James Crawford's Blog

Yamamoto Fountain Pen Friendly Papers

Introduction

My degree is in Fine Art and I’ve been in love with paper for decades. If you follow my Instagram, I still draw and paint. What you may not know is how choosy I am about the substrates I use or my paints of choice. I am picky, very picky.

Bert from Bertram’s Inkwell gave me a “Fountain Pen Friendly Paper Collection” sample package from Yamamoto Papers to review. While I don’t usually review products, I jumped at the chance to try something I’d never tried before.

While it may not look like I had a particular methodology for what I did, there is a logic. In this case, that takes a back seat to “feeling” when it comes to paper.

When you read translations of Japanese, you often see strange combinations of words like, “Feeling Forever Your Happiness,” and you might wonder what they’re trying to communicate. They’re doing their best to define an undefinable emotion to convey what they hope you’ll feel for their product, company, or whatever.

At heart, Japanese is an emotional language. So when I say “Feel” about a paper, it is my way of leaning towards the same style of communication.

Other people have their own way of geeking on something, this is mine.

Methods

Ink choice: Habanero, Yama-Dori, Shigure, Krishna Winter/Cool Breeze, and Delicate Green (the afterthought addition), have distinct characteristics. Habanero is wet and shades. Yama-Dori is a little dry and has superb shading. Shigure is dry and a little flat, often appearing black, not dark purple. The Krishna inks are slightly wet and tend to sheen and shade. Out of all of the inks, Delicate Green is very well behaved, especially in an extra-fine nib.

I also used Organics Studio Nitrogen Blue. If there’s an ink that will shade, it’s that one.

A note: on some papers Yama-Dori is actually Robert Oster Morning Mist. It is pretty clear which is which. When you have nearly 200 inks, remembering which is which can be a challenge.

Nibs

Euro M is an older Conway Stewart, the nib was probably made by Bock. 

Japan Fine and Extra Fine are Sailor nibs, which can be wet or dry, and have a bit more feedback than most.

I included three of my nibs in this test, a Kissaki 2-layer, a Warbird v.3, and a Hammerhead-style (9.3mm stroke). These are wet nibs, and I chose them specifically because they’re likely to test a paper’s ink absorption, ghosting, and feathering, in a way that a typical B or BB won’t.

kissaki warbird nibs
Kissaki nib (top) Warbird v. 3 nib (bottom)

Finally, I added a 3.8mm Pilot Parallel to the mix, loaded with Organics Studio Nitrogen Blue. The reason for this addition is simple: a sheen test. I’ve also found that Parallel nibs can challenge some papers.

Note: I compare some of these papers to Tomoe River*, that’s because so many people already know what to expect from it. Tomoe is something of a standard in the fountain pen and journaling communities.

Personally, while I like Tomoe because it holds ink so well, it isn’t an “I can’t live without it,” paper. It’s ok for testing inks and nibs, but I don’t buy notebooks full of it.

I did not review papers in this package that were tonal variations of one of the sheets included in the pad; nor did I review the Tomoe River selections.

*Yamamoto Papers is also a Tomoe River distributor.

You can refer to this blog post from The Well-Appointed Desk for his take on these papers.

Yamamoto’s descriptions can be found on their order page.

new chiffon cream paper
Not Yama-Dori. It’s Robert Oster Morning Mist

New Chiffon Cream

Color: cream

Weight: 75 g/m2

Interesting note: this paper is PH neutral (archival) and Yamamoto uses it in their Ro-biki notebooks.

Feel: It is slightly toothy. Back when paper mattered for your resume, this is the sort of paper you’d want to use. It has 28lb heft but more character.

Particulars: Ink shades and colors are slightly muted because of the cream shade of the sheet, but colors still pop. You get some sheen with Nitrogen and Krishna, but there’s more absorption going on. That softness also leads to ink spread in the line quality, so what you write will look a little bolder. I wouldn’t say there’s feathering, but it does ghost. It could be used on both sides with a fine nib and dry ink.

It’s a great paper.

Kin Kaku Den

Color: cream

Weight: n/a

Interesting note: this is an approach to making a modern washi designed to accept offset printing. It has two sides, a plate finish, and a feathery textured back. This paper may have been discontinued, so it could be hard to get.

