Fashionable Friday: Getting My Stitch Fix On

FF-StitchFix

I’ve been working so much over the last few months that I have genuinely not had time to grocery shop, clothes shop or do any other kind of shopping. To the point where I actually started wondering if I could hire someone to shop for me. “Can I get an intern to run errands for me?” When I uttered this, a co-worker asked if I’d tried Stitch Fix. I hadn’t heard of it and she explained that it was an online personal shopping service that will select five items of clothes and accessories based on your surveys, price points and Pinterest boards and ship them to your home. You decide what you want to keep and send back what you don’t want.  Should you not like anything, you are charged a $20 “styling fee”. I was so desperate for someone to bail me out of my clothes rut that I was willing to take a chance. I joined the service, filled out the survey and waited for my first box to arrive.

Now, if you’ve met me, you know I’m not the most ordinary looking human and might be a bit of a challenge to style for. But the stylist assigned to my case did a good job for the first box. Of the five items I was sent, there was really only one item I didn’t like and it was the shape and cut of the blouse, not the color which was a bright vibrant, royal blue that was at issue. There was a black and white cardigan that was lovely but too big that also went back but otherwise, my box was a hit! I got two new fit-and-flare dresses that were wash-and-wear — one in grey and white lattice pattern and one in navy with white polka dots. The last item was a white flared skirt with a graphic black pattern on it that I love. I’ve already worn all three items twice and looking forward to my next box.

My girlfriends use another subsciption service that caters to ladies who wear a broader range of sizes called Dia & Co. and they highly recommend it as well. So, if Stitch Fix doesn’t offer your size, you might want to consider Dia & Co.

If by chance you do decide to give Stitch Fix a try, if you use this referral link, I can get a referral credit. I didn’t decide to do this Fashionable Friday in hopes of referral credits, so don’t feel obliged to do so, but it sure would be nice if you did.

  • Lamy Logo fountain pen Twilight (special edition 2016) €36.90 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Mark’s Tokyo Edge A5 Planner 2017 in Yellow $28 (via JetPens)
  • Diamine Safari Fountain Pen Ink (40ml Bottle) $15 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Filofax Original Monochrome Personal Organizer $94 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • CDT Brush Pen $48 (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Star Wax Seal $29.95 AUD (via Kustom Haus)
  • Paperblanks Mini Journal – Ori Ripple, Lined $12.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Platinum Balance Fountain Pen with Fine Pen $43.20 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Pilot Namiki Ink Bottle in Black $12 (via Pen Boutique)
  • Caran d’Ache Genius Pencil with Stylus 2-pack $13 (via Goldspot Pens)

Pen Review: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black Fountain Pen

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

Once again, my dear friend Kasey was kind enough to loan me a pen. This time, it was his beloved Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black. I laughed when I pulled it out of the box because it is the absolute antithesis of the only other Sailor pen in my life right now. Where the Sailor Imperial Black is matte black finish with ruthenium trim, my Sailor Pink Love Pro Gear Slim is ridiculously vivid pink with metallic sparkles embedded in the material. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting Imperial Black and Pink Love next to each other in a strange “opposites attract” sort of way. And to be honest, its totally true.

Fountain Pen WeightsFrom a purely technical standpoint, I was delighted to have an opportunity to try out a full-sized Pro Gear and discover that it is not nearly as large or heavy as I anticipated. Compared with the Slim model, its really only about a half an inch longer and only slightly wider. Weight-wise, the Pro Gear is only 4 grams heavier at 24 gms than the Slim which weighed in at 20 gms, capped and filled with the converter. Compared to a Lamy AL-Star, which is a bit longer than the Pro Gear, the weights and width are quite comparable so really, the Pro Gear is a a fairly light but solid feeling tool. I’d almost describe it as compact. Especially with the Imperial Black since all the design elements are understated making the pen feel very clean and functional but at the same time very classic and elegant.

Within minutes of putting the pen to paper, I started researching how much it was going to cost me to get my own Imperial Black. Seriously. Fo the record, there are not many of these beauties left in the wild. Anderson Pens still has some in stock with a broad nib for $472.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

Part of the expense of this Imperial Black is that this particular model of Pro Gear came with the 21K nib instead of the more common 14K nib. Wow. This particular pen has the medium nib. And as is common with Sailor pens, the medium nib is actually quite fine and actually a bit crisp so the line has a lot of character. Its not often that I get excited about a medium nib, but this one is quite something. There’s nothing “medium” about it.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

When I put it next to the music nib on the Pro Gear Slim Pink Love, the Imperial Black looks slim, delicate and all business. The Pink Love looks a little bulbous. It does show the vast range of nib size differences within the Sailor line though.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

In writing, the medium nib 21K is absolutely buttery. It was conducive to writing at any angle and as a left-handed writer this is a big deal. I could write over-handed, under-handed, or side-writing with the lightest of touches and the nib glides on the paper. The medium nib handled my small handwriting with no issues, I seldom had the counters of my letters fill in even using 6mm guide sheets.

I really was blown away by this pen and am seriously considering purchasing, if not an Imperial Black Pro Gear, than at least a Pro Gear, in the near future. It is a beautiful writing tool and the Sailor medium nib should be renamed something more poetic. Maybe the “majestic” nib. That’s what that “M” really stands for.

Link Love: Deep, Papery Thoughts

Link artwork by Chris Grine, illustrator of the web comic Wicked Crispy.
Link artwork by Chris Grine, illustrator of the web comic Wicked Crispy.

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Planners & Organizers:

Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

One Book July: Halfway Point

One Book July Halfway

I have to admit that after more than two weeks of One Book July, I’m about to lose my mind. I already fell off the bandwagon by putting a pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook in my purse so that I have a portable-sized notebook for jotting notes on the go.

So my first downside to One Book July is not  always having a book that fits in my bag or pocket.

