Link Love: Purple Ink & Podcasts

rp_link-ana111.jpgSadly, the biggest story for me this week is not about the release of a new pen, the unveiling of a new Field Notes edition or how to best pack pens for travel (to the Atlanta Pen Show). This week, the big news is that Hallmark Cards is laying off another 200 employees in its Kansas City headquarters, specifically in the creative and product development division Guess where I work? The final decisions will not be made until May or June so, in the meantime, the stress of knowing if I will still be employed and/or how many friends and co-workers will I have to say goodbye to will be hanging heavy in my heart.

Now onwards, to less depressing news in the pen, paper and pencil world.

You might want to listen to this week’s The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode 148 – Like An Internet Radio Show to hear Brad, Myke and I talk about preparations for the Atlanta Pen Show, just weeks away.

Fountain Pens:

Inks:

Pens:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebook:

Planning and Organization:

More Interesting Things:

Field Notes: Two Rivers Edition

Field Notes Two Rivers Colors Edition

I received my Field Notes COLORS subscription of the Two Rivers edition and its just as unusual and interesting to see in person as everyone predicted. Using old woodblock type and design elements and layering the designs, Coudal, Draplin and Hamilton Type created  essentially thousands of one-of-a-kind designs.

Field Notes Two Rivers Colors Edition

Myke and Brad mentioned on the Pen Addict podcast recently that neither had received a yellow covered edition so I feel quite lucky to have one. The other set was immediately absconded by my husband who seems to be turning into a pen geek. He’s also a letterpress printer so the Two Rivers edition was of particular interest to him.

Field Notes Two Rivers Colors Edition

Inside is the standard Finch paper with a pale brownish grid printed.

This edition was limited to just 25,000 books and $2 of each sale goes to help support Hamilton Wood Type Museum. When ordering, you can make an additional donation to the museum and receive a small thank you card. The Two Rivers edition are still sold in sets of three for $9.99 and when these are gone, they’re gone. I think folks will hoard these so place your order ASAP if this is something you want.

Notebook: Baron Fig Confidant, Maker Limited Edition

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The Baron Fig Confidant in the limited edition “Maker” variation ($18) is identical in size, shape and paper stock to the original Confidant. What appealed to me was the darker grey book cloth cover that the original Confidant. I also purchased the Maker Edition with lined paper instead of dot grid, just to try a different experience.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The book comes in the same style box as the original Confidant, with a promotional flyer. I’m generally over the term “maker” to describe anyone in a creative endeavor but since the book itself is relatively free of the stigma of hipster branding, I let the name slide. Baron Fig has been pretty good with the naming of its other editions, hopefully this was a hiccup.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The end papers are coordinating yellow that match the yellow cotton bookmark. I already kvetched about the fraying of the bookmark in the original Confidant review so I won’t flog that particular horse here.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

I do prefer the darker grey book cloth as I suspect it will withstand a bit more use before showing any dirt than the lighter original Confidant.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition compared to Code & Quill Origin

For comparison, I thought I’d show the tonal difference in the greys between the Code & Quill leatherette cover which is a warmer grey to the Confidant Maker Edition which is lighter and a cooler grey cloth.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition Writing Sample

The paper is the same color with the same toothiness as the Original Confidant and performs similarly. I did notice a bit more bleeding with the pesky Sailor Jentle Yama Dori ink but I think its because it was the last pen I tested at the bottom of the page. The Kaweco Ruby Red in the J. Herbin Rollerball took an age to dry and I did smear a little as a result but this has been consistent across all the Baron Fig notebooks. By the bottom of the page, there may have been some oils or moisture accumulated from my hands by the time I got to the bottom of the page. It happens sometimes regardless of ink or paper so I don’t think the paper is at all different from the original Confidant but be warned that warm hands or too much lotion may affect your pen/ink performance.

So, fountain pen ink performance on this paper will vary depending on nib width, wetness and ink composition. YMMV.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

With the lined paper, there is a bit of resistance to the ink when it touches the printed lines particularly with fountain pen inks. Its a little disappointing as I find it distracting. I didn’t notice this resistance to the ink with the dot grid Confidant, probably since there’s a lot less printed ink on the dot gird paper than on the lined version.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

From the reverse of stock, there’s a little bit of show through but its the same culprits from the other Baron Fig tests I’ve done this week. Which leads me to think that once you find a good pen and ink combination that works with the Baron Fig, stick to it or be prepared for some inks to bleed a little and be okay with that.

I wished I gotten this edition with the dot grid or blank as I like the overall book cloth color better than the original but find the ink resistance of the lines a bit disconcerting. Maybe Baron Fig will change the ink composition for the printed lines in future editions so this won’t be an issue any longer.

 

Pencil Review: Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The Paper Mate Mirado Black Warrior is an office supply store staple. I purchased a pre-sharpened package of 8 pencils in a blister pack for about $2.I ended up re-sharpening them with my Dux Varibel because I could.

This pencil has a smooth round barrel with a matte black paint finish, gold toned ferrule with a cherry red painted stripe and a classic pink eraser top. There were no bar codes or extraneous info printed on the pencil, just the branding and hardness info in gold foil in one line. Everything about it is classic looking which makes it a fairly appealing pencil. The packaging proclaims its the “world’s smoothest write — guaranteed.” Pretty big claim.

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The Mirado is a decently smooth pencil for a big box tool but its not anywhere near the smoothest write I’ve experienced. The lead is quite dark and smudgy and the point dulls in a sentence or two.

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The eraser, as with most pencil toppers, is lame and I wore it out with one erasing. Even with the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, there was still a ghost of the writing left.

The bottom line: Meh. I’d give this pencil a C rating. Its too smudgy, too soft for an HB and the eraser is crap. There are better options available that are only a little more expensive.

Notebook Review: Baron Fig Apprentice, Time Travel Edition

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

When I placed my order with Baron Fig, I couldn’t just buy one notebook so I also ordered a set of their pocket-sized Apprentice books in the limited edition Time Travel design. The Apprentice notebooks come in a set of three books for $9 so they are in the same competitive price range as other pocket notebooks on the market. They are slightly smaller than most pocket notebooks at 3.5″x5″ rather than the average 3.5″x5.5″ inches. The Apprentice books feature rounded corners and a sewn stitched binding rather than staples which are nice details.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

I really like the designs printed on the covers and the pleasingly toothy cover stock. The designs are simple but quite appealing.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

Inside on the card stock is a lightly printed gradient that goes from the paper stock color to a twilight purple at the bottom. It almost looks like an optical illusion. There’s also a dotted line box printed inside the cover for contact info or details about the notebook contents.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

On the inside of the back cover is teeny tiny branding and info about the books. Its super subtle and understated and I appreciate that. Thanks for not sticking giant logos all over the notebook I paid to use. Most obliged.

Baron Fig Apprentice writing sample

The paper inside the Apprentice is the same weight and color as the larger Confidant. I did, however, mix it up in terms of ruling and got the Apprentice with blank paper which is the only difference in the paper from the Confidant. I do love a blank page.

Baron Fig Apprentice writing sample reverse

There seemed to be a little more show through and even a little  bit of bleed through on the Apprentice than the Confidant which seemed odd. The only thing I could attribute this too is that the smaller book might be more prone to picking up moisture or oils from your hands more quickly since there’s less space overall. That said, with pocket notebooks, the goal is to have paper quickly available and handy with a writing tool that’s also quick and handy and often that EDC pen is not a fountain pen but a gel, ballpoint, rollerball or pencil which should not present any problems with the Baron Fig paper.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

The absolute best thing, in my humble opinion about the Baron Fig Apprentice notebooks? They perfectly fit inside my Midori Traveler’s Notebook Star Edition Passport Sized. Perfect fit.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

Overall, the Time Travel Edition of the Apprentice is a beautiful little pocket notebook set with fair-to-above-average ink handling. The books are beautifully constructed but I’m not inclined to combine them with many of my fountain pens in order to utilize both sides of the 48-page book’s sheets. And the fact that these books fit perfectly in passport-sized Midori Traveler’s is a win-win.

Fashionable Friday: Spring is Here!

Fashionable Friday: Spring 2015

Spring is finally here in the Midwest and all my thoughts are to bright floral colors, and days laying in the grass plotting out my next adventure.

  • Midori style Traveler’s Notebook in green nubuck leather, available in regular or passport size prices start at $20.57 (via Pebredori on Etsy)
  • RETRAKT in pink anodized aluminum $45 (via Karas Kustoms)
  • Cubix Simple Colored Pen Case in pink $6.75 (via Jet Pens)
  • Caran D’ache 849 Claudio Colucci Orange & Pink Limited Edition Ballpoint Pen $56 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Ink in Chiku-rin Bamboo Forest (Yellow Green) $28 (via Jet Pens)
  • Tombow Mono 100 Pencil in HB $2.35 each (via Jet Pens)
  • Rhodia Rhodiarama Raspberry Blank Notebook $18 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Midori D-Clips Rabbit Paper Clips – Box of 30 $7.25 (via Jet Pens)
  • Filofax Saffiano Aquamarine Pocket Organizer $43 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Monteverde Prima Fountain Pen in Black Swirl $56 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Private Reserve Rose Rage Ink $11 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Sailor Professional Gear Transparent Series Fountain Pen $156 with 14K gold nib, $248 with 21K gold nib (via Pen Chalet)
  • Lamy Safari Neonlime fountain pen (2015 Special Edition) €19,50 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Lined Stash Bag in Flowerfields pattern $20 (via SkinnyLaMinz on Etsy)

New Sponsor: Goldspot

goldspot-logoI am so happy to let you know that The Well-Appointed Desk has a new sponsor, Goldspot. These folks stock EVERYTHING — from the pen brands you know and love like Fisher, Lamy, Kaweco, Pelikan, Parker and so many more to some of the best paper and notebooks like Clairefontaine, Rhodia and Field Notes. And did I mention they also stock FIlofax? And then there’s inks galore!

Be sure to sign up for their newsletter to receive up-to-the-minute special deals and sales announcements. Today’s newsletter included this gem:

Goldspot Pelikan M200 Cafe Creme

Thanks to Goldspot for believing in The Well-Appointed Desk and thanks to all you wonderful readers for supporting the blog by supporting our sponsors. Click that link in the sidebar, so that Goldspot knows you heard about them from The Desk!

Notebook Review: Baron Fig Confidant

Baron Fig Confidant

I finally decided to take the plunge and order the Baron Fig Confidant notebook ($16). I purchased the Dot Grid format which was widely recommended by other paper-and-pen enthusiasts. I haven’t bought an A5-ish sized  hard cover notebook in a long time so it was about time. Though, the Baron Fig Confidant is actually a bit smaller than an A5, if you want to get technical, at 5.4″ x 7.7″.

Baron Fig Confidant

The book ships in a protective paperboard box with an advertising specification sheet included on top extolling the features of the Confidant such as the lay-flat design, acid-free paper, 12 perforated pages in the back of the notebook, and its 192 page count.

The book itself has a soft warm-grey, book cloth cover and a sunshine-yellow, cotton ribbon bookmark. The corners are rounded which are aesthetically appealing. The book does not have any closure elastics or inner pockets and the interior branding is minimal.

The first thing I noticed was the bookmark was already starting to fray even before I removed my book. I love the idea of ribbon bookmarks but I’m always peeved if the ends are treated to keep them from fraying.

Baron Fig Confidant

I didn’t have any Fray Check handy (available in the sewing section of your local craft shop) so I applied a liberal dollop of white glue (like Elmer’s) to the end of the bookmark to keep it from fraying any further. The photo above is before the glue has dried completely so you can see how much I applied. Once dry the glue is clear and should protect the ribbon from fraying any further.

Baron Fig Confidant

Now, on to the all-important paper and writing samples. The paper is a soft, warm white rather than an ivory or bright white. I think its a happy medium for daily writing and note-taking. Its not so yellowy as to dramatically change ink colors but not a harsh bright white that might blind with tis glare during an early morning writing session.

When I first opened the book the grey printed dots seemed large to me but once I started writing, they really disappeared visually for me. As someone who generally favors blank notebooks used in conjunction with a guide sheet, this was a pleasant surprise. Often times I find printed lines are too dark for the fine lined tools and light colored inks I like to use. The Baron Fig dot grid did not interfere with my writing.

AS I tested my variety of pens, the only issues I had was with the Kaweco Ruby Red cartridge in the J. Herbin Rollerball. It took a long time to dry which I find often happens with some red fountain pen inks when combined with the overhand left-handed writer. All the gel pens, ballpoint and felt tipped pens worked beautifully and the paper has a pleasant texture making pencils enjoyable on the paper as well.

The fountain pens I tried fall into the “everyday use” category like the Pilot Varisty, Kaweco Sports and Liliput and a couple TWSBIs and I threw in my new Super 5 with the 0.5mm stub italic nib just to see how it would work. There was no feathering on the paper with any of the fountain pens, not even the Super 5.

Baron Fig Confidant

From the reverse side of the paper, there was a little show through with the TWSBI filled with Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. I love the color of this ink but its been the culprit of show through on all the notebooks I’ve been testing lately. Alternately, the Super 5 with the stock blue cartridge it shipped with had NO show through at all so sometimes, you have to blame the ink for being particularly showy. The only other show through I got with this batch of test pens was the Retro 51 Tornado with the Schmidt with the P8126 refill. Its a rich dark black but the show through is minimal with no real bleed through.

Baron Fig Confidant

All in all, I’m quite pleased with the performance of the paper in the Baron Fig Confidant. Its definitely better quality paper than A5 notebooks found in most book shops these days for a similar price. I do worry that the light grey covers will show dirt and oils easily so I’ll be curious how the book looks after its been used regularly. Hopefully, my book mark hack will keep the sunny yellow ribbon from fraying into oblivion which is really my only grumble.

Gourmet Pens put the Baron Fig through its paces including extensive fountain pen tests and ink drying times if you’re looking for more thorough testing. Check Pennaquod for dozens of other reviews on the Baron Fig Confidant.

Align Stapler

Align Stapler

Have you ever wished you could make your own booklet or wish the stapler arm was just a little bit longer? The Align Stapler might be just what you need. The stapler and base are held together with a magnet and can be pulled apart to give you a longer reach when needed. You can staple anywhere with the Align.

And since its magnetic, the stapler would stick to your fridge!

Align Stapler

This would be a good option for anyone wanting to create their own inserts for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook for sure. While it would not be as heavy duty as a long arm saddle stitcher (that’s the technical term!), for a mere $7, this would be a good option for the casual booklet-maker.

(via Quirky)

Link Love: The Week of Lamy Love

rp_link-ana11.jpgFountain Pens:

Pens:

Inks:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Planning & Organizers:

Kickstarters (and fundraisers):

Other Interesting Things:

Notebook: Calepino Pocket Books

Calepino notebook

I’ve been wanting to try out the Calepino pocket notebooks for a long time. Its been hard to find a US seller that stocks them though so I’d put if off until I discovered CW Pencil Enterprise. A set of three notebooks in the kraft box is $10 which is competitive with most other pocket notebooks on the market.

The Calepino books are 3.5×5.5″, exactly the same as Field Notes so if you have a cover you use, these will fit into it as well. The right hand corners are nicely rounded and the books have two staples on the spine.

The Calepino notebooks are available in several different paper linings (dot grid, grid, lined and blank) and each style features a different color stripe on the front. If you’re inclined to keep a lined notebook for lists and a grid or dot grid for doodles, you’ll quickly be able to identify which is which from the stripes on the cover.

Calepino notebook

I love the heavy, kraft paper box that the notebooks are packaged in. The box has a tab in the back and then unfolds to open. No glue was used in the constructing the box and there’s information printed in side the box in French. I plan to keep the unused books in the box and then will store used books back in the box. I seldom have a desire to keep packaging so this is high praise indeed.

Calepino notebook

Inside the covers is an area to include your contact info. The paper inside is white with fine orange-y lines. The lines are thin enough to be largely unobtrusive, even with the lightest or finest tools.

Calepino notebook

There’s a little bit of tooth to the paper which helps slow down slippery gel ink pens and makes the writing experience with pencils and fountain pens very tactile.

Calepino notebook

I tested an assortment of different writing tools. I always test on the back pages of my book so I can refer back later if there was any tool that really didn’t work well. Overall, the range of tools had no big issues on the front of the stock. The Sailor Jentle Yama Dori did soften a little bit on the paper so I’m inclined to think there may be some fountain pen inks that won’t perform as well on this paper as others. But most “everyday carry” tools should work pretty well.

Calepino notebook

From the reverse, there’s a a little bit of show through on the Yama Dori line. I’ve had some show through issues in other notebooks with this ink so I’m going to blame the ink more than the paper here. Overall, for a pocket notebook, the paper performed well and I like the toothiness of the paper. It kept certain tools from feeling too slippery on the paper.

I’m curious now to see the dot grid and grid lines as well and see if they are as unobtrusive as the lined version. I suspect the quality and attention to detail in the other editions of the Calepino notebook will be equally good.

If you’re looking for an option in pocket notebooks that is more utilitarian than collectible, the Calepino is a great contender.

Notebook Review (and Reveal): Code & Quill

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The generous folks at Code & Quill “notebooks for creatives” sent me some of their prototype notebooks to check out. They are already making improvements which shows how fastidious they are about the quality and appearance of these books (see notes at the bottom of this review). The notebooks started out life as a Kickstarter Project which was funded and then some (understatement) so there are definitely folks interested in the concept presented by these notebooks.

The most distinguishing feature of the Code & Quill notebooks is that the pages alternate between dot grid on the left hand pages and indention rule on the right hand pages. Indention rule reminds me of some of the papers form Japan that feature a short tick along the baseline to help with character spacing. For the Code & Quill books, the indentation marks help for writing out programming… the “code” portion of the Code and Quill. The dot grid provides just enough structure for drawing or writing without being distracting.

