Review: Cognitive Surplus Notebooks

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across the Cognitive Surplus notebooks which feature grid paper on the left hand page and lined paper on the right. It sparked a lot of interest so the folks at Cognitive Surplus were kind enough to send me a couple books to try out. I received the Languages & Alphabets cover and the Geographic Map cover.

The books have a matte finish on the covers that feel nice in the hand. The corners are rounded giving the books a finished “composition book” feel. The books have 56 sheets/112 pages and measure 6.5″ x 8.9″. The binding is stitched and the pages easily lay flat. The paper is 100% recycled.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

The ruling inside is printed in brown ink along with a “100%recycled” mark in the lower right corner and decorative “brain” squiggle in the left. The lined and grid is spaced at 7mm. The lined ruling seem thicker than the grid lines which I find a little distracting. The grid is the perfect lightness but the lined pages seem a little too heavy for me. I wish the grid ruling was a bit tighter but that’s just me.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

I did some writing tests expecting average performance but was pleasantly surprised that the paper handled fountain pen ink much better than expected. I even pushed it to the extremes with the wide italic nib and the writing didn’t feather or spline. There was a little show through but it was quite mild and both sides of the paper could still be used. The closest comparison paper-wise that I could make would be Paperblanks. I wouldn’t put my wettest, flex nib to work on this stock but everyday pens would be great. Oddly, the Sharpie Pen also had a little show through. I think, in general, lighter fountain pen inks would also be good with this paper — the blues and turquoise inks didn’t show through at all but the black and dark purple inks did. Gel pens and pencils did outstanding on this paper. Pair one of these notebooks with a machined pen or favorite pencil and you’ll be happily writing and drawing all day.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

The Cognitive Surplus hardcover journals ($15 each) are available in 26 different cover designs as well as an assortment of softcovers as well.


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

Getting Creative with Online Classes

I recently mentioned my desire to take some art classes and spend more time being creative this summer. In my hunt for the right classes for me, I found a lot of great online resources for learning new creative skills (and even some technical skills!). I thought I’d share some of the resources in case you, too, are looking to try your hand at painting, drawing, crafts or developing some other skills.

There are two big categories for online classes: the subscription-style sites that house diverse topics, instructors and courses and individuals who teach classes and workshops in a few select areas.

The Big Sites:

Skliishare screenshot

Skillshare: Skillshare is the first online learning site I tried. I started with Mary Kate McDevitt’s Hand Lettering class and I absolutely loved it. After that, I was sold. I bought a whole year subscription and added over 50 classes to my “to try” list. They offer a lot of creative classes and there’s a strong focus on digital skills or taking projects to a digital finish. There’s a logo design class with Aaron Draplin as well as classes on animation, business development and marketing, photography and a whole lot more. I have started recommending Skillshare to all young designers and creative folks. There’s a lot of practical information from a lot of highly respected talent in the industries they represent. Subscriptions are $10/month but there are discounted rates for purchasing a year membership. Skillshare also has mobile apps for iPhone and Android to easily access content.

Lynda.com: Lynda is probably the first online learning site for creative skills. Lynda got started publishing how-to books for Photoshop, HTML and CSS back in the 90s. Then went digital with video tutorials and set the bar. Classes range from step-by-step tutorials for using applications (from Adobe apps to Word to Evernote, QuickBooks and even LogicPro. The list goes on!) to steps to improving your business, marketing, programming and much much more. Subscription start at $24.99/month but discounts are available for a yearly subscription as well as bulk pricing for businesses and Pro account options.

Creativebug screenshot

CreativeBug: CreativeBug focuses more on art and craft skills but if you’ve been thinking about learning how to knit, crochet, sew, start watercolor painting or make jewelry, this might be the site for you. The classes are well-filmed and easy to follow. I started with Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Explorations course and then started adding sewing and other art classes to my queue. There are a few free lessons available to try before you subscribe but the cost per month is just $5 so its not a big leap to just subscribe for a month and see if you like it. CreativeBug also has an iPhone/iPad app and are currently working on a Android app.

Craftsy screenshot

Craftsy: Craftsy organizes its classes on a per-class basis. If you want to take the Pen & Ink Essentials class, you just purchase that class for $19.99 (current sale price) and you can access that class whenever, forever. The class offering range from sewing, baking, knitting and fiber arts, fine arts and even woodworking.

Free Online Art Classes: I found out about Free Online Art Classes from a NYTimes article. Its not the prettiest or most up-to-date looking web site but Lois DeWitt has put her 50 years of teaching experience behind the site and the classes are free. Topics range from traditional art materials lessons like Drawing with Colored Pencils to Fabric Printing and Jewelry Making. This would be a good place to start and get an idea about what creative pursuit might best suit you.

Individual Artists’ Sites:

Jane Davenport: I am currently taking Jane Davenport’s Supplies Me class which is the starter class for her mixed media art journaling classes. Her quirky style was very much to my taste so it seemed like a good fit. She totally enables my urge to buy all the art supplies which is a good and bad thing. I’m enjoying learning some new techniques and how to actually use a lot of the pens, pencils and art supplies I’ve collected in ways I had not considered. There are several more classes available to help build confidence in drawing and handling art materials. Classes start at $55 AUS and go up to the Entire Kaboodle for $775 AUS.

