Review: Platinum Maki-E Nylon Bristle Brush Pen

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen

Platinum Classic Brush Pen with Mt. Fuji and Cherry Blossoms Pattern ($52) is a nylon fiber brush pen with a beautiful slender black body. It features a gold toned clip and gold accents and a painted Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms designs. Its one of the most traditionally Japanese motfi pens I’ve ever owned and I’m surprised how tickled I am with the overall aesthetics of the pen. The overal shape of the pen is a smooth torpedo shape and the cap has a smooth, pill-shaped clip which is simple and understated.

The pen came in a simple black paperboard box with gold foil lettering and graphics on the exterior and red velveteen paperboard on the inside with a simple ribbon band to hold the pen in place. The packaging was elegant without being extravagant, if that makes sense.

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen

But the real feature of the pen is the brush tip rather than a fountain pen or rollerball under the cap. The brush tip is made up of nylon fibers like a paintbrush but inside the aesthetics of a fountain pen. The pen works with a cartridge or a regular Platinum converter.

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen Close-up

The bristles on the nylon tip come to a crisp point and the nylon fibers spring back quickly with a nice bounce. I decided to test the pen on both my usual Rhodia paper as well as some Strathmore Mixed Media drawin paper which is a toothier stock and found both the pen and the stock ink cartridge to perform quite well. The toothier Strathmore paper made it a little bit easier to control the brush pen versus the silky smooth Rhodia paper making me feel a little more confident in my mark-making.

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen Writing Sample

The pen comes with a black cartridge with Platinum Black ink and the  Platinum converter ($7.50) will fit as well which will allow a range of inks to be used. The Platinum Black ink is not waterproof but its definitely water resistant. I’m inclined to keep only black ink in this pen for the duration as I expect it would be difficult to ever get all this black out of the bristles and feed. I’d also be cautious about leaving this pen sit too long without using it in case the ink dried in the brush. It might be difficult to get it cleaned completely if the ink were to dry. Altenately, the Platinum Black is a rich, dense black that looks fantastic so it appears to be worth the trouble it might cause if you like a good solid black line for drawing or calligraphy.

Overall, I really like this pen. As its one of my first brush pens over $10 (by a long shot) I don’t have a huge basis for comparison. However, the quality of the brush tip itself is a big upgrade from the budget-priced nylon bristle brush pens I’ve purchased in the past. Add to that, the overall feel of the pen and the beautiful Maki-E painting and I feel like I have a real treasure on my hands.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Boutique for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Winner: Notemaker World Stationery Day Voucher Giveaway

NoteMaker Promo

Big thanks to Notemaker for helping us make World Stationery Day (and World Stationery Week) a big deal here at The Well-Appointed Desk. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. Now, a drumroll for our winner…..

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Congrats, Nicholynn! I hope you find your flexible nib pen. I will be contacting you via email to arrange everything! Thanks to everyone!

Cognitive Surplus Wax Seal Kits

Cognitive Surplus Wax Seals

Cognitive Surplus asked me if I’d like to try out their awesome array of Wax Seals. I had such a hard time choosing a design, they kindly sent me two because I could not make up my mind. I got the Erlenmeyer Flask and the Moon. The Erlenmeyer Flask came with a deep red wax stick and the Moon Seal came with a metallic silver wax stick.

If you love space and science themes, then their selection of of wax seals will be right up your alley too. Each kit comes with a brass seal mounted to a wooden handle and a coordinating wax stick in a small box with a lovely label. Each kit sells for $26.

Cognitive Surplus Wax Seals

Cognitive Surplus Wax Seals

The detail on the moon seal is excellent. This is so cool!

Cognitive Surplus Wax Seals

And the Erlenmeyer flask is also nerd cool!

Cognitive Surplus Wax Seals

I did my best to light the wax stick and pool the wax onto my envelope and then press the seal into it. I waited for for a few seconds for the wax to cool and the slowly wiggled the seal loose as the wax cooled and voila! the seal looks pretty good for my first try!

Cognitive Surplus Wax Seals

I had equally good luck with the moon seal and on my first try too. It looks so amazing! But I think my husband will steal it and take it to Skylab Letterpress. So if you want a letter sealed with moon wax, you better write a letter to Skylab.

Special Deal for Desk Readers: Receive 20% off your purchase when you use the coupon code WellAppointedDesk. Offer is good through May 15, 2016.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Cognitive Surplus for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Franklin-Christoph Emerald Midnight

Franklin-Christoph Midnight Emerald Ink

Please don’t shoot me for reviewing another teal blue ink so soon after Pelikan Edelstein AquamarineFranklin-Christoph Midnight Emerald ($12.50 for 2oz.) is a much deeper blue-teal color than Aquamarine. It’s in that space between teal and blue-black that you didn’t know you needed an ink. Did you?

FC- Midnight Emerald writing sample

I tested the ink in my Franklin-Christoph Pocket Ice 66 eyedropper with a Fine nib and the ink still shaded quite nicely. The ink dried pretty quickly in the fine nib and I didn’t have any smearing issues even with my left-handedness. The painted lettering took a little bit longer to dry on the Rhodia paper so I suspect a wider nib would also take a bit longer to dry. Not a scientific analysis but this ink dried faster than a lot of inks I test.

The color strikes a nice balance between being a teal and a blue-black. Professional enough for everyday work but unique enough to be fun to use.

