The Overcast Podcast App

Overcast app screenshot

To help me get through my days, staring at pixels on a computer screen, I listen to a lot of podcasts. For the last few weeks, I have been bouncing back and forth between three different podcast apps for my iPhone: Overcast (Free, unlocked all features $4.99), Pocket Casts ($4.99, for iPhone/iPad or Android) and Instacast ($1.99). Why would I have three podcast apps installed at once? I was trying to figure which one I actually prefer.

Each app offers a similar experiences and all are an improvement from Apple’s default Podcast app. After futzing around with all three, I found myself deleting Instacast first as it was the least intuitive feeling to me. It was the first podcast app I purchased after I became annoyed with the Apple Podcast app and the first to fall short for me. I love the looks of Pocket Casts but in the end, despite aesthetic superiority, there were a few things that forced it out of the running.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you which one I prefer and why.

Overcast is my favorite podcast app at the moment, though I still find myself stumbling around the app a little. Here’s a few reasons why I’ve chosen it over the others.

  • Overcast has feature to speed up the podcast. It helps to shorten pauses in speech and make a podcast a bit more brisk. Very handy. Audio can also be sped up a lot which sounds like everyone had WAY too much coffee, but not like Mickey Mouse. Overcast also has an EQ voice booster which helps podcasts that may not have the best sound quality.
  • There is a web-based interface which lets me listen to podcasts at my computer rather than on my phone at work. It spares my data plan, phone battery and I only have to subscribe to the podcast once (not have to maintain an additional subscription in iTunes for desktop listening). Playlists don’t carry over to the site but being able to listen to podcasts in my wi-fi-free office without getting throttled by AT&T is excellent.
  • I like that I can adjust the quick forward and quick back buttons. They are clear to understand and easy to use. Some of the other apps have the double arrows  associated with fast forward and rewind which are less clear to me that I’m jumping 15 or 30 seconds in a podcast. I don’t often need to rewind a podcast all the way back to the beginning.
  • Under “Playback” there is a sleep timer and/or play episodes continuously or one-by-one.
  • Overcast is free. I appreciate that Overcast is willing to offer this app for free to entice people to try it and listen to more podcasts. When they find the app useful and easy to use, users can unlock all features for $4.99. I upgraded the app immediately.
  • Overcast uses Twitter to recommend podcasts based on what people you follow are subscribing to. The more people who use Overcast, the more recommendations. It seems a lot of my followers/folks I follow listen to the Pen Addict and Erasable. I’m shocked!
  • In the download queue, there is a switch to toggle between using cellular data for downloads and not. Which is handy that’s it’s not buried in a preferences or settings menu somewhere.
  • My one big gripe is I wish that sliding to the left would provide a “mark all as played” option. I keep deleting podcasts thinking I am deleting an episode.

Overcast recommendation screenshot

The more I use Overcast, the more I like it. If you haven’t tried any podcast app other than the Apple Podcast app, I recommend trying Overcast. If you have your own favorite podcast app, please leave a note in the comments.

Pennaquod: The Pen Blog Searcher

Pennaquod

Ian from Pens! Paper! Pencils! has built a site called Pennaquod specifically designed to seek out and find posts on pen-related blogs. It features a custom search tool that just searches from within the pen community. So, if you’re looking for genuine pen blogger reviews, this will streamline your search results. This is particularly handy if you know you recently read a review for “Pelikan M205″ but cannot remember which site it was on. This will just search from the pen bloggers listed and bring back the results. Easy peasy.

Ian has set this site up as a tool for the community and is not making any profit from it. Thanks for the efforts, Ian! This is going to end up being my go-to search engine since all I ever search for is pen-related.

The list of sites used to compile the results is also super handy as it may lead you to new pen blogs.

If you’d like to have your site added to Pennaquod, use the contact form on the site to submit it for consideration.

Think maybe pencil pals can be added too?

Review: Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

After trying out the Stillman & Birn sampler packet, I went ahead and got two sketchbooks. A 5.5×8.5″ Epsilon series hard cover and an 8.5×11″ Alpha series hard cover. I always think of the 8.5×11″ black hard cover as the quintessential artist’s sketchbook. This was the first sketchbook I ever got when I started art school. Its the book made popular by graffiti artists often just called a “black book” or “piece book”. Many companies produce versions of this book and, to be honest, I’ve always considered the popularity in the Moleskine notebooks attributable to the ubiquity of the “black book” sketchbook.

That said, in recent years, I’ve found the quality of the standard black sketchbook to be so-so. The paper seems thinner than ever and the construction is not nearly as durable as I remember it being. Until, that is, the Stillman & Birn books came into my life.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks

Both books feature a heavy 100lb/150gsm weight paper and have a textured, black leatherette over stiff hard cover boards. The interior pages (62 sheets/124 pages in each book) are stitched. There are no additional features to these books: no pockets, ribbon bookmarks or other embellishments. These books mean BUSINESS and they feel super durable.

Once the paper branding bands are removed from the book, the only branding is a blind deboss of the Stillman & Birn logo on the lower portion of the back covers.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook writing sample

The smaller Epsilon sketchbook has a smoother paper texture than the Alpha paper and the label describes it as “plate surface”. The recommended use listed is “…line drawings without feathering or bleeding”. With the smoother surface, the line quality is a little crisper than with the Alpha, especially at smaller sizes. The paper color in the Epsilon books is also a tiny bit whiter than the Alpha which is more of a natural white.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook reverse of writing sample

As you can see from the reverse, the only real show through was the Zebra Permanent marker (similar in formula to a permanent Sharpie marker). In person, I can see a bit more of the ghost of the writing on the previous page but I feel confident that I could use both front and back of each sheet without bleeding issues or obscuring the previous page.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook writing sample

The Alpha Series features a natural white paper with a slight tooth to the paper. The label lists the paper as “vellum surface” and lists the recommended uses as “suitable for all dry media, will accept light washes”.

I tested the Alpha paper with ink and some of my more arty tools since I expected that this, of all paper, would be able to handle it. There’s a tiny bit of show through but no bleeding at all, even with the wet ink that was applied like watercolor. The paper did not buckle with my light ink wash. I’m sure with a wetter application of watercolor, it might buckle a little bit but it seems more than adequate for a range of tools, including wide nib fountain pens, and a little experimentation.

If you are looking for paper able to withstand a lot of water application, try the Beta, Delta or Zeta line. Those are 270gsm paper designed for wet media. If you’re more inclined to do some light washes or mixed media, the Alpha or Epsilon books should be perfectly adequate.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook reverse of writing sample

From the reverse of the Alpha book, you see there’s very little show through. In person, I can discern a bit more show through than can be seen in the photo but not so much that I wouldn’t be comfortable using both sides of the paper.

Honestly, its hard to have any criticism of these books at all. The paper is beautiful and they handle fountain pen ink without bleeding or feathering. The construction is top-notch and super-durable. Stillman & Birn offer such a great range of products that if these books didn’t satisfy my needs, one of the many other books in their line would. The S&B sketchbooks are priced neatly in between budget-priced black sketchbooks available in art supply stores and the prestige notebooks like Moleskine and Rhodia.

I always like to have a “black book” handy at work for sketches and rough drawings and I think my go-to brand now will be Stillman & Birn. Maybe I’ll even start that sketch journal I’ve been meaning to do?

The best online source for Stillman & Birn is Goulet Pens or ask your local art supply store to start carrying Stillman & Birn.


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

Review: Noodler’s Ahab with Goulet Pens 1.1mm Italic Stub Nib

Noodler's Ahab with Goulet Stub Nib

The Noodler’s Ahab pen is a good plastic fountain pen option for the price point.  And to be honest, though it is light in the hand like a plastic pen, it doesn’t look cheap or plastic-y. The metallic sheen in the color makes it look like a pricier pen. The chrome trim looks good and the construction is clean and well-assembled. Compared with the Dilli pens, this is a much nicer looking pen.

Its has a large-capacity, piston-filled ink reservoir. This gives you lots of opportunities to play with bottled inks.

At just $20, its also a great way to try a flexible nib. There are lots of color choices with the Ahab line but I chose the Amazon Pearl. There were actually several green options available so it was hard to pick just one.