One Book July Halfway

Then, there’s the issue of the whole Bullet Journaling system… its not been my strong suit. I have been planning several trips that are coming up in August and October. Normally, I’d write all the details down in my Filofax which I keep a whole year in the binder at a time. With a Bullet Journal, there’s the need to write and re-write things in sections like “Forward Planning” and a monthly list and then later in the weekly pages. With my Filofax, I only have to write it down once in the weekly page and maybe on the monthly pages if its an all-day event or something that extends several days. So, that’s the next issue I’ve faced – I miss my Filofax.

I don’t really like keeping my personal notes in the same book with my work notes either. I seldom need my work notes once I’ve gotten home. I do tend to think of things I want to do when I get home or over the weekend while I’m at work so I do tend to carry my personal notebook back and forth with me. So its been weird to try to keep all the notes in one notebook. I’ve ended up cheating and keeping a lot of work notes on 3x5s and sticky notes rather than in my notebook just so I don’t have to keep the notes in my One Book July. So, its another fail for me.

One Book July Halfway

I know I need to continue for another two weeks to be true to the One Book July challenge but I’m not sure I can handle the compromises for two more weeks. I know it sounds ridiculous to need more than one notebook to survive but I’m that OCD.

On the plus side, I really like the the Midori MD notebook ($16) I’ve been using. The paper quality i excellent and has held up to all the pens and pencils I’ve used with it. I purchased the plastic cover ($3.80) for it which has made it feel much more durable and provided pockets to stash loose paper and keep the cream paperboard cover from getting dirty. I will certainly continue to use the Midori MD notebooks in the future. It’s some of the best paper I’ve used yet if you don’t mind the ivory cream stock.

One Book July Halfway

I wonder if I had chosen a Traveler’s Notebook with multiple booklets, if that would have more easily fulfilled my need for work, personal and calendar needs as well as being able to pull out a booklet for portability sake? It’s something to consider for next year.

Ask The Desk: Refills, Reuse, Notebooks & KC Tourism

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Mishelle is in search of:

Looked through the list and I didn’t see this cross gel ball point listed. I was wondering if you know if it would be an option for a render k. I currently have a fine liner in there now but I’d like purple something (like) Cross Selectip Gel Rollingball Pen Refill.

I went to the knowledge source of all things refill, Tom at Goldspot Pens (AKA Refill Finder) and here’s what he recommended:
g2-refills-selectip-parker-style-comparison
“The great thing about the Render K (especially the G2 version), is that they adapt to be able to use so many types of refills, and even include a spacer you can size down to fit your refill of choice. The Cross Selectip measures at 4.375” in length, which is about the same size as the international rollerball at 4.39″ They do make a rollerball in purple ink.
Cross also offers selectip porous-point refills, which is the same as saying felt tip. However, colors in the felt tip type are limited to blue or black. No purple there! I went through the Schmidt and Monteverde catalog to find a felt-tip that had purple ink, but no luck there either. If purple must absolutely be had, I’d go with the purple G2 or the Cross Selectip Purple.

Sharpie Pen Retractable

Michelle asks:

I have faux-chrome and black push button versions of the Sharpie retractable pen. When they inevitably run out of ink, I am loathe to discard them–especially the nicer ones which are becoming harder for me to find locally. I know they are not refillable, but have you heard of any way to reuse/hack/upcycle the bodies?

It turns out that I lose the retractable Sharpie pens before they ever actually dry out so I’ve never gotten to the point where I could actually test whether I could disassemble them. So, I went out today and bought another 3-pack in  the name of science and short of actual destruction, I couldn’t figure out any way to disassemble the barrel.

Does anyone else have any idea of a way to reuse or recycle the Sharpie retractables?

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Gentry asks:

Out of all of the notebooks, what is your favorite to write in. I am on the quest to find the best notebook. I am currently trying out a Piccadilly, Leuchtturm1917, and a Moleskine and am looking into the Baron Fig Confidant currently. Any suggestions on better notebooks would be awesome.

Notebooks are such a personal preference as it comes down to a balance between cost, form, paper, ruling (or not) and any added features (do pockets, elastics, etc make or break a notebook for you) that what I favor may not, in the end, be what you favor.

Of the notebooks you listed, Gentry, for value, I really like the Piccadilly. Its not the most durable but it has reasonably good paper and overall quality for under $10 and that’s hard to beat. However, with regular wear and tear, the binding will often give out, as will the elastic which can make the notebook look as cheap as it is.

So, if you’re looking for a “buy once, cry once” product, the best in category of the ones you’ve listed is definitely the Leuchtturm1917. While the build quality of the Baron Fig is excellent, if you’re inclined to use wet rollerballs or fountain pens, you will not love the paper.

If you like using fountain pens, you may also want to consider the Rhodia Webnotebooks or the QuoVadis Habana which features Clairefontaine paper which is so conducive to fountain pens.

Image via wikipedia
(Image via wikipedia)

Jonathan is coming to Kansas City:

My wife and I will be attending PlannerCon in September and were wanting to know what places we cannot miss in KC while we are there.

First, congratulations on getting tickets to the Midwest PlannerCon. It looks like its shaping up to be a good event. As for places to visit in Kansas City, I assume you are looking for pen-and-paper related stops? So, I recommend Maker Goods in Westpost with a stop at Char Bar if you want to partake in some fine BBQ cuisine in a casual environment. Or grab some bagels from Mesuggah Bagels on 39th St. or donuts from the local institution Lamars Donuts.

At Crown Center, there is the only pen shop in town, The Pen Place, but you can also grab a slice from Spin Pizza while you’re there or a concrete from Sheridan’s Frozen Custard. Its near Union Station and the KC Aquarium which both offer touristy activities should you be looking to entertain yourself for an afternoon.

In the Crossroads, near Crown Center is Hammerpress which creates letterpress cards and also sells an assortment of stationery goods. Its not far from the Up/Down arcade, the Roasterie and Boulevard Brewery which both host tours.

And in the Country Club Plaza area is Paper Source along with lots of standard shopping, eating and drinking fare. Its close to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which is a diverse museum with a fabulous gift shop. Their courtyard restaurant is also a nice place to hang out as is the  wide front lawn with the epic (and iconic) shuttlecocks.

