Stone-based paper turned out to be totally waterproof.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

2 unusual products:
New ink jet paper made from stone, earpieces that throb with the beat

July 5, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard

   I have two weird products to tell you about this week. The first is paper made from stone. The second is a set of earphones that tickle your fancy ... and your earlobes along with it.
   The paper is called ViaStone. I bought a box of 50 sheets of ViaStone Premium Inkjet Photo paper at a local office-supplies store for about $20. The big draw of ViaStone, according to the Taiwanese manufacturer, Tier 1 International, is that it's green -- not as in the color (it's a nice, bright white) -- but as in environmental friendliness.
   No trees are harmed in the production of ViaStone -- that much I can understand -- and there are other environmental benefits, too, according to the company. But what fascinated me was the idea that someone could make paper from stone in the first place.
   After some quick research, I discovered that making paper from stone isn't a new idea. Basically, you take limestone and turn it into a slurry, then make that into paper.
   But what about the paper itself? Was it any good?
   You bet. I was able to produce gallery-quality prints on ViaStone Premium Photo paper. Incredibly, when I printed photos using the water-resistant inks in my Epson Artisan 700 printer, the prints were totally waterproof. Soaking them overnight in a tub of water left them unaffected.
   If you can't find ViaStone locally, try www.imageshoponline.com. You can get 100 sheets of the Premium paper for less than $39.
   Equally odd is a product from Zelco Industries called Outi. It's a set of vibrating earphones you wear outside your ears. They're "outies" -- get it?
   They're supposed to sell for $110, but I found them for $15 at my favorite off-the-deep-end store, Big Lots.
   They look like miniature bass drums sprouting plastic wings. The plastic wings clip over your earlobes and hold the tiny bass-drum-looking sound projectors onto the outside of your ears. (Imagine hooking a pair of big white earrings onto each lobe and you'll get the point.)
   Bass notes in the music are turned into loud vibrations that tickle your lobes. This is supposed to make your whole body feel in tune with the music, but all it did was make my ears itchy.
   Finally, a note of caution: Don't be a dummy like I was and stick the bass-drum-looking sound projectors in your ears. They're much too loud for safety. My ears were ringing for half an hour.