Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Review

The word Stationery has a tendency to conjure up images of long handwritten letters in perfect handwriting or maybe letterhead and official seals from a political office. The dictionary simply defines it as “writing paper and envelopes”. Simple enough.

I enjoy a pad of fine paper sitting near me so I can tear off a sheet and write a quick note to a friend or colleague attached to a folder of other material or just gathering the office lunch run order. The ubiquitous sticky notes have all but taken over the scratch paper and notepads of past. I can’t argue with their adhesive convenience but I haven’t found a pen yet that is a joy to write on them with. The subject of my typed musings today is such a notepad made up of fine paper.

My favorite tear off legal pad remains the Clairefontaine Triomphe in 8.3” x 11.7” A4. I recently acquired the A5 size of the same and it’s about half gone already. I present to you a review of my experience:

 Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery

  • Size: 5.875” x 8.25” (A5) Tablet
  • Ruling 5/16”
  • 50 lined sheets
  • Street price $5.00

front coverFirst impressions score well with branding on the front being tastefully classy with the blue text and the gold border. Not too showy or in your face. The white cover takes sharpie markers real well in the event you have specific uses for different pads they are easy enough to label.

The cover itself is thick enough to lend the desired protection without bulking up the product beyond reason. I prefer a thin cover as a protection layer for work inside that may be in progress. The cover bends back out of the way nicely to give you access to the whole page for writing and it lays flat with no bumps or unevenness from the cover underneath.

fold over edgeThe glue binding at the top is well executed and I’ve never had an accidental tear off. Every intentional tear off comes away clean. Exactly how you want it to respond.

The paper is where the Triomphe really shines. Extra white 90g acid free and pH netural with an exceptionally smooth finish. The Clairfontaine sourced paper in many products has many fans and the only detractors I find is a slightly longer dry time and cost. Both I can accept in return for the experience the Triomphe rewards with.

The printed guidelines are a light purple. Probably a fashion clash with my test blue ink but I think they are subtle enough while still being useful. Printing is consistent all the way across the page and to the edges. Ruling is 5/16” which is a good balance for me. Plenty of room for a fine point and still enough room if I’m going broad nib that day. rulingEvery pen and ink combination I tried on the Triomphe was a joy to use. I can’t quite figure out if the paper is coated or not but doesn’t really matter. It didn’t allow any feathering or bleed through and with a complimenting smooth nib this paper is a joy to lay ink down on for any length of time. I did find drying time is a little longer than some but nothing unusual just lefties beware. UpcloseHere is a link to the whole line of Clairefontaine Triomphe at the Goulets.

Other Reviews:

So what is your tear off sheet notepad of choice?

Remember….. Write Something Nice…..

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Would You Like Fries With That Thank You?

I frequent a popular red and yellow logo’d fast food establishment without my doctor’s knowledge from time to time. Sometimes the urge of an early morning breakfast amendment of fruit and maple oatmeal gives me a boost to an otherwise slow moving morning.

The location I sneak into is the typical dual drive thru dual window

configuration. You know the drill: you pull on to the restaurant property positioning your 3500 pound breakfast retriever in such a way that you have access to both drive thru lanes and alas both are occupied. Simple car counting is easy but when a single car is at each speaker you begin the research of visual clues like who’s rolling up their window, who is just rolling to a stop and so on to determine the best lane and minimize your time to leaving said restaurant property with food in hand. No visual clues? Roll down your window and listen for verbal clues, who is still ordering? Who is shifting into drive? Then you decide at the last second which speaker it’s going be today only to pull in behind that car with a single occupant who is ordering breakfast for the first two floors of the pentagon.

When I do get to window 1 of 2 I’m usually greeted by the same young man who always impresses me with his customer service acumen. He is accurate, courteous and pleasant without being overbearing or holding up the drive thru line with chit chat of no value to either of us. At any job it can be hard working with the public, and me I suspect. It’s refreshing that someone can have such an attitude in an environment that society doesn’t always view as the most esteemed position in the workforce. I have a lot of the respect for the guy, I really do.

Last week I decided to scratch out a thank you note to the manager of my breakfast stop. It was a short ditty mentioning the employee by name and stating my appreciation for a job well done. I dropped a stamp on it and didn’t think much more about it.

A couple of days ago I was coming back through the drive thru with equal amounts of lane picking skill and my favorite money taker was working the window. He was his usual chipper self so I asked him if he got my card. He looked a bit puzzled at me so I explained I sent a note to his manager and then he instantly recalled it. He was flooded by a big smile and asked if I was the one that sent it. I told him his attitude and quality customer service always impressed me. I drove off to window 2 of 2 as he was nearly falling out of the window thanking me for taking the time and how much it meant to him.

