Friday Faves: Tina’s Fall List

In our second installation of Friday Fave’s, Tina hopped up and submitted her current faves. She’s added more snacks and more pencils to her favorites. Hopefully, you’ll find some good tools, good snacks and good reads to add to your weekend.

Friday Faves: Tina's Fall Faves

Ordering Sailor Studio Inks from Dromgoole’s (Sponsored Post)

Ordering Sailor Studio Inks from Dromgoole’s (Sponsored Post)

Sailor Studio Col-o-ring Swatches

We have posted about this before but we wanted to let you know AGAIN… in time to get some of the amazing Sailor Studio Inks and have them delivered to you at either the Dallas Pen Show OR the Colorado Pen Show. So, read on, good friends, for all the details!

Sailor has made it quite challenging to get Sailor Studio Inks. They are only available from brick-and-mortar boutique stores and they can only be purchased “in store”. But Dromgoole’s in Houston has made it possible for folks in the US to get these unique and wonderful ink colors by calling their shop and ordering them by phone (No email or online ordering). And then they will bring them to you at one of the upcoming pen shows. Almost instant gratification.

Sailor Studio Col-o-dex Swatches

In the days of internet ordering, this may seem a little arcane but Sailor has a strict policy. So, short of showing up at the Houston headquarters of Dromgoole’s in person, calling on the phone is the only way Sailor will permit customers to purchase the inks without being in the store. (Again, let me be clear – No email or online ordering… Use Ye Olde Tyme TELEPHONE. I know you can do it. I did it and I hate talking on the phone. I ordered TEN bottles last time I called.)

Dromgoole’s makes it super easy. Call them up, give them your list of colors and your credit card number, If you call in now, they can bring your inks to the Dallas Pen Show (or Colorado, if you wait a couple days) and they’ll hand deliver it to you. How’s that for service?

Sailor Studio Col-o-dex Swatches

Order any (or all!) of the Sailor Studio inks ($18 per bottle). The number to call is 713.526.4651. Dromgoole’s is open 8:30-5:30 Monday-Friday and 9-5 on Saturday (CST). They are closed on Sunday.

Call soon to get the best color selection and to make sure your order gets packed in time.

If you can’t make it to these shows, you can order anytime and Dromgoole’s can ship your order to you. Again, the number is 713.526.4651. 

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

All the reviews we’ve done of Sailor Studio Ink reviews are here.

Ink Review: Sailor Studio 223

Ink Review: Sailor Studio 223

By Jessica Coles

A few months ago I reviewed my first Sailor Studio ink – 123. This is one of the most popular inks in the Sailor Studio line up, typically selling as fast as retailers can order it! There’s a good reason for this; Sailor Studio 123 is an incredibly unique ink that contains a rainbow of colors. Since Sailor creates these inks in families that share characteristics while the saturation level varies, I decided to try the closest ink to 123 – Sailor Studio 223 ($18 for 20mL at Dromgooles)!

The label on 223 shows a light to medium grey with cool undertones.

But as soon as the bottle is opened, the underlying characteristics of the ink begin to show. The cap shows blues, purples, and pinks.

The swatch card also started revealing the complex miix of Sailor Studio 223. The ink has an overall color of grey, but has a main tone towards pinkish-purple. the edges of the heavier ink applications show blue and green halos with a very slight sheen of black.

In writing, the ink can vary as well. I chose a Sailor Zoom nib to demonstrate the difference your nib selection can make. As you can see, shading is present even in an extra fine nib (in this case it was actually a Zoom nib writing upside down).

To show the relationship to Sailor Studio 123, here are the two ink swatches with Papier Plume Bayou Nightfall for comparison.

Grey. Grey is a tough color to pin down since it can swing from warm to cool but still be filed under the general term of grey. These were the closest greys I had, with Papier Plume Oyster Grey being the winner.