Both the soft cover and hard cover editions of the books feature 100gsm, acid-free, fine-grain, and ivory paper and both the hard and soft cover books measure 5.5×7.7″.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The Code & Quill hard cover edition, called Origin, is available with a white or grey pebble-textured PU leatherette (this is a leatherette material covered with a layer of polyurethane for added durability). I love the feel of the pebble texture. The grey is a warm grey and dark enough that dirt and smudges will be well-hidden. The logo is stitched on the cover as a red fabric tag. Its subtle and well done. I appreciate little-to-no branding on my notebooks and this is a pretty good compromise.

The book shipped in a matching tomato red rigid slip case (see prototype notes below). My slip case got a little dented in the post but it did its job protecting my book.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Inside the covers of the Origin hard cover are bright tomato red end papers with a space blocked out for content or contact information. Origin has 180 pages and features stitched signatures that lay flat.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The soft cover, called Traveler, is the same overall dimensions as the Origin but with a soft flexible cover. Its also available with a white cover and a grey cover. I was sent the white cover. It even shipped in a  slip case, too (again, see prototype notes below). The Traveler is a little slimmer than the Origin with just 100 pages. The pages are stitched in, not glued so they will also lay flat.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Both book feature identical paper — dot grid on the left, indention rule on the right. The dot grid and indentation rule are printed in light gray. I wish the dots were a tiny bit smaller but, after my test writing, I found they weren’t as distracting as I thought they’d be.

Code & Quill Writing samples

As is always the case, we all want to know how does the paper take ink? Its the make-or-break for any notebook. I’m happy to report that the Code & Quill paper performed way above average. With all the standard gel, ballpoint and rollerball pens in my reach, the paper worked well. No feathering or bleeding. There was a little show through with the Morning Glory Mach 3 0.38 in black which seemed very odd. I would have expected the Schmidt refills for the Retro 51 to more likely show through but, nope.

I tested a variety of everyday fountain pens, like the Pilot Varsity, a hand full of Kaweco pocket pens, a couple TWSBIs and even the Super 5 with stub nib and there’s a little showthrough with the Varsity but no true bleeding. The only ink I had issues with was the Sailor Jentle Yama-Dori in my TWSBI Mini. The Yama Dori splined a tiny bit and kind of mooshed. I had some drying issues with the J. Herbin rollerball with Kaweco Red ink and the Super 5 required a bit longer dry time than I allowed, hence the smudge at the bottom of the right hand page.

With retail prices of $15 and $20 (comparable with most A5 notebooks sold),the Code & Quill paper is above average in performance. Its not up there with Rhodia Webbies for fountain pen friendliness but the A5 retail for a Webbie is closer to $30.

Code & Quill Writing samples

Can you see how the dots fall back once there is ink on the page? Even the light Sky Blue of the Pilot Frixion Point 04 is visible. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the dot grid and indention grid. I don’t necessarily need indention grid but the tick marks don’t bother legibility and may be useful for making nested lists since nobody wants me coding anything.

Code & Quill writing sample reverse

This is the reverse of my sample writing page. There are a few little dots of show through but overall, both sides of the paper could easily be used.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The notebooks were designed in the US, but are manufactured in China. Code & Quill are very transparent about the production. In the notebooks, the country of manufacture is printed the end paper in the back of the book.

(photos of modifications provided by Code & Quill)

(photos of modifications provided by Code & Quill)

Some of the changes, based on the initial prototypes:

  • On the hard cover edition, the spine will be more indented and defined.
  • Improvements will be made the paper block so that it sits aligned and recessed inside the covers of the hard cover. This will create a more defined ‘lip’ around the pages. In the second picture below, you can see that the review samples are closer to the white notebook, while the production notebooks will have a page block that is like the light gray notebook.
  • The softcover notebook will be feature a thicker, leatherette cover that is flexible, for added durability and so allow the cover to actually lay flat when the notebook is set down.
  • Finally, the packaging will be changed. Information will be available about these changes when all the details have been finalized.

These books are simple and clean designs overall. There are no closure elastics, ribbon bookmarks or paper pockets in the back cover. If these extras are deal breakers for you, there are ways to make them yourself. I’ve made paper pockets for other notebooks and adding a book strap or bookmark would be easy as well.

Overall, I think these are good quality notebooks and if you’ve been looking for a combination notebook with lines and grid, this is a great option. The grey leatherette cover of the hard cover is worth the $5 upcharge.

If you missed funding the Kickstarter project, you can pre-order either the Origin hard cover ($20) or the Traveler soft cover notebook ($15) from their web site. They are listing shipping to be about 8 weeks out.


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

Pens for Notebook Testing

review pens

All this week, I’ll be publishing reviews of an assortment of notebooks. I wanted to share all the pens I used in the writing tests. I tried to use a wide variety of pens from gel, ballpoint, rollerball, fountain and pencils.

