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  1. The Paper Plane – Kobeha GRAPHILO A5 paper I've been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper or notebook that will let you capture your thoughts. So here comes the "Paper Plane", where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I've enjoyed using over the years. Today's guest: Kobeha GRAPHILO A5 loose-sheet paper. A short while ago, Catherine from Sakura brought this paper to my attention. Since I’m always on the lookout for the “perfect” paper, I got me a 50-sheet pack to try it out. The packaging doesn’t mention the paper’s gsm, and online searches give contradictory information: it seems to be somewhere in the 80-85 gsm range. Also, not a cheap paper: at 11 EUR for a 50-sheet pack of A5 paper, it sits squarely in the high-price range. GRAPHILO paper is produced by Kobeha (www.kobeha.com), a Japanese company that – like many – was searching for the perfect fountain pen paper. They developed GRAPHILO paper as a cooperation between paper makers and fountain pen lovers. According to Kobeha’s website, the paper satisfies the following requirements (I used Google Translate to go from Japanese to English): Wet and abundant ink flow: This feeling is expressed by the word “Nurunura”. By using a filler that covers the surface firmly even if it is applied thinly, GRAPHILO paper succeeds in reducing the occurrence of bleeding and thickening of characters. Reducing strike-through: by adjusting the composition of the filler, it is difficult for the ink to strike-through even if you use a bold nib. Reducing the difference between the front and back of the paper: there is always a difference between front/back of the paper, due to manufacturing constraints. With some paper, this can result in a very different writing experience. With GRAPHILO paper, special attention was given to suppress the difference between front and back. Above is a photo from a writing sample on GRAPHILO paper. I used a couple of different inks, with a variety of nib sizes. The ink names beneath the swatches were written with a glass dip pen. From this writing test, I can confirm that Kobeha’s statements are not merely a marketing blur. This really is excellent paper. With normal use there is no see-through or bleed-through. At one spot on the paper, I did my best to add ink to a single point until it bled through the paper. I finally succeeded, but it takes effort. I also enjoyed the feeling of the pen gliding across the paper. It writes very smoothly, while still maintaining feedback, so that you can still “touch” the paper with your pen. Really nicely done, and something that has to be experienced. Your writing looks crisp and clear – no feathering at all, and the lines are really well defined (with sharp edges). Colours look more vibrant on GRAPHILO paper: my impression is that they look a bit lighter/brighter on GRAPHILO, when compared with other paper brands. The scan above shows the front and back side of my writing test. Here the one weakness of the paper is clearly evident: drying times are slow… Kobeha mentions this on their website: “GRAPHILO tends to have a slightly slower penetration of ink because it gives a wet writing taste”. And this is definitely an understatement. With normal writing, drying times are on the long side, but there will always be areas of the paper where the ink pooled a bit more, and these take ages to dry completely. I marked some areas on the page where smudging occurred even after 30 minutes of dry-time. What’s happening (I think) is that the ink’s dyes don’t penetrate and get bound to the paper in these places, and as such remain prone to smudging. When you use this paper in a journal, it’s best to put a piece of blotting paper at the last written page – I’m sure this will help. Below is a photo comparing GRAPHILO paper with two reference papers: Rhodia N°16 80 gsm and Tomoe River 52 gsm. Conclusion Kobeha GRAPHILO paper is definitely worth the try. It feels high-quality and luxurious, and gives that nice soft feedback while writing that I really appreciate. Technical characteristics are top-notch: no feathering, no see-through & bleed-through, sharp & well-defined lines. The one drawback are the long dry-times, and the smudge-proneness – you really need a sheet of blotting paper with this one. Overall, a nice addition to my set of test papers. I will definitely add it to the papers I use in my ink reviews.
  2. The Paper Plane – Miquelrius 1839 Soft recycled leather notebook I've been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper or notebook that will let you capture your thoughts. So here comes the "Paper Plane", where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I've enjoyed using over the years. Today's guest: Miquelrius 1839 Soft recycled leather notebook. I recently bought a couple of Miquelrius notebooks at a local warehouse. Miquelrius is a Spanish company that produces high quality paperware, but in this case I got me the eco-friendly edition: a soft-cover notebook containing 200 pages of 80 gsm 100% recycled paper. The covers have a nice look and feel, and they too are made from recycled leather (75% leather fibers + 25% natural latex). A nice feature of the Miquelrius notebook is that it opens fairly flat, making it easier to write in. The notebook has a very minimalistic style: a textured but plain cover, containing the pages that are glued to the spine – that’s basically it. On the backside the non-obtrusive branding mentioning “Miquelrius 1839”. The one remaining question: can this notebook be used successfully with fountain pens? For the test, I used a number of different pens and inks – covering the complete range from wet to dry. I also did some ink swabs with a cotton Q-tip. The recycled paper handled the ink quite well. There’s almost no visible feathering – you need to look very closely to find a few occurrences where light feathering is present. What I really like is the way inks look on this paper – ink colours are expressed quite beautifully. That’s a big plus! But… turn the page, and you’ll see the downside of recycled paper. It is very absorbent, and there is quite a lot of see-through and bleed-through. When using a fountain pen with this notebook, you won’t be able to used the backside of the pages. Conclusion This Miquelrius notebook with 80 gsm recycled paper is an eco-friendly version of their higher-end notebooks. Unfortunately, inks exhibit excessive see-through and bleed-through, which makes this notebook unsuitable for use with fountain pens. Which is a pity, because inks look really beautiful on this recycled paper. In my opinion, this is a ballpoint-only notebook, which might be a good alternative for the more well-known Moleskine.
  3. The Paper Plane – Endless Explorer – Refillable Leather Journal I’ve been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper or notebook that will let you capture your thoughts. So here comes the “Paper Plane”, where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I’ve enjoyed using over the years. Today’s guest is the Endless Explorer, a refillable leather journal in the style of the well-known Traveler’s Journal. This journal is produced by Endless Stationery, a company that clearly states its focus on simplicity, aesthetics and service. With this Refillable Leather Journal they really succeed on all fronts, as will become clear during this review. The camel-brown Leather Journal comes packaged in a nice sturdy box. Within the box is a “thank you” leaflet, the leather cover itself and one Storyboard notebook refill. With the cover you also receive an attractive and very functional pen-loop. Nice packaging and aesthetically pleasing. I also appreciate the Explorer’s dimensions – at 5.1” x 7.5” it is almost A5-sized, and a much more practical size than the more rectangular Traveler’s Journal. The Leather Cover is almost brand-free – the back shows a small embossed “Endless” logo, and that’s it. The Explorer can comfortably hold from 1 to 3 Storyboard notebooks. For the first notebook, you use an elastic band that also serves to close the cover. An additional two elastic bands (orange and red) wrap around the leather cover, each capable of holding an extra Storyboard refill. I personally prefer to use the Explorer with 3 notebook inserts: one is used as a bullet journal, one for meeting notes, and one for mindmapping. This setup serves me well. The leather cover is designed to age quickly and gracefully – gathering patina and scratches. My notebook cover is brand-new and has already collected some scratches. This will give it a worn and well-used look, which is totally intentional, and fits the travel-journal style. For refills, the Explorer uses large Storyboard notebooks – which are either lined or dot-grid. The dimensions are close to an A5 size, and these notebooks fit perfectly within the leather cover. I got me dot-grid versions of these refills – the grid is fairly light and unobtrusive. The best part of the Storyboard notebooks is undoubtedly their paper. Just as with the Endless Recorder notebooks, the Storyboard refills use 68 gsm Tomoe River paper, which is extremely fountain-pen friendly. For a work-journal I much prefer this heavier paper over the more flimsy 52 gsm version. This 68 gsm Tomoe River paper is fountain pen heaven! Some show-through is present, but never disturbing. And to get any bleed-through, you have to try very hard, almost pouring ink on the page. I got some bleed-trough with Noodler’s ink wetly applied with a glass dip pen. When writing with normal fountain pens in any nib sizes, it’s perfectly ok to use both sides of the page. This paper can handle basically anything you throw at it. Superb ! Conclusion If you like minimalist notebooks, the Endless Explorer Refillable Leather Journal is definitely worth looking at. The concept is similar to the well-known Traveler’s Journal, but with a more sensible 5.1” x 7.5” width-height ratio, that is close to A5. And the paper used by the Storyboard refills is simply sublime! The price is also very reasonable: 49 EUR for the Refillable Leather Cover, and 8.50 EUR for the 64-page Storyboard refills (taxes included). I love my Endless Recorder notebooks, but they have now met their replacement. This Explorer will from now on serve as my daily capture tool.
