Art of the Day: Oliver Jeffries

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Oliver Jeffers sketchbook illustrations for the United Airlines in-flight magazine. It looks like they were drawn a pocket-sized Moleskine Cahier using waxy colored pencils and some white ink or gel pens. Gorgeous!

I made a bunch of maps for the United Airlines inflight magazine. They are all geographically accurate.

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Visit Oliver Jeffers site to see all the images from the collection and admire his other work as well. Check out the sketchbook section to see some amazing collages and messy, well-loved sketchbooks.

(shoutout to The Cramped for the tip)

Thinking About The Pen Habit

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For those of you who follow The Pen Habit, you may have already heard about his announcement to cease recording his pen review videos and the subsequent follow-up about amending his format and explain in more detail his reasoning. Matt’s comments rang loudly for me about the amount of time he spends preparing and recording his reviews, not to mention the amount of money he has spent on pens.

Matt’s decision came on the heels on  Brad’s recent announcement to cease publishing his weekly Ink Links.

All of this led me to think about what I do and why I do it. How much time (and money) is too much to spend on a hobby? Its made me wonder if I should reconsider how much time I spend doing this blog versus actually living and reading and writing?

I have not made any decisions one way or the other because I like what I do. However, every week I do struggle to stay on top of all my reviews as well as working my full-time job and all those daily tasks that often get overlooked to squeeze in one more blog post, photo shoot, photo editing session or some other blog-related project.

I love this community. I love pens and inks and paper and all the other things to make a beautiful place to work. So bear with me while I get over my own growing pains.

From The Archives: Sharpie Pen

Sharpie Pen writing sample

I can’t believe its taken me so long to warm up to the Sharpie Pen. As a Marvy Le Pen loyalist, I just couldn’t see what the big deal was about the Sharpie Pen. It’s similar in overall design; a fiber-tip pen with a slightly wider barrel than Le Pen and not available in nearly the array of colors. However, what Sharpie brings to the table with the Sharpie Pen in that’s its fairly water resistant and widely available for purchase. If what you want is a good quality fiber-tipped pen in black, you can’t really go wrong with the Sharpie Pen.

The tip is generically labeled as “fine” and I was able to compare it to an assortment of other fiber-tipped pens. I would say the Sharpie Pen is comparable to the Le Pen which is also unlabelled and an 03 Sakura Pigma Micron. Like most fiber-tipped pens, the point will blunt over time so I’ve had to make a “best guess” since all my pens are in various states of use.

Sharpie Pen

The simple shape of the pen and the clean graphics are all plusses for me. I’d prefer a nicer clip than the molded plastic provided but overall, its a good pen for the price and can be purchased at any drugstore, stationery shop or big box store. Other ink colors are available and the Sharpie Pen is non-toxic, archival and fade resistant as well.  All-in-all, definitely one of my go-to tools.

Link Love: Color Inside the Lines

Link Love Link MascotEvery week I scour the dozens of pen and paper blogs and hundreds of posts to bring you (what I think is) the best posts in the digita pendom. I hope you enjoy them too!

Link of the Week:

Pantone Color Test

Can you align the hues into a perfect transition? I scored a 12. Post in the comments if you beat my score! (I forgot who sent me this link, so sorry! via Inkdependence)

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Other Stuff:

Review: Monologue Journals and Sketchbooks

Monologue journals

The folks at GrandLuxe sent me a whole heaping pile of their new Monologue journals. I received four A6 (5.5″x3.5″) sized books and three A5 (approx. 8.25″x5.5″).

Monologue journals

Even from the edges, you can see there are slight variations in each book to suit lots of personal preferences. The red A6-sized has pages that are  undersized to accommodate a golf-sized pencil tucked in under the edge for the cover with an elastic to hold it securely. The bottom two books have elastic loops to hold a writing tool. The orange book in the middle is a flip-top reporter-style sketchbook. The books and the top of the pile and the bottom are from the “platinum” line that include matching metallic edging on the pages.

Monologue journals

The books fall into two paper categories, the standard weight writing paper  (80 gsm acid-free) and the heavier sketchbook paper (140 gsm Italian high quality acid free). The black Monologue Basics sketchbook and the orange reporter-style Monologue sketh pad both feature the plain heavyweight sketchbook paper. The sketchbook paper is treated with a vegetable gel for long-lasting stability. All the other books have the lighter-weight, lined writing paper and additional paper treatment is labelled.

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Uppercase #23: Calligraphy Issue

Uppercase Issue 23 Calligraphy Cover

If you are not familiar with Uppercase magazine, it is a beautiful publication printed on heavyweight uncoated paper with amazing design in each issue. Its an independent publication out of Canada created by Janine Vangool. Each magazine is themed and features independent artists, illustrators, and craftspeople making beautiful things all over the world. Every aspect of the publication is beautifully designed and the only advertising is in the back of the magazine in a “marketplace” section.

Issue 23 is themed around calligraphy and lettering. The cover is a beautifully lettered grocery list on the back of an envelope. So charming! $18 CAD/$16 USD

Previously, Issue 17 might be of interest to readers of The Well-Appointed Desk. The theme of the issue is stationery and back issues are still available. $18 CAD/$16 USD

Subscriptions are also available starting at $80 CAD/$72 USD.

Also, the blog and the mailing list are full of inspiring, interesting paper-y related goodness. Just this week, the blog featured re-purposed fountain pen ink bottles etched with inspiring messages.

My copy of Issue 23 is in the post, I’ll share some photos when it arrives.

Fashionable Friday: Rainy Day

Fashionable Friday Rainy Day

This week’s Fashionable Friday is inspired by the super-rainy week we’ve been having here in Kansas City. Portland last week was unusually sunny and hot when I wanted to experience that chilly Pacific coast weather so this is definitely my idealized rainy day kit.

Any well-appointed portal desk should definitely include a good umbrella and a travel Thermos. A well-stocked office doesn’t stop at pens and ink.

  • St. Tropez Leather Tote $199 (via Levenger) (Also available in an assortment of canvas colors called the Bloomsbury, loaded with a selection of supplies $69.
  • J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Gray $26 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Red Leather Oporto Journal 8×5.5″ $20 (via Gallery Leather)
  • Coffee Books Rain T-shirt $32.99 (via Screend)
  • Matte Black Grey Grid Notebook, 4×6 $9.95 (via Productive Luddite)
  • Wörther Shorty Mechanical Pencil with 3.5mm lead €8,50 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Sailor Fountain Pen Jentle Ink Tokiwa-matsu (Pine – Green) $20 (via Jet Pens)
  • MontBlanc Meisterstuck 90th Year Anniversary Special Edition Permanent Grey Ink Bottle $19 (via Pen Boutique)
  • Rainkist automatic hunter Green compact umbrella $9.99 (via eBags)
  • Lamy Safari in Red $29.60 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Heritage Plaid Beverage Bottle 16 oz $29.95 (via Thermos)
  • Vintage Plaid Pencil Case $5.99 (via BlueQ)

Happy splashy, rainy day!

(Outfit inspiration via Pinterest)

Review: Clairefontaine ME Notebooks

ME Journal from Quo Vadis

The new Clairefontaine ME (Multimedia Enhanced) Notebooks are a combination of the Quo Vadis Habana notebooks in size and performance with the addition of a companion iPhone, iPad And Android app and QR codes on each page of the notebook to link multimedia content to the notes you take.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis inside cover

The most unfortunate part of this book is the horse-y type and the lame logo. It just kills me to see such beautiful paper and a well-crafted notebook saddled with ugly design. Luckily, these pages can be razored out once I get the hang of this app. (Hey, Clairefontaine! I’d happily redesign these pages and the logo for you. Call me.)

Moleskine worked with Evernote to create a notebook to archive your paper notes which is different from what Clairefontaine is doing. The ME Journal is designed to link additional content to your notes; be it audio, video, links or still photos. I could see this being useful in meetings where whiteboards are used and need to be referenced later. Linking photos of the whiteboards to paper notes would be hugely helpful.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis writing sample

The advantage of the ME Journal is the awesome Clairefontaine smooth, ivory paper at 85 gsm. Except for the over-sized QR code, the paper is the same fabulous quality as all the other Quo Vadis and Clairefontaine products. This paper loves fountain pens and almost any other tool you throw at it. The QR code is an added bonus for when you might want to link other content like sound, video, web link or photo.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis hot pink cover

Underneath the paper wrap is a debossed logo of the less-than-attractive “ME” logo. It can easily be covered with a sticker of your own choosing.

ME Journal + app

I test drove the combination of the ME notebook plus app while in Portland this weekend. I tend to build lists of books to look for whenever I go to a bookstore and Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland is a full city block worth of books. I was definitely going to need a big list and capture books I might want to purchase at a later date. I was able to combine images of book covers I found with notes in the book. I have been taking pics of book covers to remind myself for ages but being able to catalog it with the specific location where I found it will make it even more useful in the future.

I do think I need to put a note next to the QR code if I make a digital note so that I remember to cross reference. Once the QR is used or scanned, it cannot be used for additional content. So, just one piece of media per page.

ME app screenshot

The view from within the app shows a library of captured items. Clicking on each item will reveal more details including the date captured and play the sound or video. Its fairly straight forward to use. The only stumble is the “return” key in the keyboard is actually the “submit” to complete a text entry or tag on an image, video or sound clip. Once I figured that out, everything was pretty straight forward.

By the end of the weekend, I had covered the front of the notebook with stickers to hide the ugly embossed logo and I had ripped out the front pages with the instructions as well. In the end, I find this to be a very useful notebook and found several occasions to link written text to digital content via the app. I don’t shoot a lot of video or sound but was intrigued about capturing ambiance from my travels with the app to augment my written experiences.

The ME series is the same price as the standard Quo Vadis notebooks so the choice is yours. I find that the added benefit of the QR codes outweigh some of the aesthetic issues and you can still use the app at any point (or not at all) in filling your book.

ME Journals are available in large (6.25 x 9.25 ”) and pocket (4 x 6.375”) sizes in three colors: red, black or raspberry pink. Check your favorite online retailer to purchase (most of my sponsors are currently stocking the ME Journals).

Digital Wallpaper from Think.Make.Share

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Hallmark has recently launched a blog that opens the door to the inner workings of the creative staff and have included little gems like this quote inspired by Fahrenheit 451. It was hand painted by lettering artist Lynn Guinta and there are two versions of the design available at Think.Make.Share.

(file under “plugging the firm”)

Kickstarter: Whimsical Page Markers

Sticky Page Markers animated gif

If you’ve been around the paperazzi blogs recently, you may have seen someone mention the new Kickstarter project for these whimsical sticky page markers that feature cities like Tokyo, complete with Godzilla and New York with King Kong to Mars landscapes and rainbows and clouds. They are well designed and a fun way to brighten those science textbooks or business books you’ve been slogging through.

The project has met its initial goal and is now aiming for the stretch goal — a set of Nessie page markers. If the campaign reaches £50,000, any pledge over £10 will receive a set of Nessie page markers as well.

Nessie page markers

The Sticky Page Markers project is created by Duncan Shotton who also created the Rainbow Pencils and the Pinnochio-inspired push pins. He’s clever and all his designs have been extremely well-executed and beautifully designed. I really want the Hong Kong set and Nessie! There’s only seven days left so submit your pledge soon!

From The Archive: Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword Pencil

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil

The Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword pencil is a 1.15mm pencil lead twist in a miniature version of the larger classic pencil.

As a crossword puzzle (and other paper puzzles) enthusiast, I received this pencil as a gift so I am not sure how expensive it was originally and I was unable to find a price for this particular model but plain Retro 51 mini pencils pop up on Amazon for around $20.

Mini Retro 51 pencil size comparison

Compared to a full-sized Retro 51, the mini is tiny! Even the Kaweco Sport and Liliput look large next to it. That said, this is not a pencil I would use for long writing sessions because the clip did end up digging into my hand. However, for twiddling while filling in a crossword puzzle at lunch or jotting quick notes like a phone number or grocery list, it’s totally fine for me. But its just at 3.5″ long — without the eraser which I lost sometime ago.

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil writing sample

The thick lead is surprisingly easy to write with and its added width makes it unliekly to break easily.  Because of its small size, it often gets tucked into a pocket in my purse so I always have a pencil with me should the need arise.

I like using this pencil enough to strongly consider getting a full-sized Retro 51 Tornado pencil. I could even get a matching Crossword pencil in the full sized model for $33 (Also available in Sudoku or Stealth Black).

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

The Rhodia 80th Anniversary Limited Edition Set is finally available for purchase at $10 per set. The set includes a No. 80 sized tablet with a black cover and special Rhodia logo cover design and a black Rhodia pencil with matching pattern printed on it. the whole set comes in a special orange gift box.

Details:
Graph paper with faint grey grid
90 gsm, acid-free ivory paper
140 Pages (70 sheets)
6 x 8 ¼” (14.8 x 21 cm)

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

I don’t have any of the Rhodia paper in ivory with the grey grid so I might buy it for that though I’d hate to break up the perfect collector set. How about you?

(via European Paper)

LWA Fountain Pen Laboratory

LWA Fountain Pen Workshop

The Letter Writers Alliance is hosting a Fountain Pen Lab next Saturday in Chicago at the amazing Greer Stationery Shop. The lab is limited to 6 people and the lab fee includes a Kaweco sport demonstrator pen with a medium nib as well as all their experiences and knowledge about using fountain pens and improving penmanship.