The ink is not waterproof so it means clean-up is pretty easy despite the depth of color.

Franklin-Christoph Midnight Emerald Ink comparisons

Midnight Emerald is very similar in color to Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Green but Midnight Emerald is a tiny bit more blue than Zuiderpark. The price for Midnight Emerald is considerably lower. Diamine Twilight is  more blue black and Callifolio Olifants is more indigo blue so Midnight Emerald really does seem to hit an unusual niche.

Overall, Midnight Emerald is a really lovely color and I’m grateful to have it in my arsenal.


A lovely fan in Atlanta gave me this bottle of ink because she knew how much I loved teal colors but I forgot to write down her name so, if you’re out there, please leave a message in the comments so I can give you a proper thank you and shoutout for this lovely gift which I will cherish. We had such a lovely conversation but I have a brain like a sieve sometimes and trying to remember Slack handles, real names, email addresses and Rav names often leaves me not remembering any name at all! So sorry!

Vintage Fountain Pens: Lady Sheaffer Skripsert and Sheaffer Imperial

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial

One of the pens I was hoping to find at the Atlanta Pen Show was a vintage Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. A friend of mine showed me hers and I fell in love with it so I knew it was definitely a pen style I wanted to keep my eye out for.

The story behind the Lady Sheaffer Skripserts were that they were pens (and pencils) designed specifically for ladies in decorative patterns and posh finishes as fashion accessories from the late 50s into the 70s. They were available with either steel or gold nibs and some of the designs included raised, jeweled bands around the middle of the pen for an even more glamorous look.

 photo skripserts_penworld-1.jpg

This ad for the Lady Sheaffer, lovingly known to collectors as “the shopping list” was published in Pen World magazine in 1994 and posted to the Fountain Pen Network Forum in a thread titled “Ladies in Tulle!” back in 2008.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial

Well,I totally lucked out because I found a vendor who had several different models to choose from including a very rare Christmas patterned one with holly berries on the cap (not to my taste but in retrospect, its incredibly rare!). I had a hard time picking just one of the many designs and he made me a deal on two different models, both with 14K nibs.

From what I understand, the later the Lady Sheaffer was produced, the more likely the ends are to be flat instead of rounded. So my guess is that the two I purchased are probably late 60s or early 70s.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial Nibs

Once I got home and could start doing more detailed research, I was able to determine that the black pen with gold “tulle” is definitely a Lady Sheaffer. The nib is referred to as a Stylpoint nib as it partially hooded. There’s also a bit of a flip up at the end of the nib which if you didn’t know that was how the nibs were designed might make you think the nib had been sprung. But its not. They were designed that way.

Upon further study, the gold pen with black diamond pattern is actually a Sheaffer Imperial Sovereign rather than a Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. The inlay nib should have been the givaway but I did not know enough about the long history of the Skripsert line to know all the nib variation so I took a chance because it was beautiful. I ended up with a great pen regardless.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert Sticker

The Lady Sheaffer Skripsert was NOS (new old stock), complete with its original sticker, so really how could I pass it up?

Sheaffer Imperial Band

And the Sheaffer Imperial was hallmarked on the barrel with a crown and “14K G.F. Sheaffer U.S.A.” So I think the barrel and cap are gold plated as well as the nib. Swank!

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial widths

What should have also been the give away that Imperial was a different beast is that the barrel is a bit wider than the Lady Sheaffer. They are the same length but the Lady Sheaffer is a little bit more tapered overall for a slightly more diminutive silhouette. Its not good or bad but it shows that doing your homework prior to a show is important. I ended up with a happy surprise and learning more about vintage Sheaffers in general but more research would have made me better informed overall.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial Writing Samples

Both the Lady Sheaffer and the Imperial wrote beautifully. The Lady Sheaffer had a medium nib which wrote pretty wet and its flip up angle took a bit of getting used to. I had heard the flip was designed to enable writing at more angles but could not find any information on the internet to corroborate that so I’m not sure. If you know why the Stylpoint nibs were designed with a flip, please leave a note in the comments. I theorize that it is a bit like the Fude de Mannen Japanese nibs that allow for a wider range of stroke widths at a wider range of angle but again, I don’t have any proof nor have I used the pen long enough to prove my theory.

The Imperial has a fine nib that is perfect! It writes beautifully and as soon as I get cartridges or converters for these two pens, I have a feeling that they will end up in regular rotation. They are both comfortable in my hand, lovely to look and and beautiful writers. How can you beat that?

In the end, I’m pleased with my vintage Sheaffer purchases but I would have been happier with myself if I’d been better informed before I got to the show. But knowledge comes with time and asking the right questions.

For more information about Lady Sheaffer Skripserts:

Link Love: From The Road

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Giveaway: World Stationery Day from NoteMaker

NoteMaker Promo

Today, April 27, is World Stationery Day. If you’re wondering exactly what World Stationery Day is, it’s part of National Stationery Week and part of the London Stationery Show. The goal of World Stationery Day is to celebrate the written word and all things stationery.

In the spirit of World Stationery Day, the folks at NoteMaker in Australia want to help you celebrate by offering one lucky reader the chance to win a $250 voucher (that’s a “gift certificate” in American English) to spend in their fabulous online shop. How amazingly generous!

To enter this giveaway, see the info below in the Rafflecopter widget. The giveaway runs through Sunday, May 1 and the winner will be announced on Monday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(All the fine print is in the terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter widget. Please read them. Thanks!)

