One of my favourite letter writing papers is this ultra thin paper from Life Stationery, the Life Airmail pad.
This paper is just a delight – air mail paper that is a bit like onion skin paper, thin and lightweight, as originally designed to reduce postage costs while enabling the author to fit more pages into an envelope. I love the thought of stacks of letters, tied together with string, holding the story of months or years apart between two people. The thin, crinkly texture of this paper is a bit nostalgic, and you know that’s the secret way to my heart.
But what makes this paper truly excellent is that along with being very thin, it’s also extremely fountain pen friendly, even with broad and wet nibs. The paper is so thin it’s translucent, and yet I can use almost any ink and nib combination I have, with my letters and lines looking clean and crisp.
Alas, because the paper is so see-through, the backside of the paper is not super for writing on, unless you’ve used an extra fine nib or perhaps not a fountain pen.
This paper is not the same as Tomoe River paper – it’s definitely thinner (and has more show through), and also has a bit more texture. It’s hard to catch a photo of it, but while I would still describe this paper as generally smooth, it has a texture sort of like cotton paper. It’s also more crinkly than Tomoe River paper, because it’s so incredibly thin – the Life Airmail paper is more like true onion skin paper.
On the left is the cream Tomoe River Paper, the lines are the guidelines included with the pad to place underneath, and on the right is the Airmail paper.
The paper is B5 sized, which is a great size for letters and notebooks, one of my favourite. I use A5 for thank you notes or just writing to say hello, and A4 when I’ve got a lot to say, but B5 is a great intermediate size.
The best sized envelopes for this are the #6 air mail envelopes from Life, which is the best size for B5 envelopes in general (why don’t more companies make this size?). These envelopes in particular are also thin, but are still very strong. This size means you can just fold your letter up into thirds horizontally, without having to fold your letter vertically to fit in.
The biggest drawback for me is that this paper is a bit fragile, so if I’m writing a letter in stages, and need to leave the sheets on my desk overnight or for a few days, they tend to get crumpled and show wear more easily. I suppose it’s all the more reason to set aside a dedicated time to start and finish something, but these days I’m trying to be productive in all the tiny pockets of time I can find. Perhaps really, it’s all the more reason to be a bit more organized with all the junk I have piled up on my desk.
After our hiatus in December, we’re having our Letter Writing Club again tomorrow night, Thursday, January 11th, from 7-9:00. We’re hoping to see some of you there! Now with the new baby, things are a bit hairy around bed time again, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for two soundly sleeping babies so I can join in the fun.
We’re coming up on InCoWriMo again, this February. While I give it a good go every year, I find myself leaning more and more into longer and more meaningful letters with closer correspondents, compared to brief letters, which doesn’t lend itself to a daily activity. I may, however, make things easy on myself, and maybe compile a list of people to whom I’ll send a postcard or short note.
We’re slowly settling into a routine back here, although there are a few big, sweeping changes coming up ahead of us, and who knows what our day will look like. Things sometimes seem like they’re starting to fall into place – dinner plans or replenishing stock after the holidays – and then sometimes I’m looking for renovation photos, find a folder on my desk top labeled “renovation photos,” only to open it and find it empty.
The renovations continue to slog along, with a few road bumps. City zoning and permits and environmental testing and weird by-laws. I love this city, but sometimes the bureaucracy can be a bit much.
We’re getting ready behind the scenes, collecting furniture, repairing treasures from unlikely places, and most exciting of all, sourcing a few new brands and lines for the big opening. It’s all basically a jumble back here, trying to organizing shipping and the warehouse filling up with parts of furniture taken apart and stacked up. You can even see some of this furniture stacked behind the counters at our shop, like this lovely saran-wrapped library card catalogue on the right. It’s actually an old University of Windsor card catalogue that Jon paid an arm and a leg to get delivered here, and now that arm and a leg are just sitting in our shop, operating as a very tall side table.
Here’s a recent photo, with one big wall removed. More to come!
Currently reading: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Currently eating: a pear
Currently writing with: Franklin Christoph Model 20 with Diamine Ancient Copper, Pelikan M400 with J. Herbin Lie de the, and my Midori B6 Slim catch-all notebook
Currently analogue project: organizing my desk
Last heard from the mouths of babes (Caleb), upon reading Where the Wild Things Are: “I don’t like those Wild Things. But if we turn the page, they’ll be gone.”