Link Love: Jibun Techo Mania!

Posts of the Week:

Its seems that, all at once, everyone is talking about the Jibun Techo planner by Kokuyo. Its not the Hobonichi Techo.  It’s a different kind of planner — it does not include the page-a-day section but it does feature the coveted Tomoe River paper. Inside there is an option for three books: the planner itsef, the LIFE book (a perpetual notebook with details about all sorts of long-term activities like a family tree, and other life events) and the IDEA book (a grid notebook). The design is more modern and there is a lot more options for data tracking.




Paper & Notebooks:

Art & Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Fountain Pen Review: Ranga Bamboo Slim from Peyton Street Pens

Fountain Pen Review: Ranga Bamboo Slim from Peyton Street Pens

When I’m at the San Francisco Pen Show, I make a point to check out the the Peyton Street Pens table. They carry some of the most unusual items, particularly pens from the Indian manufacturer Ranga as well as many amazing restored vintage pens.

This year, I picked up an ebonite Bamboo Slim model made by Ranga in solid green with a fine italic JoWo nib that was ground by their in-house nib meister. I love how the seam of the cap is hidden so completely by the grooves of the bamboo design. From that standpoint, the pen is the most “novelty” design I’ve ever purchased but the ebonite and slim shape is incredibly comfortable in my hand and the fine italic grind makes writing a pleasure as well. What initially turned out to be a bit of a last-minute, impulse purchase at the end of a long pen show weekend has become a bit of an everyday carry for me.

The grip section is long enough to be comfortable to hold for writing for long periods of time which was surprising because again, it was a bit of an impulse purchase. I thought the pen was charming.

The nib is a standard JoWo nib but being at the show allowed me to get a slightly more customized nib option. This is a fine cursive italic nib which came with a slight upcharge but was well worth it to me.

The best part of this pen, of course, is the writing experience. I love writing with it. From the day I bought it in San Francisco, I’ve had it filled with PenBBS #224 Tolstoy which is a perfectly olive-y green ink. It’s like writing with bamboo.

What I did discover is that while the cap does post on this pen, I do not recommend it. It looks ridiculous for starters and the material around the  cap is not strong enough to handle the wiggling that is required to put the cap on and off the end of the pen to post it without cracking. As you can see, within a few weeks, I weakened and cracked the ebonite around the edge. I’m hoping that I can get it repaired before the piece breaks off. So… don’t post your cap, even though I know you want to! The pen is long enough without it. The pen is 5.25″ long uncapped and 5.75″ capped.

Weightwise, it comes in at 16gms uncapped and filled with the converter . Capped, it weighs 20gms.

I recall the final price for the pen to be around $100-$120 with nib and material which looks to be the listing price on Ebay and their site. With a standard nib, the price is about $72 which is a great price!

While it doesn’t look like Peyton Street lists this particular pen color and nib configuration (they recommend if you want the fine italic nib to choose “no nib” and then go to the nibs section and choose the JoWo #6 nibs and select the custom nib units) on their web site, they often list pens on their Ebay site, including several of the solid ebonite Bamboo Slim models.


Pen Review: White Pen Comparison: Sailor Mini Correction Pen and Uni Posca

Review by Tina Koyama

While urban sketching, I occasionally have need for an opaque white pen with a tip fine enough to make small highlights or write the lettering on a street sign. I’ve tried quite a few white pens, and many are either not opaque enough or not fine enough. Lately I’ve been using a Sakura Gelly Roll. Its opacity is so-so, but a larger problem is that gel ink is water-soluble, so if I use it over watercolor pencils or dried watercolor, it can activate the medium underneath, and they mix together.

I set out to find a better option. Two that I spotted recently are the Sailor Mini Correction Pen (1.0) and the Uni Posca Paint Marker (extra fine).

