Exaclair, Inc. distributes several products lines from France in the USA, including Clairefontaine. A while back they sent me one of their Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Notepads. It was longer ago than I like–I try to get my reviews done in a more timely fashion. In truth, I had everything ready for this review shortly after I received the pad. But I was doing several other reviews on Exaclair products around that time, and the plan was to spread things out a bit, instead of throwing several reviews at you all at once.
Of course it was.
Somewhere along the way I forgot that I hadn’t done this review yet. So the spread was a little thinner than expected, lol. I apologize to Exaclair for taking so long, and to you for making you wait to find out about this nifty writing pad.
Size: A4/8.3 x 11.7 inches (also comes in A5)
No of sheets: 50
Format: Lined, 8 mm (5/16 inch) (also comes in a blank version)
Paper: Color-White, Weight-90g, acid-free, pH neutral, archival, environmentally harvested
Binding: Top-bound, glue
Look & Feel
The Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Notepad has a clean, crisp look with gold and light blue on a field of white. When I first looked at it, the word that came to mind was ‘Champagne’. Not because of color. It was just the impression of quiet elegance it gave me.
I assumed it would have the usual fountain pen friendly Clairefontaine paper, and at first glance it seemed so. When I felt it, though, it seemed slicker than usual. I wasn’t sure if it was just my imagination, but I’ve since found that it is slightly different and considered one of their better papers.
So in what way is it better? It’s hard to quantify, but to me it just seems more Clairefontaine-ish. A little more slick, a little more fountain pen friendly, a little longer drying times for your ink.
The paper is a bright white but not glossy, with a hard surface. It’s thin and flexible. Thin that is, in thickness. It’s 90 g in weight, and you notice that when you lift the pad. It isn’t a tremendous weight, but it does have heft. That might be a consideration if you intend to carry it to a lot of meetings or for sketching (it comes in a blank version as well as lined).
The lines are fairly narrow (8 mm) and in a purple-gray color. Personally, I like my lines a bit lighter, especially since I tend to use the paper for drawing. These are light enough though. I didn’t find them distracting, and you don’t notice them too much in the drawings unless you are looking for them.
The inside of the cover is this beautiful blue, matching the logo and writing on the front. It’s another touch of elegance that sort of makes you go, ahhhh, when you flip the cover up. The cover isn’t very thick and might be subject to creasing, though it’s flexible enough that you would have to bend it harshly to do that.
There is a creased line at the top that allows you to flip the cover back and keep it back without strain. The edges look frayed in this scan because it is so close up. In real life, you hardly notice it.
The sheets are not perforated but tear away easily from the glued binding. They aren’t likely to work free though. I held the notepad by the bottom of one sheet and bounced the pad with no separation of the sheet.
I also wondered if the cover might pop free from the glued binding. I actually worried at it enough to make the cover come loose slightly at one corner. But when I pressed it back down, the seal recovered to the point where it was no longer loose. It’s good glue. Humidity and temperature may be factors, so I don’t recommend trying this experiment on your pad, lol.
I had no trouble with feathering or bleeding, even with my dots of saturated ink where I add wet ink to still wet ink. There was no show-through except where I held it up to the light and no bleed-through to the back.
Drawing Example-Kuretake Clean Color Brush Pen
Kuretake Clean Color Brush Pens are water-based. They can be blended but I only used them dry. With some other papers, I’ve had some pilling when I added a layer of ink into the ink that was still wet. I had no pilling on this paper. The colors go on bright but not brilliant. While the fountain pen ink took a while to dry, the inks from these pens did better. They still took a few moments (you can see a little smearing around ‘NineSense’). I was using my non-dominant hand and I drag a little a more with it.
There was more show-through, which is only to be expected with the heavy coverage but it’s still not bad. I think only the most finicky would find it disturbing. There were a few spots that bled-through.
Drawing Examples-Fountain pens & Roller ball pens
Moving back to fountain pens, I used a variety of inks, fountain pens and my J. Herbin rollerball pens. I had no feathering, and very little show-through. There were a few spots of bleed-through, but I couldn’t get my scanner to pick them up.
However, I did notice one thing and I’m still not sure if it’s my imagination or a quality of the paper. Once dry, the ink seemed ‘drier’, like with slightly less even coverage than usual. The lines seemed just a bit streakier than usual.
As I mentioned, I was using my non-dominant hand, I couldn’t be sure that the issue wasn’t caused by the shakiness and heaviness of my strokes. The reason I’m using my non-dominant so much lately is because of wrist pain and weakness in my dominant hand, but I decided to do a small drawing on the paper using it, anyway.
The coverage was definitely better but still not as good and the lines still seem a bit streakier. Still, with the wrist problems, I may be causing the issues not the paper. Months later, I still have the wrist problem so I haven’t been able to verify one way or the other.
In all, I don’t see it as a problem, anyway. Just a factor in how I use the paper for drawing.
Whether you want something with a soupçon of elegance to grace your office desk or a writing tablet that will handle any pen you use, the Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Notepad is up to the task. It’s eye-catching without being flashy, sturdy, and fountain pen friendly.
If weight is an issue for you, it may be a little heavy for carrying around.
It does have a longer drying time and the paper is smooth to the point of being slick. If you tend to drag your hand over your writing or drawing or simply prefer a paper with tooth this won’t be your notepad of choice.
Be sure to check out the new Exaclair, Inc. website! You can find a list of their many products lines and places to buy.
I received this Clairefontaine Triomphe writing pad from Exaclair, Inc. but I was not asked to review it, and I received no other recompense for any reason. All opinions expressed are my own.
Ink Nouveau – video