Product Review: King Jim Kitta Tapes & Kitta File

Product Review: King Jim Kitta Tapes & Kitta File

When Jesi came through town a couple weeks ago, she showed off her stash of King Jim Kitta washi tape strips and the lovely 24-pack file she stored them in. I immediately decided I need to invest in some of these delightful sets and a file as well.

King Jim Katta File

Rather than buying the large 24-pack file ($10.50) that Jesi had, I decided to go with the more compact and portable 6-pack file ($8.50) in green plaid.

King Jim Katta Tapes + File

Each pack of Kitta tapes (starting at $4.70 per pack) comes in a matchbook packet with four designs in each set. Each packet includes 10 strips of each design.  When the cover is folded back, it can be tucked into the file under the clear plastic flaps in the file.

King Jim Katta Tapes

King Jim Katta Tapes

When the tape is removed from the backing paper, it’s just like regular washi tape.

King Jim Katta Tapes

King Jim Katta Tapes

Most washi is translucent (shown above ) so its perfect to use in planners, journals and notebooks. The strips can also be cut or trimmed as needed.

King Jim Katta Tapes

I find the Kitta Tapes less of a commitment than rolls and rolls of washi tapes. The file makes it easy to carry a variety of tapes in a small package too. If you aren’t sure if you’ll use washi tape or prefer less commitment in your notebook accessories, then the King Jim Kitte Tapes and File might work for you too.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: IWI Colors of Nature Part 2

Ink Review: IWI Colors of Nature Part 2

The most recent ink line in my collection is the IWI Colors of Nature line. The line includes 24 colors so I will be presenting the collection in parts – today I’ll be covering the second set of 8 out of 24. I purchased my samples of IWI Colors of Nature inks at Vanness: each ink is $12 for a 30mL bottle or $2.60 for a 4mL sample. If you missed part 1 of this series, make sure to read that as well.

I’ve divided up the Colors of Nature inks into various themes. This group is the Grain set. First up is Grain Rain. I love this color and I was disappointed with the feathering here. The pink and yellow show up separately making the overall color a peach.

Once there is a good Grain Rain, you get Grain in Ear. This is a great yellow that is a bit lighter than PR Buttercup but darker than Montblanc Lucky Pig.

Time marches on, giving way to Grain Full. Somewhere between RO Honey Bee and Callifolio Inti, Grain Full Has definite multi-chromatic qualities where the dark yellow-brown separates from the orange.

This may be the set with the most dramatic difference between the two tested papers – Cosmo Air Light first followed by Tomoe River paper second. There is even a textural difference between the two.

The second group is… the group that Didn’t Fit Well Into Other Groups (DFWIOG). First up is Waking of Insects. This is a beautiful dirty green, very close to Diamine Safari.

Pure Brightness is a touch bluer than Ferris Wheel Press Mirror of Moraine.

The final DFWIOG ink is Rain Water. This contains more blue than Pure Brightness and is close to Faber Castell Turquoise.

I apologize for the random splatters of Grain in Ear on the page. This again proves that cats and ink should never mix. The first photo here is Cosmo Air Light paper and the second is Tomoe River. Again, there are color differences between the two paper types but also a textural difference. Tomoe River paper has a grainy texture while Cosmo Air Light is crisp.

The two papers side by side so you can see the differences under the same lighting conditions.

The last two inks today could be grouped in with part 3, but I’ve placed them in part 2 because the numbers worked out that way. I have elegantly named it Condensation Through the Year (CTtY). Yes, I know Rain Water could be with this group.

White Dew is lighter than Diamine Ochre and not quite as red as SBRE Brown.

Cold Dew is a fabulous gray and seems to be warmer than my cold grays but colder than my warm grays.  Bungubox Melancholic Grey is the closest I could find.

Both White Dew and Cold Dew take on a cooler tone on Cosmo Air Light paper (first photo below) than on the Tomoe River paper (second photo below).

The full eight inks presented today lined up together:

As I mentioned in part 1, these IWI inks have quite an issue with feathering. They all have a watery consistency that allows some beautiful color separation – an amazing quality in inks used for artwork or on paper with slow absorption. Tomoe River paper seems to handle IWI inks with little to no feathering while still showing the multi-chromatic characteristics. Again, this is a topic I will revisit in part 3, next Thursday.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me and I was not compensated to write this review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: The Sad News Edition

This week has been full of stationery melancholy following a stream of news from around the community.

CW Pencils Sidewalk Sale

First, CW Pencils held a sidewalk sale over the weekend as a final farewell to their brick and mortar days. The website is still up so if there was ever a pencil you wanted, now is the time to buy. Items are selling out fast.

