Ink Review: Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

I’ve had good experience with every Private Reserve ink I’ve used up to this point so I had no concerns about the quality of the ink. My goal was to find a purple that I loved and Ebony Purple was recommended to me buy the fine folks at Goldspot Pens as a color I might just love. I got the 50ml bottle of Diamine Ebony Purple for $10. While its not the prettiest bottle in the world, its easy to use with a simple, cylindrical shape and a wide mouth that makes it easy to refill pens.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Ebony Purple definitely lies on the the darkest end of the spectrum and more violet than purple. Because the color is so dark there’s not a lot of shading. In my waterproof tests you can see the blue and the red undertones in the ink. The ink is definitely not waterproof but makes it easy to clean out of the pen.

I’m not a huge fan of plain black inks so Ebony Purple is a good alternative for a dark ink that’s respectably blackish but with some personality. I like it for this quality but my search for the “perfect purple” continues.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple Swab Comparison

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

Re-Review: Pilot Varsity

Pilot Varsity

I took a lot of ribbing from readers after I reviewed the Pilot Varsity awhile back. I had a particularly bad experience so when I spied the newly repackaged Pilot Varsity ($3), I decided it was as good a reason as any to give the Varsity another try.

Pilot Varsity

The new pen design is the same shape as the original pen but features a black, grey and silver diamond pattern on the barrel and a small yellow “Varsity” logo on one side. The clip is a little larger and bulbous and too plasticky but the pen is comfortable in the hand and the cap is easily postable. The nib is labelled as a medium and its definitely equivalent of a European medium nib.

Pilot Varsity Writing Sample

I’ve been writing with this pen on and off for over a month and I’m quite pleased with its performance. It writes smoothly and starts as soon as I remove the cap. There are no hard starts or need for priming. The nib is wider than I generally prefer for an everyday writer but its a pleasing medium nib with some nice line variation and requires the lightest of touches to put ink on the page. Even writing upside down, sideways and just grabbing the pen to quickly write down a number presented no problems for me.

This is one of the best values in fountain pens. While the Platinum Preppy is available in a much finer nib and refillable, the Varsity will put a smile on anyone’s face. “Three dollars for this?!?! What a good deal!” I’m willing to admit that my previous experience with the Varsity might have been a fluke, one bad apple in the bunch. If you had a bad experience with a Varsity, I recommend you give it another shot. At $3, quality control is probably not a top priority but it also means it won’t break the bank to buy two.

Fashionable Friday: All That Glitters…

FF-all that glitters

  • MT Asanoha Sinchu Washi Tape £2.75 per roll (via Fox & Star)
  • Fisher Space Pen Bullet Ballpoint Pen in Raw Brass $20 (via Jet Pens)
  • Kaweco Liliput Fountain Pen in Eco Brass Wave $83 (via Jet Pens)
  • Edison Pearlette Fountain Pen in Aztec Gold Flake $149 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gold Gel Ink Pen in 1.0 mm (via Jet Pens)
  • Caran d’Ache Ecridor Chevron gold-plated fountain pen $288.15 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Brass Render K By Karas Kustoms $59.98 (via Huckberry)
  • Acme Gold Dipped Rollerball Pen $130 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Metallic Gold Soft Cover Folio $14 (via Poppin)
  • Kuretake Zig Wink of Luna Metallic Brush Pen in Gold $9 (via Jet Pens)
  • White + Gold Stapler $18 (via Poppin)
  • Gold Patterned Pencil Set £7.99 (via Fox & Star)
  • Midori Brass Bullet Pencil Holder $21 (via Jet Pens)
  • Gold Ideas Gilded Journal £11.99 (via Fox & Star)

Starting a Sketchbook or Visual Journal

With many stacks of notebooks, sketchbooks and blank books I’ve acquired, and the fact that my day job is about making pictures, I thought it was time to get back into the regular habit of keeping a sketchbook or visual journal of some sort. I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only person who might need a little inspiration and creative idea to get me started so I thought I’d share some of the prompts, ideas and tips I found.

First, I found this great 15-day set of prompts from Wit & Whsitle. Usually I find prompt lists too long and usually full of things I think are silly or pointless but this set was only 15 days worth and fairly open to interpretation.

(illustration by Terry Runyan)

Then I remembered the awesomely inspiring site, Illustration Friday. Every Friday, they offer a prompt that is both simple and open to interpretation. Folks will upload their art to the site if you want to see what other people do. You are not required to submit your sketch or drawing but its a great source of inspiration and a one-drawing-a-week prompt is a low bar to hurdle. This week’s prompt is “pet” and was submitted by my friend and co-worker Terry Runyan. She illustrates both digitally and on paper so don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to just the pile of sketchbooks and notebooks you’ve accumulated. Illustration Friday also has a blog and podcast for even more inspiration.

(Sketchbook page by Lisa Congdon)

I love Lisa Congdon‘s art and she freely shares pages of her sketchbook as well as a video class on Creativebug that walks you through how she creates several sketchbook drawings. She uses layering and simple drawings to create designs that are easy to try yourself and she even shows how she creates variations on each technique to give you even more ideas.

