Archive of ‘feature’ category

Field Notes Paper Reveal

Field Notes Colors Edition Shenandoah

During a recent bout of caffeine-induced insomnia, I was on the French Paper Co. website, looking through their blog section, marvelling at all the beautifully designed screenprint posters and other designer-y goodness when I stumbled across an entry that would be of particular interest to the readers of The Well-Appointed Desk. I found a listing for the printing notes for the Field Notes Colors Edition: Shenandoah. While Field Notes describes the paper stocks used for their covers as “the Sweet Birch, the Chestnut Oak, and the Red Maple” on their web site, we now know that its actually French Paper Construction Green laminated to Construction Red, Pop-Tone Gumdrop Green laminated to Pop-Tone Lemon Drop and Pop-Tone Jellybean Green laminated to Construction Safety Orange.

And, of course, the classic Kraft cover Field Notes and the Dry Transfer Edition use French Paper Dur-O-Tone Packing Brown Wrap cover stock. Now you know the secrets too!

Planner Review: Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

Last year, when I first started dabbling in planners, I downloaded the Marcy Penner’s Hello Forever printable inserts for my planner. Since then, Marcy Penner has started designing her Hello Forever planning products for Studio Calico including a line of A5 planners (8.25″ x 9.5″ x 1.375″).

While Studio Calico is most known as a company that create products for memory keeping and scrapbooking, over the last few years, they have started moving into the creative planning world with a planning subscription service and the Hello Forever line of planning products. What I love most about both of these products is that, even if you are not into the decorative planning stuff, the designs are clean and well-designed. I’ve been a subscriber to their planner kit for several months and its one of my favorites offering clean, simple planner add-ons like stickers, washi tape and rubber stamps. When I saw the planners, I couldn’t resist.

I purchased the Hello Forever Planner in Clear Sky blue ($54.99) with a decorative floral pattern on the inside. I think of it as my “Missouri Compromise” — business on the outside, party on the inside. The simple, grey vertical elastic closure kept the exterior of the planner clean and simple and unfussy. The floral design on the inside is bright and cheerful and my little secret.

The overall construction of the binder itself is very good. The material used on the exterior of the planner is a smooth faux leather and lightly padded. Inside is a screen-printed pattern on white fabric. There are three pockets on the inside front cover and a secretary pocket. On the back cover, there is a loop of grey elastic for a pen loop. I would have liked a slot or pocket in the back for a notepad but, for the price point, I’m not too upset.

The ring placement is standard A5 6-hole and the rings are very tight. This means that the binder can accept inserts from any other A5 planner system or can use printables and a standard 6-hole punch.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The planner came with a complete set of undated inserts for the year, two clear decorative plastic dashboards, a black striped plastic movable bookmark, monthly tabs with pockets, half-sheet perforated to-do lists, two page protector sheets for holding photos, cards or paper ephemera, four pages of kiss-cut stickers, half-sheet perforated photo-a-day list sheets, month-on-two-pages undated calendar pages, undated week-on-two-pages weekly pages, monthly reflection pages, future planning pages, a year at a glance for 2016 and a perpetual planning booklet that can be tucked in the front pocket. There is also an additional sheet of sticker tabs tucked in the front pockets.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The front acetate sheet has a floral design, the second dashboard acetate has the red fishnet pattern and then under that is a cover page that reads “Today is the day”.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

I can see the appeal for some of the photo-a-day perforated sheets but I’m not sure I’d have much use for these. I do like that they are perforated and can then be moved to a specific month in your planner.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

I love the clean, simple typography for the days of the week and the diagonal stripes on the moveable acetate bookmark. Striking design that could be embellished or kept clean and simple.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The tabs are color coded and each one already has a pocket on the front of each month to hold receipts and other papers which is very handy.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

In the back are handy perforated half-sheet to-do lists like the photo-a-day sheets. I think these will be much more useful and include check boxes.  Perfect for grocery lists and other errands.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

And of course, the big question everyone had was how does the paper perform. And I was a little worried because this is such a make-or-break issue and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I was THRILLED to discover that the paper far exceeded my expectation. Our best guess is that its about 70lb smooth and there was no bleed or show through with any of the pens I tested. If Studio Calico keeps using this paper for all the refills they make for this planner series I will buy everything they make for it. The Platinum Carbon Black fountain pen ink didn’t even show through! That alone is a reason to try out this planner!

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

This is the reverse of the paper and trust me when I say I did not manipulate this photo. No show through at all. I didn’t abuse it with a Sharpie marker or anything but the black Staedtler Triplus Fineliner had no issues with show through nor did my Franklin Christoph with Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses. with a Medium Stub. So, I did put it through a standard pen nerd’s everyday carry.

The A5 planner is also available in a greystone and melon with different interior accent colors.   If you’re looking for an alternative to the more business-y Filofax and Franklin Covey style planners but are finding the Carpe Diem and Color Crush planners a little “too much”, the Studio Calico Hello Forever might be the perfect balance between them. I hope that in the future Studio Calico will consider adding a smaller personal-sized version of this planner to their offerings since the size is the only thing holding me back from being madly, passionately in love with it. I’m not sure yet whether I can commit to carrying around a full A5-sized planner. But for the paper alone, I may try out carrying an A5 just to use the beautiful design and the fabulous paper. Studio Calico and Hello Forever really did make a beautiful planner and I’m looking forward to seeing how it wears over time.