  4. The Paper Plane - Exacompta Bloc FAF I've been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper or notebook that will let you capture your thoughts. So here comes the "Paper Plane", where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I've enjoyed using over the years. Today's guest is the Exacompta desktop note block, a handy tool for quickly jotting down short notes. Founded in 1928, Exacompta was originally a workshop for the production of account books and diaries. This workshop is located in Paris on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, in buildings designed by the architect Paul Friesé. Now a historic monument, the site extends to adjoining buildings and is home to the largest factory in the heart of Paris where stationery, filing and diaries are still manufactured. The Exacompta Bloc FAF (Fabriqué en France) is a nice-looking desktop note block with a retro design. It essentially consists of an aluminum baseplate with brass screws and washers to fixate a pad of loose-leaf paper. Simple but effective. The result is a very functional note block, that looks much better on your desk than a pack of post-it notes. The note block comes in three different sizes (170x100 mm, 197x115 mm and 220x135 mm). I got myself the small version which fits just perfect on my desk. Small rubber feet ensure that the note block stays in place while taking notes. All in all, a very functional desktop accessory with a cool design. And an inexpensive one at that: the 170x100 small version costs 19,95 EUR (taxes included) and comes with a 170-page bloc of paper. Refills can be bought for 4,50 EUR. Exacompta uses Clairefontaine 70 gsm paper for its refills. The paper has a light-grey 5 mm dot-grid, and is fountain-pen friendly. Sheets are micro-perforated at the top, making it super easy to tear off a page. Below is a photo of the front and back of a sheet of paper, on which I made some scribbles with multiple pen/ink combinations. If you are looking for an alternative for the boring pack of post-it notes, this desktop block with its good-looking retro design certainly fits the bill.
  5. The Paper Plane – Endless Recorder A5 Notebook (dotted) A while ago I reviewed the Endless Recorder A5, which is a great fountain pen friendly notebook with 68 gsm Tomoe River paper. With the somewhat heavier 68 gsm paper the pages are a bit less flimsy, which suits me better for an EDC notebook that gets intensive use at the office. And you keep the advantages of Tomoe River paper: the notebook can handle practically any ink & nib size with close to zero see-through and bleed-through. Here I give you an update to my previous review, where I examine the dotted version of this notebook. Same paper, but with a dot-grid that makes this notebook more suitable for use as a daily recorder. The dotted version of the Endless Recorder has some nice features compared to the plain paper version I reviewed before: At the beginning of the notebook there are a couple of “Table of Content” pages, that can be used to build the index for your bullet journal, All the pages in the notebook are numbered, so you don’t have to do this yourself, The pages are printed with a 5mm dot-grid, that is very light and unobtrusive. This grid makes it very easy to do structured notetaking (where you use indentation to structure your notes), At the back of the notebook a sleeve is provided, that you can use to stow away some loose scraps of paper. This is a feature that I appreciate … I often use this to store away businesscards, receipts, etc before processing them in the evening, At the back of the notebook are 16 perforated sheets, that make it easy to cleanly tear out a sheet when you need a loose piece of paper. All these features make for an excellent notebook for those of us that use bullet journaling as a tool for bringing structure to our work. The only disadvantage the Endless Recorder has is the lack of a pen loop. In my opinion, this should be a standard feature on A5 type notebooks, that are typically meant to be carried around. Well … that’s easily remedied: the first thing I do when putting this notebook to use is adding a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop. Just stick it to the end of your notebook, and you’re ready to go (and you can even match the colour ;-). Conclusion If you like minimalist notebooks, the Endless Recorder is definitely worth looking at. This is basically the Moleskine for fountain pen enthousiasts. The same look&feel, but with divine paper instead of the crappy stuff that Moleskine uses. I use my notebook as a meeting notes recorder, and am perfectly happy with it.