Danny Gregory‘s Everyday Matters Manifesto for drawing your life was a huge inspiration for me. Consider purchasing one of his books. I particularly like The Creative License. He’s even started a Sketchbook Skool video class if you want a multimedia experience.

More sources for ideas and inspiration:

you need to jump in and get over the intimidation part — by messing up a few pages, ripping them out if need be. Waste all the pages you want by drawing a tic tac toe schematic or something, painting them black, just doodle.  — Gary Panter
What inspires you to be more creative?

Ink Review: Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple

After my Fashionable Friday: Purple Rainy Day, I’ve been itching to add more purple inks to my stash. I started hoarding various shades of purple and taking recommendations from friends and shop keepers. The first color that was brought to my attention was Montblanc Lavender Purple (60ml bottle for $19) thanks to Matt over at The Pen Habit.

I don’t usually dwell on the bottle designs of inks but I’m finding as I accumulate more inks, I’m becoming more opinionated about bottle shapes, sizes and graphics. Lavender Purple is one of the “standard” Montblanc inks and comes in one of the most useful and interesting bottles in my collection. Its a long oblong glass bottle with a divot on the bottom of the bottle just behind the cap. This creates a divided chamber in the bottle. By tipping the bottle forward, ink in the back chamber can fill the front chamber making it easier to refill a pen as the ink volume is depleted. Ingenious! And except for the slightly too-modern label on the top of the bottle, its a really aesthetically-appealing bottle overall. Its such a nice bottle that I could see buying an empty Montblanc bottle and transfer some of my inks in difficult-to-dip-my-pens bottles into this little gem.


Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple is not really lavender nor purple, at least not to my eyes. Its reminds me a bit of Grape Kool-Aid. Its a warm, purplish-black with a bit more red in the color than any of the other purples I tried in my hunt for the “perfect purple.” I like purples and violets that have a duller, deeper tone rather than garish, bright jewel tones. Its not to say that a vibrant purple isn’t beautiful, I just find that I don’t reach for such “showy colors” on a regular basis.

The color has a little shading and depending on how wet the nib or feed is, the color can look almost purple-black or a softer, muted black cherry. I had no issues with drying times though I’m not very scientific about dry times. If the ink dries before I get my hand over it, then it dries fast enough. On the Rhodia paper, drying is slower than most and I had no issues.

Montblanc Lavender Purple ink swab comparison

When I put the swab swatch next to some of the other purples in my collection, its easy to see how much rosier Montblanc Lavender Purple is to the other colors in my stash. I’ve had a couple days to admire it and the more I look at it, the more I like it. This is definitely a color that will be moved into my regular ink rotation.

Link Love: We Love You, Mary!

rp_link-ana111111.jpgPost of the Week:

Our dear pen friend, Mary Collis has received some sad, scary health news and posted about it this week, Curveball (via From The Pen Cup). Please take the time to leave a message for her.


Paper & Notebooks:



Other Cool Stuff:

Review: Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner 0.4 mm 18-Color Set

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

One of my friends had a set of the mini Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners in her pen case that she uses to draw and sketch on the go. I have always envied this set so I finally broke down and got my own set. I got the 18-color mini finerliners in the “sporty” water bottle for $15.

I confess that I have a huge soft spot for metal-tipped, felt-tip markers. Marvy Le Pens were one of my middle school “gateway drugs” into the wonderful world of pens. I like the slight grippiness of the felt tip that helps me slow down and write a little bit neater than with the smooth-as-glass experience I get with some rollerball and gel pens. I love the wide array of colors for taking notes and color-coding my planner and calendars so a large set of colored, felt-tip markers thrills my inner 12-year-old. If I get anymore excited about this little mini bottle of markers, I might start drawing rainbows, kittens and unicorns.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

The pens are shorter than the regular Point 88 Fineliner 0.4mm marker pens but the cap posts nicely so that it feels like a full length pen in use. Since I tend to wear the tips of these sorts of felt-tipped markers out long before they run out of ink, the shorter pen seemed like a reasonable option. I can also fit a lot more of these shorties in my travel case, which is a bonus.

(via JetPens)

The pens are the same width and shape as a standard hexagonal pencil. Even the color of the barrel is reminiscent of a classic yellow Ticonderoga pencil but with classy white pinstripes. The cap snaps snugly on the pen cap or the base for posting the cap.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner writing samples

The individual Point 88 mini pens do not have color names written on them so I made up some descriptive names as I went along. Jet Pens lists official names if you’re curious. The colors were all bright and clean colors. The point size is in my “sweet spot” for nib sizes at 0.4mm and exactly the same line width as the Le Pens.

(I lost to my inner 12-year-old and drew a panda. You forgive me, right?)

My first reaction when I started testing the Point 88 minis is how much the writing experience and colors reminded me of the Marvy Le Pens. I’m don’t have a complete set of Le Pens here but was able to cross-reference the writing experience and color with at least a dozen colors and there are some very comparable shades between the two brands.