InCoWriMo Stationery Package Set: Bamboo Green

incowrimo kit-4

I swore to myself this year I would skip InCoWriMo/LetterMo because I can get so overwhelmed with too many letters and not enough time. However, everywhere I turn this year, all signs are pointing to a February full of letter-writing. I cannot diverge from the path, not when people are putting all these beautiful things on my doorstep making it impossible for me not to want to write lots of letters! To start, the folks are Goulet Pens have put together fabulous color coordinated Stationery Package Sets like the Bamboo Green Kit ($84.90, reduced from $100.90 retail). In this kit is Original Crown Mill Correspondence Set with 25 edged sheets and matching lined envelopes in lime green, a bottle of color coordinated Pilot Iroshiuku ink in Chiku-Rin and a Faber-Castell Loom fountain pen in Lime.

incowrimo kit-6

I’ve  always wanted to try a Faber-Castell fountain pen and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. The barrel of the pen is shiny, silver chrome with a brush solve grip section. The cap is lime green plastic embossed with the Faber-Castell logo and has a spring-loaded, silver clip. When I’ve seen pictures of this pen the cap always looks really bulbous. In person, its not nearly as noticeable. The cap is a little bit more rounded than the smooth cylindrical barrel of the pen but the cap is not onion-headed. Its much better looking in person. Is it possible for a pen to not be as photogenic as it is pretty in person?

The body of the pen is quite weighty. The whole pen with cap weighs in at 33gms, unposted its 27gms. Comparing it to other low-priced pens, you can see that the Faber-CAstell Loom is no lightweight. Surprisingly though, when I started writing with it, the pen itself is so well-balanced, I did not notice the weight though I did use the pen unposted so it was just a little weightier than a Lamy AL-Star.

Fountain Pen Weights

The Loom is 5.125″ (13cm) long capped, just 3/8″ (1cm) shorter than a Lamy Safari and the grip on the Loom is 3cm long to the Safari’s 3.5cm grip. So they are quite comparable in size but the Loom is a much weightier pen and the nib is much silkier out of the box (comparing F nib to F nib). Both also use snap caps and the Loom snap cap is very tight.

I got the F nib and I was kind of blown away with how smooth it wrote right out of the box. It wrote immediately upon filling and had no hard starts, even after I left it uncapped for 10 minutes.

incowrimokit1-1

The Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-Rin also performed quite well even in the fine nib of the Loom. everything was readable and I got good shading out of the nib. The Loom plus the Chiku-Rin is actually a good match-up I was quite pleased with my results! I did my writing tests on my standard Rhodia Blank writing pad just so my results were consistent with all my all ink and pen tests and I was really happy with how it all turned out.

I haven’t tested everything out on the Original Crown Mill stationery yet but the paper is a nice bright white with some lovely tooth to the stock and I will be sure to do a follow-up about how the stationery performs but I’m not expecting any issues. Original Crown Mill is known for its good quality paper and it looks beautiful! The paper and envelopes came in a sturdy metallic silver box too which seems posh and old world. I miss stationery that comes in a good box and this set delivers! Lined envelopes!

Several other stationery color sets are available as well in navy, fuchsia, royal blue and dark green in a range of prices and each include a fountain pen, matching ink and a Original Crown Mill Correspondence Set if lime green isn’t your thing.

incowrimo kit-2

And the folks at Goulet Pens wanted my InCoWriMo/LetterMo to be completely decked out and totally color coordinated so they included an edelweiss wax seal ($12) and handle ($16) and two matching green wax seal wax sticks ($6 each) too. I love that the was sticks are embossed with “Atelier Gargoyle”.

incowrimo kit-3

I was a bit nervous to try the seals out on an actual letter so I thought I might practice first in case I made a complete mess.

incowrimo kit-7

I’ve never learned how to seal a letter with a wax seal so I looked for some videos on YouTube to learn how to do it. I now know why Brian Goulet was playing with blow torches on the Q&A video this week. I didn’t have anything that extreme so I practiced melting the wax using a long grill lighter which worked great until I ran out of butane. The example above was my first try and I think it turned out pretty good on my desk scratch paper. (The dust in the seal was from my second attempt with a candle and I got candle wax all over my desk. It was not the wax stick’s fault. It was a total user error)

The best thing is the wax his actually quite flexible, its not at all brittle and I think it will hold up well to the rigors of the postal service, even in the cold temperatures of a Midwest winter. I can see why Goulet chose to stock this brand. The wax melted easily, it smelled pleasing and stayed supple. And I’m impressed with the level of detail in the seal design. Wow, I’m officially a convert to wax seals. This was super easy to do. I just wish I hadn’t run out of lighter fluid.

incowrimo kit-1

So, it looks like I’m all set for February! Are you? Will you be participating in InCoWriMo/LetterMo this year?


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

Review: Van Hook & Co. A5 Fauxdori Traveler’s Notebook Leather Cover

vanhookco-1

I recently found Van Hook and Co. on Etsy and purchased a made-to-order dyed leather, stitched A5 wide cover fauxdori Traveler’s Notebook cover. The cost for the cover an $75 and took about ten days from the time I ordered it until it arrived.

The leather has a warm hue to it and is a heavyweight and firm, not floppy which I really like. There are two short, leather slash pockets in the front and back that add stability and weight to the covers as well. The stitching around the edges is even and bright white. The elastic is black and, by default, Van Hook included four elastics inside for books.