Giveaway Winner: Retro 51 Bouquet from Anderson Pens

Retro 51 Bouquet

A big thanks to Anderson Pens for sponsoring the Retro 51 Bouquet giveaway and a huge shoutout to all the lovely comments that were posted. I got choked up reading many of them and the kind words you had for your mom, sister, wife, best friend and sometimes even yourself. You all deserve a Bouquet, I wish I had more to give.

Now, for the winner of the giveaway:

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Congrats to James and I hope his mother (or sister) enjoys the pen!

When Bad Repairs Happen To Good Pens

Parker Duofold

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week trying to decide the best way to talk about what was the saddest part of my Atlanta Pen Show experience. I mentioned to a vendor that I had a beloved vintage Parker Duofold vac filler but that the vacuum-filler didn’t work and he said “Oh, there’s a guy here who specializes in fixes those. You should take it over and have him look at it.”

I was very excited at the possibility of getting my pen in full working order so I hopped over to the repairman and he seemed fairly convinced that for a reasonable fee and a couple of hours he could get my pen in working order. I left him my pen and my phone number and headed off to lunch.

This is where things went sideways and I should have probably talked to people with more experience getting pens repaired to know what questions to ask and what outcomes I could expect.

Parker Duofold

I dropped off my pen around noon and did not hear back from the repairman by 4pm. I started to get concerned but didn’t want to pester him. I know how busy tables can get and the potential to get backed up but I also knew that the show floor closed up at 5pm and if he was not going to get time to work on my pen, I wanted to be retrieve before 5pm and either bring it back next year or make arrangements for shipping.

When I got to his table, he informed me that the prior owner of the pen must have epoxied the vac into the end of the pen and, as a result, when he attempted to remove it, the barrel of the pen melted and warped. In other words, my pen was returned to me more damaged than when I left it with him and I only received a cursory apology and a “these things sometimes happen”.  I was not charged for the mishap but I was not compensated in anyway for the damage either.

As one of my first vintage fountain pens and a thrift store score at that, I have a lot of sentimental attachment to the pen. Yes, most of my love is a result of the pen having a beautiful, slightly flexible gold nib but still!

Parker Duofold nib

So, from my cautionary tale, I want to provide some advice to anyone seeking pen repairs, nib tuning or other manipulations from someone, either at a pen show or online:

  • Be sure to ask is there a possibility that the pen might sustain additional damage?
  • If so, whose responsibility is it? (Go into the transaction knowing ahead of time if the repairman is not held responsible for someone else’s janky repair work like epoxy so you are not taken by surprise like I was)
  • Does the repairman have spare parts on site should the pen need to be modified due to breakage or damage? At a show, he might not have all his spare parts but might be able to take the pen back to his shop and finish repairs and mail the pen back to you.
  • Get good cost estimates up front. If the repairman want payment up front, verify what refund policy he has should he be unable to complete the repairs.

In the end, it can’t hurt to ask all the questions and if a repairman (or person) is unwilling to answer them, feel free to share my experience as the reason you’re asking. Not that you distrust them but you know that bad things have happened to good pens.

Parker Duofold

Word. Terrain Series Notebooks

Word Terrain Series Notebooks

Word. Notebooks have just released their new Terrain Series notebooks featuring topographic style artwork on the covers of three different sets of notebooks in green, orange or ivory. Inside, these notebooks feature the same lined paper with the built-in bullet system as their previous notebooks and feature 48-pages in each of their 3-pack of notebooks. Each set is available for $9.99 for a 3-pack. Perfect for all your summer explorations.

Word Terrain Series Notebooks

Paper tests from previous reviews of the original Word. Notebooks and the Declan Floral Edition. The Terrain editions feature the same lined paper in the same color and weight.

Word Notebook Pen Test


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Word. Notebooks for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Video: Philip Ashforth Coppola Illustrating New York City’s Subway Stations

Philip Ashforth Coppola has spent the last 38 years illustrating the details of New York City’s subway stations. Many of the illustrations are done with ballpoint pen and are exquisitely detailed. New York Bound Books has published small editions of bound volumes of some of the sketches. This video is from the Great Big Story series.

There’s a lovely article on the NYTimes and there is also a 30 minute film short called One Track Mind that also details Coppola’s work.

Fashionable Friday: Chicago is My Kind Of Town

Fashionable Friday: Chicago is My Kind of Town

So… I had so much fun in Atlanta that, knowing that the Chicago Pen Show is just a week away, I have decided that I MUST GO TO CHICAGO! As a native Chicagoan, the opportunity to go to a pen show AND eat an Italian Beef was too much lure for one person to withstand.

I have to give a great big shout out to Lisa at Vanness Pens who has kindly welcomed me as a helper at the Vanness booth for the weekend. If you need ink this weekend, come to the Vanness table for Bung Box, Callifolio, Akkerman and many more plus the 300-strong ink testing station. Bring lots of paper or buy some while you’re there.

So, in honor of my hometown pride, I bring you a Fashionable Friday decked out in Vienna Beef, red-6-pointed-stars-and-sky-blue-stripes, and original Frango mints. Locals will know what I mean and folks visiting Chicago for the first time for the pen show, take note!

