Today, April 27, is World Stationery Day. If you’re wondering exactly what World Stationery Day is, it’s part of National Stationery Week and part of the London Stationery Show. The goal of World Stationery Day is to celebrate the written word and all things stationery.
In the spirit of World Stationery Day, the folks at NoteMaker in Australia want to help you celebrate by offering one lucky reader the chance to win a $250 voucher (that’s a “gift certificate” in American English) to spend in their fabulous online shop. How amazingly generous!
To enter this giveaway, see the info below in the Rafflecopter widget. The giveaway runs through Sunday, May 1 and the winner will be announced on Monday.
A big thanks to Anderson Pens for sponsoring the Retro 51 Bouquet giveaway and a huge shoutout to all the lovely comments that were posted. I got choked up reading many of them and the kind words you had for your mom, sister, wife, best friend and sometimes even yourself. You all deserve a Bouquet, I wish I had more to give.
Now, for the winner of the giveaway:
Congrats to James and I hope his mother (or sister) enjoys the pen!
I’ve spent a lot of time this past week trying to decide the best way to talk about what was the saddest part of my Atlanta Pen Show experience. I mentioned to a vendor that I had a beloved vintage Parker Duofold vac filler but that the vacuum-filler didn’t work and he said “Oh, there’s a guy here who specializes in fixes those. You should take it over and have him look at it.”
I was very excited at the possibility of getting my pen in full working order so I hopped over to the repairman and he seemed fairly convinced that for a reasonable fee and a couple of hours he could get my pen in working order. I left him my pen and my phone number and headed off to lunch.
This is where things went sideways and I should have probably talked to people with more experience getting pens repaired to know what questions to ask and what outcomes I could expect.
I dropped off my pen around noon and did not hear back from the repairman by 4pm. I started to get concerned but didn’t want to pester him. I know how busy tables can get and the potential to get backed up but I also knew that the show floor closed up at 5pm and if he was not going to get time to work on my pen, I wanted to be retrieve before 5pm and either bring it back next year or make arrangements for shipping.
When I got to his table, he informed me that the prior owner of the pen must have epoxied the vac into the end of the pen and, as a result, when he attempted to remove it, the barrel of the pen melted and warped. In other words, my pen was returned to me more damaged than when I left it with him and I only received a cursory apology and a “these things sometimes happen”. I was not charged for the mishap but I was not compensated in anyway for the damage either.
As one of my first vintage fountain pens and a thrift store score at that, I have a lot of sentimental attachment to the pen. Yes, most of my love is a result of the pen having a beautiful, slightly flexible gold nib but still!
So, from my cautionary tale, I want to provide some advice to anyone seeking pen repairs, nib tuning or other manipulations from someone, either at a pen show or online:
Be sure to ask is there a possibility that the pen might sustain additional damage?
If so, whose responsibility is it? (Go into the transaction knowing ahead of time if the repairman is not held responsible for someone else’s janky repair work like epoxy so you are not taken by surprise like I was)
Does the repairman have spare parts on site should the pen need to be modified due to breakage or damage? At a show, he might not have all his spare parts but might be able to take the pen back to his shop and finish repairs and mail the pen back to you.
Get good cost estimates up front. If the repairman want payment up front, verify what refund policy he has should he be unable to complete the repairs.
In the end, it can’t hurt to ask all the questions and if a repairman (or person) is unwilling to answer them, feel free to share my experience as the reason you’re asking. Not that you distrust them but you know that bad things have happened to good pens.
Word. Notebooks have just released their new Terrain Series notebooks featuring topographic style artwork on the covers of three different sets of notebooks in green, orange or ivory. Inside, these notebooks feature the same lined paper with the built-in bullet system as their previous notebooks and feature 48-pages in each of their 3-pack of notebooks. Each set is available for $9.99 for a 3-pack. Perfect for all your summer explorations.
Philip Ashforth Coppola has spent the last 38 years illustrating the details of New York City’s subway stations. Many of the illustrations are done with ballpoint pen and are exquisitely detailed. New York Bound Books has published small editions of bound volumes of some of the sketches. This video is from the Great Big Story series.
So… I had so much fun in Atlanta that, knowing that the Chicago Pen Show is just a week away, I have decided that I MUST GO TO CHICAGO! As a native Chicagoan, the opportunity to go to a pen show AND eat an Italian Beef was too much lure for one person to withstand.
I have to give a great big shout out to Lisa at Vanness Pens who has kindly welcomed me as a helper at the Vanness booth for the weekend. If you need ink this weekend, come to the Vanness table for Bung Box, Callifolio, Akkerman and many more plus the 300-strong ink testing station. Bring lots of paper or buy some while you’re there.
So, in honor of my hometown pride, I bring you a Fashionable Friday decked out in Vienna Beef, red-6-pointed-stars-and-sky-blue-stripes, and original Frango mints. Locals will know what I mean and folks visiting Chicago for the first time for the pen show, take note!
I never thought I’d be a collector of Retro 51s. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve acquired a variety of different Poppers and a Classic Lacquer and, I must admit, I have a collection now. So, I now keep an eye out for the regular seasonal releases in the Popper series.
Just prior to the Atlanta Pen Show, Retro 51 released their spring design, Bouquet, and I scrambled to find a retailer who didn’t sell out in a minute. Luckily, the fine folks at Anderson Pens set not one but TWO pens aside for me and, as a result, one lucky reader will get claim this beauty as their own – or to give to their loved one, their mom, or their favorite person who deserves an everlasting bouquet of flowers.
The Bouquet is a smooth, watercolor floral printed on an ivory background. The flowers definitely have a tropical feel. The graphics are some of the most complex I’ve seen on a Retro 51 and they turned out really well. The colors are clean and rich. And the printing is flawless.
The hardware is a soft, brushed gold. I’d almost call is rose gold but its not pinky nor is it brassy. The end cap is a rosy pink dot to match the flowers.
Of all the “Mother’s Day” releases that Retro 51 has done, this is by far the best one yet.
GIVEAWAY: See that one in the photo above still wrapped in shrinkwrap? That is #0288/1000 and it can be your. All you need to do is leave a comment below and tell me who in your life deserves a beautiful bouquet of flowers. AND… read the FINE PRINT. Big thanks to Anderson Pens for providing the giveaway pen!
FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, April 25, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your real 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 delivery addresses only please this time. Apologies to our international readers!
I cannot believe how quickly four days passed. The Atlanta Pen Show 2016 was four action-packed days of making tons of new friends, seeing old friends, and, of course, looking at all sorts of wallet-emptying pens, inks, paper and other wonderful goodies!
To give a quick timeline, we arrived in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon and got to mingle and hang out with all the early arrivers in the evening. I get the impression that the hotel bar staff doesn’t quite know what to do with us but they tolerate the inevitably ink-tinged water goblets without complaint. We ate, drank and chatted a good deal so I hope the wait staff tipped out well at the end of the night.
Friday, I got to walk around the show floor a little bit in the morning and then the wonderful folks at Goulet Pens asked if I would do an interview for their Q&A series live and in-person. It was both incredibly exciting and incredibly nerve-wracking but the best part was meeting Brian and Rachel and their wonderful videographer and video editor, Jenni. After the video, I got to visit with more folks and wander a bit more before the show closed and the evening carousing kicked into gear again. Friday night was the traditional Atlanta Pen Show hamburger cookout which was fun and filling even if the burgers were still mooing.
Saturday, I got to spend the morning testing out inks at the Vanness ink testing station and then the afternoon helping out at the NockCo booth with Myke (yes, they let us run the show for awhile!) before the big moment: the recording of the 200th episode of The Pen Addict podcast recorded in front of a live audience at the show! I cannot believe how epic it was to record a podcast (not in my pajamas) in front of 60+ people. I am so grateful to all the Kickstarter backers and Brad and Myke and the celebrity crew from Relay.FM for making it all happen and letting me be a part of such a historic event. Sitting here typing this, I have to pull that pack of tissues out again because I’m getting all verklempt again.
However, the one thing I forgot to do in all the excitement was TAKE PICTURES! So, I’m leaning on all the wonderful folks on Instagram who used the hashtag #ATLPenShow2016 and #AtlantaPenShow2016 to find some of my favorite moments from the show and share them with you. I hope the original photographer don’t mind that I’ve included their photos here (please let me know if you do, I’ll swap them out but I hope you know that I’m sharing them with love and best intentions!) Please go through all the awesome photos on Instagram and see all the great stuff people found, all the happy faces and I hope to see your face in Atlanta next year!
I’ll be doing another post with all the goodies I acquired and, of course, more in-depth reviews of inks and pens in the coming weeks so stay tuned!
After my positive experience with the Seawhite of Brighton Starter Sketchbook, I decided to take the Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal out for a test drive. This is their best effort to replicate a better Moleskine Artist’s Sketchbook and they did it. First of all, its a true A5 size. Second, on Amazon, its priced at $12.50. Third, the paper is 130 gsm cartridge paper. And it has 128 pages.
While the Moleskine Artist’s Sketchbook claims to have heavier weight paper, it repels most liquid media making it entirely unusable for me since I like to add watercolor to my sketches. So… after quite liking the 140 gsm paper in the Starter Sketchbook, I was willing to accept a slightly lighter “cartridge paper” to have a light water-receptive paper for sketching at a reasonable price.
The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal cover is a slightly flexible hard cover like the Moleskines and the rounded corners too. Its not a stiff cover which makes it firm enough to support your writing or drawing but not overly stiff. I have other sketchbooks with stiff covers and square corners that could double as weapons. The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal also has a sewn binding and will lay flat with a little training.
The paper in the Artist’s Travel Journal is a warm white which is quite pleasant compared to the bright white of the Starter Sketchbook. I immediately went to it with pen and ink and watercolor and while the paper did waffle a little bit, it did not resist the paint nor did it pill. WIN.
I tested an assortment of fountain pens with good luck as well, though the paper did absorb the ink a bit more than Rhodia or other paper more specifically designed for writing. I didn’t have any issues with splining or feathering except with a rollerball and then only very minorly. Felt tip and fine tipped fountain pens behaved well on the paper making it a good book for art journaling, mixed media and dry sketching with light wash or ink. Its definitely not watercolor paper but it can withstand a little bit of water and wet media. Enough to be a big step up from the Moleskine Sketchbook.
