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Clearly It’s Clairefontaine

10 Apr

Clairefontaine Brand Story on

Clairefontaine is a paper manufacturer in a class of its own. Originating in France, their rich history in paper-making led to their focus on quality products and sustainable practices that have made Clairefontaine a universal name in the paper world. Currently the only European paper manufacturer still making their own paper for their own products, Clairefontaine has a unique control over the quality of product as well as the impact their facilities have on the environment. Clairefontaine manufactures all of its products from two mills in Europe, making notebooks and stationery products at the Clairefontaine mill in France, and fine art paper and stationery at the Schut mill in the Netherlands.

Clairefontaine’s Mills History

The Clairefontaine mill was founded in the small commune of Etival-Clairefontaine by Jean-Baptiste Bichelberger. Established in 1858, the mill opened on the site of a paper mill that was built in 1512. Best known for making the first school notebooks in France, the Clairefontaine mill has been manufacturing paper since 1858 and stationery products since 1890.

Clairefontaine Classic A4 Side Spiralbound Notebook (8.25 x 11.75)

One of the most popular Clairefontaine notebooks: the Classic A4 Side Spiralbound

The Schut mill in the Netherlands has been operating since the dawn of paper making. Built in 1618, the original De Veentjes mill joined over 170 small paper mills in the Veluwe area of the Netherlands that found success due to the large demand for paper during the Dutch Golden Age. The mill was bought in 1710 by the Schut family, who operated it successfully for nearly three centuries before the mill burned down on May 6, 1895. A modern, steam-powered mill was built on the same spot and was eventually acquired by Papeteries de Clairefontaine in July of 1998. The Schut mill is the last specialty grade producer in the area, but retains its traditional values and dedication to quality.

Unique Environmental Control

Because they make their own paper, Clairefontaine is able to directly control their environmental impact on the surrounding lands. All of the wood pulp used in Clairefontaine paper is purchased from PEFC-certified sustainable forests. The company also has an advanced biological water purification system which removes nearly all of the paper by-product matter in the water so the water can be safely returned to the environment. In fact, people can swim, fish, and boat directly downstream of the Clairefontaine mill on the River Meurthe because the water returned to the river is actually cleaner than when it reached the mill!

What Makes Clairefontaine Paper Extra Special

The clean manufacturing processes at Clairefontaine create an exceptional paper that is loved by people around the world. Though notoriously shiny and white, Clairefontaine paper is absolutely chlorine-free. This is made possible by the use of calcium-carbonate, a mineral that creates the ultra-smooth writing surface that enhances the delight of writing on Clairefontaine paper. The paper is also opaque, meaning you can write on both sides without ink bleeding through.

Clairefontaine Classic Large Top Spiralbound Notepad (5.75 x 8.25)

Another fave of Clairefontaine fans: the Classic Large Top Spiralbound Notepad

All inks used in Clairefontaine products are made from vegetable oil pigments (soybean, corn, linseed oils) rather than mineral ones. This reduces emissions and ensures non-toxic and non-irritating inks. The company is also dedicated to waste reduction. All usable waste is converted into agricultural compost while the package design features returnable containers and bulk packaging. The Clairefontaine mill operates on a dual power generation system that supplies 80% of its own energy needs.

Clairefontaine’s rich history and conscious practices ensure consistent quality and minimal environmental impact, just two of the many reasons that people love writing on Clairefontaine paper. Check out the full selection of Clairefontaine on where you’ll find Clairefontaine’s Top Staple, Side Staple, Top Spiral, Side Spiral, Hard Cover, and Cloth Bound notebooks and notepads.

Made in the USA: Noodler’s Ink

29 Mar

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 Created in Massachusetts, U.S.A., by Nathan Tardif, Noodler’s Ink is the “smallest ink company in the world with the largest color selection.” Not only does Nathan make Noodler’s Ink 100% in the USA from cap to glass to ink, the labels are even printed with Noodler’s own formulas.