So what makes up this color shifting ink? I used a paper towel to catch stray drips as I filled the Sailor. This is the most saturated of the stray drops. No water was added.

Another drop spread out farther:

This last example was one where I added a bit of water so the colors could spread further. I’m fairly certain the entire rainbow is present.

Sailor 223 may actually be my newest favorite Studio ink since it is more legible in normal writing. For those who admire 123 but dislike pastel inks, try 223 instead. Plus it isn’t sold out everywhere!


If you have ever tried to purchase Sailor Studio inks, you know how tough it can be to find a store selling it, pay for the shipping and wait for the slow boat to make its way overseas (unless you are lucky enough to live in Japan). Good news! Sailor has recently started allowing sales of these small bottles of sunshine by select retailers in the US. However, Sailor did put a restriction on these sales – orders for Sailor Studio inks can only be taken over the phone. Dromgoole’s was kind enough to provide this bottle of 223 for review and you can find ordering instructions here. The entire staff is great to talk to when ordering and if you order before the Dallas Pen Show, you can pick up your ink at their table  – no shipping cost!


  • Paper: Nanami Seven Seas Writer ($26 from Nanami Paper), Col-o-ring cards ($10 from Well-Appointed Desk)
  • Pen: Bungubox San Fransisco Sailor with a Zoom steel nib ($230 from Bungubox)
  • Ink:  Sailor Studio 223 ($18 for 20ml bottle from Dromgooles)

DISCLAIMER: The ink in this review was provided free of charge by Dromgoole’s for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Hubba Hub Love

Pelikan Hub 2019

Just two more days until Pelikan Hub 2019 and it feels like my whole world is revolving around this Friday night worldwide party. Of course, this is the first year that I am a hubmaster. Can you believe it? As an introvert, throwing a party makes me want to throw up so it’s taken the better part of a year to work up the energy and courage to do this. But I think I’m ready. I couldn’t have done it without help from Laura (my sidekick in blog writing, knitting, tea drinking, road tripping, and all-around best bud) and Bob (Husband #1) and many folks from our local pen club who have offered to bring food and drinks. It takes a village to organize a good party!




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

New words to learn

Other Interesting Things:

Notebook Review: North of Rosemont

Review by Laura Cameron

Last month North of Rosemont contacted us and asked if we’d be interested in trying their pocket notebooks. Of course I wanted to try!

North of Rosemont is headquartered in Montréal and produces pocket size notebooks based on a few key principles.

To use only the highest quality, premium paper. To be sturdy and stylish for everyday use. To be made in Canada yet remain affordable.

NO+RO generously sent me a pack of two notebooks ($14.95 CAD), one in the Deep Blue color and one in the Grey 67 color.

Let’s start from the beginning: the outside. The covers of these notebooks are made out of 100lb paper with a vellum texture. The Deep Blue and Grey 67 are colors in the permanent collection, and it looks like there are other colors available as limited editions. The books are staple-bound.

Inside each notebook are 48 pages of 70T bright white paper, with NO+RO’s signature dot grid. The grid is actually made up of little crosses rather than dots! The paper is advertised to be high quality and super smooth and the second part is definitely true! There are also grey and white speckled front and end pages.

The interesting thing about these notebooks is that they are advertised as “smart size” and have 20% more surface area than regular pocket notebooks. This means that rather than being the standard size of 3.5″ by 5.5″ (9cm x 14cm), they are 4″ x 5.75″ (or 10cm x 14.5cm). While I’m often of the school of thought that more is better, at these dimensions, your notebooks may or may not fit in your pocket notebook covers (something to be wary of).

I do have to say that the paper in these notebooks is excellent. It is actually super smooth, and ink goes down beautifully and dries super quickly. The paper does show some ghosting and a bit of bleed through in heavy applications (where I added extra strokes on my letters), but with regular writing and fountain pen inks, both sides of the paper could still be used easily which is always a sticking point with me.