Also, there are two elastic loop along the righthand side for a pen. My Sharbo-X fits snugly in the loops and coordinates nicely with the cover but the loops aren’t wide enough to fit the Pilot Metropolitan without a bit of effort. A Sharpie Pen fits in the loops fine though not as pleasing to look at. If I were to order another cover from Van Hook, I might skip the pen loops just because I tend to carry a whole case of pens with me anyway.

vanhookco-2

I filled mine with the Moleskine large notebooks I reviewed earlier this week which fit perfectly. First, is the planner, then a cahier for my knitting project planning, then a Volant for sketching and notes. I have some other A5-ish notebooks on order that I may swap out along the way, but for now I wanted to see how these fit and how well the cover worked with the various thicknesses. So far, so good.

vanhookco-4

I never thought I would buy a larger fauxdori cover but I got a wild hair and I am so glad I have another size option in my ‘dori arsenal. I also absolutely love the unusual turquoise color. I cannot wait to see how the color will patina over time.

I will definitely be ordering another cover from Van Hook very soon. The craftsmanship and quality is excellent and I love how thick their leather is. I prefer the hardier leather as an alternative to the more traditional Midori floppy leather covers. I think a traditional, slim chartreuse leather stitched is next on my wish list!

Digital Pen Review: Wacom Intuos Draw

I spend a good deal of my time thinking about and talking about analog tools, but I also spend a good deal of time using digital tools like computers, an iPad and an iPhone.

One of my go-to tools for work is a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet. Its a large pen-based tablet for image editing that is not necessarily a tool I would recommend to someone who was just dipping their toe into the digital pen world. However, for Christmas, I received a new Wacom Intuos Draw tablet for home use and I think it is a great starter device for someone who might want to try out a pen-based tool for computer work.

Wacom Intuos Draw

Even if you don’t think you’ll be doing a lot of image manipulation, a pen tool is a great way to help change up your hand position while working. I use my Wacom pen all day for tapping, selecting, clicking, highlighting and scrolling because I can hold the pen tool gently compared with how I might grip a mouse or trackball or other input device. I seriously believe I’ve saved myself from years of repetitive stress injuries because I use a Wacom pen on a daily basis because its such a natural, comfortable hand position.

Wacom has recently refreshed their digital pen tablet line. There is now the Intuos consumer-based products under the Intuos umbrella as well as the Intuos Pro. Technically, the consumer line offers four different packages which seem super-complicated but really boil down to two different units: the Draw unit ($69.95) which is just the pen-based tablet. Then there’s the Intuos Art/Comic/Photo units which include touch capabilities on the tablet as well are bundled with different software options depending on your interests.

The Intuos Draw tablet ships with ArtRage Lite software trial. The Intuos Art tablet ships with Corel Painter Essentials 5 ($199.95 for tablet + software), the Intuos Photo tablet ships with Corel PaintShop Pro X8 for Windows and Corel Aftershot Pro 2 for Windows and Mac. Macphun Creative Kit (Tonality Pro, Intensify Pro, Snapheal Pro, Noiseless Pro) is also available for Mac users ($99.95) and the Intuos Comic ships with Clip Studio Paint Pro and Anime Studio Debut 10 ($99.95). Some of the software offered are limited trials and may require upgrade fees for full versions after trial periods.

All the tablets have a working surface of about 6×3.7″ which works with well with most average laptops and doesn’t take up a ton of desk space.

There are four action buttons at the top of the tablet that can be set to specific actions based on application or globally in your preferences. There are also two buttons on the pen itself that can be set to be application-specific or universal controls for things like opt-click, cmd-click or anything else using the Wacom driver preferences.

You can set preferences for left- or right-handed so that it reacts accordingly and adjust the speed of tapping, clicking and pressure in the preferences as well. Overall, you can fine tune the tablet to work best with your way of working.

Many folks who end up choosing one of the Wacom tablets with touch sensitivity end up investing in a glove of some sort to keep their hand from triggering the tablet or turning off the touch capabilities to avoid accidentally triggering the touch capabilities. You can use one the hot keys as a toggle for the touch capabilities if this is a feature you want to use as an option on the Intuos Art/Comic/Photo or Pro models.

I do find that there’s a bit of a learning curve to getting comfortable with input on a pen tablet. When I first started using a Wacom, my co-workers took my mouse away and told me to give it two weeks. They said it would be frustrating initially trying to highlight text or click on an email but to use it to develop those motorskills and, if after two weeks of regular use, I didn’t get adept at using the tablet, I could go back and forth between mouse and tablet. But they felt strongly that with two weeks of daily use, I would be a convert. And they were right. I’ve never had or used a mouse since.

(photo via SLRLounge)

(photo via SLRLounge)

Under the cover on the back of the tablet is three extra pen tips as well which is a nice addition. I thought since these tablets were so budget-priced that Wacom might skip including them but they did not so you’ll have enough to keep you drawing, writing or editing for a good year, even with a heavy hand. There are also specialty tips that can be purchased to simulate different writing and drawing experiences. I usually just use the plain black professional tips and a replacement set of 5 retails for $4.95. A pair of smooth pliers will remove a worn tip easily and then just insert a fresh tip. I only need to change mine about once every 6 months to a year depending on abuse.

That’s a lot of options. But you know what? I got the Intuos Draw. The simplest one because it does exactly what I need it to do. I don’t need a bunch of extra software I may or may not ever use. I just wanted a good tablet to help edit photos in Adobe Photoshop, draw in Adobe Illustrator or experiment with apps purchased in the App Store like AutoDesk Sketchbook, Pixelmator and others. The Intuos Draw tablet provides a pleasing range of pressure sensitivity. While it does not explicitly list on the site, I expect the range of sensitivity is the same as the other tablets at 1024 levels of sensitivity which is honestly more than enough for most folks. My Intuos Pro at work has 2068 levels and its not noticeably more sensitive for most activities.

Some pen tests using the Wacom Intuos Draw tablet and Kyle's Brush Presets

Some pen tests using the Wacom Intuos Draw tablet and Kyle’s Brush Presets for Adobe Photoshop

The biggest difference between the Intuos Draw pen and the Pro version is the size of the pen. The Intuos Draw pen is shorter than the Pro pens and does not include the “eraser” tip. I don’t think that’s a make-or-break feature since I’ve broken two Pro pens this year and replacing the Pro pens are about $80 each. I’d just assume use an undo step or erase tool in an app than flip the pen over to use the “eraser”. In all my years of using Wacom pens, I never really flipped my pen over  anyway. The Intuos consumer line pens also do away with the silicone covering on the grip section which I find an improvement as well because the heat from my hand has caused the silicone to stretch and warp over time. Eventually I just have to tear the rubber off exposing an unsightly ridge anyway. One of my co-workers actually made a little felt cozy wrap to cover her pen for the exact same reason so I actually much prefer a plain plastic casing.

All four tablets can be upgraded to be wireless with an accessory kit for $39.95. This makes it great for working on the go or on the arm of the couch. Then when you are at a desk, just plug in the USB and it will charge while you are working.

Overall, I think the Wacom Intuos Draw tablet is a great investment and will be a solid performer for years to come.

Have you ever considered using a pen tablet?

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I say this every year but I love the start of the New Year. Its a chance for new beginnings, opening that brand-new planner, journal or notebook and starting on a new path, or course-correcting the one you set last year. I hope that 2016 will be a year of great adventures and great joys for everyone, myself included. I know a lot of us had rocky moments in 2015 but I know there were also some great triumphs as well.

(Photo reposted from Pen Compass)

(Photo reposted from Pen Compass)

For me 2015 was filled with wonderful ups and some hard downs as well. The Atlanta Pen Show was the absolute pinnacle for me and was my saving grace in what turned out to be a rather tumultuous year that followed with work- and health-related stresses. Brad and Myke and all the pen community welcomed me so warmly and openly in Atlanta and the whole world over that I felt like I had the whole world at my back this year and, for that, I am eternally grateful.

As I move forward into 2016, I want to stay committed and actively involved with the pen-and-paper community and be a resource and asset to the wonderful people that are a part of it. Expect to see more ink, paper, pen, and pencil reviews here as always. Holler, if there’s something particular you’d like to see more.

This summer, I started taking drawing and painting classes to try to be more creative and its something that I’d like to continue to do in 2016. I hope that in spending more time making art, I’ll also add more art material reviews to the site as well with the occasional watercolor, colored pencils, and other art material reviews for people who may want to try their hand at more sketching, drawing or mixing of media in their notebooks. By no means, will I be changing the focus of the site but I want to help people feel comfortable using pens with other materials. To be brave and to experiment! Even the most expensive piece of paper is still cheaper than a pizza from the take-out joint down the street, right?

why

One of the most meaningful pieces I wrote all year, for me anyway, was the post Why Does All This Matter? which came hot on the heels of devouring half of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic book (I promise there will be a review of the whole book in a week or so!) and it still resonates in my mind. All these pens, pencils, notebooks and accouterments are all a means for us to be thoughtful, creative, to remember, to relive and to explore our ideas. However those tools help you do that is good but we have to remember not to let them impede the acts themselves.

This is something I plan on tackling quite a bit this year. The nature of doing product reviews is that I acquire a lot of samples. Its not that I have anything that is not good quality, its just that I am buried under a lot of it and it often leads to indecision and fretting over which ink to use, which pen to pick up or which notebook to write in next. One of my goals for 2016 is to pare down the stash dramatically. If anyone has a good idea about redistributing the wealth without breaking the bank, please let me know.

So, my goals for 2016:

  • Make more art
  • Daily journaling in my Hobonichi Techo A6
  • De-stash the pen/paper/ink/supply clutter
  • Take some personal time for little luxuries (30 minute coffee shop stop, a quiet walk, read for pleasure, etc)
  • Don’t work so late at the jobby-job

My keep-on-keeping’ on:

  • Reviews and more on the blog
  • Atlanta Pen Show 2016, look out!
  • Put all those planners to good use
  • Keep knitting (maybe finish some of those half-baked projects?)
  • Keep biking, and maybe more regularly than I have the last few months

Do you take the end of the year to re-evaluate and make plans? I never think of this end-of-year planning as “resolutions” but as a chance to re-tool, re-focus and start fresh. What do you want to accomplish in 2016? Let’s do this together!

Local Pride: 10 Things to Love about Kansas City

(3-color, 18″ x 24″ screenprintposter of Kansas City. Print is signed and number in an edition of 100. 2nd edition. $25 via Tad Carpenter)

I’m feeling a little sentimental today about my adopted home, Kansas City. We’ll be spending the holidays here this year and we have a friend coming into town so I’ve been mentally preparing a list of things to show him, places to take him and food to feed him. I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe it’ll inspire you to stop in Kansas City some day. Be sure to let me know if you’re in town and I’d be happy to buy you a coffee or a beer and talk pens with you. So here goes, ten things to love about Kansas City:

This list is in no particular order, especially since anyone who knows me will know that I am actually a Chicago Fire MLS fan. However, the enthusiasm that Kansas City has put behind its professional sports teams this year, including its soccer team and, in return, the awesome support the teams give to their supporters make KC a great place to be a sports fan. The post-World Series parade and celebration for the Royals was EPIC. This town knows how to throw a party.