Friday Favorites: Things That Are Making Me Happy This Week

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This week was a particular challenge for me. Work was BRUTAL. So, instead of a Fashionable Friday, I’ve decided to to do a little wrap-up of things that made me happy this week, in spite of long hours at work and some rough projects. Consider it my version of a gratitude list.

I hope you get a kick out them. Some are pen, paper and work-related. And some are definitely not.

  1. Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away… I became a Star Wars nerd. I will always be a Star Wars nerd. This Behind-the-Scenes Rogue One Footage gave me New Hope (via Wired)
  2. Handwritten, A Place in Space for Pen & Paper is a lovely little diversion full of the written word. From grandma’s handwritten recipe cards to grocery lists and scrawled notes.
  3. Polaroid Swing iPhone App is a photo app with one second worth of motion. Far more interesting than Boomerang, IMHO. (via iTunes store, review article via Wired)
  4. Pokemon Go iPhone App. As a recovering Ingress addict, I knew what I was getting into. on the plus side, its a game that gets me off my butt and outside, walking around. Its exercise for nerds. (via iTunes Store, game play tips via Forbes)
  5. First Draft Hardbound and Cloth-covered Notebook with Elastic Band in Brick Red $22, is another in a long line of notebooks to consider. (via First Draft Co.)
  6. Blackwing Volumes – Vol. 56 (12 Pack) $24.95. This might possibly be my favorite Blackwing Edition yet. (via Pencils.com)
  7. Field Notes Byline Edition. I’m warming up to this unusual format and enjoying the lovely paper stock. (via Pen Chalet, Goldspot Pens, Pen Boutique, and more)
  8. Fisher Space Pen 50th Anniversary Black/Gold Bullet Ballpoint Pen $35. While other folks are busy talking about the 50th anniversary of the the Lamy 2000, I am enjoying the 50th anniversary of the Fisher Space Pen. Its understated, classic and affordable. Sign me up! (via Pen Boutique)
  9. Lihit Lab Smart Fit Actact Wide Open Pen Case in Yellow Green (of course but it is available in other colors.) $20.50. As soon as I saw this I bought it and it arrived this week. I’m thrilled with its usefulness and color. Its not as big as I thought it was going to be which is both a blessing and a curse. (via JetPens)
  10. Silver Brush Black Velvet Watercolor Brush Round #6 $11.55 I’m excited to try this synthetic fiber watercolor brush considered to be one of the best options available. It just arrived today so I’ll be experimenting this weekend. (via Wet Paint Art)
  11. My dear friend bequeathed her Momiji Birdie & Bowie Doll set to me which I sat in front of my computer this week and made my long hours a little bit more bearable. Sometimes, its the little things, isn’t it? (via Momiji)

Digital Life: Evernote Alternatives

Evernote Plans

There have been lots of articles floating around the internet this week following the announcement that Evernote was changing its policies regarding how it was handling its accounts. Now, if you want to use the service on more than two devices, you must pay for their premium service to the tune of $34.99/year for their Plus account or $69.99/year for their Premium account though their are offering the Premium account for a year at half price to entice folk over to the paid service.

I’m not exactly a “power-user” of Evernote but I like being able to access notes across multiple devices (iOS, web and home computer) so I think I’ll try to find a different solution sadly. Or maybe a couple different solutions. Sadly, my work computer does not allow me to install any applications so whatever options I choose need to have a web interface.

I have collected some recipes in Evernote over the years but mostly I have various snippets, half-baked ideas, some lists and idea starters and an assortment of links stored in Evernote. I don’t usually use it like a paper notebook, it tends to be things that are copied and pasted from a digital source to a digital source, like URLs or in preparation to be digital content.

Google Keep

I had several folks recommend Google Keep as an option which offers a web based interface as well as an iOS (and Android of course). It has a very “sticky note” aesthetic and allows for checkbox lists, image embeds and categorization labeling. It ends up looking like a tidy wall of sticky notes and has tagging. There is a plug-in for Chrome to automatically add content to Keep from a web site and options to move content from Keep to Google Docs so if you are already entrenched in the Google camp, this might be a good candidate for you.

OneNote

Microsoft OneNote is another candidate though I cringe at the idea of utilizing another Microsoft product. I’ve already adopted Outlook on my iPhone as a legitimate alternative to Apple’s kludgey Mail app which neither filters junk mail nor handles Gmail with any sort of efficiency so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Microsoft is quietly creeping in with alternatives that might actually be useful. It works across just about every possible platform and looks to be designed to integrate seamlessly with Office products, though for me that’s not as big a selling feature.

Another solution might be to use Apple’s Notes app which is available across the iPhone, iPad and the desktop. Of course, this only works if you’re fully invested in the Apple ecosystem. I am fully invested in the Apple ecosystem but I’m not sure I can take advantage of it at work because I cannot connect the work station to my Apple ID so I can only access it via the iCloud interface via a web browser which does not allow the addition of images as anything other than links. There is minimal formatting options on the web version.

SimpleNote

The last option I’m considering is Simple Note. I’ve already been using it to a certain extent in combination with an older version of Notational Velocity (NVAlt) which will sync to Simple Note on my iPhone and the web. Notational Velocity hasn’t been upgraded in years and NVAlt has also been left to languish for some time so the default Simple Note apps and web interface are your safest bet. The biggest downside for Simple Note is the absence of any support for images. SimpleNote does support Markdown and tagging which is nice. But its still a pretty stripped down option in comparison to all the bells-and-whistles with Evernote.

With all of this research, I’ve determined that the bottom line is that I no longer want to have multiple places where my data detritus is saved. Evernote’s ultimatum is forcing me to set aside some time to merge and purge data and files and get them all in one place and then choose one system to use to its fullest extent.

Are you an Evernote user presently? Are you sticking with the service or jumping ship? If you’re leaving Evernote have you chosen a new service yet?

News: Blackwing Volumes No. 56 Joe DiMaggio

BlackwingVolumes56-JoeDiMaggio

Just in time for the All-Star Game is the Blackwing Editions No. 56 Joe DiMaggio edition. In white lacquer and classic blue pin stripes and topped with a blue eraser, the No. 56 pays tribute to the “Yankee Clipper,” the baseball legend who hit safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941.

This edition of the Blackwing features a firm core and the classic extendable eraser in blue. I received my shipping notification yesterday so they should arrive in my hot little hands by this weekend. While I’m not a diehard baseball fan, I love the nostalgia and classic good looks of this edition and I’m quite looking forward to it. Subscribe to get your own Volumes or buy this edition here.

Link Love: Shiver Me Carobs?

rp_link-ana.jpgPens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Planners & Organizers:

Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Ink Review: Waterproof, Permanent Inks

Waterproof Inks

During an episode of Art Supply Posse, Heather mentioned that she didn’t realize that most fountain pen inks were water soluble. I held my tongue because I already had a pile of waterproof fountain pen inks in my arsenal and I was ready to test and share them with folks but I didn’t want to derail our conversation at the time. I’ve collected a few waterproof, permanent fountain pen ink options currently available. These are a little bit more finicky to use since they can dry out in a pen and become difficult to remove so I would not recommend putting them in fancy “grail pen”. However, if you have an assortment of lower-priced fountain pens in your collection and are looking for a permanent ink for addressing envelopes, using with watercolors, or for signing documents, then one of these inks might be a great option to add to your collection.

I’d recommend using them with a pen like a Lamy Safari, a Platinum Carbon Desk Pen, a Pilot Metropolitan or maybe refilling a Preppy. You can also use these inks with dip nibs. Just remember to clean out the inks every couple of weeks to make sure that they do not dry out in the pen.

Waterproof Inks

The Platinum Carbon Black is an excellent ink. I find it incredibly well-behaved. I’ve been using it in my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen for almost a year and I have yet to clean it out thoroughly. I occasionally dip the tip in water and wipe it with a rag to clean off a bit of the built up carbon build-up but it is one of my go-to pens. It’s refilled three times with both cartridge and bottled Carbon Black and performs beautifully. I also put some Carbon Black in an old Platinum Preppy and it works fine too.

That said, I was willing to try some of Platinum’s Pigment inks — the Sepia ($16 for 60ml bottle) and Rose Red ($1.25 for a 3ml sample) specifically. I went ahead and purchased a full bottle of the the Sepia knowing that a good permanent sepia brown is something I needed to have in my collection and I’ve been using it in my Lamy Joy. I’ve refilled it several times already and been quite pleased with the performance of the Sepia so I went ahead and got a sample of the Rose Red as well. I wasn’t sure if I’d need want a whole bottle of rose red ink but, upon using it, I really quite like it. It wasn’t as pink as I expected it to be. It’s more of a warm red. I liked using it to draw. Though I’m still on the fence as to whether I’d use a whole bottle of it.

Waterproof Inks

I also purchased samples of an assortment of De Atramentis Document Inks in Yellow, Fuchsia, Dark Blue, Blue, Green, and Turquoise.  Easch sample is 3ml and costs $1.75. Full bottles are $18.50. The most interesting aspect of the Documents inks, beyond the permanence, is their mixability. I purchased what was essentially the building blocks of printer’s inks — cyan, magenta and yellow to mix with my carbon black in an effort to make some of my own colors in the future. I was inspired by some of the ink color experiments that Liz Steel has done for her field sketching.

The one issue I found was that the turquoise color was a bit runnier than the other colors. I imagine mixing it with one of the other colors might help a bit but I was disappointed with the runnyness. The yellow was also too light to use without mixing with another color but is nice and bright so it would be fun to mix to brighten a darker color.

Waterproof Inks

All-in-all the permanent colors are definitely more experimental. I am fairly confident recommending the Platinum Carbon Black and the Platinum Pigment Sepia though as I’ve been a pretty disrespectful pen owner and they have both worked flawlessly in both my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen ($9.60) and in the Lamy Joy ($28) with an EF nib ($13) so you should feel confident using those and Liz Steel praises the performance of De Atramentis Document inks so I think those should work pretty well long term as well. But I’d still proceed with caution and be prepared to tweak as needed for performance and color.


Thanks to Pen Chalet and Anderson Pens. Both are sponsors of this blog but I purchased all the pen, inks and samples shown here with my own money.

Art Supply Review: Pfeiffer Art Supply Handcrafted Watercolor Paints

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

I was really excited to be able to purchase the handmade watercolor pans from Pfeiffer Art Supply. They are listed as non-toxic and come in either half- or full-pans. Half pans are currently $6 each and full pans are $12 which is a very good price. There are currently 14 colors available in their line-up, each named after a bird. I purchased eleven out of the 14 colors as a few were sold out and I decided to skip the Crane White as I don’t often use white when I watercolor. Otherwise, I purchased almost the full range and I’m really glad I did.

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

The pans came filled to the top and can have a strong magnet included on the bottom if you add a note in your order. Pfeiffer uses small disc magnets that are a bit thicker than the flexible sheet magnets I normally use on my watercolor pans but are much stronger magnets. It did make the Pfeiffer pans uneven in my watercolor kit with my other pans as a result though. If you plan on using this set independently it wouldn’t make a difference but since I ended up adding the Pfeiffer pans to my everyday watercolor set, the Pfeiffer pans ended up sitting a little higher than the others which I found a little distracting. In the future, I think I will have Pfeiffer send me pans without the magnets and I’ll use my own sheet magnets so all the pans sit at the same height.

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

Now, let’s talk about the colors. The colors were actually quite bright and vivid. While the pans were dry, they wet easily and the colors mixed well. I was able to use just two colors in the palette to produce several additional colors I was concerned were missing from the pan like a more warm yellow, an aqua and a more indigo blue very easily while I was swatching colors.

The colors on this smooth paper had some light granulation. I have since used the paint on some more textured paper and its just as nice.

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

In painting, the paint also re-wets easily making it easy to rework areas. I love the Heron grey. I don’t normally like black watercolor paint but this light neutral helps with soften and mute the brilliance of the colors to create more subtle tones. The Heron grey is great for doing a simple tonal sketch too.

