Field Notes Field Trip!

Yesterday, Bryan at Field Notes/Coudal Partners kindly toured us around the world headquarters (AKA their offices in Chicago). We had  great time and got to take a peek at the inner workings of Field Notes. It was an all-access pass and I am so thankful that Bryan took time out of his busy schedule to humor me.

Ready for some pictures?

Bryan Bedell at Coudal/Field Notes HQ
Bryan greeted us at the door, ready to show off all the fabulousness that is Coudal and Field Notes.

Coudal/Field Notes front desk and sales counter
Behind the door, was the front desk and sales counter for walk-in customers and pick-up orders. Its a really pretty work space.

Bob peruses the Field Notes selection
Bob peruses some of the leather covers available from Field Notes while I just ogle.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Uncut press sheet
We got to see some of the uncut press sheets from the Arts & Sciences edition. It’s so good to see how much attention to detail they take to get the Field Notes Colors Editions just right.

Field Notes stock room
In the stockroom are piles and piles of the County Fair editions which are some of my favorites. I have sets from every state I’ve lived in.

Field Notes County Fair Editions

In the shipping area are bins filled with individual County Fair books for the Road Trip kit.

Field Notes packing zone

The packing area is efficient and well-organized and the team was busy packing up orders.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences button bins

Bins filled with the Arts & Sciences edition buttons sat prominently on the counter in Well-Appointed Desk-approved green bins.

Field Notes Stencil boxes

Totally industrial looking stenciled boxed lined the walls.

Me and Bryan at Coudal/Field Notes

I had a great time and Bryan was to ally patient with us. Thanks for a great tour!

Field Notes/Coudal mail box

Expect to find a thank you note in THIS mailbox soon!

Link Love: Text Messages

Link Love Link Mascot

This week’s Link of the Week has to be the handwritten text messages. The link was sent to me by my friend Chris P. and has me wondering if I should challenge myself to text or tweet all handwritten this week. Are you with me?

I Sent All My Text Messages in Calligraphy for a Week (via The Atlantic)

Pens & Ink:

Pencils:

Paper:

Everything Else:

And don’t forget:

Pen ChaletPen Chalet is offering a 10% off for Well-Appointed Desk readers. Enter the code wellappointeddesk at checkout to get this added discount.

Please support the shops that help support this blog. Thanks!

Eccentric Envelopes

Make Eccentric Envelopes

Stephanie Fishwick posted some loose but lovely envelopes with her tips and techniques for creating fun envelopes for non-calligraphers. She recommends using watercolors but ink samples would also work and i a great way to use up all those samples you’ve accumulated.

Her best tip is that imperfections make it more awesome. Use a limited color palette and repetition to pull it together. No one will complain if they got a hand lettered envelope in the mail ever. It will make their day. So,  start playing.

She recommends good quality envelopes like Original Crown Mill cotton or Crane. Big box office supply shops usually carry 100% cotton envelopes in the section with invitations and resume stationery.

Maybe your kids will want to make some of their own envelopes too and send a letter to Grandma? That would be a fun, rainy day activity this summer.

If you do want to improve your writing, Stephanie also has some recommendations for getting started with calligraphy and the tools, web sites and books she uses for great calligraphy.

Most of all have fun and be inspired!

(via Stephanie Fishwick)

Smart Travel Tips for Pen Geeks

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I’m about to embark on a little holiday getaway which always leads to seeking out good travel tips. Buzzfeed posted one of their silly lists called 13 Travel Tips to Make You Feel Smart. There are a couple good tips on the list but most will be things you’ve probably already heard.

My favorite tip: Ask the desk at your hotel for cords or chargers if you forgot to pack yours. It sounds like their is inevitably a box of random cords and chargers that get left behind so they might have one for your device.

Now for some travel tips for the pen-and-paper inclined:

  • Check the locations you’ll be visiting and find out if there is a pen shop nearby. Make time to visit the shop. This will improve even the most boring business trip.
  • Stop in local drugstores, book shops, truck stops or tourist shops (museum shops, state park offices, etc) to seek out postcards. I find these are the best places to find cheesy tourist postcards to send home or keep as souvenirs.
  • Tourist destinations can often yield cheap, fun souvenirs in the form of pencils. Isn’t it time you started a tourist pencil collection?
  • If you’re worried about fountain pens leaking on flights, store them in a plastic ziploc bag for the flight. You can also travel with the cartridge removed and pack a few spare cartridges to use at your destination. For more pen travel tips, check out the article I posted awhile back.
  • Put together a Letter Writing On The Go kit.
  • Don’t forget to pack stamps. Or plan to visit the local post office to pick up stamps and meet the locals. If you let them know you’re visiting, they might just hand cancel your postcards if you ask nicely.

every trip should include a stop at the local PO #showandmail

I discovered the Rock County Historical Society in Janesville, WI which is on our route this summer and home to the Parker Pen Collection. And I might get a peek inside the Coudal/Field Notes HQ in Chicago.

