Stalogy Planners

A5, B6, A6

Stalogy is a Japanese paper company that makes very minimalist planners in several sizes and colors. I used their 1/2 year A6 and A5 planners for a time, and consider their paper a faster drying alternative to Hobonichi or Midori notebooks. The paper is thin and can handle most fountain pen inks. If you’re transitioning from other thin papers like Tomoe River, it does take time to appreciate and get used to Stalogy paper.

Stalogy paper was the first paper that I tested when I did my Scale of Paper Absorption tests. The average dry time was 14.2 seconds, and I gave this paper a 3 on the scale. This seems like a harsh score in hindsight, and now I would give Stalogy a 7. Noodlers Golden Brown, a super wet ink that can take actual hours to dry, did not bleed or feather on this paper. When I wrote with a Retro 51 rollerball, the ink didn’t feather but it did bleed to the back of the page enough to render that side unusable. As far as smudging during daily writing, I have not. The only smudging has come from me turning a page with my thumb.

The very light printing on each page is unobtrusive and means that you can use these planners as intended or as a regular notebook. My wife has two Stalogy notebooks: one is a B6 365 that she uses for work, and one is an A5 1/2 year that she uses for training/workouts. The left hand side of each page is numbered so that you can use it as a daily time table. The A6 size is numbered for 12 hours, and the A5 size is numbered for 24 hours. All of the 365 and 1/2 year notebooks are part of Stalogy’s Editors series. I used my A6 for actual editing once, and I enjoyed it. The light gridding makes it easy to read your notes again in the future. The date and time formatting on the top and side margins is so tiny that you could easily write over it if you wanted to.

The Gentleman Stationer recently talked about how he cut his A5 1/2 year to be able to fit into a Travelers notebook, and I am considering doing the same. You could cut down an A6 to fit in a passport sized Travelers notebook, but it would require two cuts instead of one.

The covers on these notebooks are very nice. They’re lightly textured, flexible, and are made of coated fabric on thin cardstock. After using my A5 for a few weeks without a protective case there’s a tiny bit of fraying along the edges, and that is pleasing to me. The binding lays flat so that you can leave your notebook open and the pages won’t flop over.

Really, Stalogy notebooks can be whatever you want them to be. The pages have very light printing, but the grid ruling serves as a guide when you need it. You can draw calendars, graphs, write to-do lists, and take notes. Recently, Stalogy has started offering dot grid and blank notebooks that don’t have the date formatting at the top of each page. These notebooks retail for between $17 and $35 USD at most stationers.

The Scale of Paper Absorption: Part 3

This is Part 3 of a series of paper tests. If you would like to read them, here is Part 1 and Part 2.

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:

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:

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.

The Scale of Paper Absorption Part Two

This is part two of a series of scientific paper tests to determine the most lefty and fountain pen friendly paper. To read Part One, please click here. I tested each paper with 12 pens with inks of varying degrees of wetness. Dry-times were measured by dragging my finger across three lines after 5 seconds, and then repeating this process with new lines until the ink dried, increasing each time by 5 seconds.

Leuchtturm 1917:

Leuchtturm 1917 had an average dry time of 16.25 seconds. The longest dry time was 30 seconds with Colorverse Extra Dimension. The only ink that feathered at all was Noodlers Golden Brown, and it was mild feathering. Bleed through is a 2. This paper shows off shading but not sheening. With minimal feathering and a surprisingly slow dry time, Leuchtturm 1917 is a 6 on the Scale of Absorption. I say surprisingly slow, as Leuchtturm is one of the papers often recommended for lefties on stationary websites because it’s so absorbent. I think that this paper is best used after finding the right pen and ink combination for you, and if you enjoy toothy paper.

Doane Paper:

Doane Paper had an average dry time of 5.42 seconds. Colorverse Extra Dimension had the longest dry time within 10 seconds. Every other ink just seeped right in. Bleed-through is a 5, but there was no feathering. No inks bled through on to the next page, but quite a few bled to the back. This paper is great if you want to jot something down quickly and immediately put it away, it’s also pretty toothy. With light feathering, moderate bleed-through, and a little bit of shading, Doane Paper is a 2 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

Nock Co:

Nock Paper had an average dry time of 5.83 seconds. The longest dry time was Kyo-no-oto Kokeiro with 15 seconds. Every other ink tested dried within 5 seconds, even Extra Dimension. Most inks yielded crisp lines, but Golden Brown was a little bit feathery, as was Schrödinger. You can see a little bit of shading in certain inks like Fire & Ice and Kokeiro, and no sheen. This paper has a little bit of tooth, but not unpleasantly so. Bleed-through is a 2. This paper has a little bit of tooth, but much less than Leuchtturm. With a fast dry time, very light feathering and light bleed-through, Nock Paper is a 4 on the Scale of Absorption.

