Fountain pens are having somewhat of a renaissance – they’re our bestselling pen variety at Milligram, quite a change from five years ago when people were still all about ballpoint! Fountain pens are more adventurous to write with, allowing you to experiment with colour, nibs and styling. But if you love fountain pens, you’ll also have learned that finding fountain pen friendly paper is critical. And not all papers are created equal.
So what makes paper ‘fountain pen friendly’? What are the problems inherent in using paper that isn’t fountain pen friendly? And, which brands are your safest choice for fountain pens?
Common problems of non-fountain pen friendly paper
Feathering is when the ink lines won’t stay cleanly defined on the page. It’s when the ink creeps out amongst the paper’s fibres. Cheap notebook paper usually experience the most feathering. However, which ink you use, or nib size, can also contribute to feathering. Finer nibs and drier inks are less prone to feathering.
Show-through is largely driven by how thick the paper is – the higher the paperweight (gsm), the less likely you’ll experience show-through. So, a lovely thick paper stock is unlikely to experience show-through. One exception to this is the very light 52 gsm Tomoe River paper that comes from Japan. It’s extremely lightweight but has very little show-through. The colour and brightness of inks may also affect show-through – in our tests, red inks were more likely to have faint show-through.
If a paper is overly absorbent, or too thin, you’ll experience bleed-through. An extremely inky pen may also cause bleed-through. Fountain pen friendly papers have fibres blended to resist bleed-through, but you may sometimes still be able to see a shadow of what you’ve written on the other side. Finding minimal bleed-through is going to be about a paper/nib/ink perfect combination.
Other issues to consider
Smoothness / Smudging
When writing with fountain pens, it’s a better experience if the paper is smooth, not scratchy. To achieve this smoothness, fountain pen friendly paper usually has a coating applied. However, this can negatively affect drying time, which can lead to smudging if you are a fast writer or someone who rests their hands on the page while writing, which is quite common amongst left-handers.
You’ll get the best experience of vibrant fountain pen ink colours on white paper, but fountain pen friendly papers tend to come in both white and off-white/cream. So it’s ultimately a matter of personal taste.
In summary: Not all paper will experience the same issues. So evaluate how you’re using the paper and make your best selection.
Diaries with Fountain Pen Friendly Paper
In great news, we have several diary brands that feature fountain pen friendly paper. Many have yet to arrive for the 2017 range, but you can safely buy the following fountain pen friendly diaries:
- Quo Vadis
- Delfonics (2017 diaries due late October 2016)
- Mark’s Inc (2017 diaries due early October 2016)
Recommendations for Fountain Pen Friendly Paper
We have many brands at Milligram that make fountain pen friendly paper. You can check the entire fountain pen friendly range at our store but we’ve selected a few to showcase below. We tested them with 5–6 different fountain pens and inks.
Pens used in test: Kaweco Classic Sport (Fine), Platinum Preppy (Fine), Platinum Preppy (Medium), LAMY Joy Calligraphy (Italic), Craft Design Technology Tradio (Broad) & LAMY Safari (Medium).
Rhodia – Pad #16 & R Pad
The entire Rhodia range is fountain pen friendly.
In the standard pad range, the paper is 80 gsm and white. It’s also extremely affordable, the perfect everyday notebook. (Check Rhodia sizes here on the blog.) The paper in the Premium R Pad range is off-white and slightly heavier stock at 90 gsm. You’ll see from our test both performed extremely well, but you’re less likely to risk show-through with the R Pads due to the heavier stock.
Rhodia paper is manufactured in France by Clairefontaine.
Tomoe River Paper
We’ve been hoping to get a hold of this paper for a long time so we’re very excited to add it to the range. This paper is famous amongst fountain pen lovers for it’s super-fine weight (52 gsm!) but is still suitable for most fountain pens.
Life Stationery Comfort Notebook
Life Stationery is a lovely, small and handmade range of stationery out of Japan. (Read their story and see their smiling workers on the blog.) All the notebooks we have from Life Stationery at Milligram perform well with fountain pens. The one we’ve tested below has off-white paper and in writing tests has no feathering but a very small amount of show-through.
This extensive range from French company, Clairefontaine is all fountain pen friendly. The test below is performed on on a ruled notebook from the Roadbook range. It features white, environmentally friendly paper (you can read more about Clairefontaine on the blog.) In our various pens tested, there was no feathering, bleed-through or show-through.
Fabriano Boutique EcoQua Notebook
One of our newer brands at Milligram, this affordable, Italian notebook range from Fabriano Boutique is both environmentally friendly and fountain pen friendly. In a range of colours, sizes and rulings, the EcoQua range is an ideal, daily use notebook for fountain pen users.
Other fountain pen friendly notebook ranges include: