New Tomoe River Formats at JetPens + Giveaway

Last week, a reader brought my attention to the penultimate JetPens newsletter, which announced that soon they will be stocking other format options for Tomoe River Paper. Thanks, dear reader! I’m excited to pass on the news that JetPens is now stocking the Tomoe River “Kanso” Notebook and Report Pad.

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“Kanso” means “simplicity” in Japanese, and these embody the concept completely. The B5 Notebook is $15. It is thread-bound with an ultra-smooth cardstock cover which is the same color as the pages inside.

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The A5 Report Pad is $4.75 with a glue-bound top, matching cardstock back, and an included lined guide sheet to place beneath the page you’re writing on.

Both have 30 pages and are available in white or cream.

JetPens is also sponsoring a giveaway! You can enter your JetPens-associated email for a chance to win two packs of 100 sheets of Tomoe River paper, the A4 Kokuyo Campus Adapt Slim Binder in white, and the Carl Neo Gauge 26-Hole or 30-Hole Punch in blue. From their site:

Make your own DIY Tomoe River Paper Binder with this fun kit, which includes two packs of Tomoe River Paper, a Kokuyo binder, and a Carl hole punch.

Just follow the easy instructions for the punch: line up the paper under the magnet strip, fold the edge side underneath the platform, and then line up the punch to the appropriate notches. You now have an easy way to create your own customizable Tomoe River Paper Binder!

Credit for the images in this post go to JetPens.

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Fast Foxes Finish First: SN^2 Paper

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Azizah over at Gourmet Pens recently did a review of Ben Rowley’s paper, and it was thanks to her post that I managed to put in an order and take advantage of his stylus + nib giveaway! Thanks for the hot tip, Azizah. Y’all should check out her review; she goes into excellent detail about the construction of the pads, so I’ll skim over that here.

I’ve been writing a lot about paper recently, but almost exclusively about Tomoe River paper, so my interest was piqued when I saw Azizah’s review of this product. I have a handful of dip pen nibs that I use for playing with new inks, including some sketching nibs which I’ve found to be virtually unusable due to their scratchiness. Ben Rowley’s paper is advertised as “the perfect paper for both smooth nibs and sharp nibs,” and his prices were so reasonable I had to pick up a couple of pads.

 

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The ordering process is so rudimentary it kind of feels like a back alley exchange, in the best way possible: I emailed Ben with my request, he emailed me a PayPal receipt, I paid, and in two or three days the box was at my door. And what did I get? A bound pad of 100 sheets of “standard descender” ruled paper, 8.5″x5.5″, and 100 loose-leaf blank sheets, same size. And a hand-written thank-you note from Ben! That was a nice touch.

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This paper is narrower than the Tomoe River correspondence sheets sold by Paper For Fountain Pens, just the right size for a standard A5 envelope, so you don’t have to fold in the sides at all. It’s definitely heavier than TR paper, but most paper is. One side of the paper has a slightly rougher texture, whereas the other side is smooth. I’m not sure which is supposed to be the “front” of the sheet, but I prefer the smooth side for fountain pen usage; the rough side is nice for pencil work.

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Ben kindly enclosed a wooden stylus and three Esterbrook dip-pen nibs, which I enjoyed testing on his paper. I’ve used sketching nibs before and was always frustrated by their scratchiness, which was often so extreme that they were unusable on most paper. This paper, however, cooperates beautifully with scratchy nibs. (I will include photos and a review of the nibs and stylus in a separate post.)

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For me one of the signs of its effectiveness was the way that ink blobs didn’t feather into the paper, but rather rested on the surface. This indicates that the nib did not break the paper’s fibers, which is the main cause of feathering and makes a scratchy nib practically unusable. (Please note that the blobbing is a result of my ineptitude with a particular nib and NOT with the paper itself!)

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I tested all my currently inked fountain pens on an unlined sheet and was very pleased with the results. The only feathering I noticed was with the Pilot Desk Pen, but I think it might have been partly the fault of the ink, De Atramentis’ Johann Sebastian Bach, and the fact that the pen was running a bit dry due to not being used in a while. And I had to peer very close to see the feathering.

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I was disappointed that very little sheen showed up in the Iroshizuku Momiji sample on this paper. There may be something about the texture that counteracts the sheen somehow. However, the paper is thick and sturdy, so the back of the flex pen sample looks drastically different from such a sample on TR paper:

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Much less of an impression left than with the TR paper! Here’s the back of the sheet below. You’ll notice that the only bleeding was with the Sharpie and the Bic marker, and there’s very faint ghosting otherwise.