The inks are not waterproof but neither are the LePens. The Stabilo pens are designed to allow for a long cap-off time without drying out. I didn’t test this out but hope that they live up to the hype and provide me a long life of colors over the next several months.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner comparison to Marvy Le Pen

When posted, the Stabilo Point 88 minis are a tiny bit longer than the Le Pens full length but unposted.

The same Stabilo 88 mini Fineliner marker pens are available in a soft plastic wallet instead of the goofy “water bottle” but it costs $0.75 more for the envelope rather than the bottle. My Stabilo mini Fineliner pens will end up being dumped into my regular pen case so I’m okay with the $0.75 savings. The full-sized set of Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners includes all 25 standard colors for $21.50. I might go ahead and order the full set so I can have the greys, browns and the midnight blue color which are some of my favorite shades to use. Individual pens are $0.80 each so its worth adding a few to your next order if you’re not sure you want a full set or you need to “complete” your set.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 20-color set is a little bit more expensive ($25) but a little bit finer at 0.3mm. I know the Staedtlers are quite popular as well so if you find the 0.4mm to be a bit too wide, these might be a good alternative. I’m going to stick with the Stabilo Point 88s.


New Sponsor: Karas Kustoms

Karas Kustoms Bolt

Karas Kustoms is a small pen manufacturer that started life as a custom machine shop. When machinist Bill Karas teamed up with designer Dan Bishop, a relationship developed that eventually led to the creation of their very first pen – the iconic Render K. The success of the Render K spurred the creation of several other pens – the Bolt, Retrakt, and the latest addition, the Ink fountain pen. The pens are designed to accommodate several different refills, allowing the customer to pick and choose, and even hack, the refills to best fit their favorite Karas Kustoms pen. Even the Ink fountain pen can be converted into a rollerball pen by swapping the grip section.

Karas Kustoms CUBE

The CUBE is a collaborative design project with Mike Dudek of Dudek Modern Goods, and is the perfect accessory for your desk.

With a staff of just nine people, Karas Kustoms designs, manufactures and ships each of their machined, metal pens and accessories.

I’ve been a loyal follower and supporter of Karas Kustoms and now they are returning the favor by being a sponsor of The Desk. If you own one of their products, you are supporting a team of craftspeople dedicated to delivering high-quality, long lasting goods. And if you haven’t had a chance to try one of their pens or accessories, there’s no time like the present. Use the coupon code “KARASPENS” for 10% off your next purchase.

Thanks to Karas Kustoms for supporting The Well-Appointed Desk and thanks to all you fine readers for continuing to support our sponsors.

Karas Kustoms RETRAKT

Ink Review: Diamine 150th Silver Fox

Diamine Silver Fox

I’m sorry it took me so long to post the review for Diamine 150th Anniversary Silver Fox ink. I wrote the review but forgot to photograph the results. In the meantime, its been dark and rainy here for two weeks making it almost impossible to take good photos of the results, especially the neutral grey-on-white combination of this ink.

Then my darling cats decided they should help and caused me splotch ink, then walked around on the test sheet with wet feet. Sheesh. I’d think this ink review was cursed if the color wasn’t so lovely and the ink so well-behaved. So its not the ink that’s cursed this week — just me.


Silver Fox is as neutral a grey ink as I’ve ever seen. Its not a cool grey with bluish tones and its not a warm grey with reddish hues. Its in that sweet spot, a true neutral grey. To be honest, Silver Fox is quite similar in color as the J. Herbin Stormy Grey, just without the divisive gold flecks. It also reminds me of pencil graphite so this could be THE ink for pencil lovers.

The dry time is reasonable for this ink and there’s some fun shading. Since the color is so neutral, there was not any sort of sheen. The ink dries a bit lighter than it looks when wet which is preferable to inks that start light and darken like the J. Herbin Gris Nuage which is practically invisible when wet and much too hard to write with in my opinion.

Diamine Silver Fox ink comparison

In comparing ink samples, Diamine Graphite is a bit of a greenish cool grey and DeAtramentis Silver Grey is a bit bluish in comparison. I think the Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey is similar in hue but a little bit darker grey.

Diamine 150 Years Silver Fox is available for $18.50 from Jet Pens in a 40ml pie-shaped bottle. This ink is part of a special collection so if this is a color you think you might want to try, better purchase it soon.

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

Ink Review: Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat is the second ink I purchased from this line produced by L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio and sold in the US through Vanness Pens in Little Rock.

Callifolio ink bottles

I’ve had the worst time trying to describe this color. Grenat is a warm, reddish brown that leans a little to a wine color — like “red wine stain” almost. Its not a vivid bright, eye-watering red but a subtle color that could potentially be a daily user because its not so garish as to be off-putting.

Callifolio Grenat

Grenat shades a little bit and there appears to be a greenish blue halo around heavier strokes. The color dried quickly, even on the Rhodia stock so that I could comfortably write without worrying that I’d stick my hand into wet ink as I went. Not a scientific number but I never hit a point where I was unconsciously smearing so I figure that’s good enough for me.