They were all oddly color coordinated too so I thought they were photo worthy. What pens do you use to test out your new notebooks? Do you do writing samples on the first page, last page or just grab a pen and start writing and see what happens?

(Do you recognize all the pens in the photo?)

Pencil Review: Nataraj Platinum Extra Dark 2B

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

One of my other happy purchases from CW Pencil Enterprises was a dozen box of Indian-made Nataraj Platinum Extra Dark pencils ($0.30 each/ $3.60 per dozen). The package included a dozen pre-sharpened pencils and a plastic pencil sharpener.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The pencils remind me a bit of the Staedtler Rally pencils with the alternating stripes of color on the hex panels. Where the Rally pencils are navy and white, the Nataraj are black and metallic silver. On one side, the brand name is stamped in silver and on the reverse panel is the pesky bar code. Oh, I hate those bar code but at least its on the reverse from the logo branding.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The lead does write quite darkly as described on the package. It will smudge a bit which could be nice for sketching or if you like a dark line. Even with the dark line, the point did not dull as quickly as I expected it to which is a good thing.

The pencils have a traditional silver ferrule and white eraser but the white eraser cap is CRAP. Its one of the worst I’ve ever used. You might as well flick it off so that you don’t use it accidentally.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The pencil sharpens nicely with a hand sharpener and write smoother once sharpened than it does with the pre-sharpened points.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The biggest shocker was the little plastic sharpener. It sharpened an excellent point and made beautiful shaving roses.

I’d grade this pencil a B-. The eraser really killed it for me but the pencil performance is above average. The cheap-y sharpener is really good for a freebie.

Pencil Review: Ito-Ya

ito-ya-1

A big shoutout to Andy Welfle at Woodlcinched and the Erasable Podcast for sending me this treasure from San Francisco. The Ito-Ya pencil is a smooth round pencil with an almost red-lacquer-like finish and a black rubberized dip end. The only printing on the pencil is the gold foil “ITO-YA” close to the rubber dipped end.

ito-ya-2

There’s a little feedback noise on the paper (the scritch, scritch sound on the paper as I write) but its quite minimal and overall the experience of this pencil is smooth. It writes a fairly dark line and smudges a bit which can be a little messy for a lefty.

The lines erased super clean with the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser and did a passable job with the Black Pearl which pairs well with the ITO-YA pencil nicely. Very Japanese together.

My personal preference is for hex or triangular pencils so this isn’t an A+ for me but a solid B+ pencil. If you like round pencils, I’m sure you’ll rate it higher.

The ITO-YA pencil can be purchased online through Pencils.jp for ¥65 each.

STAK Ceramics Phone Dock

STAK Ceramics Phone Dock

When I was in Chicago at the Renegade Craft Fair last fall, I saw these beautiful ceramic desk accessories from STAK Ceramics. I was smitten with the Large Phone Dock ($50) in the mint green. It comfortably holds most mobile phones, a small plant and a little slot for paper clips or other little tidbits.

There is a slot underneath to run the charging cable up to the phone discreetly so it give a beautiful way to view and charge your phone while at your desk.

STAK Ceramics Phone Dock

STAK Ceramics offers several other phone docks. One includes a flower vase rather than a plant holder and some with wood accents. There is also an Tablet holder with a vase for kitchen tools ($60). I think my other mother would love the Kitchen Dock…maybe for Mother’s Day.

STAK Ceramics Phone Dock

Cognitive Surplus Notebooks

Notebooks_IMG_0766

Several months ago, someone asked about a notebook that combined lined and grid or blank and lined or some such combination. I’m not sure if this is exactly what they were searching for but Cognitive Surplus has a series of hardcover notebooks that contain paper that is lined on the right hand sheet and grid on the left hand sheet. The covers feature archival illustrations in a myriad of colors. The books are 6.5″x8.9″ and inside the books have 100% recycled paper stock and 80 pages. Each book is $15.

Notebook_Interior

Ink Review: Kaweco Paradise Blue

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

Kaweco Paradise Blue is a pretty good match for my TWSBI Diamond 580 in Christmas Green. The pen body is a little more green than the ink color but not too bad a match.

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

Kaweco Paradise Blue ($17.50 for a 30ml bottle) is a turquoise ink that leans a bit more green than most turquoise inks. It’s my second favorite Kaweco ink after Summer Purple because the hue is so unusual for a company that only makes a handful of colors. The label color is a little misleading as it shows a more bluish color.

Paradise Blue dries quickly and is not as watery as the closest color match I could find, De Atramentis Petrol which would make Paradise Blue a better option for wider nibbed pens.