Feel: It is elegant, refined, and I want it to be part of my writing life forever. I feel like writing a letter on this will communicate my regard for the recipient.

Particulars: Ink shades and colors are slightly muted because of the color of the paper. There is no bleeding or substantial ghosting. Lines are crisp and while the plate side doesn’t feel textured to my fingers, broad lines exhibit variation consistent with texture.

Nitrogen blue sheens but in a beautiful jewel-like way.  Krishna inks don’t sheen quite so much and seem to sink into the paper.

You can write on the textured side with similar color results. Of course, your letters will take on the organic quality of the sheet. I found that side to be slightly more absorbent than the plate side.

I believe you could make a notebook with this stock, but it seems like a waste to do so. This is a correspondence paper in my opinion. It might be the most elegant paper I’ve ever used.

Airmail Bond

Color: bright white

Weight: 67.1 g/m2

Interesting note: this is a watermarked paper with a laid pattern

Feel: Pleasantly toothy. I’d like to have it around in quantity for ink tests and general use. It could really become a go-to for me.

Particulars: The color fidelity is amazing. Inks shade and sheen, but not extremely. It’s easy to write on and the texture imparts a luxurious organic feel to lines. The paper ghosts, but that’s due to thinness, not absorption. There’s no bleed-through at all, even with the 9.3mm pen. Nibs move almost effortlessly, with only a slight amount of feedback with fine tips.

It is a superior sheet. Even with the watermark, I think it would make a lovely notebook paper for anyone who loves texture and brilliant white color.

OK Fools

Color: white

Weight: 81.4 g/m2

Interesting note: this is a watermarked paper with a laid pattern (it isn’t raised)

Feel: It feels soft and smooth, almost warm to the touch. I’d almost call this a companion paper that becomes a preference over time. You’d likely be a repeat customer, especially of notebooks. (I admit that I really like foolscap papers, which is the style OK has replicated here.)

Particulars: This sheet is soft, smooth, with great shading, and only a tiny amount of absorption. Line width seems to be accurate, and the surface treatment means that the nibs move effortlessly. Because this is a heavier paper, you only get minimal ghosting or bleed-through. It is ideal for use on both sides, if your nibs are average wetness, or on the drier side.

Nitrogen sheens nicely.

For me, this approaches the perfect daily use paper.

The paper color is off on this scan.

Halftone Color 99 White

Color: white/light gray

Weight: 81.4 g/m2

Interesting note: this is a two-sided paper.

Feel: this paper is my friend. I would fist-bump a notebook filled with Halftone Color 99 White.

Particulars: This sheet is smooth, with a tiny bit of tooth. You can feel the nib passing across the fibers, but it doesn’t detract from the writing experience. Line quality is superb. Colors shade some but present beautifully at full strength. Thanks to the gray side, there is no ghosting, so you can use it on both sides. I fully expect bleed-through on most papers, but Halftone Color 99 White doesn’t. Nitrogen ink dries to a gorgeous sheen.

View-Corona for Pocket-book

Color: off-white

Weight: 52 g/m2

Interesting note: exactly the same weight as typical Tomoe River.

Feel: It is a pleasant paper and I feel good that I was able to test it.

Particulars: Think of it as cream Tomoe River with a softer feel. Ink shades well and the colors seem pretty accurate, which is great on an off-white paper. Shigure actually looks purple instead of black. Nitrogen and Krishna Winter both exhibit sheen.

Because it is a thin sheet, I don’t recommend it for use on both sides; however, it doesn’t bleed much, if at all. It shows ghosting about the same way that Tomoe does.

Really, this is a great alternative to Tomoe River. The softer finish would make me choose it over Tomoe River in almost every case.

Not Yama-Dori. It’s Robert Oster Morning Mist

Cosmo Air Light

Color: bright white

Weight: 75 g/m2

Interesting note: n/a

Feel: I feel okay about it, but not strongly pulled in one way or another.