Are you traveling this summer? Business or for fun? Did you find any great pen-related goodies? Can’t wait to hear!

The Epic Refill Reference Guide: Rollerball, Gel and Ballpoints

Lots of pens available these days accept either a “Parker-Style” G2 refills, a Pilot G2 refill (adds to the confusion for sure) and the Pilot Hi-Tec C style refills.  I thought I’d try to come up with a list of refills that fit into these categories. This is by no means a definitive list but should provide you with lots of options for your favorite non-fountain pens.

parker style refills

There are so many potential options for a “Parker-style” refill (which annoyingly enough is also referred to as a G2 though it is not necessarily compatible with a PILOT G2 style pen). The G2 refill is 98mm long and approx 5.8mm diameter on the main barrel.

Here’s a list of most (but probably not all) of the Parker-style refills:

  • Diplomat EasyFLOW Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Faber-Castell Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Faber-Castell Scribero Gel Ink Roller Refill
  • Fisher Space Pen Refill, PR Series- Colors (Bold, Medium, Fine)
  • Fisher Space Pen – Universal Ballpoint Refill
  • Foray (Office Depot) Ballpoint Refill for Parker (Medium)
  • Kaweco Soul G2 Refill 1.0mm
  • Kaweco Sport Roller Ball Pen Refill
  • Moleskine Ballpoint Refill
  • Moleskine Gel Refill (0.5 and 0.7 mm)
  • Moleskine Roller Gel Fluorescent Refills
  • Monteverde Ceramic Gel Refill (Broad)
  • Monteverde Needle Point Refill (Fine)
  • Monteverde Soft Roll- Colored inks (Medium)
  • Monteverde Soft Roll- (Superbroad, Medium, Ultrafine)
  • OHTO Needlepoint Ballpoint Pen Refill PS-807NP
  • OHTO PS-205NP Extra-Fine 0.5mm Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Parafernalia Ballpoint Pen Refill NO LOGO
  • Parker Ballpoint Pen Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)
  • Parker GEL Ballpoint Pen Refill (Medium)
  • Parker Quinkflow Ballpoint Pen Refill (Medium, Fine)
  • Pelikan Giant Ballpoint Pen Refill 337 (Broad, Fine, Medium)
  • Pentel KFLT8 Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Platignum Standard Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Retro 51 Tornado Roller Ball Refills (REF5P) (Made by Schmidt)
  • Schmidt 9000M EasyFlow Pen Refill
  • Schmidt P8900 Super Bowl Refill (Fine)
  • Schmidt P900 B Ballpoint Pen Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)
  • Schmidt P950M Megaline Pressurized Ballpoint Pen Refill (Medium)
  • Schneider Express 735 Pen Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)
  • Schneider Slider 755 Pen Refill (Extra-Broad, Medium)
  • STABILO EASYgel Refill
  • Stabilo Ballpoint Refill
  • Tombow BR-ZLM Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Visconti Ballpoint Pen Refill AA49 1.4 (Broad)
  • Visconti Gel Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)

Retro 1951 + Pentel EnerGel Refill Hacking

Mike Rohde of Sketchnoting fame hacked a Pentel Energel refill (normally a Pilot G-2 sized refill) to fit into his Retro 51 by trimming the end of the refill to be the right size. If you’re willing to experiment, other refills might also survive this sort of hack. I’ve hacked the end off a few refills in my time to make them fit as well. Just grab a craft or utility knife or a sturdy pair of scissors, line up the old refill and the new refill and snip. Voila.

If you love a particular sort of pen refill, you can also lengthen a refill that’s too short by adding a bit of plastic tubing to the end of the barrel. The fine folks at Karas Kustoms provide a length of plastic tubing with their Render K, RETRAKT and BOLT pens that could be used with other brands as well or you could snip off a section of an empty plastic refill to length a new refill to fit.

The best source I found for ALL the Parker-style refills was Cult Pens in the UK. They stock over 30 different styles of Parker-style refills.  Another option is Refill Finder.

 

European International Rollerball / Pilot G-2 style refills

The Pilot G2 style refill, also described as the Schmidt/Euro Rollerball refill size are about 110mm long:

  • Caran d’Ache Fibre Tip Refill
  • Caran d’Ache Rollerball Refill
  • Faber-Castell Rollerball Pen Refill
  • Faber-Castell Fineliner Pen Refill
  • FORAY (Office Depot) Pen Refill For Schmidt Rollerball
  • Hi-Tec-C Cavalier refill
  • Monteverde Fineliner Refill G52
  • Monteverde Ceramic Rollerball Refill W22
  • Monteverde Spring-Loaded Tip Fineliner Refill G62
  • OHTO Ceramic Rollerball Pen Refill
  • OHTO F-300 Fude Refill Black
  • Pentel LR7 Energel
  • Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel
  • Pilot Juice (removed from plastic retractable pen)
  • Pilot G2
  • Pilot LP2RF Gel Refill (Juice refill code)
  • Schmidt Capless Rollerball 8126 and 8127 (shorter models can work with an extension hack)
  • Schmidt FineLiner refill
  • Schmidt Safety Rollingball Ceramic refill
  • Schmidt Safety Rolling Tube refill
  • Schmidt RollingSupersteel refill
  • Schmidt RollingBall refill
  • Schneider Topball 850 Pen Refill
  • Schneider Topliner 970 Pen Refill
  • Sheaffer Fineliner Refill
  • Visconti Rollerball Pen Refill AA40 0.7
  • Zebra JT refill
  • Zebra Sarasa Clip refill (removed from plastic retractable pen)

Using a spring around the tip of the refill will help to stabilize these. Use either the spring provided by your pen manufacturer or steal one from a retractable plastic pen body to get the perfect fit.

Cult Pens has a great selection of these refills in their “Euro Refills” section.

HI Tec C style refills

The Pilot Hi-Tec C style refills list doesn’t look as extensive as the other refill styles but the Hi-Tec C line has a huge assortment of color options and tip widths to provide quite a variety. The Pilot Hi-Tec C refills can be purchased individually or liberated from any Pilot Hi-Tec C pen including the Maica line.

  • Pilot Hi-Tec C (available in 0.25, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5)
  • Pilot G-Tec C (same as the Hi-Tec C but renamed for the American/European market)
  • Uni-ball Signo UM-100 Gel
  • Uni-ball Signo DX UM-151 Gel
  • Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel

I’ve found that the Uni-Ball Signo refills may need to be trimmed slightly to fit but they work great. Just use scissors, a craft knife or blade to shorten the length to match the original length. I liberate Signo refills from plastic pens found around my office as well as occasionally purchasing proper refills.

D1 style refills

Then there’s the D1 sized refills. These are the super slender and used in multi-pens and mini pens. The Sharbo-X is a great example as is the Retro 51 Tornado Touch.

The D-1 mini refills are about 66-67mm long and there are quite a few refill styles to fit into these pens:

  • Acme Black 4FP Four-Function Pen Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Acme Highlighter 4FP Four-Function Pen Multi Functional Pen Refill
  • Aurora Mini Medium Point Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Caran D’ache Ecridor XS Mini Refill
  • Cross Matrix Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Cross Micro Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Kaweco D1 Soul Ballpoint Refill
  • Monteverde Soft Roll Ballpoint Pen Refill – D1 (628)
  • Ohto R-4C7NP Needle-Point Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Parker Mini Ballpoint Refills
  • Parker Vector 3-in-1 Ballpoint Refills
  • Pelikan 38 Ballpoint Refills
  • Pilot BRF-8M Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Platinum BSP-60 Series
  • Platinum BSP-100
  • Retro 1951 D-1 Ballpoint Refill
  • Rotring Tikky 3-in-1 2-Color Ballpoint Refills
  • Tombow VS Ballpoint Pen Refill – D1
  • Uni SXR-200 Jetstream Ballpoint Multi Pen Refill (0.5 and 0.7mm)
  • Zebra 4C-0.7 Ballpoint Pen Refill
  • Zebra Sharbo X Ballpoint Multi Pen Refill Component – D1
  • Zebra Sharbo X Gel Ink Multi Pen Refill Component – D1

Big thank you to Dan at Karas Kustoms for giving me his list as a starting point. Thanks to The Pen Place in Kansas City for letting me try out lots of refills. The rest of my info came from Jet Pens, Cult Pens and Refill Finder.

Monteverde is modifying some of their refills to fit pens with more proprietary sizes like Lamy. Lamy is the most finicky of all the pens. If you have good alternatives for refills for Lamy rollerball and ballpoint pens, let me know.

Don’t forget to check your local office supply or pen store (even those big box shops) and play around with the pens and refills you have. You’d be surprised what might work.

I’m working on a handy printable pocket guide of all these pen refill options but I want to make sure I haven’t left anything out or gotten anything wrong. So let me know which of these refills work for you and which don’t.

Note: I have not tried EVERY refill with every pen so your results might vary. Please leave notes in the comments about your favorite pen and refill combination for other readers. Thanks!

Link Love: Paper v. Digital

Link Love Link Mascot

This week’s post of the week is actually two sides of the divisive discussion: paper or digital note-taking. I’ve waffled around on this issue for years and have come to the conclusion that I prefer paper to digital unless it involves a URL.

Post(s) of the week:

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Other Stuff:

And don’t forget:

Pen ChaletPen Chalet is offering a 10% off for Well-Appointed Desk readers. Enter the code wellappointeddesk at checkout to get this added discount.

Please support the shops that help support this blog. Thanks!

Cover Unveil: The Typewriter Book from Uppercase

Uppercase The Typewriter Book

Finally, the cover for the long-awaited The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine has been revealed. This book will feature over 200 pages of history, photos and timelines of the glorious typewriter. If you’re familiar with Uppercase magazine, you know this book will be beautifully designed by editor-in-chief Janine Vangool and printed with the highest quality standards.