Callifolio Grenat ink comparison

Honestly, I had no other color in my stash that was even remotely similar to Callifolio Grenat. Its reddish but not bright or vivid so comparing it to red inks seemed too far from the mark. Instead I put it next to purply J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune and Kaweco Caramel Brown so you could see the color is neither purple nor brown.

At $11 per bottle, its totally worth investing in a bottle of Callifolio ink, whether you decide to experiment with Grenat or one of the many other colors. I’ve been pleased with both the Grenat and the Oliphants ink and I’m willing to try other colors in the near future.

Fashionable Friday: Fast & Furious Friday

I get to spend the day at the dealer getting my car looked over, a long-overdue oil change and complimentary car wash for the lazy. So, I’m in the automotive spirit. Roll down the windows, turn up the radio and grab a Route 44 cherry limeade.


  • Wahl-Eversharp Skyline 50s Fountain Pen and Corvette Set in Speed Red $159 (via Wahl-Eversharp)
  • Porsche Design P3135 Solid Fine Point Fountain Pen $1,099.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Sheaffer 300 Ferrari Gift Set Ballpoint Pen & Keychain $50 (via Pen Chalet)
  • OPI Ford Mustang 2014 collection “Queen of the Road” nail polish (via OPI)
  • Field Notes County Fair Edition 3 books for $9.99 (via Field Notes)
  • Private Reserve Ultra Black – Fast Dry $11 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Midori D-Clips Car-shaped Paper Clips, Box of 30 $7.25 (via Jet Pens)
  • All I Care About is Mini Cooper & Cat 12oz Insulated Tea Tumbler $8.97 (via Cafepress)
  • Diamine Passion Red ink in mini bottle 3,50 € (via Fontoplumo)
  • Sailor Professional Gear Color Series Fountain Pen in Yellow with gold nib $248 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Musgrave Hermitage 525 Red & Blue Pencils $3.50/dozen (via
  • Rite in the Rain Field Flex Bound Book $13.95 (via Rite in the Rain)
  • Retro 51 Tornado Classic Lacquer Rollerball in Red $25 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Karas Kustoms + Dudek Modern Goods CUBE in silver aluminum $85 (via Karas Kustoms)

Fontoplumo Loves The Desk Readers!


Fontoplumo has been a loyal supporter of The Well-Appointed Desk and is often my first source of news about new European pen products from Lamy, Kaweco, Caran D’ache, Delta and more. Fontoplumo offers great customer service and quick delivery all over the world.

AND Fontoplumo has extended the discount code for Well-Appointed Desk readers. All readers can receive a 10% discount off their next purchase. New customers should use the code “WAD” and returning customers should use the code “WAD2“. These codes will be valid through the end of 2015!

Fontoplumo also has two great new products from Lamy. First up is the new nut brown Lamy Logo ($39.36 US). I have a brushed aluminum Lamy Logo and its one of my favorite Lamy pens. Its a little pricier than a Safari or an AL-Star but the grip section is not molded into a shape like the Safair series making it more comfortable for some writers and the whole pen feels a little more upscale than its cheaper plastic counterparts.

Also, there is a new Lamy Scala in a sparkly “midnight sky” blue-black, available with either a stainless steel nib ($157.91 US) or a gold nib ($223.32 US)  and comes in a gift box with bottle of ink and converter. This looks like a beautiful pen with a very unique finish and a great option for getting into a gold nib if you are not inclined to purchase a Lamy 2000 with its more hooded nib design.

Go put those discount codes to good use! And thanks to Fontoplumo for supporting The Well-Appointed Desk and thanks to you, my fine readers, for supporting us both!


Link Love: Fude for Thought

rp_link-ana1111111.jpgPaper & Notebooks:





Other Interesting Stuff:

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Following the success and enthusiasm over the gold fleck-filled Stormy Grey and Rouge Hematite, J. Herbin reformulated the 1670 Bleu Ocean to include gold flecks as well. I was really excited about this change because who doesn’t like sparkles?

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

I love the shape and look of the 1670 series bottle. Its a square glass bottle with a wax seal label and “wax sealed cap”. The cap is not actually wax sealed, its a traditional threaded twist cap but the cap is covered with a faux wax material so it looks like wax. I think the bottles are gorgeous and I love the details that have been added to make them look special. I have not tried to get ink out of the bottom of the bottle yet but I imagine it will not be easy. I suspect that to completely use all the ink i the bottle, I’ll have to use a syringe or transfer the ink into another container to access the ink as the opening will not be convenient to dipping a pen after multiple uses. That said, its really pretty.

As with the other versions of the 1670 ink, the gold flecks will settle to the bottom of the bottle and will require some stirring, shaking or rolling to redistribute the gold in the ink. I’ve heard folks mention that if they fill a pen with any of these 1670 inks, they will often roll their pen on a table to keep the gold flecks from settling in the reservoir.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

The ink color is actually a darker blue than most of the “true blues” in my collection and the addition of the gold flecks makes it even more appealing. The gold was quite noticeable in my swab sample, more so than with either the Rouge Hematite or Stormy Grey.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

When I painted the title, I got really excited about this ink. It sparkled, there were lots of color variation and I really liked the color. All this enthusiasm took a nose dive when I dipped my Esterbrook 9314M Medium Stub into the ink and the ink softened around the edges as I wrote. It didn’t bleed or feather per se, but it smooshed all my writing together making the line edges indistinct and filled in the counters of my letter. I dipped my pen in the ink and then wiped the nib of excess just once but the ink continued to display as runny and soft to the end of the page. I can’t imagine how much this would bleed or feather on lower quality paper instead of the Rhodia stock I used!