#worldwatercolormonth day 5 peach iced tea @pfeifferartsupply #schmincke #handbookjournal

A photo posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

I painted this sketch using a combination of Pfeiffer watercolors and Schminkes and used the Heron grey for the shadows. This was painted on Global Art Materials Travelogue Watercolor paper which is a cold press watercolour paper so you can see a bit more of the granulation and pooling of the colors.

Pfeiffer watercolors also mixed nicely with my other watercolors so its easy to add one or two colors to an existing palette if you don’t want to invest in a full array of colors. I’d recommend trying a few, maybe even whole pans since the prices are so reasonable. I really like the Macaw Blue, Cardinal Red, Goldfinch Yellow Ochre and Motmot Green as well as the Heron Grey if you’re looking for colors to start with.

There’s still lots of time in World Watercolor Month so what are you waiting for?

Fashionable Friday: Opulence & Glamour

FF-opulence

Somedays, I am struck by the glamour and opulence of high fashion couture. The Spring Dolce & Gabbana Spring Collection came to my attention this week and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The velvets, furs, over-the-top embroidery, operatic details and lush details had me imagining all sorts of occasions to wear such finery. It also immediately reminded me of the release of the J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre shimmering brown and golden ink so I knew I had the makings of a Fashionable Friday.

Unfortunately, technology slowed me down a little this week so it took even longer than usual to get this post up. I think it may be time to consider a new laptop soon. Ugh. In the meantime, I’m going to fantasize swooshing around in the burgundy tulle gown with intricate gold embroidered bodice while writing with the fabulously ornate Visconti Davina Royale fountain pen in a luscious Paperblanks notebook and not standing in front of a snot-nosed Apple “genius” telling me how happy I should be spending my precious shoe money on a new laptop.

  • Dolce & Gabana Gowns from the Alta Moda Haute Couture Spring 2016 collection (via Vogue)
  • Sailor Jentle Four Season Fountain Pen Ink in Tokiwa-matsu Ink (Pine) (50 ml Bottle) $20 (via JetPens)
  • J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Caroube de Chypre Bottled Fountain Pen Ink $26 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Wax Seal Stamp Symbol in Fleur de Lis $29.95 AUD (via Kustom Haus)
  • Paperblanks Lined Midi Journal in William Morris Iris Pattern $16.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • J. Herbin Brass Seal Script “W” $11 and Wood Handle $14.50 (via Jet Pens)
  • Graf von Faber-Castell Heritage Alexander fountain pen in green lacquer guilloche €1480 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Visconti Davina Royale Fountain Pen in Peau D’Ange $695 $417 (via Pen Chalet)
  • J. Herbin Kings’ Sealing Wax with Wick in Forest Green, Pack of 5 for $30 (via JetPens)
  • Waterman Hemisphere Privee Rose Cuivre CT Fine Point Fountain Pen $107.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Diamine Tyrain Purple Fountain Pen Ink (80ml bottle) $15 (via Pen Boutique)
  • Barstock Fountain K with Phenolic body and Brass Cap As configured $110 (via Karas Kustoms)
  • Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue Fountain Pen Ink (75ml Bottle) $30 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Super Gold High Class Rubber Eraser $9 (C.W. Pencil Enterprise)

The Great Eraser Rub-Off Challenge

Eraser Off

After appearing on the Eraser episode of the Erasable podcast, I decided to fully test all the erasers (and then some) that were in the awesome CW Pencil Enterprise eraser pack as well as some of the erasers that were mentioned on the episode. Some were long time favorites of mine and others were new-to-me goodies so I thought it was time to do a side-by-side comparison.

The challengers:

The tools:

The papers:

Eraser Off

The first phase of this experiment was to test each eraser on the smooth, everyday paper. I chose Leuchtturm1917 which is a warm white, smooth paper. I wanted to test three “everyday pencils” as well as three colored pencils that might be used by people who might want to add color, sketches or more creative elements to their notes or everyday notes.

Eraser Off

For regular graphite, most of the erasers were acceptable. The Koh-i-noor Thermoplastic Hexagonal “throwing star” and the Kohi-noor Pebbles were the least effective on the Leuchtturm1917 but for daily writing, they were acceptable. The Staedtler Mars Plastic, the Tombow, the Sakura and Pilot Foam and the Campus Plastic all performed above expectations for graphite erasing.

Eraser Off

What was most surprising to me was that the Foam erasers by Sakura and Pilot usurped by beloved Staedtler for the best eraser when erasing the colored pencil markings from the smooth Leuchtturm paper. And the unusual and rare-as-a-coelacanth pink Campus Plastic Eraser also did a better-than-average job of erasing both graphite and colored pencil too. Not that I’m biased against pink erasers but it was pink and scented or at least swee-smelling so I wasn’t expecting it to be a top-performer too. The Koh-i-noor Pebbles did a good job of erasing the Col-Erase on the Leuchtturm which was a bit of a surprise.

Eraser Off

In an effort to be completely thorough, I also decided to test the erasers on the toothier Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook paper which allowed some erasers to really shine where others had a lot more challenges. The Pebbles struggled on the textured surfaces but the Tombow Mono, Campus Plastic and Staedtler Mars Plastic all did well. The Sakura Foam and Pilot Foam erasers did quite well too.

Eraser-off eraser challenge on #stillmanandbirn alpha sketchbook paper.

A video posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

The Pebbles struggled on the textured surfaces but the Tombow Mono, Campus Plastic and Staedtler Mars Plastic all did well. The Sakura Foam and Pilot Foam erasers did quite well too.

 

Eraser Off

The finalists: Tombow Mono and Pilot Foam.

Runners-up: For toothy paper, Staedtler Mars Plastic. For smooth paper, Koh-i-noor Pebbles.

Most likely to smell good: Campus Plastic Eraser (could not decide if it was scented or not but it smelled sort of sweet).

Still coolest looking: Koh-i-noor Thermoplastic

DISCLAIMER: Some items were sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Other items I purchased myself. Please see the About page for more details.

Podcast: Episode 6 of Art Supply Posse: Cats-up & Bullying

Art Supply Posse Ep.6This week on Art Supply Posse, Heather and I discuss surviving bullying, being brave, making art, Sketchbook Skool and a backlog of follow-up. And we still didn’t get to it all!

This week’s artwork was created by my lovely co-host, Heather Rivard using her new Schmincke watercolors. Pop over to the web site to listen to the whole episode, get the iTunes subscription link and leave feedback about the episode. Thanks!

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Link Love: Summer Lull

Link artwork by Chris Grine, illustrator of the web comic Wicked Crispy.
Link artwork by Chris Grine, illustrator of the web comic Wicked Crispy.

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Notebooks & Paper:

Planners & Organizers:

Other Interesting Things:

Pencil Review: Prismacolor Col-Erase 24-Color Set

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencils

While researching other artist’s recommended drawing tools, I found several who recommended Prismacolor Col-Erase and since I tend to favor the Prismacolor Premiers but had never used the Col-Erase, I thought I’d see what the appeal was.

Most artists mention a preference for the Col-Erase, not because they actually erase very well but because they do not smudge so the lines they put down stay where they put them and the lines are light enough that if they ink over them, when they photocopy or scan their artwork, the original pencil marks don’t usually show up if they use a light color like light blue or non-photo blue.

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencils writing sample

Generally speaking, I found the pencils to be very smooth to use while they also maintained a point quite well in use. Some colors were harder and required a little but more pressure to show up than others. For example, the Carmine Red was much softer than the Vermillion. Why? I don’t know. But for laying some underlying sketches, these pencils didn’t smudge like a graphite pencil does.

With a standard white plastic eraser like a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, I was able to erase some of the marks but not all of them. The eraser included on each pencil is a pink rubber eraser which worked abysmally. Its purpose was clearly to look classic only.

The pencil marks made by Col-Erase are also water soluble so if you plan to use the pencils in combination with watercolors, the marks will move but depending on the colors you choose, it could enhance your artwork rather than muddy it like graphite might.

The Col-Erase pencil marks did not smudge as much as graphite. Certain colors were more prone to smudging like the black, dark blue and brown but the lighter colors did not smudge without serious effort or a burnishing tool.

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencil Sketch

These little drawing were done along the margin of the page after I did the eraser tests so the heads are no bigger than small coins so the sharp points of the Col-Erase pencils do allow for fine details and quick doodling.

Did I mention that the 24-color box I purchased was acquired on Amazon for $10.96? Cheap. Hard to resist at that price. Its actually cheaper to purchase the whole box than to buy these open stock. Most art supply stores sell these individually for about $1 or more per pencil. Even Dick Blick sells the 24-pencil set for $11.50.

If you’ve never tried the Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils, the price point is low enough that a box of 24 is well within most pen-and-pencil addicts’ range. Their good point retention and loyalty by the comics illustrations and animation industry should be reason enough to peak your curiosity.

Once again, CJ is hard at work. This time, as a photo assistant. She's holding my light bounce... but not very well. She decided it made a better car bed.
Once again, CJ is hard at work. This time, as a photo assistant. She’s holding my light bounce… but not very well. She decided it made a better car bed.

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Pencil Review: Red & Blue Pencils

Red & Blue Pencils

I can’t think of anything more patriotic than red & blue pencils. And boy, have I amassed a collection! I just love these things. Some red/blue pencils were originally designed to be “copying pencils” in that they could be wet to transfer writing to a copy like a mimeograph. Others were for copy editing, colors denoting specific changes. I’m sure there are other arcane uses for them that have been lost to the annals of time. I like them as a way to carry two colored pencils in one stick, for portability.

Red & Blue Pencils

All the red/blue pencils I tested out were purchased in the past year or so meaning that these are not all that hard to find. The prices range from about $1 to about $3 with the average price for a red/blue pencil being around $1. The Caran d’Ache BiColor 999 was the most expensive, as was to be expected at about $2.80 but worth every penny.

Red & Blue Pencils

I tested each of the pencils by doing a little test scribble, an erased scribble and a wet scribble to see if the pencil was water soluble for both the blue and red leads.

The Artesco Bi-Color pencil was notable for being a rounded triangular shape which was comfortable in the hand. It was slightly water soluble but not too bad. Sadly, I don’t remember where I found this particular pencil. If someone else knows where to find purchasing information about this model, please let me know.

There were only three of the pencils that were very water resistant: The Tombow 8900 VP ($6.84 for a dozen), the Charles Leonard, and the Pedigree Empire. All three are smooth round barrel pencils. The Charles Leonard ($4.99 per dozen) was the scratchiest of all the red/blue pencils that I tried. The Pedigree Empire was a decent performer overall but was another pencil that I’m having trouble tracking down where I purchased it. If you want a non-water soluble red/blue pencil I would recommend the Tombow 8900 VP. The color is smooth, rich and dark. The finish on the pencil is fabulous too. Being able to purchase the Tomow 8900 VP via Amazon for under $7 per dozen is totally worth it. Grab a box and share the love with friends, family and kids in your neighborhood.

The Mistubishi Colour Pencil 2637 ($1 each) is also a beautiful Japanese pencil. I got what is known as the 70:30 which is 70% red and 30% blue. Why? Maybe its used mostly as a correction pencil so the red color is used most often and the blue is the STET part?… if you ever worked in newspaper, you’ll know STET is the shorthand for “nevermind, don’t make that change” in a Latin abbreviation I can no longer remember. All you copy editors out there leave a comment if you remember what it means. I’m just guessing here… Anyone know?

The Mitsubishi is also available in a standard 50:50 split ($1 each).

The Harvest Thick 725 and the Pedigree Empire 603 are the only red/blue pencil still made in the USA by the Musgrave Co. though I think the Pedigree have since been discontinued. The Harvest Thick 725 ($0.50) and the Musgrave Hermitage Thin ($0.40) are still available. The Harvest Thick is a good, durable red/blue pencil at a very reasonable price. It does not react to water that much so it would be good for base drawings and its made in Tennessee so it doesn’t have far to travel for most US pencil enthusiasts.