Chicago Flag Enamel Pin $11.95 (via Paper Source)

Sailor 1911 Standard Fountain Pen – Anderson Pens Special Edition, Slate Blue $200 (via Anderson Pens)

Akkerman Chi(na)Town Red (60ml Bottle) $29 (via Anderson Pens)

Diamine Aqua Blue Ink (80ml bottle) $15 (via Pen Boutique)

Chicago Tea Towel $24 (via Tammy Smith Designs)

“I (star) Chi” Pin $1.50 (via Gaper’s Block)

Fisher Space Pen Bullet Ballpoint Pen in Red Cherry $23 (via JetPens)

Delta Unica White Fine Point Fountain Pen $75.95 (via Goldspot Pens)

Kaweco Sport Skyline fountain pen mint €18,95 (via Fontoplumo)

“Ode to Chicago Style Hot Dogs” poster $20 (via Star Shaped Press)

Diamine 150th Anniversary Carnival Ink (40 ml Bottle) $18.50 (via JetPens)

“Don’t Call It Willis” Pin $1.75 (via Gaper’s Block)

“Don’t Call It Macy’s” Pin $1.75 (via Gaper’s Block)

Filofax Original Pillar Box Red A5 Organizer $111 (via Goldspot Pens)

Monteverde One Touch Stylus Tool Rollerball Pen $36 (via Pen Chalet)

Chicago My Kind of Town Card $4 (via The Found)

Trusco Medium Trunk Tool Box $15 (via Fresh Stock Japan)

Lincoln Park After Dark Nail Polish (via OPI)

Finally, things to know about Chicagoans:

  • We love to give directions. It proves we know our city, burb or hamlet.
  • Most Chicagoan prefer thin crust pizza. We feed tourists the deep dish stuff to see if you’ll eat it.
  • Chicagoans tend to sound gruff and in a hurry but most are teddy bears underneath.
  • We have a thing about how we eat hot dogs. If you don’t want to eat them full-on Chicag-style and don’t want the hairy eyeball when you ask for ketchup on it, order something else.
  • City cops wear leather but don’t call them leather daddies.

Review: Retro 51 Bouquet (compliments of Anderson Pens)

Retro 51 Bouquet

I never thought I’d be a collector of Retro 51s. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve acquired a variety of different Poppers and a Classic Lacquer and, I must admit, I have a collection now. So, I now keep an eye out for the regular seasonal releases in the Popper series.

Retro 51 Bouquet

Just prior to the Atlanta Pen Show, Retro 51 released their spring design, Bouquet, and I scrambled to find a retailer who didn’t sell out in a minute. Luckily, the fine folks at Anderson Pens set not one but TWO pens aside for me and, as a result, one lucky reader will get claim this beauty as their own – or to give to their loved one, their mom, or their favorite person who deserves an everlasting bouquet of flowers.

Retro 51 Bouquet

The Bouquet is a smooth, watercolor floral printed on an ivory background. The flowers definitely have a tropical feel. The graphics are some of the most complex I’ve seen on a Retro 51 and they turned out really well. The colors are clean and rich. And the printing is flawless.

Retro 51 Bouquet end cap

The hardware is a soft, brushed gold. I’d almost call is rose gold but its not pinky nor is it brassy. The end cap is a rosy pink dot to match the flowers.

Of all the “Mother’s Day” releases that Retro 51 has done, this is by far the best one yet.

Retro 51 Bouquet

GIVEAWAY: See that one in the photo above still wrapped in shrinkwrap? That is #0288/1000 and it can be your. All you need to do is leave a comment below and tell me who in your life deserves a beautiful bouquet of flowers. AND… read the FINE PRINT. Big thanks to Anderson Pens for providing the giveaway pen!


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, April 25, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your real email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US delivery addresses only please this time. Apologies to our international readers!

Link Love: Pen Show Hangover Edition

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Atlanta Pen Show 2016: Recap

Atlanta Pen Show 2016 - 2
Photo credits, clockwise from top left: Me being a cheesball by The Gentleman Stationer, recording episode 200 of The Pen Addict podcast with Brad and Myke photo by Julia Skott, Brian Goulet, Kara (AKA boho.berry) and me (squeee!!) photo by Rachel Goulet, and me sampling inks at the Vanness ink sampling station photo by @skylabletterpress.

I cannot believe how quickly four days passed. The Atlanta Pen Show 2016 was four action-packed days of making tons of new friends, seeing old friends, and, of course, looking at all sorts of wallet-emptying pens, inks, paper and other wonderful goodies!

To give a quick timeline, we arrived in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon and got to mingle and hang out with all the early arrivers in the evening. I get the impression that the hotel bar staff doesn’t quite know what to do with us but they tolerate the inevitably ink-tinged water goblets without complaint. We ate, drank and chatted a good deal so I hope the wait staff tipped out well at the end of the night.

Friday, I got to walk around the show floor a little bit in the morning and then the wonderful folks at Goulet Pens asked if I would do an interview for their Q&A series live and in-person. It was both incredibly exciting and incredibly nerve-wracking but the best part was meeting Brian and Rachel and their wonderful videographer and video editor, Jenni. After the video, I got to visit with more folks and wander a bit more before the show closed and the evening carousing kicked into gear again. Friday night was the traditional Atlanta Pen Show hamburger cookout which was fun and filling even if the burgers were still mooing.

