Paper Review: Baron Fig Mastermind Dot Grid

Paper Review: Baron Fig Mastermind Dot Grid

Sometimes you need more space to think. A notebook is just not enough room. I used to love those desk pads that were sold at big box stores but the paper was crap. Well, Baron Fig has a solution. The Mastermind Desk Pad ($15). It’s a large “scratch pad” with the same quality paper you’ve come to expect from Baron Fig that you can use as a desk pad complete with dot grid.

The Mastermind looks to have been designed to be the same size as my 13″ MacBook Pro. I can lay the whole pad over my keyboard. For home use, this is perfect. At work, the pad is completely dwarfed by my 15″ laptop, my extended keyboard and my ginormous 27″ CINTIQ the size of a full size sheet cake stood on its end.

Each pack of Mastermind comes with two tablets of 35 sheets, measuring 8″x12″. The pages are glue bound along the long edge and are dot grid on the front, blank on the back. The corners are rounded and the back has a thin piece of chipboard backing.

The paper quality is the same as all the other Baron Fig products currently on the market so it can handle an array of pen, pencil, marker, felt tip and ballpoint with ease. I’ve run this stock through its paces in the past.

The number of pages makes the Mastermind pads about as thick to start as your average mobile phone or tablet which makes writing on it pretty comfortable.

Pricewise, the Mastermind is definitely more expensive than the larger desk pads from an office supply store but the paper quality is better and it features the beloved dot grid. Also, if you are working in smaller spaces and tend to work more mobile, the scale is more manageable. You may even be able to use both sides of the paper, doubling your value.

For more detailed reviews, check out “in-action” shots from Alt. Haven and Leadfast.

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

Housekeeping: Oops!

There were some WordPress updates and general upkeep and maintenance this week that somehow lead to the accidentally deleting  a bunch of things – not that anyone noticed. Including me! But everything has been restored, including the link to The Desk Shop in the sidebar. Sorry for any confusion or navigational issues this week.

Please do not look in that closet over there or under that rug. Nothing to see there!

Ink Review: Montblanc Mile Davis Jazz Blue

Ink Review: Montblanc Mile Davis Jazz Blue

Montblanc Miles Davis Jazz Blue (30ml bottle for $19) was one of those inks I picked up on a whim after I had one of those “fear of missing out” moments earlier this year. Its still available several months later so I don’t know if its a color that will be discontinued or will be sticking around.  Either way, I find it to be a very unique color and one of the more reasonably priced Montblanc inks in a beautiful bottle. It makes a lovely gift, especially giftable for someone who loves jazz and fountain pens.

This ink comes in my favorite Montblanc bottle. At the San Francisco show, I asked a rep from Montblanc what the story was with all the different bottle shapes. Why did the Shakespeare ink come in the round bottle, the Lucky Orange in the square faceted bottle, and then the stock inks in the long oblong bottles? Turns out, he was new to the company and didn’t know. If anyone has an explanation to the various Montblanc bottles, please let me know. I much prefer the square faceted bottles and the long, stock color bottles. I don’t like the labels on the round bottles. The lettering and designs on them is always sub-par. Back to the review…

The Jazz Blue is a very milky, light blue but remains markably readable. Really. My Esterbrook writing samples don’t show it to its best light but I had Jazz Blue inked up in a Franklin-Christoph Pocket 45 for several weeks and it wrote beautifully. It’s almost as if it has a slightly opaque white quality to it. It’s light blue but doesn’t start light on the paper and darken as it dries like a lot of light inks.

The only other inks I found that were even close in color were from PenBBS but they were not as sky blue. The colors were PenBBS #179 Serenity Blue ($16 for 60ml) and PenBBs #181 Haitian Sea($16 for 60ml). Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-Iro ($20 for 50ml) was more turquoise (more greenish) and didn’t have the powdery quality to the color.

While Montblanc inks continue to be a premium price per milliliter, I do think there is a uniqueness to the color that makes this worth the price. And I do end up humming “Freddie Freeloader” when I use it.

Photo of the Day: Mechanical & Clutch Pencils

This is my ever-growing collection of vintage and modern lead holders. Some are clutch-style, some are click mechanism and some are revolving release. These do not include the Lady Sheaffer matching fountain pen and pencil sets. I’ll save those for later. The ones on the left are vintage, the ones are the right are modern. Lead sizes range from 0.3mm to the giant 5mm Koh-i-noor Magic Pencil clutch but most are 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm and 2mm lead.

Link Love: Black Ink Co-inky-dink

Posts of the Week:

Following the Ask the Desk question earlier this week, Mountain of Ink has also been posting lots of black ink recently. Co-inky-dink? I don’t think so. I just think inky minds think alike.




