In preparation for the Atlanta Pen Show, I thought it might be fun to put together some great (maybe a little “dreamy”) things to have on hand with you should you venture out to the Atlanta Pen Show, or any pen show.
In your kit, you’ll want to have a notebook with paper you love to test inks and pens. This will give you a personal record to take home with you of what you tested as well as tangible memories. Last year, I filled an entire Midori Traveler’s Notebook insert with pen tests I borrowed and tried from people I met at the show. Its one of my most treasured memories from the show as well as a great resource of pen nib grinds and ink colors. I recommend picking a brand of notebook with good quality paper, no larger than an A5 with a stiff cover so that you can write in a confined space quickly and easily. If you’ll be spending more than a day at a pen show, you’ll be surprised how quickly the page will fill up.
I’ll be packing my planner which has all the schedules of events, a list of contacts and all my reservations, flights and assorted information as well. I can store any business cards or additional paperwork in my planner too to keep it all organized.
You might want to pack a small bottle of your favorite ink. Should you decide to buy a new pen, you may want to fill it up with an ink you know, love and trust.
Alternately, you may want to pack a favorite pen with you should you find that rare, unique ink you’ve been lusting after. Pack the pen clean and empty so its ready to be filled. I recommend your favorite demonstrator to show that new ink to its best. And a trusty, favorite pen to take notes like a Lamy 2000 Multi-system ballpoint.
Of course, you’ll need a carrying case for your pens, both those you want to bring and share and those you may purchase. Depending on how streamlined you’d like your kit to be you might choose a small NockCo case (starting at $12 from NockCo) or large leather zip that can hold 12-pens (starting at $40 from Anderson Pens)
Don’t forget your pack your business cards or calling cards. You’ll be meeting people and will want to be able to swap contact info. Make sure you have a spiffy case for them too.
And finally, you’ll need a bag to carry it all. I recommend a crossbody bag over a backpack as it is easier to access contents and less likely to wipe out a table or other people because you were unaware of the added volume of your turtle shell. I look for lightweight fabrics over leather or canvas for events like this since you’ll be schlepping your bag all day. I’ll be carrying my Kipling Cadie ($109 from Kipling USA) which has both shoulder straps and a crossbody strap so I can switch configurations as needed for comfort.
Fabriano Venezia Art Books 6″ x 9″ $14.37 (via Cheap Joe’s)
Diamine 150th Anniversary Ink in Carnival (40ml Bottle) $15 (via Anderson Pens)
Mophie Powerstation Reserve in (red) $34.95 (via Mophie)
After being teased a bit on the April Fool’s Day edition of The Erasable Podcast with the ladies of graphite and Brad, I decided I might as well bring my cocktail love and lore out into the open. Because what pairs better with a beautiful fountain pen and journal or a rustic Blackwing and pocket notebook than a well-prepared drink? Absolutely nothing, I say.
When this book popped up in my Amazon recommendations, I knew I needed to add it to my must-reads. First, I love a good cocktail book. And second, I have a soft spot in my heart for Dorothy Parker so it was clearly a match made in heaven. The book combines tidbits about Dorothy Parker, the Algonquin Roundtable, and jazz age slang. Throw in a few simple cocktail recipes I can try out and of course I’ll give it a spin. I picked up a secondhand copy through an Amazon reseller and its now nestled on my cocktail book shelf with Kingsley Amis’s Everyday Drinking, another classic cocktail-and-literary tome that’s in regular circulation on my bookshelf.
Bitters is a beautiful coffee table book full of gorgeous photography printed on uncoated stock giving it a subtle, old-time feel. The book includes information about what bitters are, modern makers of bitters (from legends like Angostura and Peychaud’s to the new smaller bottlers like Fee Brother’s, Scrappy’s, Bitter Cube) and more. There are also lots of cocktail recipes that utilize bitters, and recipes to make your own bitters. This is my husband’s favorite cocktail book and he refers to it at least once a week. If you’re curious about bitters and what they can add to your cocktail bar, I highly recommend it.
If you have no other cocktail book ever, you should have a copy of Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide. The book is organized by key alcohol component: gin, vodka, whiskey, etc. and then its mixers. It has everything from an elegant martini to a trashy Sex on the Beach. Next to each recipe is an icon of the recommended serving glass: coupe, highball, shot, etc. which is very handy as well.
If you are invited to a wedding and don’t know what gift to get the newlyweds, you can’t go wrong buying a copy of this book. Everyone will need one at some point. If only to settle an argument about what is actually in an Old-Fashioned.
The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide
by Sharon Tyler Herbst ($11.99 for Kindle, available used or secondhand through Amazon resellers for $1 or less in paperback)
The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide was one of the first cocktail books I ever purchased and I honestly go back to it time and time again because its such a great reference tool. Its organized alphabetically so if you know you want a recipe for a Sazerac or you are trying to remember exactly what Sloe Gin is, it’s all just organized alphabetically. Its full of cross-references and an indices in the back for drinks by specific liqueur. So, if you still have a bottle of apple brandy and you want to find some recipes that you can try with it, the Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide has a list in the back you can use to find some drinks that use that specific liqueur. Convenient. Next to each drink is an icon for the glass recommended for serving to make it easy to see if its a cocktail, highball, shooter or glass. Our copy is full of sticky notes, dog-eared pages and even a little water damaged. That’s the sign of a well-loved cocktail book.
