Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Paper Review: Tomoe River Paper


After putting LIFE Notebooks in their store shelves last year, Scribe Writing Essentials has another Japanese paper product to offer: Tomoe River Paper. Tomoe River paper, or Tomoe River FP, is highly coveted and very popular among artists and fountain pen enthusiasts because of its high tolerance to inks. For a long time, I was a curious fan. My fellow fountain pen enthusiasts raved about it, pen sellers began stocking it, and more people were using notebooks filled with Tomoe River paper.

As a brief backgrounder, Tomoe River paper is manufactured by the Tomoegawa Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan. On their website, Tomoegawa Co. lists their product range from electronic parts, to display components, to functional sheets and specialty papers. Tomoegawa Co. collaborated with Sakae Technical Paper Co., Ltd. to release a number of stationery products including paper pads and loose sheets using Tomoe River paper. According to Tomoegawa Co., products using the Tomoe River paper are specially trademarked with the logo on the cover page.


Scribe offers Tomoe River paper in blank A4 pads and loose leaf sheets, in both white and cream. Tomoe River paper is unlike any paper. It is thin, and nearly transparent at 52gsm, which is almost half the thickness of regular copy paper at 80-110gsm. According to the Nanami Paper Co., Tomoe River paper was developed to be thin to reduce the thickness of bulky notebooks that use a lot of pages, while remaining strong and resistant to ink bleed-through and feathering.

Tomoe River paper is sheer, almost like Bible paper, and will crease or crinkle if one is not careful, but it is very suitable for fountain pen ink. Ink surprisingly dries faster in it, making it highly suitable for fast writing, and also for left-handed writers. It is also smooth, but not glossy. Writing in it is a completely different experience.

 
Tomoe River paper is thin, but holds fountain pen ink very well.
The writing guard provided in the pad is a useful tool to avoid unnecessary writing impressions on the other pages when you write on a page. The writing guard also has grids, although I find it a little too wide.

Now for the writing samples. If I wrote in a regular 52gsm paper, ink would seep through to the next page, considering the nibs on my pens are on the wide side. I used my inked fountain pens to test Tomoe River paper. Writing on it, as I mentioned, is a different experience. Tomoe River paper is simply a joy to write on. The paper is very smooth, and there is no feedback at all. I did not feel any snags and those slick spots I sometimes encounter in notebooks and other paper pads.

Writing samples in Tomoe River paper. No feathering even if most of these lines were written with medium, broad, and stub nibs.

Of all the eight pens I used to test Tomoe River paper, only one has a fine nib, the Kaweco Classic Sport. The rest have medium, broad, and stub (1.1) nibs. Not one of these pens' inks bled or feathered in Tomoe River paper. There is show through, though, and this is the only downside to this paper: I cannot write on the back side because of the show through.

The back side of the paper is clean, as there is no bleed though. There is some ghosting, though.

I recommend Tomoe River paper to anyone who wants to experience writing on excellent quality paper. Tomoe River paper pads and loose sheets are also reasonably priced at P1,550/pad or pack of 100 sheets.

Tomoe River paper is available in the Philippines at Scribe Writing Essentials. To get your own pad, visit any of Scribe's stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. Their 6th store has just been opened in SM City Cebu in April. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Notebook Review: Life Pistachio A5


If you use fountain pens on a regular basis, you probably understand the huge challenge of finding suitable, fountain pen ink-friendly paper. When I shifted to full fountain pen use in 2008, the stationery market in the Philippines had a very limited selection of fountain pen-friendly paper brands to offer.

When Scribe Writing Essentials began offering fountain pen-friendly paper products, it was a joy to walk into their stores and see shelves filled with Midoris, Rhodias, TWSBIs, and just recently, LIFE and Tomoe River Paper. Scribe has kindly given me two samples of LIFE products to review, a soft-covered, ruled Noble Report in A4, and a ruled Pistachio notebook in A5, both with excellent, superior paper quality.