Providing archival quality, Noodler’s Inks are heralded by fountain pen enthusiasts for their variety and reliability. Noodler’s is quite economically focused (as you’ll find via the ink’s stories) and you’ll never find an ink cartridge pre-filled with Noodler’s ink. Straight from Noodler’s website: “Noodler’s refuses to manufacture ink cartridges due to the egregious economics these disposable bits of plastic form as an illusion of value until compared with the economics of the glass bottle.” Therefore, Noodler’s 3-ounce glass bottles stand proud and come filled to the brim so you get every penny’s worth of the ink you love!

Noodler’s Standard Inks

Noodler's Standard Inks (3 oz.)With a wide variety of colors from which to choose, Noodler’s Standard Inks are very saturated, giving you a rich, clean line as you write, and as an added bonus, there is less feathering and bleedthrough. Each ink has a high dye concentration (giving you that saturated color), yet with a neutral pH so they won’t affect your fountain pens. Nathan at Noodler’s aims to make all his inks the most economical on the market. He epitomizes that on the label as “the catfish symbolizes a southern sport that attempts to equalize the struggle between man and animal in the quest for a sense of fair play – and thus a fair price.”

Choose from Noodler’s Antietam, Army Green, Blue, Forest Green, Habanero, Midnight Blue, Navajo Turquoise, Purple, Red, and Standard Green.

Noodler’s Bernanke Inks

Noodler's Bernanke Inks (3 oz.)What drew us to Noodler’s (other than the brilliant variety of inks, of course) was Nathan’s animated nature toward ink creation. In our research, it’s quite obvious his passion for ink and politics leads to the creation of several of the best inks on the market – not simply for the ink, but for the story.  Noodler’s Bernanke Ink is a perfect example.

Created specifically for those who require a fast drying ink, such as left-handed writers and sketchers, it’s available in two colors – Bernanke Blue and Bernanke Black. The ink is directly named for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in reference to how quickly Bernanke prints new money (thus he must need such a fast-drying ink!).  Noodler’s Bernanke Ink has a dry time of .5 – 1.5 seconds, living up to its creator’s dream and the delight of fountain pen enthusiasts.
Noodler's Baystate Inks (3 oz.)

Noodler’s Baystate Inks

One specific heralded waterproof ink from Noodler’s is Baystate Blue, based on a classic colonial cobalt ink. Baystate Blue has a slightly more alkaline pH than other Noodler’s inks, but still produces an extremely saturated blue, appearing almost electric on paper.

Noodler’s aims to be the most economical ink on the market and provides not only archival quality with Baystate Blue, but also waterproof quality when dry. Just be careful not to get it on clothes or other items that may stain as it dries quickly!

Noodler’s Bulletproof Inks

Noodler's Bulletproof Inks (3 oz.)
Available in Noodler’s Black or No. 41 Brown, Noodler’s Bulletproof Inks are forgery-resistant, water-resistant, and everlasting. Their durability is a testament to Noodler’s special ink properties that continue to be refined with each batch. Noodler’s Bulletproof inks are free-flowing meaning both Noodler’s Black and No. 41 Brown put down a strong, steady line when writing, without feathering or bleedthrough.

Noodler’s No. 41 Brown is a rich and deeply saturated brown ink with warm tones (named for Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts). And Noodler’s Black is a truly deep black, showing no shades of grey or the like. Just don’t mix either ink with conventional inks as the fraud-proof properties will be negated. And with such perfect inks to begin with, we’re sure these will both quickly become regulars in your ink supply.

Why We’re in Love with Lamy

7 Mar

Lamy Brand Story

“No design writes better,” promises the famed German pen manufacturer Lamy. With countless fans to attest that claim, Lamy rose to prominence using groundbreaking techniques with molded synthetic plastics in their pens. This is most notable when very carefully inspecting Lamy pens for lines where sections meet – look long enough and you may see the very faintest of a connection point, unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

Lamy’s Foundation: The 2000 Fountain Pen

Founded in 1930 by Josef Lamy (originally a sales representative for The Parker Pen Company), Lamy pens quickly rose to prominence as one of the most modern pen manufacturers with their flagship fountain pen the Lamy 2000, first released in 1966 and still their premier pen to this day.