The Uni Posca has a firm, porous bullet tip similar to some brush pens I’ve used. It can make varying line widths depending on the angle that the tip is held to the paper. The Sailor has a metal sleeve around the tip like many technical pens. Both should be shaken vigorously before using (you can hear an agitator inside each). Both should also be primed a bit on scrap paper first to avoid getting a blob of ink that hasn’t mixed properly. Both pens get brownie points for being non-stinky!

First I tested the pens against the Gelly Roll on two kinds of black paper: Stillman & Birn’s Nova sketchbook and Strathmore Grayscale paper. The two papers are sized differently – Nova is a mixed-media paper that can withstand some liquid; Strathmore is made for dry media – so the white inks appear subtly different. I think they are both slightly more opaque on the Stillman & Birn. The Strathmore Grayscale has a strong texture, which was a bit of a problem for the Posca’s porous tip. It occasionally snagged on the paper’s tooth, causing the ink to splatter.

As always, the kind of paper used with an ink can strongly influence its effect. Just for fun, I also tried the Posca on the black cover of a Field Notes Lunacy notebook. It looks slightly less opaque than it does on either of the other black papers I tested. (The moral of the story is that I may have prematurely rejected some insufficiently opaque pens by using them only on one type of dark paper or another. They might have had better effects on other papers.)

Next I made swatches of watercolor, waited for them to dry completely, and then scribbled over the swatches. Both are more opaque than the Gelly Roll, and the Sailor is the most opaque of the three. The Posca surface crackled – that was an unexpected result. Most important, neither mixed with the watercolor and turned pink as the Gelly Roll did. When I run a waterbrush over the two inks written on plain paper, they are both waterproof after they have dried.

Finally I made swatches of dry watercolor pencil and of watercolor pencil activated with water (allowed to dry completely). The Sailor again remained more opaque in both cases, and again, neither ink mixed with the medium underneath.

In terms of opacity, I prefer both the Sailor and the Posca to my old Gelly Roll. The Sailor, in particular, is probably the most opaque white pen I’ve used. Unfortunately, its tip is too large for most of my writing needs, but I will definitely be using it for other purposes where I want a broader mark. Though broader than the Gelly Roll, the Posca’s tip is fine enough for most of my writing needs (it helps that I have large handwriting).

As for that old Gelly Roll? I discovered that it has a hidden talent. It was nearly out of ink, so I used it to inscribe the paper. Then I applied colored pencil over it, and voila! The writing appeared magically. (Moral of this story: Test for hidden talents before throwing anything away.)

To learn more about pens with opaque white inks, be sure to check out JetPens’ informative Guide to White Ink Pens.

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

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

Pencil Review: Red/Blue Combo Redo

Pencil Review: Red/Blue Combo Redo

I have loved Red/Blue editing pencils for ages. Every time I find a new one, I buy a few more. I have been delighted to see that many of my favorite online stationery shops continue to find new sources for red/blue pencils. There are several theories surrounding the original uses for red/blue pencils and I think many occupations found uses for the red/blue editing pencils. Folks in the publishing and editing world used the red for editing notes and then the blue for STETs, potentially or for the second pass of editing and proofreading. Map makers might use the colors to indicate land and water. But today, some people use the colors for bullet journaling for to do lists and other indications in their planners.

I use them for drawing as I can ink over the red or blue and then scan the artwork and drop out the R or B channel and VOILA! the pencil marks disappear. Also, the material used in a red/blue pencil is usually wax or oil-based rather than graphite so it tend not to smear as much as a traditional graphite pencil so for a lefty, it tends not to smear so much for me.

Some red/blue pencils are erasable, some are not. And then there’s the Caran D’ache 999 which is water soluble. BONUS!

The pencils I tried:

The price range shows that some of these pencils are definitely more utilitarian while others are definitely more premium.

If you are looking for a firm point with rich color for writing or checking, I’d recommend the Prismacolor Verithin. The color is good and the point stays pretty sharp. The price is reasonable for a box of a dozen and they are readily available. If you want a softer point and budget priced, then go for the Harvest Thick 725.