  6. The Paper Plane - TACCIA Ukiyo-e Prime A5 notebook I've been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper or notebook that will let you capture your thoughts. So here comes the "Paper Plane", where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I've enjoyed using over the years. Today's guest is the TACCIA Ukiyo-e Prime A5 notebook, a small and elegant notebook with some very fine paper. This TACCIA notebook is a rebranded form of the Nakabayashi Prime A5 notebook. In fact, all of the TACCIA Ukiyo-e inks & corresponding paper happen to be rebranded Nakabayashi products. The latter company was founded in 1923 with a focus on library book binding and restoration of old documents. Later, Nakabayashi added stationery products like address books, notebooks and office products to their portfolio. For each of the 16 TACCIA Ukiyo-e inks, there is a corresponding A5 notebook, featuring the same Ukiyo-e painting on its cover. For this review, I describe the Sharaku Prime A5 notebook, which has a picture of the actor Otani Oniji III as Yakko Edobe on its cover. Yakko Edobe is a villainous rogue who plots to steal money from the servant Ippei. Otani Oniji's leering face, shown in three quarter view, bristling hair, and groping outstretched hands capture the ruthless nature of this wicked henchman. Aside from the difference in covers, all notebooks of the Ukiyo-e series have the same technical characteristics. The notebook itself is only one part of a stationery set, which also includes the corresponding ink, letter envelopes and paper, greeting cards, ... But let us focus on the notebook, which is the centerpiece of this review. I got mine as a gift from Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery and was told that it was worth checking out - thank you Catherine. This is an A5 size notebook (148x210 mm), containing 48 pages of ruled paper. These are minimalistic, but perfectly constructed notebooks; the beautiful covers form the only ornamentation. Inside there are no distractions - only light-grey ruled lines on the paper (with an 8 mm spacing). The first and last rule on each page are a tiny bit darker, framing the page and adding to its elegance. The notebook lays very flat when opened. This is due to the way it is stitched together. Each notebook consists of a number of 6 page bundles, with every bundle (or signature as it is called in bookbinding parlance) built from 3 A4 pages, that are folded over and stitched together to form a small booklet of 6 A5 pages. Stitch together 8 of these signatures, and you get a very flat-laying 48 page notebook. This A5 notebook uses 75 gsm Nakabayashi paper that is very fountain pen friendly. The paper is smooth but still has a tiny bit of tooth to it. This makes it a joy to write on. It has an off-white colour, but it's still close to white, certainly not yellowish. Inks look fantastic on this paper, and even with wet pens and broad nibs there is zero feathering. Looking at the backside, there is almost no see-through, and zero bleed-through - even when doing ink swabs on the paper. You can easily use both sides of the page in this notebook. This is really top-notch paper! Excellent! Conclusion If you like small and elegant notebooks, the TACCIA Ukiyo-e series of A5 notebooks is worthy of your attention. Great fountain pen friendly paper that is pure pleasure to write on. I can see myself using these little notebooks for theme-specific purposes - e.g. as an ink journal, reading journal, ... Beautiful pieces of stationery! I'm glad I discovered them.
  7. The Paper Plane – Endless Recorder A5 Notebook I've been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper or notebook that will let you capture your thoughts. So here comes the "Paper Plane", where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I've enjoyed using over the years. Today's guest is the Endless Recorder A5 notebook, a minimalist notebook with some very fine paper. This notebook is produced by Endless Works, a company that clearly states its focus on simplicity, aesthetics and service. With this notebook they really succeed on all fronts, as will become clear during this review. The notebook comes packaged in a cool cotton bag with an integrated pen loop. Nice packaging, aesthetically pleasing, but not really practical. The pen-loop is pretty useless... just try to insert a pen into a loop attached to a cotton bag... an exercise in frustration. Anyway - I don't see anyone using this bag to stow their notebook away. But enough of the bag. It's what's inside that counts. And within this bag comes a gem of a notebook. I got me the plain version of the Endless Recorder, but there's also a dotted version for those who prefer this. The notebook has a truly minimalist look... it's just a plain notebook with a ribbon to mark your place and an elastic band to keep it closed. That's basically it. The notebook comes with some goodies, including a ruled/lined sheet that you can use as a guide while writing on the blank pages. The notebook's cover is almost brand-free. The front shows the small embossed "Endless" logo, and the back mentions the brand's name. The cover itself is made from faux-leather that feels nice to the touch. At the back of the notebook a sleeve is provided, that you can use to stow away some loose scraps of paper. This is a feature that I appreciate... I often use this to store away businesscards, receipts, etc before processing them in the evening. Putting all of this together, you basically get the Moleskine look & feel. The only difference being that this notebook is A5 size, and a bit wider than a standard Moleskine notebook (14cm vs 13cm). Back in my ballpoint days, I really liked the Moleskine for its elegant simplicity. But once I discovered fountain pens, the days of Moleskine ended for me due to its horrible fountain-pen unfriendly paper. Enter the Endless Recorder. This is the Moleskine made for fountain pen enthousiasts. It contains 192 pages of 68 gsm Tomoe River paper. And this paper is sublime. It's a bit heavier than the standard 52 gsm Tomoe River paper I normally use. This makes it feel a bit less flimsy, and better suited for a notebook. This paper is fountain pen heaven! There is zero bleed-through, even with ink swabs using wet inks. Show-through is present, but not disturbing. It's perfectly ok to use both sides of the page. This paper can handle basically anything you throw at it. Super ! Below I show you the front & back of a page, on which I scribbled away with different pen/ink combinations. As you can see, you get the experience you expect from Tomoe River paper. Conclusion If you like minimalist notebooks, the Endless Recorder is definitely worth looking at. This is basically the Moleskine for fountain pen enthousiasts. The same look&feel, but with divine paper instead of the crappy stuff that Moleskine uses. I use my notebook as a meeting notes recorder, and am perfectly happy with it.