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen on

Check out the Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen on for all the details.

Made of a combination of fiberglass and brushed stainless steel known as Makrolon, the Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen is piston filled and thus can only be used with an ink bottle and not with ink cartridges. No worries though, the piston has quite a large and reliable capacity. It also has a gorgeous 14-carat gold, platinum-coated nib that is hand polished and semi-hooded to prevent ink drying when left uncapped, not to mention the spring-loaded stainless steel clip that can hold up to years of clip-on, clip-off.

Designed by Gerd Alfred Müller, the Lamy 2000 was awarded the Busse Longlife Design Prize in 1984. The 2000’s sleek design and smooth writing style has stood the test of time as it stays at the top of many a fountain pen enthusiasts’ wish lists. Just be sure not to leave it lying around the office as its refined look is sure to catch attention and it may “walk off” on its own! The innovative Lamy 2000 is so revered that it is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art and has won countless design awards. One other tip: the 2000 nibs are not marked, so keep the box you bought it in so you can always have the nib size on hand!

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

Then in 1980, Lamy created the Lamy Safari, a fountain pen for beginners and students primarily, now heralded as one of the best introductory fountain pens on the market.

Lamy Z50 Nib

Lamy Z50 Fountain Pen Nib on

Designed by Wolfgang Fabian & Bernt Spiegel, the Safari’s stainless steel Z50 nib is interchangeable with several other Lamy fountain pen collections including the CP1, AL-Star, Vista, Joy, Studio, Accent, and Logo. Some other models that are fitted with a standard Lamy steel nib can also swap out nibs, but the previously mentioned styles are the most available and used in the US. The Z50 nibs do not fit the Lamy 2000 fountain pen.

Back to the Safari though: With a shiny flexible chrome clip, the Safari is ready to travel and comes equipped with a Lamy T10 ink cartridge so you can write with it straight out of the box. You can also modify the Safari to use Lamy’s Z24 Converter, in which case you can use any bottled ink like Lamy’s T52 Bottled Ink.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen on

Grab the black, white, blue, or red Lamy Safari Fountain Pen on or get all four!

Made of sturdy ABS plastic, the Safari is available in Charcoal, Blue, Apple Green, Red, and White, on and is designed with the writer’s comfort in mind with its molded grip section. The Charcoal Safari comes with a black coated steel nib (your choice of fine or medium nib), while the Blue, Red, and White Safaris come with a non-coated steel nib (once again, your choice of fine or medium nib).

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen

In the late 90s, Lamy’s Al-Star line up exploded onto the scene. Also designed by Wolfgang Fabian and incased in lightweight brushed aluminum, the Al-Stars boast similar styling to the Safari. It has the same interchangeable Lamy nibs, chiseled edges for a rounded-square look, and wire grips (although the Al-Stars come in either black or chrome.) You’ll also find that the Al-Star has a slightly larger diameter and is a tad bit heavier. It also has a smoky translucent grip because, after all, an Al-Star has nothing to hide. It also accepts the Z24 converter, so you can write in your favorite Lamy T52 bottled ink:  Turquoise, Blue-Black, Blue-Washable, Green, or Red.

Today, Lamy has branched into ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, mechanical pencils, and more, and is still at the forefront of pen innovation. Still made in Heidelberg, Germany, Lamy is a brand you can trust for quality, durability, and versatility.

Keep Your Green Resolutions with PooPooPaper

9 Feb

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 In a time when people are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment, many people will resolve to live a greener lifestyle each new year.  This can involve recycling, using less energy, investing in carbon offsets, and many other resolutions that will require consistent attention throughout the year.  However, it may be easier to simply start small.  Keep your resolution to “go green” by slowly making the switch to more sustainable products.  These products are not only environmentally friendly; they have amazing stories behind them. Take PooPooPaper for example.


PooPooPaper was no accident.  Founder Michael Flancman grew up loving the great outdoors.  From canoe trips and ice hockey near Toronto, to kayaking and mountain climbing in British Columbia, “the outdoors were in my fabric,” Flancman said.  This passion combined with an intrigue of business and manufacturing led Flancman on a natural course to found the Alternative Pulp and Paper Company and PooPooPaper Products.

The process from poop to paper is really quite intriguing.  Basically, animals such as elephants, cows, horses, and donkeys, which have fiber-rich vegetarian diets, produce almost as much poop as the amount of food they consume. Their “digestive systems … don’t really break down the vegetation all that well, [so] their poop has plenty of fiber even after their meal is consumed.” As fibers make pulp, which makes paper, Flancman saw the possibility to make paper without the use of trees, and instead he started using animal dung. After the dung is collected, it is rinsed and boiled, then formed into paper.  The whole process is a little more complex and takes a bit of time to get to the finished product, but it is fascinating to see how it is done.

What Recycled Really Means

Most products now have some sort of recycled stamp on them.  Many boast that they are at least partially made from recycled material, but when it comes down to it, the recycling process can be just as bad as the creation process and the underlying product still relies on tree-based pulp.  Some companies are taking part in what is often referred to as “greenwashing.”

According to Flancman that means, “the act of blatantly and intentionally misleading the public by offering a product for sale that falls well short of the purported sustainable benefits claimed or suggested.”  There could not be a better definition.  PooPooPaper products are the exact opposite.  They are made from the fibrous waste of a variety of animals.  No chlorine or bleach or other harsh chemicals are involved, and even soy-based ink is used exclusively when printing designs.  While these are certainly great achievements, the company is always striving for a more efficient process.

Sustainability as Reality

The driving force behind PooPooPaper is simple, some might say even downright playful, and rightfully so.  It is to create a product that is “immeasurably more sustainable than its tree pulp-based counterpart” while at the same time having fun. Really the best way to explain their motivation is to rely on the slogan: “PooPooPaper – Playfully Outrageous with an Underlying Message of Sustainability.” Not only is the company model sustainable, they donate to several non-profits committed to wild land conservation and animal protection.

Resolving to live a more sustainable lifestyle is a process.  Start by supporting a company that makes sustainability their foundation.  PooPooPaper strives to “spread the word of sustainability to as many people in as many places as possible through our unique, memorable, fun, educational and meaningful products.” Their goal is to spread the word; your resolution is to use a more sustainable product.  Together, both goals will be met.   After all, seeing the paper on the coffee table will be the constant reminder to waste less, save more, and live smart.


 Meet the Writer: Scott Sery is a native to Billings, Montana, where he enjoys amazing access to the great outdoors the area has to offer. With years of wandering in the backcountry, and a love for the environment, he transfers his experiences exploring the great outdoors to guides and stories of surviving in the wilderness.


Take a Mental Holiday with Cavallini & Co.

23 Nov

Cavallini Brand Story on

Cavallini’s Roots

Cavallini and Co., one of our most distinctive brands, is devoted to vintage. Classic illustrations of major cities and the natural world create a certain allure to Cavallini’s products.

Cavallini & Co. was founded by Brad Parberry in 1989. Parberry had spent a year of his college experience in Florence, Italy, where he saw a beautiful line of calendars and saw an opportunity in them for the U.S.  He found the source company that had created the calendars in a phone book, gave them a call, and the rest—as they say—is history. From this lucky finding in Florence and a single phone call, Cavallini established a relationship with the Italian calendar designer that lasted for twenty years.