Saturday, I got to spend the morning testing out inks at the Vanness ink testing station and then the afternoon helping out at the NockCo booth with Myke (yes, they let us run the show for awhile!) before the big moment: the recording of the 200th episode of The Pen Addict podcast recorded in front of a live audience at the show! I cannot believe how epic it was to record a podcast (not in my pajamas) in front of 60+ people. I am so grateful to all the Kickstarter backers and Brad and Myke and the celebrity crew from Relay.FM for making it all happen and letting me be a part of such a historic event. Sitting here typing this, I have to pull that pack of tissues out again because I’m getting all verklempt again.

However, the one thing I forgot to do in all the excitement was TAKE PICTURES! So, I’m leaning on all the wonderful folks on Instagram who used the hashtag #ATLPenShow2016 and #AtlantaPenShow2016 to find some of my favorite moments from the show and share them with you. I hope the original photographer don’t mind that I’ve included their photos here (please let me know if you do, I’ll swap them out but I hope you know that I’m sharing them with love and best intentions!) Please go through all the awesome photos on Instagram and see all the great stuff people found, all the happy faces and I hope to see your face in Atlanta next year!

Atlanta Pen Show 2016 1
Instagram photo credits, clockwise from top left: Leigh Reyes and Thomas Hall from @dandon, Mike Masuyama and Brian Goulet from @GouletPens, Folded nib calligraphy by @heymatthew for the Carolina Pen Co. photo by Murberdraws, and Mr. WellApptDesk (AKA @skylablettterpress) and @designconcussion in conversation about creativity and design at the Karas Kustoms table.

I’ll be doing another post with all the goodies I acquired and, of course, more in-depth reviews of inks and pens in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Notebook Review: Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal A5

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

After my positive experience with the Seawhite of Brighton Starter Sketchbook, I decided to take the Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal out for a test drive. This is their best effort to replicate a better Moleskine Artist’s Sketchbook and they did it. First of all, its a true A5 size. Second, on Amazon, its priced at $12.50. Third, the paper is 130 gsm cartridge paper. And it has 128 pages.

While the Moleskine Artist’s Sketchbook claims to have heavier weight paper, it repels most liquid media making it entirely unusable for me since I like to add watercolor to my sketches. So… after quite liking the 140 gsm paper in the Starter Sketchbook, I was willing to accept a slightly lighter “cartridge paper” to have a light water-receptive paper for sketching at a reasonable price.

The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal cover is a slightly flexible hard cover like the Moleskines and the rounded corners too. Its not a stiff cover which makes it firm enough to support your writing or drawing but not overly stiff. I have other sketchbooks with stiff covers and square corners that could double as weapons. The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal also has a sewn binding and will lay flat with a little training.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

The paper in the Artist’s Travel Journal is a warm white which is quite pleasant compared to the bright white of the Starter Sketchbook. I immediately went to it with pen and ink and watercolor and while the paper did waffle a little bit, it did not resist the paint nor did it pill. WIN.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

I tested an assortment of fountain pens with good luck as well, though the paper did absorb the ink a bit more than Rhodia or other paper more specifically designed for writing. I didn’t have any issues with splining or feathering except with a rollerball and then only very minorly. Felt tip and fine tipped fountain pens behaved well on the paper making it a good book for art journaling, mixed media and dry sketching with light wash or ink.  Its definitely not watercolor paper but it can withstand a little bit of water and wet media. Enough to be a big step up from the Moleskine Sketchbook.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal includes a ribbon bookmark and a gusseted pocket in the back for scraps and momentos as well so all the details are still there. And there’s the vertical elastic. To the untrained eye, no one will know its not a Moleskine unless you tell them. And I would because this book is just better.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

I did a second round of testing because I was feeling it… and with ink, watercolor and colored pencil, I was still thrilled with the overall performance of the paper. Yes, I got a little waffle after it dried but nothing terrible, all things considered. I slapped the elastic around the cover after everything was dry and hopefully that will help flatten things out over time.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

And in my second round of pen tests, I added in more everyday pens like Fineliners, a Pilot G2, some gel pens and a Pilot Precise. I guess I was worried I was feeling too cocky about the sketchbook being good for me but maybe not right for someone else.

Now, I feel fairly confident that if you’re looking for something MORE than just writing paper — that you want more than a Leuchtturm 1917 or Rhodia Webbie because you want to sketch or do some pen and ink or markers or watercolor, the Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal is a good option. Its not the top tier. Its the everyday sketcher. Its a notebook that  doesn’t make me feel like I’m messing up the “good notebook”. Its a “work” book. It good enough to get the bones of a sketch or idea down, capture my everyday adventures and get banged around in my bag. Does that make any kind of sense?

Pen Review: Uni Signo Angelics 0.7mm Gel Pens

Uni Signo Angelics

Since I started doing the #rockyourhandwriting challenge this month in my Field Notes Sweet Tooth editions, I’ve been having fun experimenting with all sorts of opaque gel pens. The Uni Signo Angelics ($2 each) are some of the best opaque gel pens available. The tips are 0.7mm and the pens dry to a matte finish which look great on white paper, black paper or colored stock.

Uni Signo Angelics

I got a several of the colors available to add some pop and flair to my coming #rockyourhandwriting posts. I’m particularly excited to add some of the white gel pen to the colored stock. It just looks so cool!

Uni Signo Angelics

Be warned, these opaque colors do take a bit longer to dry than regular gel pens and are only available in the 0.7mm tip size so they are not as fine as some of the Uni Signos I’ve come to know and love. But for creating some fun artwork and decorative details, these are definitely a nice addition to the pen collection!

