If you’ve been around my blog or Instagram for any amount of time, you may have noticed the love affair I have with stationery supplies. It makes my knees turn to jello, especially when stationery combines functionality and good design. Want to know what my top three favorites are? I’ll bet they make your knees go weak too….or make your fingers get inky.
Links on this website may or may not be affiliate links and as such, I may receive small compensation at no extra expense to you.
The fountain pen bug bit me hard a few years ago. I stood in Kmart stationery supplies section trying to decide which gel pen to buy out of the hundreds hanging on the wall. My requirements were specific:
- It had to write a fine line.
- It couldn’t be scratchy.
- And, most importantly, the pen needed to be wide enough so my RA hands could hold it for longer than a few minutes.
Despite the plethora of pens, not one called my name. Mostly because I couldn’t figure out what the difference was between them. That’s when I did what any normal 21st-century woman would do. I asked Dr. Google.
And he was more than helpful.
The first article that popped up was “The Best Pen” on Wirecutter. With a title like that, how could I go wrong? I read the article right there in the store. And, at the bottom of the page, were the opinions of others who loved stationery supplies as much, if not more, than I did.
I had found my tribe!
That day I discovered the Pen Addict, Office Supply Geek, and No Pen Intended. I recommend them and I still read them today. But it wasn’t until I opened Gourmet Pens that I fell down the rabbit hole that is fountain pens.
By the way, I bought a uniball Jetstream that day. Now I keep a uniball Signo Micro 307 in my EDC.
Anyway, my first fountain pen was a Preppy or a Kakuno. I got them roughly at the same time. A black Pilot Metropolitan and a Lamy Safari followed right afterward.
That Christmas my husband fed my new-found habit with a Kaweco Sport in Mint slipped under the Christmas tree for me. It’s now a tradition. If I don’t get a Barbie doll and a fountain pen for Christmas, it isn’t the same.
Yes, my husband buys me a Barbie every year. No, I have no idea why. I roll with it and am thankful my husband understands that I love receiving, and giving, gifts. It’s part of my love language.
I still use my Metro and Safaris, despite my fountain pen collection growing by leaps and bounds. They’re good workhorse pens that everyone should keep in their EDC. But a fountain pen works only if it’s inked.
I discovered inks shortly after I discovered fountain pens. Well, I’d have to, wouldn’t I? A pen won’t write without it!
And this is where fountain pens shine. The variety of color! And, let’s be clear, I love color.
Nailing a favorite color of mine is hard though. I do tend towards pink.
Pink wasn’t always my favorite color. I chose it out of self-defense because my house is full of testosterone, e.g. one husband, three boys, one male dog, two roosters. You get the drift. Anyhow, the color pink and my tiara are a daily reminder to my male family members that there is, indeed, a female amongst them and they are to act accordingly.
Just kidding about the tiara. The pink, not so much.
I have more ink samples than is good for me. I buy them because they’re cheap. And, with so many options, it would take a lifetime to go through all the inks available on the market.
Another side note. Did you know that the International Ink Library houses a sample of each ink manufactured since 1920? I’d love to get a library card there! Unfortunately, only certain groups, like the Secret Service, can access it. The Library’s main purpose is to help law enforcement determine a document’s authenticity.
Despite that, I own more than my fair share of 15, 30, and 50 ml bottles of ink. My favorite inks right now are Organic Studios Queen’s Rose (Lewis Carroll), Iroshizuku Ku-jaku, and Callifolio Aurora. These are always in my rotation.
I also love Lamy’s Dark Lilac. I bought the special edition Lamy Safari in 2016 and made sure to get a bottle and the cartridges to match. And, if I have to have a black ink in one of my pens, I use Visconti Black.
But a fountain pen filled with ink does no good if there’s no paper to write on.
When one uses a gel pen or a ballpoint pen, the paper quality doesn’t matter very much. Not so with fountain pens. The moment that nib touches the paper, its quality is of utmost importance.
I found this out the hard way. One day, I flipped open a spiral notebook, a fifteen cent cheapie I’d bought at WalMart, and began to write. It didn’t take me long to realize that the ink had soaked through to the other side of the paper!
It seemed that my regular stationery supplies weren’t going to hack it. It was time to go to the experts.
In this case, I’m referring to the Fountain Pen Network and FP Geeks. I searched these sites for recommendations on the best fountain pen friendly paper. Unfortunately, there was no consensus. But HP LaserJet 24 lb, Clairefontaine, Tomoe River, and sugar cane paper were all recommended.
In the name of experimentation and good penmanship, I purchased a bit of each.
(Except for the Clairefontaine. I am fortunate to have family in Germany who sent me two large packs of A4 Clairefontaine paper. They’re dolls for doing so!)
After using the papers for a bit, here’s what I discovered:
Tomoe River is thin. Like really, really thin. It’s also quite crinkly but takes ink like a champ. And, because it’s thin, ink can ghost (show through). I like using Tomoe River for pen pal letters, especially for overseas since it’s so light.
Clairefontaine paper is a dream to write on because it’s so smooth. Nibs float across the page. There isn’t much ghosting and doesn’t feather much. My Clairefontaine is in A4 size, I can either cut it down to A5 for letters or fold it into homemade journals.
Sugar cane paper is a step above copy paper but in a good way. It’s smooth but not as smooth as Clairefontaine or Tomoe River. Sugar cane paper doesn’t ghost very much and I can find it for cheap at Staples. I like it for handwriting practice and pen pal letters.
But I needed something that was more compact. Something that I could take with me where ever I went. What I needed was a journal.
Journals should be a subset of paper but I’m popping them into their own category. I don’t have one journal. Of course, I don’t. I have dozens but of all the brands I use, there are two that I would recommend.
The first is the Midori MD Notebook in grid. This was my first fountain pen friendly notebook. I bought it when I discovered bullet journaling. The paper is smooth and takes the wettest nib with ease. It has some ghosting but only on heavy ink usage. I was able to use light washes of watercolor on it with only a little bit of crinkling. The only thing I couldn’t use in it were Copic markers. They bled through five…five…pages.
The other is Leuchtturm in dot grid. This is the notebook that I use now. The paper is great but the real advantage is the index and the numbered pages. I love how it was designed from the outset to keep track of where all my notes are. I also love all the cover colors. My current cover is, you guessed it, pink.
I should add that I’m always trying new notebooks. My collection includes a Seven Seas in grid and a Piccadilly Essential Notebook, also in grid. I grab a three-pack of medium Piccadilly lined journals whenever I’m in a Barnes and Noble. Whenever Kickstarter has a new notebook (like the Hippo Noto, I’m the first in line.
What can I say? I love having options.
Other Stationery Supplies That Make My Knees Weak
As this post is way longer than I’d set out to write, I to give a nod to my other favorite things: art supplies and books.
I’ve got more watercolors, acrylics, brushes, paper, die cuts, etc than I can shake a stick at. I never know what I’m going to create when I go into my cabinets so having a variety on hand is helpful. Making art is how I revive my mind after a long day of writing, working, kid wrangling, and wife-ing.
And books. How could I not love books? It’s what got me started in the first place. But, it’s a gimme, right? You knew I’d love books. Every author loves books. It’s our topmost favorite thing.
My parents are voracious readers, so my love for books is partially hereditary. But I can also thank my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Fletcher.
The summer after my first-grade year, she sent me books about horses. Her gift did two things: hooked me on reading and intensified my love for all things horse-related. The books were Misty of Chincoteague, Black Beauty, and King of the Wind. Everyone should read them. Again, if you’ve already done so.
Well, those are a few of my favorite things. What are yours? Let me know in the comments!