Friday, May 23, 2014

Goulet Q&A Episode 32, Clairefontaine and Rhodia

This week's Q&A is about the popular fountain pen friendly paper brands Clairefontaine and Rhodia. Going into it, I really wasn't sure how many questions I'd get about these, but it shaped up nicely! Enjoy:
1) Rafael P.- Facebook (1:15): 
Do you know if Clairefontaine is going to use dot grids in their notebooks and/or pads? I like Clairefontaine paper more than Rhodia but I am in love with dot grids. Thanks.
  • nothing currently
  • Clairefontaine Grafit (sketch pad) coming out in dot, not something we're planning to carry right now 
2) Berk F.- Facebook (2:36):
How dangerous is paper fibers getting in the nib slit?
  • dangerous? a little dramatic
  • might clog the flow a bit, proper cleaning/brass sheet should fix it 
3) Lira M.- Facebook (4:00):
Do either Rhodia or Clairefontaine have post-it notes? Also, does anyone make a pocket size French ruled notebook that can fit in a midori travelers book?
4) Ray C.- Facebook (5:12):
If you select one piece of each of the brands, same size, same weight…which one makes a better paper airplane?
  • great question, never tried it! 
  • same weight? probably doesn't matter, actually! I would think the heavier paper would be best 
5) Gopi F.- Facebook (6:01):
The Rhodia dot pads feel different compared with the grid pads. Am I imagining things? How many different kinds of paper do they have? When will they make a wire bound dot pad, and will they make one before I get around to visiting Staples and having them wire bind some Rhodia pages for me?
  • No, it's the same stuff
  • blank, lined, lined with margin (bigger sizes), grid/graph, dot
  • Webbie paper is different, same as R Premium
  • Webbie planner paper- seems to be different, dries slightly faster
  • technically, three types of paper (in US) 

6) Karl B.- Facebook (9:18):
I've often heard that Rhodia *Is* Clairefontaine paper (or a type of it), but I've always read it as a high quality vellum of sort, what exactly are the differences?
  • technically, not the same paper
  • both made by Clairefontaine, owned by same company
  • machines used to make CF paper is different than Rhodia
  • vellum used to loosely refer to fine paper 

7) Andi S.- Facebook (11:38):
I see on the Rhodia website that the Rhodiarama books are now available in A5 - any plans to carry those in the future? What about blank Leuchtturm neon books? Thanks for doing such a great job! Love watching the Q&A's every week.
  • We considered it, but haven't moved on it
  • Not sure interest is there, maybe I'm wrong
  • Leuchtturm we can get them, but not sure interest is there
  • If interested, email info@gouletpens.com and we'll consider it if interest is there 

8) Tina M.- Facebook (14:02):
This may be too specific of a question so I apologize but I have been curious about the paper in the Clairefontaine Basics notebooks. Some of my pens don't seem to write as smoothly as others so I was wondering if it was the paper. I noticed that it is a bit glossier than the Rhodia pad and notebook paper so could that be the difference? Thanks for all of these Q&As - you're the best!
  • CF paper is slightly smoother than Rhodia
  • Some pens are smoother than others just because of the way their ground, but paper does make a difference 

9) Jessica O.- Facebook (16:13):
Brian, I was wondering if you could show the new white/silver Rhodia line and the sizes. Also, not connected to Rhodia or Clairefontaine, but I am curious about fountain pens and stone paper.
  • show the notebook
  • never used stone paper myself
  • doesn't seem like it'd be fountain pen friendly, since it's not absorbent 
10) Tristan N.- Facebook (19:25):
Does Rhodia or Clairefontaine paper beat scissors?
  • unfortunately not, you'd need stone paper to beat scissors! (ba dum ching!) 
11) Christine M.- Facebook (19:44):
My Rhodia Webbook specifies that the paper is Clairefontaine, so my question to you is: If Clairefontaine makes Rhodia paper, what's really the difference between the brands? (Thanks for all the videos!)
  • They started out as separate companies, but joined (I think in 1997)
  • Rhodia is made in Clairefontaine mill just outside of Paris
  • separate set of machines used for making Rhodia, so similar but slightly different
12) Bill V.- Facebook (20:53):
1) Do Rhodia web-books come in something closer to an A4 size?
  • In Europe, but not in the US

2) Does Rhodia hold some kind of patent on dot ruling? I find the dot grid ideal, but it's not available from Quo Vadis or any of the other papers I'm interested in trying, which is kind of a deal-breaker.