Uni Signo Angelics Water Resistant Test

Addendum (4/23/2016): Following Rusty’s comment below, I did a water test to verify if the Angelics were water resistant. I used a water brush over the text I wrote two weeks prior so it was very much dry. Some of the color did bleed but the overall lettering stayed in place. I’d rate the pens “water resistant” but not waterproof. The color faded as a result of the water and some of the luminance was lost. So, if you were to address an envelope with these pens and the envelope got wet, the address would not vanish as a result of the rain but the color would no longer be as vibrant as it originally was. I hope that helps!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Live From Atlanta! Pen Addict Episode #200


Saturday, April 16th, 6:00 pm (Doors at 5:30): The Pen Addict Podcast, Episode #200 LIVE

Brad and Myke are recording episode #200 of the Pen Addict podcast and I have the honor of sitting third chair beside two of the best guys in the pen community.

If you are in Atlanta AND attending the Pens Show AND backed the RelayCon Kickstarter, you can still sign up to be a tickeetd member of the audience for the live recording at the NockCo booth on Saturday but we are limited by the size of the room so it’s first come, first serve.

Once we get all the backers in the room, we will try our best to get anyone else in the room that wants to watch. Hopefully everyone gets in but there is a mximum capapcity on the room size. The event will be livestreaming on Relay.fm/live starting around 6pm EST as well if you are NOT in the Atlanta area if you want to listen and feel like you’re hanging out with us here.

For more details about the event and the after party, check out the post over on The Pen Addict. Thanks for all your support and if you’re at the show, please say hello!

Ink Review: Sailor Bungbox Blue Black

Bung Box Blue-Black ink

Sailor Bung Box Blue Black is also called “4B” and boy, is it another one of those colors I just love. Its a rich indigo blue with a halo of red that gives it such a pop. I decided to test it in the teeny, tiniest pen I own, my Kaweco Liliput with an EF nib — maybe I’m just channeliing the vibe of the teeny tiny Bung Box shop in Tokyo Hamamatsu, Japan (Thanks to Mel for setting me straight!)?

Bung Box Blue-Black ink

The advantage of testing BB BB (Ah, there’s the four Bs!) in a small, fine nibbed pen is that the dark indigo blue-black is dark enough to show even in a fine nibbed pen and the red halo even adds some shading and character to small, fine writing. If you, too, write small or like fine nibs, this blue-black has enough character and shading to be interesting even in such a delicate line. Quite exciting.

Bung Box Blue-Black ink

I put the quarter in the photo above to show how small the writing is, just for scale. But also to show this ink is not waterproof which means it will easily clean out of your most delicate pens. Just don’t sign your mortgage papers with it.

Bung Box Blue-Black ink

And finally, it was hard to narrow down to just a few blue-black ink comparisons because I literally have a dozen to choose from! But I picked the ones that were the closest in hue. Diamine 1864 150th Blue Black and Sheaffer Blue Black both had the same sort of red halo but the actual shade of blue was different. Diamine 1864 is a bit more violet and Sheaffer is a little more on the green side. I included a couple more common blue black inks like Lamy and  Kaweco and they both feel flat compared to the sheen and halo on the 4B. The MontBlanc Midnight Blue is much darker overall and the Caran d’Ache Magnetic Blue has a sheen too but is more denim-y.

So there you have it. Another in a long line of options in the hunt for the perfect blue-black. I think 4B is pretty darn close to perfect. But Sailor really does make delicious inks. Pricey, but delicious. So if you have a chance to pick up a bottle of this rarity, and you like blue-black inks, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


Big thanks to Junee at Alt. Haven for sending me this sample of ink. I love the pen community!

Link Love: Don’t Let the Ink DROP!

rp_link-anaPens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Planners & Organizers:

Other Interesting Things:

Hmmm… Moleskine gets into the Digital Pen Market

Moleskine has introduced its Smart Writing Set, a notebook and digitally-enabled pen that works in combination with an app that syncs with the Moleskine Notes app, Google Drive or Evernote. The notebook is designed with rounded pages to look more like the shape of a tablet. Maybe to visually differeniate it from the regular notebooks? It features 100 gsm paper and NCode encoded pages to help sync with the digital app.

The Pen+ features a tiny camera and internal memory to store digital data as well as an actual rollerball nib. The pen comes with a charging cord as well.

The initial Smart Writing Set is $199 with replacement notebooks selling for $29.95.

I know a lot of people like the idea of analog-meets-digital tools but this seems like a very pricey venture. What do you think?

Review: Jinhao Fountain Pens

Jinhao 886 fountain pens

I received these two little lemon-lime treats from a Desk reader to try out and I’ve been delighted to take them for a test drive. They are the Jinhao 886 “bullet” fountain pens. They are small well-weighted, metal enamel fountain pens at a budget price. They kind of remind me of jelly beans. It looks like they can be purchased through Amazon for about $7.99 a piece with Prime Shipping though the bright yellow color isn’t shown. Alternately you can find the Jinhao for even less on Ebay if you’re willing to brave it.

Jinhao 886 fountain pens

The nib is labelled “18K GP” but I don’t think it means what they think it means. Not for the prices. Maybe the nib is gold plate but that’s not really why someone is going to buy a Jinhao 886. Its a stiff, steel medium nib and not purchased for its “poshness”.