I’ve been a fan of the whole Let’s Bring Back series that Blume has done so when the Cocktail book was introduced, I had to purchase it as well. The book is full of quaint, vintage artwork and fancy, embellished typography. It features cocktails with names like the Fair Thee Well and the Rhett Butler as well as literary quotes and historical context for where certain cocktails may have originated. The hardback book is lovely and matches the rest of my Let’s Bring Back set so I’m glad to have it included. I enjoy flipping through it and reading various tidbits but its not a book I’ve used as often for making cocktails. I should remedy that soon.
Time to go stock the bar, get out those swizzle sticks and martini shaker, and your favorite writing tools, there’s cocktails to make and recipes to annotate.
Despite some technical difficulties on Saturday there were still a healthy number of entries and an exciting interest in seeing more about watercolor and art supplies here on The Well-Appointed Desk. Here’s the winning number:
Congrats to Patrick! I hope these markers will help you try some new techniques and a chance to experiment with some beautiful, rich colors. I’ll be contacting you directly via email to make shipping arrangements. Thanks to everyone who entered and I hope you hop over to JetPens and add a few W&N watercolor markers to your next order. I particularly like the Payne’s Grey and Sap Green, of course!
On the neverending hunt for the “perfect paper” for a notebook or sketchbook, I will try just about anything I stumble across on the internet. One such find is the Seawhite of Brighton A5 Starter Sketchbook set which I found on Amazon. The small set of three A5 booklets with simple black covers and 40 pages of 140gsm (approx. 80lb) “cartridge paper” were too good an option to pass up. First, they fit perfectly into my Chic Sparrow Creme Deluxe A5 Black Beauty Traveler’s Notebook cover. “A sketchbook in my planner/notebook kit? Yes, please!” And second, the paper was listed to be heavy enough weight to withstand ink and light washes which is my sweet spot for day-to-day sketchbook needs. So I invested the whopping $10.95 for the set and waited impatiently for the books to arrive.
From the exterior, the booklets feel like Moleskine Cahier or other small cardstock cover cahier. The black cardstock cover is not super heavyweight but is enough to provide protection and add some stability to the paper inside. The paper itself is a crisp bright white and the weight seemed like a good option for pen and ink with enough tooth for pencil and other materials.
I did a little research to determine what exactly “cartridge paper” is, a term not familiar to most folks in the US. Cartridge paper is a heavyweight paper originally used for making gun cartridges and later used by artists and printmakers and they kept the term. Its often compared to Bristol board though maybe not quite as thick. So, in the future, if you hear the term “cartridge paper” you have an idea that the paper is meant to be a bit more upscale than standard copier paper even though it doesn’t sound like it.
Because of the small size of the sketchbook, I was actually able to basically use a whole book before writing up a review rather than just a few small pen tests so I feel like I got a particularly good feel for the paper. In standard writing tests, I didn’t discover any problems. Gel pens, felt tips and fountain pens all seemed well-behaved with minimal bleeding or showthrough. If you like to use a wide nib pen and don’t mind blank pages (you can always use a guide sheet to keep those lines straight!), the Seawhite of Brighton paper might be a nice addition to your stationery cupboard.
Viewed from the reverse of the writing sample, the only show through was the Pilot Envelope pen and a bit of the panda drawing but it was not enough to keep me from drawing on the back side of the page later.
What I really wanted to test was when I introduced more art making tools like watercolor, ink, and colored pencil, which are my favorite portable media. What I came to discover is that “light wash” was the key with watercolor or the paper did start to buckle a little bit but it did not pill. So, by the time I had filled the booklet, the paper was a little waffly but there was not any bleeding of color through to the reverse from the watercolors or anything like that. Just potential puddle spots because the paper waffled a little bit.
I used the book to do a lot of color tests with some new watercolor sets that I’ll do lengthier reviews about in the future but it was nice to have a small book to keep all the swatches together and be able to flip back and forth and see color depth and granulation differences quickly and easily.
I still prefer a little bit heavier weight paper in general for my mixed media sketching but its the trade-off point between cost, portability and need. Some days, I’m just scratching out ideas, doodles and color chips and I don’t necessarily need 200gsm watercolor paper for that. The Seawhite of Brighton 140gsm paper is definitely a step up from the standard paper found in most black art sketchbooks in US art supply store that is usually closer to 65-70lb (96gms+) and much less conducive to any sort of wet media like ink or watercolor or even juicy markers.
To that, I’d like to add my own personal experiences, though I don’t have nearly Liz’s experience and authority from the drawing perspecitve.However, if you are hoping to do more drawing and sketching with your fountain pens or wanting to purchase (or set aside) a pen in your collection specifically for drawing, these are my recommendations. You don’t need all of these, one or two will more than suit. You may want to have one filled with a waterproof ink and one with a water soluble ink or one with black ink and one with brown or blue ink or your favorite color for sketching.
What I’ve discovered is that a lot of the best sketching fountain pens are not necessarily the most expensive fountain pens. You may already have several of these in your collection that have been set aside as your collection has expanded and repurposing these pens as “sketching pens” may give them new life and new purpose, and you, a new hobby.
Pens Platinum Carbon Desk Pen (or Sailor Desk Pen)
The Platinum Carbon Desk Pen ($9.60) is available with a super, fine Japanese nib and ships with one cartridge of Platinum Carbon Black ink which is waterproof. I used my PCDP almost daily and it took almost six months to run through the first cartridge. Because of the fine nib, it uses ink very economically. I even used it to fill in areas, write notes, doodle and sketch but since the lines are so fine, the cartridges last a long time. So, this sub-$10 investment will last you quite awhile.
Because of the fineness of the nib, the pen performs on almost any paper stock from lightweight sketching paper to heavier weight watercolor paper without a lot of feathering or bleeding issues. I occasionally ran into issues on toothy paper as the fine nib can pick up fibers in the tines. This causes some momentary clogging but a wipe with a tissue will usually remove the fibers. This usually only happens on cold press watercolor paper, at which point its best to switch to a felt tip pen or wider nib that is less likely to catch on the fibers.
The PCDP was designed to accommodate the waterproof ink and its a budget-priced pen so if it did get clogged beyond repair, it would not be the end of the world. So far, mine’s been a little trooper and it really is the one pen that is almost always in my bag.
The longer length of the pen is a little challenging for portability but I’ve seen that some people have trimmed down the length a bit and filled in the end with epoxy or putty. The cap was not designed to be a long term solution so its an aesthetic mismatch but the functionality of this pen outweighs its looks.
I also have a Sailor Desk Pen which is similar in design with a weird, peachy cap that doesn’t match as well but was also designed to be used with Sailor’s Nano permanent inks. The Sailor Desk Pen is harder to find these days but if you already have one and were wondering what to use it for, it would make a great sketching pen. Sailor Nano cartridges are available packs of 12 ($10) in UltraBlack and Blue-Black which could potentially last you six years if you draw as often as I do, maybe only three years if you’re more prolific. Or you could buy a whole 50 ml bottle of the Nano Ink for $33 just be sure to grab a converter too ($8.25) because Sailor also uses a proprietary cartridge and converter system.
The Rotring ArtPen ($21+) was one of the first modern fountain pens I ever bought. I found it in an art supply store and used it for years before I knew that there were other options available. I just kept going back and buying the Rotring black cartridges and using the pen to draw and write with until it ran dry. I still have it and I still fill it regularly since it takes standard European cartridges and converters. I’ve filled it with both water soluble and permanent inks, I’ve let it sit for months so inks dried in it and then soaked it for days to try to resuscitate it. It has continued to survive for decades now. It has proven much heartier and durable than all the Rapidographs and Isographs I’ve had put together.
It has the same long tapered shape as the PCDP so it has that arty “paint brush” feeling. Mine has the EF nib making it great for sketching and probably is responsible for starting me on my love affair with fine nib pens but its available with a variety of nib sizes including calligraphy nibs.
The cap has a firm click to close it and was actually designed to be capped unlike the PCDP and the Sailor Desk Pen so while its a bit more expensive, its a fully thought-out pen. The Rotring is probably the most universally usable option since it take standard European cartridges and/or converters and the nib sizes are based on the European measurements with the widest range of nib sizes available of all the options I’ve listed.
The last option on my list of traditional fountain pens is the Lamy Joy ($28) available in white and black. It too has the long tapered shape of a paint brush but can only be purchased with a calligraphy nib (1.1mm, 1.5mm or 1.9mm) initially so it you like the look and feel of a classic Lamy Safari but would like to have a long, tapered shape for sketching, you’ll have to purchase a separate nib (approx $11) making the Lamy Joy the most expensive option.
Lamy also requires either proprietary ink cartridges (none of Lamy’s inks are waterproof) or a Lamy LZ24 converter ($4.70) in order to use bottled inks. If you’re like me, you have a stash of Lamy Safari fountain pens and can probably liberate a converter but if you’re planning to use waterproof inks in your Joy, you may want to be sure not to mix the converter you use with the Joy with the one you use with your Lamy 2000 with the 14K gold nib… just in case.
I recently purchased a Joy and replaced the calligraphy nib with an EF steel nib and filled it with Platinum Sepia Pigment ink. I purchased the still-available, limited edition white model from last year but its also available in black with a red clip or a slightly higher priced black with aluminum cap.
I had not been a great lover of the Safari in the past. Its a good solid pen but not one that made my heart palpitate. The Joy, however, touches me on another level. I think the longer length gives it better balance and weight in the hand making it feel a bit more substantial and using it more like a drawing tool than a writing pen made me less bothered by the grooved grip. I find the Joy more comfortable to draw with than I’ve ever found the Safari to write with. I may go back to the Safaris and consider them as drawing pens at this point. Honestly, I haven’t touched another pen since I started using the Joy. I want to buy another one just to have two different ink colors loaded up simultaneously. I have never felt this way about a Safari before. I am a changed woman.
Inks Platinum Inks
Platinum Carbon Ink has become my go-to ink for permanent black ink I’ve been using my PCDP almost every day for six months and found the Carbon ink to be a well-behaved, dark black. I had little issues with it drying in the pen, even with the fine nib and it being tossed around in my bag, used on all sorts of paper stocks from copier paper to toothy cold press watercolor paper. I had more issues with the pen getting jammed with paper fibers on toothy papers over waxy pencil or other materials than I did with the ink drying in the pen. I’ve gone ahead and purchased a bottle of Platinum Pigmented Sepia ink which is also permanent and I think will make a lovely alternative to black for drawing. As mentioned earlier, Sailor’s Nano Inks are an excellent alternative as well if you are looking for cartridges to match a Sailor pen or find a good deal on the Nano black bottled ink.