Particulars: This sheet is smooth, with a tiny bit of tooth. You can feel the nib passing across the fibers, but not in an obtrusive way. Line quality is superb. Colors shade very well and really pop up. Like with View-Corona, Shigure looks purple. There is no ghosting or bleed, so you can use it on both sides. Nitrogen ink sheens fully.

My impression is that this is a good all-around paper, but isn’t particularly distinguished. It would make a very nice notebook paper, thanks to its extra heft and lack of ghosting and bleed.

Eastoy CoC

Color: off-white

Weight: 64 g/m2

Interesting note: n/a

Feel: I feel okay about it, satisfied.

Particulars: The most pleasant thing about this sheet is the texture. It just feels good on my fingers. Otherwise, it performs just like Tomoe River with just a little bit less ghosting.

Bank Paper

Color: white

Weight: 48.2 g/m2

Interesting note: very light and watermarked

Feel: It’s okay.

Particulars: For a paper that’s actually lighter than Tomoe River, it holds up well. Colors are almost perfect, even though the sheet tends toward a cream color. Shigure looks black. Shading is fantastic, and Nitrogen sheens well.

For me, this is another alternative to Tomoe River.

Glassine

Color: translucent white

Weight: 30.5 g/m2

Interesting note: n/a

Feel: As a writing paper? Nope.

Particulars: Glassine, in my experience is interleaving paper. You put it between other papers to protect them, but you don’t write on it. The surface feels waxy and I just don’t like how it handles the ink or how it feels.

Not Yama-Dori. It’s Robert Oster Morning Mist

35 NFC

Color: white

Weight: 35 g/m2

Interesting note: feels lighter than Typewriter Paper, and is even crispier

Feel: This is total nostalgia for my younger days, like Typewriter Paper.

Particulars: This is another super light, tracing paper style sheet. Unlike Typewriter Paper, it is a bit more absorptive. Lines swell a bit, and the ghosting is very pronounced. If any of the inks can sheen, they do. Surprisingly enough, shading is muted. There is bleed-through in certain areas where ink took longer to dry.

Actually, the Typewriter Paper and 33 NFC might as well be the same thing.

Typewriter Paper

Color: off-white

Weight: 27.9 g/m2

Interesting note: an incredibly light paper

Feel: This is total nostalgia for my younger days.

Particulars: If you’re old enough to remember typewriter vellum or airmail tablets, this is it. Otherwise, think of it as a light tracing paper.

It performs exactly as you expect from a tracing paper. Lines are precise, colors are faithful, and ink shades. Of course, Nitrogen sheens.

Ghosting is very pronounced, and ink NEARLY bleeds through.

The paper has a very crispy feel and is another candidate for an ASMR video.

Notebooks? Yes. Writing letters? Yes. Double-sided? No.

Champion Copy

Color: off-white

Weight: 35 g/m2

Interesting note: this is an incredibly light paper

Feel: It feels like a memory. Somewhere between Spica Bond and Champion Copy is the paper I used to write letters to my penpals overseas.

Particulars: Smooth nibs glide on this paper. Color is very true to what you expect to see, and Nitrogen sheens predictably. Inks shade in a very pretty way, but don’t bleed through. Because it is so thin, it ghosts, and I wouldn’t use it on both sides.

It is another Tomoe River alternative, especially if you want to cram a ton of pages in thinner notebooks.

Spica Bond

Color: bright white

Weight: 49 g/m2

Interesting note: very light and watermarked, brighter white than Tomoe River

Feel: It’s okay, but the luminous white of the paper is a little mesmerizing.

Particulars: This is another very light paper, so it ghosts. It doesn’t bleed through. Line quality is crisp, but there’s a little less shading than I would expect for such a white paper. In doesn’t bleed through, which is nice.

It is a crispy paper with a very light texture. I feel like you could do an ASMR video of sliding the paper around or folding it.

I would use it only on one side because I don’t like ghosting.

Conclusion

Yamamoto Papers is an excellent source of unique sheets that will please fountain pen users who require top stationery. I had a great time reviewing these and found a couple of new favorites. Be sure to check with Bertram’s Inkwell to see what they have in store or what they can order for you if anything strikes your fancy. Better yet, if you live in the Washington, DC metro area, go for a visit.

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