Then there’s the Brevillier Urban Copying Pencil Nr. 1925 ($24 per dozen) which, when wet, gets that lovely aqua color in the blue that is common of indelible pencils. The red end does not seem to be water soluble however. The blue also erases pretty easily which is pretty nice if you wanted to use it for sketching. Overall, it is a unique pencil and worth squirreling a dozen away in your collection, if you are a pencil pack rat like I am.

Red & Blue Pencils Red & Blue Pencils

And finally, the king daddy beaucoup of them all, the Caran d’Ache BiColor 999 ($2.80 each) which is the most water soluble, most luscious AND also most expensive of all of the red/blue pencils. I love it but because it literally melts like a watercolor pencil with water, I treat it more like a watercolor pencil than a regular colored pencil.

So, if I were to recommend three red/blue pencils to try, I’d tell you to get the Tombow 8900 VP, the Harvest Thick 725 and a Caran d’Ache BiColor 999. Even if you bought a dozen of the Tombow and one of the Harvest and the Caran d’Ache, you would still only be spending about $10 and you’d be a very happy, very patriotic camper. Don’t forget a good pencil sharpener. Because these pencils are a bit wider than your average #2, I’d recommend a sharpener with a wider opening or one specifically designed for colored pencils.

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Photo of the Day: Maker Goods Haul

Maker Goods Haul

I plan to do reviews of many of the products I purchased at the local eye candy, shop-of-wonders, Maker Goods, but I thought I’d tantalize you with a photo first. Proprietor and woman-of-many-talents, Felicia Koloc hand marbelled the fabric and then beautifully stitched the pencil case pictured above. She also makes them in leather but they were a bit out of my price range. The selection of pencils and included NOS Col-Erase as well as a wide assortment of imported Japanese pencils. So much to choose from, it was hard not to buy them all.

I also picked up a Maruman Mnemosyne notebook and a clever A4/3 notebook which is designed to fit A4 paper folded in thirds and includes a pocket in the back to hold such items. It even included instructions on how to fold up your A4s to fit.

If you happen to pass through Kansas City on your travels, this is definitely a place you must visit! I’m going to make sure it’s on Tessa’s handy dandy stationery map right now.

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Fashionable Friday: Aloha

FF-Aloha

In my mind, I spend every summer in hibiscus prints, on my surf board with a Mai Tai in one hand and flowers in my hair — even though I’m landlocked, pasty-pale and nowhere near a salty, tropical sea. This year is no different. So, hang ten with me no matter where you are or what the thermometer says!

  • Dresses from the Wedding Collection on Modcloth
  • Bowana Hawaiian Tiki Mug $5.99 (via Retroplanet)
  • Retro 51 Tornado Popper Surfin Rollerball Pen $49 (via Goldpspot Pens)
  • Platinum Mix-Free Fountain Pen Ink in Aqua Blue $20 (via Vanness Pens)
  • Noodler’s Neponset Acrylic Fountain Pen in Coral Sea $75 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Field Notes Cherry Wood Edition (Pack of 3) $9.95 (via JetPens)
  • Render K Pen in Turquoise $70 (via Karas Kustoms)
  • Flights of Fancy “Skirt the Rules” Tote $348 (via Kate Spade)
  • Singapore Sling Tiki Cocktail Recipe (via Think.Make.Share. Blog)
  • Pelikan M205 Special Edition Transparent Blue Demonstrator Fountain Pen $140 (via Pen Boutique)
  • Wax Seal Anchor Stamp $29.95 AUD (via Kustom Haus)
  • Caramba Green Heels €288 (via Chie Mihara)
  • Hibiscus Honey Nail Polish $10 (via Hula Polish)

Jinhao X750 + Zebra G Nib Hack + KWZ Green Gold 2 Ink

Jinhao X750

I found a fabulous flexible nib hack over on Parka blogs and nothing says “let’s mess with a cheap pen” like a rainy day. Throw in a cool ink sample from Vanness Pen Shop and an urge to be a little tweaker and off I go.

This hack will work with either a Zebra G (Titanium pack of 10 for $33.50 from JetPens) or Nikko G nib (3 for $4 from JetPens), whichever you have available to you. Warning: you may or may not damage your pen, so proceed with caution. It is a fun hack and most Jinhao X750 pens can be purchased for $10 or less so its not a huge investment, no matter what happens. I purchased mine from Goulet Pens, the Shimmering Sands model for $9.90.

I followed the instructions in the Parka Blogs video as well as doing a little feed modification à la Leigh Reyes’s tutorial for modifying the Ranga to try to get the nib to lay down a little bit more flush with the feed by using an X-Acto to shave a bit off the feed.

So, for a grand total of $13.50 I had a wonky, but functional, flexible nib fountain pen. Its a little bit finicky and could probably use a little bit more work to make it consistent but it works. I occasionally have to dip it in water to keep it working but it writes much longer than a regular dip pen. I might just need to add more fins in the feed and since the feed is plastic it might not be as ink receptive as the Ranga’s ebonite feed.

Why did I do this hack when I had a perfectly lovely Ranga? I already owned a box of Zebra G nibs and Jinhao X750 and I was bored. The only reason I would recommend this hack over the Ranga is that it is considerably less expensive and it is considerably easier to acquire the Jinhao X750 in the US than a Ranga at this time. But if you have the means, the time or the patience to get a Ranga or a Desiderata instead, the overall experience is better. But for a quick-and-dirty option, this hack is definitely an option.

Jinhao X750

Now, let’s talk about the lovely KWZ Green Gold #2 ink. I picked this up while I was working the Vanness table at the Chicago Pen Show. Lisa said I would love it and she was totally right. Its a lovely green, golden color as decribed in the name. Pantina gold would be another way to describe it. It shades and colors nicely, ranging from a light golden wheat to a dark brown depending on the density of the color.

Jinhao X750

This is not a water resistant ink so its a good candidate for playing around since it will clean out of the pen and feed easily.

