Archive of ‘feature’ category

Recap: Mike Rohde Coffee & Design Lecture

Mike Rohde Sketchnotes Lecture

I just wanted to put a quick post up about the lecture hosted by the Kansas City Coffee & Design group. Today’s lecture was Mike Rohde of The Sketchnote Handbook fame discussing how Sketchnotes evolved and a brief overview of the technique.

There is a full day workshop tomorrow so I’ll have lots more to share then.

If you’re in KC and want to attend the workshop tomorrow, here’s a discount code for $15 off the entry fee: FRIDAY.

(Sketchnotes by Renee Andriani)

(Sketchnotes by Renee Andriani)

(my sketchnotes from the lecture this morning)

(my sketchnotes from the lecture this morning)

Ink Review: Caran d’Ache Divine Pink

Caran d'Ache Divine Pink Ink

Most of the time, I tend to think Caran d’Ache can do no wrong. Their $5 pencils? Totally worth it. Their colored pencils and watercolor pencils? Epic. Their watercolor crayons? The holy grail of art materials.

But when it comes to their fountain pen ink, I find it a wee bit overpriced. Its pretty and the bottles are unique but $30+ per 50ml bottle is pretty steep. But I’ve bought some so I definitely drink their brand of Kool-Aid. Then I got a sample of Divine Pink and I had to start wondering if Caran d’Ache was having a bad day. You call this pink? I’ll give you warm red. Coral Rose? Maybe even Magenta? But pink, it is not. It’s pretty but it is not pink.

Caran d'Ache Divine Pink Ink

In an effort to prove to myself that I wasn’t crazy to think that Divine Pink was not really pink, I pulled out some of my Prismacolor Premier colored pencils to see what colors appeared similar. Carmine Red was probably the closest in hue. That’s not to say that I don’t like the color. I just think the name is terribly misleading.

The color is bright and vivid. Divine Pink dried fairly quickly on the Rhodia paper, even with my stub Estie nib and I didn’t smudge once. There’s a little bit of shading in the writing as well.

Like most red and pink inks, it is not the least bit water resistant. It activates easily with water but it also means its unlikely to stain or clog a pen.

Caran d'Ache Divine Pink Ink

In comparing Divine Pink to other colors in my swab stash, it falls between Kaweco Ruby Red and J. Herbin Rouge Opera. Ruby Red being slightly more red and Rouge Opera being slightly more pink. I included Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji as an ink I consider to be pink for a clear visual comparison.


This sample was part of a Goulet Pens Ink Drop.

The Pelikan Wanderbox #4

Looked what wandered into KC? #pelikan #wanderbox

A photo posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

A couple weeks ago, I received an ENORMOUS blue crate that I had to lug back from the post office because I thought it would be a good day to walk over to the PO and get me mail. Foolish me. Luckily, despite its epic size, the contents are not too weighty. It is the Pelikan Wanderbox #4 which is a project from the fine folks at Pelikan to let the ink wander the world and amass letters written by pen enthusiasts.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

Inside the foam-packed crate is a beautiful hat box with a bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst ink and handwritten letters from previous Wanderboxers. It was fun to read through each of the letters and add my own to the pile. Not to mention having an opportunity to try out the Edelstein Amethyst ink firsthand. I filled my one Pelikan M200 with the ink and set to writing my own letter.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

The color is a little more reddish than other purple-y inks I’ve tried lately but not in a garish sort of way. Its actually quite regal.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

I swabbed the color to add to my collection and there is a distinctly gold halo in the ink color adding to that royal look. I’m thinking I’ll be buying a full bottle of my own soon.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

Of the inks currently in my stash, Amethyst most closely resemble J. Herbin Poussière de Lune but the Edelstein Amethyst is a more well-behaved ink. While I love the colors of the J. Herbin standard inks, I often find them too runny for most pens.

Here’s hoping a Wanderbox comes your way soon. This one is off to Arizona on Monday. From there, who knows?

How Important is Your Notebook?

I got to thinking the other day how upset I would be if I lost my sketchbook, Traveler’s Notebook or pen case. Like “what would you grab from a burning building?” upset.

Then I realized I don’t have my name or contact information in either book. Seriously. Do you put your name inside your notebooks? In your pen case, purse, backpack or wallet?

Many notebooks include a place to write your name and contact info inside in case you get parted for your notes. Do you  fill it in? On a recent episode of the Pen Addict (I can’t remember the specific episode) the topic came up and it got me thinking. Then yesterday, I saw that Lisa Vanness lost a NockCo pen case at the Miami Pen Show. Whether it was actually misplaced or “liberated” I don’t know but either way, it also brought the issue back to mind.

How heartbroken would you be to lose a notebook, pen case or sketchbook? Enough to genuinely consider offering a reward for their return? I know I would.

Contact Info in MTN

So, I’ve put my name and contact information inside my books and hope that should I misplace them, a kind soul would return the books to me. I would gleefully buy them their own skecthbook or Traveler’s Notebook as a thank you for returning all my notes, lists, doodles and thoughts.

I also hope that by seeing my name inside a notebook or pen case, someone who was thinking of walking off with my beloved tools might reconsider. In most cases, there’s no “street value” for notebooks or pens and I firmly believe that there’s a cold place in eternity for people who steal tools — be they construction tools or writing tools.

Contact info in sketchbook

So, go now and put your name or business card and phone number or email address in your most treasured notebooks. And if you know what happened to the Vanness NockCo case, please contact Lisa at Vanness Pens. No questions asked.

 

Preview: Karas Kustoms Fountain K

Fountain K, Render K and INK

Karas Kustoms has recently been peppering the internet with sneak peeks of their upcoming Kickstarter pen release: The Fountain K. I was lucky enough to get a prototype of the new pen to try and share with you.

Pictured above is the Render K, the INK and the Fountain K all in aluminum. And to be honest, without taking the cap off, I can’t tell my Render K apart from the Fountain K. My husband claims he can tell that the Fountain K is ever-so-slightly lighter in weight but I am not that sensitive to the differences.

I did put all three pens on my trusty scale and here’s the weights of each pen, filled and capped:

Fountain K: 28 g
Render K: 34 g
INK: 43 g

Fountain K and INK

As someone with petite appendages, I have been thrilled with the overall weight and feel of the Fountain K compared to the INK. From the photo, you can see that the Fountain K is a more slender pen with a shorter grip section. Both the Fountain K and the INK use the same Schmidt nib size and I think it appears more balanced in the Fountain K. The nib looks beefier in the smaller pen.

NIb View

Those Schmidt nibs are really pretty and look great on the Fountain K. I tested a fine nib but since this is more of an overview of the design of the new Fountain K, its suffice to say that the pen wrote beautifully and as expected of any Schmidt nib. Check out Pennaquod to see a variety of nib widths of the Schmidt nib by searching for the “Karas Kustoms INK.”

Render K and Fontain K

The grip section on the Fountain K is the same length as the barrel on the Render K but since most people tend to grip a rollerball pen a bit closer to the tip, the grip on the Fountain K may seem shorter. I found that the threads are smooth enough that, even if my fingers ended up touching the threads, it was not bothersome at all. The threads are pretty smooth and gave a little grippiness to an otherwise silky smooth pen.

Cap Swap!

Did I mention that the threading on the Fountain K is exactly the same as the Render K? That means that you can switch out the caps to your liking.

All-in-all, I’m absolutely thrilled with the Fountain K. It is exactly what I had hoped it would be… a smaller alternative to the INK. Its beautiful, well-balanced and made in the USA. I can’t wait to see the excitement about the upcoming Kickstarter for these beauties. No official date has been set for the Kickstarter launch but I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as I hear.


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

Midori Traveler’s Notebook Follow-Up

Midori Traveler's Notebook Pan Am Edition

This post was originally supposed to be about the new Midori Traveler’s Notebook (Pan Am) Blue Edition but I love the original MTN regular-sized notebook so much I couldn’t bring myself to open the Pan Am edition yet. So, admire the beautiful packaging compliments of Baum-Kuchen. I’m saving it, all wrapped up until I need a pick-me-up. Then I’ll share the contents with you.

In the meantime, I’m going to give a peek into my current MTN set-up since, after four months, I needed to make a couple updates.

MTN Current Set-up

Currently, I have two blank refills in my current Traveler’s Notebook set-up. The one in the front is the standard Midori blank refill that I use for project planning. The “Milk & Honey” sticker is from a local macaron shop. YUM!

The notebook in the back is one I made using a paper I cut from a standard black sketchbook with 65lb (approx 96 gsm) drawing paper. The 8.5×11″ paper cut and folded with only a little trimming to fit perfectly into the regular-sized MTN. I added green, cardstock covers and alphabet stickers that say “DRAW”. I use it as a portable sketchbook now as well as keeping swatch samples of pens, pencils and inks and art-related notes.This is actually my second refill in the back of my MTN. The first was a Banditapple blank notebook that got filled with writing samples from various pens and inks and from various people while I was in Atlanta for the Pen Show so I’m super sentimental about it. The paper in the Banditapple notebooks is 80 gsm (approx 55 lb) which is pretty good and had little-to-no bleedthrough but I had the unused sketchbook so I decided to make use of materials I had rather than ordering ANOTHER notebook.

In the center section is my planner. I downloaded the Taroko Shop Week-On-Two-Pages sheets ($3.50) to use as my planner. I’ve been using it since February and I’ve been very pleased with it. I set it up to run through the middle of July so it was time to update the planner portion so I thought I’d share the process.

MTN updated inserts

I printed out fresh blank planner pages and bound them into a booklet using black cardstock for the cover. I used a numbering stamp to add the date numbers to each page. My friend Carolee gave me the tabbed stickers which fold over and I stamped the month on each tab and stuck them to the first page of each month. I’ve been on the hunt for a source for these tabbed stickers because they are fabulous!

I also bought fresh magnet page markers. The first set I had was the Galison Mr. Fox & Friends ($5.75) but the animal ears all got bent and cracked over the months so I upgraded to the Galison Up in the Air set ($5.75). For the planning section, I used the sun marker which is perfect for “today”. In the front book is a rainbow and the drawing book has the bird wearing a scarf and goggles. Adventure ahead! I also grabbed an assortment of Pine Book Schedule Stickers in the Panda Life ($2.65 per sheet) theme to use for a little fun for the daily grind.

Other than that, the only additions in my Traveler’s Notebook are the stock plastic zipper pouch insert, the business card sleeve insert and a homemade 6-pocket cardstock folder insert.

Overall, my Traveler’s Notebook is not all that “tricked out” but what I have added to it has just made it more “me.” Do you have a Traveler’s Notebook? What do you use yours for and what modifications have you made?

The Downside of Teaching Your Spouse to Love Pens

@goldspotpens @retro1951 we have ignition! #liftoff

A video posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

I don’t know where on the spectrum your significant other, spouse or children are on the “pen love” chart but I officially converted my husband to the joys of good pens about a year ago. As a result, certain items come into my house that I never, ever, ever see again. While I’m flattered that my pen-and-paper snobbery has rubbed off on him, I get jealous of the items he absconds with.

For example, the above video was the one and only time I saw the new Retro 51 Lift-Off pen. He showed me the rocket flare red cap and then it went in his pocket. To be fair, I totally bought the Lift-Off for Bob. I was able to garner from my quick peeks that the pen graphics are designed to read corerctly with the pen on its flat end, just like a rocket. Its apparent from the photos but until it was in Bob’s hand, I didn’t make the connection. And the bright red end cap does look like ignition burn red.

Bob also ran away with the Retro 51 Pinball edition. Which I was flattered he liked so much that he wanted it for himself.

He even checks out auction sites for NASA-specific Fisher Space Pens. I’ve yet to capture a good photo of it but he scored a mission-specific Shuttle launch commemorative pen with a space shuttle charm soldered to the pen cap. He loves this pen! See? He does not share his treasures! I’ve taught him too well.

(All I got for you is the Field Notes “stock photo”. You know as much as I do.)

Also, the new Field Notes Colors Edition Workshop Edition got as far as my kitchen table before Bob slid them to his side covetously. I wasn’t even allowed to open the cellophane. So, I need to order another set for myself. I cannot describe any aspect of the Workshop Edition other than it came in a cardboard box with a lovely postal label on it. I think I spied a magnet in a plastic bag as well. Otherwise, I’ve got no details. I can’t tell you how luscious the upscale paper is or which of the six editions I’m most likely to use first.

So, my advice, train your family and friends cautiously. They might run off with the new stuff before you even get a peek!

New Sponsor: Fresh Stock Japan

Fresh Stock Japan Screenshot

I’m delighted to introduce you to our newest sponsor, Fresh Stock Japan. Fresh Stock was started by Benjamin and his wife Becky when they were living in Japan. They’ve recently returned to the US but will continue to import unique and unusual items from Japan.

Fresh Stock has a small but highly-curated assortment of pens, pencils and office supplies. I recently ordered the Mitsubishi Colored Pencils N0. 850 (24) for $22 and was pleased with the quality of the pencils for the price. I also stocked up on some other unique office essentials like clips and pencils.

Prices are very reasonable and shipping is USPS Priority Mail for domestic orders, USPS International First Class for international. If you have any questions about the products they stock or shipping, please visit Fresh Stock Japan’s Contact Page and drop them an email.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pigment Pens

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Set

Technically, the full name for these pens is Kuretake Zig Memory System Millennium for Drawing & Scrapbooking but that is a mouthful. So, are we okay just calling them Zig Millennium Pens for the duration?

This set of five pens was recommended to me following my recent round-up of archival, pigment felt tip pens. Turns out the Zig Millenniums are budget-priced pens that offer all the same features of the more expensive brands and can often be easier to find in local craft and hobby stores.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Writing Samples

I purchased this set of five on Amazon for the rock bottom price of $6.56 with free Prime shipping. The set included one of each in 005, 01, 03, 05 and 08 sizes which is a perfect size variety for me.

The pens are a wide barrel silver plastic — just a smidgen wider than a Sakura Pigma Micron. The Zig Millennium pens are 5.375″ long capped, just shy of 4.75″ uncapped and the cap will post making the pen 6.375″ long. The clip is metal and reminds me of the clip on the Pilot Precise V5. The Zig Millenniums are only available in black ink but, with these permanent felt tips, I find I only ever reach for the black pens anyway.

I’ve been using these pens regularly for over a week and the points have held up to various papers including over acrylic paint, watercolor brush markers, and colored pencil without being any worse for the wear. I’ll be curious how well the points hold up long term and if the ink lasts as long in the pen as other brands.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Comparison

Colorwise, the ink is not as rich black as a Sakura Pigma Micron which is the gold standard at almost twice the price. Compared to other brands like the Copic Multiliners, Staedtler Pigment Liners and the Sharpie Pen, the Zig Millenniums are totally comparable in regards to how rich the black ink is. Actually, if I had to rank these felt tips by how rich the black ink is, I’d put the Zig Millenniums second only to the Microns, especially at the wider nib sizes.

With their wide availability and comparable pricing to Sharpie Pens, the Zig Millenniums are a great addition to your archival felt-tip pen collection, especially if you are looking for finer or broader nibs than are available in the Sharpie Pen.

Giveaway Winner: Jet Pens Birthday Gift Certificate

bday Phew! The most entries ever for a giveaway and lots of lovely birthday wishes which I am so grateful for. Thanks to everyone!

Lots of lovely birthday ideas from folks and I enjoyed reading all the comments. I wish I could make everyone’s birthday wishes come true.

And now, the winner of the Jet Pens $25 Gift Certificate.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.31.56 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.32.42 PM

Congrats to Stephanie and I hope you get a dog and your dad to quit smoking. As an asthmatic who has trouble breathing most of the time, having good lungs is something I’d love to have been born with. I hope you can help him give up the habit.

Review: Hadera RePaper A5 Pad

Habera Repaper pad

When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be so fortunate to receive stationery gifts from all over the world. For example, Amit kindly sent me an A5 notepad from Hadera RePaper, all the way from Israel. The paper is a deeply speckled, taupe sheet in a tearaway pad bound at the top like a classic legal pad. The paper is listed as 100% recycled and a glance at the Hadera Paper web site made it clear that the material used to make the paper is collected from all over Israel in special collection bins. Hadera also does not use bleach in making the paper to keep the environmental impact down.

Habera Repaper pad

The biggest surprise of this office supply staple is that the paper is fountain pen friendly. I am as surprised as anyone about this since most recycled papers are known for being super absorbent even with the most average of supply cupboard pens. But not the Hadera RePaper. Not only is it a pleasing color and a nice alternative to stark white but all three fountain pen nibs I tried on it performed admirably. So much so that there wasn’t even any show through on the back which means the whole sheet can be used for writing, not just the fronts. Try that with most legal pads!

Habera Repaper pad

The Hadera RePaper web site was interesting as it gave me a peek into what the standard Israeli office products might be. The stock spiral bound notebooks with the spiral on the right hand side since Hebrew is written right to left. I think lefties would love all the right hand binding options in Israel. Israelis use standard A4 and A5 notebooks and RePaper even has an A6 pocket notebook like Field Notes.

I also got to do cost conversions from Israeli New Shekel (which has the coolest symbol that looks like cupped hands) to US dollars. Most of the Hadera paper products were competitively priced with American big box stores so this is the best fountain pen friendly paper in the world I think. A 5-pack of A5 notepads is 14.90 in New Shekel which is about $3.87 US. That’s less than $1 per pad.

I could not find any information on the site about shipping outside Israel but since the paper is made from locally sourced recycled material and pistachio shells it seems counter-intuitive to their environmental mission to ask them to ship a bunch of notebooks and paper internationally. I’ll have to get by with my one little A5 notepad and hope that someday I’ll have a reason to be in Israel so I can stock up on RePaper notebooks. I wonder what other stationery wonders exist in Israel?

(Thanks to Amit in Israel for sending me a pad to try out!)

It’s My Birthday, But You Get a Gift!

bday

It’s my birthday, but I want to give you a gift. Well, one of you anyway. I’m giving away $25 gift certificate to Jet Pens to one lucky reader. Thanks to Jet Pens for sponsoring this birthday giveaway. Leave a comment and tell me what you want for your birthday to be entered to win.

The novelty erasers pictured are not a required purchase but they sure are fun!

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, June 14, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. 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.

Getting Creative with Online Classes

I recently mentioned my desire to take some art classes and spend more time being creative this summer. In my hunt for the right classes for me, I found a lot of great online resources for learning new creative skills (and even some technical skills!). I thought I’d share some of the resources in case you, too, are looking to try your hand at painting, drawing, crafts or developing some other skills.

There are two big categories for online classes: the subscription-style sites that house diverse topics, instructors and courses and individuals who teach classes and workshops in a few select areas.

The Big Sites:

Skliishare screenshot

Skillshare: Skillshare is the first online learning site I tried. I started with Mary Kate McDevitt’s Hand Lettering class and I absolutely loved it. After that, I was sold. I bought a whole year subscription and added over 50 classes to my “to try” list. They offer a lot of creative classes and there’s a strong focus on digital skills or taking projects to a digital finish. There’s a logo design class with Aaron Draplin as well as classes on animation, business development and marketing, photography and a whole lot more. I have started recommending Skillshare to all young designers and creative folks. There’s a lot of practical information from a lot of highly respected talent in the industries they represent. Subscriptions are $10/month but there are discounted rates for purchasing a year membership. Skillshare also has mobile apps for iPhone and Android to easily access content.

Lynda.com: Lynda is probably the first online learning site for creative skills. Lynda got started publishing how-to books for Photoshop, HTML and CSS back in the 90s. Then went digital with video tutorials and set the bar. Classes range from step-by-step tutorials for using applications (from Adobe apps to Word to Evernote, QuickBooks and even LogicPro. The list goes on!) to steps to improving your business, marketing, programming and much much more. Subscription start at $24.99/month but discounts are available for a yearly subscription as well as bulk pricing for businesses and Pro account options.

Creativebug screenshot

CreativeBug: CreativeBug focuses more on art and craft skills but if you’ve been thinking about learning how to knit, crochet, sew, start watercolor painting or make jewelry, this might be the site for you. The classes are well-filmed and easy to follow. I started with Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Explorations course and then started adding sewing and other art classes to my queue. There are a few free lessons available to try before you subscribe but the cost per month is just $5 so its not a big leap to just subscribe for a month and see if you like it. CreativeBug also has an iPhone/iPad app and are currently working on a Android app.

Craftsy screenshot

Craftsy: Craftsy organizes its classes on a per-class basis. If you want to take the Pen & Ink Essentials class, you just purchase that class for $19.99 (current sale price) and you can access that class whenever, forever. The class offering range from sewing, baking, knitting and fiber arts, fine arts and even woodworking.

Free Online Art Classes: I found out about Free Online Art Classes from a NYTimes article. Its not the prettiest or most up-to-date looking web site but Lois DeWitt has put her 50 years of teaching experience behind the site and the classes are free. Topics range from traditional art materials lessons like Drawing with Colored Pencils to Fabric Printing and Jewelry Making. This would be a good place to start and get an idea about what creative pursuit might best suit you.

Individual Artists’ Sites:

Jane Davenport: I am currently taking Jane Davenport’s Supplies Me class which is the starter class for her mixed media art journaling classes. Her quirky style was very much to my taste so it seemed like a good fit. She totally enables my urge to buy all the art supplies which is a good and bad thing. I’m enjoying learning some new techniques and how to actually use a lot of the pens, pencils and art supplies I’ve collected in ways I had not considered. There are several more classes available to help build confidence in drawing and handling art materials. Classes start at $55 AUS and go up to the Entire Kaboodle for $775 AUS.

Kelly Rae Roberts: Kelly Rae Roberts offers a Mixed Media Mantras Workshop that focuses on creating meaningful visual messages. The course walks you through creating your own mantra and then guides you through the process of turning your mantra into a mixed media collage piece. The class is divided into three parts and costs $247. Access to the video and virtual classroom is available for six months from purchase date.

Christy Tomlinson: Christy Tomlinson, AKA Scarlet Lime, offers a variety of online multimedia classes. For beginners, she recommends the Behind The Art creative workshop that walks through her favorite materials and process from building multimedia backgrounds to laying in details using an array of materials to create art journals and multimedia pieces. The course is divided into five weeks and costs $64.95. Christy also offers a Creative Planner online course if your urge to be creative intertwines with your love of planners and staying organized. The Crative Planner course contains 25 videos and costs $34.95. There are several other classes to choose from as well. To get a feel for her classes, you can check out Christy’s YouTube channel as well.

Alisa Burke: Alisa Burke offers an assortment of mini classes as well as larger workshops for drawing and journaling. Cost per class is between $15 and $50 and you’ll have unlimited access to videos and content. You can get a feel for her videos on her YouTube channel or just purchase one of her online classes and jump in with both feet.

Have you ever tried an online class or are you considering trying one now?

The 5-Minute Journal

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Have you heard about the Five-Minute Journal? It is a journal that prompts users to answer five prompts each day. There are only a few lines to answer each prompt so it takes no more time than it would take to eat your breakfast to get started. It seems to be a good option to get started keeping a journal that focuses on positivity and looking forward. The first three prompts can be written early in the day and the last two at the end of the day or the following day.

The Five-Minute Journal has a beautiful fabric cover and looks to be about an A5-ish size. There isn’t a ton of info on paper materials or page count but the book is just $22.95 and includes weekly challenges to keep inspiring you through the life of the book.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 5.14.58 PM

If a paper journal seems too intimidating, there is also an iPhone app to try this technique on the go.

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.

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

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

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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

Put Those Refills to Good Use

I like to liberate refills from the assorted plastic pens I have accumulated over the years. These are all those gel pens I’ve purchased over the years from Jet Pens. While I love the flow of the refills, the lackluster plastic barrels leave me wanting.

I started opening each plastic pen and discovering that they are almost always a standard sized refill like a Pilot G2-sized or Hi-Tec C-sized. There are also far more colors and point sizes available in the full pens than in most refill-only options. Red, blue and black are fine for many folks but I want to be able to choose orange, evergreen, turquoise or purple, if the mood strikes.

By hacking the refills out of plastic pens, I created  an almost unlimited supply of potential refills for my favorite pen bodies. And by using these fine gel refills, I have catapulted certain pens into EDC pens because now they are not only beautiful and comfortable but can contain the exact right refill for me.

Render K pen hack

This habit started with Karas Kustoms and the Render K and RETRAKT pens. The lengthy list of possible refills led me to create the Refill Guide and really start experimenting with trying different refills with different pens.

Render K pen hack

I even save the springs in a plastic retractable to help stabilize a refill in a machined pen. If the refill fits but is too long, trim it down with a pair of sharp scissors. Empty refills can be trimmed to add length to a too-short refill to fit into a different pen as well. With each plastic pen costing less than a couple bucks, its not a tragedy if you make a mistake.

Happy hacking!

DIY Envelopes & Liners

(photo by the Hallmark Photo Studio)

(photo by the Hallmark Photo Studio)

Today, the Hallmark.com featured a tutorial and free printables designed by me! Visit the site to find out how to make an envelope liner for your Mother’s Day card or even make your own envelope using found papers like gift bags and wrapping paper.

(via Hallmark.com)

Atlanta Pen Show: Day Three

(Photo reposted from Pen Compass)

(Photo reposted from Pen Compass)

Recapping the last day of the pen show is done with melancholy. The whole weekend has been so amazing, so epic, that its hard to say goodbye. Many people had to head home on Sunday and our group got smaller as the hours ticked by.  It kind of reminds me of the closing scene of Ocean’s 11, which probably makes me the little contortionist.

Now, to the true report.

The doors opened at 9am again for 3-day pass holders and at 10am for single day attendees. The show floor weren’t nearly as crowded as they were on Friday and Saturday but some hot items’ stock was starting to dwindle.

Pen testing with Thomas and Leigh

Pen testing with Thomas and Leigh

I had an appointment to get some nib work done by Mike Masuyama on Sunday morning. The kind enablers, Thomas Hall and Leigh Reyes, spent the better part of Saturday night letting me test drive every single nib in their pen cases to help give me some idea of what I might want to get done from micro needlepoints to italics. In the end, I decided to have two of the nibs on pens I purchased tuned rather than reground. Since it was my first time getting professional nib work, I wanted to see how he could make a good nib better before I started making serious alterations. Next year, I’ll come with a better plan.

At noon, I attended Deborah Basil’s Cursive Handwriting class which was a great history of handwriting class and a refresher on cursive writing. The class materials were from Michael Sull’s American Cursive Handwriting. Sull is best known for all this work with Spencerian script but the handwriting system he created is a good blend of other styles with a more sophisticated look than some of systems taught to children. It made it quite appropriate for adults looking to improve their writing. Deborah was awesome and the class had at least four lefties in it, not counting Deboarh, so it was great to be able to work with someone who understood our struggles.

Brian Anderson with his pocket overflow, Mike Masuyama working on my nibs and Deborah Basil teaching the cursive writing class.

Brian Anderson with his pocket overflow, Mike Masuyama working on my nibs and Deborah Basil teaching the cursive writing class.

Then there was last-minute shopping and a couple laments that “for the sake of my wallet, these vendors need to start packing up!”

By about 4pm, a few of us took over an empty table next to the Karas Kustoms booth and sampled a few bottles of ink and a couple new pens. Every time one of us pulled out a new pen, it gets passed around for inspection and testing by every person within a ten yard vicinity. And no one ever seems to mind. Its pride in their good purchase, their new nib or their ink choice and the thrill of sharing the experience with people who understand the excitement. Its really magical. And there’s as much enthusiasm around a good, everydy TWSBI as their is with a rare, ridiculously expensive Nakaya — and each pen is passed around with equal enthusiasm and gushing. If someone passed around a Pilot Varsity, we’d be jut as interested.