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Does this photo sum up my  feelings about the new formulation of Bleu Ocean? Yes it does.

Ink Review: P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet

Akkerman Voorhout

I was so excited to be able to choose a bottle of P.W. Akkerman ink at the Vanness table at the Atlanta Pen Show. For the past year, Akkerman has been “the ink” to acquire. And Vanness is the only place to get the ink in the US. So being able to peruse the quickly depleting stock at the pen show and seeing the ink sample swabs in person was a dream come true. I only purchased one bottle because (1) its pricey stuff ($30/bottle), (2) many of the colors had already sold out before I found the Vanness table and (3) I couldn’t make a sound decision to save my life. I really need to make a spreadsheet of all the inks and colors I have so I know what colors I have.

One of the most striking features of Akkerman is the extremely unique bottle. Its a very tall bottle with a long slender neck. Inside the neck is a ball that allows it to block the flow of ink back into the larger bottle reservoir. So, to ink up a pen, you tip the bottle slowly upside down and then right it so that the neck area fills with ink. This should be a very effective way to get the most mileage out of the bottle without a lot of trouble. And it looks really cool!

I’ve been on a bit of a purple/black kick recently so I picked up a bottle of the Akkerman#15 Voorhout Violet.

Akkerman Voorhout

Voorhout Violet is definitely a purple/black color. In my swashy brush testing, there’s a nice array of dusty purply tones and a distinctly warm undertone. When writing however, the ink appears almost black and then lightens a little as it dries for that more of the purple tones show through, particularly with a wider nib. There’s a bit of shading but because the ink is so dark, its pretty subtle.

The ink behaved well and dried in a reasonable amount of time. I write my samples at a standard writing pace to test “real world” usage and I use Rhodia paper which can slow drying time a bit. But overall the performance was very good.

Oh, I forgot to mention the noticeable “lacquer” odor when I opened the bottle. It wasn’t a noxious smell but it was notable in that there was a smell. Most of my inks don’t have a noticeable smell, the exception being Noodler’s inks which have a similar odor to the Akkerman. Once I dipped my pen and closed the bottle, I no longer noticed the odor but I wanted to note it.

Akkerman Voorhout ink comparison

When compared with my growing arsenal of purple/black inks, the Akkerman is not notably distinct to the other colors I have. Private Reserve Ebony Purple is very similar. In writing, I’m not sure I’d be able to distinguish one from the other. Kaweco Summer Purple is also quite similar in color. And both the Kaweco and Private Reserve inks are considerably cheaper.

I’ll continue to use this ink and try it in an assortment of different pens and under more diverse writing conditions so I may feel differently about this ink in a few months. Right now though, I’m sort of “hmmm” about this color.

That said, I think the Akkerman inks are a good array of colors and worth the investment for the unique bottle alone. I will be trying more Akkerman inks in some of the more popular colors like #5 Shocking Blue and #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen. I’m also itching to try the wildly yellow-green #28 Hofkwartier Green. I could always use more green ink, right?

Check out Ed Jelley’s review of Voorhout Violet for a different perspective.

Review: Nock Co. Brasstown Zip Roll Pen Case

Nock Co Brasstown

After being relentlessly teased in Atlanta for carrying my pens in a rolled-up shop towel, I finally purchased a Nock Co. Brasstown zip roll pen case ($35). I purchased the now-discontinued Mandarin/Mango colorway. Both shades of orange are still available but combined with more subdued colors. The Mandarin/Mango combination is pretty vivid in a don’t-lose-this-in-your-bag sort of way.

Nock Co. Brasstown

What is so appealing about the Brasstown is that the case has a divided roll that holds six pens inside a zippered case. In the photo above I included an assortment of different fountain pens to show that, with a clip slipped over the edge, a wide variety of pens comfortably fit into the dividers. Some of my pens are particularly small, like my Esterbrook on the far left and my TWSBI Mini on the far right, but since they both have clips, they don’t slide to the bottom. Even clipless pens are easy to remove from the case, even if they slide down, by pinching the bottom like a Flav-For-Ice Pop. Now that I think of it, the Mandarin/Mango colorway reminds me of an orange Fla-Vor-Ice!

Nock Co. Brasstown

Once the roll is filled, there is still room in the case to put additional tools and accessories. I like to put my “good” fountain pens in the roll section and then stick other pens in the case loose. Unfortunately, the Brasstown is not long enough for a freshly sharpened Palomino Blackwing 602 or similarly long pencils so this is definitely a PEN case. A well-loved pencil or mechanical pencil will fit however.

