Paper’s best for books and notebooks, but there are plenty of other uses: cups, bags, and even countertops. I have cutting boards made from pressed paper (they are wonderfully compact), but the paper product I love most these days are the plain brown paper coffee sleeves you find in cafes. Not because I do much hanging out in cafes but because my baby is still addicted to paper and they’re a simple, sturdy, and unbleached distraction that doesn’t instantly dissolve if he happens to put it in his mouth.
The New York Times magazine ran a great story this weekend about papermaker Timothy Barrett, whose hand-crafted pages have been used to mend historical documents from manuscripts to musical scores. There’s lots to think about here, but first and foremost:
Barrett’s work has been driven by the notion that good materials, worked by hand, transmit their power in ways that the products of less painstaking manufacture can’t. “I have to believe that the eye and the hand take it all in, even when we’re not aware of it,” he said. There’s a poignancy to his work, given that paper’s long role as the repository of cultural memory and accomplishment is being usurped by swift technological change.
The piece is well-worth reading, as is the online slideshow that shows Barrett at work.
I first encountered Livescribe — the nifty digital pen-recorder that, via a special sort of paper, enables you to take notes and record things at the same time, then replay certain snippets by tapping on specific words — a few years ago. (If you used it during class and tapped your “test Friday” note, for example, you’d skip straight to the part where your professor announced there’d be a test on Friday covering such-and-such topics.)
A friend who’s a grad student and gadget geek had an early version; as a freelance writer, I was intrigued. There are few things more tedious than transcription, and you don’t always need to transcribe every part of an interview — just the parts that are relevant to your subject. However, I conduct a lot of my interviews on the phone, and the idea of having to do them on speakerphone just so I could use Livescribe didn’t seem terrifically practical. And though I don’t recall LiveScribe paper being of poor quality, the pen-and-paper experience is important to me, and I like being able to choose which tools I use for a particular project.
But there are plenty of others, I’m sure, who’ve come to use and love Livescribe. One of our survey respondents even suggested we release a planner format that’s compatible with Livescribe and Anoto (a similar technology I’ve not seen in person).
With the caveat that I have no idea how easy or difficult this would be, I’m curious to know if you agree. Do you use Livescribe? Would you like a Quo Vadis planner or notebook that’s compatible with it?
Oh, and speaking of our planner survey… if you haven’t already taken it, we’d love to get your opinion! It’ll be online here through the end of the month.
From my French counterpart, Murielle, comes this post about Jitesh Patel, an amazing London-based paper artist — sculptor, I might say. As Murielle explains:
Jitesh Patel founded his studio in London in 2007. The artist works on paper in the form of multifaceted 3D creations and with a resolutely graphical style. A feast for the eyes, these achievements offer the ultimate results in advertisements for the Alpina Yogurt as well as in the streets of London.
You can see one of Patel’s street art projects in the image above; to see the intricate paper birds and butterflies he crafted for Alpina and learn more about his work, check out his website.
From Pens and Paper, the site of a UK based organization (or organisation, I suppose) that teaches composition and handwriting and blogs about the life creative, comes this phenomenally comprehensive review of twelve different notebook papers — from the Habana to the Webnotebook and Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917, and many others.
Each review is written with a careful and comparative eye, which makes it very useful indeed to have them all in one place.
The Clairefontaine paper we use in our planners and notebooks is noted for its smoothness, and we recently fielded a comment from Tom about what, exactly, makes it that way.
I’d heard about the “velin velouté” finish, but I didn’t know much about how it was actually produced. Fortunately, Karen soon clued me in: calcium carbonate. This mineral is found in chalk, limestone, marble, and travertine, and according to the Exaclair website, it “gives Clairefontaine notebook paper its trademark qualities of extra white and ultra smooth.”
Sometimes, when a piece of paper doesn’t absorb all the ink you try to lay down, that doesn’t mean it’s not fountain pen friendly. The paper in our Journal 21, for example, is modeled after old ledger paper. The goal is to be thin and strong, with no feathering or bleed through. Frustrated by how long it takes your ink to dry? The solution is simple: blotting paper.
I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t tried this old technique — I usually just wait till things dry — but I’ve always been curious about it. I love the looks of those antique ink blotters, and have been thinking about getting one… even if it does threaten to add to the clutter on my desk!
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m not happy with the images we have for the ivory Habanas, so I figured I’d post a few of my own. In my opinion, the color is more cream-like than ivory, and very unobtrusive. I’m hoping that comes through in the admittedly imperfect photos I took on my deck the other day…
I know this news isn’t going to be welcomed by everyone, but I’m nonetheless pleased to announce that our new ivory Habanas are finished and ready to ship. They’re available in both large and small formats, and lined and unlined 85g fountain pen friendly paper.
About the images above… ivory is a hard color to capture, and we haven’t had a lot of time to take proper product photos. To my eye, the paper is not quite as dark or as yellow as it looks here. Nonetheless, YMMV, and though my photographic skills are limited, I’ll post some shots that I took in my backyard tomorrow afternoon.
In the meantime, if you want to place an order, ask your favorite retailer, or try your luck later this week with our preview giveaway.