I’m not a reviewer per-se, and this isn’t a pen or paper blog, but I am a (likely certifiable) Pen Addict. Because of this, I’m nearly as choosy about good paper as I am about good coffee and good whisky. And while normally I don’t review pens and paper here (or do much of anything here for that matter), I didn’t see any reviews of this product from the usual suspects, so I figured I’d provide one.
Recently, running late for a seminar and finding my supply cabinet inexplicably bereft of writing pads, I made a quick stop at the local grocery store. I quickly grabbed some legal and graph paper pads and headed for the checkout counter, hopeful that at least one of them would contain decent paper. Neither did.
This week, having subjected myself to more flimsy paper than I could stand, I went shopping. After a visit to our local Staples turned up zero decent writing pad options, the promise of Docket Gold pads lured me into OfficeMax. Legal pads? Check. But I’m an engineer – existentially, someone who physically can’t draw on a piece of paper unless there’s a grid on it. And while OfficeMax’s graph paper options left me unimpressed, I noticed a nearby art supply store as I walked back to my car…
Enter the Seth Cole “Cross Section” pad. It was the last one on the shelf, but after a quick look at the cover sheet, it looked to be worth a try. 20-lb acid free bond paper, an 8 x 8 grid (my brain’s favorite), and a hefty backer all made an impression – and the fact that the paper is 100% recycled and made in the USA (in California) sealed the deal.
A quick test with a few gel rollers offered promising results – smooth writing, no lint or clogging, and almost no skipping. That last bit is particularly impressive, considering the 0.5 and 0.3mm needle tips I was testing with. Oh, and the fact that I’m left-handed. The only skip I encountered was with a 0.3mm Hi-Tec C, and I attribute it to the pen sitting (sadly) unused for quite some time before this test.
On to the fountain pens… My Pelikan M205 (F) laid down a smooth, plump line but didn’t feather noticeably or bleed through (and it’s a rather wet nib). But the acid test was my TWSBI 580 (F) – sometimes scratchy on inferior papers, it laid down a smooth, crisp line – and did it comfortably. The liquid fountain pen inks did stand up on the paper for a second or two, but dried quickly and left me no opportunities for those dreaded lefty smudges.
All-told, I’m impressed with the Cross Section. Impressed enough that it might become the graph paper I stock from now on. The only trade-off I see is the price: nearly $6 per pad, which is a little spendy for 40 sheets. But for a reliably-good, lefty-compatible, fountain-pen-friendly quadrille pad? I’ll pay a bit of a premium. And besides, it’s less of a premium than I’d pay for, say, Rhodia paper!
Another thing to note: The quadrille ruling is only on the front of each page. Bleed-through was so minimal that the page back remains usable with all but the wettest of my fountain pen nibs – at least for freeform sketching or doodling. If the thought of an unlined page makes the creative side of your brain retreat to the fetal position, plan on just using the front. Even rocking it one-sided, you’ll be a lot better off than if you bought your graph paper at the supermarket!
Review disclaimer: I paid for this product myself, no one is paying me for this review, and this post contains no affiliate links.