Pre-orders are still being accepted at $45 per book. I pre-ordered mine ages ago so I can’t wait for the fall to get. That’s when the book will start shipping.

Review: Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen

Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen tip

Last week, I reviewed the Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen which is a fun, little, budget brush pen. Then, I had my world rocked by its slightly beefier cousin, the Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen this week.

Aesthetically, its a plain barreled cylinder brush pen with a plain metal clip. If I had to find it in the bottom of my bag by feel, I might mistake it for a Pilot Precise V5. But its what’s inside that makes it something special. Its features the same tiny felt tip as the extra fine version, just more of it. Its a firm, springy tip which yields good line quality, quickly and easily. The black is a good dark black which makes scanning it awesome.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen

You all know I draw a lot of letters for my day job and the Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen has, in less than a week, surpassed all my other pens to become my go-to brush pen for lettering. I started out using it on tracing paper, just to get a rough sketch and the Fudegokochi Regular Brush pen dried almost immediately without bleeding. That never happens! Then I transferred my lettering onto my regular “work” stock, Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker Paper and the ink dried almost immediately and no bleed!

I addressed a bunch of birthday cards on standard envelope stock and the ink also dried without smearing. Are you impressed yet?

Then, in my final test, I used my Rhodia pad and the ink still dried almost immediately and, of course, no smearing or feathering.

Even after a week of pretty heavy use, the felt tip has kept its point and its only a little bit drier than when I started using it. The Fuegokochi pens are not waterproof which is the only downer for me.

Did you notice how great it makes my handwriting look? This brush pen gets my top rating for that reason alone. Add this little $3.50 gem to your next order. You’ll thank me.

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.

New Sponsor: Pen Chalet

Pen Chalet

I’d like to welcome Pen Chalet as a new sponsor on The Well-Appointed Desk. Pen Chalet stocks fine pens from some of our favorite brands like Lamy, Kaweco, Pelikan, Namiki, Pilot and many more. Pen Chalet stocks inks, refills, notebooks, pen cases and more as well.

And to help sweeten the deal, Pen Chalet is offering an extra 10% off for Well-Appointed Desk readers. Enter the code wellappointeddesk at checkout will get 10% off their already reduced prices. Don’t forget to check out the sales page for super low prices. The special offers are available for a limited time only so if you see something you love, order it quick. And let Pen Chalet know you heard about them from the Well-Appointed Desk.

Thanks to Pen Chalet for the great deals and sponsoring The Desk!

Ask The Desk: Long-lasting, Archival Notebook

Ask The Desk Header

 

Brody recently emailed me this question:

Since I got back into pens, I have become really enamored with Fountain Pens. I have been burning through notebooks trying to find good fits for FPs. I also started journalling – one for my daughter, one for my son, and one for me. I started off with the Piccadilly leather-something… and now I realize that if I keep going with this journalling, when I start vol. 2 I might not find a good match. Piccadilly seems to be erratic and in odd supplies. Are they going down for the count?

Anyway – I want to find a good journal that is solid and will last a long time, as well as something archival AND in a format that is likely to be around over the years as I fill them up. Knowing that nothing forever, what’s a good bet? Although I don’t use Leuchtturm 1917, I thought maybe it would work well… many colors and solid paper. Other thoughts?

 

Piccadilly does cater to the budget market like overstock shops so it can be hit-or-miss to find their on a regular basis. Their web site lists retailers who stock their products. Some people have mentioned issues with the binding over time with Piccadilly so I wouldn’t rely on it for archival journals and keepsakes. I use a Piccadilly for work notes which are not relevant by the end of the week so I don’t plan to pass mine down to future generations.

If you are actually looking for multi-color pages, The Ciak Multicolor Journal might be to your taste.

fabriano-classic-blue-large-artists-journal-6.25-x-8.25-pfa503lg-2

Fabriano used to make one too, for years, but I can’t seem to find anyone selling them now which is sad. They do make a version with an array of white, cream and kraft colored paper but not the rainbow of colors they used to make.

Fabriano has made paper for centuries I think so they would be a good bet though I have not used the paper with fountain pens but it is designed for artists using pencil and pen so it might work well. You may be able to find some Fabriano sketchbooks in a local art supply store.

Rhodia Webnotebooks might be a good option. Excellent paper for fountain pens, well-constructed hardbound books and Clairefontaine has been around for awhile and people love the Webnotebook line so they should be available for years to come. There aren’t a ton of cover colors, black and orange at present but their smaller Rhodiarama line have many different colored covers.

Leuchtturm 1917 neon covers

I think the Leuchtturm1917 should be around for awhile, its good quality and reasonably priced. Its not super high end paper so some wider nibbed pens might bleed but it has the potential to be a book you’ll be able to find for years to come. They come is several sizes and configurations and have lots of cover color options, including a up-to-the-moment neon option at present.