After testing them, I cherry-picked out the ones I liked the best and, of course, they were the more premium pencils from mostly the Japanese brands. The Tombow 8900, the Mitsubishi 2637 and the Kitaboshi 9667 were my favorite from the Japanese manufacturers. These all come in about $1 per pencil individually but can be purchased by the dozen fairly reasonably on Amazon.  I also love the Caran D’ache 999 Bi-Color, partially because of its water solubility though some might want to avoid it for that. I’m willing to pay $3 per pencil for these. They are creamy smooth and wet well. I’d compare it to the Swisscolor watercolor pencils. Its not quite a Supracolor but its pretty good.

I tested all the blue pencil colors and all the red colors together to show the variations in the shades of red and shades of blues. I liked seeing the wide variety of color. Some of the reds are warmer and closer to orange, others are more fire engine red. And in the blues, the colors range from an indigo to almost a sky blue. I know some of the manufacturers purposely chose warmer reds for the checking pencils to be less stressful on students in Japan. You may find that you like a warmer or cooler red or blue on your checking pencil.

Sometimes I just like to sketch with these pencils because I like the color combinations. It’s a bit like sketching with a Magic Pencil without the chaos factor. Then I can add in the water solubility of the Caran D’ache for a little highlighting and I have a super portable sketch kit.

The cat drawing was done with the Prismacolor Verithin which is definitely a much cooler blue and red color. The larger face is a combination of Caran D’ache and one of the Japanese pencils which all use warmer reds and blues.

Overall, if you like to annotate your writing, notes, or planner, you might find a use for a few red/blue pencils. If you like to draw, you might also enjoy tucking a few red/blue pencils into your travel kit as they make a fun, fast way to add color to your art or sketches. Not to mention, red/blue editing pencils are a part of stationery history and tradition.

Do you use them? If so, how?


Friday Faves: Halloween-y

  • “Beware of the Thing”  letterpress print $5 (via Skylab Letterpress on Etsy)
  • Spooky Cat Halloween Pin $12 (via Rather Keen on Etsy)
  • MT Mosaic Greyish Washi Tape $3.50 per roll (via CuteTape)
  • Papier Plume Peacn Fountain Pen Ink $12 for a 50ml bottle (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Coral Fountain pen $744.95 (via Appelboom)
  • Flipflop Pocket Notebook £2.99 (via Say Nice Things)
  • CDT Wooden Tape Dispenser $110 (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Pelikan M200 Smoky Quartz Fountain Pen $148 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Montegrappa Fortuna Merry Skull Fountain Pen €360 (€297,52 Outside EU) (via
  • Block Printed Blank Card (Set of 6) $16 (via Versa Notes)
  • Diamine Pumpkin Fountain Pen Ink (80ml Bottle) $14.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Diamine Shimmertastic Caramel Sparkle Ink (50ml Bottle) $20 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Pilot Style Choice Carbon Multi Type Pen Case in Wine Red $18 (vis JetPens)

Tag Team Review: Karas Pen Co. Decograph Fountain Pen

Tag Team Review: Karas Pen Co. Decograph Fountain Pen

Review by Laura Cameron (and Ana Reinert)


Since both Laura and I have ended up purchasing or acquiring several of the same products, we have decided to do some “tag team” reviews where we provide two points of view. Since our pen experience levels differ and our tastes differ, sometimes our opinions will be similar and sometimes they will differ. We hope you’ll enjoy these posts.

Ana: I was lucky enough to pick up the Karas Pen Co. Decograph at the “unveiling” at the San Francisco Pen Show in August. The fabulous crushed green glass-look material used for my pen body is limited edition and not yet available in wider circulation. It’s ever-so-slightly translucent. In the right light, I can see the converter but its absolutely luminescent. The cap is the standard black thermoplastic with the aluminum finials and stainless clip.

The lighter weight of the thermoplastic material makes the Decograph easy to hold and the material warms in the hand like vintage pens.

