vertical margin line) notepads on clearance for a week now, for A$5 each [/and/] with a “buy 3 for the price of 2” offer. The effective price is therefore A$10 for three, or $3.33 each when you buy in multiples of three on a single order, and that's if the purchaser is not eligible for any other discounts (such as the "Friends For Life" discount of 10% site-wide) that apply. I imagine it may be obstacle to some (or even most) prospective customers that the threshold for free domestic shipping on a single order is $69 (after discounts); without the FFL discount, one has to order 21 of those notepads at once to avoid the $5.99 delivery charge which would dilute the effective discount on the order, and 24 of them with the FFL discount. However, Milligram just announced today (a few hours ago) that it's offering free shipping for orders of $29 or more, for a limited time only. That means one can buy just nine of those notepads, delivery included, for a $30 outlay without the FFL discount, or get twelve notepads delivered for $36 with the FFL discount, if he/she uses an Australia delivery address. (Since Milligram delivers using Australia Post Parcel post service, Parcel Locker and Parcel Collection addresses are OK, as well as PO Boxes and physical/street addresses in Australia.) When I checked less than ten minutes ago, the maximum number of these notepads the system will accept on a single order is 426 — down from 472 three days ago — so I'll assume that's what Milligram thinks it has in stock and wants to clear. Rhodia paper fans, knock yourself out! Edit: Updated stock level
  2. Buying from Daiso these days is trickier than it used to be. Some items are no longer sold at the headline (and baseline) price that serves as the primary drawcard to get prospective customers browsing, and I'd hazard a guess that most of the items in the store are not made in Japan. Nevertheless, when I have some time to kill, I pop in and look for products that are made in Japan and offered at the brand's baseline price. I picked up one of the B7-sized, 7mm-ruled memo pad in the D-98 series — which, if I'm not mistaken, covers different sizes of the same make — the other day to give it a whirl. This product series has the sort of styling that is seen in numerous Japanese notebooks, including some of the Apica ones; but, unlike the Apica notebooks I have, the colour of the paper in Daiso's D-98 series is cream instead of white. These memo pads are offered with blank pages (and a white top cover) and 5mm line grid paper (with a crimson top cover) as well. The paper weight is not specified, but at a rough guess it's no less than 80g/m². The pad contains 100 sheets and is about 12mm thick including the covers. Binding is by glue at the top edge in portrait orientation, so the entire surface area of each sheet is available on which to be written; that's a plus, with the caveat that the pages can come loose if you tug on it the 'wrong' way, stick a thick-enough backing sheet between pages, or bend a sheet backwards across the spine. The lines are only printed on the recto side, and they are narrow enough and light enough (in a bluish grey colour) so as not to be obtrusive. The verso side of each page is blank; that's another feature I personally like in smaller notepads such as this. Size-wise, it's far more usable than A7 notepads I've tried recently, and at 100 pages per pad I'd argue this product offers better practical value (for the same price) than, say, the 'Smart Working' A7 dot grid notepad which is another Daiso-branded product. But what about performance when used with fountain pen and inks? Sheen: You can get sheen from some inks on the paper in this memo pad, but nowhere near the monster sheen from the 'Smart Working' notepad; and, Platinum Carbon Black and Sailor souboku pigment inks do not exhibit sheen on the Daiso D-98 series as far as I've observed. That might be a good or bad thing, depending on your preferences, especially when it comes to the use of 'sombre' (and waterproof!) black and blue-black inks. (Check out the difference in performance of Diamine Iridescink Robert on those two products, though.) Bleed-through: In spite of having thicker paper than in the Daiso 'Smart Working' notepad or Maruman m.memo notepad, I observed more bleed-through with the paper in the D-98 series. However, I'm really talking about a few tiny spots, and only with Platinum Carbon Black (from a Fine nib) and Sailor Shikiori yodaki (from a Stub nib, which I don't imagine would be the common choice of pen/nib to use on a small A7- or B7-sized notepad). Ghosting or show-through: This paper is more resistant to show-through of writing on the other side of the page than either the 'Smart Working' or m.memo pads, by virtue of being significantly thicker in each sheet. Feathering: There is a tiny bit of feathering observed with some inks, when I look closely enough, but I haven't tested this thoroughly enough to conclude whether that's the result of the coating being compromised by skin oils and such in certain spots on the page. On the whole, there is little or no feathering with a variety of fountain pen inks. The coating on this paper seems to pick up (and be observably affected by) oils and grease rather readily. Even though my eyes couldn't pick up the spots of grease on the paper while I was looking at it, my camera had no problem capturing them in photos that weren't specifically focused on doing so. Overall, I'd say the paper quality and coating resilience is best in the Maruman m.memo notepad, then the Daiso 'Smart Working' notepad, and only then this Daiso D-98 series memo pad. However, for the thickness of paper and larger surface area that the latter offers, it is arguably better value than the first two, especially if you prefer cream-coloured paper to bright white or a coolish 'off-white' grey. Would I buy more of these? Probably, but only because the 'Smart Working' notepad is not available in B7 or A6 size (with few pages if need be), as far as I'm aware.