Papier Plume ink recall

Then, I received an email from Patrick at Papier Plume informing me that there was an issue with some of their inks. He was able to quickly identify which inks have issues and when they were produced and is offering to replace any bottles. This will be a sizable expense for a small business and I worry how much of a burden this will be to Papier Plume’s finances. Most small businesses have little expendable income. Please, if you have a bottle of this ink you would like replaced, try to pool your request with friends to cut down on the shipping charges (especially since we have entered the USPS’s increased shipping rate season). If you can wait, find out if Papier Plume will be attending a pen show near you soon and exchange your ink then — and also make a new purchase or two.

Next, a blog post from Pencil Talk appeared letting the stationery community know that long-time pencil blog Contrapuntalism created by Sean Malone is gone.

NockCo email

Finally, I received an email on Monday that NockCo was closing. While I know that Brad has many other projects in the works, the products developed at NockCo created a new category of pen and stationery cases that other makers will continue to refine and develop. So, while NockCo will no longer exist as a business entity, the influence that they had on the stationery community will live on.

On the heels of hearing that these stationery businesses are closing or are dealing with product difficulties, I am more committed than ever to try to save the ones we have left. If you believe in these businesses and shops like them, please continue to support them. (Side note: Jeff Bezos does not need anymore of your money.)

And, now for our regularly scheduled Link Love….




Notebooks & Paper:

Other Interesting Things:

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Paper Review: Kokuyo Campus A5 Biz Loose Leaf

For many of us, dated planners and bound notebooks are just a bit too rigid for our purposes. So if you’re someone who likes to start with blank (or lined?) pages and rearrange them as you wish, then this review is for you. Today I’m going to talk about Kokuyo Campus A5 Biz Loose Leaf paper ($5 for 120 sheets).

This paper fits the Kokuyo A5 Campus Binder ($12) and likely a variety of other A5 binders with its 20 hole format. I didn’t purchase a binder, however; I just review the loose leaf paper.

The paper is white and 70gsm so it feels sturdier than the ultra-thin Tomoe River paper. It comes in either grid or dotted lines (6mm ruled and 30 lines per page), which is actually a solid line, with tiny dots, allowing you to use it as regular lined paper OR a bit like dot grid.

I tried a variety of fountain pen inks, gel pens, pencils, rollerballs and fine liners and this paper is great! Check out that ink swatch I did with Q-tip and how NOTHING feathered or bled through. I could easily use the backs of each page, which is normally my complaint about most papers – the ghosting that makes it difficult for front and back use.

I haven’t tried too many other Kokuyo paper products, but I have to say I’m really impressed and it’s notebook paper at a really great price point!

DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this review were provided free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pencil Zines

Pencil Revolution

Of course, people who love analog tools would find a way to use analog channels to tell their stories. In the past, I’ve mentioned Plumbago and the Pen Post but today, I have two more pencil zines that landed in my inbox this week. Johnny Gamber of Pencil Revolution has taken his love of pencils and analog medium one step further and has been producing not just the Pencil Revolution zine for the past several months but several other publications as well.

Johnny’s Pen Post and Pencil Revolution Zine (issues start at $5) will be of most interest to the readers here. Both publications are a delight and remind me why I love zines and other paper ephemera.

Pencil of the Week

Pencil of the Week (prices start at $1 per issue with special editions ranging in price up to $5) is a hand written zine that features a lengthy review of a pencil in each issue. Issue 15 and 15.5  were an extra special “double issue”. Issue 15 is a classic pencil review about the Staedtler Norica HB and 15.5 features our own Tina Koyama‘s artwork on the cover (hand colored by Tina!) and filled with reviews of our ever-loving Red/Blue pencils. Wait until you read which pencil is rated number one! (I said that to increase you excitement… did it work?)

I’m delighted with the influx of new zine publications. There are lots of other zines available these days on all sorts of topics from poetry and music to sports and mental health.  Zines are a great way to spend an afternoon and helps to support these creative labors of love.

Have you ever created a zine? Would you? What would it be about?

Notebook Review: Pebble Stationery Co. Antartica Edition

Notebook Review: Pebble Stationery Co. Antartica Edition

Review by Tina Koyama

A few years back, Pebble Stationery came out with the Australian company’s first limited Glacier Edition pocket-size notebook. Its latest limited edition has the same icy theme: The Antartica Edition (two notebooks for US $12.99). 

