Are Clairefontaine Paper Notebooks Worth the Money?

Clairefontaine Medium Side-Wire Notebook
Clairefontaine Medium Side-Wire Notebook

If you are serious about writing and are wondering whether or not Clairefontaine paper notebooks are worth the cost, we would definitely have to say yes! If you’ve heard the buzz about Clairefontaine and haven’t yet given their notebooks a try, we’d like to tell you some of the reasons we highly recommend them.

Clairefontaine paper is super smooth so your pen will feel like it is gliding across the page. If you’re writing a lot every day the last thing you want to feel is your pen dragging across the paper as you write. Just thinking about a day of writing with a cheap ball point pen on cheap paper makes me feel fatigued!  Your hand will thank you for the exceptionally smooth writing experience that these notebooks provide.

Clairefontaine Side-Staple French Ruled Notebooks
Clairefontaine Side-Staple French Ruled Notebooks

The paper is high quality and 90g so you can write on both sides of the page without any ink significantly showing through to the other side of the page (with most pens – not so great with Sharpies). If you’re writing in cheap notebooks and only use one side of each page, the cost per page could actually be higher than what you would pay per page in a Clairefontaine notebook where you can use both sides of each page. You can even use both sides of the page when you’re writing with a fountain pen.

This paper works fabulously with fountain pens! Many writers have already discovered that fountain pens provide a very satisfying writing experience and can reduce writing fatigue. Many cheap paper notebooks on the market today do not work well with fountain pens. Fountain pen ink will feather and bleed through a lot of cheap paper and you may even find your nib poking through or tearing the page. This is not the case with Clairefontaine paper. It’s ultra smooth and minimizes any feathering or bleed through of fountain pen ink. The fact that this paper is extra-white means it will make your ink colors pop!

Clairefontaine Side-Staple Notebook
Clairefontaine Side-Staple Notebook

Clairefontaine makes their own paper, which means it is of consistent quality, and they have control over the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. This is in contrast to cheap paper which is of inconsistent quality and can have dubious origins. Clairefontaine goes out of their way to manufacture their paper in France using environmentally responsible methods. For example, their paper is made from pulp and wood by-products from forests independently certified by PEFC or FSC as sustainably managed. The paper is chlorine free and uses water-based ink made from vegetable oil pigments. Clairefontaine has reduced its water consumption through an advanced recycling method. Any water returned to the River Meurthe after manufacturing is cleaner than when it arrived at the mill. Waste from the water treatment plant is converted into agricultural compost. Clairefontaine operates a dual power generation system (electricity and steam) which supplies 80% of the mill’s own energy needs.

Clairefontaine Large Top-Wire Notebook
Clairefontaine Large Top-Wire Notebook

Clairefontaine paper notebooks are well designed and provide a fantastic writing experience, therefore the price is worth it for their superior quality. If you love writing they are definitely worth seeking out over the cheap alternatives. The right notebook does make a difference!

If you want to give Clairefontaine a try, here’s a list of some of their lower priced paper notebooks to get you started:

Clairefontaine Twinbook
Clairefontaine Twinbook
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Quo Vadis Monthly 4 Calendar Review

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 Planner - Black Club Cover
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 Planner with a Black Club Cover and elastic bookmark

The Monthly 4 Calendar from Quo Vadis provides 18 months for scheduling beginning with July of one year and ending with December of the next. It has the flexibility to be used to plan out a school year starting in August or September, or it can be used as a regular yearly planner.

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 Planner open to a calendar planning page
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 Planner open to a calendar planning page

As its name indicates, this is a monthly planner, which means that it displays an entire month over 2 pages for making notes about activities and appointments. It is a compact and useful tool for those that don’t need to keep extremely detailed records for each day. Each week of the monthly calendar indicates which week of the year it is (ie 34th week etc), begins with Monday and ends with a smaller space for Sunday. Each day indicates which day of the year it is and how many days are left in the year. Lunar cycles and holidays are also noted. On the right side of each month there is space for notes such as phone numbers, websites and expenses as well as small displays of the 2 previous months and 2 upcoming months. The bottom of each month has a space about 1.5″ tall for taking notes.