Jinhao 886 fountain pens

The pens are just 5″ long capped and 5.5″ posted. And the caps do post nicely without adversely affecting the weighting. The whole pen weighs 21 gsm capped and filled which is pretty weighty for the little guys. Compact and solid.

Fountain Pen Weights

As for the nibs, stiff. Stiff, stiff, stiff. And a solid medium nib. Which is a perfectly acceptable size and feeling but I have been using so many fine and extra fine and slightly softer nibs that the Jinhao 886 was noticeable nail-like. But I suspect these pens were specifically designed for students and kids so a sturdy nib is probably quite up to the task of grade schoolers learning to write.

But I was really quite charmed by the pens overall. They feel nice in the hand, wrote pretty well right out of the package. I had to do a little light sanding on one nib on a nail buffer but it was cursory at best. And the size and shape is quite nice for we of small hands. Kids and ladies of dainty hands might quite enjoy having one of these pens in their collection. And at the price, there’s no reason not to try them out if the opportunity presents itself.

These would make good pens for experimentation as well. If you are looking to learn to do a little nib grinding, this would be a good pen to test that out. Or want to have a pen with some less-than-well-behaved ink (like Emerald of Chivor or bulletproofs or such), filling a Jinhao 886 would be a good way to have you pen and use it too without concerns about damaging a more expensive, rare or collectible pen. Consider a “play” pen.


Big thanks to MJ for sending these little bon bons!

Ink Review: Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine – Ink of the Year 2016

Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine ink

Oooooo, Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine – Ink of the Year 2016 ($28 for 50ml bottle)! I don’t know what it is with me and the Pelikan Edelstein Ink of the Year Colors. Since I discovered that there was such a thing as a special color each year, I’ve pretty much made a point of either buying or trying each one. The color for 2013 was Amber, then 2014 was Garnet (which is the only one I’ve missed), 2015 was Amethyst and now Aquamarine. Now, I have to say that the Aquamarine is squarely in my “color wheelhouse”. I love this sort of complex, teal-blue-grey so I am so glad to get to try it out. It also makes me not very impartial about it. So bear that in mind.

Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine ink writing sample

I drew the header with a watercolor brush to get a range of hues and intensities and was thrilled with the color right out of the bottle. I seem to forget just how well-behaved Pelikan Edelstein inks are. Then I dipped my Esterbook 2442 stub nib to experience the ink in more “real world” circumstances. There’s a good deal of shading in the ink and the color is deep enough to hold up even with my small, light writing. It just glided across the Rhodia paper stock and dried is a reasonable amount of time. I did not smudge, nor did I time my writing. I just wrote at a regular pace. (Says the overhand lefty.)

Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine ink

I also went back to my Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook and tested the ink on 140 gsm “cartridge paper” and added water to see how it behaved if I wanted to use it as more of a drawing ink and I loved the sea green colors that emerged. Also, the Seawhite of Brighton paper once again performed quite well.  The ink stood up beautifully. Good pairing!

Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine ink comparisons

When compared with some of the many other shades of teal-y blues in my arsenal, it may be hard to discern a difference from the photos. Both Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku and Sailor Jentle Yama Dori have a very distinct reddish halo that Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine does not have. De Atramentis Pigeon Blue is much brighter than Aquamarine and Noodler’s AirCorps Blue Black is a good deal darker, especially once its in a pen. Of course, Aquamarine is a limited edition color and its a bit pricier than some of these others so if you’re looking for similar options, any one of these would be good.

If FOMO is a driving factor for you, than I definitely recommend grabbing a bottle of Aquamarine while you have a chance. If you’re a fan of teal-y blues, that goes double for you!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Baron Fig Squire

Baron Fig Squire open

I recently received the Kickstarter edition Baron Fig Squire in silver aluminum. The pen came in the Baron Fig signature wine soft-touch box, similar to the box that the Baron Fig Confidant notebooks are shipped, nestled in carved black foam. The packaging is appropriate to the pen without being too over-the-top. Generally, as long as the pen is protected in shipping and delivery and the brand is satisfied with its presentation with making the packaging too ostentatious, I’m good. This packaging fit that description.

Several people had mentioned the branding on the pen being a bit much, having both the sword icon etched on one side and the name “BARON FIG” on the other. In the aluminum silver finish, these logos are actually quite subtle and I had to catch the pen in just the right light to see them so I don’t think the branding is too much. Once the pen is removed from the packaging, there really isn’t much to remind you what the pen is. We, as pen nerds, will know its a Baron Fig Squire but the the average consumer, there’s a strong possibility that a year from now, someone would ask them what the pen was and without the brand name on the pen, they might not remember off the top of their head. Since the branding is etched, I also suspect that it will patina over time.

Baron Fig Squire writing sample

The overall aesthetic of the pen is really quite understated in the hand. The finish of the silver aluminum is smooth without being slippery and the shape is comfortable and well-balanced. I was prepared to find the pen either heavy or too masculine but its neither. The writing end is a tad bulbous, aesthetically, but when writing, I didn’t notice it. It just feels pleasant in the hand.