Fountain Pen Laboratory
Saturday, Oct. 11th from 1-3pm
Location: Greer, 1657 N Wells St, Chicago, IL
Fee: $75

Go to the Letter Writers Alliance blog to register.

Fashionable Friday: Gold Heist

Since I’m traveling this week, I didn’t have a lot of time to pull together a Fashionable Friday. But never fear, the internet came to my rescue with this wonderful assortment of gold accoutrements for your office.

Bright & Beautiful Blog's gold office accessories

Items shown in photo tape dispenser || stapler || paper clips || mug || striped notebook || cards || clipboard || starburst || embosser || scissors || ‘Hustle’ print || tray || lamp || candle || iPhone case || (curated by Bright & Beautiful Blog)

Thanks to the Bright & Beautiful Blog for unknowingly doing my job for me this week. I’ll be back next week with my own take on fashion for the office. Until then… Enjoy!

Link Love: Loving the “Other” Stuff

Link Love Link MascotThis week’s links of the week are all those “Other Neat Stuff” links at the bottom. Two pen shows, the Pennaquod update, “The Pen Debacle” and Harry Marks’ “I Wrote a Novel” article are all excellent reads. I hope you enjoy them too.

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Other Neat Stuff:

Kickstarter: Office Putty

I really like the idea of having office “toys”. When I was a manager, I would often cover conference room tables with Silly Putty eggs and jars full of Lego. I find it helps people forget they are in a big room feeling awkward. It can give people something to do with their hand besides check their phones for messages and I’d like to believe that doing something tactile can get you thinking more clearly.

So, I was intrigued by the idea of Office Putty. It’s targeted for the office — in a respectable tin in a pleasing blue color and in a good sized wad.

However, I think the $20US/$22CAD opening price point seems a bit steep for the product. Normally, Kickstarter prices are a bit lower than the final retail prices and this seems like a high price, even at retail.

I really want to support this project but it seems a bit too expensive for what it is. Is it just me? Is $20 for a big tin of putty resonable? Talk me into it.

From The Archives: Pilot Precise V5

Pilot Precise V5

For the most part, rollerballs and I do not get along. Ink takes too long to dry or they skip or just don’t write at all. So, when I found my first Pilot Precise V5, it was true love. I hoarded them whenever I could find them. Now, they are readily available at every big box store, office supply shop or even your corner drugstore.

Pilot Precise V5 writing sample

When I discovered fountain pens and Japanese gel pens, I sort of forgot about the Precise V5. I think its time to re-embrace the Precise V5.

Its a simple cylindrical body pen with a silver clip on the lid. There’s no fancy silicone grip and no retractability. Just above the tip are some fins that remind me of fountain pen breather fins. The Precise V5 has a large ink reservoir and a clear window on the body of the pen to see how much ink is left.

On cheaper paper, the needle tip point tends to snag paper fibers and cause the tip to get a little gunky. A quick wipe on a piece of scrap paper or paper towel will clear up a gunky tip.

The Precise V5 is one of my Top 5 easily accessible pens. If you’re lucky, you might find the multi-pack that includes the pink, purple and turquoise ink versions. I love those!

Pilot Precise V5 tip

Stationery Shop Map

Winner: Marvy LePen Pen Set

Full set of Le Pens

Thanks to Jet Pens for providing the 18-piece set of Marvy Le Pens to give away for the From The Archives: Mary Le Pen review.

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The winner is:

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Congrats, Mary Ann! I’ll be contacting you by email to make arrangements for shipping. Thanks to everyone who left comments.

As for the color popularity: purples, orange and teal/oriental blues were very popular with readers. Shout-outs to grey and black as tried-and-true. There was even some love for the greens and the pinks. Marvy, your Le Pens are marvelous, every single color.

 

Japanese Pencil Comparison: Mitsubishi and Tombow

Japanese pencil comparison: Mitsubishi, Hi-Uni and Tombow

I recently purchased several of the more popular Japanese wood-cased pencils from Jet Pens. I got the Tombow 2558 ($1 each) and three Misubishis: the 9800 ($0.70 each), the Hi-Uni ($2.35 each) and the 9850 ($1 each). All of the pencils are the standard HB/#2 hardness.

Japanese pencils end caps

As far as I can tell, the only difference between the Mistubishi 9800 and 9850 is the color and the 9850 has an eraser top while the 9800 has an unfinished end.