Noodler's Ahab with Goulet Stub Nib

If you find that a flexible nib is fun but not something you are inclined to write with everyday, the Ahab is a great way to try out one of the Goulet Pens #6 nibs. I’ve already tested out the Goulet Pens EF nib on my Jinhao X750. I used the 1.1mm italic stub nib from Goulet Pens($15) with my Ahab. The Goulet Pens nibs are chrome nibs with the Goulet ink drop logo and some etched, decorative scrollwork. They are quite pleasing and matched the chrome trim on the Ahab.

Noodler's Ahab with Goulet Stub Nib

The nib worked as soon as I swapped it out and the line quality is pretty crisp thanks to the 1.1mm stub nib. It was super smooth and even left-handed and upside down, I had no trouble getting the pen to lay down a steady flow of ink.

I really like the quality and pricing of the Goulet nibs. I might buy one of the Noodler’s Acrylic Konrad fountain pens in order to have a full-time pen body for Goulet Nibs and keep this Ahab as a dedicated flex pen. (PS: A review of the Noodler’s Flex nib in this pen is coming soon!)

I tested the nib on my Rhodia No. 18 Uni Blank pad with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku teal-y blue ink.


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

Review: Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Do I love lime green? You know I do. (See the matching nail polish for proof.)

Do I like Leuchtturm1917 notebooks? Yup.

Do I really like when the two things come together with all the genius of peanut butter and chocolate? Of course!!

Okay, on to the real review…

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

The Leuchtturm1917 notebook line was recently updated. They added four neon colors (orange, yellow, lime and pink) in their large and pocket-sized hardcover notebooks. The other notable difference with these neon books is a subtle dot texture in the cover leatherette material. As it catches the light, the dots are visible. Its really kind of a cool effect.

The only exterior branding is a debossed logo, centered across the bottom edge of the back cover. I appreciate when brands recognize that I don’t want their logo front and center of my notebook.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

I think it’s been awhile since I’ve used a Leuchtturm1917 but I noticed that the large hardcover notebook was a bit wider than most A5-ish notebooks I’ve used. It’s 5.75″ (14.5cm) wide and 8.25″ (about 21cm) tall. In comparison, my current notebook, the Palomino Blackwing Luxury notebook, is just over 5″ wide.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Inside, the notebooks feature the same 80 gsm ivory paper with light grey lines. The lines run from edge to edge and there is a top margin for the date. These books, like all the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include the index pages in the front as well as page numbers on each page to help to organize and archive your writings.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Inside the back cover is a gusseted pocket. The vertical elastic and ribbon book mark match the covers. I’m noticing some fraying on the bookmark already so I’ll hit the end with a little white craft glue (fray check will work too) to keep it from falling apart.

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include a sticker sheet for labeling the cover and spine as well as a thank you note and a short history about the brand.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook writing sample

For my writing tests, I made sure all my pens color coordinated with the book, at least from the outside. None of the fountain pen inks feathered (not even the super watery J. Herbin) and dry time was pretty reasonable.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook writing sample reverse side

There’s a little show through on the reverse side of the page but no bleed through. I think the show through is more noticeable in person than in this photo. I would not be inclined to use both sides of the paper with dark inks or a wide nib fountain pen but with gel pens, felt tip, ballpoint and rollerballs, its not too bad.

Overall, I really like the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. The lines are pleasingly light, the index and numbered pages help get me a little more organized than I might otherwise be. And you can’t beat the color choices. The paper is a good upgrade from other similarly-priced notebooks (like Moleskine) but  its not as fountain pen-friendly as Rhodia/Clairfontaine which is a little more expensive, offers fewer cover color options and puts a big honkin’ logo on the cover.

The Leuchtturm1917 large hardcover notebooks sell for $18.95 each through Goulet Pens. And yes, there are several other, more sedate colors to choose from.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook


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

World’s Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

World's Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

When I heard about Leaf Cutter Designs’ Tiny Mail Activity Kit Kickstarter project, I had to invest in it. I missed the chance to buy the kit when Chronicle Books released the first kit. But what is so awesome with the Kickstarter project is that Leaf Cutter wanted to make a new kit EVEN better than the original release. The kit added more die cut envelopes, envelope liners, newspaper wrapping papers with real news stories printed on them, a super fine line Sakura Pigma Micron, string, a magnifying glass, tiny postage stamps and tiny rubber stamps to mark the parcels “air mail” and such.

World's Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

Everything is incredibly well-produced with plenty of pieces to send lots of teeny tiny letters and parcels. The boxes used to organize the kit can be used to wrap small parcels as well which is extremely handy.

World's Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

Kits can now be purchased directly from the Leaf Cutter website. The standard kit is $32 and my deluxe kit is $49. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Its absolutely fab!

Review: Monteverde Prima F Fountain Pen in Green Swirl

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

The Monteverde Prima is another of the gloriously swirly body designs from the Monteverde line. Like the Intima, the colored resin is beautifully done. While the Intima is lime green blended with white and kelly green, the Prima is blended with black. For some reason the luminous, almost iridescent quality to the resin is more noticeable in the Prima.

Monteverde Prima Green Swirl

The Prima has black accents with small chrome details. The clip and the nib on the Prima are silver toned instead of black. Overall, the Prima has a more traditional fountain pen look even though the colored resin is very contemporary and vivid.

There is a slight transparency to the green resin so I can see the shadow of the internal workings of the pen. I don’t think its noticeable unless you’re looking intensely at the pen. I suspect in darker resin colors, this effect is probably less evident.

The pen is heavier than I expected, it feels solid. The Prima and Intima are my first experiences with resin fountain pens rather then plastic or metal. The material feels sturdy.

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

The nib is super silky. I am continually being surprised by how nice the Monteverde nibs are. I’ve now tried the medium nib, the 1.1mm stub nib and this, the fine nib. It easily writes in almost any position. If I grab it to jot a quick note, there is no needing to find the “sweet spot”. Its also so slick that when combined with good ink and high quality paper, I have to work a little to keep the nib from getting ahead of me. I think this makes this pen a good candidate for a drier ink (or a not-necessarily lubricated ink) and the assorted, everyday papers found in the average office. I tested it on a few copies — the standard 20-24# bond found in most pritners and copiers — and the nib had a bit more “traction” which worked out well. It definitely makes this a good option for an office pen, where you may have less control over exactly what kinds of paper you may have to write on.

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

The nib is labelled “Monteverde Monteverde USA” and feature the jagged mountain range logo across the nib.  Why they need the brand name twice in that wretched Architect font, I do not know? That said, the branding on this pen is also very subtle. It only appears etched in the chrome ring around the base of the cap and on the nib. On the end of the cap is the mountain range branding mark which, while I don’t love it, I can tolerate it.

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

Like the Imtima, if lime green isn’t your thing, there are a lot of other colors. I particularly like the turquoise and the tiger’s eye colors. I’m getting lured by the purple though. Who’d a thunk?

The Monteverde Prima is available at both Goulet Pens and Pen Chalet for $56 in the full range of colors and nib sizes.


Thanks so much to Jon who very kindly decided I might want another green fountain pen. He was so right.

Review: Nock Co DotDash 3×5 Notecards

Nock Co Dot Dash notecards

Now that Nock Co has opened the online shop, I can finally rave about their DotDash 3×5 notecards. Using a beautiful, silky smooth, bright white, 80lb stock, NockCo has created a notecard to be reckoned with.

Printed on both sides with NockCo’s signature orange ink is a “dot dash” grid. The ink used for the dot dash grid is light enough not to interfere with the legibility of most writing tools including pencil. Normally, I don’t lean towards grid ruling because the lines are often too dark but the shade of orange Nock Co chose for these cards is fun but not too bright, nor are the lines too bold as to be distracting. The grid is spaced at 4.25 mm. All in all, this is one of my favorite grid rulings.

Nock Co Dot Dash Writing samples

As promised, almost any writing tool I threw at these notecards worked as promised. Neither fountain pens, gel pens, rollerballs, ballpoints or pencils had any issues with bleeding or feathering. Some wet inks may take a couple minutes to dry completely on the stock, just to be on the safe side.

Nock Co. Dot Dash writing reverse

Even from the reverse, no color bleeds through to the back. This means the cards really are two-sided.

Brad made me keep my secret stash of 3×5 notecards secret for ages. They were sitting on my desk at work for “real world testing” when someone grabbed one to write a note and said “I can’t write on this! Its too nice!” I had to insist they try it just to get someone else’s impression but she refused. Instead she took the card back to “keep”. So somewhere, there is a lone NockCo DotDash 3×5 enshrined on someone’s desk. Well, there’s no need to enshrine these cards any longer now that they are available in packs of 50 cards for $6. I recommend ordering at least two packs straight away because you’ll want to share them.

The DotDash is also available in an A4 (8.3″ x 11.7″) staple-bound notebook size.

A 50-card pack of notecards is $6. And now the cards are also available in a dusty blue dot dash.


If it wasn’t clear in the post…
DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Nock Co. for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Pelikan M205 Fountain Pen

Pelikan M205 comparison

First, I have to say thanks to Mr. Mike Dudek at The Clicky Post for letting me borrow his Pelikan M205. His review of the M205 suggested that the pen may not live up to its hype so I was pleased to have a chance to try it before I invested in my own. Mike had purchased two different M205s and sent me the one that worked better for him right out the box.

I was so excited to try it. I have to admit, I hoped that maybe Mike wrote with an unusual angle or pressure and that my experience with it would be perfect. I pulled it from the package like Excalibur with a magical thrum and a radiant glow. This pen is so dreamy to look at.

Pelikan M205 pen comparison

The pen itself reminds me of the classic looks of vintage Esterbrooks. The M205 is still just a plastic body fountain with chrome accents and I’d definitely describe it as understated for the over-$100 average retail price. But its a smaller, subdued pen. It doesn’t scream “expensive” or “fancy” and I like that. I love the look of the old Esterbrooks so a modern pen with these classic lines has a lot of appeal for me. The translucent ink window reminds me of some of old fountain pens as well. The simple piston filler is also a holdover from the days before cartridges and converters. It seems like Pelikan has just continued to make the same good-looking pen since the early 20th century. This makes this pen everything that would be a “holy grail” pen for me.

Pelikan M205 nib

Mike sent me the white body with a fine nib which was exactly the one I would have ordered. I inked it up with a good lubricated ink — Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku — and hoped for the best.

The nib has some spring in it which is really quite amazing for a modern steel nib. On the nib, is a beautiful swan emboss and a classic script logo as well as the nib width. How irresistible.

Several folks asked to compare the Pelikan M205 to the Pilot Prera, as well, which has a similar-sized nib and the pen, overall, is a similar size. It’s a fair comparison as they are both plastic bodied, with a small steel nib. There’s a bit more chrome detailing on the Prera and it does take Pilot cartridges or a converter. The price for the Prera is even much less, even after my Plumix modification. The Pilot nibs run much finer and stiffer than the Pelikan though.

Pelikan M205 nib comparison

And then I started writing and the whole experience started to sour.

My first experiences were on miscellaneous office paper, 3x5s and the like. And I was not getting good results. Not a good sign. My experiences, while not exactly the same as Mike’s were definitely less than stellar. The ink seemed choked. I would get flow with some strokes but not with others. I had a feeling that the M205 did not approve of my overhanded lefty writing position.

Pelikan M205 writing sample

When I switched to my “I’m doing calligraphy” below-the-line writing position, the pen behaved much better. But…. I shouldn’t have to do that. There’s shouldn’t be just one sweet spot. None of my other pens, modern or vintage, require that the pen be held in a very specific position. Modern Kawecos? They don’t care what angle I write. Lamy? It will withstand my divergent grip even while digging into my knuckle. Monteverde? Whatever angle is fine and it glides across the paper. So why should a pen made for decades be so fussy? Oh, M205? Why are you trying to ruin my dreams?!?!

I cleaned it out and refilled it hoping maybe a fiber got under the nib or something innocuous but nothing seemed to improve the performance dramatically other than being very very specific about the pen’s position on the paper. So other lefties, be warned.

To quote Mike:

Are your torches lit yet?… Has someone piled up the wood for the fire?…

I know that the Pelikan M205 is often the gateway pen to higher priced modern fountain pens. I just don’t have the capital to spend $100 or more on a pen that only “sort of” writes for me. Sadly, I think I will have to cross the M205 off my grail list and move on to some of the other candidates.


I forgot to mention that Mike purchased the Pelikan M205 from our fine sponsors, Pen Chalet at a deeply discounted price. If you’re ready to give one of these classics a whirl, be sure to use the code “wellappointeddesk” at checkout to get an extra 10% off. And also know that Pelikan/Chartpak has good customer support and will swap out your nib unit should you have an issue like Mike did initially.

How many notebooks is too many?

From the top: Pen & Ink Sketch, Zenok Leather Field Notes Cover, Paperblanks Masaïque Safran, Palomino Blackwing, Leuchtturm 1917 lined

From the top: Pen & Ink Sketch, Zenok Leather Field Notes Cover, Paperblanks Masaïque Safran, Palomino Blackwing, Leuchtturm 1917 lined (review for this style to follow soon).

I was pulling everything out of my bag this morning to get situated at work. One, two, three… four… five! I found five notebooks in my bag and realized that maybe I had too many notebooks going at one time.

Then I started thinking about it and my Zenok leather Field Notes cover actually hides two notebooks so the total is up to six?!?! I also realized that several notebooks have overlapping purposes: personal notes vs. work notes (x 2) each. I need to start streamlining.

Okay, I can be excused on one of the six. The Leuchtturm 1917 in lime is a “to review” notebook I’ve been toting around but everything else is in active use.But everything else…?

I had intended to have the Zenok be my all-the-time notebook with one Field Notes for work notes and one Field Notes for personal notes. But its a bit too bulky to fit in a pocket so I started using the Pen & Ink Sketchbook for personal notes, to-do lists and such. The larger Palomino Blackwing Notebook was for personal project planning, longer thoughts and the like. And the Paperblanks had become my meeting notes notebook at work. So, they all have information in them that either needs to be consolidated or I need to keep working in this “lug a whole New York phonebook with me everyday” method.

So, how many notebooks is too many? How do you organize your personal notes? Do you separate personal notes from work notes?

With back-to-school on the horizon, I’d like to feel all put-together and organized for the fall. Does the whole back-to-school make you want to “start fresh” too?

Ink Lightfastness, The Scientific Approach

Ask The Desk: Where’s Your Feed?

rp_askthedesk_hdr.pngDerrick said:

I am not getting your feed anymore.  Haven’t received an email from the site in a few weeks.

Since the switch over to our own Well-Appointed Desk servers this month, some folks have mentioned that they are no longer getting post from us in the RSS reader. If you’re having issues, please update your feed info to: http://feeds.feedburner.com/thewellappointeddesk

There is also a link in the sidebar for the RSS and a link to receive email updates.

Thanks and sorry for any issues.

Link Love: Death by Digital (or not)

Link Love Link MascotLink(s) of the week:
It’s another week in which the pen must defend itself against the tide of digital futurism. It all started with the NYTimes article and was rebutted around the internet by digital AND pen enthusiasts in equal measure.

Paper:

Pens & Ink:

Pencils:


(via The Cramped)

Typewriter As Art

Olympia Typewriter print

Olympia Typewriter Print by SloeGinFizz (via Etsy)

While not everyone might be as inclined as I am to have a pile of old typewriters at hand, the image of a typewriter inspires the writer, poet and correspondent in all of us. Today I discovered several “typewriter as art” pieces to inspire and compliment the paper aficionados desk.

(Click on images to visit the sources or purchase images.)

Typerwriter Spring Flowers Framed Print

Poetry Typewriter framed art ($46) by Kata (via Society6)

Typewriter note card

Typewriter Greeting Card ($4) by Michele Maule (via Etsy)

Review: Rhodia Ice Notepad

Rhodia Ice covers

I finally got a chance to see what all the hullabaloo surrounding the new Rhodia Ice pads is all about. In honor of its 80th anniversary, Rhodia has released a white covered version of its classic notepads. I got the No. 16 (6 x 8.25″) which is a good desktop sized, comparable to an A5 or Steno pad. The logo is metallic silver on the warm white, matte-coated cover. Inside, the paper is white with a light grey grid.

The Ice notepads are available in lined or graph, both with the same light grey ink for the lines. The Ice notepads all feature the same high-quality paper that the original Rhodia notepads use.

Rhodia Ice writing sample

Since my Rhodia pads tend to have the cover folded back from the moment they are unwrapped, the color of the cover isn’t all that big of a deal. But I’ve avoided anything but the blank Rhodia notepads because I find the purple lines to be too dark and distracting for me. The grey lines in the Ice notepads is such an improvement! The Ice notepad is a lot more usable to me than the standard lined or graph in the orange or black notepads.

I much prefer the grey lines to the standard pads. I might have to stock up on the Ice pads in case they discontinue them.

Prices for the Rhodia Ice pads range from $2-$9, depending on size, on Goulet Pens.

Tested with my Kaweco Skyline Mint with Kaweco blue ink. Seemed like a good icy companion.


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

Review: Zebra Sharbo-X Multi-Pen in Mint

Sharbo X minty green I had been hesitant to invest in the Zebra Sharbo-X because its a pricey multi-pen at $49.50 for the body only. But its one of the few brand name multi-pens that has an aluminum body rather than plastic. So, when I saw that quantities of the minty green model were getting limited at Jet Pens, I bit the bullet and bought one. This particular model the F-Line is considered a slim “lady” model.  Its the same diameter around as a Pilot Precise V5, so its not wispy but I think its probably a little slimmer than the more commonly reviewed LT3.

Sharbo X outer packagin Sharbo X presentation box Sharbo X revealed

I don’t know that I recall anyone mentioning it before but, the packaging for the Sharbo-X is top notch. The pen came in a clear presentation case which is shipped in a protective glossy black paperboard box. I don’t tend to care much about packaging but, at this price point, its nice that the pen wasn’t delivered in a clear polybag or a blisterpack.

Sharbo X rubber end

The minty green is gorgeous. It has a slightly metallic sheen to it. The eraser is hidden under the end cap which has a color-coordinated rubber bumper on the end. Why? I don’t know. The rubber end is not conductive so it can’t be used with touch screens nor is it an eraser. Curious little detail.

I filled it with the 0.5 mm mechanical pencil module and two 0.4 mm gel refills: one blue-black and one in emerald green. I also added an extra pack of erasers.

Sharbo X writing sample

I was worried about the writing performance of the gel inks but they perform admirably. They wrote smoothly and I had no issues with flow or consistency. I have not determined how long my refills will last but comments indicate that these mirco-sized gel refills run out quickly so its best to have a few extra standing by. Zebra even makes a little carrying box for extras which I kind of like (PEN NERD!!!).

Sharbo X eraser

The mechanical pencil works as expected. Pushing the end of the pen body advances the lead. Despite the petite size of the pencil component, a full-sized lead refill will fit into the pen body. Holding the click down allowed me to push the lead back into the pen body as well.

Sharbo X meets Kaweco Skyline Mint

I was tickled to discover that the Sharbo-X in minty green is just a slightly darker version of the mint color of the Kaweco Skyline so its needless to say that these two pens have become my pocket’s new best friends. With these two, I have a fountain pen, two gel inks AND a pencil. I think this may be my go to everyday carry for awhile.

I’m very happy with my purchase and I think that, in the end, the Sharbo-X is worth the sticker shock. Its stylish, functional and great quality. If you’ve got some money burning a hole in your pocket, this might be a good investment.


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.

Upcoming: Blackwing Slate Notebook

Blackwing Slate profile view with elasitc pencil loop

It’s a week chock full of new notebooks. The new Blackwing Slate is an updated version of the Blackwing Luxury notebook. This time the notebook is hardcover but uses the same polymer leather-like material. The branding is center at the bottom of the back cover and not central across the cover.

The size looks like an A5-ish at about 5×8″ and has 160 pages.

The spine is canvas with an elastic loop along the spine to hold your coveted Blackwing pencil. The paper inside is 100gsm and is available light grey lines (that look quite similar to the current format) or blank.

The new Blackwing Slate adds a ribbon bookmark and a pocket inside the back cover. Since I’ve been using my Blackwing Luxury notebook as my daily book for awhile, I can tell you that the absence of the catchall pocket is keenly felt. I’m glad they’ve added this feature.

