More Inexpensive Fountain Pen-Friendly Paper: Wheat Straw Printer Paper

Inky Fingers notebooks

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 12 by 3 12 inches.

Field Notes and Inky Fingers notebooks

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.

Field Notes and Inky Fingers notebooks

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.

Step Forward Wheat Straw paper closeup

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.

Step Forward Wheat Straw paper versus regular copy paper

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.

Step Forward Wheat Straw paper closeup

And there are some lighter colored occasional irregularities, too.

Step Forward Wheat Straw paper closeup

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.

Step Forward Wheat Straw paper closeup

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.

Step Forward Wheat Straw paper closeup

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.

14 thoughts on “More Inexpensive Fountain Pen-Friendly Paper: Wheat Straw Printer Paper

  1. Is this the line that is being hawked by Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit? And… regarding the less smooth feeling, is this a texture or weave element? Okay, it’s a two-fer one day! Neat find. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi David. That’s a good question. There’s no weave. I wouldn’t even say there’s texture. It’s basically just like any other printer or copy paper. It just doesn’t seem as smooth, subjectively, as my 24 pound Hammermill, all-tree paper. And neither of those printer papers is as smooth as Rhodia or Clairefontaine.

      Happily, the wheat straw paper passes my most serious smoothness test: it handles a Sailor fine nib with aplomb.


    1. Check stock online first, though. Mine didn’t have it in-store. But Staples will always send it to your store for pickup, if your order doesn’t qualify for free delivery. They seem to be carrying a lot of Rhodia products, too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, I already cleaned out my wettest pen with the sheeniest ink. And it’s been storming or cloudy here since the paper arrived. But so far, the answer is “sort of” — sheen is possible, but I don’t see very much.

      I see a bit of red sheen from Souten, Sky High and Tokiwa-Matsu, when I hold the paper at an angle. Much less than Tomoe River paper. But more than my regular printer paper, which shows absolutely none.

      I’d be happy to send out a few sheets of the paper, if you don’t mind it being folded to fit in the envelope. Just contact me up above. That goes for anyone who’s interested.


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