  • no patent, there are other brands with dots ( Leuchtturm for one)
  • I agree, I don't know why dots aren't on everything! 

13) @will_C_W- Twitter (23:11):
Will Rhodia offer a side wirebound notebook in ICE?
  • probably not 

14) Edgar H.- Facebook (24:27):
Is Clairefontaine Triomphe the better 'fountain pen friendly' paper out there?
  • It's pretty freaking awesome
  • Rhodia Premium is comparable
  • lots of things are fountain pen friendly, a lot boils down to preference
  • some say Triomphe is too smooth, or too white 

15) Randy P.- Facebook (25:42):
Do certain inks work better on Rhodia than Clairefontaine, and vice versa? And if so, can you share some examples and describe how they differ? Thanks for doing this, and for your great videos and great service!!
  • These papers are ink resistant
  • how people define "better" can vary a lot
  • shading- higher on these papers
  • dry time- usually longer 
  • feathering/bleeding- usually lower/non-existant, better for broader nibs/wetter inks
  • smoothness- write faster
16) @Mandrew_Manatee- Twitter (27:42):
Does Rhodia/Clairefontaine sell any notebook/pad larger than ~80 sheets? I'm a student and I take LOTS of notes 
  • C8267- 90 sheets, that's it!

17) Steven C.- Facebook (31:01):
Hi Brian - I love the paper specifically used in the Rhodia Weekly planner. What paper is this and what other Rhodia and related products use this EXACT paper? 
  • seems to be a unique Rhodia paper offering, don't know what else has paper just like this
  • planners in general use paper with less sizing/coating
    • decrease dry time 
18) Bill E.- Facebook (32:34):
I like very much the two Clairefontaine journals I own, and the smoothness of the paper is amazing. BUT I feel sometimes it is too smooth and my pens will skip or hesitate to write. Does Clairefontaine make any paper that is still fountain pen friendly, but not be so glassy smooth?
  • All CF paper used in notebooks is the same 90g, white paper (except Triomphe) 
  • Rhodia would be your next option, or the Quo Vadis Habana
    • still paper made by Clairefontaine, but slightly less smooth (though not by much)
  • skipping could be hand oils, especially if happening at the bottom of the page
19) Winnie U.- Facebook (35:35):
I love CF! Wondering when the small envelopes will be back in stock as I have been waiting to buy a bunch! Thanks!
  • supposed to be here soon…very possible coming early next week!
  • been out of stock since January
  • we ordered a lot! 
20) Garth M.- Facebook (37:25):
Would you consider carrying the no.19 rhodia pads, and if so is it possible to get them in the Rhodia Ice edition?
  • we will carry every Ice Rhodia makes,
  • 11, 12, 13, 16, 18 

21) Daniel N.- Facebook (39:54):
Hi Brian, my question is maybe a bit off for this Q&A but here it goes: I see you have tons of ink swatches, what paper have you found best for these? Which paper best shows off the properties of the ink, generally? I want to start making swatches for future reference but don't have all that many brands of paper at hand to test it. Thanks.
  • I use Clairefontaine Pollen Cardstock, not something we regularly carry
  • cardstock is thicker, what's needed for swabs that last
  • doesn't have to be CF, really any ink-resistant cardstock would work, you'll have to experiment

22) Keith C.- Facebook (42:52):

Two things: First are you really out of the "Nighthawk" monteverde pen?
  • yup, gone
  • had some bottom shelf pens as of late, but are now gone
Second, I am a poet and I usually have written in the mead type composition notebooks, is there an equivalent in either clairefontaine or rhodia notebooks, i am more interested in the size than anything else. thanks and I love the Q&A's

I'll be back next week with another Open Forum, so ask me any random fountain pen questions you have in the comments. Be sure to check out old Q&A videos you may have missed. Thanks, and have a great week!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Dot Grid papers I know of
    1. Rhodia
    2. Leuthurm 1917 or how ever it is spelt
    3. The black covered FieldNotes
    4. Franklin-Christoph, not sure who the source for their paper is