Kelly Rae Roberts: Kelly Rae Roberts offers a Mixed Media Mantras Workshop that focuses on creating meaningful visual messages. The course walks you through creating your own mantra and then guides you through the process of turning your mantra into a mixed media collage piece. The class is divided into three parts and costs $247. Access to the video and virtual classroom is available for six months from purchase date.

Christy Tomlinson: Christy Tomlinson, AKA Scarlet Lime, offers a variety of online multimedia classes. For beginners, she recommends the Behind The Art creative workshop that walks through her favorite materials and process from building multimedia backgrounds to laying in details using an array of materials to create art journals and multimedia pieces. The course is divided into five weeks and costs $64.95. Christy also offers a Creative Planner online course if your urge to be creative intertwines with your love of planners and staying organized. The Crative Planner course contains 25 videos and costs $34.95. There are several other classes to choose from as well. To get a feel for her classes, you can check out Christy’s YouTube channel as well.

Alisa Burke: Alisa Burke offers an assortment of mini classes as well as larger workshops for drawing and journaling. Cost per class is between $15 and $50 and you’ll have unlimited access to videos and content. You can get a feel for her videos on her YouTube channel or just purchase one of her online classes and jump in with both feet.

Have you ever tried an online class or are you considering trying one now?

Fashionable Friday: National Donut Day

In honor of National Donut Day, I’ve decided that the most important fashion is what coffee will go best with your donut selection. So today, find a nice place to sit and enjoy your coffee and donut, then pull out your notebook or planner and your favorite writing tools and plot your sugar-high, over-caffeinated world domination!

FF-donut

I’m planning on sprinkles and a latte. You?

  • Donut Identification Print by Alyssa Nassner $17 (via Society6)
  • 3M Scotch Donut Tape Dispenser in Strawberry Pink $4 (via Jet Pens)
  • TWSBI Classic fountain pen in burgundy 59,00 € (via Fontoplumo)
  • Twin Peaks Diet Pattern Coffee Mug $15 (via Society6)
  • Rohrer & Klingner Magenta Ink $12 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Choco Magnet in Bitter $7.01 (via Jet Pens)
  • “One of Those Glaze” Notecard Set $12.99 (via Modcloth)
  • Sheaffer Sentinel Ballpoint Pen in Coffee Bean Brown $16 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Filofax Calypso Deep Pink Compact Organizer $87 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Pelikan Classic 200 Cafe Creme Fountain Pen $172 (via Pen Chalet)
  • De Atramentis Desserts Chocolate Ink $15.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • MT Square Pink Washi Tape £2.75 (via Fox & Star)
  • Ultramarine Dots Pocket Notebook £5.50 (via Fox & Star)
  • Diamine Chocolate Brown Ink $14.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Iwako Donuts and Sweets Eraser Set $5.75 (via Jet Pens)
  • Two-Tone RETRAKT in pink $45 (via Karas Kustoms)


Don’t forget that Pen Chalet, Karas Kustoms and Fontoplumo all offer special discounts for Well-Appointed Desk readers!

(image via Saveur)

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 Fountain Pen Set in Menthol

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

While I was in Atlanta, I finally got to see the new Wahl-Eversharp fountain pens up close and personal. The whole line is such a great homage to the original pen designs. There are a lot of different variations available of the Skyline design but all the details are right. My biggest dilemma was deciding which design to buy. In the end, I decided on the Skyline 50 in menthol green ($159). I purchased the pen from the Anderson Pen table at the show and they were tickled to inform me that the pen came in a gift box with a matching toy Corvette. The gift box is 1950s-theme drive-in design with a magnetic closure. It was a nice package but I’m inclined to prefer my pens in a small, wholly-recyclable paperboard boxes. Still, the graphics are fun.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The toy Corvette is cute and now sits on my mantel as a souvenir from the Atlanta Pen Show. The pen, on the other hand, is living it up as a daily carry in my NockCo Lookout case with my other daily carry pens. The body is 50s refrigerator green plastic with silver tone accents. The Wahl-Eversharp site says the details are “palladium plating.” The cap is smooth chrome with a coordinating green plastic dome nestled under the clip which loops over the end. The cap is a signature element from the original Skyline and is beautifully recreated here. Because of all the metal, the cap is quite weighty. If you prefer a heavier pen, the cap easily posts but the pen is long enough to be used without posting… at least for me.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The tapered end reminds me of a lot of classic desk pens but the Skyline 50 is not as long and the end is a softer cigar shape. It feels lovely in the hand.

One of the unusual aspects of the pen is how the pen needs to be disassembled in order to fill the converter. The chrome ring at the end of the pen untwists to reveal the twist knob of the converter but I could not see if I was getting ink in the converter so I ended up having to untwist the pen at the nib to pull the whole nib/converter out of the pen to successfully fill the converter. It wasn’t a huge big deal, just odd. Alternately, there is the convenience of this pen taking standard cartridges so filling on-the-go would be a breeze.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The nib details are what sold me on this pen. Look at the engraving! Its reminiscent of the details on the top of the Empire State Chrysler Building and is just gorgeous. The only downside of the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline was that the only nib option is a medium. But I was willing to give it a whirl despite it not being my favorite nib size and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The nib was a little noisy on paper (especially after testing out the Edison Premiere which was silky) but it gave the writing experience a little toothiness. I didn’t feel like the pen was going to move faster than I could write. The line width of the medium nib was on the finer side of medium. There is also a little softness to the nib, its not as stiff as a lot of the steel nibs available today but I wouldn’t really call is a flex nib.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

I’m glad I purchased this pen. It is a beautiful pen, writes nicely and is such a great design. The Skyline 50 series is also available in a bright cherry red and a sky blue if minty green is too much for you. There are also more traditional Skyline designs available including the lust-worthy Skyscraper Limited Edition 100th Anniversary model with the sapphire accents and guilloche engraving.