Then their were dinners and drinks and hugs and farewells as folks departed for their beds and early flights.

I’d like to thank everyone who backed the Kickstarter and made it possible for me to be a part of this amazing adventure. I will be eterntally grateful to each and everyone of you. I will cherish the memories and friendships I made and look forward to sharing each of my purchases in reviews in the coming weeks.

See you all next year!

Atlanta Pen Show: Day Two

Atlanta Pen Show: Day Two

Day Two of the Atlanta Pen Show was full of just as much fun and adventure as the first day. Saturdays at pen shows are generally busier than Friday or Sunday so the rooms were full-to-brimming with pen collectors from far and wide. It was great fun that by Saturday, both collectors and vendors were starting to become familiar faces and everyone was friendly and talkative. As an introvert, that usually makes me feel a little awkward but here the conversation feels easy. Folks will ask about what you’ve bought and what you’re looking for and the next thing you know, you’ll have pulled up a chair and gotten to hear how a vendor found their first pen, their best score or the most unusual thing that’s happened at a pen show.

In the late afternoon, Casey (AKA Punkey) organized a pen and ink play time that lasted until past midnight as people cycled in and out. Everyone pulled their unique, rare or just favorite pens out and let everyone try them out. This gave everyone an opportunity to try any nib style or custom grind they’ve ever wondered about as well as getting a chance to handle a huge variety of pens in a more comfortable setting. Not to mention getting to hear acquisition stories!

Atlanta Pen Show: Day Two

The photos above were all liberated from the Pen Addict Slack channel and were taken by Leigh, Brad and Thomas.

Pen play lasted right through the recording of the 150th episode of the Pen Addict podcast which I was kindly invited to be a part of. And it was video recorded for the Kickstarter backers so that you’all can see just how many silly faces and wild hand gestures are used when we get excited about pens. Brad even took the Visionaire for a test drive.

Atlanta Pen Show: Day Two

I’m looking forward to Day Three which will include getting a nib tuned by Mike Masiyama and hopefully having time to take a calligraphy class with Deborah Basil. What a weekend!

To see all the photos in their full glory, please see my Flickr Album: Atlanta Pen Show 2015.

Atlanta Pen Show Report: Day One

Atlanta Pen Show Day One

The first day of the Atlanta Pen Show was amazing. The atmosphere was friendly and party-like and everyone was excited to see what vendors had to offer and meet new people. Sometimes looking at tray after tray of pens spread out across a vendor’s table was hugely overwhelming but everything was so beautiful that my eye would be attracted to a particular color or clip and I’d have to zoom in for a closer look.

I met Lisa Anderson from Anderson Pens and she was just as friendly and charming as I expected. I even got a hug which totally made my day.

The Nock Co booth was frequently swarmed by pen collectors young and old. Rumor has it Brad got an earful from the legendary Susan Wirth and it was all enthusiastic praise about the products. How cool is that?

Everyone who witnessed me pulling my stash of vintage Esterbrooks out of a rolled-up shop towel gave me grief that “I know a guy who makes these pen cases” so I finally bought a Nock Co Brasstown in Mandarin Mango. Problem solved!

Atlanta Pen Show Day One

I spent a lot of time at the Franklin-Christoph testing station with my friend Amanda. We pretty much tried every nib they had in stock which was loads of fun and is why, after thinking things over, I will be at the F-C booth first thing this morning to buy my first Franklin-Christoph. Very excited and grateful to Lori from F-C who has been my own personal enabler.

I visited the Van Ness booth and drooled at the tower of P. W. Akkerman inks. I bought one bottle but will probably be back for more today.

The big social event, of course, was the Nock Co. Sassafrass Spring Fling which was a wonderful get-together with beer, pizza, raffle and lots and lots of pen talk. You can find other folks’ photos on Instagram with the hash tag #sassafling15.

Atlanta Pen Show Day One

To see all the photos in their full glory, please see my Flickr Album: Atlanta Pen Show 2015.

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