Category: feature

Giveaway Winner: Monteverde Intima Neon Pink Pink Fountain Pen and Ballpoint Set

 

Congrats to the winner of the Pen Boutique Monteverde Intima Neon Pink Fountain Pen & Ballpoint Set! Sounds like Kelly Anne is going to have my kind of Valentine’s Day.

The Monteverde Intima Set is still available at a great price if you want to grab one for yourself or your sweetie! Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and Kelly Anne, give BB and Buck and extra scratch on the chin for me.

Ink Miser Inkwells

I’d been looking for a solution to getting to the bottom of those many bottles of Robert Oster Signature inks I’ve been acquiring lately. I’d considered purchasing some empty bottles from Vanness as one option but that’s a lot of bottles and I might do that for a few of my favorites like the Fire & Ice which I seem to be using on a regular basis. But I do like how compact the Oster bottles are to store so for most of the bottles, I think I will probably leave them as they are because I had the idea to try out the Ink Miser Inkwells. I thought maybe the intra-bottle inkwell ($5) might work but as you can see from the photo below, the intra-bottle design is too wide to fit into the Oster bottles. The standard Ink Miser freestanding design ($6) works just fine though.

I decant a bit of the ink from the Oster bottle into the Ink Miser and fill a pen, then return the remainder back into the bottle and rinse the Ink Miser clean. Easy peasy.

I do have some Noodler’s Ink bottles in which I can use the intra-bottle Ink Miser so it won’t go to waste.

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

Well-Appointed Studio Overhaul

Over the holidays, my husband and I finally decided to overhaul our communal workspace using the Ikea Kallax worktable hack I posted about a few months ago. The room is a medium-sized, guest bedroom that is used as an office/studio/catch-all in our small 2-bedroom house. We replaced a small wall shelf with the largest Kallax wall unit book shelf with a row of cupboard and a row of drawer units in an effort to try to clear away a bunch of small, assorted rolling cabinets. Then we replaced a thrifted oval conference table with the Kallax worktable-on-wheels which also includes several drawer units and usable storage space underneath.

The horror was what the studio looked like before. So here it is:

I always forget what a pain it is to assemble Ikea furniture but its such a sense of accomplishment once its done. And it really is quite sturdy. The key with this Kallax shelf unit was to build it in the room. I’m not sure we could have gotten it into the room assembled as its basically 6 feet square and rigid and would not have fit around the corners of our tiny hallways. So if you are planning a similar project, plan accordingly.

We still need to get a couple good, adjustable stools to use with the table but overall the workspace looks so much better. Its brighter, more organized and so much more usable.

Assembly in progress above.

See how clean and perfectly stained the table top is? Took me less than a week to get an ink stain on it.

Bob used the instructions from the Kallax hack and mitered the trim perfectly. So professional!

No, I do not have a book problem. And those drawers are not full of pens and ink. Nope. Okay, that is a stack of typewriters.

An Administration Remembered, Stationery-Style

(Photo credits: in order clockwise from top left: A reporter takes notes while President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom speak to the press in the Oval Office, March 3, 2009, Photo by Pete Souza;Pens to be used by President Barack Obama are set on the signing table with the bill prior to the signing of H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, July 22, 2014, Photo by Amanda Lucidon; The place-setting for attendees of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet meeting to discuss the economic recovery effort in the State Dining Room of the White House, June 8, 2009, Photo by Samantha Appleton; resident Barack Obama’s place is set at the table prior to the State Dinner for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in the East Room of the White House, April 28, 2015, Photo by Chuck Kennedy. )

Over the years, I’ve frequently used photos of President Barack Obama writing as examples of an overwriting lefthander because of the tireless work of the staff photographer (usually Pete Souza) in the White House who has spent the last eight years photographing just about every time President Obama signed anything. And thankfully, the photos have been available for use by the press on the White House Flickr feed, now archived as the Obama White House feed.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite pen related photo over the years. I’ve spent much time trying to figure out exactly what pens are used for the signing of legislation (I’m assuming either Parker or Sheaffer) and admiring the occasional photos of the handlettered place cards for luncheons and state dinners.

And that photo at the top left of the reporter who still writes in shorthand?!? That was back in 2009 but still! Pretty cool. I always like to see how other people work and live especially in such a world in which they meet foreign leaders, visit other countries and still occasionally dig in dirt, go for burgers and play basketball and manage to do it all under a microscope and smile through it all. I don’t think I pull that off. But I guess if I got all those pens, I’d sure try.

(Photo credits: in order clockwise from top left: Close-up detail of President Obama’s signature on a bill, and a pen used for the signing, aboard Air Force One on a flight from Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, Col. to Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 17, 2009, Photo by Pete Souza; President Barack Obama signs a United States name plate at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2014, Photo by Pete Souza; President Barack Obama writes a response to one of the ten letters he receives each day from the White House Correspondence office on Saturday, July 25, 2009, Photo By Pete Souza; A copy of the menu sits on a table following the Congressional Spouses Luncheon, May 20, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton).


These photos are official White House photographs and are made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Review: Marvy LePlume II Brush Markers

Guest review by Tina Koyama

Before I got heavily into colored pencils, watercolor brush pens were my coloring medium of choice. It’s hard to resist the huge range of intense, saturated colors many of them come in. Tombow Dual-Brush Pens were my gateway drug, and I managed to acquire quite a few of the line’s 96 colors before I discovered Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens. I decided that the “real” brush tips on the Kuretake pens were more variable and expressive, and they were my favorite for a long time (and yes, I acquired quite a few of those, too).

Eventually colored pencils suited my urban sketching needs better than markers, so except for black brush pens, I haven’t been using markers as much. Recently, though, I discovered Marvy LePlume II Double-Sided Watercolor Markers – and good golly, they come in an unbelievable 109 colors! Even more than the Tombows! Resistance was futile. I did, however, manage to resist getting all 109. In fact, my general tendency is to pick out all the brightest, most garish colors in any set, but I wanted to limit myself to about a dozen, so I showed some restraint and chose a relatively cohesive, subdued (for me) palette. I also got a blender pen.

1-marvy-leplume-ii-markers

Scribble and Wash Test

My initial scribbles were done on Canson 98-pound mixed media paper, which is sized for wet media. On the right I used the blender pen to test the wash properties and found the marks to be a bit scratchy looking – the blender brush pen’s strokes are apparent. On the left I used a Kuretake waterbrush and prefer the more watercolor-like effect of its wetter brush.

2-scribble-and-wash-test-on-canson-98-lb-mixed-media-paper

I have to say that I didn’t use the fine end of the two-sided Marvy LePlume pens except to write the color names and numbers on the left side of the page. The fine end is a firm tip suitable for writing and drawing, but not for coloring. When I’m coloring, I prefer the softer brush tip of the larger end, which is made of a compressed, slightly flexy material (not hairs). Like all brush pens, you can adjust the size of the mark the brush makes by changing the angle relative to the paper. I found it easy to color in larger areas quickly by using the broad side of the brush tip held at a sharp angle to the page.

3-two-sizes-of-marvy-leplume-ii-2-sided-marker-tips

Stillman & Birn Zeta Test

The next test was more fun. I’ve seen many adult coloring books lately with beautiful abstract patterns. To test out the markers’ blending properties, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: I made my own coloring book page. I did the line work first with a waterproof Sakura Pigma Micron pen in a Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook.

I’ve successfully used 180-pound S&B Zeta paper with traditional watercolors, so I assume the surface is sized for wet media. I tried to make gradient effects with single colors as well as with two or three shades, but they didn’t blend as well as I thought they would. On the Zeta paper, I found the blending effect to be better with the blender pen than the waterbrush, but when I scrubbed more to increase the blending, the Zeta’s surface started to pill a bit.

4-coloring-book-page-in-stillman-birn-zeta

Canson Mixed Media Test

I did a third test using Canson 98-pound mixed media paper (the same kind used for the scribble/wash test). This time I thought the Marvy LePlumes blended much more easily and with less scrubbing whether I was using water or the blender pen. The blender pen still shows brush strokes more than the waterbrush, but they are not necessarily objectionable – just a slightly different effect. It’s a matter of personal preference, but I like the look of these markers and their blending qualities better on the toothy Canson paper than the smooth Zeta paper. I’m not sure whether it’s the texture or sizing or both, but as usual, the particular paper used with a pen makes a big difference in the effect.

I know that brush markers are popular among coloring book enthusiasts, and I’ve sometimes wondered whether the types of paper coloring books are published on are suitable for wet markers like these (let alone blending their colors with a waterbrush). If you’re planning to use them in coloring books, I’d buy just a few pens and test them out before investing in all 109 colors (which is the kind of crazy thing I’d be likely to do without testing first).

One thing to be aware of is that some Marvy LePlume colors are much juicier than others, and when I pulled the caps off, they actually spattered ink on the page (I circled the spatters on the S&B Zeta page).

5a-marvy-leplume-ii-with-blender-pen-on-canson-98-lb 5b-marvy-leplume-ii-with-water-on-canson-98-lb-mixed-media-paper

Tombow Comparison

I didn’t intend this to be a head-to-head comparison review, but since I just happen to have a good supply of the afore-mentioned Tombow Dual Brush Pens, I decided to do a mini-test of their blending qualities on Canson paper, just for kicks. The Tombows are comparable in that they also have a broad brush end and a fine, hard-tip end. With a waterbrush, Tombow ink makes an almost seamless wash that looks very much like watercolor. With the Tombow blender, blending gradient colors was a bit easier to do and showed fewer brush strokes.

6-tombow-dual-brush-pens-on-canson-98-lb

Final Thoughts

While I found no fault with the Marvy LePlumes, they didn’t distinguish themselves much from other similar markers I’ve used, and I think I prefer the Tombows when color blending. (What a relief – now I won’t have to run out and get the rest of the LePlume colors!) They did remind me, though, of how much fun it is to use watercolor brush markers, and I’m going to get them out more often again.

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


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

My Favorite Inks for 2016

When thinking about my favorite inks for 2016, I couldn’t narrow it down to just one color or even 10. But I had ranges of colors that ended up being my favorites this year. Some were colors that I discovered this year and some were new lines that were introduced this year and some are long held favorites I just can’t shake. Robert Oster, the new Sailor Jentle Four Seasons line, the J. Herbin 1670 colors are all worth noting. Lamy Dark Lilac was a big hit this year as well. Sheening inks were on the rise in 2016, while shimmering inks seemed to be too high maintenance for many fountain pen users and may not be as popular in 2017. That’s my prediction.

Pink ink became a big winner among pen enthusiasts of all persuasions. Boutique inks have become popular with brands like KWZ, Robert Oster, Papier Plume, and many others becoming the must haves. Boutique inks are the craft brews of the pen world.

The Blues:

inks-2016-blues2

Of course, I had to mention the coveted J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor even though technically it was released in 2015. I used the heck out of it in 2016. In the same boat is my beloved DeAtramentis Pigeon Blue, the only ink that I’ve purchased a second bottle. It’s my “house ink”.  It’s just this smoky teal blue that I like. Everyone has to find their house ink. This one is mine. My close second is Kaweco Paradise Blue which is a slightly greener teal blue-green with a bit of a red sheen. So pretty and a very reasonably priced ink. Good stable, everyday ink. Then there’s Robert Oster knocking my socks off with Marine, Torquay, Fire & Ice and Aqua. All amazing teal and turquoise blues with sheen. Fab!

inks-2016-blues

Callifolio is another brand I got to know well this year and Omi Osun, Oliphants  and Equinoxe 5 are all inks I use regularly. Oliphants is the “Pigeon Blue” I keep at work. Its a bit more saturated. Equinoxe 5 is a good blue black, a bit more saturated than Bungbox 4B. Robert Oster Blue Sea can sheen almost magenta and Bookbinders Snake Ink Blue Coral has a similar sheen but is a bit lighter in color.

*There’s one more blue that accidentally escaped down into the Grey and Purples. It’s Bungbox 4B (or Blue Black). It’s not necessarily a new color this year but it was new-to-me this year. It’s a deep navy blue-black with a bit of a red sheen. You can read my full review here. If you’re going to buy a very expensive bottle of Bungbox, this is a pretty good one.

The Pinks, Reds and Oranges:

inks-2016-pinks, reds and oranges

Sailor Jentle Irori blows my mind with the gold sheen on my swatch. I don’t see it as much in writing but the edges of the letters do darken a bit so wow! Lots of people have been happy about the Kin-Mokusei being a lovely orange and Papier Plume’s Sazerac is a wonderful orange with just a hint of amber making feel grown-up and not candy-colored. The Kobe inks were crazy popular at the DC Pen Show and I was happy to snag two bottles: #12 and #41, both unusual pink colors to add to my Callifolio Andrinople and Papier Plume Garden District Azalea. I am now a well-rounded connoisseur of pink inks.

And I love the Sailor Jentle Sakura-Mori. Its such a smoky petal pink (the swatch above looks a bit more saturated than it really is, sadly, since most were looking accurate today).

The Greys and Purples (and a renegade):

inks-2016-greys and purples

I love grey inks and was happy to find two new grey inks this year: Sailor Jentle Chu-Shu which is a grey-purple and Bookbinders Snake Ink Ground Rattler which is a perfect neutral grey.

In regards to purples, Sailor Jentle Four Seasons introduced a vivd purple violet Fuji-Musume that satisfies any bright purple urges I might have had. And Lamy’s Dark Lilac is a good deep  usable purple-black with a gold sheen. Dark Lilac satisfied on all fronts, it was finally a dark-enough-to-be-usable ink from Lamy’s limited edition line, it sheens and its actually a nice color. Win-win-win!

*The details about Bungbox 4B is above in the Blues section.

The Green, Golds and Browns:

inks-2016-golds and greens

And finally, while not everyone was as thrilled with J. Herbin’s Caroube de Chypre, I really liked it. It was hot chocolate with gold sprinkles. How can that be a bad thing? Callifolio’s Huere D’Orée is the warm wheat gold ink that made a good substitute for a lot of people who decided that KWZ Honey wasn’t for them. I really prefer it. Once again, the new Sailor Jentle Four Seasons inks hit on all fronts… I love the Waka-Uguisu green AND the Rikyu-Cha brown too. Finally, as mentioned in my reviews, Robert Oster’s Khaki and Papier Plume’s Streetcar Green are both new favorites for me this year too.

Before you think every new ink I try is my new favorite, here are a few inks I tried that I wanted to like but didn’t: KWZ Grey Plum, Bungbox Ink of the Witch, Bungbox Tears of a Clown, KWZ Green Gold 2, and Lamy Charged Green. Keeping in mind, I play with color for a living so generally speaking I do like most colors but I like some more than others.

 

Giveaway Winner: Montegrappa Fortuna Rainbow Fountain Pen

Montegrappa Fortuna Rainbow

Thanks and Pace to all the wonderful folks who sent love and peaceful thoughts out into the world this week. I’d like to announce the winner of the Montegrappa Fortuna Rainbow Fountain Pen giveaway.

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-11-05-00-am

Congrats, Sue! I’ll be contacting you via email to arrange delivery and a very bright 2017 for you. May it pave the way to a joyous and peaceful year for you.

A special thanks to Kenro for arranging this amazing giveaway and a happy new year to all my readers, friends, sponsors and supporters this year. I couldn’t have done it without you.