The classic black, artists sketchbooks from Stillman & Birn, Canson or Cachet might also fit your needs since they are all similar sizes and designed for artists so the paper quality is good (usually 65lb or higher) and reasonable priced (between $10-$15 for a 8.5×11″ size). They are available in an A5 and a US Letter size no matter which brand you choose. Some offer a square or spiral bound option as well. And, to butcher a Henry Ford quote,  you can have colored cover you want, as long as you want black. Any art supply store will carry one of these brands (or something comparable) so you’d always have access. I’d recommend the Stillman & Birn to start — the Alpha series paper is not too thick and excellent with fountain pens — though its not as widely available as the other more widely distributed brands.

Cachet Classic Black Sketchbook

Most modern notebooks should have fairly low acidity paper, even if its not labelled “archival.” The artist-grade sketchbooks are definitely archival. I would recommend storing completed journals and notebooks in a dark, dry location (like an opaque plastic tub in  a closet or attic) after its completed to protect it from light degradation or moisture which will could be a bigger threat than the archival-ness  of the paper.

Three Drops in One: April, May and June Ink Drops

For some reason, doing Ink Drop reviews seem to take forever. Maybe its because I have to dip and clean a pen five times. Then I get behind and have to dip and clean a pen TEN times. This time, I’m THREE months behind. So, hopefully, this was worth the wait.

Here’s the colors from the April, May and June Ink Drops:

 

April 2014: Islands in the Sun

May Ink Drop 2014 "Garden Party"

Blue skies, blue oceans, sunny days and sandy beaches are captured with the inks in the April Ink Drop. The R&K Helianthus was surprisingly usable for a yellow ink with more orange-y undertones. Private Reserve Shoreline gold was a warm orange-y brown. Both the Diamine Beau Blue and the Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-Iro are turquoise-y blues and the Diamine Coral is actually a blisteringly fluorescent pink-y orange. Its not so pinky as to be bubblegum, more of a vivid geranium blossom red/pink. This is a super fun assortment and was a perfect antidote to rainy, cold, snowy April. I love both shades of blue and will probably have to flip a coin to choose one or the other to buy as a full bottle. The Diamine Coral is also a favorite. It’s a bit more orange-y red than the Platinum Cyclamen Pink. J. Herbin’s Rose Cyclamen and Rose Tendresse are much more purple in comparison.

May Ink Drop 2014 "Garden Party"

May 2014: Garden Party

April 2014 Ink Drop "Islands in the Sun"

Garden Party lived up to its name with an array of reddish colors: DeAtramentis Apple Blossom (scented), Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji and Pelikan Violet. The PI Tsutsuji is a tiny bit brighter, cleaner color than Pelikan Edelstein Turmaline. The DeAtramentis Apple Blossom is not overpoweringly scented but it has a fragrance in the bottle that is not noticeable when dry. The color is sort of mulberry reddish purple. Its actually a lovely color and probably my favorite in the bunch this month. Private Reserve Buttercup is super bright yellow but not a fluorescent. It has a hint of orange to it but not as orange-y as the R&K Heliathus from the April Ink Drop. Platinum Leaf Green is part of the mix-free line and is a truly kelly green — like a beautiful spring lawn. Not my lawn, but someone’s.

April 2014 Ink Drop "Islands in the Sun"

 

June 2014: Down to Earth

June 2014 Ink Drop "Down to Earth"

When the June Ink Drop arrived, I was a little bit of a doubter that the earthy tones of the Down to Earth theme would be appealing to me in the bright June sun but both of the browns were really appealing and the greens will be given a good deal more consideration than I initially thought. Private Reserve Ebony Brown is a deep clean brown on the reddish side of brown, warm like 70% cacao chocolate. It’s almost a warm brown black. If I were to buy a bottle of brown ink, this would be it.  And the Platinum Mix-Free Earth Brown is a warm orange-y brown that is richer than Pelikan Brown. Diamine Salamander is an olive-y green black. It reminds me of the color of American currency — like the green on a dollar bill — feels historical. Noodler’s Sequoia Green has a true evergreen vibe, like pine needles. The Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine is a bit deeper green than the Platinum Leaf Green from the May Ink Drop but still a vivid kelly green, just a touch deeper, darker green with a tiny bit of a bluish cast.

June 2014 Ink Drop "Down to Earth"

Ink Drop is a monthly ink sampling service from Goulet Pens. Subscriptions are $10 per month (add $5 for international subscription), pre-paid or ongoing, and include five different colors of ink and discounts on purchases of full bottles of ink in the Ink Drops.

Swabs are done with a watercolor paint brush on Kyokuto Word Cards, writing samples are done on Rhodia No. 18 Uni-Blank pad using a soft bristle watercolor paint brush and a Pilot Prera with a Pilot Plumix 1.1mm Medium Calligraphy Nib.