The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal includes a ribbon bookmark and a gusseted pocket in the back for scraps and momentos as well so all the details are still there. And there’s the vertical elastic. To the untrained eye, no one will know its not a Moleskine unless you tell them. And I would because this book is just better.
I did a second round of testing because I was feeling it… and with ink, watercolor and colored pencil, I was still thrilled with the overall performance of the paper. Yes, I got a little waffle after it dried but nothing terrible, all things considered. I slapped the elastic around the cover after everything was dry and hopefully that will help flatten things out over time.
And in my second round of pen tests, I added in more everyday pens like Fineliners, a Pilot G2, some gel pens and a Pilot Precise. I guess I was worried I was feeling too cocky about the sketchbook being good for me but maybe not right for someone else.
Now, I feel fairly confident that if you’re looking for something MORE than just writing paper — that you want more than a Leuchtturm 1917 or Rhodia Webbie because you want to sketch or do some pen and ink or markers or watercolor, the Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal is a good option. Its not the top tier. Its the everyday sketcher. Its a notebook that doesn’t make me feel like I’m messing up the “good notebook”. Its a “work” book. It good enough to get the bones of a sketch or idea down, capture my everyday adventures and get banged around in my bag. Does that make any kind of sense?
Since I started doing the #rockyourhandwriting challenge this month in my Field Notes Sweet Tooth editions, I’ve been having fun experimenting with all sorts of opaque gel pens. The Uni Signo Angelics ($2 each) are some of the best opaque gel pens available. The tips are 0.7mm and the pens dry to a matte finish which look great on white paper, black paper or colored stock.
I got a several of the colors available to add some pop and flair to my coming #rockyourhandwriting posts. I’m particularly excited to add some of the white gel pen to the colored stock. It just looks so cool!
Be warned, these opaque colors do take a bit longer to dry than regular gel pens and are only available in the 0.7mm tip size so they are not as fine as some of the Uni Signos I’ve come to know and love. But for creating some fun artwork and decorative details, these are definitely a nice addition to the pen collection!
Addendum (4/23/2016): Following Rusty’s comment below, I did a water test to verify if the Angelics were water resistant. I used a water brush over the text I wrote two weeks prior so it was very much dry. Some of the color did bleed but the overall lettering stayed in place. I’d rate the pens “water resistant” but not waterproof. The color faded as a result of the water and some of the luminance was lost. So, if you were to address an envelope with these pens and the envelope got wet, the address would not vanish as a result of the rain but the color would no longer be as vibrant as it originally was. I hope that helps!
DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
Saturday, April 16th, 6:00 pm (Doors at 5:30): The Pen Addict Podcast, Episode #200 LIVE
Brad and Myke are recording episode #200 of the Pen Addict podcast and I have the honor of sitting third chair beside two of the best guys in the pen community.
If you are in Atlanta AND attending the Pens Show AND backed the RelayCon Kickstarter, you can still sign up to be a tickeetd member of the audience for the live recording at the NockCo booth on Saturday but we are limited by the size of the room so it’s first come, first serve.
Once we get all the backers in the room, we will try our best to get anyone else in the room that wants to watch. Hopefully everyone gets in but there is a mximum capapcity on the room size. The event will be livestreaming on Relay.fm/live starting around 6pm EST as well if you are NOT in the Atlanta area if you want to listen and feel like you’re hanging out with us here.
For more details about the event and the after party, check out the post over on The Pen Addict. Thanks for all your support and if you’re at the show, please say hello!
Sailor Bung Box Blue Black is also called “4B” and boy, is it another one of those colors I just love. Its a rich indigo blue with a halo of red that gives it such a pop. I decided to test it in the teeny, tiniest pen I own, my Kaweco Liliput with an EF nib — maybe I’m just channeliing the vibe of the teeny tiny Bung Box shop in Tokyo Hamamatsu, Japan (Thanks to Mel for setting me straight!)?
The advantage of testing BB BB (Ah, there’s the four Bs!) in a small, fine nibbed pen is that the dark indigo blue-black is dark enough to show even in a fine nibbed pen and the red halo even adds some shading and character to small, fine writing. If you, too, write small or like fine nibs, this blue-black has enough character and shading to be interesting even in such a delicate line. Quite exciting.
I put the quarter in the photo above to show how small the writing is, just for scale. But also to show this ink is not waterproof which means it will easily clean out of your most delicate pens. Just don’t sign your mortgage papers with it.
And finally, it was hard to narrow down to just a few blue-black ink comparisons because I literally have a dozen to choose from! But I picked the ones that were the closest in hue. Diamine 1864 150th Blue Black and Sheaffer Blue Black both had the same sort of red halo but the actual shade of blue was different. Diamine 1864 is a bit more violet and Sheaffer is a little more on the green side. I included a couple more common blue black inks like Lamy and Kaweco and they both feel flat compared to the sheen and halo on the 4B. The MontBlanc Midnight Blue is much darker overall and the Caran d’Ache Magnetic Blue has a sheen too but is more denim-y.
So there you have it. Another in a long line of options in the hunt for the perfect blue-black. I think 4B is pretty darn close to perfect. But Sailor really does make delicious inks. Pricey, but delicious. So if you have a chance to pick up a bottle of this rarity, and you like blue-black inks, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Moleskine has introduced its Smart Writing Set, a notebook and digitally-enabled pen that works in combination with an app that syncs with the Moleskine Notes app, Google Drive or Evernote. The notebook is designed with rounded pages to look more like the shape of a tablet. Maybe to visually differeniate it from the regular notebooks? It features 100 gsm paper and NCode encoded pages to help sync with the digital app.
The Pen+ features a tiny camera and internal memory to store digital data as well as an actual rollerball nib. The pen comes with a charging cord as well.
I received these two little lemon-lime treats from a Desk reader to try out and I’ve been delighted to take them for a test drive. They are the Jinhao 886 “bullet” fountain pens. They are small well-weighted, metal enamel fountain pens at a budget price. They kind of remind me of jelly beans. It looks like they can be purchased through Amazon for about $7.99 a piece with Prime Shipping though the bright yellow color isn’t shown. Alternately you can find the Jinhao for even less on Ebay if you’re willing to brave it.
The nib is labelled “18K GP” but I don’t think it means what they think it means. Not for the prices. Maybe the nib is gold plate but that’s not really why someone is going to buy a Jinhao 886. Its a stiff, steel medium nib and not purchased for its “poshness”.
The pens are just 5″ long capped and 5.5″ posted. And the caps do post nicely without adversely affecting the weighting. The whole pen weighs 21 gsm capped and filled which is pretty weighty for the little guys. Compact and solid.
As for the nibs, stiff. Stiff, stiff, stiff. And a solid medium nib. Which is a perfectly acceptable size and feeling but I have been using so many fine and extra fine and slightly softer nibs that the Jinhao 886 was noticeable nail-like. But I suspect these pens were specifically designed for students and kids so a sturdy nib is probably quite up to the task of grade schoolers learning to write.
But I was really quite charmed by the pens overall. They feel nice in the hand, wrote pretty well right out of the package. I had to do a little light sanding on one nib on a nail buffer but it was cursory at best. And the size and shape is quite nice for we of small hands. Kids and ladies of dainty hands might quite enjoy having one of these pens in their collection. And at the price, there’s no reason not to try them out if the opportunity presents itself.
These would make good pens for experimentation as well. If you are looking to learn to do a little nib grinding, this would be a good pen to test that out. Or want to have a pen with some less-than-well-behaved ink (like Emerald of Chivor or bulletproofs or such), filling a Jinhao 886 would be a good way to have you pen and use it too without concerns about damaging a more expensive, rare or collectible pen. Consider a “play” pen.
Big thanks to MJ for sending these little bon bons!
Oooooo, Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine – Ink of the Year 2016 ($28 for 50ml bottle)! I don’t know what it is with me and the Pelikan Edelstein Ink of the Year Colors. Since I discovered that there was such a thing as a special color each year, I’ve pretty much made a point of either buying or trying each one. The color for 2013 was Amber, then 2014 was Garnet (which is the only one I’ve missed), 2015 was Amethyst and now Aquamarine. Now, I have to say that the Aquamarine is squarely in my “color wheelhouse”. I love this sort of complex, teal-blue-grey so I am so glad to get to try it out. It also makes me not very impartial about it. So bear that in mind.
I drew the header with a watercolor brush to get a range of hues and intensities and was thrilled with the color right out of the bottle. I seem to forget just how well-behaved Pelikan Edelstein inks are. Then I dipped my Esterbook 2442 stub nib to experience the ink in more “real world” circumstances. There’s a good deal of shading in the ink and the color is deep enough to hold up even with my small, light writing. It just glided across the Rhodia paper stock and dried is a reasonable amount of time. I did not smudge, nor did I time my writing. I just wrote at a regular pace. (Says the overhand lefty.)
I also went back to my Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook and tested the ink on 140 gsm “cartridge paper” and added water to see how it behaved if I wanted to use it as more of a drawing ink and I loved the sea green colors that emerged. Also, the Seawhite of Brighton paper once again performed quite well. The ink stood up beautifully. Good pairing!
When compared with some of the many other shades of teal-y blues in my arsenal, it may be hard to discern a difference from the photos. Both Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku and Sailor Jentle Yama Dori have a very distinct reddish halo that Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine does not have. De Atramentis Pigeon Blue is much brighter than Aquamarine and Noodler’s AirCorps Blue Black is a good deal darker, especially once its in a pen. Of course, Aquamarine is a limited edition color and its a bit pricier than some of these others so if you’re looking for similar options, any one of these would be good.
If FOMO is a driving factor for you, than I definitely recommend grabbing a bottle of Aquamarine while you have a chance. If you’re a fan of teal-y blues, that goes double for you!
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.
I recently received the Kickstarter edition Baron Fig Squire in silver aluminum. The pen came in the Baron Fig signature wine soft-touch box, similar to the box that the Baron Fig Confidant notebooks are shipped, nestled in carved black foam. The packaging is appropriate to the pen without being too over-the-top. Generally, as long as the pen is protected in shipping and delivery and the brand is satisfied with its presentation with making the packaging too ostentatious, I’m good. This packaging fit that description.
Several people had mentioned the branding on the pen being a bit much, having both the sword icon etched on one side and the name “BARON FIG” on the other. In the aluminum silver finish, these logos are actually quite subtle and I had to catch the pen in just the right light to see them so I don’t think the branding is too much. Once the pen is removed from the packaging, there really isn’t much to remind you what the pen is. We, as pen nerds, will know its a Baron Fig Squire but the the average consumer, there’s a strong possibility that a year from now, someone would ask them what the pen was and without the brand name on the pen, they might not remember off the top of their head. Since the branding is etched, I also suspect that it will patina over time.
The overall aesthetic of the pen is really quite understated in the hand. The finish of the silver aluminum is smooth without being slippery and the shape is comfortable and well-balanced. I was prepared to find the pen either heavy or too masculine but its neither. The writing end is a tad bulbous, aesthetically, but when writing, I didn’t notice it. It just feels pleasant in the hand.
The twist mechanism is unusual. Its a short half turn, if that much, expose the tip, and there is no knurling or texture added to the end for grip so if you have slippery fingers, the retracting mechanism might prove a little annoying. Maybe I’m spoiled by years of Retro 51 with the deep knurling that makes it easy to twist the mechanism even with wet or greasy fingers but the Squire is definitely for a drier pad. With the rollerball refill, you will definitely want to get the tip retracted too or you’ll have a big leak in your bag or pocket. If you swap out the refill with a ballpoint, it would be less of a concern.
One thing I did notice was that the silver finish of the pen pretty much picks up dirt and ink from everything. I was continually wiping smudges off the pen as I used it. Had I known the silver was quite so prone to gunge, I probably would have chosen the charcoal over the silver for a slightly more camouflage approach to dirt. The silver is pretty but clearly I’m messy.
The Baron Fig Squire ships with a branded Schmidt P8127 rollerball refill. Its a little too liquidy for me making my writing appear even more inconsistent than ever. But the refill is something that can be easily remedied. It looks like the Squire will accept a Parker-style capless refill so I’ll probably grab a couple Monteverde fine gel refills in blue-black, black and maybe turquoise ($4 each from Goldspot Pens) and try those out instead.
Overall, I really like the pen. And I say that with a bit of surprise because the pen was so hyped. Not that I didn’t expect the guys over at Baron Fig to do a good job. I did. But the Squire was a bit like a summer blockbuster movie for the pen community. There was so much hype and excitement that I wasn’t sure that actually holding the pen in my hand could live up to my expectations.
But in the end, I am really quite pleased. I suspect I will use it regularly. Its aesthetically appealing, comfortable in the hand and allows me plenty of refill options since I’m a great big picky-pants about that. And isn’t that what you want from a good pen? Something that feels good in the hand and writes the way YOU want it to write?
If you missed out on the Kickstarter and are interested in purchasing a Baron Fig Squire, they are taking pre-orders on their web site for $55.
In preparation for the Atlanta Pen Show, I thought it might be fun to put together some great (maybe a little “dreamy”) things to have on hand with you should you venture out to the Atlanta Pen Show, or any pen show.
In your kit, you’ll want to have a notebook with paper you love to test inks and pens. This will give you a personal record to take home with you of what you tested as well as tangible memories. Last year, I filled an entire Midori Traveler’s Notebook insert with pen tests I borrowed and tried from people I met at the show. Its one of my most treasured memories from the show as well as a great resource of pen nib grinds and ink colors. I recommend picking a brand of notebook with good quality paper, no larger than an A5 with a stiff cover so that you can write in a confined space quickly and easily. If you’ll be spending more than a day at a pen show, you’ll be surprised how quickly the page will fill up.
I’ll be packing my planner which has all the schedules of events, a list of contacts and all my reservations, flights and assorted information as well. I can store any business cards or additional paperwork in my planner too to keep it all organized.
You might want to pack a small bottle of your favorite ink. Should you decide to buy a new pen, you may want to fill it up with an ink you know, love and trust.
Alternately, you may want to pack a favorite pen with you should you find that rare, unique ink you’ve been lusting after. Pack the pen clean and empty so its ready to be filled. I recommend your favorite demonstrator to show that new ink to its best. And a trusty, favorite pen to take notes like a Lamy 2000 Multi-system ballpoint.
Of course, you’ll need a carrying case for your pens, both those you want to bring and share and those you may purchase. Depending on how streamlined you’d like your kit to be you might choose a small NockCo case (starting at $12 from NockCo) or large leather zip that can hold 12-pens (starting at $40 from Anderson Pens)
Don’t forget your pack your business cards or calling cards. You’ll be meeting people and will want to be able to swap contact info. Make sure you have a spiffy case for them too.
And finally, you’ll need a bag to carry it all. I recommend a crossbody bag over a backpack as it is easier to access contents and less likely to wipe out a table or other people because you were unaware of the added volume of your turtle shell. I look for lightweight fabrics over leather or canvas for events like this since you’ll be schlepping your bag all day. I’ll be carrying my Kipling Cadie ($109 from Kipling USA) which has both shoulder straps and a crossbody strap so I can switch configurations as needed for comfort.
Fabriano Venezia Art Books 6″ x 9″ $14.37 (via Cheap Joe’s)
Diamine 150th Anniversary Ink in Carnival (40ml Bottle) $15 (via Anderson Pens)
Mophie Powerstation Reserve in (red) $34.95 (via Mophie)
After being teased a bit on the April Fool’s Day edition of The Erasable Podcast with the ladies of graphite and Brad, I decided I might as well bring my cocktail love and lore out into the open. Because what pairs better with a beautiful fountain pen and journal or a rustic Blackwing and pocket notebook than a well-prepared drink? Absolutely nothing, I say.
When this book popped up in my Amazon recommendations, I knew I needed to add it to my must-reads. First, I love a good cocktail book. And second, I have a soft spot in my heart for Dorothy Parker so it was clearly a match made in heaven. The book combines tidbits about Dorothy Parker, the Algonquin Roundtable, and jazz age slang. Throw in a few simple cocktail recipes I can try out and of course I’ll give it a spin. I picked up a secondhand copy through an Amazon reseller and its now nestled on my cocktail book shelf with Kingsley Amis’s Everyday Drinking, another classic cocktail-and-literary tome that’s in regular circulation on my bookshelf.
Bitters is a beautiful coffee table book full of gorgeous photography printed on uncoated stock giving it a subtle, old-time feel. The book includes information about what bitters are, modern makers of bitters (from legends like Angostura and Peychaud’s to the new smaller bottlers like Fee Brother’s, Scrappy’s, Bitter Cube) and more. There are also lots of cocktail recipes that utilize bitters, and recipes to make your own bitters. This is my husband’s favorite cocktail book and he refers to it at least once a week. If you’re curious about bitters and what they can add to your cocktail bar, I highly recommend it.
If you have no other cocktail book ever, you should have a copy of Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide. The book is organized by key alcohol component: gin, vodka, whiskey, etc. and then its mixers. It has everything from an elegant martini to a trashy Sex on the Beach. Next to each recipe is an icon of the recommended serving glass: coupe, highball, shot, etc. which is very handy as well.
If you are invited to a wedding and don’t know what gift to get the newlyweds, you can’t go wrong buying a copy of this book. Everyone will need one at some point. If only to settle an argument about what is actually in an Old-Fashioned.
The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide
by Sharon Tyler Herbst ($11.99 for Kindle, available used or secondhand through Amazon resellers for $1 or less in paperback)
The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide was one of the first cocktail books I ever purchased and I honestly go back to it time and time again because its such a great reference tool. Its organized alphabetically so if you know you want a recipe for a Sazerac or you are trying to remember exactly what Sloe Gin is, it’s all just organized alphabetically. Its full of cross-references and an indices in the back for drinks by specific liqueur. So, if you still have a bottle of apple brandy and you want to find some recipes that you can try with it, the Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide has a list in the back you can use to find some drinks that use that specific liqueur. Convenient. Next to each drink is an icon for the glass recommended for serving to make it easy to see if its a cocktail, highball, shooter or glass. Our copy is full of sticky notes, dog-eared pages and even a little water damaged. That’s the sign of a well-loved cocktail book.
I’ve been a fan of the whole Let’s Bring Back series that Blume has done so when the Cocktail book was introduced, I had to purchase it as well. The book is full of quaint, vintage artwork and fancy, embellished typography. It features cocktails with names like the Fair Thee Well and the Rhett Butler as well as literary quotes and historical context for where certain cocktails may have originated. The hardback book is lovely and matches the rest of my Let’s Bring Back set so I’m glad to have it included. I enjoy flipping through it and reading various tidbits but its not a book I’ve used as often for making cocktails. I should remedy that soon.
Time to go stock the bar, get out those swizzle sticks and martini shaker, and your favorite writing tools, there’s cocktails to make and recipes to annotate.
Despite some technical difficulties on Saturday there were still a healthy number of entries and an exciting interest in seeing more about watercolor and art supplies here on The Well-Appointed Desk. Here’s the winning number:
Congrats to Patrick! I hope these markers will help you try some new techniques and a chance to experiment with some beautiful, rich colors. I’ll be contacting you directly via email to make shipping arrangements. Thanks to everyone who entered and I hope you hop over to JetPens and add a few W&N watercolor markers to your next order. I particularly like the Payne’s Grey and Sap Green, of course!
On the neverending hunt for the “perfect paper” for a notebook or sketchbook, I will try just about anything I stumble across on the internet. One such find is the Seawhite of Brighton A5 Starter Sketchbook set which I found on Amazon. The small set of three A5 booklets with simple black covers and 40 pages of 140gsm (approx. 80lb) “cartridge paper” were too good an option to pass up. First, they fit perfectly into my Chic Sparrow Creme Deluxe A5 Black Beauty Traveler’s Notebook cover. “A sketchbook in my planner/notebook kit? Yes, please!” And second, the paper was listed to be heavy enough weight to withstand ink and light washes which is my sweet spot for day-to-day sketchbook needs. So I invested the whopping $10.95 for the set and waited impatiently for the books to arrive.