DeAtramentis Document Inks Liz Steel is very fond of DeAtramentis Document Inks for the range of colors available and she has had great success with flow in some of the less expensive pens using the DeAtramentis Document inks so they are definitely worth a look. Jane Blundell has some amazing mixing charts using DeAtramentis Documents Inks that make me want ALL THE COLORS. I’m hoping to try some of them out and pick up a few bottles when I’m in Atlanta.
Several other brands make permanent inks worth experimenting with if you have some around. Diamine has their Registrars ink and Noodlers has several Bulletproof inks. Though I’ve read through some blogs that have found the Noodler’s inks to be troublesome in some instances for drawing. But if you’ve got some, why not give them a whirl?
Any water soluble fountain pen inks
For everyday sketching, any standard (water soluble) fountain pen ink will work on just about any drawing paper. Most sketchbook paper starts at about 60lb and should handle a F or XF fountain pen nib loaded with just about any fountain pen ink just fine. On slightly heavier mixed media papers like Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media, Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook or similar paper that is labelled for ink, light washes or mixed media, you can add a little water to your drawing and move some of the water soluble ink around to create some wonderful watercolor-like effects without a lot of tools. Citizen Sketcher has some amazing examples of this in action and totally makes me want to try this myself.
This Ask The Desk question is actually a follow-up from the Pen Addict Podcast Episode 197 and a question that started with June Thomas and was then there was a follow-up question in the Pen Addict Slack channel by clairelin. Both wanted to know how I kept my copious collection of supplies organized so I thought I’d pull back the curtain and reveal how I squirrel away all the supplies.
I live in a teeny tiny house so clutter is a big issue and space is at a premium, not to mention that both my husband and I are are collectors and pack rats, so we are a great risk of being buried under our hobbies. I try pretty hard to keep all the supplies organized and tidy so that I can find what I’m looking for and so that it doesn’t start piling up everywhere.
First, if it wasn’t for Ikea, The Container Store and other such places, I’d be buried under my own clutter. All hail Ikea! The first item that has kept me tidy is the Raskog utility cart. I filled the top tier with an assortment of glass jars that each hold a type of pencil, pen, brush or marker. Some of the jars are Mason or Bell jars and some are jsut old salsa jars. I scavenge any straight-sided jar that passes through my kitchen now as a potential holder of pens.
The lower tiers store bottles of paints, spray bottles, gesso, towels, heat gun, etc. All handy and the cart rolls easily around my workspace so I can have access to the items when I need them and move them out of the way when I don’t.
Along the top of my bookshelf, I keep surplus ink and Field Notes (and books of similar size). Grey boxes are ink, white boxes are Field Notes. The white boxes are photo storage boxes from a big box craft store and the grey boxes are from Ikea. The inks are bottles I’ve tested but are not favorites so I don’t need regular access to them.
Along one wall of my workspace is the storage mecca. From the left, a vintage metal cabinet that I purchase at an antique shop (I keep meaning to repaint it but I want to take it to a powder coater and get it done right so it hasn’t happened yet) holds the notebook stash, camera equipment, excess pencil inventory and miscellaneous art supplies. The center wooden cabinet holds vintage fountain pens in the top shelf, stationery in the large left cabinet (yes, I have that much letter-writing material) and the right side is shop inventory. The steel drawers on the right are older versions of the Ikea Helmer units which are made much better now. I added magnet labels or Dymo labels on the front of the drawers so I would remember what was in each. Its an array of mechanical pencils, fountain pens, ink, electronic cables, tape, scissors and other daily office necessities. The smaller unit on top is a Bisley drawer unit from Container Store that stores an assortment of printer paper, label stock, photo paper, etc.
One of my favorite ways to stash collections of items is with old tackle boxes. This pile usually sits under my desk, each one with a specific task: one filled with acrylic paints, one filled with extra art supplies, one actually filled with tools, etc. One is empty and is used for events and craft shows to tote out a portable kit of supplies.
Behind my desk is the Ikea Alex Unit. Its a decent small sized flat file. The top two drawers hold rubber stamps and washi tape (yes, one whole drawer for each) followed by drawers with rolls of paper for shooting products, flat papers and some larger drawing pads and palettes. On top of the Alex is an old library card catalog I store more rubber stamps and stamp pads inside, my giant whale tape dispensers, my ticket spike (all those shipped packages!) and behind that, the daily use pen and pencil collections.
Ta da! Here are the pens and pencils that get used in all my reviews and paper tests, each divided by type into another jar or can: highlighters, gel pens, felt tips, pencils, rollerballs,and miscellaneous. The nice thing with the jars is that I can grab a whole jar and move them to my desk as I need them and then put the jar back when I’m done. Or just pick one or two. It keeps my working surface relatively clutter-free unless I grab all the jars at once. Then its chaos and I have to spend an hour putting everything away.
So there you have it. A tour of my storage solutions. Its not easy keeping it all contained and often times my desk is a big pile of mess when I’m in the throes of reviews but I feel like I’ve developed a good system where everything has a place.
I also make a point to cull through the stash regularly to keep it from growing out of control. I try to give things away to friends or charities before I get too overwhelmed.
Do you have any tips for storage and keeping the stationery clutter in check?
I was super excited to try the new Winsor & Newton Watercolor markers ($4.50 per marker, 6-color set for $27 and 12-color set for $51). I have loved the Sai Watercolor Markers so much I basically have two sets: one for work and one for home so I was definitely ready to try a different brand. It was time to get professional!