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

In my hunt for comparison inks, I didn’t find too many colors that were similar. In terms of darkness, Paradise Blue fell between two offerings from De Atramentis: Petrol, which is a little bit darker and Mint Turquoise, which is a little lighter color overall. Most inks that aspire for a turquoise hue are much bluer. Paradise Blue walks that fine line between the slightly greenier hues that I found as a comparison and the much bluer turquoise inks like Lamy Turquoise or Sheaffer Skrip Turquoise.

Overall, Kaweco Paradise Blue is a good, solid ink in a pleasing color at a reasonable price.


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

Link Love: Get Indxd

rp_link-ana11.jpgLink of the Week:

Indxd, a digital tool for indexing all the content in all your notebooks, created by David Rea.

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Planners and Organizers:

Other interesting things:

Pencil Review: Kaweco Special 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The Kaweco Special 0.7mm mechanical pencil is a bit wider pencil than I expected. It feels in the hand like a jumbo pencil. Luckily the anodized metal, hexagonal octagonal finish is warm and soft in the hand and quite comfortable. I thought the metal finish might be too slick but its not a shiny finish and the tapered end has a bit more tooth to it to keep fingers from sliding down.

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The stock lead in the Kaweco Special Pencil is super super smooth. The great thing about mechanical pencils is that you can change lead hardness or lead brands, but the stock Kaweco leads are an excellent option. I was quite pleased with the smoothness.

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The most unusual aspect of the Kaweco Special 0.7 is that under the presser button is the teeny, tiniest, little eraser. Its absolutely dorky how tiny it is in comparison to the size of the pencil and the lead thickness. Erasing one word with this eraser and most of the eraser is used up. I’d definitely recommend using a handheld eraser instead of this little dude. He’s for emergencies only.


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

Ask The Desk: TARDIS Blue Ink?

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This message popped up in my Twitter this morning, which I found was very timely after my outrage at the lack of pop culture-themed inks.

@JetPens asked:

@wellapptdesk Just last week, @DQuartermane asked us what fountain pen ink is closest to TARDIS blue :P We said Sargasso Sea. Thoughts??

I hate to be too picky here but, over the years, the actual shade of blue for the TARDIS has changed so there will be room for disagreement as to what the “one true blue” should be.

TARDIS 3  TARDIS2

I think Diamine Sargasso Sea is an excellent option — more Matt Smith-era TARDIS than David Tennant. And Diamine Majestic Blue might be a great Eccelston-era blue.

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J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean would be a good option as well for a more Tennant-era TARDIS. Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-Goa would be my choice for a Capaldi-era TARDIS blue and my favorite choice (but I love Peter Capaldi so I’m biased). And I did not delve into blues that might match earlier generations of the Doctor either. Please… discuss!

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(Just to establish my geek-cred, this was my Con TARDIS costume from last year)

(All ink photos from Jet Pens)

Top 5: Pens Under $30

top5 pens under $30

It might seem like a big jump between the $5 and under pens to a pen that costs upwards of $30, but it really opens the options for materials other than plastic and introduces some refill and filling mechanisms that allow for longer-term cost effectiveness.

Rollerball:

Retro 51 Tornado Classic Lacquers start at $21. There are lots of colors to choose from and special body designs are available seasonally for added interest and collectibility. I would recommend swapping out the stock rollerball refill with a slightly finer option. I like the Schmidt P8126 refill instead as its not as heavy or dark especially in smaller pocket notebooks. Even my husband, who loves bold lines prefers the Schmidt P8126 refill in his Retro 51.

Ballpoint:

The Fisher Space Pen ($20) is often recommended for folks looking for the perfect EDC pen. With the pressurized ballpoint ink, it should write in any weather, at any angle. I love the classic good looks and range of color options.

(Runner-Up: The Parker Jotter. The Jotter is a classic design that been in production for more than 60 years. Modern models feel a little flimsier than the vintage models but its a beautiful pen. If you need a ballpoint on your desk, this is a good option. Its about $10 for a plastic body edition and about $20 for the stainless steel models.)

Fountain Pen:

This is the hardest category. I have a personal preference here but I know its not a pen that might please most people. I also have a prejudice against one pen because of the way in which I write though I know its a great sub-$30 option. So… that said, here’s my recommendation for a good starter fountain pen beyond the disposable options in the sub-$5 category.

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The Kaweco Classic Sport (and ICE Sport, both start at about $23.50) is my favorite entry level fountain pen. I know a lot of people will disagree with me because its small, plastic and can only use standard short European cartridges. Alternately, its totally pocketable and has classic good looks in its favor. The clip is optional which adds to the cost but is not necessary. I have over half a dozen Sport models and every one has a good nib that works well from EF, F and M nibs. I do find the M nibs dry out and need to be primed more often but I’d buy another Kaweco Sport in a heartbeat if it was in a color I liked.  I’m not inclined to say that with my runners-up. The runners-up are good pens but I don’t find myself continually reaching for them once I “graduated” to more expensive pens. But I still carry at least one Kaweco Sport next to my high priced pens.