The absence of a cap band gives the Decograph a sleek, streamlined look. This was made possible thanks to some clever engineering details inside. There’s a steep step-down inside the cap that keeps the grooves of the twisting far enough away from the edge of the cap that it will prevent cracking, thus avoiding the need for a cap band. So… the pen gets the streamlined look of a vintage pen without the fatal flaws of a cracking cap that plagues those old gems.

I paid to upgrade the nib on my Decograph to a Bock 14K gold EF.  I’ve not used the Bock gold nibs before I felt this was a good opportunity to indulge.

I don’t have a lot of experience with the Bock gold nibs but there is a nice bit of spring (not flex per se) and since the Decograph is lighter than a Fountain K or INK, the light, springy nib in a light springy pen creates a bouyant writing experience.

As a lefty, I had no issues writing with the stock gold EF nib. It had good line variation and will work well on the variety of paper stocks I have to use at work.

A lot of comments have been made about the Decograph packaging, both good and bad. The pen is definitely the most upscale creation from the Karas Pen Co. and it seems fitting that the packaging reflect this. The aluminum tube harkens to the roots of the company’s original products and creates a lovely protective keepsake for the Decograph that is reminiscent of the tins that Fossil watches come in and shaped a lot like Retro 51s come in which were based on the tubes from lots of vintage pens.

That said, the packaging idea came to the Karas team after the pen was designed. It is an add-on to make the Decograph that much better and was not added to increase the cost of the pen as might have been suggested on chat forums.

I’ve used the Decograph on and off since August and enjoyed it a lot. It’s aesthetically very appealing. For me, the weight and balance is spot-on and I love the gold EF nib. I think its priced competitively with other turned, custom pens of this caliber. The details and finishing are excellent. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Decograph.


As I’ve said before, I love a good, weighty fountain pen, so it’s no surprise that I really love my Karas Kustoms Fountain K.  I was interested, however, to learn that Karas was coming out with a pen that looked quite a bit like their other metal pens, but was instead a machined thermoplastic body, called the Decograph.  Then I saw a photo posted of the limited edition, colored ones and I was hooked. Karas held a lottery among Karas Pen Club members to purchase one of the limited editions and I was lucky enough to get the exact one I wanted – turquoise with black swirls.

When the pen arrived I was pleased how solid it felt in my hands, despite weighing far less than the Fountain K.   The pen body is smooth with clean lines. The cap screws on and off, and is postable and the Bock #6 nib (I ordered fine) is a pleasure to write with.  I immediately filled it with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Budo and I was off to the races!  I really enjoy this one and pull it out at least once almost every day. If you’re looking for a lighter weight pen with clean lines and excellent quality, I’d pick up one of these.


Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these items were provided free of charge by Karas Pen Co. for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Kyo-No-Oto No. 2 Imayouiro

Ink Review: Kyo-No-Oto No. 2 Imayouiro

Over the past few months, I’ve fallen in love with pink inks. Despite what you might assume based on my hair color, pink has never been my favorite color so this is a bit of a revelation for me. First, it was Callifolio Andrinople last year and now this year its the pinks in the Kyo-no-oto and Kyo-Iro ink lines that are luring me.  Kyo-No-Oro No. 2 Imayouiro ($28 for a 40ml bottle) is probably the most vivid color in the entire line of Kyoto TAG ink line.

Imayouiro is probably the most vivid magenta pink ink I have in my whole collection. And yet, its still not particularly garish. Which is pleasing. Its legible and very cherry poppy!

I can never get over how incredibly sophisticated and elegant the Kyo-No-Oto bottles are. They are like my absolute favorite. I know most people like the showiness of the Akkermann bottles but these get me every time.

When comparing the color value of Imayourio to other pinks, particularly other Japanese inks, the other brands lean a lot more orangey. Andrinople is slightly more rosy.

I’m always amazed to find that, for every ink I buy, the colors are so vastly different in color and look. Imayouiro is in a class by itself. If you are looking for a poppy bright pink hidden in a sophisticated bottle, look no further. It’s like a bright, springy perfume in a understated atomizer.