Choosing Your Fountain Pen Ink Color Online

(J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Vert Pre)

As you’re shopping online for a new bottle of fountain pen ink, likely the ink color samples you see on your computer, tablet or smartphone have a big influence on what you decide to purchase. Can you trust what you see on your computer monitor? Do you ever wonder how the ink samples are made?

When we first started producing samples of fountain pen ink colors for our online store, we used a special color calibrated computer monitor and made careful adjustments with graphics software to make sure the color sample looked as close to real life as possible from our viewpoint. The flaw in this method is that most shoppers do not use color calibrated computer monitors. As a result, the ink color samples look different to each shopper because each shopper uses a different monitor or smartphone to view the samples. Since then, we have intentionally purchased computer monitors that are a variety of different brands so that we can compare and see what our shoppers might be seeing. Even so, it is not possible with current technology to make sure that each one of you sees a completely accurate sample of each ink color when you are shopping online.

Other retailers have made ink samples that don’t even display real ink swatches or handwriting at all. Graphics software is used to pick the color and then a computer font that looks like handwriting is used to create a “handwritten” color sample. This also has disadvantages. When you look at the color variations in the ink samples below, can you see how it would be difficult to decide what part of the sample it would be best to pick the color from? A computer generated color sample does not give you any idea of the shading or opacity of the ink. Plus, it still does not change the fact that each of you are using different computers and smartphones that each display colors slightly differently.

If you are a regular shopper at Writer’s Bloc, you may have noticed that many of our ink color samples look like this:

(Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts bottled fountain pen ink sample)

We decided to come up with a standardized way of creating our online fountain pen ink samples so that you might be able to discern some of the ink’s characteristics before you decide to buy. Each sample is handwritten with the actual ink, in the same calligraphy style, using a Brause dipping pen with a Steno nib. The “swish” above the handwriting is made with an inked cotton swab and goes from left to right so that the heaviest ink application is on the left and the lightest on the right. The paper used is always bright white 90g Clairefontaine French-ruled paper. (Note: the ink photos on our website that include the ink bottle or cartridges in the photo are meant to give you a general idea of the ink color and are NOT meant to be the primary color sample for the ink.)

What are some of the advantages of this method? Clairefontaine is known as one of the best papers in the world for writing, and it performs exceptionally well with fountain pens.  This paper is very good at eliminating or reducing writing problems that are common on low-grade paper such as ink feathering and ink bleeding through the paper. By the way, if ink happens to bleed or feather while we are making our samples, we do not retouch the samples or re-write them to try and get rid of the feathering – we just use them the way they are to help you discern the character of the ink. The Clairefontaine paper is a bright white color so it does not detract from the color of the fountain pen ink.

Why use French-ruled paper and not blank paper? The lines on the French-ruled paper help you to see how opaque or how transparent the ink is. Can you see the lines on the paper through the ink sample? For example, Noodler’s Eel Polar Black ink is very opaque:

And J. Herbin’s Vert Pre ink is more transparent:

The Brause Steno nib allows you to see what your writing might look like using a fountain pen with a fine to medium size nib. The Steno nib is a flex nib, so the line width in the samples varies. The cotton swab generated “swish” above the writing helps you to see what kind of shading the ink might have. Noodler’s Ink Habannero has some nice shading to it:

To prepare the color samples for our online store, the ink samples written on Clairefontaine paper are simply scanned, cropped and re-sized. That’s it. They are not retouched or enhanced by graphics software in any other way.

Even though we have a standardized system for creating our ink color samples, each of you will see the color a little bit differently depending on your own personal monitor or screen. Each of you will be writing on different kinds and colors of paper, using different nib sizes and you all have different handwriting. This too can affect the way an ink looks as you write with it. Our wish is to give you the most realistic online ink samples possible to help you choose your fountain pen ink!

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White Paper Habana Journals vs. New Ivory Paper Habana Journals

It has already been about a year since the Quo Vadis Habana Journals containing ivory paper were introduced to us here in the USA. How do these new Habana journals compare to the original Habana journals with white paper? It seems that the original Quo Vadis quality has not been compromised and many writers are still very happy with the performance of the new Habana Journal.

