Colorado Pen Posse at Two Hands Paperie

A selection of fountain pens. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

A selection of fountain pens.

We recently had the privilege of hosting a meeting of the Colorado Pen Posse at Two Hands Paperie. The meeting was fast and furious with everyone discussing pens, ink, and paper of every sort non-stop for hours- members, Two Hands employees, and customers alike. What is the Pen Posse you ask? It is a group of fountain pen enthusiasts from around the area that get together every month or so and discuss pens!  There are no dues, no rules of order, or formalities. It is very unofficial and informal, and everyone is welcome, whether you have desk drawers full of pens or you are just wondering what a fountain pen is. Members typically show up with their pen collections, or parts of them, and are happy to let others try them out, talk about them, and recommend which inks or paper work best for them. This meeting was no different- our tables were filled with amazing pens. And the store was filled with the enthusiastic chatter of some very knowledgeable pen people.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the testing of various papers. We pulled sample notebooks for testing from various manufacturers including White Lines, Rhodia, Rossi 1931, Kunst and Papier, Moleskine, and Michael Rogers. Each pen nib acts differently- based on the nib itself, the qualities of inks and the idiosyncrasies of the hands of each operator, and so the outcome of writing a line of text can vary greatly from paper to paper. The text may feather (bleed out), bleed through the paper (a common occurrence), or dry slowly based on the properties of the paper (all inks dried quickly on the papers tested below). Our goal was to find the right paper for each operator, and in the end I think we were successful. Members and visitors left with stationery, writing tablets, and notebooks that fit their pens, ink, and writing styles. The samples of the papers mentioned above, plus many others, are always available for testing at the store.

Papers We Tested
We have recently added White Lines products to our offerings both in the store and online. White Lines paper comes either lined or squared (graph paper style). As they state clearly in their product information “the novelty is that the lines are clearly visible without disturbing what you write.” The paper has a light grey background with- what else- white lines. The lines “disappear” once you being writing on the page.  The lines also disappear when photocopied or scanned. White Lines paper comes in many formats- spiral bound, perfect bound, glue bound pads, and stitched. They even have a “digital pad”- the White Lines Link notebook- that can be scanned using your iPhone, then saved, emailed, or posted to your Dropbox or Evernote account. So you get the best of both worlds- writing with your fountain pen then sharing through your iPhone! The consensus was that White Lines paper is very fountain pen friendly, although bleed-through of ink can occur with broader nibs.

White Lines pad with Visconti pen. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

White Lines squared paper with medium-nib Visconti Homo Sapiens

Another paper that was a big hit is made by Rossi 1931. Rossi 1931 papers are made in Italy using the ancient Amalfi paper making process. They have a beautiful texture and deckled (rough) edges. Rossi 1931 makes a full line of writing and drawing pads, card and envelope sets, and boxed cards and envelopes available in packages of 100 for the very ambitious note writer (or letterpress printer). The writing pads are available in two European sizes, A5 and A4, roughly 6 x 8 inches and 8 x 11 inches and come in a white or cream finish. The papers are thick enough to accept most fountain pen inks without bleed-through, allowing you to write on both sides.

Rossi 1931 writing pad. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Rossi 1931 writing pad with Stipula Passaporto.

The final winner in our paper test was the Binderboard Sketchbook by Kunst and Papier.  These sketchbooks have a heavier paper and there is no bleed-through, even with a bold nib. They are great for sketching and journaling, and accept water-based markers as well as a light wash. The Binderboard Sketchbooks come in a variety of sizes and orientations, and a choice of five colors for the linen spine. The covers open so the book lies flat, or they will fold back on themselves. The unfinished bookboard cover allows you to customize this sketchbook to your liking- use cloth, paper, paint, or pens to personalize it. Look for a blog in the near future about simple techniques for covering them. All papers, journals, and notebooks mentioned are available online at TwoHandsPaperie.com and in-store.  The fountain pens featured are available in-store only. If you are interested in the Pen Posse you can join their email list by sending a message to edslists@earthlink.net. Email addresses are shared only with other Pen Posse members and are not used commercially in any way.

Kunst and Papier Binderboard Sketchbook and Lamy fountain pen. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Kunst and Papier Binderboard Sketchbook with Lamy Al-Star fountain pen.