House Industries Official Stationery Supplies

House Industries Stationery

House Industries makes some of the most amazing fonts, typography and design. Thankfully, you can now use the same tools as the staff at House Industries uses. Sketch like Andy Cruz with a 6-pack of House Industries branded pencils in a House Industries mini journal. Use an official “House Industries Letter Sharpie” like Ken Barber. And post it all up on the wall with House Industries Carnival masking tape.

House Industries Pencils House Industries Sharpies

 

(This announcement written with tongue firmly in cheek. But I do love the guys at House Industries and who wouldn’t want one of their fabulous pencils? Or a cycling jersey?)

House Industries Alphabet Masking Tape

Review: Pilot G-2 0.7mm in Lime Green

Pilot G-2 0.7 in Lime

Is anyone the least bit surprised that I’m reviewing a lime green pen? Today its the Pilot G-2 0.7mm in Lime Green. I’m a relative latecomer to the joys of the G-2 line of gel pens. Most of my previous experiences have been with the versions sold in big box office supply stores that are 0.7mm and 1mm tips in the standard black and blue. Usually, pens this wide are a recipe for disaster for me so I was inclined to avoid them entirely in favor of my razor point Japanese market gels like the Pilot Hi-Tec C, Zebra Sarasa Clip and Uni Signo DX models.

But times are changing, or maybe its just as I learn more about pens and paper, I can see the appeal of different pens.

The other thing that kept me from embracing the G-2 line is that the retractable pens are just ugly. I don’t like the bulbous, curvy clip at all and the bold, brash logo-ing on them. Part of what I appreciate about a lot of Japanese pens is the absence or removeability of a lot of the branding. I like when I have to squint at a pen to see the teeny tiny word “uni” or the like as opposed to the HUGE “Pilot G-2 07″ emblazoned on the clip.

Pilot G-2 0.7 in Lime

That said, there is a reason people like the G-2 ink and keep using these ugly plastic pens. They write well. They write smoothly. The ink dries quickly on most papers. They aren’t expensive (this one set me back a whopping $1.50).

Even though the 0.7mm tip is a bit wider than I am normally accustomed to, I did not have any issues with ink smudging or dry time and the slightly larger size did not create too many letters to fill in. Everything seemed fairly legible and the tip created a smooth writing experience. This pen had the same springy feedback as my previous experience. I think it has to do with the retractable button moving slightly as I lifted the pen, creating a vibration inside the pen down to the spring holding the refill in place. This may be one of the reasons I tend to favor capped pens over retractable because I don’t like this feedback. In the end though, the vibration was no better or worse than in other G-2 retractable pens. I may hack the refill out of this and put it into one a G-2 compatible pen body with a cap (i.e. the Render K G-2 model or one of the pens listed here).

How do I feel about the color? Good, really good. In my never-ending hunt for the perfect lime green pen, this is edging up the list. If it was available in a 0.5mm version, it might just be my favorite. Its a good lime popsicle green, perfect for summer ramblings.

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.

Photo of the day: Genine Zlatkis

genine zlatkis studio

Genine Zlatkis is a prolific illustrator with a great style and her studio is amazing. She posted these pictures of all her supplies, organized so neatly, I couldn’t resist sharing them with you.

I recognize a cup full of Sakura Pigma Microns, Pink Pearl and assorted erasers, and the recognizable ferrule of a Dixon Tocnderoga pencil.

Genine Zlatkis Rubber Stamps

Genine also created some rubber stamps recently that would be perfect for decorating letters and envelopes and sold here.

genine zlatkis studio

(via Genine Zlatkis)

Head-to-Head: Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.3mm vs Pilot G-2 Retractable 0.38mm

Pilot G-2  vs Zebra Sarasa Clip

I realized there were green gel pens I did not yet own, so I immediately popped over to Jet Pens to remedy the situation. This time, it was both the Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.3 in Veridian Green and the Pilot G-2 0.38 in Green. When they arrived I noticed how remarkably similar these two pens were to one another. The shape, the color and even the point size. So I decided to put them head-to-head to see which one was better.

Aesthetically, these two pens are almost identical. Both feature rubberized grip sections though the Sarasa Clip grip is more of a silicone material while the G-2 is a harder plasticky rubber (one for Sarasa!). Both have large capacity clips but the Sarasa has the hinged clip making it the easiest gel pen to clip on a binder or notebook cover (upper cut for Sarasa!).

Pilot G-2  vs Zebra Sarasa Clip

Colorwise, the Sarasa veridian green is a bit woodiser and, for lack of a more descriptive term, seems a little drier. The Pilot G-2 green is more of a vivid Kelly green, a bit brighter and juicier (its tough to call but I think this punch goes to Pilot!).

Overall, they both have good color, good ink flow and reasonable prices ($1.80 for the G-2 and $2.20 for the Sarasa). The score was 2:1 for Sarasa but if you’re looking for a bright green, you may favor the G-2.

Pens were tested on Rhodia Pad No. 18 Uni-blank using the Well-Appointed Desk paper guides to keep my lines straight.

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.