Link Love: Sketch, Plan and Bag Dump

rp_link-ana1111111.jpgPens:

Ink:

Paper & Notebooks:

Planning & Organizing:

Drawing & Calligraphy:

Other Interesting Stuff:

Pigment Pen Comparison (AKA Archival, Waterproof, Felt Tip Pens)

Pigment Pens

Felt tip (aka, fiber tip, pigment pens, archival pens, etc) are some of my favorite writing and drawing tools. A couple years ago I did a Showdown of some of the pens I had in my collection but I thought it was time to take another look at these inexpensive and endlessly usable pens.

This time, I am comparing the Sakura Pigma Microns, Staedtler Pigment Liners (they discontinued their Mars Professional line), Copic Mutliners SP (same insides as the previously reviewed Copic Multiliners but in refillable bodies) and the Sharpie Pen.

What all these pens have in common is that they are all archival (acid-free) inks that are waterproof. I’ve been using all of these to draw as well as write and the waterproof qualities mean I can add watercolor, markers or paint to my drawings without losing the pen marks. These can also all be used for addressing envelopes with no worries that rain will obscure the destination.

Pigment Pen Comparison

Sakura Pigma Microns ($2.50 each):

The gold standard in archival, waterproof felt tip pens. Available in seven tip sizes and six colors besides black.

  • Plus: Best black ink of all the pens I’ve tested. Tried and true.
  • Minus: The ugliest beige pen barrel I’ve eve seen. The numbering system that Sakura uses on the Microns is wonky. All the other brands list the exact tip size, 0.3 = 0.3mm, but Microns have their own wonky math. The 03 Micron is actually 0.35mm. When selecting Microns, be sure to check you are getting the actual size in millimeters that you want. I prefer 0.3mm tips for most purposes so I have to buy the 02 Micron. Confusing, right?

Staedtler Pigment Liners ($3.30 each):

Available in five tip sizes, black ink only.

  • Plus: The set I purchased came in a plastic carrying sleeve.
  • Minus: The black ink just isn’t as black as the Micron ink. And the pens are slightly more expensive than either the Sharpie Pen or the Sakura Pigma Microns.

Copic Multiliner SP ($9.20 each):

Available in 8 different tip sizes in black as well as a brush tip. A dozen colors available but only in the 0.3mm size

  • Plus: These pens feature a refillable aluminum barrel. Tips can also be replaced. Widest range of tip sizes from 0.03mm to 0.7 plus the brush tip.
  • Minus: The pens cost over $9 each and replacement tips and ink refills are more than $2 each. So if you do the math, the cost of being more environmentally friendly by not throwing away a whole pen is exponentially higher. In the end, its probably a better value to purchase the standard Copic Multiliners rather than these.

The Sharpie Pen (approx $1.79 per pen):

  • Plus: Available in almost any office supply store, big box or drugstore in the US. Less than $2 per pen.
  • Minus: Only available in “fine” which is comparable to an 0.3mm roughly. If you prefer finer or broader, you’ll want to consider a different brand.

There’s one other brand that is frequently mentioned for archival pens and that’s the Faber-Castell PITT line. I was so unhappy with the PITT brush pens in the past that I’ve only ever tried these once. A four-pack of the felt tip models are $12.50 on Jet Pens so the pricing is competitive to the other brands. The Faber-Castell line guarantees lightfastness for 100+ years as well as acid-free, archival, waterproof ink so they are definitely a comparable option. I have seen these for sale in sets at big box hobby craft stores so these may be a good option for some folks who don’t have access to an art supply store or have a must-get-some-now need.

If you’re just starting out with pigment/felt-tip pens, I’d recommend starting with the Sharpie Pen. Just walk into your nearest office supply store, drugstore or big box and grab a couple black ones. If you want a super fine tip or a range of tip sizes, start with the Sakura Pigma Microns. To be honest, they will be the only ones you ever really need.

Pigment Pen Comparison

I tested a few of the colored ink variations but, to be honest, I almost never reach for them on a day-to-day basis. The best thing about these pens is the fine lines, dark blacks and waterproofiness. If you are planning to invest in a pigment pen, skip the colors and stick to black.The colors are very ho-hum. If I want color, I’d prefer to use Marvy Le Pens or my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners. Though neither are water resistant, the colors are more vibrant and interesting.

Even with the Sharpie Pen which I find myself using everyday for everything from sketches to grocery lists, I only ever want to use the black one. And this is the exact opposite to my reaction about all other pens and inks.


DISCLAIMER: Some of these items were sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013 Special Edition

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

In Atlanta, I mentioned I’d never tried an Edison pen and when I returned home, my pal Kasey (AKA Punkey) had kindly sent me his Edison Nouveau Premiere to try out. This particular model is the limited edition Macassar Ebonite model that was sold through Goulet Pens in 2013. The coloring reminds me of wood grain in warm coffee and cream swirls. What was most surprising was how light the material was. The ebonite feels different from plastic, both lighter and more rigid. It also has a slightly matte appearance, not a glossy sheen. It made the pen feel warmer.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

The stock F nib is two-toned and looks good with the pen and the coordinating gold-tone clip. Its a good quality nib and the writing experience was smooth and comfortable albeit a bit wet and wide for me. I would have preferred an EF nib but borrowers can’t be too picky.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

Fountain Pen Weights

Unposted, the Ebonite Premiere weighs just 12gms. That’s lighter than a plastic Kaweco but its a full-sized pen. Even posted, the Premiere is 19gms. Pretty impressive. For me, it was more comfrtable to write witht he pen unposted and its measures 5.125″ unposted. Posted its a whopping 7″ long and a wee bit top heavy.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

I was highly impressed with my whole experience with the Edison Nouveau Premiere. The lightweight ebonite material made a larger pen comfortable, even in my little tiny hands. The craftmanship is impeccable and I am definitely going to be in the market for my own Premiere. Maybe that gorgeous lilac acrylic version currently available at Goulet? I found Mary’s review of last year’s Cherry Blossom edition and the pen is equally lightweight in acrylic. Sweet!


Big thanks to Kasey for letting me try this pen.

The pen was tested on Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18 pad with a 7mm guide sheet underneath and Diamine Twilight blue black ink.

News: Pelle Notebooks and Blackwing Subscriptions

Yafa Monteverde Pelle Journals

Did you know Yafa is listing a Monteverde Pelle refillable journal listed on their site now? Does this mean that Pelle is back in business and working with Monteverde? Exciting news if, like me, you really liked the Pelle version of this popular leather notebook system.

Blackwing Volumes is a new collectible subscription service that provides subscribers with a dozen limited-edition, custom-designed Blackwing pencils, four times a year. Subscribers will receive an additional collector’s pencil, sealed and labeled for archiving, with each set and a guarantee to receive each release, even if they sell out to non-subscribers.

Subscriptions are $99 per year, plus shipping and can be purchased at Pencils.com.

 

The 5-Minute Journal

block8_image

Have you heard about the Five-Minute Journal? It is a journal that prompts users to answer five prompts each day. There are only a few lines to answer each prompt so it takes no more time than it would take to eat your breakfast to get started. It seems to be a good option to get started keeping a journal that focuses on positivity and looking forward. The first three prompts can be written early in the day and the last two at the end of the day or the following day.

The Five-Minute Journal has a beautiful fabric cover and looks to be about an A5-ish size. There isn’t a ton of info on paper materials or page count but the book is just $22.95 and includes weekly challenges to keep inspiring you through the life of the book.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 5.14.58 PM

If a paper journal seems too intimidating, there is also an iPhone app to try this technique on the go.

Fashionable Friday: Make More Art

Fashionable Friday: Make More Art

Summer is always gets me in the mood to take an art class or workshop, getting outside and sketching or just spending a leisurely Saturday on the patio with notebook and pen.

This week I decided to invest in one of the very popular Kipling 100 Pen Cases. Kipling is having a sale so I was able to get additional savings on the case. The purchase was inspired by a renewed interest in making art, visual journaling, sketching and painting so of course, I need a way to carry all these tools. So here’s some of the things I’ll carry in my art-making Kipling 100 Case.

  • 100 Pens Printed Case in Dragonfly’s Distress Print $34.99 + 30% off with coupon code (via Kipling USA)
  • Peerless Water Color Complete Edition Book: Each 2.5″x6.5″ film sheet is highly concentrated pure watercolor. The color is coated on one side of a special paper fabric that readily discharges when it comes into contact with water. 15 color sheets and instructions. $14 (via Peerless)
  • Kutsuwa Stad T’Gaal Pencil Sharpener in Green $6.25 (via Jet Pens)
  • Sharpie Water-Based Fine Point Paint Marker in White $2.50 (via Jet Pens)
  • Tombow Mono Adhesive Permanent Tape Runner $4.85 (via Jet Pens)
  • Espresso Guide’ Pocket Washi Tape by Masté £3.50 (via Fox & Star)
  • Kutsuwa Colored Aluminum Pencil Caps, Pack of 4 $2.50 (via Jet Pens)
  • Kaweco Skyline Sport Grey 3.2mm Clutch Pencil $20 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Noodlers Konrad Brush Pen $20 (via Pen Chalet)
  • MT Dot Blue Washi Tape £2.75 (via Fox & Star)
  • Copic Multiliner SP Refillable Permanent Pen 0.3 mm in Black $9.20 (via Jet Pens)
  • Rifle Paper Co. Composition Pocket Notepad £6.20 (via Fox & Star)
  • Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Bundle $24.50 (via Jet Pens)
  • Medium Gold Binder Clip $5.50 (via Hopscotch London on Etsy)
  • Platinum Bottled Carbon Ink, Waterrpoof and Lightfast $16 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen $13.50 (via Jet Pens)
  • Prismacolor Premier Color Pencil 72-Color Set $77 (via Jet Pens)
  • Midori Clear Eraser Dust Mini Cleaner II $7.75 (via Jet Pens)
  • Lamy Joy Special Edition Set in White, comes complete with 3 packs of ink cartridges (black, violet and turquoise) and 3 nib sizes (1.1, 1.5 and 1.9mm. $50.74 (via Fontoplumo)

