Up there is how I learned there was such a thing as wheat straw paper. A very sweet friend brought me these two Inky Fingers memo notebooks from the Washington DC pen show.
In size, the notebook resembles a Field Notes memo book, about 5 1⁄2 by 3 1⁄2 inches.
I like to use smaller memo books for ink tests, and just to jot down notes. So it was neat to see a new one that promised fountain-pen friendly paper.
What started this for me, however, was an ink. I’ve been using Sailor Doyou, an ink which is supposedly brown. But, for me, Doyou hasn’t been particularly brown. On most papers, in most lighting, I get a light black color.
Was it fate, then, that made me choose the Doyou pen when I opened my new memo book for the first time? I put pen to paper and wrote the immortal, poetic lines: “Lamy Al-Star B / Sailor Doyou.” And the earth must have slipped imperceptibly on its axis, the clouds parted, the sun beamed. Because Doyou looked brown.
I pulled out my Field Notes notebook, and compared the two. Here is the Field Notes at the top — blacker Doyou — and the wheat straw paper at the bottom — browner Doyou.
Oh, wheat straw paper, you have the power to make Doyou look brown. What other secrets might you hold for fountain pen enthusiasts? To find out, I scribbled in the memo book with my other inked pens. All my inks looked lively in color, and the wheat straw paper in the memo book resisted feathering, bleedthrough and even showthrough.
I wanted to try it in a more versatile format, though. Luckily I found letter-size wheat straw paper at Staples, with the copier and printer paper.
It turns out that wheat straw paper is made of 80 percent wheat straw waste. The company that makes this particular paper, Step Forward, claims it’s more environmentally responsible than many other paper options. That appealed to me. At about $10 for a ream of 500 sheets, the price appealed to me, too. So I bought a package from Staples.
The letter-size Step Forward paper does seem to be very similar to the paper in the little notebook — it has the same specifications, and it has the same good qualities, just in a convenient larger size.
There are some compromises with wheat straw paper. It’s a thinner paper, only 21 pounds or 80 gsm. And it isn’t as smooth-feeling as my normal fountain-pen friendly papers. However, my thinnest nib, a Sailor fine nib, writes very smoothly on the Step Forward paper.
Its color looks slightly less white. The Step Forward paper has a brightness of 92. My normal printer paper, by Hammermill, has a 97 brightness. Here they are together.
On the other hand, the regular printer paper seems to absorb more of the fountain pen ink than the wheat straw paper. In the photo above, the same pen and ink was used on both papers. I prefer the way the wheat straw paper handles the ink.
The wheat straw paper does not look as perfect as my regular paper. There are a few speckles and impurities. Circled in the next photo is a black dot. This is on the Step Forward paper, but I saw those in the memo book’s paper, too. In fact, all these comments apply to both.
And there are some lighter colored occasional irregularities, too.
Papers with a high recycled content can be like this, too, and I can live with it for an environmentally-friendly paper. It will be just fine for printing business documents and letters.
But I can use the Step Forward for personal letters, too, because it’s so good with fountain pen ink.
Those colors look great on wheat straw paper. There’s nice shading. And I’ve seen no feathering or showthrough with the pens and inks I’ve used so far.
So that’s my first encounter with wheat straw paper, a fountain-pen friendly paper that’s more environmentally-friendly. I’m very happy with it so far.