It's no secret that I am particular about my paper. Honestly, any respectable calligrapher will shout the same from the rooftops. I love writing on "anything but paper", but I obviously use paper for correspondence, etc ALL of the time. So when I do use paper, it has to be of a certain level especially when used with pointed pen. The nemesis of a pointed pen calligrapher/penman is paper that snags or bleeds/feathers. These are bad signs, I tell you!
In that spirit, I was contacted by LCI paper company as they are launching a line of papers that are expected to fall on the luxury end. I was actually supplied with LCI paper during my first year in business for a wedding envelope job. To be completely honest, it got the job done but it didn't rank high on my list of preferred papers. Fellow penman & calligraphers know exactly what I mean... So when they contacted me last month, I was skeptical, but open to try it. SO GLAD THAT I DID! This is NOT the same paper from years ago....not by a long shot. Want to hear my thoughts blow by blow? Here we go:
DISCLAIMER: I am providing these pictures with mistakes and all as I want for you to see where I experienced snags etc and also, I didn't have an abundance of papers to provide multiple chances for "perfect work". So check out the "human" side of penmanship :) Also, the pictures have received minimal to no editing to ensure that you can see the reality of what happened with the paper.
MATERIALS: So my background is in Microbiology (crazy, I know) and I worked in that field for a decade. With that said, the scientist in me felt that it would make sense to ensure that the only "variable" with testing the LCI paper should be the paper. I used a tried and true ink and nib--- a fresh Tachikawa G nib and Moon Palace Sumi ink. The nib is a hybrid of Nikko G and Zebra G providing moderate tine flex with great hairlines. Moon Palace Sumi ink is the gold standard for production work etc. Plus, sumi ink is heavier than most inks & used by calligraphers around the world for envelopes, commission works etc.
Let's cover my pleasant surprises first.
Gmund Colors Felt Paper - Let me just skip to the point....I LOVE THIS PAPER! This paper has a texture to it. Yes, I know. Pointed pen calligraphers and penman prefer minimally textured paper. But let me tell you that this textured paper was a DREAM to write on. The version that I tested was the "cover weight". I seriously want some of this in the studio moving forward. So after I got over the fact that the texture was beautiful, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my nib just glided across this paper. Seriously, I want more of this paper. I tried to take pictures where you could see the texture. Not an easy feat. Look at the word "smooth" in the 2nd picture to see the lined texture. ADORE this paper!!!
Gmund Colors Metallic Paper - So let's just rip off the bandaid. I don't care to calligraph on metallic paper. I'm not alone. Peruse through the online portfolios of calligraphers and I assure you that the calligraphers that post their work, rarely if ever do so on metallic paper. I can only think of 1 or 2 calligraphers that have. Why you ask? When compared to traditional, cotton based paper, there is no comparison. The hairlines and even the shades look cleaner. When it comes to metallics, calligraphers are often asked to use metallic, acrylic ink (relatively waterproof) and maybe you can get away with sumi...maybe. So what better test than to use Moon Palace Sumi on this metallic paper? This metallic paper is (wait for it) the best metallic paper that I have written on. And again, I don't typically care for metallic paper. This one performs exceptionally well. It yielded clean hairlines and the paper was so smooth that it didn't snag and the shades were pretty clean as well. Take a look:
Colors Matt Euro Flap Envelopes - Surprisingly, I really liked this envelope. Remember that my first introduction to LCI was an envelope job years back. These are very different. Granted, I have my own stationery custom made, but in a pinch I would generally run to the local Paper Source for envelopes. Paper Source envelopes are not the smoothest, but they are OK because I don't have to worry about bleeding, but they will snag without a doubt. The LCI Euro Flap Envelope puts those to shame. These are smooth.... I like these quite a bit. (Please forgive my flourish mistakes :()
Gmund Colors Transparent Vellum: I was introduced to tracing paper a few years ago and used it for work where I needed to replicate what I'd already done....exactly.... somewhere else. Yeah, right... And I'm a "vintage soul", so I have used Photoshop/Pixelmator, but it is not my strength and I reverted back to the vintage methods that have been used for centuries....tracing paper was my friend. Then Michael Sull, Master Penman introduced me to vellum, tracing paper's sexier, yet more durable sister. Sold! So I love vellum and didn't realize that LCI made one. They provided 2 weights: 30 lb and 54 lb card stock vellum. ......And because I wanted to see how durable it was, enter sumi ink. Well, my friends, the 30lb held up well. Didn't wrinkle much or at all on the back side. And of course I was curious to compare it as I am a die-hard Canson paper fan, so I pulled out my Canson vellum 55 lb. Yes, the weights are different but that is what I had lying around the studio. I like the LCI version, especially for that performance at the lower weight. Canson is still my favorite, but the LCI is seriously solid.
I also tried the LCI Vellum Card Stock (54 lb). Definitely heavier if that is what you need and it performed exceptionally well.
Gmund Colors Matt - The "text weight" honestly performed much better than I expected, especially at that weight. I felt that it was solid. Not luxurious, but solid. I call it solid because it didn't bleed/feather or wrinkle upon placement of the heavier sumi ink. This is not my 1st choice for paper, but I would not complain about it AT ALL. It didn't become fibrous upon ink placement at all. It'll get the job done with pointed pen and heavy ink.
Let's play with the other various weights within Gmund Colors. The weights provided were 89, 111 and 130 lb. My favorite out of these was actually the 89 lb. I have found that you don't need an incredibly high weight of paper for great execution. TO BE FAIR, most papers will have a possibility of snagging. It's just part of it, but some will snag more than others. I believe that for the money and having had the ability to compare performance between these 3 weights, I would put my money towards the 89 lb vs paying for the higher weights....UNLESS the client just wanted a stiffer, heavier feel to the paper.
In summary, LCI dipped their toes into the higher end of stationery. I found some pleasant surprises with the metallics, Euro flap envelopes and felt papers. Honestly, I'm crazy about the felt paper!!! The vellum was definitely solid (although I still have a preference for Canson) and Gmund colors were good, but I would put my money towards the 89 lb over the others for my needs. Well, that's it. Cheers and happy writing!