This is my review of The Book of Ra, a notebook by Sirius's Domain from Taiwan. A seriously small business, if you can call it that; as far as I can tell it's a single individual. Their Etsy store boasts a combined total of 7 sales. The seller/maker claims that their "wolf paper" is superior to all other fountain pen-friendly paper out there.
Size: B5-ish (250x175mm)
Count: 96 sheets, 192 pages
Weight: 140gsm, yes 140!
Ruling: 5mm grid (also available in 6mm lines and blank)
Binding: Smyth-sewn, with cardboard covers
The notebook is hand made, and it shows. Not entirely in a good way, though. The cardboard covers (a rather ugly affair) are somewhat warped and the spine is duct tape. The design, I guess, aims to be simple and plain like the Midori MD. The Midori, however, comes out looking refined and elegant. tBoR comes out looking cheap.
That being said, the binding is strong, the notebook opens completely flat, almost too flat (courtesy of DuctSpine), and the sheets are even, do not warp and are neatly ruled.
Anyway, mine is getting its own custom cover, and the only thing that really matters is the paper...
The paper looks very smooth, no apparent texturing visible to the naked eye. However, it is not glossy by any means and its not smooth to the touch. Probably the highest feedback I got from any FP-friendly paper ever. This one will make your fountain pens sing.
So how does it fare against the likes of Clairefontaine and Tomoe River?
To find out I used
1- a Lamy Al-Star, EF nib, filled with Rohrer & Klinger Königsblau;
2- a Pelikan no.mistake to test erase and overwrite;
3- a Levenger L-Tech, F nib, filled with Diamine Onyx black, an offensively juicy combination;
4- a Pilot Prera, M nib, filled with Seitz-Kreuznach Tomatenrot;
5- a Sharpie | pen;
6- a document-grade Schneider One Business with a nasty habit of feathering and bleeding through most paper;
7- a Schneider Slider Rave XB, because every test needs a ballpoint;
Inkzilla may look like a run-of-the-mill 6mm Pilot Parallel pen, cocooned within it, however, is an ancient cartridge that, even though it has never been used, is less than a third full. Pilot Parallel ink is already dense as it is, concentrated like this... its paper cryptonite. And yet the pen started writing right away. Well, it spoke first, something about becoming death and destroying paper worlds, but then it just kept on writing. Pilot, right?
For comparison I tried
- Clairefontaine 90gsm, blue tint, 5mm grid;
- Taroko 68gsm Tomoe River, 5mm grid;
- Fabriano Ecoqua 85gsm, 5mm grid;
- Transotype Sensebook 80gsm, 5mm grid;
- Muji Recycled 80gsm, 5mm grid.
I considered including TWSBI, Stalogy, Leuchturm and Apica Premium too, but I need something to live for. You don't want to uncover the secrets of the universe in one go.
Due to considerations of space and to keep things as uniform as possible I went with a minimal single writing sample (Book of Ra) for all pens on all types of paper. The 2nd line, like the 1st, is written using the Al-Star with "Book" erased and overwritten with the no.mistake (note: forgot to do this for the Taroko).
Despite my best efforts I could not achieve a high enough resolution without a macro lens or digital microscope (something I am seriously considering now). I therefore inspected each sample with a Carson x50 loupe. (note: the photos are 6000 pixels wide, you may have to download them to get all the details)
For the EF nib of the Al-Star all 6 paper brands are perfectly adequate, even the last three which are not explicitly marketed as FP-friendly. Closer inspection with the loupe reveals some fine feathering for those. What also becomes apparent and what the photos do not show very well is that the lines on wolf paper are noticeably cleaner and better defined than any other paper, even the Clairefontaine and the Tomoe River. In practice, however, that is utterly irrelevant, as you really can't tell with the naked eye. We are approaching audiophile-levels of obsession here. See lines 3 and 4 for a more apparent difference.
The best performer in the overwrite test is easily Clairefontaine, followed closely by Tomoe River (done post-photo). Wolf paper failed the overwrite test, with some significant feathering visible. This may have something to do with the multiple passes the eraser required for it to work on this paper. Maybe I was impatient.
Wolf, Clairefontaine and Tomoe River stood up really well to the extreme abuse of the One Business and Inkzilla (the last three not so much), with Wolf paper the only one showing practically zero feathering or bleed-through. Clairefontaine and Tomoe River did show some very minor feathering, but it has to be remembered that these are really badly behaved (naughty) pens. Tomoe River was also the only paper (of the six) to fail the Inkzilla smear test. Finally, that Wolf paper wins the show-through and bleed-through contest is no big feat at 140gsm. More impressive, I find, is the Clairefontaine's performance at little more than half the weight. Tomoe River's bleed-through resistance at 68gsm is also noteworthy.
In summary, I can say with some confidence that Wolf paper lives up to Sirius's Domain's claims and that their own sample below matches what I have found.
It IS legit and should be on every fountain pen user's radar.
Is it better than Clairefontaine? I'd have to say No!
Yes, it does perform better; the lines are cleaner and better defined, even less feathering, zero bleed-through, etc etc. In practice, though, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference. You will notice the 140gsm thickness, however, and you will most certainly notice the feedback.
Now... who makes this paper?