UnArtodox Scrawls

Sketches and Writings of a Fountain Pen Enthusiast

Takumi Spirits of Artisan notebooks by IWI x Awagami Factory

As a fountain pen user and enthusiast for quite some time, the perpetual problem (and obsession) that I have is looking for paper that is fountain pen-friendly. Although I have no choice in the user of paper in the hospital for charts and prescriptions, I still need to have fp-friendly paper for my journaling, lists, and note-taking. And like many folks who fell in the same rabbit hole like me, it’s an endless search, not because we can’t find any, but because we want to have a try at everything and anything that can be and may be fountain pen-friendly. Also, I want to find papers/notebooks which I can easily carry around in my shoulder bag or insert in my organizers.

Then I found these notebooks at the Everything Calligraphy booth during one of the recent art fairs in Shangri-la Mall. I’ve been seeing this on their website for quite some time but haven’t really come around to a decision whether to buy or not. I felt that I needed to see the paper for myself before reaching a decision.

So, what are the characteristics that I look for in a fountain pen-friendly paper? Since I don’t really use much shimmer or shading inks for daily writing use and I use mostly fine or extra fine nibs, what is important for me is to have a paper with coating that will not let inks dry fast enough for note-taking and that will not let ink bleed through. A certain amount of ghosting is tolerable, as long as minimal and does not interfere with reading the notes that I write.

The natural inclination for any fountain pen enthusiast looking for an FP-friendly paper is to touch it. It is good that EC have sample items that are unwrapped and can be examined.

There are gold-labeled and silver-labeled variants. The gold-labeled ones are hardbound, while the silver-labeled ones are those in the photo above. I initially wanted a hardbound notebook, but it was only available in a mix of plain and ruled pages. So, I settled for the silver-labeled ones, which are available in plain and in grid pages. Totally did not regret the decision because I noticed that the papers in the silver-labeled notebooks (which are softbound) have a higher gsm (100 gsm) compared to the paper of the hardbound notebooks (80 gsm). I don’t know why that is so, but looking at the sample writings I made (which can be found at the latter part of this post), 100 gsm is definitely better in handling the kind of inks and fountain pens that I have.

The softbound notebooks, which have 48 pages, come with a product insert explaining how the Awagami “washi” paper is made. Understand, though, that the washi paper is used for the cover of the notebooks. The 48 pages inside were IWI-selected 100 gsm papers. IWI also designed the cover of the notebooks. Like most Japanese notebooks, the covers may seem fragile but they’re actually durable enough that it does not easily fold or wrinkle when turned. For a notebook that I intend to insert in organizers or a leather cover, I think the cover is enough. By the way, IWI is a Taiwanese company specializing in metallic pens since 1985.

Let’s take a closer look at the paper.

The grid lines are clear enough but not really that bothersome to the eye
I’m not sure why there is a space above and why the whole page is not in grid. But maybe it is a space allotted for writing dates, page numbers, etcetera
Blank pages are smooth and thick enough for sketches. This can most probably handle light watercolor and ink washes

The fountain pens I used for this paper test are those that I often use for daily writing. Unfortunately, I was not able to bring my other broader nibs for the test. Perhaps I will just upload an update once I have those inked.

The inks that I used here are Sheaffer Skrip black (in the Platinum Plaisir, Sheaffer Skrip Black, and Parker Flighter 180 XF/M), Platinum Carbon (in the VP Matte Black), Troublemaker Inks Autumn Rain Gray (in the Pilot Prera), and ONLINE standard blue ink cartridge.

There is slight visible feathering on the paper when I used my Pilot Prera White with Pluminix Cursive Italic nib, inked with Troublemaker Inks Autumn Rain Gray. I don’t know if it is because of the ink or of the nib, since the ink formulation is supposedly drier. But even with the 0.8 mm nib of the ONLINE Vision fountain pen, I did not encounter any feathering at all.

The back of the page just show minimal ghosting and no bleed-through.

Here’s a sample of my writing:

I used the Pilot Prera White with Pluminix Cursive Italic F nib for most of the text and the ONLINE Vision fountain pen with 0.8 mm nib for the heading. Ghosting is a bit more visible this time, when paper is lifted. But when it is laid flat, it is less visible and personally, this does not bother me.

Overall, I think this Takumi silver-labeled notebook works for my purpose: a notebook for writing down song lyrics and guitar chords and tabs which can help me learn to play the songs (yeah, I know a bit tedious when I could just download the tabs and all using apps. But I find that writing it all down helps with memory retention). I bought the A5 size for Php 249 each but it is also available, if I’m not mistaken, in A6 size.

The Pros:

  1. Minimal ghosting
  2. No bleedthroughs
  3. Pages are thick enough
  4. Inks usually dry fast enough for note-taking
  5. Sturdy covers, at least for storing in organizers
  6. 100 gsm paper can handle fountain pens and inks that I usually use
  7. Covers are available in a different colors

The Cons:

  1. I wish the hardbound, gold-labelled notebooks have 100 gsm paper
  2. Php 249 for 48 pages of softbound, refill-type notebooks seem a bit expensive

Categories: Paper

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