2 - Antartica front cover

I was surprised to see yet another chilly design, but no less delighted. Containing Tomoe River paper, Antartica “features a glistening white cover to represent the light reflected on the continent’s icy surface.” The worst thing about this lovely notebook is trying to photograph its shimmering cover, holographic gilding and spot foil! Please forgive me for not capturing its full beauty, but I grabbed a sunny day on our deck and did my best. It’s one of those notebooks that you have to see with your own eyes in bright light to fully appreciate.

3 - Antartica back cover

4 - Antartica back cover

5 - Antartica silver gilding

The 3½ -by-5½ inch notebook contains 80 pages of 52 gsm Tomoe River paper printed with a pale gray, 4mm dot grid ruling. The light blue thread that binds the notebook matches the inside covers. Hardest to photograph is the holographic silver ink used on the subtle cover branding, the map of the continent on the back cover (including a tiny penguin and whale), and gilt edges rarely seen in softcover notebooks. Antartica and Glacier are a lovely complementary pair with the same understated elegance and subtle shimmer.

6 - Antartica bellyband

8 - Antartica inside front cover

7 - Antartica inside back cover

Many readers of the Desk are probably familiar with Tomoe River’s performance with fountain pen ink. Although it is amazingly thin, the paper resists feathering and bleeding, even with the juiciest nibs. When I asked, I was assured that the paper is the original Tomoe River that we know and love. I made a test sketch with my favorite fire hose, the Sailor 1911 with a Naginata Fude de Mannen nib filled with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo ink. I also scribbled with a variety of pens and even pencils. 

9 - Antartica scribble tests

10 - crab claw sketch

As expected for such thin, translucent paper, the reverse sides show ghosting but only bare traces of bleeding where ink was applied heavily. 

11 - scribbles reverse side

12 - sketch reverse side

It’s a gorgeous pocket notebook and a welcome addition to the growing but still small selection of small notebooks containing Tomoe River. (I was going to refrain from mentioning this, but I make my bread and butter catching typos: I wish Pebble had paid as much attention to proofreading as they did on all the beautiful details this notebook exhibits.) 

DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this review were provided free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

Ink Review: IWI Colors of Nature Part 1

Ink Review: IWI Colors of Nature Part 1

The most recent ink line in my collection is the IWI Colors of Nature line. The line includes 24 colors so I will be presenting the collection in parts – today I’ll be covering 8 of the 24. At the end of this post, I’ll examine the feathering issue I’ve seen with the collection. I purchased my samples of IWI Colors of Nature inks at Vanness: each ink is $12 for a 30mL bottle or $2.60 for a 4mL sample.

I’ve divided up the Colors of Nature inks into various themes. The first is the Beginning of Seasons starting with the Beginning of Spring.

Beginning of Spring is a very bright yellow-green, a bit lighter than Ferris Wheel Press Fizzy Lime. Beginning of Summer (below) is a classic green with a touch of blue undertones.


Beginning of Autumn is a medium orange while Beginning of Winter is a classic blue-black.

The four Beginning of Seasons group is a bright collection and, I think, represents the seasons very well.

The four Beginnings inks on Cosmo Air Light paper:

The four Beginnings inks on Tomoe River paper:

I have tried to show a brief comparison between Tomoe River paper (left) and Cosmo Air Light paper (right).

The second set of Colors of Nature inks is the Divisions of the Year set. This includes Spring and Autumnal Equinox inks and Summer and Winter Solstice inks.

Spring Equinox is a beautiful multi-chromatic ink that looks like Sailor Manyo Sakura. However, this ink feathered terribly on the Col-o-ring cards. I will examine this issue in detail at the end of my post.

Summer Solstice is a bright red with a hint of blue undertones.

Autumnal Equinox was my favorite ink of these 8 inks. It is a dark golden brown and one of the few inks where I did not notice feathering.

Winter Solstice is a pleasantly shading dark gray ink. This ink did not show the feathering issues.

The Divisions of the Year inks all together:

The Divisions of the Year set on Cosmo Air Light paper:

The Divisions of the Year set on Tomoe River paper:


The Divisions of the Year inks on Cosmo Air Light paper (left) and Tomoe River paper (right):


Now to talk about the feathering issue with the IWI inks. The first swatch I created started showing serious feathering immediately. This is seen not only in lettering but also the swatch on the right.

When I used the same dip pen to write on Cosmo Air Light paper, you can still see feathering:

However, again with the same dip pen, when I wrote on Tomoe River paper, I found no feathering at all.

The IWI inks are watery and thin formulations – they remind me of writing with Papier Plume inks (especially those in the standard line). I believe this is the main reason behind the feathering. In future posts on the IWI inks, I will bring this up again after testing a few fixes. Make sure you read Part 2 next Thursday!


DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me and I was not compensated to write this review. Please see the About page for more details.