Things that remain the same:

  • The cover design and materials
  • Elastic closure
  • Ribbon bookmark
  • Pocket inside the back cover
  • The sewn binding
  • Sizes
  • Number of sheets (80) in the large Habana
  • Small Habana is still narrow ruled
  • Lined and blank paper options
  • Paper is still acid-free, pH neutral
  • Paper is still made by Clairefontaine and has an exceptionally smooth satin finish

Things that have changed:

  • Paper color is now ivory instead of white
  • Paper weight in the large Habana is now 85g instead of 90g
  • Paper weight in the small Habana is now 85g instead of 64g
  • Number of sheets in the small Habana is now 80 instead of 96
  • Paper is narrow ruled the large Habana
  • Lines on the paper no longer go all the way to the edge
  • Lines are now dotted so they are more subtle
  • New for 2012 – black, blank paper Habana in A4 size (approx. 8.25” x 11.75”)

It’s nice to see that the small Habana got an upgrade to 85g paper! I really like the new dotted lines that don’t go all the way to the paper’s edge since they don’t dominate the page as much but are more of a subtle guideline. The narrow rules in the large Habana allow you to get a lot more writing onto each page. It’s exciting to have the option of a new large A4 size Habana Journal. Depending on the size of Habana Journal you use and the pen you like to write with, you might either see more or less writing that shows through to the other side of the page. Writers who love bright white paper are sad to see the change to ivory paper, but I personally like variety and like to have a mix of paper colors in my notebook and journal collection. Too bad we don’t have the option of choosing either white or ivory paper for our Habana Journals!

For those of you that prefer white paper, we still have a small selection of white paper Habana Journals left in stock. Get them while they last!

Do you use a Habana Journal? What do you think of the new Habana Journals with ivory paper? Would you use a Habana Journal in the new large A4 size?

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R by Rhodia vs Original Rhodia Notepads

R by Rhodia notepads are relatively new on the scene and have some Writers wondering, “What’s the difference between original Rhodia pads and the R by Rhodia pads?” Using the popular Rhodia Bloc No. 12 we will endeavor to show you some of the similarities and the differences of these two well-loved notepads.

The Cover

One of the first things you’ll notice is that the original Rhodia pad cover has a glossy coating, whereas the R by Rhodia cover has a matte finish that is velvety to the touch. R by Rhodia calls this a “soft-touch” cover.

The original Rhodia front cover logo is somewhat larger than the R by Rhodia logo. R by Rhodia has an additional “R” in the lower right part of the front cover that is included in a band of contrasting color that is also on the back cover. The back of each cover has additional details about each notepad and indicates that both of them are currently made in France.

Both original Rhodia and R by Rhodia have flexible covers that are available in either bright orange or black. The difference is that when you flip over the R by Rhodia cover the underside color contrasts with the exterior – the orange cover is black on the underside and the black cover is orange on the underside. I personally really like this feature. Both covers are strategically scored so that they can easily and neatly be flipped over to the back side of the notepad.

The Binding

Both notepads are top staple-bound and have a study piece of cardboard inside the back cover to add support while you’re writing. Both of them have microperforated pages that can neatly be removed if desired.

(Original Rhodia on the left, R by Rhodia on the right)

The Paper

The paper is really the biggest difference between these two notepads. Original Rhodia has white 80g paper with violet lines (with the exception of one large notepad with yellow paper), R by Rhodia has heavier 90g ivory high grade vellum paper with subtle grey lines (if there are any lines). Since R by Rhodia has a heavier weight of paper there are less pages in each notepad – the No. 12 size has 70 sheets compared to the 80 sheets in an original Rhodia pad.

Original Rhodia comes in graph, blank, lined and lined with margin. At the time of writing this blog post R by Rhodia comes in either lined or blank. The lined version of the notepads (shown here) both have lines spaced about 7mm apart. One of the original Rhodia pads is available with a 3 hole punch. Both types of paper are made by Clairefontaine and have a smooth finish that a lot of Writers with fountain pens really love!

The Size

At present, R by Rhodia comes in three different sizes: 3 3/8” x 4 3/4”, 6” x 8 1/4” and 8 1/4” x 11 3/4”. Original Rhodia pads are also available in these three sizes plus an additional nine sizes for a total of twelve different sizes.

Which notepad is best for you? That’s for you to decide. Why not mix it up and try one of each! One thing is for sure, a lot of Writers are very loyal to Rhodia! What’s your favorite Rhodia notepad?