Overall, I was pleased to try North of Rosemont and I look forward to their future offerings!

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

Vinta Inks Overview

Vinta Inks Overview

Vinta Inks are the newest collection of inks to roll up on the shores of the US thanks to the keen eye of ink maven Lisa Vanness at Vanness Pens. Coincidentally, Vanness Pens is currently the only vendor stocking the ink. Vinta Inks are made in the Phillipines and the line currently features a range of 20 colors: 15 standard, shading/sheening inks and 5 shimmering inks ($12.50 each).

Vinta Col-o-ring swatches

Each ink ships in a 45ml brown glass bottle, packaged inside a white cardboard box. The packaging is lovely and the brown glass has an apothecary vibe while also protecting the ink from light. The only downside of the packaging is the ink names printed on the bottles and boxes is minuscule and in a script face, exacerbating the legibility issues.

Regarding the inks specifically, I think the ink can be grouped into a couple categories beyond how Vinta organizes them. In the sheening inks, there are several inks that really do sheen but others that are more traditional shading inks, and then there’s a third group that mimic the ever-growing category of “magic” inks (a term coined by Nick Stewart regarding the Sailor Studio inks). And finally, the separate category of the shimmering inks.


Vinta Sheening Inks

There are four truly sheeny colors in the line, three are super sheeners. Andrata is not as sheening but is still a deep, dark color. The other three are, to steal a term from the cosmetics industry, dupes. Sundungo Sikatuna is a dupe for Krishna Jungle Volcano and Dugong Bughaw and Maharalika are dupes for Organics Studio Nitrogen. Dugong has slightly more of a red-pink sheen than Nitrogen or Maharalika. But, IMHO, it’s a matter of preference which you’ll prefer if you like that sort of super-sheening blue, Dugong of Maharalika as they are fairly similar once they are in a pen.

Vinta vs Organics Studio

Vinta Dugong vs Organics Nitrogen

VintaMaharalika vs Organics Nitrogen

Vinta Vs Krishna

Vinta vs Krishna Jungle Volcano

When comparing Sundungo to Jungle Volcano, both inks sheen from olive green to fire red-orange depending on the light. The two photos above show both inks with light hitting them at various angles.


Vinta Shimmering

In the shimmering inks offered by Vinta, only Julio features a silvery/opalescent metallic chip. The other four colors all use a gold flake. In Santa Cruz, which is a bright orange, the gold chip fades into the color but in the darker colors like Piloncitos and Kosmos Blue, the gold flakes are much more evident. Julia is a very pale orchid pink shimmering ink that is also a bit of a “magic” color as it reveals its true tone as it dries.

Vinta Julio

Julio is pictured above.

Vinta Julia

A close-up of Julia in natural sunlight.

Vinta Blue Kosmos

Kosmos blue shown above in full sunlight. Pretty cosmic!

Vinta Piloncitos

Piloncitos really comes alive when light hits it.

Vinta Santa Cruz

Finally, Santa Cruz definitely evokes orange-y sunrise colors.

The metallic particles seem fairly small but I have not had the opportunity to test these extensively to establish if these are easier to distribute the particles and easier to clean than other shimmer inks. So, like with all shimmer inks, proceed with caution in using the shimmer inks the first time out.

Standard Shading:

Vinta Shading Inks

In the standard shading inks, the most popular colors are Lucia Deepwater (a medium blue with gray shading), Leyte Sea Kelp (a medium dark olive green) and La Union (a deep red magenta). There are two yellow shades as well, Hanan Sunrise which is a golden shade with a slight green undertone and La Paz (not pictured, the only one I didn’t get a bottle or sample unfortunately as it was sold out originally. It’s back in stock now) which a bronze yellow. Finally Carlos Emerald, a very deep forest green which shades only slightly due to the darkness of the color and Karnival, a medium green with a bluish undercast.

I love Lucia, Leyte and Karnival from this set.