Blackwing:

Blackwing Paper had an average dry-time of 9.16 seconds. The longest dry-times were Extra Dimension and Wild Strawberry with 20 seconds each. Bleed-through is a 1, but Golden Brown and Haha both feathered a little bit, as did Extra Dimension. Extra Dimension shades, as well as every other ink tested except for Golden Brown and Haha. With a median dry-time, light feathering and bleed-through, Blackwing Paper is a 5 on the Scale of Paper Absorption. Considering that this paper is designed to be used with pencils, Blackwing Paper does quite well with fountain pens, and it’s pretty smooth to write on.

Delfonics Rollbahn:

Rollbahn Paper had an average dry-time of 17.5 seconds. The longest dry-time was Colorverse Schrödinger, which dried within 30 seconds. This paper shows off shading quite nicely, but no sheening, and is pleasantly smooth. Bleed-through is a 1. There was no feathering with crisp lines, and some tiny spots that bled to the back of the page. With a slow dry-time, nice shading, no feathering and minimal bleed-through, Rollbahn is an 8 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

Midori MD:

Midori paper had an average dry-time of 25 seconds. As you can see in the first photo above, Golden Brown never dried, even after 3 minutes, and is a smudgy mess. Because every other ink dried within 1 minute and 5 seconds, I didn’t factor Golden Brown into my average dry-time for this paper. Because Midori paper is water resistant, super wet inks tend to sit on top of the page. Another day I’ll do a set of tests with really wet inks like Golden Brown and calculate the average in minutes. Bleed-through is a 0, with no feathering and the ability to use both sides of the paper. Inks that previously showed no sheen, like Wild Strawberry, sheen and shade on Midori. With the longest dry-time thus far and wonderful ink performance, Midori MD is a 10 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

Field Notes (Steno):

Field Notes paper on their Steno Book had an average dry-time of 11.6 seconds. The longest dry-times were Extra Dimension and Kokeiro, each drying within 20 seconds. Bleed-through is a 4, but with no feathering and decent shading. Even Manyo Ha Ha showed its dual shading. Golden Brown seeped right in the page, but the lines are still pretty crisp. With a moderately low dry-time, moderately high bleed-through, and a respectable amount of shading, Field Notes is a 3 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

After looking at how I graded these results, I’ve updated some of the scores for part one, and added some Amazon affiliate links in case you might want to purchase any of these notebooks. I plan on making one more part, and then turning these posts into one webpage, including an actual scale to see where each paper falls. The links on this post are Amazon affiliate links as well. If you click on them and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

The Hobonichi Techo A6

I bought a Hobonichi planner at the beginning of a pandemic lockdown. Here’s what I did with it:

Back in March of 2020 I ordered a Hobonichi Techo planner as a birthday present to myself. The notebook that I was using as a sort-of-planner was a disorganized mess, and I was looking for something small and low maintenance. My A6 Hobonichi ended up being just right for the rest of 2020.

The front cover got a bit warped from being in my Seed case behind the inside pen slots.

Hobonichi Techo planners come in both A6, A5, and slim wallet sizes, and are available in Japanese and English languages. The English language editions sell out quickly. They can be used as part of a system with a cover and various accessories, but I just got the planner book by itself. At the time of purchase, I was able to get a spring edition that begins in April of 2020 and ends in March of 2021. At the beginning of January I tried starting a fresh new journal, but have since went back to using the Hobonichi because I want to finish it.

Without a job and very few dates to remember, I used the calendar section at the beginning of the book to track when I left the house and where I went. During this age of Covid-19, I’ve been the main person in my household running errands. With this information written down I could go back and look at when the last time I left the house was, and how many times I went out in a month.

For the daily pages, the Hobonichi has a very nice layout. In the top left corner there’s the date and weekday as well as any applicable holidays. In the top right corner there’s a little area with five checkboxes for a to-do list. The rest of the page is gridded with subtle lines that are different colors for each month. At the bottom of the page there is a daily quote. Since my version is in Japanese, I ended up handwriting the day of the week and applicable holiday. I also wrote down what number day of my lockdown it was; the last day I logged was number 281. By the middle of the year it’s gonna be like Blast From The Past when Brendan Fraser’s character first leaves the bunker.