(PS: You can spot my pal Madeline and her black Scottie in the video if you don’t blink!)

Christopher Elbow. This man makes chocolates that make you cry because they are both delicious and beautiful but he also created an ice cream shop called Glacé that elevated ice cream and sorbets to new gourmet heights with a rotating assortment of flavors. I just noticed the seasonal ice cream flavors like Peppermint Flake and Jude’s Rum Cake. I might have to pop over over a taste this week. Yum!

Boulevard Beer. Rieger’s Whiskey. Dark Horse Distillery. Why stop at chocolate and ice cream? Kansas City has a great assortment of booze locally made. Boulevard is our flagship brewery offering an array of seasonal and limited edition brews. Rieger is a small batch distillery recreating pre-Prohibition whiskey, gin and vodka. Their whiskey has been a staple at The Desk but I’ve yet to try their gin and I’m itching to. And Dark Horse is another local liquor staple in KC best known for their white whiskey though they also produce a rye whiskey and a bourbon whiskey.

Joe’s BBQ. Joe’s KC, formerly known as Oklahoma Joe’s and still referred to by locals as Okie Joe’s is a KC classic. Its a BBQ joint started in a gas station that still has a line out the door on most nights. Their BBQ (in all its forms) in to die for and even ended up on some pretty fancy foodie bucket lists. Even my vegetarian friends go, if only for the “crack fries”.

(Country Club Plaza Lights Mini Hanging Banner $16 via Tammy Smith)

The Plaza. There is a more official name for The Plaza, its The Country Club Plaza or something like that but locals just call it The Plaza and everyone knows what you mean. Its an outdoor shopping area designed to look a bit like a Spanish courtyard with fancy clock towers and fountains galore. On Thanksgiving night, there is a holiday lighting event where the whole place is lit up and it looks beautiful. There are lots of fancy, upscale shops like Tiffany, Kate Spade, Sephora, Apple and more and lots of restaurants and bars. There’s also a creek that runs down one end that people run and walk along. Its just a nice place to watch people, window shop and eat a nice meal.

The Pen Place. Yes, Kansas City really does have its own pen shop. Its not very big and its tucked back into a dark corner of the very touristy Crown Center Mall but we have a pen shop. The staff is very pleasant and they stock a wide variety of brands of pens and inks that they are happy to let you hold and will even swatch out inks on paper for you to see before you buy. They also have a wide variety of pen refills and have patiently helped me with my refill guide on occasion. So if you’re in the neighborhood, definitely pop in and say hello.

The World War I Museum. Kansas City is lucky enough to have the only and official World War I museum in the United States and it is a moving and memorable experience to visit this museum and surrounding grounds. I work in a building across the street and often walk the grounds on bright days at lunch admiring the amazing views from atop the hill. As a history buff and knitter I have also enjoyed attending the regular lecture series Mrs. Wilson’s Knitting Circle which will enter its second year in 2016. It’s an extraordinary place and an amazing opportunity to learn more about a singular event that changed the course of history. There are also many other amazing museums in Kansas City like the Negro League Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum, the Truman Presidential Library, and the Toy & Miniature Museum just to name a few.

The local art scene. Not only does Kansas City have an amazing art museum in the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, but there is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and several areas that feature a thriving local art galleries like the Crossroads, the West Bottoms and Brookside. There are many art festivals, craft shows and first Fridays (third Thursdays and other open studio events and the like) all over town, plus there is the Kansas City Art Institute training new artistic talent as well as other local colleges and universities that are helping to develop new creative talent. Add in the music and performing arts in Kansas City from the new Kauffman Center for Performing Arts shell featuring the Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Opera and Kansas City Symphony to the local bars and clubs hosting bands and open mike nights. When I moved here, I didn’t think Kansas City was a cowtown per se but I had no idea how amazingly talented it was.

Coffee. This town loves its coffee. We have local coffee shops and local roasters and all sorts of combinations of the two. Some of my favorites are The Filling Station, Benettis, Messenger Coffee, Kaldi’s Coffee and the king of the coffee bean hill The Roasterie. If you’re a tea drinker, I recommend Kaldi’s Double Vanilla Tea Latte or the London Fog from either the Roasterie or Kaldi’s. Delish!

Hallmark Cards. I feel silly plugging the firm but if it wasn’t for Hallmark, I never would have come to Kansas City and discovered what a cool place it is. I would not have met some of the most amazing, talented and special people I’ve ever known and I might never have started this blog which gave me the chance to meet all of you.  I once read an interview with a Hallmark employee (colloquially called a “Hallmarker”) who described working at Hallmark as grad school and it really is. So many of us refine and hone our skills surrounded by people who are so incredibly talented in everything they do. And everyone is willing to share their knowledge and encourage other people’s success which is unlike any place I’ve ever worked. So, thank you, Hallmark for all the opportunities.