(Runners-up: Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari. Like I said, this is a challenging category. For sheer value, a full sized Pilot Metropolitan in a metal body for under $20 is a great value. Lamy nibs are great quality and easy to swap out so that a first pen purchase can be a success and lead to a lifetime of fountain pen.)

Multi-Pens:

I love multi-pens for the option of carrying several colors at one time. I’ve tried just about every brand of customizable multi-pen and my favorite have swiftly become the Pentel i+ 3 model. The pen allows for an assortment of refill types from the Sliccie gel refills to the Vicuna and Energel refills. While I thought I’d miss the silicone grip featured on other brands, I find the Pentel i+ easier to slide in and out of pockets and pen loops without it so it gets chosen more often than others.  Fully customized for about $10.

(You might notice that there are only four categories in this Top 5 but there are actually more than five pens recommended. Let’s just say, I’m a designer by trade and not so “mathy”.)

Black Erasers vs. Black Pencils

Black Erasers

You know you’re a pencil nerd when you think to yourself, “How well do black erasers perform?” And then you think, “I’ll test them with all BLACK pencils!” Yep, that’s how I think.

Black Erasers

So, which erasers did I put into my black eraser head-to-head? The classic Papermate Black Pearl (2-pack for $2.39), the Uni Boxy ($1.40 each) and the Pentel Ain hi-polymer (2-pack for $2). And the pencils? A Palomino Blackwing ($21.95/dozen), General’s Layout Extra Back ($5.40/dozen), and a Mirado Black Warrior ($2.99/dozen).

Black Erasers

Let the scribbling begin!

Black Erasers

And then I started to erase. I left the eraser dust in the photo because it was interesting to see how each eraser dust was different. The Black Pearl is the least crumbly and the Pentel Ain was the most crumbly with lots of small bits. The Uni Boxy was crumbly but the pieces were bigger than the Ain.

Black Erasers

Once the eraser dust is cleared away, the results were quite varied. The Ain worked great with the Mirado Black Warrior but was not as successful with the General’s Layout. The Palomino lays down such dark soft lines that none of the erasers did particularly well with the wide swaths of erasing. And the Black Pearl wasn’t a super performer with all the pencil tested here but its the least messy and easy to find at local US big box stores.

in the end, the black erasers are nice to look at and I love the “worry stone” feel of the Black Pearl but if what you really want is clean, complete erasing you want a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser. It really is the premium eraser.

Fashionable Friday: Planet Comic-Con Edition

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This weekend is the annual Kansas City Planet Comicon and I’m so excited (yet again). So, this week’s “Fashionable Friday” is geek-centric. Apologies to the liberties I took with the color names. But it did make me think, “Why isn’t anyone doing any geek-themed ink colors?” This is a niche that NEEDS to be filled. I want Death Star black, Dagobah green, Avengers Assemble red, Exploding Blue Box blue… c’mon inky fingers, make this happen for me!

Onward, to nerdom!

  • Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Groot Bobble Head $9.99 (via ToysRUs)
  • Marvel Headphones $17.99 (via Think Geek)
  • Funko Stormtrooper Lamp $83.10 (via Amazon)
  • De Atramentis “Browncoats” Tobacco Ink $12.95 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Kaweco Student “Yellow Flash” Fountain pen 46,50 € (via Fontoplumo)
  • Sun-Star Pictome Paper Clip “Riddler Edition” – Pack of 8 for $4.75 (via Jet Pens)
  • Limited Edition Deluxe Doctor Who River Song’s TARDIS Journal 79.99 $47.99 (via Think Geekv)
  • Pilot MR Metropolitan Fountain Pen in “Death Star” black $15 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Fisher Space Pen Bullet in “Superman” Blue $23 (via Jet Pens)
  • Create-Your-Own Rickshaw Bags Hawkeye iPad Mini Sleeve $46.95 (other designs and configurations available) (via Marvel)
  • Big Damn Heroes downloadable poster FREE (via Josh Keckley)
  • Quo Vadis Habana in “Iron Man” Red $24 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Diamine Fountain Pen Asa “Cap” Blue Ink in 30ml mini bottle $7 (via Jet Pens)
  • Pentel Sliccies 3-Color Multi-Pen Body in “Nightwing” Blue $3.30 (via Jet Pens)
  • Batman Skills Mug $15 (via Society 6)

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