Welcome to my celebration of snail mail! This letter-writing blog features photos and thoughts on letters and postcards written and received, favorite stationery, fountain pens, mail art -- all the accoutrements of the old-fashioned letter in your mailbox. So read about letters for a bit, contact me with questions or comments (and/or follow me on Twitter), and then GO WRITE A LETTER!
"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company." -Lord Byron
I just got my latest, greatest order in from Goulet Pens, and I couldn't be more excited. I have been eagerly anticipating the new R by Rhodia soft-touch notepads for longer than I even knew. More on that in a moment.
I warn you, this is going to be a long and photo-heavy review. But you already know that if your page is loading as slowly as mine is. I think it will be worth it, though.
First, you might want to acquaint yourself with the hype. Brian Goulet did a wonderful video on his Ink Nouveau blog that gives an excellent review of the new product, and a nice overview and comparison. I wish I had remembered to take a photo of this paper in comparison to other papers, but I didn't - I think he does that in the video. Anyway, worth watching.
So here is the awesome new paper. It is a gentle ivory/cream color. It does not detract from any ink color, but it's not SCREAMING BRIGHT WHITE like Clairefontaine Triomphe and most of the Clairefontaine notebooks, including my current ink journal. Nor is it screaming bright white like the other, original Rhodia pads.
Also unlike the other Rhodia pads, there is no margin, and the lines (this is also available in blank, but I started out with the lined version) are sort of a soft grey, not blue. Subtle. Nice touch. I like the ruling. It's a good width for me. (I just checked, for those of you that want precision: it's 7mm.)
But it's really about the paper, and how well it takes ink. This new pad is an "upgrade" to 90g paper from the previous 80g. It does feel slightly thicker to the touch. In his video, Brian said it was nearly as smooth as Clairefontaine Triomphe, and I would mostly agree with that, but it doesn't have the Triomphe's "glassy" quality... which, in most cases, is a plus. I wouldn't say there is drag on the paper, and there is definitely not "tooth"... it's just a lovely smooth surface.
Again, though, it's all about the ink. And this is where this paper really excels. For those who like their colors harmonious, I apologize, as I just grabbed pens with excitement in no particular order, other than thinking, "this is a juicy wet pen!" or something like that... really putting the paper to the test, as it were.
As you can see, no feathering. Slight smudging, due to wet inks and my smudgy over-writing hands (+ general impatience). Ink dries significantly faster on this paper than on Clairefontaine Triomphe: a significant plus! All of the inks played nicely, even one of my newest, least favorite inks: Noodler's Old Dutch Sepia; this is the only paper I've tried it on yet where it doesn't feather! (It's humid here in August. That happens. I hope it will be have better in the winter, when everything, including my pens and papers, is less damp.)
Inks and pens shown: Noodler's Heart of Darkness / Pilot Varsity M Diamine Registrar's Ink / Pilot Varsity M Noodler's Eternal Hunter Green / Pilot V-Pen F Montblanc Ink of Love / Pilot V-Pen M Noodler's Old Dutch Sepia / Daiso Mini Diamine Steel Blue / Waterman Taperite Montblanc Ink of Joy / Parker Flighter 180 Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku / Sheaffer school pen F J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite / Noodler's flex pen Diamine Violet / Dollar Demonstrator Diamine Dark Green / Noodler's Nib Creaper (firm/non-flex) Diamine Delamere Green / Waterman Graduate M Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng / Platinum Preppy F Diamine Oxblood / Parker Vector M Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses / Esterbrook 9788 Noodler's Blue Ghost / Platinum Preppy M
Slight tangent - if you thought the last line of ink was Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses, you thought wrong! Included in my order from Goulet Pens was the awesome Noodler's Blue Ghost invisible ink, which shows up with a black light on non-bleached papers. COOOL! Goulet pens also sells this ingenious set of black light rings that you can attach to your pen or your finger as you write, illuminating in black light just your area of writing. Trust me, this is key: it is eerie to be writing if you can't see what you're writing! I'm writing with a Platinum Preppy M, which came from Goulet Pens already as an eyedropper conversion (and folks, I am happy to pay the extra $2 to Goulet Pens for them to do the eyedropper conversion for me - it's a time-saver, so this pen came all ready to go), and for a specialty ink such as this, I wanted to make sure to use a brand-new pen. Platinum Preppy eyedroppers are one heck of a great bargain for about $6 from Goulet Pens!
I do happen to have a larger black light, which is handy for the reading part, not so much for the writing... but it allows me to show you the whole line of ink and not just part of a word.
With the ivory color of this paper, this ink looks fabulous! It does not show up at all in my bright white Clairefontaine ink journal... that paper is just too white.
So back to the paper. This photo above is the most exciting photo to me of the whole bunch, and if you're a real fountain pen/paper aficionado, you'll guess why. This is the back of my ink tests page. Not only is there no bleed-through, there's not even any SHOW-through! You can only tell there is even writing on the other side if you look really closely. WOW! And I even flexed my flex nibs with Noodler's BSIAR and Herbin's 1670 Rouge Hematite inks... wet inks in very wet pens! LOVE it. This, as much as anything else, is why this is my new favorite paper. I will use it for second/additional sheets in letters, and I can write on both sides with ease. It's also a great size for the sort of stationery I prefer to use.
And finally, the back of this wonderful tablet. It comes in many sizes, both lined and blank, with black and orange covers. (The inside of the cover has the inverse color.) I chose orange this time, since my other Rhodia pads have black covers.
Important note: I am not affiliated with Goulet Pens, I am just a happy repeat customer. Here's the buying info: R by Rhodia No.16 tablet, 70 sheets for $7. This stuff is new and freshly out, but other retailers may be carrying it now as well.
Wrap-up: If you wanted pretty much the paper that comes in Rhodia webnotebooks but in micro-perf tablet form, this is it. If you wanted "off-white Clairefontaine," this is it. If you want a great, high-quality writing paper for a great value, this is it.