Are Ink Blotters Worth It? How To Save Money And Stop Your Ink From Smearing

The trend of using ink blotters to help stop the bleeding and smearing of fountain pen ink has been growing lately. Until recently, using an ink blotter was something that had never crossed my mind. I knew you could use something absorbent like another piece of paper to help keep excess ink from smearing or getting on the other pages of your notebook. However, it was recent news to me, that there are products out there on the market specifically made for this.

J. Herbin Ink Blotter

In case you also didn’t know, you can buy a stamp like ink blotter tool that allows you to use specially made blotter paper to soak up excess ink. I have seen a J. Herbin brand ink blotter and paper on sites like Jetpens and Goulet Pens, but at the time of writing this, every online store is sold out. Since all of these stores are sold out, it seems to me a lot of people are buying and trying out ink blotters lately.

Although using ink blotters has gotten popular as of late, this practice has been done for decades. If you go on Etsy or Ebay you can find tons of vintage ink blotters. Some of them come in interesting styles and shapes, like even an elephant.

Elephant Ink Blotter @MeltingMoonlighFinds

This old practice used to be so popular that companies would send out business cards and advertisements made from blotter paper. People would take these advertisements and use them as is or cut them down to fit their ink blotter tools. It reminds me of how match books were(are?) used for advertising. Its nice to get something for free that is actually useful in your day-to-day life. People would get one, use it up, toss it, and then move on to the next advertisement. If you are interested, you can find a lot of these old blotter advertisements on Etsy and Ebay. I love seeing these types of advertisements, they are so much more fun than just a dinky ball point pen with a business name on the side.

Drive A Ford Ink Blotter @sicillyscloset

That is cool and all, but are ink blotters even useful? If it was so popular before why did people stop using them? Is it just an expensive gimmick that is a fad right now?

These are the questions of our time…

Heh… So anyways yes, they are useful, but they are also sort of a rip off. Just the J. Herbin ink blotter tool itself is expensive. $25.50 for a tiny 2” by 3” wooden stamp is a bit too pricey for my taste. Yes, we fountain pen users will gladly pay $300+ for a plastic fountain pen without batting an eye, but I don’t think a tiny wooden stamp is worth that much.

The ink blotter does not work without blotter paper, so that is another expense to add. The J. Herbin blotting paper is $9 and comes in packs of 10 in either pink or white. The paper is a lot bigger than the tool, so whenever you put paper on the tool you need to cut a smaller piece out.

J. Herbin Pink And White Blotter Paper

The Jetpens users cannot get enough of this thing. They gave the J. Herbin ink blotter a 4.9 rating with not a single negative review. However, the people on Amazon are less impressed. The most upvoted ratings are all complaining about the size and quality of the thing. I didn’t buy it so I do not know about the quality, but I must agree with the size issue. I think a blotter should be closer to 6 inches across. At around that size you could basically blot across an A5 notebook or anything smaller than that, in one stroke. If you look for vintage blotters you can find a lot of larger ones with a cheaper price tag.

The blotter paper is the real magic here. At almost a dollar per sheet it really hurts me when I order some, but I do think it does the job well. Even without the ink blotter tool, it does make a big difference. I sometimes just lay the blotter paper over what I have just written, and the blotter paper absorbs any excess ink. What I do more often, is just lay the blotter paper in the open notebook on the page I’m not currently writing on. When I finish writing, I can then close the notebook and the fresh wet writing is pressed onto the blotter paper. The blotter paper then absorbs any excess ink and protects the other page. I have had great success using this technique. My writing hasn’t smeared yet. The backs of my pages don’t get smeared with ink from writing on the page beside them. That is what normally happens if I close a notebook with writing that hasn’t had enough time to fully dry. If you use a dry writer and/or very fine nib you might not have had many issues with your words smearing. However, people like me, who like to use Wet Writers💦 and medium+ nibs, most of the time, do need to wait a bit for their writing to dry. So instead of waving my notebook around like it’s a beautiful butterfly, I just close it with blotter paper in between the pages.

Paper Blotter In Notebook

There are multiple ways to blot your writing. You can use special blotting paper, regular paper, cloth, or do what Galen Leather wants you to try doing. Galen Leather include a large piece of leather that is the size of an entire notebook page with their everyday notebooks. I had no idea what it was at first. I thought it was some way to like buff your notebook or meant to put behind the page you are writing on to give you a softer surface to write on. You can use it for that and to protect the pages under the current page you are writing on from bleed through or ghosting. However, the main reason it is included with their notebooks is to blot ink.

Leather Blotter in Notebook

Check out my next blog to see which works the best. I am doing tests to see which is the best technique so you can save your money.

Anthony Gamboa
I run blogs related to fountain pens, film photography, gardening, and Southern California life.
Southern California