Parberry began the company, originally in his San Francisco apartment, by selling two calendars that looked very much like the wall calendars Cavallini sells today. Those first calendars were designed in Italy by the company he’d befriended. As the company began to flourish and grow, Parberry began finding his own vintage images and created designs for all of the calendars he was offering. As a personal touch, Parberry chose his grandmother’s family name to represent his new paper products and christened the company, “Cavallini.”

Distinct Italian Style

To this day, the company is located in San Francisco and, as such, they have several San Francisco-themed products in their inventory. But Cavallini has a wide and worldly influence when it comes to the images and themes included on their items, such as images from London, Paris, and New York.

All of Cavallini’s products, from its rubber stamps to its charming postcards, carry the feel of days gone by. Its line of New York-themed products, for instance, feel as if they’ve stepped straight from a store in the 1920′s and into Cavallini. The city is portrayed in an art deco style, almost as though the notebooks are advertisements for the World’s Fair. Likewise, many of their city-themed products look like those large canvas suitcases that characters in old films plaster with travel stickers.

All of the products offered by Cavallini are designed at their San Francisco offices by a team of graphic designers who collaborate to create the products and the ideas behind them. From there, a graphics team pull images from Cavallini’s vast archives and put together the finished items.


Sookie Koban, an employee with Cavallini, says the company is possesses  a large archive filled with vintage images that they’ve collected over the years. These images, Koban says, come from “postcard shows, antique stores and from vintage books.” When using these images, Cavallini endeavors to “retain the integrity and authenticity of the images” they collect.


When it comes to signature items, Cavallini prides itself on its line of calendars. Koban describes Cavallini’s calendars as “unique in the marketplace as they focus on beautiful art prints.” The calendars are all printed on Italian cream laid paper, a fitting choice since the company began with the calendars Brad Parberry first found in Florence.

The driving philosophy of Cavallini, as described by Ms. Koban, is “to [create] unique high quality products.” This philosophy is evident in every product that Cavallini offers. With each vintage styled creation, Cavallini promises to give its customers an office supply that will stand out among the others on their desks. The imagery used by Cavallini may have otherwise been forgotten, but they bring new life to it through their notebooks, thank you cards, and other office ephemera.


Meet the Writer: Mary Egan is a recent graduate of Lewis University and is currently interning with a publishing company in Chicago; she also has more pens and notebooks than she knows what to do with. She is the founder of the Jet Fuel Review, a student-run literary journal, and still blogs for them at Lewis Lit Journal.


Penmanship & Calligraphy: Where it all Started & Where it is Today

17 Nov

Penmanship & Calligraphy Series by Cole Imperi on
This post is not meant to be an in-depth look at the history of penmanship or calligraphy by any means, but it is meant to provide a little insight and maybe a new perspective.

At the root, writing is a way to both preserve and mark. It exists because humans communicate and writing is just one form of communication. We communicate all kinds of things through writing: things like recipes, an address, or notes in our kid’s lunch boxes. Because of writing, we have ancient texts like the Bible or the Rig Veda, for example. We have maps that show us names of places long gone and love letters and family trees. Hundreds of languages and dozens of alphabets exist. Communicating via the written word is rich and diverse and always has been.

To understand the actual act of writing, we need to be familiar with the tools: the 26 letters within the English alphabet. Did you know we have four cases that are taught in most schools here in the US today? We don’t even notice, but many people who have English as a second language definitely do notice. We have:

  • Capital print
  • Lowercase print
  • Capital cursive
  • Lowercase cursive

Granted, many of the letters (like ‘O’ for example) don’t have much variation between the cases, but some truly do (like Z or Q). By comparison, Hebrew has two cases, a print and a cursive. There is no capital/lowercase. Most languages use multiple cases and the purpose is generally to provide more clarity in writing and reading. Unicase refers to languages, like Hebrew, that don’t make a distinction between upper and lowercase. Arabic is also like this. (You can read up on letter case on Wikipedia and capitalization on’s Hot Word for more details we won’t go into here.)