Physically, these are chunky pens, comparable in size to a Design marker or other larger professional marker. They are smooth cylinders but the bullet cap on one end has a notch to keep the pens from rolling off the table. It’s recommended to keep these markers stored flat to keep the ink inside evenly distributed between the tips so I’d recommend if you are inclined to own a set of six or more, to keep them in a pencil or cigar box to keep them flat and less inclined from rolling away.
The advantage of the Winsor & Newton line of Watercolor markers is:
The markers have two tips: a fine bullet tip on one end and a flexible brush tip on the other.
Most of the colors are true lightfast watercolors in marker form. I found this chart on the W&N site. Since the marker colors are numbered on the cap to align with the professional watercolors, all of the markers receive either an AA or A rating for lightfastness. By W&N’s ratings that is “permanent or extremely permanent color”. I enjoy using the Sai watercolor brushes for sketchbooks but I do not know the lightfastness and therefore do not use them in artwork or pieces that might be exposed to light nor would I recommend them to other people for work that might be displayed.
The W&N watercolor marker colors are super pigmented which means they can be blended and toned with water or blended with each other to give a wider range of color options.
The pigment colors in the markers are the same as those used in W&N watercolors so the markers can be mixed with the paints and vice versa. The colors will blend, mix and combine seamlessly.
The brush tip end is definitely my favorite. It is great for brush lettering styles and painting. Its a great way to get some quick marks on paper for making art on the go. You can even touch the tip of a waterbrush to the tip of the marker to lift color from the marker and transfer it to the waterbrush for softer color and a more washy, color effect.
I tested the Winsor & Newton Watercolor markers on Strathmore 500 mixed media sketchbook paper . The first swatch on the left is straight from the marker brush tip, the next swatch is one stroke with the brush tip. I let is dry for a minute or so and then I went back with a paintbrush loaded with water to see how much I could move the paint around. As you can see, some colors moved more than others. The hearts were done by touching a waterbrush to the marker tip and transferring the color to the waterbrush for a lighter color. The final dot was done by dabbing one dot of color from the marker onto a wet water circle for a wet-on-wet effect.
I found out, after I did my samples, that the markers can be rubbed into a non-porous dish like a white plastic, ceramic plate or mixing tray and then mixed or thinned with water to create additional colors and values. I’ve been playing around with this to get a wider, more complex range of hues and make the markers a fun way to play.
Even though the photo above shows a palette of pan watercolors, all the color was actually done with W&N watercolor brush markers, I just forgot when I took the photo. Oops!
The W&N watercolor brush markers are an interesting addition to any art kit. I wouldn’t say that they would ever replace or usurp my pan sets but I like carrying one or two colors with me for line work or quick sketching. They are definitely good for travel and portability.
TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite watercolor paper or brushes to use If you’re new to watercolor, tell me your dream set-up. One entry per person.
FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your real email address in the comment form (not in the comment!) so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US readers only this time.
DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
First, as far as I know, there is no podcast but I think someone should remedy that situation ASAP. And then invite me to come talk about stuff regularly. Let’s nerd out about watercolor paper, water soluble markers and acrylic high flow paint!
As for blogs, there are lots of options out there, some more current than others and some tailored towards more specific types of art making than others.
If you’re into watercolor/street/travel/portable painting, then definitely check out ParkaBlogs. He keeps an extensive set of reviews of watercolor pan palettes, sketchbook reviews, book reviews and lots of videos. Extremely extensive. Another great resource for travel/life/street painting is Liz Steel. Again, she focuses on a lot of portable supplies but she has a penchant for fountain pens and inks so she’s definitely “our people”.
Roz Wound Up is a great resource for an assortment of supplies for travel/portable drawing and sketching materials. She has a great list of links to people she likes along the lower lefthand side of the blog as well which is worth a click through.
Rob’s Art Supply Reviews has not been updated in awhile but he has a lot of standard materials listed like pastels, Neocolor crayons and papers that are still entirely relevant and available. Broke For Art on Tumblr used to be quite active but its got more Q&A nowadays. There’s still a lot of good content to peruse though if you’re on the hunt for something in particular.
Fellow pen bloggers Biffy Beans and Inkophile both keep tags for their art supplies reviews so they are good resources for some products as well. I have a tag for art supplies as well for any occasion when I review something that leans more “art supply” than everyday writing or office supply.
And of course, there are tons of videos on YouTube to peruse as well if there’s a specific product you are considering someone may have made a video trying it out. Don’t forget that sometimes Amazon reviews, or reviews on individual online art supply shops can also be helpful. Good luck and leave a comment if there’s a specific product you’re looking for information about.
I’ve always wanted to try one of Noodler’s quick drying inks but I could never decide which color to try. Then along came the new Noodler’s Berning Red ($12.50), and my decision became a little easier. “Let’s try the new one!”
I don’t usually go for red inks but I thought it would be nice to have one and one that dried quickly is definitely a perk. I was surprised when I started my painted lettering how much it bled. I don’t think I’ve ever had an ink do that on Rhodia before. I was getting a little nervous that the ink was going to misbehave. Once loaded into my Esterbrook with the 2442 falcon stub nib, the ink was much better behaved but the unusual behavior in the painted lettering made me want to test the ink on some other paper stocks to make sure that it wasn’t a fluke. I pulled out a piece of Moleskine Volant paper and a piece from my Filofax notebook (also available from Pen Boutique) to see how the ink behaved. Berning Red was amazingly well-behaved on the Moleskine paper and only a little soft on the Filofax paper, even with the stub nib. Phew.
Now to talk about the shading… not much to speak of. Mostly the color shifted because I dipped the Esterbrook rather than filling it.
Also, while the ink is quick drying, it is not permanent so it will clean up easily and the ink will run if wet so plan accordingly.
Colorwise, its just a little lighter than Noodler’s Rattler Red Eel, slightly warmer in color than Diamine Red Dragon and slightly cooler than Waterman Red. It’s very much a true bright red though I did find it a bit darker in the larger swashes of the painted lettering, not as vivid. I find it looks brighter in the writing sample.
If you’ve been waiting for a quick drying red ink, you can’t go wrong with Noodler’s. The Bernake line of blues and blacks have been quite popular and I’m sure the same will be said for Berning Red. Noodler’s bottles are full-to-overflowing so you get your money’s worth too.
DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Boutique for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
Thanks so much to Fontoplumo for generously offering the Lamy Safari Dark Lilac Limited Edition fountain pen to one of the lucky readers of The Well-Appointed Desk. All the wonderful spring comments, from blooming cherry blossoms, to pollen-covered cars, were fun to read and made me want to see Spring in every single city and town across the world.
And now to Random Number Generator….
Hope you will have fun keeping track of baseball scores and players stats with your new Dark Lilac Lamy Safari. I’ll be contacting you directly via email to make shipping arrangements. Happy Spring!
I’m a university student that loves using felt-tip pens but I hate how they show through the other side of my pages! Are there any affordable felt tip pens that won’t show through the pages of a cheap spiral bound notebooks?
and then to make matters even more complicated, Grace asked this great big question:
I am a typical college student who fell in love with felt tip/plastic tip pens. I have gotten my hands on Sharpie pen, Monami Plus pen, and Stabilo 88. I mostly use them for rewriting and color-coding my notes. I write a lot and I write hard (press). I would like your suggestion/opinion on which pen I should use.
So far, the Sharpie pen held up the best. It writes neat and it’s the only felt tip pen that doesn’t bleed through the page. The only bad thing about it is that it tends to strip after a while and get on your hands. It’s like having black and sliver sparkles/glitter coming off fro the pen.
The Plus pen writes neat but the tip softens as times goes on, has a tendency to “trip and splash” on the paper. What I mean by that is… It starts off writing really smooth and thin. Then when there’s the smallest variation in paper (that wouldn’t be detected by other pens), the tip would flex and bounce, making an ink splash. It really doesn’t seem to last too long compared to the other pens that I have had in the past.
Stabilo 88 is fine but is a bit thicker, and that is understandable since it’s an art pen. It bleeds through but it really lasts a while. The color seems to darken after uncapping for a few seconds but comes back to the normal color after a few strokes.
So I am trying to narrow down the choices for the next choice of pens that I should use. From what I have, I know that the plus pen is out. I am leaning more towards the Sharpie pen and Stabilo (Sharpie > Stabilo). Now I have been searching for more pens and I discovered from various sites about Sakura Pigma Micron. Would you say that Sakura Pigma Micron is better than Sharpie pen for uses of smooth and continuous note writing in college? I’m looking in the aspects of: grip, cost, color variety, smoothness, bleeding, and the time it lasts.
Since both questions are about felt tip pens and the issue of bleeding through the paper I’m going to respond to them together. While Grace’s question is much more in depth, I hope Amanda will glean some info out of this as well.
But for both of you college-ladies-on-a-budget, the bad news is that felt tip pens will most likely show through, if not bleed through, most budget notebook paper. Be prepared to either use only the front sides of the sheets or get an extra sheet of paper or cardstock to use as a blotter between pages to keep the inks from bleeding to the next page. Cut down a manila folder as an option for a budget blotter but be sure its not coated or glossy or you could have a mess on your hands.
Onward to the pens!
For the greatest color range and a slightly finer tip than the Stabilo88s, I recommend looking for the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. The tips seem to be the same but I find the Staedtlers to be a bit firmer and oh, the colors!
As for the Sakura Pigma Microns, they have very fine tips but tend to be pricier than Sharpie pens and the tips can go soft or dull very easily. As for the paint on the barrel of the Sharpie coming off on your hand, have you considered the Sharpie retractable model? It has a plain black barrel with a silicone grip section. There’s not as much ink in the retractable model as the regular capped model but if you can find a good price on a multi-pack at a big box store, it might be a good investment for comfort and no-paint-transfer. I also find that the Sharpie pens are the least likely to have show through on most papers, closely followed by the copycat Bic Intensity.
A budget option to the Sakura Pigma Micron is the ZIG Millennium line of felt tip pens. They can often be found in craft big box stores or online and the fine, fine lines of the 005 and 01 versions might not bleed through most papers but may not hold up to heavy-handed writing. But they are not as expensive as Microns so you won’t be heartbroken if you kill one. I have killed many many Microns so I know how sad it can be. I’ve also killed Copic Multiliners, and a whole army of fancy tech pens.
So for straight-up black felt tips, stick with the Sharpie pen in either retractable or regular capped. If you want to try something finer, try the ZIG Millennium. And for color coding, I recommend the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.
I tested a bunch of these felt tips on the cheapest paper I had on hand, it was a budget-priced composition notebook that has basically newsprint paper inside just to show what kind of show through or bleed I got.