  2. Sometimes a fountain pen will write a little dry but the user does not notice it because they use a small amount of pressure on the nib that overcomes this. If their pen has a very smooth nib, when they write on very smooth paper the very smoothness may result in their putting less pressure on the nib, causing a dry pen to skip. To test your pen for this, hold it lightly by the end and let the nib touch the paper at a writing angle. Using only the pen weight move the nib across the paper. The pen should write with no more pressure but the few grams holding it against the paper. If ink does not flow uniformly, then the nib and feed are a little dry. Try cleaning it out thoroughly. If it still skips, then watch Brian's video for lightly pressing a nib to increase its flow. This trick is shown at 16:40 on his video here: http://www.inknouveau.com/2014/02/intro-to-monteverde-regatta-sport.html Just be sure not to over flex the nib, you cannot undo it if you do.

  3. Adrian Glenn P TuazonMay 27, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    I actually have experience with Ogami Stone Paper that I reviewed here: http://theartglenn.tumblr.com/post/83177490488/welcome-to-part-2-of-the-ogami-professional

    In short, the nature of the paper (rock) does not allow optimal performance for virtually most Fountain Inks and in effect Fountain Pens. Dry times are much too long and in a lot of cases, feathers minutes after writing (post-feathering, which is a problem non-existent in plant-based paper which feathers immediately if present).

  4. Very interesting review. This paper is a polymer sheet with calcium carbonate powder infused throughout to give it tooth. Thank you for the link and the information on Stone Paper.

  5. Why do you suppose none of the major pen manufacturers makes a nib that is as flexible as the flexible nibs that one finds on vintage pens like old Watermans? I can't believe that the technical problems of producing a really flexible 21st century nib would be impossible to overcome, and the prices of vintage pens with very flexible nibs suggests that a market would exist for a modern equivalent.

  6. Does anyone know how many refills you can get from a used ink cartridge before it becomes worn and sloppy around the feedtube and leaks?

  7. Jerry, I have reused ink cartridges for years and I don't think it is unreasonable to get 10 to 20 refills from one. I've emptied a new cartridge, disposed of the ink and rinsed it out to use bottled ink in it. Just replace it when the friction fit of the cartridge is very light. Note, Pilot cartridges seal around the outside and inside of their large opening, so there is a lot of surface area sealing the cartridge. I think I reused a Pilot cartridge in my Vanishing Point for 4 years with no problem, writing at work every day. The same cartridge may be in it now, after over 5 years of reuse. I do not remember ever discarding or replacing its cartridge! It has been refilled many many times.

  8. Jon, here are my thoughts. a) Very tiny market. I've used fountain pens for almost 20 years and never heard of a flexible "Wet Noodle" nib until 6 months ago, and that from searching YouTube for calligraphy. b) cost of new manufacturing equipment to produce the special nibs, feeds, and support a new product line. c) a wet noodle nib would have to have a matching feed design, you cannot just replace the nib and have it feed ink fast enough. Look at the cost of the Namiki Falcons. The vintage nibs were probably hand tuned, most users cannot afford to pay the price today that would entail (thus the nib meisters). I know it could be done, metallurgy and modern manufacturing can do it, but the profit is probably not large enough for the major manufacturers. I would love it! Let's hope it happens soon. TWSBI - can your innovators accomplish this?

  9. Thank you. Tj I haven't done this yet,but I don't think I'll be wasting anymore money on converters anytime soon.

  10. That's a fantastic assessment, TJ! I couldn't say it better myself. Thank you, that's awesome.

  11. Cool, thank you! I'm not educated on the use of stone paper, despite all my experience.

  12. Well put, TJ. Another thing, I'm not sure that it would be easy to even find nibmeisters to do the work, it's really becoming a lost art compared to what it was in the 20's and 30's. But yeah, I would say the very, very tiny market is what is keeping any major pen manufacturer from going after it. Most of them probably aren't even aware that there's really any demand for flex nibs, seeing how little they are involved in forums and blogs...

  13. TJ, you're totally rocking these comments! Thanks for all your contribution! I would like to emphasize that it definitely matters which cartridge you're refilling. Like TJ said here, Pilot lasts forever, so does Platinum b/c those things are built like freaking tanks. But longer, flimsier ones like Waterman or Standard International Long ones break a lot easier, especially if you squeeze them at all to flood the feed (I've done that a lot).


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