Staedtler Wopex

nu: Tough Paper

nu:'s tough paperI’m not a big fan of spiral bound notebooks or notepads. Spiral binding will usually put me off buying a notepad, but in the case of the spiral bound, Chinese made nu: tough paper I couldn’t resist.

I saw this notebook in the supermarket run by my employer’s /my university’s students’ union and the words “paper made from stone” managed to grab my interest at first sight.

 

Material

The paper is made from 80% ground limestone / chalk and 20% HDPE (many plastic bottles are made from HDPE) and promises to be water-proof, wipeable, tough, durable and, to my surprise, recyclable and biodegradable [1]I don’t know much about plastic, so I would very much appreciate if someone could explain biodegradable in the context of HDPE. A quick look on the Internet seems to suggest that you can make … Continue reading

 

nu: Tough Paper
In case you wonder, the Kaweco was filled with non erasable ink from Diamine.

 

How does the paper behave?

..with pencils

Compared to normal paper the pencil line left on this ‘stone paper’ feels much darker . The line also feels wider. Applying less pressure when writing will also produce a fairly dark line, more so than writing with less pressure on normal paper. I suspect this behaviour is caused by a rougher paper surface. You can certainly feel more friction when moving a finger across the ‘stone paper’, compared to normal paper.

How does the ‘stone paper’ compare to similar products? The lines left on this paper are also darker than those a pencil would leave on paper from a Rite in the Rain notepad. Altogether, this paper produces an unusual, but pleasant pencil writing experience.

Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper
Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

..with fountain pens

Let’s stick to the similar Rite in the Rain notepad for a moment. It’s pretty useless when you want to use it with a fountain pen. The ink just stays on the surface of the paper, it might even form tiny droplets …until it eventually dries. Because the ink didn’t really penetrate the top layer of the paper the colour of the writing is usually quite light. The behaviour of fountain pens and ink on nu:’s tough paper is quite different. The written text even looks very similar to text written on a normal piece of paper, with two differences:

  • there is an absence of visible texture on the ‘stone paper’, in my opinion this does influence the look of ink more than the look of graphite
  • the moment your fountain pen is a wet writer, even if only to a very small degree, the ink will take a really long time to dry.

On the above image you can see text written by a Kaweco Sport with an EF nib. The cartridge was empty and the pen was therefore an extremely  dry writer. Drying took a few seconds. The lines made by the Pentel Tradio on the other hand, not a wet writer when I compare it to some of my other fountain pens, took just under 10 minutes to dry. On normal paper the Tradio‘s lines only take a few seconds to dry.

Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper
Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

 

How strong it the paper?

The paper seems to cope better with ‘bad conditions’, like wetness and physical impact. When trying the tear it nu:’s tough paper does behave rather unusual. Unlike the Rite in the Rain paper, which provides a similar ripping experience to traditional paper, ripping the tough paper feels a bit like ripping thin sheets of plastic. This is probably cause by the HDPE content. Normal paper usually rips in such a way that a sheet of paper lying horizontally will not be separated by a clear vertical line. Where the traditional paper is separated one half of the torn paper might contain more of the top layer of the paper, while the other half of the paper might contain more of the bottom layer of the torn paper. The tough paper however seems to stretch a bit where you tear, then separate clearly, while the stretched part curls slightly. It feels rather plasticy.

nu: Tough Paper
Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

 

Conclusion

Altogether a nice notepad. It’s an interesting novelty and I’m sure I’ll enjoy using it, but I’m not sure I’ll buy more once the novelty effect has worn off.

I paid £2.50 for this notepad. It’s spiral bound, has a tough cover and back, and has 160 sheets of paper.


In 2013 Wired published an interesting article about ‘stone paper’.

I bought the Pentel Tradio in 2013 at Müller Markt in Volkach. As far as I remember it was extremely cheap (<€10).

References

References
1 I don’t know much about plastic, so I would very much appreciate if someone could explain biodegradable in the context of HDPE. A quick look on the Internet seems to suggest that you can make HDPE biodegradable by changing the recipe slightly. On a different note: biodegradable plastic reminds me of Dave’s biodegradable pencil test.

Banditapple 2G carnets

In a previous blog post from 2010 I had a look at Banditapple’s notebooks (carnets). What happened since then? Banditapple released a few limited edition carnets. Another interesting development is that the manufacturing process of the next generation of Banditapple carnets uses less chlorine while VOCs were reduced, too … and the new version of these notebooks is out. The current generation (2G) of notebooks is available in three colours: Gingerbread, Manuka Honey and Finland Pine.

Since I’ve been very happy with the 1G carnets and use them regularly at work I asked Arnie, the man behind Banditapple, whether I can order a few of the 2G carnets directly from him as he does not have an online shop yet. To cut a long story short, in the end he send me four of the new notebooks and I only had to pay the postage (€5, ~$6.65; £4.20). The package he sent to me last year only took a few days to arrive, but unfortunately it wasn’t treated very well by one of the postal services involved. Luckily, after storing the maltreated 2G carnets under some heavy books, they were (nearly) back in shape. I specifically asked for the tablet sized notebooks as I find this to be the most suitable size for daily use, at least for my purposes.

The peewee sized notebooks (9×14 cm) are ₩2500 each (~£1.40; $2.20; €1.70).

The tabled sized notebooks (13×12 cm) are ₩4000 each (~£2.30; $3.60; €2.70).

CdA edelweiss, Stabile LeftRight, Staedtler Wopex, M&G AMP33701 and Pelikan Souverän 605 on a 2G carnet

 

The new notebooks are still sewn, not stapled and the cover is still made from coloured paper, something I like very much as this enables me to label the notebooks using a white pencil [1]Like the Faber-Castell Goldfaber Heft&Tafel 1133 or the Eberhard Faber 1410 in white.. The paper quality of the 2G carnets is possibly even better than the quality of the previous generation. It copes very well with ink and I cannot think of a paper that is better in terms of erasing graphite without leaving traces.

1G Hanoi Red (used) and the new 2G colours

Conclusion

A great, but difficult to get notebook.

 


Prices and exchange rates: February 2012.

Paperandco, an online shop from Paris still has a few of the 1G carnets in Hanoi Red and Saigon Black in stock.

The official Banditapple website and blog can be found here.

This previous Bleistift blog post has more information about the 1G carnets.

You can find a review of the 2G carnets at Okami Whatever.

I would like to thank Arnie Kim for the Banditapple 2G carnets.