Ink Review: Noodler’s Purple Wampum

Noodler's Purple Wampum

The last ink my “hunt for the perfect purple” is Noodler’s Purple Wampum. While its not the last possible purple ink I could try, I needed to limit my search or I would go broke. Noodler’s fills their bottles to the absolute top so be sure to open them carefully. Alternately, it means that when you buy Noodler’s ink, you definitely get your money’s worth. The bottle hold 3 oz. which is about 88ml for $12.50. Quite the bargain when compared with other inks.

Noodlers Purple Wampum

One of the first bottled inks I ever bought was Noodler’s Purple which I found too bright and a little garish. Purple Wampum, however, is a deeper, more complex alternative and more of what I had in mind. Its definitely a purple standing firmly between a reddish hue and a bluish hue making it a true purple rather than a blue violet or reddish purple.

Noodlers Purple Wampum

Purple Wampum is probably the closest to the color I was envisioning in my head when I said I was looking for “the perfect purple”. Because the color is a bit wet and dark, there’s not a lot of shading in the writing sample but I was dipping my pen so the color results might be more consistent with the results of a finer nib than the fine italic I was using. It certainly looks lighter in the last few lines with a bit more shading so I think that’s more consistent with the results I suspect I would get with a traditionally filled italic pen.

Noodlers Purple Wampum Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

In my swab sample, there’s a little sheen but in my water tests, there was no hint of other colors in the ink. Its one of the darkest purples I tried but not as dark as the Private Reserve Ebony Purple. Purple Wampum is actually more reddish in comparison to Ebony Purple.

In the end, I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite among the four purple inks I’ve tried over the last couple weeks. Purple Wampum reminds me of grape juice, Private Reserve Ebony Purple has the most bluish cast and is the darkest, Diamine Damson is the duskiest, and Montblanc Lavender Purple leans furtherest into a reddish purple. So, in the end, the best purple ink is entirely a personal preference. Even I like all of these ink for their subtle variations and will probably discover over time which I like using most in daily writing but they are all great options.


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

Link Love: More Friends & More Purple Inks

rp_link-ana1111111.jpgPosts of the Week:

One of my good friends and favorite, super-productive artists, Britton Walters, AKA Nerfect was mentioned on the Field Notes blog: Support Your Local Weirdo! (via Field Notes)

AND

J. Robert Lennon was interviewed for a piece on Marketplace called Pro Tool: Tools of the Professional (via NPR’s Marketplace)

Congrats, guys!

Pens:

Ink:

Paper & Notebooks:

Pencils:

Planning and Organizers:

Other Interesting Things:

Ink Review: Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson is a purple ink I wanted to try in my hunt for the “perfect purple” and this  was available in a diminutive 30ml mini-bottle for $7.

Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson is  the smokiest of the purple inks I’ve tried and probably closest to some of the colors I already had in my collection. It is quite similar to the P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet and Kaweco Summer Purple. Damson is similar in hue to these but a little bit lighter. Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa is also quite similar but a little more grey.

Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

Diamine Damson

Because Damson is a relatively dark color there’s not a ton of shading and there isn’t any sheen I could discern.  The ink dries quickly even though its not specifically quick-dry. Its not water resistant but it I wasn’t expecting it to be. The color has a dusty matte quality when dry.

I’m inclined to like Diamine Damson though its quite similar to other colors in my collection. If you’re in the market for this sort of dusky violet, the fact that Diamine Damson can be purchased in mini bottle makes it a good candidate for trying before investing in a larger bottle.


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

Review: Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen 20-Color Set

Sai Watercolor Markers

My good friend introduced me to the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens when she brought an assortment home from Japan. I ordered several individual colors to try them out myself and loved them so much I went ahead and got a full set of 20 colors ($34.50). The pens originally came in reusable plastic package but I like keeping them in a jar where they are easier to access quickly. These brush pens feature a filament brush tip that behaves more like a real paintbrush than other felt tip brush pens. This creates a finer point and greater line variation.

Sai Watercolor Markers

The colors are both vivid and unusual like a bright, pastel sky blue and a more traditional artist-based yellow ochre. There’s a super pale apricot color that is fun to use for blending and a indigo-like midnight blue that I love. The 20-color set provides a wide variety of color options and I didn’t feel like any color was missing from the spectrum.

Sai Watercolor Markers

Colors can be altered, lightened or blended with water or each other to create more colors. I tested these pens on my standard Rhodia pad but on a watercolor stock, the inks could probably be manipulated and modified to greater effect.

Individual Sai Watercolor pens can be purchased for $3.50 each. There is also an assortment of pigment, waterproof “liner” brushes that can be used in combination with the watercolor brushes. The liner brushes sell for $5.25 each or a 5-color set for $24.75.

If you’re looking for a brush pen that can be used for calligraphy or art-making, these are totally worth the price.

Artwork to cheer myself up. #sai #watercolor #markers @jetpens

A photo posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on


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.

Ink Review: Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

I’ve had good experience with every Private Reserve ink I’ve used up to this point so I had no concerns about the quality of the ink. My goal was to find a purple that I loved and Ebony Purple was recommended to me buy the fine folks at Goldspot Pens as a color I might just love. I got the 50ml bottle of Diamine Ebony Purple for $10. While its not the prettiest bottle in the world, its easy to use with a simple, cylindrical shape and a wide mouth that makes it easy to refill pens.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Ebony Purple definitely lies on the the darkest end of the spectrum and more violet than purple. Because the color is so dark there’s not a lot of shading. In my waterproof tests you can see the blue and the red undertones in the ink. The ink is definitely not waterproof but makes it easy to clean out of the pen.

I’m not a huge fan of plain black inks so Ebony Purple is a good alternative for a dark ink that’s respectably blackish but with some personality. I like it for this quality but my search for the “perfect purple” continues.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple Swab Comparison


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

Re-Review: Pilot Varsity

Pilot Varsity

I took a lot of ribbing from readers after I reviewed the Pilot Varsity awhile back. I had a particularly bad experience so when I spied the newly repackaged Pilot Varsity ($3), I decided it was as good a reason as any to give the Varsity another try.

Pilot Varsity

The new pen design is the same shape as the original pen but features a black, grey and silver diamond pattern on the barrel and a small yellow “Varsity” logo on one side. The clip is a little larger and bulbous and too plasticky but the pen is comfortable in the hand and the cap is easily postable. The nib is labelled as a medium and its definitely equivalent of a European medium nib.

Pilot Varsity Writing Sample

I’ve been writing with this pen on and off for over a month and I’m quite pleased with its performance. It writes smoothly and starts as soon as I remove the cap. There are no hard starts or need for priming. The nib is wider than I generally prefer for an everyday writer but its a pleasing medium nib with some nice line variation and requires the lightest of touches to put ink on the page. Even writing upside down, sideways and just grabbing the pen to quickly write down a number presented no problems for me.

This is one of the best values in fountain pens. While the Platinum Preppy is available in a much finer nib and refillable, the Varsity will put a smile on anyone’s face. “Three dollars for this?!?! What a good deal!” I’m willing to admit that my previous experience with the Varsity might have been a fluke, one bad apple in the bunch. If you had a bad experience with a Varsity, I recommend you give it another shot. At $3, quality control is probably not a top priority but it also means it won’t break the bank to buy two.

Fashionable Friday: All That Glitters…

FF-all that glitters

  • MT Asanoha Sinchu Washi Tape £2.75 per roll (via Fox & Star)
  • Fisher Space Pen Bullet Ballpoint Pen in Raw Brass $20 (via Jet Pens)
  • Kaweco Liliput Fountain Pen in Eco Brass Wave $83 (via Jet Pens)
  • Edison Pearlette Fountain Pen in Aztec Gold Flake $149 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gold Gel Ink Pen in 1.0 mm (via Jet Pens)
  • Caran d’Ache Ecridor Chevron gold-plated fountain pen $288.15 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Brass Render K By Karas Kustoms $59.98 (via Huckberry)
  • Acme Gold Dipped Rollerball Pen $130 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Metallic Gold Soft Cover Folio $14 (via Poppin)
  • Kuretake Zig Wink of Luna Metallic Brush Pen in Gold $9 (via Jet Pens)
  • White + Gold Stapler $18 (via Poppin)
  • Gold Patterned Pencil Set £7.99 (via Fox & Star)
  • Midori Brass Bullet Pencil Holder $21 (via Jet Pens)
  • Gold Ideas Gilded Journal £11.99 (via Fox & Star)

Starting a Sketchbook or Visual Journal

With many stacks of notebooks, sketchbooks and blank books I’ve acquired, and the fact that my day job is about making pictures, I thought it was time to get back into the regular habit of keeping a sketchbook or visual journal of some sort. I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only person who might need a little inspiration and creative idea to get me started so I thought I’d share some of the prompts, ideas and tips I found.

First, I found this great 15-day set of prompts from Wit & Whsitle. Usually I find prompt lists too long and usually full of things I think are silly or pointless but this set was only 15 days worth and fairly open to interpretation.

(illustration by Terry Runyan)

Then I remembered the awesomely inspiring site, Illustration Friday. Every Friday, they offer a prompt that is both simple and open to interpretation. Folks will upload their art to the site if you want to see what other people do. You are not required to submit your sketch or drawing but its a great source of inspiration and a one-drawing-a-week prompt is a low bar to hurdle. This week’s prompt is “pet” and was submitted by my friend and co-worker Terry Runyan. She illustrates both digitally and on paper so don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to just the pile of sketchbooks and notebooks you’ve accumulated. Illustration Friday also has a blog and podcast for even more inspiration.

(Sketchbook page by Lisa Congdon)

I love Lisa Congdon‘s art and she freely shares pages of her sketchbook as well as a video class on Creativebug that walks you through how she creates several sketchbook drawings. She uses layering and simple drawings to create designs that are easy to try yourself and she even shows how she creates variations on each technique to give you even more ideas.