The moral of this post is not that I’m a great guy. It’s a calling to each of us that enjoy our pens, paper and stationery and often search for things to write. A thank you card is easy, fast and most of all I can almost guarantee you it will make somebody’s day. Plus if you happen to cross paths with the recipient again, which is not required, it will more than likely make your day as well.

Any thank you card gesture that has come back to you?

Remember….Write Something Nice….

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Big Idea Design – XTS Raw Titanium Pen + Stylus Review

As a small boy going to grade school I frequently wanted to wear my Boy Scout pants to school. Sure, I was made fun of but they were the cargo pants of my era and I could hide a lot of cool stuff in those pockets. A matchbox car here, an eraser there, a set of jacks that constantly poked me in the thigh and anything else I could play with throughout the day, at recess only of course. When my mom would remember she would always force a pocket dump right as we were walking out the door and I was busted. Later in life I would watch my dad unload his pockets for the day. I was surprised his pants stayed up.

Today is not much different except I have bigger pockets and they’re called cargo pants. Pocket knife, Sharpie, flashlight, tape measure, fitness tracker and of course a pen. I love pocket pens and I’ve written several blog posts about my quest for great ones. A recent financial backing of the Big Idea Design Ti Post Raw brought me their pocket XTS Raw Pen + Stylus in the same box as my backed XTS Titanium Pen + Stylus. This example of the pocket pen genre is very cool indeed.


Big Idea Design XTS Raw Titanium Pen + Stylus

  • Price: $55.00
  • 4” capped
  • 3 5/8” uncapped
  • 5 1/2” Posted
  • 32 grams
  • Finish – Raw Machined Titanium


  • Stylus Tip For Touchscreen Devices
  • Flat Coin – Screw Back Plug
  • Pilot G2 Mini 0.5mm Black Gel Ink Refill
  • Protective Micro-Fiber Black Felt Sleeve
  • $5 off coupon for your next order

Also available in silver, chrome or black

overall uncappedPackaging

packaging1packaging2Packaging is a nice printed watch/bracelet type box that comes sealed in shrink wrap. Inside is a dense foam insert with nice cut outs for the pen, finger notches to help remove the pen and a cut out for the stylus cap. The pen itself is wrapped in a thin plastic before being pressed into the foam. On top is a small and tastefully printed coupon for 5% off your next order and a black felt pen sleeve.

The whole packaging experience is very well executed and the best I have seen from a small production type pen maker.

Overall Appearance

overall2The XTS comes in what Big Idea Design calls raw machined titanium finish. It’s an attractive industrial high tech look. A polished finish may yield a bit more pop right out of the box but polished I suspect would show scuffs, surface scratches and patina much sooner than the chosen finish. I prefer the slightly duller matte finish which has not been affected over the past couple of weeks of as my daily carry. The finished has survived well co-mingling with pocket knives, flashlights and other hardware banging around in shared pocket space.


The ergonomic drawback to pocket pens is typically what draws us to them in the first place. The small size makes them less comfortable to write with over a long period of time. No fault of the XTS but it’s no different. You can write with it un-posted just fine but it’s a bit awkward, like all pocket pens, for long writing sessions. Where the XTS shines is the execution of the posting. The cap is a threaded design and it has matching threads on the posting end. A very short turn and the cap is securely posted which turns the XTS into a comfortable 5 ½” length. The extra credit given the XTS here is with their tight threaded posting there is no wobble or moving between the body and the cap so it truly does share the comfort of a much larger pen.

postedI’m typically not a fan of threaded caps for pocket pens as they slow down deployment for a quick receipt signature or other quick task. In the XTS case the benefits outweigh this slight time delay.

Gripping the pen is easy with the smooth body, short threads and the sloping section. There are 3 faint rings turned into the section that give your fingers a feel for exactly where to rest if your gripping the pen without looking. There is no cap to body gap whether the cap is posted on the pen is closed.

sectionConstruction and Quality

Titanium is cool. If Fonzie carried a pen it probably would have been made out of titanium. For a slightly later generation when MacGyver carried a pen it was probably titanium. Titanium is lighter than steel, non-corrosive and much stronger than conventional steels used in consumer goods. About 60 percent heavier and 3 times stronger than aluminum titanium wins out there as well. Downside is cost, it does cost more and has a few special needs for machining. I am glad the team at Big Idea Design has figured that out as they have implemented the material for a writing instrument flawlessly. Now before I go too far down a path that could be easily challenged by a first year metallurgist I will opine that Titanium is a niche material for writing instruments with a main property being coolness. That being said I love titanium products for that very reason, they are cool. I’m pretty sure you could roll over this pen with a small sedan and not damage it which means if I don’t lose it this pen will last me a lifetime.