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Exacompta Paper Chart

Exacompta makes planners, journals, sketchbooks and index cards with a variety of high quality papers. Some of the paper is a little different than the usual Clairefontaine and Rhodia paper that many of you may be used to using. For example, some of their planners such as the popular Journal 21 and Space 24 weekly agenda contain a light green tinted paper. Other planners such as the Daily Pocket diary contain light-weight but sturdy ivory paper to help make them as compact as possible. The Basics Journal and Sketchbook both contain 100g paper that is 25% cotton with a laid finish. Exacompta Index Cards are made from a 205g stock in soft pastel colors and they work beautifully with a fountain pen! You can check out Exaclair’s Exacompta paper chart to get some insight into the specific paper used in each product.

Product Weight Description
Forum Journals / Refills 64 g White paper, 365 daily undated, blank, graph, cloth bound
Club Journals / Refills 64 g White paper, 365 daily undated, blank, graph
Pocket Journal 55 g Ivory, gold edged paper, ruled, cloth bound
Basics Journal 100 g Off-white, gold or silver edged paper, cloth bound
Basics Sketchbook 100 g Laid finish, 25% cotton, off-white paper, blank, silver edged, cloth bound
Index Cards / Bristol Cards 205 g Graph, subtle pastel colors – yellow, pink, green, blue
Visual Weekly Agenda 90 g Green-tinted paper
Space 24 Weekly Agenda 90 g Green-tinted paper
Journal 21 Daily Agenda 72 g Green-tinted paper
Space 17 55 g Ivory Paper
Daily Pocket 55 g Ivory Paper

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Choosing Your Quo Vadis Planner Based on the Paper

Quo Vadis Planners come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and all of them contain high-quality paper with a pleasantly smooth writing surface. If you are particular about your paper, how do you know which one contains just the right paper for you?

If you’re looking for a planner that is as light-weight and compact as possible, easy to carry around and stash discreetly in a purse or pocket, 64g or 55g paper helps to reduce size and weight. One of my favorite small planners is the Exacompta Daily Pocket Diary.

If you are a fountain pen user, Quo Vadis recommends paper that is 85g or higher, although many prefer the 90g paper. As is typical of Quo Vadis planners, there is little to no feathering or bleed-through of fountain pen ink on this paper, and the weight of 85g or higher has the added advantage of preventing most ink see-through.

Although Quo Vadis manufactures all of their paper in an environmentally responsible fashion, if you’re the type that wants to stick to recycled products, then the Quo Vadis Basic or Equology lines of planners are for you. (More Quo Vadis Basic planners are expected to be in our shop soon.)

If you’re picky about paper color, Quo Vadis gives you the choice of extra white, white, ivory and even a pale green color of paper such as found in the super-popular daily planner Journal 21.

If you love graph paper, Rhodia Weekly Planners provide a grid area along with each week’s plans for drawing and taking notes.

Quo Vadis comes to the rescue and provides us with the following informative chart on the types of paper contained in Quo Vadis planners. (We left the Quo Vadis Notebooks on the end of this list for your reference.) Which Quo Vadis Planner is your favorite?

Quo Vadis Paper Chart

Edition Weight Color
Trinote 90g extra white
Minister 90g extra white
Academic Minister 90g extra white
Prenote 90g extra white
President 90g extra white
Principal® 90g extra white
Scholar 90g extra white
Septanote 90g extra white
Note 27 90g ivory
Monthly 4 90g extra white
Quarter 90g extra white
Executive 90g extra white
Visual 90g green tint
Space 24 90g green tint
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 6 x 9 90g extra white
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 6 x 9 Academic 90g extra white
Visoplan 90g extra white
President Equology 89g white
Minister Equology 89g white
Scholar Equology 89g white
Exaplan 85g extra white
Textagenda Equology 74g white
Sapa X Equology 74g white
Journal 21 72g green tint
Business 64g extra white
Sapa X 64g extra white
Sapa X Academic 64g extra white
Notor 64g extra white
Textagenda 64g extra white
IB Traveler 64g extra white
ABP1 64g extra white
Biweek 64g extra white
University 64g extra white
Student 64g extra white
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 4 x 6 64g extra white
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 4 x 6 Academic 64g extra white
Miniweek 55g ivory
Space 17 55g ivory
Daily Pocket 55g ivory
Notebooks
Habana large ruled 90g extra white
Habana large blank 90g extra white
Habana pocket blank 90g extra white
Habana pocket ruled 64g extra white
Robert le heros large ruled 90g extra white
Robert le heros pocket ruled 64g extra white
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