Danny Gregory‘s Everyday Matters Manifesto for drawing your life was a huge inspiration for me. Consider purchasing one of his books. I particularly like The Creative License. He’s even started a Sketchbook Skool video class if you want a multimedia experience.

More sources for ideas and inspiration:

you need to jump in and get over the intimidation part — by messing up a few pages, ripping them out if need be. Waste all the pages you want by drawing a tic tac toe schematic or something, painting them black, just doodle.  — Gary Panter
What inspires you to be more creative?

Ink Review: Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple

After my Fashionable Friday: Purple Rainy Day, I’ve been itching to add more purple inks to my stash. I started hoarding various shades of purple and taking recommendations from friends and shop keepers. The first color that was brought to my attention was Montblanc Lavender Purple (60ml bottle for $19) thanks to Matt over at The Pen Habit.

I don’t usually dwell on the bottle designs of inks but I’m finding as I accumulate more inks, I’m becoming more opinionated about bottle shapes, sizes and graphics. Lavender Purple is one of the “standard” Montblanc inks and comes in one of the most useful and interesting bottles in my collection. Its a long oblong glass bottle with a divot on the bottom of the bottle just behind the cap. This creates a divided chamber in the bottle. By tipping the bottle forward, ink in the back chamber can fill the front chamber making it easier to refill a pen as the ink volume is depleted. Ingenious! And except for the slightly too-modern label on the top of the bottle, its a really aesthetically-appealing bottle overall. Its such a nice bottle that I could see buying an empty Montblanc bottle and transfer some of my inks in difficult-to-dip-my-pens bottles into this little gem.

 

Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple is not really lavender nor purple, at least not to my eyes. Its reminds me a bit of Grape Kool-Aid. Its a warm, purplish-black with a bit more red in the color than any of the other purples I tried in my hunt for the “perfect purple.” I like purples and violets that have a duller, deeper tone rather than garish, bright jewel tones. Its not to say that a vibrant purple isn’t beautiful, I just find that I don’t reach for such “showy colors” on a regular basis.

The color has a little shading and depending on how wet the nib or feed is, the color can look almost purple-black or a softer, muted black cherry. I had no issues with drying times though I’m not very scientific about dry times. If the ink dries before I get my hand over it, then it dries fast enough. On the Rhodia paper, drying is slower than most and I had no issues.

Montblanc Lavender Purple ink swab comparison

When I put the swab swatch next to some of the other purples in my collection, its easy to see how much rosier Montblanc Lavender Purple is to the other colors in my stash. I’ve had a couple days to admire it and the more I look at it, the more I like it. This is definitely a color that will be moved into my regular ink rotation.

Link Love: We Love You, Mary!

rp_link-ana111111.jpgPost of the Week:

Our dear pen friend, Mary Collis has received some sad, scary health news and posted about it this week, Curveball (via From The Pen Cup). Please take the time to leave a message for her.

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Ink:

Pens:

Other Cool Stuff:

Review: Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner 0.4 mm 18-Color Set

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

One of my friends had a set of the mini Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners in her pen case that she uses to draw and sketch on the go. I have always envied this set so I finally broke down and got my own set. I got the 18-color mini finerliners in the “sporty” water bottle for $15.

I confess that I have a huge soft spot for metal-tipped, felt-tip markers. Marvy Le Pens were one of my middle school “gateway drugs” into the wonderful world of pens. I like the slight grippiness of the felt tip that helps me slow down and write a little bit neater than with the smooth-as-glass experience I get with some rollerball and gel pens. I love the wide array of colors for taking notes and color-coding my planner and calendars so a large set of colored, felt-tip markers thrills my inner 12-year-old. If I get anymore excited about this little mini bottle of markers, I might start drawing rainbows, kittens and unicorns.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

The pens are shorter than the regular Point 88 Fineliner 0.4mm marker pens but the cap posts nicely so that it feels like a full length pen in use. Since I tend to wear the tips of these sorts of felt-tipped markers out long before they run out of ink, the shorter pen seemed like a reasonable option. I can also fit a lot more of these shorties in my travel case, which is a bonus.

(via JetPens)

The pens are the same width and shape as a standard hexagonal pencil. Even the color of the barrel is reminiscent of a classic yellow Ticonderoga pencil but with classy white pinstripes. The cap snaps snugly on the pen cap or the base for posting the cap.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner writing samples

The individual Point 88 mini pens do not have color names written on them so I made up some descriptive names as I went along. Jet Pens lists official names if you’re curious. The colors were all bright and clean colors. The point size is in my “sweet spot” for nib sizes at 0.4mm and exactly the same line width as the Le Pens.

(I lost to my inner 12-year-old and drew a panda. You forgive me, right?)

My first reaction when I started testing the Point 88 minis is how much the writing experience and colors reminded me of the Marvy Le Pens. I’m don’t have a complete set of Le Pens here but was able to cross-reference the writing experience and color with at least a dozen colors and there are some very comparable shades between the two brands.

The inks are not waterproof but neither are the LePens. The Stabilo pens are designed to allow for a long cap-off time without drying out. I didn’t test this out but hope that they live up to the hype and provide me a long life of colors over the next several months.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner comparison to Marvy Le Pen

When posted, the Stabilo Point 88 minis are a tiny bit longer than the Le Pens full length but unposted.