The pen is promoted as a Pen + Stylus. I have little use for the stylus so the XTS has me covered with a nice metal coin that screws into the end of the pen to cover the hole giving the pen a finished look, not just like something has been removed and is missing. If you’re a stylus user the coin comes out and the stylus head screws in, again finished and complete. The cap works perfectly in either configuration.

End PlugsCap

The cap is the same diameter as the body of the pen and as mentioned above it matches up perfectly whether posted or closed. The threads are well cut and 1.5 turns uncaps the pen. The threads start easy every time. When brand new I did dab a little bit of silicone on the fresh, newly machined, threads so after a short time everything is smooth as glass.


cap1The clip is thick and designed to hold up as well as the rest of the pen. Big Idea Design got the curve right so you don’t fight with the thickness while clipping and removing the pen. A tasteful Ti is printed in a small box on the top of the clip. No other markings or logos are on the pen. Very clean.


overall all partsThe refill is the venerable Pilot G2 that is very popular in both its size formats. The G2 is a smooth writer, dark vivid colors with no hard starts or skipping. I like the G2 in any pen and they are easy to source by buying a pack of donor G2 Mini pens by Pilot.

If you’re a pressured ink cartridge user I understand Carryolgy ran a piece on modifying a Schmidt Megaline 4876 M refill to work. Go about ¾ ways down in the post for more details.

Cost and Value

At $55 this is a higher line pocket pen. Not rich and famous out of reach but you’re probably not going to buy one for every pair of jeans. For me it will last forever, the refills are easy to get and write well and did I mention titanium is cool. I am a minimal packer so my XTS will go with me on my next plane trip. I can use it posted comfortably for longer writing sessions but it’s still very pocketable for traveling. You get what you pay for and in my opinion the XTS is deserving of high praise and a $55 admission price.


I have a new pocket pal that I really like. My staple rule to not carry a pocket pen with a threaded cap has been broken and frankly I haven’t run into an incident yet that the extra seconds it takes to unscrew a cap has really ruined my day. Good job Big Idea Design. I have purchased two of your other products and look forward to more in the future.

Have you tried any of the Big Idea Design products?

Remember:…Write something nice……

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New About Me Page

I have been reading a lot lately about blogging and how to best to serve your readers in the blogosphere. A more thorough About Me page was suggested.  A quick out of schedule post here to let you know I have updated my About Me page if your at all interested in who’s behind the keyboard here at My Pen Needs Ink.

As always thanks for stopping by and I hope to hear from you.

Remember…..Write Something Nice…..

Rhodia Side Staple Bound Notebook Review

Over the past couple of years of immersion in fountain pens I think I have actually become smarter. I found that I not only enjoy writing with my pens but handwriting out notes, meeting minutes and talk points for presentations has really made a noticeable difference in my brain retention. I am starting to port that over to my project planning as well, both personal and professional. I have projects ranging from reconditioning the children’s swing set to my daughter getting married to various projects at work. I recently started keeping separate smaller notebooks for each project. One could successfully argue that a small flash drive would hold 10 times the information a drawer of notebooks could hold but I find myself working with paper more and more. It helps when I go to the home center or meeting up with my daughter for lunch I just grab the project book and a favorite pen.

A new notebook I’ll start using for my next project is the Rhodia Side Staple Bound Large Notebook I’m reviewing today. I love the Rhodia products and this one is no different. It’s a good size with enough pages and staple binding makes it thin enough to stay out of the way and not weigh down my briefcase.

Overall cover


  Rhodia Side Staple Bound Large Notebook

  • 48 sheets (96 pages)
  • 80 g
  • Page Size: 6” x 8 ¼”
  • Extra White
  • Lined Paper
  • 5/16” ruling
  • Purple / Blue ruling lines
  • Sold as a set of 3 notebooks for around $10.00

The cover is classic Rhodia orange (also available in black) and I’m not sure what the material is but they always hold up well for me. They have survived more than one water spill and they bounce back from drops and crushed corners very well.

Construction and Quality

The notebook is held together with two staples that are straight and tight. As with any center folded staple bound notebook you can give a little bend back the opposite way and it will stay relatively flat on your desk.


The ruling is 5/16” in height and the bluish purple tint is thin enough to keep you focused without being a distraction. Printing is good all the way to edges of the paper and no vertical margins. Just the way I prefer it.

Writing Experience

The paper is smooth and takes on any ink I threw at it. I have been using a wet broad nib Faber Castell recently and it was joy on this paper. No bleed through or ghosting. This would be an easy notebook to use both sides of the paper.

Drying time was a reasonable 20 seconds when you consider how smooth the writing experience is.

Writing SampleWriting sample closeup


I’m going to get me a set of these to have on hand for my next projects, whatever they may be.

Remember….Write Something Nice……

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