Japanese pencil comparison points

This means that the Tombow 2558 and the Mistubishi 9850 are basically a head-to-head comparison with the same price point, metal ferrule and eraser top. The 9850 is finished in a burgundy, deep red lacquer and stamped in silver with coordinating silver ferrule and white eraser. On one side it is stamped “For Office Use”. The Tombow 2558 is painted in a bright yellow gold, comparable to classic American Ticonderogas. The ferrule is a bronze color rather than silver but it is topped with a classic pink rubber eraser. The 2558 is stamped on “For General Writing”.

Despite the fact that the Mitsubishi 9800 and 9850 should essentially be the same pencil at the core, the 9850 seemed smoother on paper than the 9800. Maybe it was just my perception. I like the looks and I do like pencils without eraser caps because I almost never use them.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

All four pencils wrote really well. They performed light years better than the cheap, no-name pencils found at drugstores or big box stores. When compared to each other though, I found the Mitsubishi 9850 to be my favorite. It just wrote silky smooth, the finish on the pencil was good and it looked good. The Tombow 2558 was an equally good performer and had the classic yellow pencil looks to recommend it. These two performed so similarly it was hard to say if one was better than the other beyond a preference for red over yellow pencils.

I was least impressed with the Hi-Uni if only that it performed quite similarly to the other three pencils but at twice the price. I realize I’m splitting hairs when comparing $1 versus $2.35 pencils. Yes, the lacquer finish is smoother and the end is dipped in black for a smooth cap. There are other design details in the finishing of the Hi-Uni like the white dot, gold foil ring and extra glossy finish, but in actual writing performance, the Hi-Uni was quite similar to the other pencils though maybe a little bit harder and therefore a little lighter on paper.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

I forgot to test the erasers but since only two of the four have erasers it is an unfair comparison, right? Besides, I use a hand eraser like a Black Pearl or a Staedtler Mars anyway.

All-in-all, the Japanese sure know how to make good pencils. There really isn’t a dud in this bunch but rather just personal preferences. They all sharpened easily and cleanly with my Lefty hand sharpener and retained their points well (the photos were taken after doing the writing tests).


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

Out of Print Library Card Pouch

Library Card Pouch

The Out of Print Yellow Library Card Pouch was a little gem I spied on Amazon for $14.99. I stuck it on my wishlist as a reminder to order it later. Well, my darling husband spied it there and bought it for me.

It’s about 6×9″ in size, perfect as a carryall for pens, pencils, and related tools. Its made of bright yellow canvas, printed with blue library card lines and has a matching blue zipper.

Library Card Pouch filled

I tossed all my regular “daily carry” tools into with plenty of room to spare for some washi tape, glue stick and other items I might add for letter writing on the road. The canvas isn’t lined or heavyweight so its not as sturdy as my usual LWA member pouch. I love the look and the bright color but it isn’t sturdy enough to usurp the LWA pouch as my EDC. I might use the Library Card Pouch when traveling or to carry my knitting tools. Either way, I might pull out my embroidery tools and embellish it with some embroidered text. What book might it be and who else checked it out?

Book: Letters To My Future Self

Letters To My Future Self Cover

Letters to My Future Self ($14.95 MSRP) is a marvelously designed little book that contains self-sealing letters and prompts to write letters to yourself. The book was designed by Lea Redmond best know for the World’s Smallest Post Service Kit.

Letters To My Future Self Inner Page

The letters fold up and include designed stamps, labels and wonderful air mail patterns.

Letters To My Future Self Folded Envelope

On the back of each page is the prompt for the letter and a place to add the date your wrote it and the date it should be opened again.

Letters To My Future Self Unfolded Letter/Envelope

When you unfold the page, there is a full sheet of paper to write your letter to yourself. They remind me of Postalettes or the WWII V-Mail. I haven’t tried writing on the paper but it feels like a good quality 80lb text weight or so. This paper will probably withstand a fine-nibbed fountain pen or any good quality gel, rollerball, or ballpoint. Pencil would be good too.

Letters To My Future Self Sticker Sheet

In the back of the book are stickers for sealing the envelopes.

Letters To My Future Self Back Cover

The book includes a dozen letters to write and the hard cover string-bound spine gives a nice look to the whole package. There is also a Letters to My Baby book and several journals for grandchildren, neices and nephews all under the category of “Paper Time Capsule“.

I think the whole collection is incredibly well done and a great way to inspire me to write some goals and some “how I feel now” to refer to sometime later. If you’re not inclined to maintain  a full-fledged journal, this may be a great way to take a letter per week or, since there’s twelve, a letter per month, and get some words on paper.


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

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