Lokta paper is a handmade artisan paper indigenous to Nepal that is made from the fibrous inner barks of two types of Laurel, locally known as Lokta. Similar to harvesting of sugar cane, Lokta was cut close to the base for paper making, and the tree could regenerate to full maturity in 4 to 5 years; thus Lokta paper is environmentally sustainable. Because of Lokta paper’s durability, resistance to humidity, insects and mildew, it is the paper of choice for sacred texts and government document.
Due to the recent heightened sense of ecological awareness, Lokta paper begins to gain popularity. It is popular among artists and crafters who take advantage of the paper’s light weight and durable features and use it for bookbinding, gift wrapping, or sketching. The paper also has gained a spotlight in the writer’s circle. Monk Paper A4 Soft Cover Sketchbook is one of the choices in the market. Despite its hefty appearance, the notebook is almost feather weight and filled with 48 thick, luscious Lokta paper. By touch, the paper has a tough and toothy surface; on certain pages, Lokta fiber can be spotted.
|See the fiber and texture?|
I was reminded before hand that Lokta paper does not take fountain pen or fountain pen ink well, partly due to the textured surface and high absorbency, but for the sake of experimenting, I have tested the sketchbook with fountain pens I have inked. There is definitely feathering and bleedthrough, but the writing is still legible. One thing I have noticed is that the nibs will pick up some of the paper fibers as one writes, and this is particularly evident in finer nibs (the finest I have used for the testing purpose are Sailor Clear Candy and Pilot VP). Finer tipped gel pens, too, can potentially disturb the fiber as well (gel pens such as Hi-Tec-C and other needle points). Ball point and felt tipped pens perform much better, as well as craft pens with rounder tips. Surprisingly, an old gel pen that I used to like, Pentel Hybrid Gel Roller, performs exceptionally with the Lokta paper and I speculated that the rounder tip might have something to do with it.
|Not horrible feathering, but might be too toothy for fountain pens|
|Bleedthrough is obvious|
Because of how absorbent the paper is, most of the ink “sink” to the surface. Take Sakura Souffle gel pens for example, instead of risen slightly from the paper surface (hence the name Souffle), there is not visual difference to set apart Souffle from other gel pens I have tried.
|Craft pen testing. No feathering but has obvious bleedthrough|
|The paper can withstand repetitive stroke without being disturb. This is done with a Uni-Ball JetStream|
Wooden pencils face the least resistance out of all writing utensils, probably because I did not sharpen it razor sharp. Erasing is entirely another issue since erasing will cause abrasion and disturb the fiber of the paper, as seen below.
|Takes sketch in graphite, but erasing will take off a layer of the paper|
Because it is a sketchbook, I tested watercolor on it to fulfill my curiosity. In the photo below, the flower on the left is drawn with Windsor and Newton Cotman watercolor and the blue sphere is drawn with Derwent metallic watercolor pencils. The Lokta paper can take dryer media far better than the wet in terms of feathering; however, the feathering itself creates yet another effect.
To most fountain pen users, feathering and bleedthrough would be an issue, so this sketchbook might not be ideal for that purpose; however, I can see it being suitable for scrapbooking or general craft because of its texture and rustic appearance. It can easily be a journal for those who use gel, ballpoint pens, and pencils. I like the touch of this paper as well as the toothiness because of the rustic feeling the paper conveys. It would be a unique gift for those who are looking for an ecological alternative.
You may find the item in review at Pen Boutique, as well as other Lokta paper products in other formats.
This Monk Paper A4 Soft Cover Sketchbook is furnished by Pen Boutique, a Maryland-based vendor who also carry fine writing instrument, stationery, and accessories, for review purpose free of charge. All opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine.