A blog called Fountain Pen Love had an excellent post last year about the difference between fountain pen friendly, and fountain pen fun paper. In short, fountain pen fun paper helps make your inks look their best and make that paper more enjoyable to use. Paper like Tomoe River is fountain pen fun. Fountain pen friendly may not make your inks look their Sunday-best, but perhaps casual-Friday at the worst. Papers like Mnemosyne and Clairfontaine are fountain pen friendly.
For lefties who hook their hand and rub it all over their handwriting, fountain pen fun paper is great, but not always practical for everyday use. I started to test Tomoe River paper, but certain inks never dried, or took many minutes, so it’s hard to compare to every other paper that had been tested. Tomoe River is in a class by itself, and will be measured and averaged in minutes.
In each test I take 13 pens with varying nib sizes and wetness, along with 13 inks of different properties and wetness, and measure dry-times in seconds. I smudge sets of three lines in five second intervals until the ink is dried. Keep in mind that these tests aren’t super scientific, and that there are a lot of variables like writing angle.
Apica CD Paper:
Apica CD paper had an average dry time of 15.9 seconds. The longest dry-time was Ham #65, which dried within 5 minutes. There was no feathering and moderate show-through with darker inks. Bleed-though is a 1. Most inks had nice shading but no sheen. I’m wondering if Ham #65 took so long to dry because it’s been in that pen for several months now? Once I re-ink that pen I’ll test again to verify the results. With very mild bleed-through, nice shading, and a median dry time Apica CD is a 7 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
Maruman paper had an average dry-time of 13.46 seconds. The longest dry-time was Extra-Dimension, which dried within 30 seconds. This paper yielded crisp lines and heavy shading. Inks that are made to sheen did. Extra-Dimension, Fire & Ice, Wild Strawberry, and Pilot Blue-Black all sheened. Bleed-through is a 0, and the show-through was minor enough that I would feel comfortable writing on both sides of the page. With no bleeding, both shading and sheening, and a median to high dry-time, Maruman paper is a 9 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
Kokuyo Sketch Book Paper:
Kokuyo Sketch paper also had an average dry-time of 13.46 seconds. The longest dry-times were Schrödinger and Kokeiro with 25 seconds each. Extra Dimension, Navajo Turquoise, and Golden Brown all dried 10 seconds faster on this paper than the Maruman. Corn Poppy Red, Pilot Blue-Black, and Fire & Ice all took 5 seconds longer to dry on Kokuyo paper. Ama-Iro, Wild Strawberry, Ha Ha, Ham #65, and Horizon Blue all had the same dry-times as on Maruman paper. Kokeiro almost completely dried at 15 seconds on Kokuyo, but when I moved down to the next line my writing angle changed and the nib put out more ink and therefore took longer to dry. This has happened with other inks on other papers as well, and is a factor to keep in mind when looking at these results. Bleed-through is a 1; I would not write on both sides of this paper, and some lines are fuzzy looking. There is some sheening; the only ink that sheened more on this paper compared to Maruman is Fire & Ice. With some bleed-through, light sheening and shading, and a median to high dry-time Kokuyo Sketch paper is a 7 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
Kokuyo Campus Paper:
Kokuyo Campus paper had an average dry-time of 18.46 seconds. The longest dry-time was Navajo Turquoise at 45 seconds. If you look closely, you can see that my writing still smudged as I moved further down the page. Bleed-through is a 0, I would write on both sides of the page. This paper is great for both sheening and shading. Ama-Iro still dried within 5 seconds, it’s a champ. With a long dry-time, heavy shading and moderate sheening, Kokuyo Campus paper is a 9 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
Yamamoto Ro-Biki Paper:
Yamamoto Ro-Biki paper had an average dry time of 11.15 seconds. Extra-Dimension and Kokeiro had the longest dry times, both drying within 20 seconds. Bleed through is a 3. There is enough bleed through on the back of the page that I wouldn’t write on both sides. Despite the bleeding, this paper still shows off shading with every ink except for Golden Brown. Golden Brown had the worst bleeding and looks staticky after drying. With a median low dry-time, shading, and moderate bleed through, Yamamoto Ro-Biki paper is a 6 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
Midori Cotton Paper:
Midori Cotton paper had an average dry time of 9.61 seconds! Compare that to regular Midori that had an average dry time of 25 seconds. The longest dry time was Golden Brown at 25 seconds. Bleed through is a 0, with the gentlest show-through. There was also no feathering, beautiful shading, and sheening. This paper is such a joy to write on, and it’s hard to find a paper that has short dry times and high ink performance. With these factors in mind, Midori Cotton is a 10 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
Kleid paper had an average dry time of 15 seconds. Bleed-through is a 0, Golden Brown bled through a little bit onto the back of the page, and there was no feathering. There isn’t even any show through besides that little bit of bleed-through. The longest dry time was Extra Dimension at 25 seconds. Extra Dimension, Fire & Ice, and Navajo Turquoise all smudged as I wrote further down the page. This paper shows off shading and sheening quite well, and it feels laminated. With a median dry time, desirable ink properties, and minimal bleed-through, Kleid paper is an 8 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
Field Notes Memo Book Paper:
Field Notes memo book paper had an average dry time of 5 seconds. Every ink tested dried within 5 seconds. Bleed-through is a 4. Any broader nibs and wet inks feathered and bled onto the back of the page. All of the inks on the first page did pretty well, and I would consider them useable for writing quick notes. On the second page, all the nibs are pretty wet, and put out a lot of ink. I was surprised that Pilot Blue-Black feathered, because it’s normally so well behaved. Fire & Ice actually sheened a little bit, and Haha shaded a little bit. With the lowest dry time so far, heavy feathering and bleeding, Field Notes Memo paper is a 1 on the Scale of Paper Absorption. While this paper had a lower dry time than Molskine, the paper quality is higher and is more fountain pen friendly.
Tomoe River Paper (52 gsm):
I changed my threshold for Tomoe River paper to 30 seconds rather than 5 seconds, because this paper is so water resistant. This specific paper is over a year old, before the company changed their formula. Tomoe River Paper had an average dry time of 1.69 minutes, the longest so far. This is the most fountain pen fun paper I have; every ink looks its best. The shading and sheening is beautiful, and there is no feathering. Because this paper is so thin, there is a lot of show through, but no bleeding. Bleed through is a 0. I have had inks bleed through all the way to the next page while using a flex nib, but for the pens and inks used in this test, there was no bleeding. Tomoe River is an 11 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.
The next (and last) post in this series will be an analysis of these results, with numbers and such all in once place.