Analog Products/Digital App Makers Round-up

I’ve noticed a lot of analog tool makers are also making apps. I thought I might take a look at a few of them and see if any of them might of use with or in combination with your favorite analog tools.

moleskine app icons

Moleskine:

Moleskine offers several apps at the moment, the latest being the Moleskine Timepage Calendar for iCloud, Google Calendar and more (iPhone and Apple Watch). Its a paid app that claims to be revolutionary. It looks like a clean, simple calendar app that is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing calendar tools like iCloud, Exchange and many others. It is a $4.99 paid app so I’ve just downloaded it to give it a try. I have been using Fantastical for years on my phone without complaints so I’m trying the Timepage as an experiment. The app has beautiful typography and a very simple design. The default view is the week-at-a-glance and if I swipe to the left I get a monthly calendar view with each of the days with activities highlighted with “heat circles” indicating activities from various calendars – i.e. work, personal, birthdays, holidays, etc. The method to build individual events in the app are a little different than other apps like the default Calendar app or Fantastical but I quickly figured it out. It is actually pretty elegant and uses a built-in weather app and a lot of natural language elements that make it feel very friendly. My work meetings are all scheduled through digital calendars and I don’t always get them moved to my paper planner so having an aesthetically appealing interface to view these makes having work meetings a little less painful. If you haven’t invested in a calendar app beyond the default app that ships with your iPhone, the Moleskine Timepage is actually a lot nicer than I thought it would be.

Moleskine also offers their digital Moleskine Journal app (free with in-app purchases for iPhone and iPad) and a Moleskine/Creative Cloud connected app to work the Moleskine and Adobe Creative Cloud notebook (iPhone only). The Moleskine/Creative Cloud Connected App has only one very lackluster review. The notebook was designed to work for Adobe creative products like the Evernote/Moleskine notebooks work with the Evernote app system though it appears most folks aren’t using the Adobe or reviewing the Adobe Creative Cloud version.

There’s a Moleskine Photo Books app for the iPad (free) to help build a photo book through their service. Again, there are very few reviews and I don’t know anyone who’s actually used Moleskine’s photo books as an option so I don’t know about the print quality. But if you’re feeling brave, please let us know if you like the app and the quality of the photos you receive.

Baron Fig app icons

Baron Fig:

Baron Fig has released two digital products to compliment its analog tools: Spark and Mosaic.

Spark ($0.99 + in-app purchases) is an iPhone and Apple Watch-enabled set of creativity prompts. The reviews look positive as quick flashes of ideas to help stir thinking and mindfulness. Think of it as your digital page-a-day calendar with better typography.

Mosaic ($1.99) is Baron Fig’s answer to a digital notebook. While I prefer to write my notes on paper, there are moments when I just don’t have a paper and pen with me but I do have my phone and the Mosaic app lets me capture those little tidbits so I can transpose them later. I do wish there was a way to export projects or share them but they are sort of trapped in the the Mosaic app. Its good for to-do lists and quick reminder notes though.

Exaclair App icons

Exaclair (AKA Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis):

LifeNoted (free + in-app upgrade $1.99 for full version) is a calendaring, journaling and to-do app all rolled up into one. You can add photos and videos as well plus tagging. While it looks like it keeps it all the appointments and to-dos together, I don’t find it to be the most aesthetically appealing app. But if you’re juggling professional, personal, home and family commitments, this might help balance it all. There’s more information available about the app at Life Noted.

ME Journal is the app interface for the Quo Vadis Habana ME (Multimedia Enhanced) Journal. The app is available for iPhone and iPad. I wrote a review last fall about my experience with the ME Journal.

Do you know of any other analog companies that are dipping their toes into the digital world? Or vice versa? Let me know if I missed anyone.I live in both the analog and digital worlds so I won’t say I don’t appreciate efforts to make my digital world as pleasing as my analog world but I do still have some reservations about it. How about you?

Giveaway Winner: Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop from Goulet Pens

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Giveaway generously hosted by Goulet Pens this week. And thanks for entertaining me with all your color memories and suggestions for future Retro Pop colors. Maybe Pilot will stumble across these posts and hear our requests!

Most entertaining lime green color comparisons were:

  • Guacamole
  • Kool-Aid, Limeade, Jell-o
  • Margaritas and mojitos
  • vintage automotive paint colors
  • lollipops, popsicles and various candies
  • Bugs
  • Key Lime Pie
  • Nail Polish
  • decor from the 1970s
  • Apples, kiwis and pistachios
  • Grass and bamboo
  • Slime
  • Soylent Green

Most Frequent Suggestions for Future Retro Pop Colors:

  • Shades of pink from fuchsia to pastel
  • Copper
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Bright Yellow
  • Navy Blue
  • Burgundy
  • Rose Gold

Now, on to our giveaway winner:

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 7.20.31 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 7.22.35 AM

Congrats, Jackie! I’ll be emailing you directly to arrange everything. And a big thanks to Goulet Pens for arranging the giveaway!

Endless Bag Quest

current bags

Its not just me, right? Besides perpetually questing for the perfect pen, ink, notebook, planner, pencil, ad nauseum, you also are on the perpetual hunt for the perfect bag too?

I have several bags that are pretty close but not perfect. There are occasions where I need something slightly smaller, slightly larger, slightly more rugged or slightly more dressy, etc. Gentlemen in the audience who have fewer requirements, I suspect, and more pockets (“I am only slightly jealous of the amount of pockets sewn into men’s clothing,” she’s says ironically) but I also hear men raise similar ranges of needs so I’m trying not to pigeonhole anyone. Is there a “perfect” bag or can we ever get to one or two perfect bags? One for work, one for travel and maybe one for weekend jaunts?

The bags I currently have in circulation are:

I work a corporate, 9-to-5 job and I feel I’ve reached a point where most backpacks look too academic to carry to work. However, I do carry a good deal of stuff with me so I need a decent-sized bag. I like being able to switch between some sort of handle for getting in and out of a car and then use a shoulder strap/cross body strap for the 0.25 mile walk from the parking lot to my desk. Really. It’s a big campus.