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 - Annual Planning Pages
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 annual planning pages

The first few pages of this planner include a page for personal information and a year and a half of annual planning pages that correspond to the 18 months in the planner. After the final calendar month of December in the planner there are annual planning pages for the following year.

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 world time zones & map of Canada
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 world time zones & map of Canada

The back of the Monthly 4 planner has a chart of international holidays for 31 different countries, international telephone access codes, world time zones and 8 pages of world maps. There is one page that displays 3 yearly calendars, an A to Z address book of 5 pages and 16 ruled pages for notes.

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 address & notes pages
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 address & notes pages

The smooth white 90g paper in the Monthly 4 planner is noteworthy because it is made by Clairefontaine. This means it is really great if you like to use fountain pens! Clairefontaine paper is acid free, chlorine free and PEFC certified. Each page in the planning section of the Monthly 4 has a perforated lower right corner. When you tear the corners off as you progress throughout the year it will help you to easily open the planner to the month in progress. Take a look at the very bottom of this post for a writing test we did with the paper in this planner.

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 map of Africa & 3 yearly calendars
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 map of Africa & 3 yearly calendars

A feature that is appreciated by many is that the sewn binding allows the planner to lay flat when it’s open. The Quo Vadis Monthly 4 can be purchased with a variety of refillable covers or it can be purchased as a refill without a cover. My planner has a Bamboo Green Texas cover that has a soft, suede-like feel to it. It’s the slimmest, most flexible and most light-weight of the available covers. The leather-like Soho and Club covers have stitched edges and are sturdy enough to be paired with a Quo Vadis elastic bookmark. The size of this planner is approximately 7″ x 9.38″ so it will slip into a medium size purse, backpack or briefcase.

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 Planner with a Bamboo Green Texas Cover
My own personal Monthly 4 Planner after a year & a half of use – still looks good!

Do you like to use a monthly planner? If so, which one is your favorite?

Quo Vadis Monthly 4 writing test - front of the page
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 writing test – front of the page
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 writing test - back
Quo Vadis Monthly 4 writing test – back of the page
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Top 5 School Supplies For 2015

A new school year is right around the corner! My favorite memory of going back to school was getting all of the fresh, new stationery supplies needed to prepare for the upcoming year. I was particularly fond of any new art supplies such as pencils with a variety of graphite, paints and sketchbooks. Whether or not you feel it’s old-fashioned, using paper and pen to take handwritten notes has proven to help students learn more than if they type their notes on laptops so be sure to stock up on writing supplies for top school performance! Here are our top 5 stationery choices for back to school 2015:

Clairefontaine Twinbook
Clairefontaine Twinbook Two Subject Notebook

1) Clairefontaine Notebooks. Whatever your paper notebook needs are, Clairefontaine pretty much has you covered with their huge variety and high quality super-smooth paper. One of our favorites is the Clairefontaine Twinbook. The first 48 pages have a tab cut into them that divides the Twinbook into two sections for two subjects. Another favorite is the 3-hole punched Clairefontaine Wirebound Notebook, ruled with margin. This notebook has paper that is sized to fit 3-ring binders in the USA and includes a generous 90 sheets of paper (available soon).

Quo Vadis Minister Planner - Red Club Cover
Quo Vadis Minister Planner with a Red Club Cover

2) Quo Vadis Academic Planners. Back to school means a busy schedule and lots of exams and assignments to keep track of. Keep yourself or your student organized with a Quo Vadis Academic Planner that starts and ends with the months of the school year. For a super jam-packed schedule try the Quo Vadis Academic Minister or for something pocket-sized the Quo Vadis University Appointment Book.

Palomino Blackwing Pencils
Palomino Blackwing Pencils

3) Palomino Blackwing Pencils. Whether you’re in art class or geometry class a quality pencil is an essential tool. Palomino has got your needs covered with their retro variety of premium graphite wooden pencils.

Zebra Optex Highlighters
Zebra Optex Highlighters

4) Zebra Optex Highlighters. These Zebra Highlighters have a tip on each end: The thick end is perfect for highlighting words on a page while the thin end is great for underlining. Save space (and weight!) in your backpack with these dual purpose writing tools.