The new Blackwing Slate will retail for $22.95 and is expected to be available in limited quantities by the end of July. Check with your favorite retailer or pencils.com to order.

Blackwing Slate notebook branding

Link Love: Slow News Week

Link Love Link MascotDid you get a chance to listen to me blather on about indelible pencils last week on the Erasable podcast? If not, I hope you check it out. Let me know what you think.

Pens & Ink:

Pencils:

Other Stuff:

(via Lifehack)

(via Lifehack)


Don’t forget to throw a little love to our awesome sponsors: Jet Pens, Goulet Pens, The Pen Chalet and Gallery Leather. These fine people keep me in pens, pencils, ink and paper and they can help you. Please let them know you heard about them on The Well-Appointed Desk. Thanks!

Upcoming: Moleskine Voyageur Notebook

Moleskine Voyageur

Moleskine recently announced a new addition to their notebook line, the Moleskine Voyageur, A Traveller’s Notebook. The notebooks start shipping this week so this seemed like a good time to take a closer look.

The Voyageur notebook does not follow Moelskine’s standard sizing. The Voyageur is 4×7″– a little smaller than the regular A5-sized “medium” and a bit larger than the “pocket”. Its also clothbound instead of leatherette. And currently, it is only available with a brown cover. I feel like this is Moleskine’s attempt to capture some of the enthusiasm that exists around books like the Midori Traveler. Even the name is awfully reminiscent.

Moleskine Voyageur

Inside the front of the notebook are pages with information about creating printable sheets to insert into your notebook as well as a map.

Moleskine Voyageur

The pages are color coded along the edge to visual indicate three separate paper choices: lined, dot grid and blank sheets for various projects or type of note-taking. There are three color-coded ribbon bookmarks that match the various sections in the book.

Moleskine Voyageur

In the back of the book are pages that are perforated along the vertical to make to-do lists.

Moleskine Voyageur

And finally, in the back is a pocket for storing ephemera. A sheet of stickers is included with the notebook as well. I’m not sure how useful the stickers would be but I appreciate the effort.

MSRP for the Voyageur notebook is $24.95 US but vendors like Amazon are offering the Voyageur a little under retail.

Is this a notebook you’d consider ordering? I’m intrigued and I like the multi-functionality of it. I don’t think the paper will be any better with fountain pens than standard Moleskines but all the little extras make it seem like its a better value than a plain Moleskine. What do you think?

Review: Perfetto Pencil

Perfetto Pencil box lid

When I first saw the Perfetto Pencils, I was smitten. The whole project was designed by well-known designer Louise Fili. I’ve been familiar with her design work for years so I would, of course, be interested in any pencil project she might create. The box alone is a work of art. The packaging is beautiful and sturdy and vintage-inspired.

Perfetto Pencil Box

Inside the box is a dozen, beautiful two-colored pencils. It’s graphite on one end and red colored lead on the other. The pencils come pre-sharpened with a decent point, usable for those too impatient to sharpen it properly.

Perfetto Pencil

The pencils inside are just as stunning. The pencils are round and the paint is glossy and even. The silver foil is stamped perfectly and centered evenly.

Perfetto Pencil writing sample

The best news is that they write really well. The graphite is smooth and dark. I’d almost compare it to a Palomino Blackwing. And the red lead is soft like a good quality, artist’s grade colored pencil.

The first pencil I pulled out must have been dropped because the red lead kept breaking. The graphite was fine though. I pulled out another pencil and the red lead sharpened fine so the first must have been a fluke. I used a good quality Staedtler two-hole hand sharpener and got a good, sharp point on both ends. With the soft colored lead, I recommend sharpening with a hand sharpener rather than a desktop or electric sharpener because they’ll just eat through the pencils.

When erasing, the red lead leaves visible ghosting which is good if you want to use the pencil for grading or other indelible uses. The graphite erases cleanly with a the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, the Cadillac of erasers.

Perfetto Pencil box notes

The whole package was produced by the Princeton Architectural Press and boxes come marked with a $13.95 retail price. According to the box, the pencils are made in Taiwan. I purchased mine through Amazon for about $11.50.

 

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