Stuff in my bag

Usual contents of daily bag are:

  • pen case (pictured is my favorite LWA member-only pen case)
  • notebook (not pictured, currently XL Moleskine soft cover book)
  • planner (pictured Filofax Personal Original in dark aqua)
  • travel mug/water bottle
  • knitting project (not shown: can be small sock project or whole dang sweater)
  • small cosmetics bag (vintage Girl Scout fabric purchased at Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago)
  • phone
  • ear buds
  • sunglasses
  • business cards (Pantone case)
  • wallet (Coach wristlet)

Moleskine MyCloud bags

I’ve considered one of the Moleskine MyCloud bags ( I know, its crazy talk but I like the subtle exterior and the bright interior colors). They look well-constructed as well. There are an assortment of internal pockets for devices, pens and accesories but I cant’ find many review online so I am having to scrounge information. I have space credits (AKA money in my PayPal account) right now so I’m considering the reporter ($139.95) or the tote ($159.95). I do agree that our bags are our mobile offices and our desks-on-the-go especially when travelling.

Do you have a favorite bag? Or are you, like me, still hunting for the perfect combination of good looks and functionality?

Preview: Karas Kustoms EDK Exclusively from MassDrop (Plus Giveaway)

Karas Kustoms EDK

Have you heard about the Karas Kustoms EDK yet? The EDK is the latest machined pen from Karas Kustoms. As the name implies, this is pen designed to be your next everyday carry (or would that be “karry”?).

Karas Kustoms EDK comparison

This is Karas Kustoms’ smallest pen to date. It uses the same whisper-quiet retracting mechanism as the RETRAKT. The EDK is just over 5” and the pen is just under 0.5″ wide (not including the clip). When held with the clip up, the pen is quite comfortable in the hand.  The grooves in the body provide extra grip and give the EDK a unique look when compared to other pens in the Karas Kustoms line-up. The most notable difference is the pre-weathered, tumbled finish is the EDK. It looks like its been in your pocket or in the bottom of your bag for years from the minute it arrives.

The EDK will be available in Aluminum, Brass and Copper combinations with prices ranging from $55-$105 depending on materials. The brass and copper models are a smoother finish, the aluminum is the only model that’s tumbled (or if there are aluminum sections in the model you choose).

Karas Kustoms EDK comparison

The EDK compared with (from left): Karas Kustom 2-Tone RETRAKT, Karas Kustom INK, Karas Kustoms Render K, the EDK, Kaweco Sport in aluminum and a Kaweco Liliput

The EDK ships with a Schmidt P8126 refill, a standard Parker-Style refill and capable of taking most G2-style refills if they are trimmed down to fit which gives you a whole slew of refill options.

Karas Kustoms EDK

The EDK will be available through MassDrop on Oct. 26. You can vote now and be notified the moment these become available.

Karas Kustoms EDK

In the meantime, if you’d like a chance to win this EDK, leave a comment below and tell me where the EDK will go with you.


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, October 25, 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. 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. US Residents only.


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

Ask The Desk: Retro 51 Refills

rp_askthedesk_hdr21.png

Daisy asked:

Just got myself a new Retro 51 Tornado (Nine Lives edition) but I am a bit overwhelmed by potential refills. I like a fine black line, and ideally ink that won’t run when highlighted. Can you help narrow down my options? This may be heresy, but I’m not sure if I prefer ballpoint or rollerball, so suggestions for either or both would be good :)

I followed up with Daisy to determine exactly what size nib she preferred and she confirmed that she likes the Uni Jetstream in 0.5 and the Uni Style Fit in 0.4 and 0.5.

If you want to stick with a rollerball, the Schmidt P8126 Capless Rollerball in fine would be a good option. Or you could follow  Mike Rohde’s technique and just cut down a Pilot Juice or Pilot G2 refill or Mike’s favorite, the Pentel Energel. You can either buy a regular pen with one of these refills in it, or purchase a refill from your favorite retailer. My best recommendation is to open up some of the pens laying around your workspace and see if they might fit. If I find a pen I like, I always try to open it up to see if it will fit into my favorite pens. I hope that helps!

Retro 1951 + Pentel EnerGel Refill Hacking

Why Does All This Matter: A manifesto of sorts.

why

I’ve been thinking lately about all this “stuff” that we collect, the pens, art tools, drawing tools, notebooks, sketchbooks — all the mark-making, list-making and note-taking tools and I had to ask myself, what purpose do they serve?

I believe that these tools inspire us and ignite our individual urges to create. They free our creativity and sometimes even fuel them. Each pen, ink, notebook, pencil or scrap of paper gives us an excuse to tuck ourselves into our little paper world and spend some time with our thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, they make the icky tasks more palatable — why not turn your grocery list into a place to practice your calligraphy or drawing skills?

groceries-2

I believe that all these tools should bring you joy (Don’t write with a crappy pen! Don’t draw on crappy paper!). I believe that these tools and toys should inspire each of us to take out of the busy, hectic or mundane moments of our lives to make something — whether its as simple as a note or letter to someone, or as epic as writing on opera.

If buying a new pen, a new bottle of ink or some other doodad will compel you to sit down for 15 minutes and coax out an idea, a doodle, a story or a memory, then do it. Buy that pen. You DO need that notebook. Just don’t let shopping for that “perfect” whatever get in the way of actually doing/making/writing/composing/planning something.

Carve out time to paint, doodle, color, stitch, sketch, write, make lists, whatever. Because, in the end, we all meet our end. Let’s take this precious time we have to leave our mark. That why this matters.

(Shout out to all those folks who write about being passionate, inspired and creative above all else. Big thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert and her new book Big Magic. Love and hugs to everyone else. You know who you are.)

big-magic

Paper Pastries Rubber Stamps

Paper Pastries Stamps

Paper Pastries has been in the news lately for the LA Pen Pal Club which is so exciting. But what I’ve been all swoony about is this pile of stamps I recently received from Margaret. Since we both make stamps so we decided to swap.

Margaret makes her stamps herself and will also make custom designs for return address stamps, monograms or pet silhouette stamps. So clever!

I love the Greetings From stamp which I plan to take with me when I travel in the future — if I ever get a day off.

I also love the Hello, Mr Postie stamp that I think would pair perfectly with my Keep the Post Office Public stamp. Clearly, we make a good team!

I really think I should have gotten the left-handed letter stamp and ordered a custom return address tea pot stamp for my tea-pusher pal, Laura.

Paper Pastries Stamps

Also shown here:

Thanks again to Margaret for the swap and I hope you like her stamps (and all the other wonderful stuff she stocks in her shop) too! If you’re in the LA area, be sure to try to visit the next LA Pen Pal Club event. For future events, check out the Paper Pastries blog.

Rethinking My Planner System

I can’t believe there are just three months left in 2015. Where did this year go? For the better part of 2015, I’ve been using my Midori Traveler’s notebook for planning. My Midori has three inserts in it: a notebook in the front that was supposed to be for personal projects, a center insert with my planner calendar and an insert in the back for sketching.

While I love the size and format of the MTN, and I did find fabulous weekly planner pages, things are starting to get a little out of control, organizationally speaking.

What’s ended up happening is that I tend to open the MTN to whatever blank page appears and start writing, so notes have gotten all jumbled. There are work notes in the sketchbook, grocery lists in the personal projects and just general chaos on the calender. I’m also running out of space in the weekly calendar to include all the various projects, to-dos and lists that I am needing to keep up with each day. I now understand what people mean about their planner system breaking down.

I need more space per page for planning. I need a place to take work-related notes that can then be collected or moved into specific projects. I need to have a more dedicated method for organizing blog content and personal projects. All of this is making me want to return to a ring-bound planner. However, I think that my current job assignments and life projects need something more spacious than the traditional personal size. I think I’m going to make the leap into the A5-sized planner.

rethinking my planner system

A switch to A5 will require new inserts and rethinking whether a week-on-two-pages will work. Not to mention I must now choose a new binder.

Great posts to re-started:

I think I’ll pair the new turquoise Domino with my Uni Style Fit in black with white dots and maybe a Zebra Mildliner in Mild Violet? And I might need a silver Binder Clip.

Are you happy with your current planning system? Are you working through it or ready to make a change?

Recap: Sketchnotes Workshop with Mike Rohde

Sketchnotes presentations

Saturday, I attended an all-day workshop with Mike Rohde, author of The Sketchnote Handbook. The workshop had been organized by the Kansas City Coffee & Design group and held at the Sprint Accelerator space. I didn’t actually count the number of attendees but there was probably about 40 people in attendance, some who had traveled from as far away as Omaha to attend the workshop.

Sketchontes & tools

I did my sketchnotes in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook with a Magic rainbow pencil, Sai Watercolor markers and a Sharpie pen.

If you’re not familiar with Mike Rohde and his sketchnote revolution, I’ll try to distill it down but your best option would be to visit his web site or the Sketchnote Army site or, of course, purchasing his books. The idea behind sketchnoting is that simple drawings, bold lettering, icons and symbols can help improve your note-taking and thereby improve your understanding and memory retention from a lecture, class, presentation or meeting.

sketchnotes

During the workshop, Mike elaborated on the techniques included in the sketchnotes Handbook and we got to see him create his symbols, lettering and other techniques live.

Mike at the podium

As the workshop progressed, we learned that sketchnoting can also be used for documenting personal notes like travel, recipes and journaling. Mike’s teaching style is relaxed and approachable and made it easy for everyone to feel like they could accomplish sketchnoting.

Workin on the whiteboard

The attendees of the workshop came from a broad array of professions. I met designers, human resources specialists, educators, interior designers, and even a physician who works at a teaching hospital. Everyone was excited to take the knowledge they learned back to their colleagues, students and co-workers.

rohde29

Sketchnotes notes by Sarah Taylor.

If you have a chance to attend one of Mike Rohde’s workshops or lectures, I highly recommend it.

If you already have The Sketchnote Handbook, I would recommend picking up a copy of the advanced techniques book, The Sketchnote Workbook. I got a chance to flip through the book at the workshop and have ordered a copy for myself. Its more techniques for sketchnoting and ideas and tips for bringing sketchnoting into all your written work. Peachpit Press has a 35% off coupon code right now too — POP35 so you can get a great deal on some great books!

I did a short Periscope from the Sketchnotes Workshop that a few people caught. If I get a rally in the comments, I might be persuaded to repost it on YouTube.

Sketchonotes Workshop Giveaway

Oh, one last thing… I have two extra notebooks and stickers from the event that I would like to give away to readers. I’ll even throw in the pens! The notebooks were generously provided by my favorite local art supply store Artist & Craftsman and were produced by Shizen Design, a local KC paper company. Leave a comment below to be entered.


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, September 3, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, 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. US residents only please.

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.

1 2 3 37