Nock Co. Brasstown

One of the best, most thoughtful features of the Brasstown is the double-ended zipper closure. Whether you are left- or right-handed, opening the case is a breeze. The zippers can meet at any point on the case so if you like the zippers on one end or the other or meeting in the middle, that’s flexibility exists.

Overall, I think this is one of the most useful and clever pen cases. It’s particularly useful if your pen collection is starting to include pricier, vintage or rare pens that you don’t want tossed hurdy-gurdy in a zip pouch or in the bottom of your bag. The Brasstown is priced right and made in the US by people who genuinely care about making good products.

And finally….

Giant plush smore

PS: Today’s model stand is my new giant plush S’more from My Paper Crane via Land of Nod. See her S’more on Instagram.

Fashionable Friday: Project 333

I’ve been researching the whole “capsule wardrobe” phenomena recently. Ladies will probably know what I’m talking about but if you haven’t heard about this, the idea is to pare down your wardrobe quarterly to 33 items. By doing this, the goal is to have only pieces you love to wear, that make you look and feel good and pare down on items you may be holding onto for sentimental or “but I paid so much for that” reasons.

That got me thinking about my desk. I have so many pens, inks, pencils, erasers, notebooks and various office supplies that its time to Project 333 my desk. So, in the spirit of Project 333, I thought I’d pull together what I think would be the perfect “capsule office”. Our desks, like our closets, deserve to be filled with things we love to use, that inspire and that are functional. This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I squirrel away pens and pencils in every pocket, bag, cup and bucket so there’s a lot of clean-up that happened in my work office already to accomplish this.


Pictured here are the 33 things I want in my office. I pulled this together from items I actually own and use (colors and styles may be modified based on what is currently available in the market).

  1. LWA Member Pouch (available to members only) (via Letter Writers Alliance)


  1. Karas Kustoms Render K (G2 Model)
  2. Fisher Space Pen $23 (via Jet Pens)
  3. Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 Ice with medium italic nib $149.50 (via Franklin-Christoph)
  4. Kaweco Dia II $124 (via Goldspot Pens)
  5. Lamy Safari in Neonlime with 1.1mm nib $21.99 (via Fontplumo)
  6. Pilot Frixion Light Soft Color Erasable Highlighter in yellow $1.65 (via Jet Pens)
  7. Sharbo-X Multi-pen $49.50 (via Jet Pens)
  8. Kaweco Sport in Mint $20.25 (via Fontoplumo)
  9. Pilot V5 Hi-Techpoint refillable rollerball $3.20 (via Jet Pens)
  10. Marvy Le Pens Set $20.07 or other colored pen/marker set (can I count this as ONE THING?) (via Jet Pens)

Other tools:

  1. Faber-Castell Grip 2001 pencils $2 (via CW Pencil Enterprise)
  2. Oops! Eraser $3.50 (via European Paper)
  3. Dux Varibel Brass Pencil Sharpener in leather case (not currently available)
  4. Scissors
  5. Bone Folder
  6. Tombow Mono Adhesive Dispenser
  7. X-Acto blade
  8. Straight Edge Ruler
  9. Letter Opener


  1. Midori Traveler’s Notebook $57 (via Jet Pens)
  2. Rhodia pad No. 18 Blank $13.75 Ice pad shown (via Jet Pens)
  3. Moleskine Classic Large Ruled Notebook (for work notes) $19.35 (via European Paper)
  4. Stack of 3×5 index cards (via office supply cabinet)

Not Shown:

  1. Stapler
  2. Tape Dispenser
  3. Small Memo Book (i.e. Field Notes, Calepino, Word or Nock Co.)
  4. Clairefontaine Triomphe Blank Stationery $5 (via Goulet Pens)
  5. Esterbook Nib Holder $75 (via Newton Pens)

To be added in the next couple weeks:

  1. Paperblanks Silver Filigree Esmerelda Midi Lined Notebook $22.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  2. Rhodiarama Blank Notebook, color TBD $18 (via Goldspot Pens)
  3. Enough ink to sink the Titanic

I keep a lot of pens and pencils around for review comparison purposes but I think these items can be packed into a box I access just for reviews. For day-to-day purposes, I don’t need to have to wade through every gel pen ever made to find something to write with. I don’t need four multi-pens. I don’t need to have every fountain pen inked up all the time.

I did not count the brush pens, dip pens and other tools I use specifically to do my job nor the drawing pads stored there. Most of this inventory came from the contents of my daily carry bag. I did not count my bag or my technology tools in this list.

And finally, I could not bring myself to include inks in the pare down. I tried but I just couldn’t do it. If I limit myself to a few favorite pens, I’ll need lots of color options of ink to keep myself inspired. That’s not to say I won’t pare down my massive collection of sample bottles and clear out some colors that I don’t completely love. But limiting my ink colors was more than I could take!

Everything else, I’m going to pack or sell or give away. Things with sentimental value will be stored for three months and if, at the end of that time, I miss them, I will keep them. If not, they will be sold or donated.

Does this inspire you to pare down your office and stationery goods?


