Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs

Ben Rowley contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing this paper and spreading the word about it. He found this paper in his quest to find paper that would work well both with smooth fountain pen nibs, as well as with sharp, flexy vintage steel dip nibs. He found the dip nibs often cut the fibers of the page and the ink would feather. Sometimes, with a very sharp nib, the fibers may be cut and you don't even realize it, then your ink feathers. This can be incredibly frustrating! (Check out Ben on YouTube)
Azizah's Pens For Giveaway
Image courtesy of Ben Rowley.
Details below!
If you order a pad of this paper, you will also receive a free handmade dip pen out of reclaimed urban woods and three vintage dip nibs (an italic, a medium, and the Esterbrook Falcon 048) with your order. Offer will be available to the first five customers. The next five customers will receive the three dip nibs.

1. English Walnut (not Black Walnut) shaft and Cherry sapwood (from my grandfathers cherry tree).
2. Figured Cottonwood shaft and black walnut.
3. The shaft of this pen is straight grained cottonwood but the tree died of a fungus which caused some streaking in the wood it is very unique. The grip section is sycamore.
4. Figured Apple and black walnut.
5. Unknown pallet wood from tiles shipped from Europe. The wood is straight grained, greenish brown and hard.  The section is Black Walnut.


Size: 8.5" x 11"
Color: White
Ruling: Pads are handmade, so if you want a different ruling, you can always talk to Ben about that.
Sheet Count: 100 per notepad
Where to buy: ordersn2paper@gmail.com
Shipping via lowest USPS flat rate (starts at $5.00USD per order)
Pricing as follows:

Size Ruling Sheet Count Price USD
8.5” x 11”  Standard Descender 100$9.50
5.5” x 8.5”  Standard Descender 100$6.00
4.25” x 5.5”  Standard Descender 100$3.50
8.5” x 11” Blank 100$9.50
5.5” x 8.5” Blank 100$6.00
4.25” x 5.5” Blank 100$3.50

Size Ruling Sheet Count Price USD
8.5” x 11”  Standard Descender 100$9.00
5.5” x 8.5”  Standard Descender 100$5.50
4.25” x 5.5”  Standard Descender 100$3.00
8.5” x 11” Blank 100$9.00
5.5” x 8.5” Blank 100$5.50
4.25” x 5.5” Blank 100$3.00

Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
Each notepad is hand assembled by Ben Rowley. They are simple but functional. They have metallic silver covers that are flush with the paper inside, and cardboard backs. The spine is a black hinged binding with a linen appearance, but is actually a high grade card stock. It's very strong but folds back easily. The front has information about the notepad itself: name, size, ruling. The paper inside is white, although sometimes there are small specks of brown or black in the page. These specks are quite small, but some prefer pure white sheets. The ruling is green-grey and was printed on by Ben.
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
The spine is glue bound and it is done in a clean way. There was no glue dripped or blobbed on the paper. It's a simple notepad.
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
The nib I received is an Esterbrook Falcon 048; a sharp nib with moderate flex.
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs Falcon 048
Blank sheets will come with a printed ruled card stock as a guideline.


Immediately upon touching the paper, the tooth is noticeable. If the paper is tilted in light, the texture is visible. It's isn't a significant amount of tooth, but it is a fair amount, and enough that you can feel it when writing, even with very smooth nibs. I tried writing on this paper with a straight dip pen first and found the nib got caught in the tooth a few times and splattered. While it looks cool, it's not necessarily the most desirable thing. When I switched to an oblique nib holder, the incidence of this dropped. The more I wrote on the paper, the more I got the hang of it. I also think this means I learned how to hold my nib holders properly!

I think by the end of running through the Rohrer & Klingner Drawing and Calligraphy Inks I have, I wasn't doing too bad with the straight holder. My writing with the oblique holder could use some work, but that's considerably harder for me just because I'm less familiar with it. Despite my inability to write properly, what I did NOT experience was the nib cutting into the paper and subsequent feathering.
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
Writting with oblique nib holder and Falcon 048 sharp vintage nib.
Using dip nibs again, I gave the paper a run with Rohrer & Klinger Drawing and Calligraphy inks. I absolutely loved writing with these inks on this paper. The paper tolerated the inks so well! I think artists (or tragic, hopeless people like myself who try to be artistic) may enjoy this paper.
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
Written with oblique nib holder and Nikko G dip nib.
Furthermore, the paper performed admirably with a wide range of fountain pens and inks. Nibs, even fine nibs, didn't catch the paper either. I tested various nibs, from fine to triple broads, as well as stubs and flexible nibs.
SN2 Paper - FPs
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
The paper doesn't suck the ink out of the nib, so the writing experience is pleasant. It isn't overly smooth and buttery because of the tooth to it. Pooled ink on the page doesn't feather or bleed either.
SN2 Paper Pooled Ink
It's quite great. Drying times are pretty quick, given the performance of the paper as well, even with very wet nibs like my Waterman 94 music nib.
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs Music Nib Test
Music nib writing sample close up. Stayed in place very well!
The spreading I noted actually occurred on the printed ruling, therefore I think blank pages may be best for this paper. It's really quite nice, so if blank pages work for you, give it a shot!
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs

Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
Yep, that's Noodler's Baystate Blue. Not bad, eh?
  • Tolerates many inks very well - no feathering (to the naked eye, at least!), minimal show through, and very, very little bleed through (and only where I scribbled way too much ink). 
  • Quick drying times. 
  • Has a touch of tooth; a pleasant writing experience. If you prefer less tooth, you can always flip the paper over as the other side is a little smoother. Each sheet in the pad should be oriented in the right direction so they all have tooth up, smooth down. 
  • Works well with fountain pens and dip nibs - nibs don't cut into the paper. 
Review: sn^2 Paper For Smooth & Sharp Nibs
  • Despite the wonderful ink pooling, there is no sheen.
  • Some inks spread on the printed ruling (many do not). This is likely because an inkjet printer is used to print the ruling - this can be resolved with commercial printing (or having blank paper, which suits my fancy).

I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of this paper, and by the way it felt. Sometimes paper with a little bit of tooth is nice, particularly with dip nibs (which I'm not so good with). I would never have had the opportunity to try this paper without Ben's generosity (and curiosity and relentless search for the right paper). Ben has a great and generous offer going on right now, for the first ten people to pick up some of this paper from him, so do check it out. I really think it's worth a shot.

I received this paper and nib as a gift for review purposes. I was not compensated monetarily for this review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion. There are no affiliate links in this review.


Ben Rowley said...

Thanks Azizah for a very well done review.

Carolyn said...

Do you have a link to purchase the paper?

Ben Rowley said...

To order send an email to ordersn2paper@gmail.com and request a pricing sheet.

Jen said...

That paper is really quite interesting. I like the line width. It would force me to write smaller, but perhaps more legibly (sp?). Could you and/or Steven do a dip pen tutorial at some point? I'm so intimidated by dip pens I haven't even tried them. Thanks!

Ted said...

interesting paper

AIKA Viktoria said...

Does Ben Rowley have a website?

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Creative Commons License
GourmetPens by Azizah Asgarali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.gourmetpens.com.