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Unfortunately, I don't own any Clairefontaine, Rhodia, or Apica paper to compare this relatively cheap paper to.
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the "too long;didn't read" version of this review is towards the bottom of this post under "Summary"
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I'm new to fountain pens and I recently discovered the ink+paper combination problem. I didn't see how bad feathering was on some copy and looseleaf filler papers until I started writing in this Smart Living 1 Subject Notebook. I finally understood and saw the qualities of FP friendly paper compared to non-FP friendly paper. The notebook paper extended dry times, resisted feathering so that medium nibs didn't lay down Sharpie marker-like lines, and allowed tiny pools of ink to dry into beautiful varied shades of color.

The notebook cost me a mere $1.50 at my local Giant grocery store. On my most recent grocery run (a day ago from today) I picked up a couple 150 sheet packs of the Smart Living brand's filler paper for about $2 (0.99 per pack).

Here is a picture for anyone interested in searching for this paper after reading this review:
http://24.media.tumblr.com/11a30e18203536646a54510326c634dd/tumblr_mnlsrstyZO1r4c920o1_500.jpg

I don't recommend the notebook if you're looking for sturdiness. The covers feel like floppy posterboard and the pages aren't securely bound. The pages began falling apart upon opening the notebook. This issue of securing pages together could probably be resolved by tying some string into the binder holes, or you could just stick the notebook in a binder.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/8e9425955dd1c5ac5be3a0f4e98a4ec7/tumblr_mnlsrstyZO1r4c920o2_1280.jpg


I removed a sheet of notebook paper for the writing sample. I torture-tested the paper's ability to resist bleedthrough with a THICK Sharpie marker and found little bleedthrough. The only negative trait of this paper is its ghosting, but the ghosting loses its noticeability after you write over both sides of the paper.
note: there was a SLIGHT bit of feathering with the Conklin blue cartridge ink. What may appear to be feathering with the Monteverde ink is actually just bad handwriting due to a slightly shakey hand.


http://25.media.tumblr.com/0536a98597f7669762dee6827ccc4b19/tumblr_mnlsrstyZO1r4c920o5_1280.jpg


Backside of the notebook paper:

http://25.media.tumblr.com/238878dbe0d4c67c5d9abca6efdd6d31/tumblr_mnlsrstyZO1r4c920o6_1280.jpg

Like I mentioned earlier, the ghosting is prominent but bleedthrough isn't a problem whatsoever : )

The filler paper offered a completely different performance. The filler paper feels much thinner and flimsier. The surface of the paper is rough compared to the surprisingly smooth surface of the notebook paper.

Ink didn't feather too much on this paper. Monteverde "Blue Black" (more like a blue-gray, I bought it for the grayish color) and Conklin blue had a little bit of feathering (hardly noticeable to me). Lexington gray and Monteverde Blue-Black managed a little bit of shading.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/2cceaab5ab2daad75598255e8aafa70c/tumblr_mnlsrstyZO1r4c920o3_1280.jpg



The one quality of this paper that may turn people from purchasing it is its bleedthrough problems.

Backside of the filler paper:

http://25.media.tumblr.com/4dbf66b0f3af2d4be9eecde90cf41396/tumblr_mnlsrstyZO1r4c920o4_1280.jpg

I didn't bother with treating this paper to a Sharpie bleedthrough test. I think you can see why. This paper would probably bleed ink onto surfaces beneath it if extremely wet broad and flex nibs are used. But for the price of the paper? Sorry, I have to quote Macklemore here: "it was 99 cents!"

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Summary:

Smart Living 1 Subject Notebook 80 Sheets, $1.50

Smart Living Filler Paper Pack 150 Sheets, $0.99

Be on the lookout for the Smart Living Notebooks, the paper quality in the notebooks is different from the filler paper. I'm sure the notebook paper isn't on par with Rhodia and Clairefontaine paper, but you're getting a smooth surfaced feather and bleedthrough free paper for a dollar. The notebook's pages aren't securely bound, but that issue can be cheaply remedied by tying some string through the binder holes. (at least the pages are easy to remove for binder/notebook system filling if you don't want to put up with the whole notebook)

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Look for the 150 sheet packs of Smart Living filler paper if you...

  • usually write on one page
  • use fine and medium nibs
  • are okay with a slightly rough paper surface
  • don't mind flimsy (compared to 32 lb copy paper) paper.
Edited by apkayle
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Nice review. Where (city, please) did you buy them? Do they also come in very small booklets, like for my T-shirt pocket?

 

Mike

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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Nice review. Where (city, please) did you buy them? Do they also come in very small booklets, like for my T-shirt pocket?

 

Mike

 

 

I bought them in Lorton Virginia. I didn't see any small booklets though. : /

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It is amazing that sometimes the paper we use, regardless of cost can be quite good.

 

When I find some low cost paper I want to test, I go ahead and buy it. If it works well, great I continue to use it.

 

If not, then the local non-profit gets a donation.

“Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you do it today and like it, you can do again tomorrow!”

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