The LIFE Stationery Company was established in Tokyo in 1946. The company is dedicated to producing paper products of excellent quality, with all products done by hand. LIFE's stationery line features timeless, simple, and elegant designs, together with superior and excellent paper quality. The Notemaker Journal Blog has a beautiful feature on the story behind LIFE Stationery, if you want to read more about the company.

LIFE Pistachio notebook cover

The Pistachio is a sibling to LIFE's Vermillion notebooks, a simple, yet high quality notebook. Its light green cover has an old-school look, with a patterned border and spaces for information printed in bright green and dark red.

The Pistachio Notebook's pages with 7mm ruling in bright green.

LIFE's Pistachio notebook is available in three sizes: A5 (8.3 x 11.7 inches), B6 (4.9 x 6.9 inches), and A6 (4.1 x 5.8 inches). The A5 Pistachio is available with either ruled or grid inside pages, printed in bright green ink. The ruling is a bit wide for me at 7mm, while the grid is just right at 5mm. Each notebook has 32 sheets (64 pages) of stitched, rather than stapled, superior quality Japanese paper.

Pen and ink tests on Pistachio notebook. No feathering at all, and the green ruling is not bothersome at all.

This simple-looking notebook's most amazing feature is LIFE's high quality paper. It is smooth, and simply a joy to write on. It is also resistant to feathering and bleed through, which means I can write with my fountain pens (or any pens) on it. The paper is also acid-free, to preserve its contents for years to come.

Back of the test page. There is ghosting (show through), but there is absolutely no bleed through! 

See? No bleed through! Even if I wrote with my wettest writers (Pelikan BB and B), iron gall ink (Lamy Blue Black), and the notorious Noodler's Baystate Blue.


I recommend LIFE Pistachio notebooks to anyone who wants to experience writing on excellent quality paper. Aside from their excellent quality, LIFE notebooks are also reasonably priced.

LIFE Stationery products are available in the Philippines exclusively at Scribe Writing Essentials. The Pistachio A5 is sold at P185, and the A6 at P175. To get LIFE's paper products, visit any of Scribe's stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. Their 6th store has just been opened in SM City Cebu last month. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Fountain Pen Review: 2016 Lamy AL-star Special Edition Charged Green


The 2016 Lamy AL-star is now in the Philippines!!! Here is Charged Green, this year's special edition Lamy AL-star, and my favorite green pen from Lamy, so far.

Lamy has a new packaging system, using compact cardboard boxes instead of bulky plastic ones. An elastic in the felt-lined bed inside the box ensures that the pen stays in place and will not be scratched. The box is easy to store and does not take up too much space. (Yes, I keep my pens' boxes.) Last year's special edition Safari and AL-star pens came in similar compact boxes, too.

Charged Green AL-star pen box. 

The Charged Green AL-star pen in this review is a fountain pen, but the line also includes a ballpoint and a rollerball. In the last three years, Lamy has been coming up with special edition ink colors to match their special edition pens. This year, the Charged Green AL-star fountain pen has an accompanying Charged Green ink available in T52 bottles and Giant ink cartridges that fit most Lamy fountain pens. A Charged Green ink-x eraser is also available.

Of all the green Lamy pens that I have seen (and owned -- I still have to see the original and first issue Lamy Safari), the Charged Green is the most beautiful. In fact, my first thought when I took the pen out of the box was how beautiful it is. The anodized aluminum finish has a beautiful golden-green color that is bright, but does not hurt the eyes. It is an elegant color that is happy and cheerful.


The AL-star (and the Safari) is a nice pen for all fountain pen users -- newbies/beginners, collectors, students, artists -- even a Princess uses a Lamy! At 22 grams and 5.5 inches (capped), the AL-star is a well-balanced fountain pen: not too short, but not too long, either. It's not heavy, but not light. It's just right, and comfortable to use.

The pen's barrel has an ink window that shows the ink converter or cartridge inside. It allows me to check on my pen’s ink level without having to screw out the barrel from the section. The AL-star's cap is round, but two sides of the barrel are flattened. The Lamy logo is etched in one side of the barrel, towards the end.