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And the full front:

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If you want to try some of this magnificent paper, drop Ben a line. His pricing is as follows:

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When I ordered this paper, I thought I’d be using the standard descender pad a lot for script practice, but so far I’ve gone through quite a bit of the blank sheets in my correspondence. It’s fantastic letter paper! I usually decorate the first page with a stamp of some kind — my letterhead, or some sort of illustration — and there’s no prettier stationery you can get at that price. Like I said above, it fits perfectly into an A5 envelope, and while Ben doesn’t sell envelopes, you could purchase a block of loose-leaf 8.5″x11″ paper and make your own, or go with some simple A5 kraft paper envelopes, which complement the paper beautifully.

Love At First Write: Tomoe River Correspondence Paper

IMG_2664Although I’ve already written quite a bit about Tomoe River paper (or its various forms) before — both in my post on the Seven Seas Writer journal and my Tomoe River master post — I really haven’t gone into the format that I use on an almost daily basis: the humble correspondence pad from Paper For Fountain Pens.

IMG_2662This pad contains 100 sheets of A5-size paper. PFFP sells them in bundles of three for about $20, and is it ever worth it. I have the white version. The sheets are sandwiched between a stiff cardboard back (stamped with the PFFP URL) and a sheet of heavier forest-green paper front. The whole bundle is bound with glue at the top.The sheets are very easy to tear out; I’ve only ever had one corner rip. Once you get toward the bottom of the pad, the cover is likely to fall off. You won’t be toting this pad around with you, unless you don’t mind getting the edges banged up, scuffed, or crumpled.

The paper itself: This is, hands down, the best paper I’ve ever used in my life. It’s extremely thin, translucent even, clocking in at only 52gsm. I’ve described it as feather-light and thin as onion-skin. But despite its apparent fragility, it handles every ink I’ve thrown at it with boundless grace and fortitude.

IMG_2663You can see the delicate golden sheen in the example of the Iroshizuku Momiji ink above. I like Clairefontaine well enough for ink reviews and note-taking, but while its plush surface increases dry time, Tomoe River paper does not. And the only way I’ve ever gotten it to bleed is by pressing too hard with a flex pen.

IMG_2667There is quite a lot of ghosting with TR paper. However, if you’re using letter sheets, it shouldn’t be a problem at all (as one is supposed to write on only one side of a letter sheet). If you’re journaling on it, see my post about ghosting. (Tl;dr: I think that ghosting becomes a non-issue once you write over it.)

Over the past few months, Tomoe River paper has become the ONLY stationery I use for my correspondence. I even carved my own letterhead stamp for it. Because it’s so lightweight, it allows you to write lengthy letters without having to worry about extra postage. It ENCOURAGES you to write lengthy letters, because it’s such a pleasure to write on.

IMG_2665Bottom line: if you use fountain pens, grab yourself some Tomoe River paper. You won’t regret it.

Back-To-School Goodies: Clairefontaine “Back To Basics” 1951 Notebook

IMG_2604I picked up this notebook because I needed some fountain-pen-friendly paper for taking notes in class — the idea being, of course, that a nice pen and good paper will encourage me to actually take thorough notes!

Stats:
192 pages
Lined
90gsm
14.8x21cm and 9x14cm
+1 Bleed Reduction
+1 Feathering Reduction

I’m used to the cream-colored Clairefontaine paper in my Rhodia webnotebook, so I did not expect how big a difference this white paper makes! It really lets the ink shine! Otherwise, the paper is just as smooth and cushy as that which Rhodia uses. Dry time is a bit slow, as I expected.

IMG_2606I got the cloth-bound version of the notebook — the covers are a heavy paper or cardstock with a texture that reminds me of watercolor paper, and the spine is a matching, heavy-duty canvas fabric into which the 96 sheets are glued.This binding results in a very stiff spine: each page has to be individually trained to lay flat. I’m not enamoured with it, but it’s fine for a notebook.

IMG_2610The corners are beveled, so they’re less likely to get crushed in your bag. It’s a nice touch.

IMG_2611And you have to admit: it’s a pretty notebook! They designed it to be reminiscent of vintage French notebooks. Mine is the coral version, which is a very rich and unique color, accented with a buttery yellow diagonal cross-hatching and blank space to write name, subject, semester, etc. The inverted triangle with the Art Deco-style Clairefontaine logo is emblazoned on both the front and back of the book, but it’s so nicely designed that it doesn’t strike me as obnoxious, like some branding does.

IMG_2607My everyday writers do pretty well with this paper, both my Pilot Precise V5 and my Kaweco Sport EF with Kaweco royal blue ink, which is my primary notetaking pen (as opposed to the AL Sport with medium nib, as most of this review was written with). The Pilot G2 1mm performs well, too. I don’t use it often because the tip is so broad, but it occurred to me I’d never tested gel ink on Clairefontaine paper before. While this ruling is about 2mm too wide for my tastes, it does accommodate broader tips and nibs!

