Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Few Words on Paper

My husband Joe is a bit of a paper snob. (Is it good for a marriage if one calls one’s spouse something not-so-nice, particularly in a public forum such as a blog? I guess I’ll find out.)

My evidence is this: when he was working, he would buy his own notepads in order to guarantee FP-friendly paper at work. He has gone through almost every major manufacturer of bound journal on Earth, looking for just the right one. He likes Rhodia papers, but only the grid ones (really? I never thought it made that much difference!). He has been known to dislike papers others find perfectly useable.

Lately I’ve taken a rather different approach to paper. I see it as part of an equation, and adjust the other parts of the equation to get the result I want. 

I am better at math than he is. (This isn’t a not-so-nice statement; it’s true. Quicken was invented for people like him.)

Many of us get to use whatever is available at work to use; I don’t have much say on what my employer buys for copier and printer paper and notepads, for example. As at so many other businesses (and our homes as well), we are looking to minimize expenses, so the quality of paper available at work is – um, questionable. 

This being the case, my answer is to select my pens (and in some cases, inks) to accommodate the fact that at work I am basically writing on paper toweling. This means fine nibs are good for work. I get a medium line, but that’s fine. (Yes, the pun was intended!) If I use a broad nib, it looks like I’ve been writing with a Magic Marker. 

I do appreciate paper that allows for use of a variety of nibs, though, and one of my favorites is the Rhodia Dot Pad. My journal is currently a Rhodia Webnotebook, and while I like the hard finish and texture (or lack thereof) of the paper I do wish it came in white. I’ve had a few things to say before about cream-colored paper, and the color is definitely a compromise for me; I expect I’ll be moving on to something else when I’m done with the Webbie. 

My point here is this: one of the fun things about fountain pens for me is the chance to match the tools and materials to obtain the result I want – or to experiment to see what happens. This is not unlike an artist working within whatever media are chosen to obtain certain results. 

With this in mind, I don’t think I can reasonably say there is such a thing as good or bad paper, then; the stuff at work is certainly absorbent and not prone to delivering a pleasing look with, say, a stub nib or a broad one, but it’s inexpensive, recycled, and readily available, all traits that could be construed as “good.” 

Because of the varying papers I have available for use, my nib preference has grown to include a variety of widths and styles as well. I find I enjoy the variety, and the fun of trying different things to see what works.

All of which makes putting a few words on paper all the more gratifying.

What makes it fun for you?


  1. I love using my Webbie but I do wish the paper was a little less yellow... I absolutely LOVE the dot pads because the color of the paper makes me happier and I have a thing for dots (keeps my writing straight without obstructing my writing). Plus it's easy to switch to doodles with dots (for me anyway). Am I even answering the question? I'm not sure, probably not. I just wanted to share lol. It's so expensive though...I don't like to use my "nice" paper for things that aren't "worthy".

    1. I am trying to break myself of the "it's too nice to use" mentality. I know exactly what you mean, but I also don't want my kids to find a stash of unused dot pads lying around after I'm dead, because I was afraid to use them. I still cringe when I see Joe grab one to write a grocery list though!

      I do have a TMLee handmade journal that I can't bring myself to write in. It's so beautiful that I feel like I need something extraordinary to write in it - and my life is pretty ordinary...

    2. Ohhhh I would LOVE to see you use that journal!!! It would be a shame to never get to use it and (let us hope not) but if some accident were to happen and you never wrote in it... oh that would be sad... Love your new post about "too nice to use" hehehe. I think we're all guilty of that to some extent. I have a few journals that are handmade (though not as exquisite as the TMLee) but I still don't know what to put in them. "Today I brushed my teeth. I used a new toothpaste. A cat threw up. I'm still trying to identify the culprit". My life is dull. Poor journal..

  2. I must confess to being more of your husband's school of thought - I provide my own paper for work use where possible to allow me to use my favourite broad and italic nibs in the workpace. I' a big fan of Rhodia and Clairefontaine, and I must be in the minority that likes cream paper - Rhodia Webnotebooks are wonderful for me.

    1. Joe says, "Thank you so much; I feel vindicated!" Maybe I"m just trying to justify my attempts at making the best of things...