The twist mechanism is unusual. Its a short half turn, if that much, expose the tip, and there is no knurling or texture added to the end for grip so if you have slippery fingers, the retracting mechanism might prove a little annoying. Maybe I’m spoiled by years of Retro 51 with the deep knurling that makes it easy to twist the mechanism even with wet or greasy fingers but the Squire is definitely for a drier pad. With the rollerball refill, you will definitely want to get the tip retracted too or you’ll have a big leak in your bag or pocket. If you swap out the refill with a ballpoint, it would be less of a concern.

One thing I did notice was that the silver finish of the pen pretty much picks up dirt and ink from everything. I was continually wiping smudges off the pen as I used it. Had I known the silver was quite so prone to gunge, I probably would have chosen the charcoal over the silver for a slightly more camouflage approach to dirt. The silver is pretty but clearly I’m messy.

The Baron Fig Squire ships with a branded Schmidt P8127 rollerball refill. Its a little too liquidy for me making my writing appear even more inconsistent than ever. But the refill is something that can be easily remedied. It looks like the Squire will accept a Parker-style capless refill so I’ll probably grab a couple Monteverde fine gel refills in blue-black, black and maybe turquoise ($4 each from Goldspot Pens) and try those out instead.

Baron Fig Squire closed

Overall, I really like the pen. And I say that with a bit of surprise because the pen was so hyped. Not that I didn’t expect the guys over at Baron Fig to do a good job. I did. But the Squire was a bit like a summer blockbuster movie for the pen community. There was so much hype and excitement that I wasn’t sure that actually holding the pen in my hand could live up to my expectations.

But in the end, I am really quite pleased. I suspect I will use it regularly. Its aesthetically appealing, comfortable in the hand and allows me plenty of refill options since I’m a great big picky-pants about that. And isn’t that what you want from a good pen? Something that feels good in the hand and writes the way YOU want it to write?

If you missed out on the Kickstarter and are interested in purchasing a Baron Fig Squire, they are taking pre-orders on their web site for $55.

Fashionable Friday: The Pen Show Edition

FF-penshow

In preparation for the Atlanta Pen Show, I thought it might be fun to put together some great (maybe a little “dreamy”) things to have on hand with you should you venture out to the Atlanta Pen Show, or any pen show.

In your kit, you’ll want to have a notebook with paper you love to test inks and pens. This will give you a personal record to take home with you of what you tested as well as tangible memories. Last year, I filled an entire Midori Traveler’s Notebook insert with pen tests I borrowed and tried from people I met at the show. Its one of my most treasured memories from the show as well as a great resource of pen nib grinds and ink colors. I recommend picking a brand of notebook with good quality paper, no larger than an A5 with a stiff cover so that you can write in a confined space quickly and easily. If you’ll be spending more than a day at a pen show, you’ll be surprised how quickly the page will fill up.

I’ll be packing my planner which has all the schedules of events, a list of contacts and all my reservations, flights and assorted information as well. I can store any business cards or additional paperwork in my planner too to keep it all organized.

You might want to pack a small bottle of your favorite ink. Should you decide to buy a new pen, you may want to fill it up with an ink you know, love and trust.

Alternately, you may want to pack a favorite pen with you should you find that rare, unique ink you’ve been lusting after. Pack the pen clean and empty so its ready to be filled. I recommend your favorite demonstrator to show that new ink to its best. And a trusty, favorite pen to take notes like a Lamy 2000 Multi-system ballpoint.

Of course, you’ll need a carrying case for your pens, both those you want to bring and share and those you may purchase. Depending on how streamlined you’d like your kit to be you might choose a small NockCo case (starting at $12 from NockCo) or large leather zip that can hold 12-pens (starting at $40 from Anderson Pens)

Don’t forget your pack your business cards or calling cards. You’ll be meeting people and will want to be able to swap contact info. Make sure you have a spiffy case for them too.

And finally, you’ll need a bag to carry it all. I recommend a crossbody bag over a backpack as it is easier to access contents and less likely to wipe out a table or other people because you were unaware of the added volume of your turtle shell. I look for lightweight fabrics over leather or canvas for events like this since you’ll be schlepping your bag all day. I’ll be carrying my Kipling Cadie ($109 from Kipling USA) which has both shoulder straps and a crossbody strap so I can switch configurations as needed for comfort.

  • Fabriano Venezia Art Books 6″ x 9″ $14.37 (via Cheap Joe’s)
  • Diamine 150th Anniversary Ink in Carnival (40ml Bottle) $15 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Mophie Powerstation Reserve in (red) $34.95 (via Mophie)
  • Platinum 3776 Demonstrator Fountain Pen $162 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Visconti Traveling Inkpot $70 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Penco Large Silver Clampy Clip $3.50 (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Acme Business Card Case in Charles & Ray Eames Dots $39 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C in Black $20.50 (via JetPens)
  • Filofax Finsbury Personal Organizer in red $70.65 (via Pen Boutique)
  • Lamy 2000 multisystem ballpoint pen €69 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Cadie Satchel $109 (via Kipling USA)
  • Altoids Approx. $1.99 per tin at your local convenience store
  • iPhone or other communication/picture-taking device, prices vary depending on carrier and contract
  • Kurochiku Japanese Pattern Small Eco-Bag in Hanagatami Tsubaki (Flower Basket Camellia) Print $9.50 (via JetPens)
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi Ink (Bamboo Charcoal) (15 ml Bottle) $14 (via JetPens)

What you don’t need to pack:

  • a fishing vest (unless you plan on going fishing)
  • every pen you own
  • all your inks

Happy Pen Show! Hope to see you all there!