Obviously, I also picked up a pocket sized (9x14cm) version of the notebook. This is staple-bound and much more flexible, though it’s a little weird to have such nice paper in such an informal binding.

IMG_2608I think this will be my next pocket notebook once I finish up my current Field Notes.

Tomoe River Paper Master Post

Tomoe River paper is my favorite fountain pen paper — at 52gsm it is feather-light, thin as onion skin, yet still impervious to feathering and bleeding, and it performs beautifully with many different kinds of ink. It is silky-smooth but not glassy and it is perfect for writing long letters, testing ink, writing lists, practicing calligraphy, and journalling upon. Yet owing to the difficulty in obtaining the raw material of the paper itself — which is sold exclusively by the Tomoegawa company in Japan — finding this wonder-paper in the perfect format can be difficult if not downright impossible.

Thus I have assembled this master list of Tomoe River paper resources as well as identified some specific stationery needs in the hopes that someone out there will finally create a cloth-cover A5 thread-bound journal with white TR paper printed with an unobtrusive 5- or 6mm dot grid! (Ahem.)

Disclaimers: I do not make any claims to comprehensiveness, but if you know of a format I haven’t listed, please let me know and I’ll add it. I do not list prices here, as they can fluctuate too frequently to keep track of; however, availability also fluctuates, links break, etc. Also, I haven’t personally used every product on this list (…yet), but I have tried to provide links to reviews when I can.

LETTER SHEETS

Tomoe River Paper Sample (x3 sheets, available at NanamiPaper and JetPens in white and cream)
Never tried Tomoe River paper before? Add a sample on to your next JetPens order and see what the fuss is about.
For a limited time, you can also get a sample for free from JustWrite with any order!

Top-bound “correspondence size” pad with glue binding
A5 White
(from PaperForFountainPens and NanamiPaper)
A5 Cream (from PaperForFountainPens and NanamiPaper)
Approximately A5-sized sheets, perfect for writing letters. I ordered mine from Paper For Fountain Pens and they arrived speedily and with a lovely hand-written note. No envelopes as of yet made out of Tomoe River paper, but NanamiPaper has envelopes that are the perfect size and a close match to the cream shade. Review here forthcoming!
A4 7mm Lined (from OwlStationers)
Same as above, but 8.5”x11”.

Loose Leaf Sheets in White
A5
(from JustWrite)
A4 (from JustWrite, JetPens, JetPens in CREAM)
A4, 7mm Lined (from OwlStationers)
In case you’d rather not bother with glue binding.

JOURNALS

The Seven Seas “Writer” (at the Nanami Paper Co)
Soft-back, 480 pages, 7mm lines, lay-flat, thread bound, super flexible, standard size so it can be used as a refill for lots of refillable journals. I sing its praises in a review here.

The Paper For Fountain Pens Blank Book
White

Cream
Hardbound, unlined, 320 pages, pages approx. 5”x8”. Nice review over at the Pen Habit.

Design.Y Handcrafted Leather-bound Journals
Located in Sendai City, Japan, the folks at Design.Y have several luxury journals available for purchase with Tomoe River paper: Model 216, Model 288, Model 336, and LP Record

JustWrite + Olive and the Volcano Letterpress Journals
Approx. A6, Blank, 120 pages
Approx. A5, Blank, 120 Pages
Covers are black letterpressed cardstock. I’m planning on getting a pair of these as soon as they’re back in stock, because you can literally never have too much Tomoe River paper. The Pentorium did a great review of these!

OTHER

The Hobonichi Planner – 2015
I read a blog post on this planner when I started my fountain pen journey. Yet it wasn’t until December 2014 that I ordered a copy for myself. The Hobonichi Planner has almost a cult following in Japan and there are many “extras” available for it, from covers to bookmark charms. You can read my review of the planner here. If you’re concerned about the usability of a planner whose pages ghost so much, please see this post of mine for images of writing on both sides of TR paper.

Hobonichi Memo Books
Set of 3 memo notebooks with 3.7mm graph paper and perforated sheets designed to fit in the back pocket of the A6 Hobonichi planner. (Thanks to Chase for bringing this to my attention.)

Backpocket Journals
Curnow Book and Leather sells these Field-Notes-sized journals in a three-pack for $12.50. Link leads to the Facebook page. To order, message them with what you want and your shipping info.
Reviews at Fountain Pen Geeks and Modern Stationer.