Giveaway: May The Fourth Be With You Lamy AL-Star Winner


The Lamy Al-Star in Rebel Orange was a super popular giveaway and Well-Appointed Desk readers love Star Wars! Thanks to Jet Pens for making this happen.

Thanks to everyone who shared their favorite quotes and characters. Han Solo, Chewbacca and the droids were the most popular. Lots of Yoda quotes too! Only one person chose my favorite quote: “That’s no moon, that’s a space station!”

Now, the winner:

Giveaway winner Giveaway winner

Canoecanoe was the only person to quote anything other than the original three films though there were a few shout outs for Darth Maul and ironic love for Jar Jar (you know who you are!). Congrats on winning the AL-Star. I’ll email you to arrange shipping!

Link Love: Ink Up




Planners & Organization:

Other Interesting Things:

Ink Review: Callifolio Oliphants

Callifolio ink bottles

One of most unusual items that I picked up at the Atlanta Pen Show was to bottles of Callifolio ink in Olifants and Grenat from the fine folks at Vanness Pen Shop. Actually, the official product name is French, L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio. But can we agree to just call them Callifolio inks?

The bottles for the Callifolio inks are absolutely identical to the bottles that Diamine is using for the 150th Anniversary inks — the pie slice wedges. The labels on the bottle are simple white labels with black printing. It’s not the most interesting packaging but I’m not going to judge this particular book by its cover.

Callifolio offers over  30 different colors in either the 40ml wedge-shaped bottles or in 50ml foil refill pouches. The refill pouches can be used to refill an existing bottle of Callifolio inks or poured into any ink container (like a TWSBI ink bottle or a vintage inkwell). One of the most appealing thing about the Callifolio inks are the price — just $11 per bottle or $8 per foil pouch. I could buy FOUR foil pouches for the cost of one bottle of Akkerman ink.

Callifolio Oliphants

I picked the Olifants color because I just love the teal-y blue/blue-black inks so I wanted to try a Callifolio ink in a color I’d use regularly. There was some nice shading to the color and a bit of a halo.

Callifolio Oliphants

Olifants dried quickly and with my fine stub testing nib, there was no feathering or line softening. I did test the ink on Rhodia paper so there may be some different results on lower quality or lighter weight paper but my initial reaction is that Callifolio is making good inks at great prices.

I did not test for waterproofness but I will do a little follow-up in a few days with more of my experience with the Callifolio inks but for general performance, I’ m quite pleased with this ink.

Callifolio Oliphant ink comparison

The Olifants color is a bit more green than Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo and a bit bluer than Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. But with the wide price difference, Callifolio inks are a reasonable substitute for the more expensive Japanese inks.

I’m really pleased with my purchase so far and I can’t wait to review the Grenat color which is not a color I normally buy.

Pen Review: Lamy Safari Neon Lime (2015 Special Edition)

Lamy Safari Neonlime sample

When I saw the new Lamy Safari in Neon Lime (the 2015 Special Edition Color) (19.50 €) I knew immediately that I’d have to have one. The color is just too perfect not to own it. The color is such a bright yellow green its practically highlighter yellow.

The Lamy is one of the longest pens in my collection but because its made of plastic, its very lightweight. I think it would be a comfortable pen for most writers, tiny to extra large hands. It can be used posted but it makes the pen extremely long. If that’s comfortable go for it but I prefer to use it unposted.

Lamy Neon Lime writing sample

I attempted to use the Neon Lime ink but quickly discovered that it is more useful as a highlighter ink than a writing ink.

I got the Neon Lime Safari with a Medium nib which is one of the only nib sizes from Lamy I had not tried yet. I had a little bit of an issue with a rough spot on the nib so I ran it across some micro mesh to smooth it out and then it seemed good to go. I tried to keep my fingers on the grip section as the grooves indicated but, as a lefty, it ends up being a little awkward to get the proper angle and goo ink flow upside down that way. Once I cocked the pen slightly, I was able to get more consistent ink flow with the medium nib. If I write with my hand below the line I’m writing (mirroring most right handed writers) I got much darker ink and flow.

I stand by my recommendation that lefties don’t start their fountain pen adventures with a Lamy Safari since the grip section can make it more challenging to find the best nib angle for our often-unique writing angles. A pen with a smooth grip section will work better as an introductory pen for a left-handed writer like a Pilot Metropolitan or the higher-priced Lamy Studio.

Lamy Neonlime writing sample

The great thing about the Lamy line is how easy it is to swap out the nibs. I pulled the 1.1mm nib out of my Lamy Studio and tried it in the Neon Lime. Surprisingly, I had an easier time getting the ink on the paper with the wider nib and I found the line variation more interesting.

Lamy Safari Neonlime

Overall, the Lamy is a great introductory fountain pen with easy-to-swap nibs and the Neon Lime color is bright, fun color. My only caveat to recommending the Lamy Safari is, for a left-handed writer, the molded grip section can introduce some challenges if you are an overwriter (you hook your hand above the line you are writing). That said, the Lamy Safari line is quite reasonably priced so if you haven’t tried one yet, its certainly won’t break the bank. Its a classic design in a bold new color.