KWZ Green Gold 2 ink comparison

KWZ Green Gold 2 is definitely more yellow thank Bung Box 88 and Diamine Safari but its a deeper yellow gold than Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. A full of KWZ Green Gold 2 60ml bottle is $12 and a 4ml sample is $1.50. Pricewise, its much closer to the Safari than Bung Box or Pilot Iroshizuku.


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

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Podcast: Art Supply Posse Episode 5

Woot! Episode 5 of Art Supply Posse is live and we are getting better. Heather got it edited and posted by noon today!

This week is part two in our on-going series on markers. We discuss brush pens — the whys, the types and the what-fors — plus Heather gets her first “big girl” pan watercolor set and we try to figure out the difference between pigment, dye and ink.

Enjoy! And now you can leave comments on the Art Supply Posse site too! Don’t forget to jam out to our new theme song.

Link Love: The One with All the Barons

Link artwork by Chris Grine, illustrator of the web comic Wicked Crispy.
Link artwork by Chris Grine, illustrator of the web comic Wicked Crispy.

Pens:

Inks:

Pencils:

Paper and Notebooks:

Planners & Organizers:

Other Interesting Things:

One Book July Challenge

Midori MD Notebook cover

This year, I’ve decided to try the One Book July challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to use one book for planning, journaling or whatever for the entire month of July. I heard about the challenge last year but it was well after July so I put it on my calendar for this year. I wanted a chance to pick one book and focus on my system rather than the book for a change. Originally, it was set up to be a one book and one pen challenge but, in watching the videos and following along, the challenge is flexible to challenge yourself to find way to simplify your personal planning system, journaling or whatever will help you to personally find a way to streamline.

Midori MD Notebook Pen and Pencil Tests

In order to make this work, I wanted to find a book that was clean and  simple but with good paper so I chose the Midori MD with blank pages.  I knew it had good quality paper but was won over by the complete lack of ornamentation. The cover of the book is plain ivory cardstock that matches the thick, smooth ivory paper inside. I printed out guide sheets in both grid and lined to use with it and decided I’d try the Bullet Journal system that would let me plan, list, journal or do whatever — all in one book. I’ve never really figured out how to use the Bullet Journal system before so this has been a bit of an adventure for me and I’ve done a lot of research to figure out how to best utilize it for myself. Basically, I ended up having to watch Ryder Carroll’s video about ten times and then just jumping in with both feet and hoping for the best. I’m using the book for my planning, notetaking and as my logbook.

The only thing this book can’t handle is a lot of water media like watercolor so it wasn’t up to doubling as a full-blown sketchbook. Since I also want to participate in the World Watercolor Month project, I’m allowing myself a second book — one sketchbook to use specifically for this project. I haven’t chosen which specific sketchbook I’ll use but I have a couple more days to decide.

For me, my biggest issue was to stop carrying around FIVE or SIX notebooks and planners at one time and reduce down to just two books is a huge reduction. Along with this, I pared down my daily carry to a smaller zipper pouch, carrying a reduced selection of colored pencils, a mechanical pencil, a few felt tip pen, a  brush pen, a couple fountain pens and a small set of watercolors and a travel brush plus a back-up waterbrush, which is considerable downsizing from the 100 Pen Case.

Midori MD Notebook Monthly Bullet Journal

The goal of this project is to focus more on making this month with what I have rather than wasting time trying to decide which tool I should use. I’m looking forward to spending a month focusing on content and filling notebooks.

For more information about One Book July, check out the videos posted by Rhomany and Carie Harling, two of the hosts for the online challenge this year.

Note: This challenge will not affect product reviews. I will continue to review notebooks, pens and other products throughout the month but my personal planning and notetaking will all take place in the Midori MD. I will try to do a couple updates throughout the month to update how I’m doing in the challenge as well.

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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.

Ask The Desk: Anything Goes!

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Judith asks:

Will you be attending the DC Pen Show in August?

Judith, I’m delighted to say that YES! I will be attending the DC SuperShow in August. I’ve already purchased my plane tickets and Lisa from Vanness Pens has graciously offered to let me help out in their booth again after Chicago so I guess I did okay. So, if you are looking for me, I’ll be the pink hair behind the Vanness table during the day and the exhausted pink-haired girl at the bar after hours.

Samantha asks:

Any leads on where to find stylish, high-quality customized pencils?

Is that leads or leads? Was the pun intentional? I suspect it was… Anyway…I was under the impression that Pencils.com offered custom Blackwings but I could not find a link on their site. They do have a section of custom pencils but do not provide much information to the overall quality of these pencils though I am sure you can email to ask about options.

Dixon also has a promotional section on their site for custom Ticonderogas and the like. These aren’t the best pencils but better than completely no-name options.

Finally, CW Pencil Enterprise offers a very simple, gold foil stamped Musgrave pencil created by hand on their vintage Kingsley Hoil Foil Machine. Only one font choice but its pretty nice. There’s no minimum order and there’s more details about costing on their site.

Depending on quantity, the possibility exists that someone somewhere would be willing to work with you. Does anyone else have recommendations for good quality custom pencils?

Berta asks the baffling question:

Do the holes on an A5 sheet match up with the holes on a Franklin Covey Classic sheet? AKA, will A5 inserts fit in a Franklin Covey Classic planner?

If I read your question correctly, I have some unfortunate news. The A5 Sheets used in a traditional Filofax have only 6 holes while the larger Franklin Covey sheets have 7 holes. And they do not align at all.

Philofaxy did a great post with a photo to show how much the holes do not align.

Charles warns:

Oh No Ana, you have made my craving into a full blown addiction! What am I to? And here I thought it was just an innocent little twinge of ” ooh, I want that, and that, and if I get this I must have that.” Is there any hope? I may have to seek professional help.
You have many links. Do you have one that can help me?

PS : this has been a joke! Had it been an actual plea, you would have been redirected to…

Where? There’s a cure? If so, I need it too!

Do you have a pressing pen, ink or paper question for The Desk? Use the link in the header “Ask the Desk” and send me a question and I’ll try to find an answer for you and post it in the next edition of Ask The Desk.