The AL-star's signature triangular section grip is a helpful feature especially for newbies. Others find the section grip uncomfortable and annoying, but it is designed to make writing easier, so users have a firm grip on their pens while writing. An anti-slipping brake near the end of the section prevents the user's fingers from slipping into the nib while writing. Unlike the Safari pens’ matching body and section materials/colors, AL-stars have transparent gray plastic section.

The great thing about Lamy fountain pens is the interchangeability of their nibs across most of their product lines. The AL-star shares the same feed and nib with the Safari, Vista, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. AL-star fountain pens bought in the Philippines have medium nibs, but other nib sizes are available: extra-fine, fine, broad, and left-handed. The AL-star can also be fitted with an italic nib ranging from 1.1mm to 1.9mm.

Lamy's proprietary piston operated Z24 and Z26 converters can be used to fill the fountain pen with ink from a bottle, but the Z24 is a more suitable converter because it has two tiny nipples that fit snugly into the small grooves in the upper part of the section. When the nipples are fitted in the grooves, the converter stays in place, preventing messy ink spills. Giant ink cartridges are also available for use on the AL-star in Lamy's regular ink colors and also in Charged Green.


A lot of people including myself, have asked for long why Lamy has too many green pens. Aside from the first Safari, Lamy's Safari line has four green pens (Lime, Green, Neon, and Neon Green), and there are three more in the AL-star line: Silver Green, Blue Green, and Charged Green. I collect Lamy pens, and though different tones and shades of one color look cool in pictures, I sometimes wish Lamy would do a different blue for the AL-star, like, perhaps an aquamarine AL-star? A yellow AL-star would be cool, too!

Why so many green pens, Lamy?
Charged Green AL-star with two green AL-stars: Blue Green (2014) and Silver Green (2008)

The Charged Green AL-star looks a lot like an aluminum version of the 2008 Safari Lime.
Lamy AL-star fountain pens (from top): Aluminum, Graphite, Silver Green, Silver Blue, Ocean Blue, Black Purple, Ruby Red, Pearl, Blue Green, Copper Orange, and Charged Green. Still missing Coffee and Raspberry.

The Charged Green ink matches the 2015 Special Edition AL-star fountain pen. It is equally vibrant, bright, and cheerful, but I find the ink too bright for regular, everyday writing. When I wrote with the Charged Green ink in my Lamy AL-star with medium nib, it wrote too light, and I could barely read what I wrote. I changed the nib to a 1.1 stub, and though the writing was readable, I still found it too light for readability.


The 50ml Charged Green ink is in a Lamy T52 bottle that comes with a roll of ink blotter to clean the pen after filling, or blot writing. The bottle has a small basin at the bottom, to allow filling when the ink level is low.  


Lamy Special Edition inks: Neon Green (2015) and Charged Green (2016)

Below are swatches of the Charged Green ink together with other green inks. Because it is lighter than most green inks, the Charged Green will be more suitable for art, or highlighting.



The Charged Green ink looks dark in the photo below, but it is a very light ink. Despite that, it is well-behaved, with excellent flow and lubrication. Shading is visible when used in wide nibs (1.1, at least).


I love the Charged Green AL-star. It is versatile (interchangeable nibs), simple, minimalistic, and helpful to newbies (triangular section grip). The metallic finish has a special glow that brings warmth and brilliance to the Charged Green AL-star. The AL-star may be prone to scratches because of its material, but given the proper care, these pens will last for a long time.

If you haven't gotten one of these Charged Green AL-stars yet, go get one now!


I received the fountain pen in this review at no cost from Lamy's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines, Times Trading Company.

Lamy Safari pens are widely available from pen sellers worldwide. For a global search of Lamy retailers, visit: http://www.lamy.com/content/find_a_retailer/index_eng.html.

In the Philippines, the AL-star Charged Green  fountain pen and ink (and other Lamy products) are made available by Times Trading Company, through their kiosks at National Bookstore branches around Metro Manila.

Lamy products are also available at Scribe Writing Essentials, a specialty store offering fountain pens, inks, and paper products, Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, visit http://www.scribewritingessentials.com/stores/.