Saturday, August 31, 2013

Carta Pura Notebooks: Beautiful, but...

A little while ago I saw those Carta Pura notebooks at RSVP Berlin's web store (great shop) and as I like the look and was planning to place an order there anyway I also picked two of those. I can't say much about CartaPura, they seem to be located in Munich and offer a range of stationery, giftwrap papers and other paper goods. Sadly they don't have an online shop of their own.

The notebooks come in A5 and A6 size (mine are, as usual, the A5), have beautifully textured covers made of dark grey Satogami paper and edges dyed in five vivid colors. Inside there's 48 sheets of rather thin, ruled paper - not sure if blank or ruled versions are available -, which makes for a very slim notebook about as thick as a Rhodia/CF cahier.

Carta Pura notebooks

What I like most about those is the covers contrasting with the colorfully dyed edges. I was even tempted to choose pink instead of orange!

Carta Pura notebooks

As I'm very fond of their stationery line which is called Rivoli - beautiful, very thick paper in soft shades of ivory, grey, blue and rose -, I assumed the notebooks would be just as fountain pen friendly. Sadly I wasn't quite right with that.

Carta Pura - Writing Sample - front side
 Carta Pura - Writing Sample - back side 

There is moderate bleedthrough even with fine and dry nibs which becomes very prominent with heavier ink flow. Diamine Asa Blue is showing the worst bleedthrough, followed by Diamine Oxblood. Sailor Souten is a little better. Using only fine and dry nibs the paper would be acceptable for fountain pens but still is no joy to write on.

Carta Pura - Writing Sample

Those very free flowing inks also feather a little.
The paper itself feels very thin and reminds me of some notebooks I used as journals in my teenage years. In short, it feels cheap - though, sadly, it isn't! As I like special papers and bindings the term "overpriced" doesn't come into my mind all that often. This time, though, it does. Wouldn't buy again, despite their pretty colors.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paper Love III: Paper Republic

As promised, here's a closer look at the notebook beauties from Paper Republic. They come in A5 and pocket size. Mine are all A5 as I don't really use smaller notebooks. They all have 96 pages and though the paper is nice and thick the notebook is pretty slim.

Paper Republic Noto notebooks
There are no colored end papers or ribbon book marks, the books are all about their delightful covers for which Japanese Chiyogami or Katazome papers are used. Each one of those covers is slightly different, some feel smooth to the touch, others feel like cloth or felt and you can see tiny fibers protruding from the surface. Some of them are stencil dyed by hand.

Paper Republic Noto notebooks - gorgeous covers

It was hard for me to pick a design when browsing their online shop so I ended up picking a few different ones. This one below with the colorful flowers and lots of orange speaks to me most - small wonder since I love red and orange -, the colors are strong yet not too loud. I like to lose myself in the colors and details, especially the places where one color fades into another. They have a depth to them much like Urushi surfaces which are more than pure color too. But maybe that's just an idea in my mind. ;)

Paper Republic Noto - my favorite design, at least for the moment.

Inside there's white, plain Munken paper. It has a nice texture with a bit of tooth to it but I'm still not a fan because lines will appear much wider than on any other paper - that Montblanc BB nib below makes such a bold line on this paper it's hardly usable. Also there will be a small amount of feathering with very wet nibs as can also be seen at the Montblanc sample. Else it's not bad, there is no bleedthrough and only moderate showthrough - if you look closely you can see some slight showthrough from the back side of the test page.

Paper Republic notebook - ink test. Not too bad!
Here's all of mine in a row. Beautiful, aren't they?

Paper Republic Noto notebooks.

Which pattern do you like most?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

About journalling

A lot of fountain pen enthusiasts keep a journal or even several ones. Besides the obvious benefits it also gives us one more opportunity to use our beautiful fountain pens!

I started keeping a daily journal when I was eleven. I also remember earlier attempts, scribbling in little A6 composition notebooks about the newt population in the garden pond and the neighborhood cat which I'd christened "Elsa" ("Born Free" was my favorite movie at that time), but I didn't stick with the project in earnest until 5th grade. At the same time I used to write stories (about horses, mostly) and illustrate them but I always kept them strictly separate from my diary.