The same Stabilo 88 mini Fineliner marker pens are available in a soft plastic wallet instead of the goofy “water bottle” but it costs $0.75 more for the envelope rather than the bottle. My Stabilo mini Fineliner pens will end up being dumped into my regular pen case so I’m okay with the $0.75 savings. The full-sized set of Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners includes all 25 standard colors for $21.50. I might go ahead and order the full set so I can have the greys, browns and the midnight blue color which are some of my favorite shades to use. Individual pens are $0.80 each so its worth adding a few to your next order if you’re not sure you want a full set or you need to “complete” your set.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 20-color set is a little bit more expensive ($25) but a little bit finer at 0.3mm. I know the Staedtlers are quite popular as well so if you find the 0.4mm to be a bit too wide, these might be a good alternative. I’m going to stick with the Stabilo Point 88s.

 

New Sponsor: Karas Kustoms

Karas Kustoms Bolt

Karas Kustoms is a small pen manufacturer that started life as a custom machine shop. When machinist Bill Karas teamed up with designer Dan Bishop, a relationship developed that eventually led to the creation of their very first pen – the iconic Render K. The success of the Render K spurred the creation of several other pens – the Bolt, Retrakt, and the latest addition, the Ink fountain pen. The pens are designed to accommodate several different refills, allowing the customer to pick and choose, and even hack, the refills to best fit their favorite Karas Kustoms pen. Even the Ink fountain pen can be converted into a rollerball pen by swapping the grip section.

Karas Kustoms CUBE

The CUBE is a collaborative design project with Mike Dudek of Dudek Modern Goods, and is the perfect accessory for your desk.

With a staff of just nine people, Karas Kustoms designs, manufactures and ships each of their machined, metal pens and accessories.

I’ve been a loyal follower and supporter of Karas Kustoms and now they are returning the favor by being a sponsor of The Desk. If you own one of their products, you are supporting a team of craftspeople dedicated to delivering high-quality, long lasting goods. And if you haven’t had a chance to try one of their pens or accessories, there’s no time like the present. Use the coupon code “KARASPENS” for 10% off your next purchase.

Thanks to Karas Kustoms for supporting The Well-Appointed Desk and thanks to all you fine readers for continuing to support our sponsors.

Karas Kustoms RETRAKT

Ink Review: Diamine 150th Silver Fox

Diamine Silver Fox

I’m sorry it took me so long to post the review for Diamine 150th Anniversary Silver Fox ink. I wrote the review but forgot to photograph the results. In the meantime, its been dark and rainy here for two weeks making it almost impossible to take good photos of the results, especially the neutral grey-on-white combination of this ink.

Then my darling cats decided they should help and caused me splotch ink, then walked around on the test sheet with wet feet. Sheesh. I’d think this ink review was cursed if the color wasn’t so lovely and the ink so well-behaved. So its not the ink that’s cursed this week — just me.

IMG_2895-2

Silver Fox is as neutral a grey ink as I’ve ever seen. Its not a cool grey with bluish tones and its not a warm grey with reddish hues. Its in that sweet spot, a true neutral grey. To be honest, Silver Fox is quite similar in color as the J. Herbin Stormy Grey, just without the divisive gold flecks. It also reminds me of pencil graphite so this could be THE ink for pencil lovers.

The dry time is reasonable for this ink and there’s some fun shading. Since the color is so neutral, there was not any sort of sheen. The ink dries a bit lighter than it looks when wet which is preferable to inks that start light and darken like the J. Herbin Gris Nuage which is practically invisible when wet and much too hard to write with in my opinion.

Diamine Silver Fox ink comparison

In comparing ink samples, Diamine Graphite is a bit of a greenish cool grey and DeAtramentis Silver Grey is a bit bluish in comparison. I think the Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey is similar in hue but a little bit darker grey.

Diamine 150 Years Silver Fox is available for $18.50 from Jet Pens in a 40ml pie-shaped bottle. This ink is part of a special collection so if this is a color you think you might want to try, better purchase it soon.


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.

Ink Review: Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat is the second ink I purchased from this line produced by L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio and sold in the US through Vanness Pens in Little Rock.

Callifolio ink bottles

I’ve had the worst time trying to describe this color. Grenat is a warm, reddish brown that leans a little to a wine color — like “red wine stain” almost. Its not a vivid bright, eye-watering red but a subtle color that could potentially be a daily user because its not so garish as to be off-putting.

Callifolio Grenat

Grenat shades a little bit and there appears to be a greenish blue halo around heavier strokes. The color dried quickly, even on the Rhodia stock so that I could comfortably write without worrying that I’d stick my hand into wet ink as I went. Not a scientific number but I never hit a point where I was unconsciously smearing so I figure that’s good enough for me.

Callifolio Grenat ink comparison

Honestly, I had no other color in my stash that was even remotely similar to Callifolio Grenat. Its reddish but not bright or vivid so comparing it to red inks seemed too far from the mark. Instead I put it next to purply J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune and Kaweco Caramel Brown so you could see the color is neither purple nor brown.

At $11 per bottle, its totally worth investing in a bottle of Callifolio ink, whether you decide to experiment with Grenat or one of the many other colors. I’ve been pleased with both the Grenat and the Oliphants ink and I’m willing to try other colors in the near future.

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