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Italic Pens On Tomoe, Midori, Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Etc


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First a disclaimer…I am fairly new to the forums…joining only in March. And perhaps this topic has already been written to death. But I’ve been writing cursive italic for 40 years.

Everyone seems to rave about Tomoe paper for writing with fountain pens. But it’s not my favorite writing paper. I know this can vary from person to person, depending on many different things, the pen, the nib, the ink, whether you prefer some “tooth” or not.

Today, I was writing a letter on Tomoe 68 gm paper. I often use an italic fountain pen for my writing….and I write in cursive italic. But I seem to find it difficult to write on Tomoe paper with my italic pens. I was wondering if others had as difficult a time writing on Tomoe as I do. The paper is super thin, which doesn’t particularly bother me. But I think it is the extreme smoothness (almost slipperiness) that gives me trouble. It is so slick that it is difficult to form proper italic letter shapes (I’m talking quickly written cursive…NOT formal italic) and I am not able to get the nice thick and thins that I get with a “toothier” paper. So I got out 6 different types of writing paper that I have on hand:

1. Strathmore Series 400 Calligraphy writing paper 75 gm

2. Rhodia High Grade Vellum Paper 90 gm

3. Tomoe 68 gm paper

4. Triomphe Clairefontaine Vellum paper 90 gm

5. Md Midori Loose leaf paper 70 gm

6. Strathmore Premium Writing Paper 25% cotton 90 g

I took out several different pens with different nibs…from extra fine to medium regular nibs to italic extra fine to double broad. I wrote the same sentence on all the papers with all the various pens and nibs.

I would say both Tomoe and Rhodia paper produced the most “saturated” colors with a higher sheen. Both are very smooth papers. It is difficult for me to control the uniformity of my handwriting as well on these papers. I just don’t have the control of my pens that I would like to have…especially my italic pens. They simply just don’t “feel” as nice to write on as some of the other papers. The ink lines are slightly thicker on both of these papers.

The next smoothest paper was the Triomphe Clairefontaine. I felt I had more control over my pens on this paper. It is slightly “toothier” than the Tomoe and Rhodia. My pens grabbed the paper better, so I had more controll over my pens. The italic pens seemed to work much better on this paper also, providing nice thicks and thins.

Next for me was the MD Midori paper. Very similar to Triomphone Clairefontaine, but just slightly toothier. Writing on this paper was perhaps the best for both regular fountain pens and my italic pens with italic cursive. The ink flowed very well, it was nice and saturated.

Next was the Strathmore Premium Writing Paper 25% cotton. Actually, I really liked writing on this paper also, especially with my regular nibs. The “toothiness” made control of my regular nibs very easy. My italic nibs did not write as well on this paper, since it is rougher than the other papers. Formal italic would work fine but cursive italic handwriting is a little more difficult. My regular fountain pen nibs worked well on this paper. Nice saturated ink and dried quickly.

The last paper, Strathmore Series 400 Calligraphy Writing Paper 75 gm is a bonded paper. So there are very small ridges running through it. Regular fountain pens again worked very well on this paper. But italic cursive writing was the most difficult on this paper because of the ridges in the paper. This paper would be OK for formal italic. The paper itself is the prettiest paper of all 6 that I tried.

Since ALL of the paper I tried is “writing paper,” I really did not have any major problems with bleeding or feathering. Comparing the ghosting from best (least show through) to worse (most show through):

Best: MD Midori


Strathmore Calligraphy Paper

Triomphe Clairefontaine

Strathmore Premium Writing Paper 25% Cotton

Worst: Tomoe 68 gm paper

My conclusions regarding these papers for the way that I write, and the pens that I use:

For both regular nib fountain pens and italic nibs, I prefer both the Midori and Clairefonatine. These 2 papers work the best (FOR ME) as all around writing paper.

For formal italic, I would normally use specialty papers….but the strathmore calligraphy paper, as well as the Midori and Clairefontain could also be made to work okay for formal italic.

If I’m only using regular fountain pen nibs (not italic), then all of them EXCEPT Tomoe and Rhodia. The Tomoe and Rhodia paper are simply to slick for me. I don’t like how my pens feel when I write on these papers, and I am not able to control my pens well. I suppose you could say they are “too buttery” for my taste. Sorry about the pun. I like to be able to have control and “feel” my pens working on the paper. And I do NOT have a heavy hand when I write.


I know most people will probably disagree with me, but that’s just my opinion based on my experience with these papers. In time and with more writing experience, this could change. I’d be curious about how others feel; especially in regard to using italic nibs for cursive handwriting. What paper do you prefer? Which nibs on which paper. And why?

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I've never had an issue with Tomoe River paper. Probably the only one I have not.


Clairefontaine has more "slipperiness" imo. Painfully so.

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It is so slick that it is difficult to form proper italic letter shapes (I’m talking quickly written cursive…NOT formal italic) and I am not able to get the nice thick and thins that I get with a “toothier” paper.


I’d be curious about how others feel; especially in regard to using italic nibs for cursive handwriting. What paper do you prefer? Which nibs on which paper. And why?


Are you talking specifically about this style: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/353946-just-discovered-a-parker-75-with-14k-fine-italic-nib/?p=4325239, or cursive handwriting more generally (with looped joins and all that)?



In any case, I need a non-trivial amount of kinaesthetic feedback to form my pen strokes properly, but especially so when writing in English in a cursive hand where I'm not repositioning the nib deliberately between strokes, so I can't stand the "buttery smooth" writing experience that seems to be sought after by some fellow hobbyists. However, I prefer the "tooth" to primarily come from the nib grind, and not due the surface of the specific type of paper.


In terms of paper, I prefer Rhodia 80g/m² white vellum paper, such as that used in its Dotpads, to Rhodia 90g/m² cream-coloured paper used in its Heritage line of notepads and its Webnotebooks. The former is slicker, but not so much to make the nib glide uncontrollably all over the page; more resistant to ghosting and bleed-through; more likely to exhibit sheen; and the bright white provide stronger contrast to show off the colours of the inks. I also don't personally find reading off a cream-coloured page a more relaxing or pleasant experience; even on printed material, I always prefer a bright white background which is better for my concentration and reading speed.


I have several hundred sheets of (both 52gsm and 68gsm, and both white and cream-coloured) Tomoe River paper here, as well as two Taroko Enigma notebooks, but so far I've only used one sheet (of the white 52gsm) so far. I was wary of the hype on TR, but sucked in all the same, when I ordered the items; and when I finally got around to using it, I was sorely disappointed by the experience and don't see what the fuss is all about. They now all sit at the bottom of a deep drawer somewhere.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Tomoe is my favourite paper, but I use it sparingly because of its price. I love how Tomoe makes an ink look so much more interesting than other kinds of paper do: more vibrant colours, more sheen, more shading. I also prefer how Tomoe “feels under the nib.” It doesn’t feel glassy smooth to me at all.


Clairefontaine, on the other hand, feels like teflon to me. It even makes some of my pens skip or hard start, whereas those same pens never, ever do that on other kinds of paper.


Most of my writing is done on 90 g/m^2 Oxford paper. Excellent paper and very affordable, at least in Europe. Rhodia comes in second, although the difference between the front- and backside of the same page can be disconcerting.


I’m with Dill when it comes to tactile response. Truly glassy smooth nibs don’t offer me the control I need. However, I find there are two aspects to feedback. One is more control. The other one is distraction. I seek out pens that offer good tactile response but where the feedback is not distracting me from the writing. It’s a fine balance. Of course, feedback also depends on paper. Some of my super-glassy-smooth pens perform phenomenally well on cheap office paper and other kinds of non-coated paper.

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