OwlStationers Notebooks
Passport Size: set of three, approx 3.45” x 4.88”, 80 unlined cream pages
Travelers Size: set of two, 80 unlined cream pages, kraft paper cover
Pocket Notebook: set of three, 3.5”x5.5”, 80 unlined cream pages, kraft paper cover

Ramay Davinci Binder System
Personal/Bible Size
in black, brown, and wine leather
Pocket Size in black, brown, and wine leather
This binder system contains monthly and weekly calendars, lined pages, and checklists all printed on Tomoe River paper. Note that address pages are printed on Yupo synthetic paper so they are water- and stain-resistant (and probably incompatible with a lot of fountain pen inks). JetPens has a wide variety of refills available at prices from $2.90 to $4.60 per pack.

Stateside Co. Notebooks
Link to Kickstarter page. A totally customizable notebook with a cover made of French Paper Co. paper in lunch bag brown or dark grey, die-cut with the shape of whatever state (or country!) you choose. During the ordering process, you pick a color, a size, the state you want die-cut on the front, the kind of paper inside (blank, grid, dot-grid, or lined), and an inscription for the sleeve. A dream come true? Almost, were it not for the fact that apparently the backers’ rewards have been delayed due to a fire that destroyed all the TR paper. TRAGIC. Still, I’m definitely keeping an eye on these guys and I’ll update as soon as I hear more. (Thanks to the Modern Stationer for the tip.)

NEEDS

~ The biggest Tomoe River void to be filled is that of alternate rulings. Almost all available formats of the paper are blank, with the exception of a very few in a 7mm ruling. Many of us prefer a narrower line for our small handwriting – a 6mm or even 5.5mm would be amazing. (Imho, the only thing keeping the Seven Seas “Writer” from being the perfect journal is its wide rule.)

~ Similarly, TR paper in graph or dot-grid is apparently nonexistent. Personally, I’d leap tall buildings in a single bound and spend copious amounts of money on such a product. Currently you can find a few small pocket-notebooks on the Hobonichi website, if you must satisfy a craving for dot-grid TR paper!

~ More TR paper pocket notebooks! I adore my Field Notes, but anybody who makes a 6mm ruled, graph, or dot-grid TR pocket book is almost certainly going to unhorse good ol’ Field Notes from my NockCo Hightower. (Except the Colors editions. I am a die-hard subscriber.)

~ Different covers would be excellent. Currently, there are luxury leather bindings or the cheapest paper covers with very little in between. The Hobonichi planners, however, are insertable into a wide variety of beautiful covers made expressly for that purpose.

Thanks for reading. Let me know of any additions/corrections that need to be made!

UPDATE: Seven Seas “Writers” Notebook

Update to my review of the Seven Seas “Writer’s” Notebook:

1. First, put some Fray-Check on the ends of those ribbons first thing when you get it out of the box. Mine frayed pretty badly before I caught it.

2. Most of the reviews I see advocate only writing on one side of Tomoe River paper. But I’ve found that the heavy ghosting becomes a complete non-issue, at least for me, when I write over it.

Writing on page 2 visible through blank page 1.

Writing on page 2 visible through blank page 1.

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A couple pages’ worth of ghosting are visible here (follow the criss-crossing slanted lines).

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But notice that where there is text (in Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses), the ghosting isn’t a distraction.

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3. This paper can handle a lot of ink. Below is an image of some text I did with a dip-pen calligraphy nib that was giving me problems with flow. The ink (De Atramentis’ Myrrh, fyi) flowed so much that it pooled and dried with a darker ring around the edges of each stroke, almost so that it resembled sheen — but it didn’t bleed through. Heavy ghosting, yes, but no bleed. And, miraculously, it dried fast. These lines were written just four or five from the bottom of the page; by the time I used my blotter sheet, it had already dried.

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I don’t know what devil’s deal those Tomoe River people took, but this paper is the golden fiddle of stationery.

New and Improved: The Seven Seas “Writer” Journal

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If you’re like me, once you started exploring the strange and wondrous world of fine writing instruments, you quickly learned that not just any paper would do. For one thing, fountain pen ink wreaks havoc with standard copy paper and ruled notebooks. Even those swanky designer journals you can find at Barnes & Noble are hit-and-miss, and even the better ones which stand up to drier writers will bleed at the touch of a broader italic stub. Furthermore, as we refine our taste in writing instruments, we begin to want paper worthy of our pens. And Tomoe River paper is that paper.

This is the Seven Seas “Writer” journal, which has replaced the Seven Seas Tomoe River Journal (previously available at NanamiPaper.com). The Writer’s updates affect mostly the appearance of the journal rather than the performance, and overall I think they will be welcomed by Tomoe River paper’s cult following. Continue reading