Paper Made the Modern Economy

If you’ve got 9 minutes to spare, why not listen to the episode about Paper from the radio series 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy?1 It is narrated by the pop star of economists Tim Harford.2

The image has been taken from a previous blog post about stationery stores in Shanghai.

  1. Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. []
  2. This is not the first appearance of his name in this blog. Can you find the other appearance? []

Field Notes Black Ice 3


Here’s a look at the “Bright White” Finch Fine Smooth 70# text paper found in the new Field Notes Black Ice.

As in previous blog posts I have created violin plots of graphite samples on the  different papers.

To read under what conditions the graphite is put on the paper please read the explanation in Lunatic Paper or other blog posts.


Field Notes comparison plus samples

The samples and their violin plots

Colour base paper shift

Previous samples were automatically adjusted by the scanner, so the violin plots were all closer together than they should have been, i.e. the base colour of the paper didn’t make a big difference.

This has now been changed, explanation in the video, so the results are more objective, but also feel more difficult to compare.


The finch Fine paper used in the Black Ice Field Notes is great, nearly as good as the Boise paper in the County Fair editions. For my purposes, i.e. writing with pencils, it is miles better than the Finch Opaque paper used in the original Field Notes.

One small issue with the Black Ice though: the paper at the bottom of some of my notebooks was ripped, see photo. Even though the shrinkwrapping was intact this might have happened in transport as my Field Notes calendar was also damaged in transport.



Paper at the cutting edge 4

Manchester Art Gallery - Entrance

Last weekend I went to the Manchester Art Gallery. Their current exhibition The First Cut is still open until 27 January 2013.

Wonder Forest (© Manabu Hangai 2012)

For this exhibition paper has been ‘cut, sculpted and manipulated’ into works of art. I’ll try to keep the number of photos in this blog post low, but that’s really difficult with so many exciting pieces of art made from paper.

Notice-Forest (Burger King) (© Yuken Teruya 2009)

Many pieces of art have been made from everyday objects. Japanese artist Yuken Teruya uses paper bags from different companies. Using a photo of a tree from the bag’s company’s country he then cuts the paper into the shape of this tree.

Big Wave Moving towards a small Castle made of Sand III (© Peter Callesen 2012)

Danish artist Peter Callesen uses normal sheets of A4 paper for his works of art.

Chaos City (© Béatrice Coron 2010)

Béatrice Coron uses Tyvek, a material similar to paper that is used instead of paper for some types of envelopes.

Fotoecken (© Sarah Birdgland 2012)


Sarah Bridgland uses second-hand ephemera to create her art.


Matemaatika (© Sarah Birdgland 2011)


The Harbingers (© Claire Brewster 2011)

Claire Brewster’s flock of birds is cut from vintage maps.

Going West scene (© Andersen M Studio 2010)

There were also several pieces of art cut from books.

Admission to The First Cut exhibition is free.There’s also a catalogue available and you can even buy limited edition artworks by selected artists.


The Manchester Art Gallery allows taking photos unless there are signs indicating that specific works may not be photographed. I did not see any signs indicating that the works shown in this blog post may not be photographed. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

White Box Manuscript Book A4 Ruled Feint 4


A few days ago Office Hero, a new and independent stationery and office supplies company, sent me their catalogue together with free samples of four of their products for review. These products include a really nice ruler from Denmark, two different kinds of pencils and a notebook. After having had a look at their web site I was impressed by the fact that they stock many of the nice, specialist items that are not easy to get, like Linex products or, my favourite, the Velos Eyeletter. One thing to note is, however, that the prices displayed don’t include VAT, which is useful if you are buying commercially, but private customers from the EU have to pay 20% VAT for most items1.

I was most impressed by the aluminium ruler I received and planned to review it first, but it is a ruler that can be used for pens and for cutting and unfortunately I wasn’t able to find my craft knife yet, so I’ll start with the notebook and hope I’ll find my craft knife to test cutting with this ruler before writing about the ruler.


The White Box Manuscript Book has a very nice, red surface and about 80 pages. It is a ruled notebook, but the strength of the lines varies quite a bit on different pages. The paper is very good. It copes well with many inks and I only noticed bleeding through with some inks and only when being used in combination with very wet nibs. The paper’s attributes are, with one exception, great for graphite, too. First the positive bits: the graphite doesn’t transfer easily to the next page, even after pressure has been applied from the back (e.g. after writing on the back). It also copes well with erasers. The only problem I noticed is that some of the softer leads smear more than on many other papers, in the example on the photo you can see this with the General’s Semi-Hex pencil. The most impressive thing about these  is however their price. They are currently on offer and a pack of five notebooks is only £4.07, that’s £4.88 incl. VAT (~$7.65; €5.55) – less than £1 for one A4 notebook.


Great value for money, at least while they are on offer, and very nice paper that feels good and that copes well with ink and graphite.

(slight) bleeding through

Price and exchange rates: October 2011.

I would like to thank

  • David from Office Hero and Oliver Carding from Sagittarius Digital for the free samples.
  • Sean for the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 tested on the paper

I am very embarrassed, but I am not sure who gave me the General’s Semi-Hex pencils tested on the paper – even more so because I use one in the office very often. Whoever gave it to me, thank you!

Office Hero also included a leaflet with the samples: if you enter the code “BROCH1” when you order you get a brochure and 5% off with your order.

  1. Saying this reminds me that I once saw a camera very cheap at an online shop, I already put it in my basket and only noticed in the end that the price was without VAT and that the camera was actually quite expensive at this specific supplier of photographic equipment. []