In the to-do list section I wrote down basic household tasks like chores and daily reminders. The five checkboxes were not limiting and helped me to focus on those five or less things. In the blank gridded area I would sometimes doodle or test pens and inks. At the beginning of each month there’s a blank page, and sometimes I would write a quote for the month.

In the back of the planner there are some plain gridded pages that allow more space for notes or sketches. Then there’s a time table where you can write out a weekly schedule. After that, there’s two pages formatted for a graph or chart. There are several pages of literature about Japanese culture. There are also pages to list your top 100 anything, and pages for your favorite restaurants and music or movies. The Hobonichi Techo planners are both fun and practical.

The pages in the back are perfect for writing down timely quotes.

As for the paper, Hobonichi uses Tomoe River. To accommodate the slow dry times I used a Robert Oster blotter card as a bookmark. I usually would just leave the planner open for a few minutes in between writing to give the ink time to dry. When I was done writing, I would put the card over the last thing I wrote and close the case. This worked fine with most inks, except for some very wet Noodlers ones like Golden Brown and Black Swan in Australian Roses. Inks that sheen on most papers, like Organics Studio Nitrogen, really smear on Tomoe River, even after drying. There’s a lot of ghosting because the paper is so thin, but very few inks bled through to the back of the page, and no inks bled onto the next page. Noodlers Blue Nosed Bear bled, as well as J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor.

I kept my planner in a Nock Co. A6 Seed case, which works great. These cases have two pen slots on the inside, a card slot on the other, and an outside pocket. When your notebook is fully in one of these cases, the front cover can get warped because it sits behind the pen slots. This is really only an issue if the notebook you’re using has a cover that you care about, and it can be fixed by leaving the front cover out of the sleeve. I could say more wonderful things about the Seed, but that’s for a different post.

Overall, the Hobonichi A6 Techo has been a nice and low maintenance planner. The one-page-a-day format on smaller paper is perfect for anyone who has anxiety about committing to a larger notebook. It helped me manage daily tasks and keep track of the days. The minimalist aesthetic of the daily pages can be used as intended for to-do lists and short journal entries, or you can just draw all over it. I would definitely use one of these again.

The Scale of Paper Absorption Part 1

This is the lefty fountain pen dilemma: do you want to be able to see all the lovely ink properties but have to contort your hand so you don’t smudge? Or do you want to be able to write how your body wants to without a cramping hand and without worrying about smudging? There are so many different paper options on the market, but which ones are lefty and fountain pen friendly? I’ve taken all the different notebooks I have and measured dry times, bleed-through and feathering. I chose 12 pens with varying nib sizes and wetness to use across the different papers for consistency. For each paper I’ll include average dry times and rate bleed-through on a scale of one to five. One being minimal and five being the ink bled onto the next page. Each paper will also have a rating from absorbent to impermeable, from zero to ten.

Stalogy 365:

Stalogy 365 paper has an average dry time of 14.2 seconds. Bleed-through is a 2, but the paper is thin enough that there is show-through on the back of the page. Sailor Haha had a dry time of about 10 seconds and feathered a tiny bit. Noodlers Golden Brown had a dry time of about 20 seconds and also feathered a tiny bit. With minimal feathering and bleed-through and a fairly fast dry-time, Stalogy 365 is a 3 on the Scale of Absorption.

Mnemosyne:

Mnemosyne paper has an average dry time of 15.42 seconds. There was no bleed-through and minimal show-through, making this paper a 1 on the bleed scale. Both Noodlers Golden Brown and Colorverse Schrödinger had a dry time of 20 seconds and feathered noticeably. Sailor Haha feathered a tiny bit with a dry time of 10 seconds. Even though Golden Brown feathered in some spots, it still shaded quite nicely. Fire and Ice sheened a lot. Mnemosyne is a happy medium for those who want paper that’s absorbent and can show ink properties. With the slightly slower dry time and no bleed-through, Mnemosyne is a 7 on the Scale of Absorption.

L!fe:

L!fe paper has an average dry time of 20 seconds. There was no bleed-through or show-through, a 1 on the bleed scale. Colorverse Schrödinger had a whopping 45 second dry time, while Noodlers Golden Brown had a 30 second dry time. I’ve learned that Iroshizuku Ama-Iro is a consistently fast drying ink. I’ve been using this notebook as a currently inked log, and it does a good job of showing off shading and sheening. With a slow dry time and no bleed-through, L!fe paper is a 8 on the Scale of Absorption.

