Choosing The Right Pen for Handmade Paper

handmade paper signaturesIn many of the handmade books I create, I use my stash of textured handmade paper for the signatures (pages) and I’m often asked by customers which is the best pen to use.  I decided to run an experiment with lots of different pens to figure out the best ones and asked my good friend Laura Massei of July Design to help! Laura is a super talented graphic designer, mixed media and lettering artist and I knew she’d be the perfect person. We sat down one Saturday morning at Laura’s dining table, gathered up all the pens we own and got to work writing. We spent a lovely morning chatting and writing, and by lunchtime we had picked out the winners:

pen practice

Classic Sharpie Markers

We decided that the Classic Sharpie Marker was the overall winner not only because it wrote really well on the paper, the ink dries very quickly and is waterproof (ie doesn’t smudge), but also because this brand is so readily available in stores and in so many colors . All types of the Sharpie marker worked well on the handmade paper from the Ultra Fine Tip to the larger sized nibs.

Gel Pens

We experimented with lots of gel pens and found that we prefer the broader tipped ones because they glide over the rough paper more smoothly rather than the very fine tipped gel pens, which tend to scratch the surface. My personal favorite is the Uni-ball Signo 307 Gel Pen, which is available at big box office supply stores as well as art supply stores. We also liked the Fude Ball 1.5mm which is available on Amazon, but there are many other brands of gel pen that work well, so experiment with what you have.

Ball Point Pen

You might be surprised to discover (we were) that the good old fashioned ball point pen worked really well on the textured paper. With so many choices of pen out there, it’s easy to overlook the obvious but we found the rounded end of this pen held up well against the textured surface of the handmade paper. Our favorite brand was Papermate Profile Elite but experiment with what you already have at home because I bet you already have a drawer full!

Paper Mate Pens

Our main takeaway from this experiment was that you don’t need a fancy pen to write on this beautiful paper. In fact, the cheaper more readily available pens worked a whole lot better than the more expensive art pens that we owned.

What’s your favorite pen for journaling on this type of paper? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear!

One Thought on “Choosing The Right Pen for Handmade Paper

  1. Mike Carr on July 1, 2018 at 11:43 pm said:

    Did you try fountain pens? I love using them on laid paper and 70 to 90 lb art paper.

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