Using A Notebook For Fountain Pen Fun and Play

John BosleyMiscellaneous 5 Comments

When you get a new fountain pen or bottle of ink, where’s the first place you test it? What about when you meet up with someone else and want to try their fountain pens? How about if you want to try out a new font or doodle? For me, the answer to these questions is always the same. I have a dedicated notebook that I use for fountain pen fun and play.

My Fun Notebook

When I first started becoming more active in my local fountain pen community and going to pen meet-ups, I found that I wanted a place where I could keep track of the different pens, nibs and inks that I had a chance to try out. I started bringing the same notebook with me every time so that I knew exactly where to look when I wanted to refer back to something.

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook fabriano eco qua

This was the first notebook that I took with me to pen meet-ups.

At the same time, I was constantly writing things down and trying things out on random scraps of paper that I had laying around. I usually ended up throwing them away once I was done with them. Then one day I wanted to look back on something that I had already thrown away. I realized that I should have been saving my own personal writing samples as well.

That’s when I realized I should dedicate a notebook to having fun with fountain pens. My original pen meet notebook was a Fabriano EcoQua. While they have great paper, I realized I wanted something that I could not only use for writing with fountain pens, but also for heavy applications of ink and even water. One of the best papers for this is Tomoe River.

It just happens that around this time, I took a trip and wanted to bring along a notebook that I could use for journaling. I had a Hippo Noto laying around that, mainly due to its size, I wasn’t sure how to use, so I decided to take it along. I started out by writing in it like a normal journal, but soon started sketching things that I saw and doodling in my down time. It wasn’t long before I started playing with ink and water in it. That was the beginning of a whole new type of notebook for me… my fun notebook!

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook hippo noto

My Hippo Noto has become my notebook for experimenting, playing and having fun.

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook doodle

Here’s a sample page from my trip to Paris, along with a doodle.

What’s Inside?

So what do I use my fun notebook for? Pretty much anything I want. What started out as a writing journal has become a home for my doodle practice, attempts at sketching, ink chromatography, wacky ideas, and yes, even some writing once in a while. I take it with me when I go to pen meet-ups and keep track of different inks and pens that I try. I let other people use it to try out my pens. In short, I use it for everything that doesn’t already have an official journal like my handwriting practice and daily journal.

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook pen testing

Here’s a page in my new notebook where I tested pens at a meet-up.

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook experiment

This is a page of trying out a few different doodle designs and other random stuff.

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook nespresso drawing

This is a page from a rainy day in a cafe. It was one of the first times I used water in this journal.

One thing that I have found very freeing is not worrying about wasting paper. The notebook that I’m using is huge (500 pages), so it seems like no matter how many pages I use, I still have plenty remaining. This gives me the freedom to use entire pages for playing with water and ink or for testing out new ideas.

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook lots of pages

There are so many pages, I’m not worried about running out any time soon.

Trying It For Yourself

Is this something that sounds interesting to you? If it does and you’re thinking of making your own fun notebook, I have a few suggestions for you. The first, and most important, is use a notebook that you’ll enjoy writing in. It doesn’t do you any good to use a notebook that you have laying around with paper that’s not fun to use. The whole point of the notebook is to have fun! Second, find the right size of notebook for your needs. I mentioned that I really enjoy having a notebook with lots of pages so I don’t feel like I have to conserve paper, but you might get bored with having the same notebook for so long and want to switch things up more often. There’s also the physical size of the notebook. I like using an A5, but some people might prefer something bigger like an A4 or smaller like an A6. Third, I would highly recommend getting a blank notebook. Lines and grids are great for writing, but sometimes it’s nice to have a blank page with no restrictions sitting in front of you.

When you go decide to start a fun notebook, don’t worry about what you use it for and just dive in! I’d even go so far as to suggest just making a page or two of ink splats, scribbles and currently inked pens, just to get the creative juices flowing. Once the first page or two have ink on them, the rest will fall into place. Have fun with it and let me know if you decide to try this and how you like it!

Suggested Notebooks

If you don’t already have a notebook in mind, here are a few that I would suggest you consider:

  • Of course, a Hippo Noto would always work great
  • If you want Tomoe River paper, but in a smaller notebook, an Endless Recorder might work for you
  • If you don’t want Tomoe River, Midori notebooks have wonderful paper and handle water pretty well
Fountain Pen Fun Notebook testing ideas

On this page I was trying out various doodle ideas and just playing with pens.

Fountain Pen Fun Notebook water and ink

As you can probably tell, I was having fun with pens and water on this page.

Comments 5

  1. Sounds nice John, but $43 for the Hippo Noto is an extravagance for me. I notice you used only the right-hand page. Is there some bleed through?

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      It is definitely an extravagance, Noel. I contributed to their Kickstarter, so already had one on hand. For some people it may be just a drop in the bucket of their overall pen budget, while for others it’s more than they’ve ever spent on anything in their entire pen collection. That’s why I suggested a few other options, as I knew it wouldn’t work for everyone.

      There isn’t really any bleed through unless I use water on a page. It’s just a habit that I have to only use one side of a page. I suppose when I hit the end of the notebook I might go back and start over on the backside of each page!

    2. Hi, Noel. If this is something you’ve considered then my apologies for my assumption. But I found it useful when looking at the larger outlays for these notebooks to consider the per-page cost. I know the Nanami Seven Seas Writer worked out good for me, plus I ended up with a Nanami Seven Seas Writer (sorry, I have no relation to them, it’s just one I really like). I don’t know if it’s the same with the Hippo Noto (I do like them, I just haven’t done the maths).

      But, of course, there’s a difference between per-page cost and initial outlay – I realise it’s the outlay that can be extravagance. I just thought it worth mentioning, with apologies if it’s already been considered.

      (A guilty aside… the “per-page” cost is perfectly valid, if you use the book to completion. And let’s just say a bit of a hoarding in my character has yet to justify my own reasoning).

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  3. How about buying Strathmore mixed media or pen and ink paper and paper punch to make your own. You can buy very reasonable hand made leather journals of various sizes or devise your own using various materials. I bought a medium size old time leather journal for $16 from a guy in Georgia who makes them. Trying out others s well all under $30. My major pen expense was a Pelikan. But my favorite pen is a 1952 Parker Parkette which is a dream to use on everything. But I am easy!! My 6 year old grandson now is into fountain pens. Found a bakelite 1937 Parker for him. He is getting the hang of it and has been encouraged to do cursive.

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