  3. N.B. This is neither intended nor written as a review of the paper product. I remember reading somewhere that Daiso's 'Complete' range of notebooks made in Indonesia is sufficiently fountain pen friendly. From what I've seen, my conclusion is no, it isn't — in spite of exhibiting good resistance to feathering — and thus a proper review (by me anyway) is not warranted.
  4. Recently, I picked up a number of different Japanese-made A7 and B7 sized notepads from Daiso. I have yet to get around to using them, but they reminded me that I also bought a Bloc Rhodia No.11 notepad several months ago (at 50% off) for A$2. It's not that I can think of a good use for a notepad of that size, but in the case of the Rhodia, the purpose was primarily to trigger a special offer for a free hardcover A6 Rhodiarama notebook (with free shipping to boot, for a reason that was not a term of that offer). The Bloc Rhodia No.11 notepad is A7 in size (7.4cm x 10.5cm), and has 80 sheets of 7mm-ruled 80g/m2 white vellum paper that is made in France. The pages are bound by a single staple near the top edge in portrait orientation, and each page is finely perforated across the top about 1.35cm below the top edge of the paper for easy detachment. As with other Bloc Rhodia notepads, that means the available writing area is rather less than the nominal size of the notepad; in this case, approximately 13% of each page is lost to the binding above the perforations. The paper is quite typical of this line of Rhodia products in terms of smoothness and whiteness, and generally speaking it is quite resistant to feathering, ghosting and bleed-through when used with fountain pen inks. I can see shading even when writing on it with very fine nibbed pens. There's a bit of 'woolly' outline when writing on it with Sailor kiwaguro pigment ink using a Stub nib, but the effect is quite inconsistent from one page to the next. (See images (2a) and (2b).) I attribute that to the obviously uneven application of coating to the paper, even on the recto side. Even though I didn't feel more feedback or friction resulting from that, at some random spots on the page the coating is so lacking and/or defective that half a word may cause terrible feathering and bleed-through see images (3a) and (3b) even though the other half of the word doesn't. On the verso side the inconsistency in the coating is more evident; using the same pen and ink on the same spot, to write exactly the same thing with the same handwriting technique, on consecutive pages can give noticeably different line widths and/or levels of ink spread and feathering. (Compare images (4a) and (4b); (5a) and (5b); and (6a) and (6b).) On where the coating is not defective, ink can take relatively long to dry. The marks seen in image (7a) are not the results of bleed-through from the writing on the verso side of sheet #3, but just smearing from touching the verso side of sheet #2. Frankly, this isn't a product I can find any reason to recommend, even though I'm usually a Rhodia fan. It's expensive, the size is impractical unless you have a really small pocket that can nevertheless handle a 1cm-thick notepad, the unavailability of 13% of the already small paper surface for writing is annoying, and the paper quality is poor on account of the inconsistent coating, not that I expect anyone to put such a notepad to use with calligraphic or artistic endeavours.
  5. I discovered these two sites a few weeks ago when I was looking for templates to print on my own paper for writing practice. I figured some of you might be interested in thiese two sites: http://www.printablepaper.net/ This site has all sorts of line templates available to print on your paper at home. Everything from the basic notebook line rule to college rule,,, 5mm square or dot, French ruled and tons more. All for free. The drawback is they have their website address at the bottom left od the template and you can't remove it unless you do it through some sort of photo editor program. I have printed some of the templates out on some of the nicer laser copy paper I have and was surprised. I have yet to get any expensive paper but will definitely be using this site when I do. http://www.freeprintablestationery.net/ Self explanitory and the designs are somewhat generic but some of you might find some you like. I for one am making some of my own stationary using some of my fine art photography as backgrounds.

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