From the exterior, the booklets feel like Moleskine Cahier or other small cardstock cover cahier. The black cardstock cover is not super heavyweight but is enough to provide protection and add some stability to the paper inside. The paper itself is a crisp bright white and the weight seemed like a good option for pen and ink with enough tooth for pencil and other materials.
I did a little research to determine what exactly “cartridge paper” is, a term not familiar to most folks in the US. Cartridge paper is a heavyweight paper originally used for making gun cartridges and later used by artists and printmakers and they kept the term. Its often compared to Bristol board though maybe not quite as thick. So, in the future, if you hear the term “cartridge paper” you have an idea that the paper is meant to be a bit more upscale than standard copier paper even though it doesn’t sound like it.
Because of the small size of the sketchbook, I was actually able to basically use a whole book before writing up a review rather than just a few small pen tests so I feel like I got a particularly good feel for the paper. In standard writing tests, I didn’t discover any problems. Gel pens, felt tips and fountain pens all seemed well-behaved with minimal bleeding or showthrough. If you like to use a wide nib pen and don’t mind blank pages (you can always use a guide sheet to keep those lines straight!), the Seawhite of Brighton paper might be a nice addition to your stationery cupboard.
Viewed from the reverse of the writing sample, the only show through was the Pilot Envelope pen and a bit of the panda drawing but it was not enough to keep me from drawing on the back side of the page later.
What I really wanted to test was when I introduced more art making tools like watercolor, ink, and colored pencil, which are my favorite portable media. What I came to discover is that “light wash” was the key with watercolor or the paper did start to buckle a little bit but it did not pill. So, by the time I had filled the booklet, the paper was a little waffly but there was not any bleeding of color through to the reverse from the watercolors or anything like that. Just potential puddle spots because the paper waffled a little bit.
I used the book to do a lot of color tests with some new watercolor sets that I’ll do lengthier reviews about in the future but it was nice to have a small book to keep all the swatches together and be able to flip back and forth and see color depth and granulation differences quickly and easily.
I still prefer a little bit heavier weight paper in general for my mixed media sketching but its the trade-off point between cost, portability and need. Some days, I’m just scratching out ideas, doodles and color chips and I don’t necessarily need 200gsm watercolor paper for that. The Seawhite of Brighton 140gsm paper is definitely a step up from the standard paper found in most black art sketchbooks in US art supply store that is usually closer to 65-70lb (96gms+) and much less conducive to any sort of wet media like ink or watercolor or even juicy markers.
To that, I’d like to add my own personal experiences, though I don’t have nearly Liz’s experience and authority from the drawing perspecitve.However, if you are hoping to do more drawing and sketching with your fountain pens or wanting to purchase (or set aside) a pen in your collection specifically for drawing, these are my recommendations. You don’t need all of these, one or two will more than suit. You may want to have one filled with a waterproof ink and one with a water soluble ink or one with black ink and one with brown or blue ink or your favorite color for sketching.
What I’ve discovered is that a lot of the best sketching fountain pens are not necessarily the most expensive fountain pens. You may already have several of these in your collection that have been set aside as your collection has expanded and repurposing these pens as “sketching pens” may give them new life and new purpose, and you, a new hobby.
Pens Platinum Carbon Desk Pen (or Sailor Desk Pen)
The Platinum Carbon Desk Pen ($9.60) is available with a super, fine Japanese nib and ships with one cartridge of Platinum Carbon Black ink which is waterproof. I used my PCDP almost daily and it took almost six months to run through the first cartridge. Because of the fine nib, it uses ink very economically. I even used it to fill in areas, write notes, doodle and sketch but since the lines are so fine, the cartridges last a long time. So, this sub-$10 investment will last you quite awhile.
Because of the fineness of the nib, the pen performs on almost any paper stock from lightweight sketching paper to heavier weight watercolor paper without a lot of feathering or bleeding issues. I occasionally ran into issues on toothy paper as the fine nib can pick up fibers in the tines. This causes some momentary clogging but a wipe with a tissue will usually remove the fibers. This usually only happens on cold press watercolor paper, at which point its best to switch to a felt tip pen or wider nib that is less likely to catch on the fibers.
The PCDP was designed to accommodate the waterproof ink and its a budget-priced pen so if it did get clogged beyond repair, it would not be the end of the world. So far, mine’s been a little trooper and it really is the one pen that is almost always in my bag.
The longer length of the pen is a little challenging for portability but I’ve seen that some people have trimmed down the length a bit and filled in the end with epoxy or putty. The cap was not designed to be a long term solution so its an aesthetic mismatch but the functionality of this pen outweighs its looks.
I also have a Sailor Desk Pen which is similar in design with a weird, peachy cap that doesn’t match as well but was also designed to be used with Sailor’s Nano permanent inks. The Sailor Desk Pen is harder to find these days but if you already have one and were wondering what to use it for, it would make a great sketching pen. Sailor Nano cartridges are available packs of 12 ($10) in UltraBlack and Blue-Black which could potentially last you six years if you draw as often as I do, maybe only three years if you’re more prolific. Or you could buy a whole 50 ml bottle of the Nano Ink for $33 just be sure to grab a converter too ($8.25) because Sailor also uses a proprietary cartridge and converter system.
The Rotring ArtPen ($21+) was one of the first modern fountain pens I ever bought. I found it in an art supply store and used it for years before I knew that there were other options available. I just kept going back and buying the Rotring black cartridges and using the pen to draw and write with until it ran dry. I still have it and I still fill it regularly since it takes standard European cartridges and converters. I’ve filled it with both water soluble and permanent inks, I’ve let it sit for months so inks dried in it and then soaked it for days to try to resuscitate it. It has continued to survive for decades now. It has proven much heartier and durable than all the Rapidographs and Isographs I’ve had put together.
It has the same long tapered shape as the PCDP so it has that arty “paint brush” feeling. Mine has the EF nib making it great for sketching and probably is responsible for starting me on my love affair with fine nib pens but its available with a variety of nib sizes including calligraphy nibs.
The cap has a firm click to close it and was actually designed to be capped unlike the PCDP and the Sailor Desk Pen so while its a bit more expensive, its a fully thought-out pen. The Rotring is probably the most universally usable option since it take standard European cartridges and/or converters and the nib sizes are based on the European measurements with the widest range of nib sizes available of all the options I’ve listed.
The last option on my list of traditional fountain pens is the Lamy Joy ($28) available in white and black. It too has the long tapered shape of a paint brush but can only be purchased with a calligraphy nib (1.1mm, 1.5mm or 1.9mm) initially so it you like the look and feel of a classic Lamy Safari but would like to have a long, tapered shape for sketching, you’ll have to purchase a separate nib (approx $11) making the Lamy Joy the most expensive option.
Lamy also requires either proprietary ink cartridges (none of Lamy’s inks are waterproof) or a Lamy LZ24 converter ($4.70) in order to use bottled inks. If you’re like me, you have a stash of Lamy Safari fountain pens and can probably liberate a converter but if you’re planning to use waterproof inks in your Joy, you may want to be sure not to mix the converter you use with the Joy with the one you use with your Lamy 2000 with the 14K gold nib… just in case.
I recently purchased a Joy and replaced the calligraphy nib with an EF steel nib and filled it with Platinum Sepia Pigment ink. I purchased the still-available, limited edition white model from last year but its also available in black with a red clip or a slightly higher priced black with aluminum cap.
I had not been a great lover of the Safari in the past. Its a good solid pen but not one that made my heart palpitate. The Joy, however, touches me on another level. I think the longer length gives it better balance and weight in the hand making it feel a bit more substantial and using it more like a drawing tool than a writing pen made me less bothered by the grooved grip. I find the Joy more comfortable to draw with than I’ve ever found the Safari to write with. I may go back to the Safaris and consider them as drawing pens at this point. Honestly, I haven’t touched another pen since I started using the Joy. I want to buy another one just to have two different ink colors loaded up simultaneously. I have never felt this way about a Safari before. I am a changed woman.
Inks Platinum Inks
Platinum Carbon Ink has become my go-to ink for permanent black ink I’ve been using my PCDP almost every day for six months and found the Carbon ink to be a well-behaved, dark black. I had little issues with it drying in the pen, even with the fine nib and it being tossed around in my bag, used on all sorts of paper stocks from copier paper to toothy cold press watercolor paper. I had more issues with the pen getting jammed with paper fibers on toothy papers over waxy pencil or other materials than I did with the ink drying in the pen. I’ve gone ahead and purchased a bottle of Platinum Pigmented Sepia ink which is also permanent and I think will make a lovely alternative to black for drawing. As mentioned earlier, Sailor’s Nano Inks are an excellent alternative as well if you are looking for cartridges to match a Sailor pen or find a good deal on the Nano black bottled ink.
DeAtramentis Document Inks Liz Steel is very fond of DeAtramentis Document Inks for the range of colors available and she has had great success with flow in some of the less expensive pens using the DeAtramentis Document inks so they are definitely worth a look. Jane Blundell has some amazing mixing charts using DeAtramentis Documents Inks that make me want ALL THE COLORS. I’m hoping to try some of them out and pick up a few bottles when I’m in Atlanta.
Several other brands make permanent inks worth experimenting with if you have some around. Diamine has their Registrars ink and Noodlers has several Bulletproof inks. Though I’ve read through some blogs that have found the Noodler’s inks to be troublesome in some instances for drawing. But if you’ve got some, why not give them a whirl?
Any water soluble fountain pen inks
For everyday sketching, any standard (water soluble) fountain pen ink will work on just about any drawing paper. Most sketchbook paper starts at about 60lb and should handle a F or XF fountain pen nib loaded with just about any fountain pen ink just fine. On slightly heavier mixed media papers like Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media, Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook or similar paper that is labelled for ink, light washes or mixed media, you can add a little water to your drawing and move some of the water soluble ink around to create some wonderful watercolor-like effects without a lot of tools. Citizen Sketcher has some amazing examples of this in action and totally makes me want to try this myself.