Comparing Neon Lime

(Just for color comparison:  Pilot Prera,  Neon Lime Lamy Safari, Monteverde Intima in Neon Green, Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl, and Karas Kustoms Render K in green.

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

Midori Traveler’s Notebook: Pan Am Edition

MTN Pan Am Edition Blue leather notebook

OMG! Have you seen these? This is the new limited edition Midori Traveler’s Notebook Pan Am Edition. Yes, that’s a deep blue, full-sized, leather MTN!

MTN Pan Am Edition

The notebook inserts to accompany the leather cover feature vintage Pan Am advertising art and contain the same great quality Midori paper. There’s a blank and grid notebook.There’s also a Pan Am-themed zipper case, bullet pen, pen loop and stickers.

MTN Pan Am Edition Grid Notebook

MTN Pan Am Edition Blank Notebook

MTN Pan Am Edition Zip case

MTN Pan Am Edition Stickers

MTN Pan Am Edition Pen Loop

MTN Pan Am Edition Brass Bullet Pen

The whole set was supposed to be released in April and I’m seeing it show up on some ebay listings and web sites for pre-order. This limited edition set may or may not be as hard to acquire as the Star Ferry Edition. But oh, how I love vintage travel ads! I’m going to pay through the nose to get these but the blue leather cover is gorgeous! Midori makes me sucha  completionist. Must. Have. All. The. Things!

Giveaway: May The Fourth Be With You Lamy AL-Star


Elaine at Jet Pens threw down the gauntlet today and asked if I’d have a good Star Wars nerd post for May the Fourth Be With You Day and so, I pulled out all the Rebel Stops.

Thanks to Jet Pens, I’m giving away a new limited edition Lamy AL-Star in Rebel Alliance orange in honor of May The Fourth Be With You Day.

To enter to win, leave a comment below and tell me your favorite character, bit of dialogue or action sequence from any of the Star Wars films (Immediate disqualification for anyone who mentions Jar Jar Binks).

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, May 7, 2015. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Friday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money.

Ask The Desk: Swapping TWSBI Nibs & How Flexible is the Esterbrook 9128


Have I ever told you’all how much I love getting questions about pens, paper and the like? This week, I have two awesome questions.

Beth, the reference librarian asked:

I have a new TWSBI 580 with a custom ground nib (pen was purchased with that nib) and at the same time I purchased a second nib (the whole nib unit) also custom ground – I really like both nibs. One nib is obviously in the TWSBI, which is a nice pen, but I would love to put what I call the “back-up” nib in a different pen, preferably one under $100. that uses a cartridge/converter system. I read about nib-swapping all the time but am not sure just which nibs are compatible with which pens. I don’t think the 580 nib unit will fit the TWSBI mini, but if it did I would go with that. (even though the same filling system.) I am nervous about pulling the nib out of the screw-on unit until I know what I am doing. Am I making sense here? Any advice would be most appreciated!

Disassembling a TWSBI nib

With a little elbow grease I was able to pull the nib out of my TWSBI Mini. The nib is a size 5 (according to the smarter-than-me folks over in the Pen Addict Slack Channel). The only cheap pen I could find that had a size 5 nib was a Pilot Metropolitan. Pilot nibs have a little flange and a groove nicked out to get them to grip the feed that the TWSBI nib does not have. But… the nib does fit into the feed of a Pilot Metropolitan albeit very loosely. I assume this method would also work in other Pilot pens like the Prera or Plumix. So it is possible to use the TWSBI nib in other pens with a little luck but its not the best fit. If I find any other pens that take size 5 nibs with a cartridge/converter system.

As for switching the nibs between a Mini and a 580, that should just require untwisting the nib unit and sliding the grip section off to expose the nib/feed unit. Then they could easily be swapped between the Mini and the 580.

TWSBI nib in a Pilot Metropolitan

The second question actually appeared in the Pen Addict Slack Channel.I’m sorry I don’t remember who asked but here’s my results!

A member of the group asked if the Esterbrook 9128 fine flex nib was more or less flexible than the Noodler’s Ahab/Creaper.

Noodlers vs Esterbrook 9128

The Esterbrook 9128 nib is not super flexible but, for a steel nib, it gets some decent variety and it does not railroad like the Noodler’s nibs do. The 9128 is very smooth and easy to get going while the Noodler’s flex nibs require some adjusting in the feed to get the flow going. So, its a bit of the apples-to-oranges comparison since a Noodler’s flex pen is readily available for about $20 and a vintage Esterbrook with a 9128 flex nib is considerably more expensive ($75 and up). If you’re looking for a flexible nib, a vintage fountain pen with a 14K nib will probably be much more flexible or you might want to consider a Desiderata nib holder.


Desk Inspired

Desk Inspired: Aaron Draplin

Portland-based, Hand Eye Supply has created the site Desk Inspired to feature short interviews and photos of workspaces of some very interesting creative folks. The articles feature the tools and methods they use in order to be creative each day. The photography is gorgeous and many of their favorite work tools are available for purchase through Hand Eye Supply.

Desk Inspired: Bawa

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