My diaries from age 11 to 12. A path into the past, but rarely walked. ;)

The timing for starting a diary was good as it wasn't one of my best years and I believe even back then writing about it helped dealing with the more problematic stuff. I remember how some of my friends also started a diary and sometimes we would spend evenings sharing things we'd written about and read selected pages aloud. Sometimes the text felt like a totally different person than the one I knew and talked to every day; like a peephole into another world, right around the corner and yet totally hidden from view. I still remember vividly how amazing that felt.

This Chinese notebook still has a certain appeal to me.

One of my first diaries was one of these Chinese designs. I simply adored their colorfully illustrated pages and silky smooth covers often depicting trees, boats and pavilions. Sometimes looking at the covers was like a glimpse at another universe as well, strange and mysteriously peaceful. I still like this little midnight blue book.

My journals from age 11 to 30, part 1.

As puberty lurked right around the corner I found even more uses for keeping a journal (as pretty much everyone who still has a journal from their teenage years seems to agree, those texts can be a pretty embarrassing read at times but nonetheless revealing and interesting). Soon it had become a habit. I took some breaks in my early twenties and there was even a period when I used the PC for journaling, probably due to the fact that I'm much faster at typing. Since about 2010, however, I've been back to fountain pen and paper.

 My journals from age 11 to 30, part 2. Doesn't look as much as it feels when carrying them around! 

I definitely have forgotten a few but these are the journals I filled from age 11 to 30. Of most I recall suprisingly clearly when and where I bought them or who gave them to me and what my life was like while I filled them with my thoughts. Most of them are bound in paper, some in cloth, others have hand made covers or even spiral bindings (I hate spiral notebooks). There's one with a cover made of thin aluminium sheets and even - yes, I'm going to admit it - one depicting a horse. Most are A5 size which is still my favorite size for a notebook.

I rarely look into them but wouldn't toss them all the same, not only because of the occasional letters, photos and keepsakes between the pages. Should anything happen to me, however, I definitely don't intend to leave them to anyone and would rather have them burnt (has anyone ever heard of a ghost who has returned because of being to embarrassed to rest in peace?).

Do you keep a journal and what do you do with the filled books?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The colors of sunlight

August is here and we've had a really hot summer so far! Not being used to temperatures above 35 °C, for a few days it was just splashing in pools, having cold drinks in the shade and midday naps in the house and sweating at every smallest action (or without any, even).

The upside - besides the obvious ones - was this summer provided the perfect opportunity to use my new sunglasses! World's best boyfriend gifted me a coupon for some really nice sunglasses for my birthday back in April and now I finally got around to picking some.

"Happy moment outdoors" kit: My new sunglasses and a letter from a friend.

These are polarized glasses by Maui Jim and the glasses are put together by whoknowshowmany layers, each one serving a dedicated purpose. Some will reduce reflections on smooth surfaces or water, others will increase contrast etc. etc. They're very comfortable but looking through them still took some getting used to because everything looks like "let's open Photoshop and increase saturation by 20%". Traffic signs are redder, fields and trees are greener, clouds have a stronger texture in an almost purple sky.

Conclusion: You don't need drugs to perceive a more colorful world.

Before I even bought the sunglasses I decorated some blank Amalfi cards. Lines and letters are done with waterproof India ink and glass dip pen, then painted over with sheer watercolor washes. On the card below I used a round brush for the watercolor strokes but later I found a flat brush to work better. Amalfi paper is great for watercolor or ink-water-washes because it will take quite a bit of water (especially the cards) and doesn't eat up the vibrancy of the colors.
In the glass pen India ink will flow irregularly with blobs and splotches - I have to admit I like the effect. It adds some texture and the blobs will keep a beautiful sheen even when dried.

Amalfi paper greeting card, India ink and watercolor.

Also looks good in a similar range of colors. I did another, rather romantic version with black vines and petals under broad stripes of mangan violet, soft lilac and ultramarine.