Humans have been embellishing letterforms about as long as we’ve had them. In fact, initial forms of writing began with pictures (called ‘pictograms’). Pictograms turned into ideograms (A sun symbol might mean sun, but also day). Phonograms came next (symbols representing sound) and we made the jump from inscriptions on cave walls to stone, clay or wood. With the development of the reed brush, we made the jump to writing on papyrus, wax tablets, and animal skin. Fast forward through the last millennia and our alphabets developed quickly. Punctuation and spacing were added in as well as grammar rules. All the while, we kept extra embellishments in tow, whether that was images accompanying text or beautifully illuminated drop caps.

Sennelier Calligraphy Pad on

Sennelier Calligraphy Pad; specifically designed for calligraphers.

In the 20th century, shorthand was taught in school and in places like Secretarial college. (In high schools across the US, it was basically replaced with typing classes.) Writing shorthand is called stenography. It’s an abbreviated way of writing and it lets you write as fast as people speak. This has mostly disappeared today due to computers; however, it can be argued that texting has appeared as a new incarnation of shorthand.

Looking at things from a broad perspective, really not much has changed. Writing styles are still evolving (hello graffiti) and we still use different styles of writing for different purposes (like calling up Edwardian Script in Microsoft Word for party invitations or writing in large capital letters on your ‘GARAGE SALE’ sign). There are still people who have a career in penmanship (hello calligraphers) and exquisite writing is still highly prized.

I’d like to make the argument that we are pretty much in the same exact spot we’ve always been, it’s just we have new applications and tools. We have text messaging, email, thousands of typefaces to choose from, graphic design, and a multitude of other bits and bobs.

And we still have those brushes, pencils and ink, just like we always have.


Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.


Editor’s Note: This is Article #2 in a series of 6 on the topic of penmanship & calligraphy by Cole Imperi. Read the other article here:

Article #1Where to Start


Orange You Glad for Rhodia

17 Oct

Rhodia Brand Story

Since the 1930′s, Rhodia has been a favorite among writers, artists, and designers alike. Easily recognizable by their original orange covers, Rhodia has become a symbol of excellence throughout the world. It doesn’t just stop at the orange or black covers, though – inside is renowned Clairefontaine paper with an extra-smooth finish that provides the perfect surface for your pen to dance.


Rhodia was founded in 1932 by the brothers Henri and Robert Verilhac, who founded the Verilhac Paper Mills in the French Alps. The name was inspired by the Rhone River – legend has it that the two Rhodia fir trees of the logo symbolize the two founding brothers.

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& It’s Eco-Friendly, Too!

Rhodia was purchased in 1997 by the historic Clairefontaine company, located in the Vosges region of France. This was a match made in heaven. A paper-making legend itself, Clairefontaine was established in 1863 on the site of a 16th century paper mill and continues to this day. In fact, it’s currently the only manufacturer making its own paper for its own products. This guarantees not only consistent product quality, but also controls the environmental impact of the manufacturing process.

Clairefontaine only buys pulp from sustainable forests that are certified according to recognized international standards (PEFC, FSC, etc.) These certifications also ensure that endangered wildlife habitat is protected, worker health and safety laws are kept, and the rights of indigenous communities are respected. The river Meurthe is the source of water supply for the Vosges mill – the water is so clean when it leaves their facility that local people can swim within sight of it.

Shop Rhodia Pencils on EuropeanPaper.comWhy Orange?

Turns out that it was a standard hue for cardstock at the time and it remains unchanged to this day.

Form & Function

The Rhodia notepad, originally a sideline for Rhodia, was to become its most famous product. The Rhodia pad was considered a professional tool, and so was designed to be easy to use and durable, incorporating details like a fold-around cover, hard coated-board backing, and nice paper. It immediately overshadowed other notebooks of the time because of its quality materials and the innovative design of the scored folding front cover. Over time, Rhodia has become the most popular pad in France. Today, Rhodia has branched out into dozens of styles and covers, all melding signature form and function.