Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tools of the Trade: Poopoopaper Panda Poo Journal

On a trip to the Memphis Zoo last year, I ducked into the gift shop with Husband and my friend. They meandered around, trying on safari hats and sunglasses, smugly ignoring all the snake memorabilia hiding on the shelves. I do not like snakes, remember? So, that left me creeping around the aisles, holding my breath and steeling myself so I could walk past the big display of plush snake stuffed animals (ages 3+). I was quickly becoming a nervous wreck and needed something to focus on so I could bide my time in safety.

My sixth sense kicked in and I finally located a panda-adorned table full of books, pens, and paper. There were no snakes anywhere near it, and no one else was standing there. Plus, PANDAS! Perfect.

The table was piled high with these:

They were made with panda poo.

Like, poo from actual pandas. Like this one, who posed so nicely for me:

He's making new raw paper material right now.

Naturally, I had to have one.

The manufacturer, Poopoopaper (their webstore is called the "Pootique"), uses the back cover to assure me that the poo in question was sifted for bamboo fibers, which were washed and sterilized before processing, ensuring an environmentally sound and odorless writing experience. Uh huh. Let's hope so.

There is good craftsmanship in this notebook. The cover is adorable. It is well-made and quite artful, especially the inset panda portrait with an origami-style plant for it to munch.  It does not smell like poo of any kind, unless Panda poo already smells like paper. I kinda doubt that.

I was not expecting this paper to be good for use with fountain pens, which are pretty much all I ever use. The paper is thick and spongy feeling, like most handmade pulp papers. Of course, that didn't stop me from giving it a try.

It went a bit better than I expected, and wasn't entirely unpleasant. It was obviously a bad pen and paper match--it was rough and there was plenty of feathering and "ink-bloat"--but I still found a lot to like about the paper. It is as soft and thick as the cover led me to believe. The front side is "smoother" but that is like saying my cat's tongue is smoother than 40-grit sandpaper. It is smattered with little fibers throughout. Fibers that came from poo.

The back side of the paper is quite different. It has a uniform "grid" pattern embedded into it from the paper manufacturing process. This type of paper is not press rolled like most commercial papers, but is dried on a screen, creating this unique pattern. I don't believe the notebook is designed for writing on both sides of the page, but I can't help myself. I hate wasting paper.

I tried the paper with a gel pen as well. I used the fake Mont Blanc someone gave my husband for free loaded with a Parker Gel refill. It's normally a nice writer, but I had a similar nagging fear that the tip of the pen was about to clog up with fibers.

Then came pencil. It is hard to go wrong with a pencil since they're fairly indestructible. If I'd had the right pencil in my hand, I might have found it a little more pleasant, but in this case, the one I had was a little light and hard for this paper. It dug into the soft paper and produced much too faint a line for my liking.

The best pen for the job on this particular paper, as I'm pained to admit, is an old fashioned paste-ink, 39¢ ballpoint pen.

The ballpoint matches pleasantly with the soft paper, and the lines are dark and easy. This paper makes for one of the better ballpoint pen experiences I've had, actually, mostly due to the pleasant sinking of the pen into the paper. It reminds me of when I used to flip over my mom's floppy plastic and rubber placemats when I was a kid and doodle on the backs of them. (Yes, I eventually got caught.) I thought I'd be as nagged by the fear of clogging the tip as I was with the gel pen, but for some reason, it wasn't a factor. It just didn't scratch into the paper as much.

On the whole, this is a nice notebook if you're not picky about your writing instruments. It is cute, it is quirky, it is well-made, and it is made of poo. How can you top that?

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