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Messenger Bag (Bonus: Bag Dump)

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

Last week was my birthday and my darling husband found the perfect gift for me: the limited edition Chicago version of the Timbuk2 messenger bag. This was a version limited to just ten bags for the grand opening of Timbuk2′s Chicago store. It would never have occurred to me to call the store and see if there were any left following the grand opening at the end of May. I would have just assumed that they sold out of these gems in a day or so. I also had no idea just how limited they were. Only TEN were made and when he called last week, they still had two left. Can you believe it?

So, the staff at the Chicago store kindly sent him one. And voila! The ex-pat Chicagoan can proudly carry a Timbuk2 bag inspired by the flag of her hometown — a city so grand its flag is emblazoned on shirts and bodies and just about anything else you can think of.

What makes this design unique from the build-a-bag option on the Timbuk2 website? First, the sky blue cordura nylon is not a color currently offered through Timbuk2. This might not be an issue for anyone else since Timbuk2′s build-a-bag offers dozens of solid cordura fabrics as well as prints, waxed canvas and more but for they put the idea of a Chicago flag themed bag in my head and nothing less would do for me.

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

I haven’t bought a new Timbuk2 bag in a long time and there are some new features and some things have been upgraded, moved or modified. A lot of the changes seemed like really smart improvements too while keeping the elements that make a Timbuk2 bag so durable.

The new things include:

  • A padded grab handle to make it easier to pick up the bag like a briefcase
  • Clips to close the bag are now under the flap to create a more streamlined front panel
  • Clips are connected to straps under the bag that can be used to hold a jacket, an umbrella, a poster tube or yoga mat or used as compression straps to keep contents from flopping around
  • The pocket under the panel now has a side zip pocket for wallet, phone or other items that need to be handy but kept secure
  • The key leash is now attached inside the front pocket (it used to be inside the inner pocket)
  • A stiff piece of plastic has been added to the top edge of the large inside slashpocket to keep it from being flimsy. Earlier versions had a slash pocket plus a pocket with velcro which never got opened because the velcro was too sticky
  • Speaking of velcro, previous versions of the messenger bag had two vertical slashes of velcro on the inside flap. Now there is a horizontal swath of velcro on the inside flap guaranteeing that the bag will stay closed no matter how the flap is aligned and without the added security of the clips. The velcro is super sticky too.
  • There are also water bottle sleeves inside on both the right and left sides, one is mesh and the other is solid (this is an upgrade feature on the build-a-bag)
  • The shoulder strap is softer, more flexible webbing material which is less likely to rub skin raw or gouge a groove in your shoulder. However, I still recommend investing in the velcro strap pad cover. I’ve been using the same one for over 15 years — I just switch it from bag to bag as needed. Best $15 I ever spent.
  • There are reflector tabs at the end of the compression straps for late night biking and the small horizontal loop on the center strip is designed to hold a blinky bike light.

 

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

Stuff that stayed the same:

  • The red key leash is still there and one of my favorite features even though the placement changed its still super useful. I added an extra leash to the leash so I can clip my keys and then throw the whole thing into the depths of the bag rather than trying to squeeze my giant car key/alarm doodad into the small front pocket.
  • The lining is still waterproof and now there is an extra bit of fabric at the flap fold to eliminate potential water from getting in on the sides. Did I ever tell you about the soaking one of my Timbuk2 bags got a few years ago? I got caught on my scooter in a torrential downpour with no place to pull over and get shelter. When I got home, I was drenched from head to toe — so much so that I took my shoes off and literally poured water out of them like a cartoon. The whole time, all I could think was that everything I owned of value was in the TImbuk2 bag on my back and the exterior Cordura was drenched. I worried that my phone, camera, and all the other paper goods in my bag would be drenched. When I opened the bag though, the only thing that was even damp was the corner of a magazine that had been sticking out of the exposed corner of the bag. So, no more exposed corners with the new design so get out there and ride without fear of anything being damaged in a monsoon.
  • There is still an inside pocket with slashes on the outside of it that hold pens, business cards and other sundries. The pocket itself is a bit smaller than previous models but perfect to stash earbuds and the like.
  • A crossbody strap is included for additional support when carrying the bag on a bike
  • The build quality is still excellent. Ends are nicely folded and finished. Everything feels well constructed and durable.

The crap that went into the Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

Pictured above  is all the stuff I dumped out of my previous bag and need to fit into the medium Timbuk2 messenger:

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

It all packed into the Timbuk2 neatly with plenty of room to spare for other things that pop up like a book to return to the library, my mail reply kit, a sack lunch, etc. There’s also more than enough room to use this bag to carry my 13″ laptop should the need arise. The top photo is actually the bag fully packed.

Timbuk2 messenger bags start at $109. If you have an old bag you’d like to replace, Timbuk2 does offer an option to recycle an older bag called LifeCycle. You can recycle an old bag by sending it to Timbuk2. If you recycle a bag, you’ll receive a 20% off coupon for your next bag purchase. If you love your Timbuk2 bag but its seen its better days, Timbuk2 can help you get it repaired.