Aston Leather Pen & Pencil Pouches
Aston Leather Pen & Pencil Pouches

5) Aston Leather Pencil Pouch. Keep your writing instruments from getting lost in the black hole of your backpack with a rugged Aston Leather Pencil Pouch. Aston selects their leather from the best environmentally friendly American and European tanneries, and their leathers are scratch resistant, supple, and sturdy.

What would you like to add to our list of top 5 school supplies for 2015?

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Fountain Pen Ink Art: Noodler’s Bernanke Blue

DSC00656If you’ve ever sketched with fountain pen ink perhaps you’ve had the same experience I’ve had – you’re almost done with your creation and then you accidentally smear an area of the sketch that’s not quite dry yet. Doh! I’ve been wanting to try Noodler’s Bernanke Blue fountain pen ink for drawing to see if this fast-drying ink would improve my odds of avoiding any smearing. My first experiment was a success! During the entire sketching process not a line was smeared anywhere in the drawing.

Noodler’s Bernanke inks are formulated with left-handed writers in mind. This ink is smear resistant even when writing over the words (or a drawing) with your hand. In addition to Blue, Noodler’s Bernanke Ink is also available in Black. It is not water resistant, so if you want ink that stays put when you paint watercolors over it, this would not be it. For general sketching purposes it worked great!

I used a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen with a fine nib and a Clairefontaine Graf-it Sketch Book with 90g paper to make this drawing of my canine friend Murray. By the look on his face I think he’s trying to say “What does a pup have to do to get some sleep around here?”

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Find a Pocket Size Planner with High-Quality Paper

Space 17 Weekly Planner & Pelikan Fountain Pen
Space 17 Weekly Planner & Pelikan Fountain Pen

In order to conserve on size, space and weight many pocket-size planners use thin low-quality paper that may not provide a very satisfying writing experience. Where can a pocket planner be found with good quality paper? Quo Vadis, Exacompta and Rhodia come to the rescue! Clairefontaine has a reputation for creating some of the best paper in the world for writing, and these brands have chosen to use Clairefontaine’s French-milled paper for their compact datebooks.

The gold standard 90g bright white, super-smooth Clairefontaine paper that is fantastic for fountain pens can be found in two pocket-size Quo Vadis monthly planners:

Several Quo Vadis, Exacompta & Rhodia pocket-planners contain 64g bright white Clairefontaine paper that has an ultra-smooth finish. This paper is acid-free, pH neutral and PEFC certified.  You can find this wonderful paper in the following planners, most of which have a weekly planning format:

Another Clairefontaine paper variation is a light-weight, exceptionally strong 55g ivory paper. It is acid-free, pH neutral and PEFC certified. Both of these weekly planners contain this type of paper:

We’ve had many of our readers ask if Clairefontaine’s 64g white paper and 55g ivory paper are suitable for fountain pens. I can say that I’ve personally used it successfully with a fine nib fountain pen and select inks. However, this may not be true for all inks and all fountain pens. To help you decide if you’d like to try these datebooks for yourself, we created some samples using various nib sizes and inks. Take a look at the results below.

If writing with a fountain pen is the most important thing to you and not the size of the planner itself, we would recommend taking a look at this previous post: Fountain Pen Friendly Planners

Have you discovered any pocket-size planners with high-quality paper that you like to use? Please let us know what they are in the comments – we’d like to hear from you!

Front side of the page 64g paper. A Quo Vadis Business Planner (same format as University Academic) was used for this sample:

64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test - Front
64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test – Front

Back side of the page 64g paper (Quo Vadis Business Planner):

64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test - Back
64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test – Back

Front side of the page 64g paper (Biweek Planner):

64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Biweek) - Front
64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Biweek) – Front

Back side of the page 64g paper (Biweek Planner):

64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Biweek) - Back
64g White Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Biweek) – Back

Front side of the page 55g soft ivory paper (Space 17 Planner):

55g Soft Ivory Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Space 17) - Front
55g Soft Ivory Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Space 17) – Front

Back side of the page 55g soft ivory paper (Space 17 Planner):

55g Soft Ivory Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Space 17) - Back
55g Soft Ivory Clairefontaine Paper Writing Test (Space 17) – Back
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