Magic Inks:

Vinta Magic Inks

Magic inks are the newest category of inks — inks that change color as they dry.  The most notable inks currently available that display these charateristics are the Sailor Studio inks but Vinta has four in their line.

The most popular of the Vinta magic ink colors is Maskara by a long shot. It goes down more of a purple-y grey color and as it dries becomes more bluish and reveals it’s pinky shading. While Maskara is not exactly Sailor Studio 123 or 150, it is definitely in the ballpark. It’s less expensive and much easier to acquire.

Sirena is a more green grey that becomes more vibrant as it dries, revealing a sandy shading. It might be similar to Sailor Studio 162. Armada is a muted grey-green/teal but darkens as it dries which intensifies the colors. Perya is a pale sky blue with a lavender undertone when dry. (I’m sure there are colors similar to both of these in the Sailor Studio Ins but I don’t have access to the full swatches in person. Take a peek at Nick Stewarts swatches or Kelli at Mountain of Ink and see if you spy a similar ink.)

Vinta Armada Aegean

The above swatch is a close-up of Armada. There is a whole array of deep sea colors in this ink from reddish purple to turquoise.

Vinta Maskara

This is a swatch of Maskara completely dry. It dries to a vivid reddish purply blue. So many tones!

Vinta Sirena

This is Sirena (don’t tell the other colors but this one is my favorite). It is 100% mermaid magic containing shades of green seas and pinky sand beaches.

Vinta Perya

This is a close-up of Perya. This ink writes very lightly but dries to a vivd aqua with hints a purple.

Be sure, after looking at the close-ups, to scroll back up and look at the writing samples again so you can see, in the writing, the nuances of these closes-ups, in the writing.

While the sheening and shimmering inks from Vinta are immediately eye catching, these magic colors are the truly stunning colors to me.

Finally, Vinta Inks donates a portion of the profits that it earns to Teach for the Phillipines to give writing kits to kids. So, on top of creating beautiful ink, Vinta is committed to making a difference in their community.


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

Pencil Review: Cretacolor Graphite Aquarell

Review by Tina Koyama

In July, I attended the 10th annual International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam. Aside from barely surviving a record-breaking heatwave of temps up to 107 F, I had a wonderful time with my tribe of 1,500 sketchers from around the globe. It was my sixth symposium since 2013.

One of the many benefits of attending the symposium is receiving an enormous swag bag that gets better every year. This year was no exception, and I took home an embarrassment of riches from generous sponsors (see the full haul on my personal blog). To share some of the wealth, I’ll be reviewing some of the swag products now and then. Today it’s the Cretacolor Graphite Aquarell pencil. (By the way, the Cretacolor tin with the symposium logo is one of my most prized possessions from each symposium I’ve attended!)

Austrian-made Cretacolor water-soluble graphite pencils come in three grades: HB, 4B and 8B. Shown side by side, you can see that the grades vary, but not as much as ordinary graphite pencils in the same grades. If I’m using a water-soluble graphite pencil, I usually want the wash to be as dark as possible. For my money, I think the 8B is all I would need. It can still be applied lightly by minimizing pressure.

The only other 8B graphite pencil I have is a Uni Mitsubishi Hi-Uni, so I compared them. While the Cretacolor feels just as soft, it isn’t quite as silky-smooth as the Hi-Uni. The Cretacolor’s core, however, is a bit thicker. (Cretacolor shown on the left.)

In the tree sketch, I activated the 8B with water sparingly to enhance only the areas with the darkest value. Tiny touches with a waterbrush will bring out a rich, dark wash very quickly. I love the beautiful tonal variations that are possible with this one water-soluble graphite pencil just by varying the pressure and applying a little water. It’s especially nice on toothy paper (I used Stillman & Birn Beta).

I probably won’t be using graphite much during the remaining colorful days of summer and fall, but I’d like to give this pencil a more solid try during the drab days of winter.


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