Have you ever used a Timbuk2 bag? Do you like it?

Review: Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen

Kuretake Fudegokochi Fine Brush Pen

Brad challenged me to try the Kuretake Fudegokochi Super Fine Brush Pen last week on The Pen Addict Podcast so I went ahead and ordered it. I’ve been on a brush pen kick lately so I saw no reason not to give this pen a try. He described it as being fine enough for writing so I was definitely intrigued.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Fine Brush Pen

The Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen (try saying that five times fast!) is a relatively nondescript-looking pen. It has a smooth, ivory-colored barrel and a simple, metal clip on the cap. The grip area is a smooth clear plastic that lets the ink capillary fins to be visible. The tip is a very small felt/fiber tip which is quite firm. Aesthetically, it reminds me of the Pilot Precise V5 pens with slightly rounded ends.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Fine Brush Pen Writing Sample

Writing with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen was an unusual experience. I tend to use a different grip and writing technique with brush pens than writing tools but this was so fine that I ended up using it like I would a regular felt tip pen or marker. It gave my writing some thicks and thins which was kind of fun. I wondered if the pen’s purpose was as a signature/sign pen for documents so I tested the waterproofiness. It ended up being a little water resistant but not waterproof so I think it would probably work for signing most things. It certainly made writing my grocery list a little more fun than the usual assortment of reject pens I normally leave in the kitchen. The gray wash that resulted from the waterproof test might be appealing to artists for loose pen sketching too.

The Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen is $3.50 per pen. There is a wider regular version available as well as a gray version.

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 Pages Notebook Subscription Service

Out of Pages Notebook Subscription Service

Out of Pages is a subscription service that will send you a new notebook on a specified schedule — every month, or every 2,3,4, or six months or once a year. They break up the costs for the more frequent delivery to an initial fee plus a monthly charge spreading out the costs of the notebooks throughout the year.

They have a limited selection of notebooks: just Moleskines and Field Notes at present but if either of these are your notebook of choice, then this is a great way to keep a fresh one coming as you need it.

You can get a fresh kraft paper Field Notes sent to you every month for $4.20/month. Or a large (5″x8″) Moleskine hardcover can be delivered quarterly for $12.80 up front and $5.60/month. Or get a combination of notebooks on differing schedules.

I love the idea of subscription delivery of items you use regularly, be it socks or notebooks so I think there’s a lot of appeal to this. I hope Out Of Pages will add some other notebook options like Rhodia Webbies or Doane pocket notebooks for a greater variety or options in the near future.

Would you subscribe to a service like this?

Review: Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm Green

Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm

In my endless quest to own all the green pens in the world, I stumbled across the Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm. At a whopping $1.35 I couldn’t resist picking it up. But I had to wonder…. “What’s makes it so super?”

It turns out that instead of being a slender refill inside a plastic pen body like the Pilot G-2 and other similar gel pens, the whole pen body is full of ink. Think of it as the eye dropper version of a plastic gel pen. Then there’s a roller ball tip in the end of it and a cap on the back. That’s it.

The overall design is basically no design. Its a capped, clear plastic pen. The body is a rounded hexagonal shape until you get to the grip area which is round with smooth plastic ridges to create a grippable area. There’s no silicone or rubber added for comfort and the width of the pen is similar to a round pencil.

There are both up sides and down sides to this pen. On the up side, there’s a lot more ink in this pen than a Pilot Hi-Tec C or the G-2. As well as the considerably discounted price.

On the down side, there’s the potential to break the plastic pen and have ink seeping out everywhere, think of high school and exploding ballpoint pens. The other down side is the Super Gel is a totally disposable pen. Once the ink is used, there is no way to refill it.

Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm writing sample

In the plus column, I found that it wrote well, especially at such a bargain price. It has a little more friction than some of the higher priced gel pens but not so much as to be unpleasant. In fact, if you generally find that gel pens are too slippery for your taste, this little budget pen might be appealing to you.

Finally, if you are likely to have a jar full of communal pens in your work space or home that have a tendency to walk away, this may be a great option. Its not so stylish that someone would be inclined to walk away with it while not being an unpleasant experience to use.

I know that Brad reviewed this pen several years ago and panned it but I hope that this will convince you try it and let me know what you think.

The Pilot Super Gel is also available in more traditional blue, black and red in the 0.5mm size and if you hunt around, other widths and colors may be available.

Link Love

Link Love Link Mascot

I know my Link Love lists look ridiculously long but this is pared down from the over 200 individual posts I read since the last Link Love. There’s a lot of chatter this week about how and why people are writing things down and a resurgence of interest in an assortment of budget tools. Picking one favorite article each week is a new tradition and this week had so many it was hard to pick just one. But anytime someone uses an SUV in their testing process is when you get bumped to the top of the list.

Article of the week:

Notebooks:

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Other Stuff:

(Video of calligraphy by Leigh Reyes)

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