  8. The Paper Plane : Paperblanks Embellished Manuscripts I've been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper or notebook that will let you capture your thoughts. So here comes the "Paper Plane", where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I've enjoyed using over the years. Today's guest is the Paperblanks Embellished Manuscripts journal, and more specifically the Ultra variant of this nice piece of stationary. The Paperblanks company was founded in 1992 in Vancouver, Canada, by Victor L. Marks. As stated on their website paperblanks.com, he was driven by his passion for beautiful journals: "The joy for me is in making beautiful books that people use as a creative tool in their personal lives." No kiddin' - this is a really spot-on characterization of these notebooks. Paperblanks journals have beautiful cover designs, and even more importantly, they are quite suited for writing with a fountain pen. My own favourite of the Paperblanks variants is the Embellished Manuscript style with the magnetic wrap closure and 144 pages of ivory-coloured paper. And I always choose the Ultra size with blank pages, which is more or less an A5-size. For me, this is the ultimate tool for personal journaling. A beautiful piece of stationary, that invites you to slow down your life a bit, and share some daily thoughts with the paper. These journals come in a huge variety of cover designs, so you're sure to find some that are to your liking. Each Embellished Manuscript journal models its design on a manuscript page from a well-known personality - a writer, composer, inventor, scientist, ... Attention to detail is amazing. The front cover typically shows an embossed page from the author's manuscript. In the sample above, I show the front cover of the Bram Stoker journal, based on the Dracula novel. The colour palette follows the topic ... in this case the pale white of the vampire, with the red blood splotches. The author's name in his/her own handwriting is embossed on the magnetic wrap closure. The back cover continues the theme and gives the author's dates of birth and dead, and the name of the work from which the cover design is taken. At the back of the journal, you'll find more extensive biographical information about the author and her/his work. You'll also find a back pocket for storing some memorabilia. I really appreciate the attention that is given to all these details. For a fountain pen user, the most important part of a journal is undoubtedly its paper. Let's have a closer look to see if it's fountain pen friendly. Paperblanks paper has a nice off-white ivory colour, that is gentle on the eyes in any lighting conditions. It's also acid-free paper, making it very durable - your notebooks will easily survive for centuries when proper care is taken. The paper for the Embellished Manuscripts journals is on average 120 gsm, with some slight variability due to the production process. Technically, it is "laid paper", which gives it a nice textured surface. It follows the traditional laid pattern with a series of wide-spaces lines (chain lines) parallel to the shorter side of the paper, and more narrowly spaced lines (laid lines) at 90 degrees to the chain lines. For more detail have a look at Wikipedia (search on "laid paper") for lots of interesting details. Suffice it to say that the result is a nicely textured writing surface. The paper takes fountain pen ink really well - typically without feathering, see-through or bleed-through (although I must confess that I occasionally encounter an ink with some slight see-through - but that's really the exception). Conclusion The Paperblanks Embellished Manuscript notebooks are my personal favourite for daily journaling. I really like the practical design with the magnetic wrap closure, and of course the multitude of simply gorgeous cover choices. And the ivory paper with its textured tactile feel works really well with fountain pens, and can take almost all inks without glitches (no feathering, no see-through or bleed-through). At about 22 EUR, they are certainly good value for money. I've been enjoying these journals for about 5 years now, and will most certainly continue using them. Highly recommended !





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