Moleskine:

Moleskine paper had an average dry time of 5.41 seconds. There was a lot of bleed-through and a lot of feathering, making this a 4 on the bleed scale. This paper isn’t pleasant to write on, but if fast dry times are a priority for you, then Moleskine will work. With paper this absorbent, the ink just sinks right in and there’s no sheening or shading. Every ink that I tested dried in about 5 seconds except for Kyoto Kokeiro, which dried at about 10 seconds. Moleskine paper is a 1 on the Scale of Absorption.

Rhodia:

Rhodia paper has an average dry time of 10.83 seconds. There was no bleed-through or feathering, a 1 on the bleed-scale. This paper shows off both sheening and shading. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but Fire and Ice and Pilot Blue-Black both sheened. I ended up lightly smudging some ink that had already dried while writing. Rhodia is a 5 on the Scale of Absorption.

This is part 1 of what will be a series of scientific tests on paper absorption. I’ll keep using the same pen and ink combinations, but 5 different paper tests seems like a good place to start.

Rhodia Paper

A close-up sample from a Rhodia color A4 pad.

Paper is important to the lefty writing experience too! Some papers are super absorbent, some papers are laminated so that ink sits on top. Some papers show off ink properties very well while others don’t. I thought that I would start off this paper section of Left Hook Pens with Rhodia, one of my favorites.

Three years ago I was given a Rhodia goalbook to start bullet journaling with. Up until then, the nicest paper I had used was a fancy spiral-bound notebook from Target. The same day, I was also given a Platinum Preppy which was my first fountain pen. The pen I messed up right away because I misaligned the tines, but the notebook I would end up using over three calendar years.

Rhodia paper comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, bindings and rulings. There are lined, dot grid, regular grid and blank. Over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few Rhodia notebooks:

In the A5 category I have a dot pad, a staple bound grid notebook, and two goalbooks. My old sapphire goalbook is pictured next to a brand new one. The sapphire has developed a sort of patina, and there is Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses soaked in on the right side of the cover. Underneath the dot pad there is a square spiral-bound reverse book with a dot grid. I plan on posting a separate review of this, as it’s especially lefty friendly. Underneath the reverse book there is a plaid grid notebook with numbered pages and a table of contents. The big purple A4 pad on the bottom is a lined Color pad. All Rhodia notebooks feature “brushed vellum paper” from Clairefontaine which is what makes them so smooth. The cream colored paper is 90gsm while the white is 80gsm. Despite a 10gsm difference, both paper grades handle most inks very well.

Back of page: There is no bleed-through and a little bit of ghosting. The ghosting that stands out the most is Colorverse Extra Dimension.

The above photos showcase the 90 gsm paper, front and back. If you take a look at the close-up sample at the very beginning of this post you will see that this cream colored paper shows off shading quite well.

Looking through my old goalbook, I noticed that black ink from a 0.25 mm Micron pen or a Le Pen will do this weird ghosting over time that I’ll try my best to explain. The ink has fully seeped into the paper, leaving a light blue halo around the writing and then severe ghosting on the other side of the page:

The above two photos are of the backs of separate pages in my goalbook where this ghosting has happened. I’m guessing that this is a combination of the acid free paper and the amount of black archival ink put on the page. This hasn’t happened with a blue Micron of the same line width, or black ink from a lesser line width Micron. I’m happy to report that fountain pen ink from a year ago looks the same as the day I used it!

The ghosting happened on the white paper as well using the same pen. So, if you’re interested in drawing or writing with waterproof/archival pens on this paper, I would recommend not using both sides of the page.

Ghosting on white paper. The light halo around the writing is more green on this paper.

Here are some more writing samples made on 80 gsm grid paper. The performance is a about the same as with the cream colored paper, but ink colors may show up more accurately because there’s no distortion from the color of the paper.

On the back of the page, Emerald of Chivor bled through a little bit, as did TWSBI Emerald, but those inks were in wet writing pens. Super wet inks like Noodler’s Blue Nosed Bear will bleed through no matter what pen you use. The same is true for the slightly thicker cream paper.

I love Rhodia notebooks. The Clairfontaine paper is a good midpoint between Tomoe River and Leuchtturm on the absorbency scale. Rhodia also has the best smelling notebooks that I have ever smelled; there’s no chemical or plasticky scent on these pages. For lefties, this is a good everyday paper as I haven’t had smearing issues and dry time is decent.