Notebooks & Paper:


Art Supplies:


Other Interesting Things:

Subscriptions: CW Pencils Quarterly #3: Back to School

Subscriptions: CW Pencils Quarterly #3: Back to School

Didn’t I say yesterday it was a good month for subscriptions? No sooner did I get the Rad + Hungry USA Kit than the CW Pencils The Pencil Box Quarterly #3: Back to School Kit ($30, currently closed to new subscribers but can be added to email list when new slots are available) arrived. Wow! This is by far my favorite kit that CW Pencil Enterprise has put together so far. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved all the kits they’ve done but this one won my heart.

Back to School is always my favorite season far and away anyway. It’s all about office supplies, sweater weather and warm beverages. What’s not to love?

The kit included an assortment of awesome pencils (of course!) but this time, it also included some wonderful other items too like the Coccina glue stick, a clear pocket-sized ruler, a Kimberly square pink eraser, and a carrying case to keep it all in.

The pencils are a great assortment of useful, fun, classic and novel. I expect no less from the ladies of CW Pencils!

The Coccina glue stick is from Italy and smells like almonds which makes it clear why kids might want to eat glue. It smells fantastic. The squishy pink eraser is also delectable and made me want to put teeth marks in it. Clearly, I have a problem.

There was a wonderfully vintage grade school writing pad. If you don’t have kids or feel nostalgic about writing on lined paper, this makes great paper for writing small gifts, using for collage or making little notes or cards for gifts. Improvise!

The kit also includes the lovely “handwritten” note with details about each item in the kit and a postcard of the contents.

For me, however, the coup de gras was the repro Futura pencil. Why? Because I have a collection of original Richard Best Tryrex Futura pencils so I was excited to be able to do a side-by-side comparison. Later, I’ll do an actual writing test.

My number one pet peeve with these pencils aesthetically is the logo. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but “Make the logo bigger.” That logo is so spectacular and needs to be seen for miles. Not to mention the logo should be more dominant than the pencil grading data in the information hierarchy.

I don’t mind that the pink paint color is a bit more pink on the Moon Products repro. The original color is a little Clearisil beige. The original Futura pencils I have feature two different ferrules: one is gold with a pink painted ring and one is burgundy to match the logo stamping. There were also inconsistencies in the ink colors for the stamping between the two versions of the original Futura: the #3 has reddish ink and the F has more burgundy colored stamping so I really shouldn’t be so fussy except I thought I was one of the only people in the world with a soft spot for Futura pencils and I’m a big design nerd so I’m all about details and black ink is just not enough!  As for the ferrule and eraser, the anodized pink is fun but matching the ferrule to a dark red or burgundy and a brown eraser would be awesome.

Finally, the paint is pooled around the end of the pencil. I don’t know the process for applying the color but I don’t often see this, even on less expensive pencils (Ticonderogas from Mexico, etc) so why is this one so gloopy?

I’ll do more thorough writing tests of these pencils in coming weeks but if you love subscription surprises in your mail box, I can’t recommend the CW Pencils Quarterly subscription highly enough. It is finely curated and worthy of the price. I find that a quarterly subscription is about as frequently as I want a subscription to arrive. It gives me time to genuinely appreciate and enjoy the contents.

I pay for this subscription with my own money so my recommendation comes knowing that my hard-earned paycheck goes to paying for it. I am in no way compensated for this recommendation. See my About page for more information.

Subscription Kit: Rad + Hungry USA 2017

Rad + Hungry is a very unique subscription service. Every month you are subscribed, you receive a package of curated stationery goods – usually pencils and a notebook plus a print and a little extra from somewhere in the world. One month it might be Uruguay, the next month it might be Korea or the Philippines.

One of the best things about the Rad + Hungry kits are how lovingly they are wrapped. Each kit is beautifully wrapped like a gift and the prints included with each kit is a beautiful piece of art that can be hung on your wall as art and a memento.

The silkscreen print was produced in neon orange ink and is hard to capture but take my word for it. It’s spectacular. Or order a kit for yourself.

The latest kit from the US included amazing finds from the Deep South and included a letter from Hen’s travels that read like a tale from a friend of her adventures from the road.

If you are a pencil collector, I think you can still get some of the rare and unique pencils through the Rad + Hungry Shop. These gems were immediately added to my ever-growing collection of pencil gems! I can hardly resist sharpening these beauties. I will breakdown soon enough, I’m sure.

The two vintage school notepads were also added to my collection of paper ephemera to be used for various and sundry purposes. This was definitely the month for excellent subscriptions.

Kit pricing starts at $24 per kit for the Quarterly (3 kits over 3 months but the prices drop to $19 for a yearly subscription for 10 kits over 12 months. There’s also a Semester Kit for $21 per kit, (6 kits over 6 months).

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to us free of charge by Rad + Hungry for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.