I must be on a blinded-myself-with-turquoise kick this month because Akkerman Treves-Turquoise is a kissing cousin to Private Reserve Daphne Blue which I recently reviewed. I guess I’m just ready for blue skies, turquoise swimming pools and burn-your-retinas summer colors. Akkerman Treves-Turquoise is definitely on the vivid end of the ink spectrum but its not quite as bright as Daphne Blue.
Treves-Turquoise does have a much more distinct red halo though, especially in wider nibs, in swatches, and in my painted lettering.
I started out testing this ink in my Pilot Retro Pop with medium nib but the ink seemed a little light. I switched to my Esterbrook 2442 stub italic and both the color and the red halo became much more evident. This ink is definitely at its best advantage in wider nibs.
It shades with a great ranges of blues from a light sky blue to a deep turquoise. When wet, the ink completely puddles so it would be fun to play with for some light watercolor washes but do not dip your carefully crafted manuscript or latest letter into the tub or it will be lost forever.
When comparing swatches, you can see how similar Treves-Turquoise is to Daphne Blue. If you’re on a budget, Daphne Blue is a perfectly fine substitute for Treves-Turquoise which is pretty pricey to acquire in the States. Treves-Turquoise is a richer color than Iroshizuku Ama-Iro so if you’re looking for something more retina searing, Daphne Blue or Treves-Turquoise would definitely be more saturated than Ama-Iro.
Special thanks to Junee Lim at Alt.Haven for sending me a sample of this ink to try out. I’ve had it for absolutely ages and FINALLY got around to trying it out. Luckily, Vanness Pens will be in Atlanta for the pen show and they stock Akkerman inks so I might be able to score a bottle of this ink of my very own in a couple weeks.
Story Supply Co. Pocket Staple Notebooks (3-pack for $10, available in plain, grid or lined) might seem like just another in a long line of pocket notebook makers but I think they are offering a little something different. First, for each 3-pack of 3.5×5.5 notebooks they sell, they contribute a story supply kit to a chapter of 826, which provide writing and tutoring to school age kids in many major metropolitan cities like LA, Chicago and DC, to name a few.
Besides contributing to a good cause, the standard Story Supply Co. Pocket Staple notebooks are a little different than some of the others on the market. The covers are simple navy cardstock on the outside (100# French Paper Co. Kraft-Tone cover, if you want the specifics) which are heavier weight than most pocket notebooks on the market. On the inside, the paper is a creamy, ivory 70lb Cougar smooth (described as “natural” on the Story Supply Co site). The paper is slightly warmer in color than the standard Moleskine paper — where Moleskine paper is yellowy, Story Supply Co. paper is slightly more peachy French vanilla, if that makes sense. Not noticeably peachier but if you put it side-by-side with a Moelskine, the paper is not as yellow.
My package also included a snappy logo sticker ($1 each) to add to my already buried laptop cover and a natural finish round pencil ($1 each) which managed to vanish before I got to sharpen it. Either a cat rolled it away or my husband absconded with it. No one is fessing up.
Inside the front cover is space to put pertinent information like contact info, contents and dates. In the back is information about the Story Supply Co. and their contributions to the 826 programs.
In writing tests, I found the paper to be very smooth and all my standard pens and pencils to perform well to my naked (bespeckled) eye pretty well. I definitely discovered that felt tips and gel pens were the most well received on the paper, as were pencils.
Upon closer inspection though, I noticed some feathering, even with the finest fountain pens. I think there is little-to-no sizing on the Cougar smooth paper which let the ink just run free. I was a bit sad because even my almost-never-feathers Platinum Carbon Desk Pen feathered on the Story Supply Co. paper.
From the reverse of the writing sample, there’s a little show through and it would probably have been more evident if I’d used pens or nibs wider than and 0.5mm or darker colors but I didn’t have any loaded up or handy. The Sharpie Pen and Microns performed fine on the paper and the gel pens, including the Gelly Roll pen I tried did just fine. After I photographed my writing samples, I did another test with my stash of Staedtler Triplus Fiineliners and they all did quite well too with a little show through on the back of the page with some darker colors if they were used to fill in letterforms and such but no feathering issues. So, I think, like most pocket notebooks, a standard EDC type of pen or pencil with a Story Supply Co. notebook would be a fine combination but its not meant to be used with calligraphy nibs or Sharpie markers unless you’re prepared for bleed through.
I probably should have considered this before I tried to watercolor on the paper, though it actually held up better than I thought it would. The paper buckled and curled but it didn’t pill so it performed a lot better than most. I will probably continue to abuse this notebook since I still have a week left in my Rock Your Handwriting challenge and I filled up my other notebook already.
All in all, I think the Story Supply Co. Pocket Staple notebooks offer an alternative at a similar price point to many of the other notebooks on the market. The distinguishing features being the warm ivory paper, heavier covers and the donations to children’s writing charities setting them apart.
I grew up in a Chicago suburb known for its lilac festival so I was tickled by the Dark Lilac Lamy Safari offered this spring as part of its limited edition color series. I remember the whole town ends up smelling like lilacs by the end of April which I always liked. Its goofy and quaint and I’m glad to see that they still have the festival and crown a Lilac Queen, even a Little Lilac Queen. Some things never change. The new Dark Lilac Lamy Safari will forever remind me of the Lilac Festival so its release date is perfectly timed.
TO ENTER: Please leave a comment below and tell me what event signals the arrival of Spring for you. Oh, and READ THE FINE PRINT!
FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Parcel is shipped directly from Fontoplumo by standard first class post. If insurance or other delivery is request, winner will be required to pay for additional shipping charges. Winner is responsible for any VAT, taxes or import fees. This giveaway is open to all readers.
I haven’t done a reveal post of one of the Field Notes Colors Editions in a long time but the new Sweet Tooth edition is a way more fun in use than I expected it to be. When described, a colored paper edition of Field Notes with perforated pages doesn’t sound like all that big a deal. Until I actually started using it.
The Pop Tone paper is 70lb and quite toothy (no pun intented) which makes it great for pencil and lots of pens. It also doesn’t bleed or feather and the bright colors are freakin’ fantastic for opaque gel pens. I don’t get a lot of excuses to humor my inner middle schooler and break out the giant box of Gelly Rolls but a 3-pack of Sweet Tooth is the perfect excuse. So much so that I’m thinking I’ll need to order about ten more packs so I don’t run out.
I actually think the “tangy orange” is more of a “cherry red” but I do agree that the other two colors are definitely “banana split” yellow and “blue raspberry” blue – in the most artificial candy-colored definition of those colors. I like the coordinated hot foil lettering on the covers, a subtle nod to candy packaging.
I don’t mind that the paper is unlined, in fact I actually prefer it. And it eliminated any issues printing ink might have caused with writing ink adhering to the paper. So I’m actually glad they didn’t print on the paper. And it means there’s free range to doodle in any direction.
From the reverse of my writing sample, there was no show through or bleed. You can see a little bit of indentation from my writing pressure where I went over the lettering with the clear sparkle Gelly Roll pen. On the yellow “Banana Split” paper, there’s a bit more show through because the paper is a lighter color but you should easily be able to use both sides of the sheet with all three colors.
The micro-preforation is tight and requires folding a couple times to get page to tear out but pages tear out cleanly. The advantage of the tight perforation is the pages are unlikely to fall out.
I even tested some fountain pen ink from my my Kaweco Dia II with Daphne Blue and didn’t have any issues. I’m sure thick, italic nibs might cause some issues but daily use fountain pens should be just fine though, with most Field Notes, I recommend felt tip, rollerballs, pencils and gel pens more often. Colored pencils were a particularly fun discovery as some colors really popped. Uni Posca and Sharpie water-based paint pens were also fun and didn’t bleed through. Aren’t these Field Notes the perfect excuse to use all those pens you bought on a whim?
I know folks are constantly tweaking their favorite Field Notes lists and when I initially saw Sweet Tooth, I didn’t think it would break my top five but now that I have it in hand, I think it will be my number one. I love it. I must order more.
DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Field Notes for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
Myke and Brad are joined by Ana Reinert of The Well-Appointed Desk to get ready for the 2016 Atlanta Pen Show! We also get through a huge list of follow up and have fun with our #AskAna segment.
Come on over and listen to episode 197 and get excited about the pen show if you’re planning to go, The Pen Addict’s 200th episode if you regularly listen to the show or just get a chance to hear my dulcet tones.
OMG! The guys gave me a hashtag! #AskAna And this week’s title is in honor of my online hoolies — you know who you are. Hope to see all of you in Atlanta and online!
Goldspot Pens is hosting a last hurrah for OMAS pens. They’ll be adding new OMAS pens to their shop all this week – some are rare pieces that haven’t been in production for years. There’s also a rafflecopter giveaway to win an OMAS Milady ballpoint pen. Also, there is a free gift with purchase of $150 or more with promo code (OMASPARTY good through4/15/2016) for a bottle of OMAS violet ink. Check out their blog post for more details and check in with the shop for new OMAS items. Say farewell to OMAS with a new pen.
Once again, I’m delayed in completing my Fashionable Friday. I don’t know how Fridays get away from me, they just do. But it gave me time to pitch my initial idea on the pyre and come up with what I think is a much more timely idea: Suffrage Saturday. Following the Primary Elections here in Missouri this week and the timely arrival of a bottle of Berning Red ink from our friends at Pen Boutique AND this week’s announcement of the new The West Wing Weekly podcast hosted by my very own imaginary boyfriend Joshua Malina.
I think a patriotic (albeit slightly Aaron Sorkin-soaked, rapid-fire dialog) themed pen-and-paper post seemed appropriate. I’ve started watching The West Wing again on Netflix because I absolutely love the dysfunctional relationships between all the characters. Basically, I think you have to be a little crazy to want to work in the White House. Love or hate it, we’ve got six more months of political coverage, might as well embrace it. Or at least coat it in our favorite television fantasy version — Bartlett, Underwood, Grant, Meyer or whoever I may have forgotten.
In an effort to use both pen and paper supplies this month AND get into a regular habit of writing and drawing, I started participating in the Rock Your Handwriting Challenge started by BohoBerry and her compatriots. This is the second month of the challenge and many people I know are doing both this month’s prompts and the previous month’s or choosing the prompt they like best. I didn’t mention it at the beginning of the month because I was a bit concerned that like so many other challenges, I might flake out after three or four days. But, lo and behold, I’m on Day 19 and still going strong!
I decided to set the bar for the challenge very low, using just a Field Notes and whatever pen or pencil I had handy to compete the challenge for the day. I would use whatever 20 or 15 minute of time I could find to do the practice and I was amazed how much I started to look forward to a chance to doodle my little rectangle of lettering.
The challenge is designed to help get some much-needed penmanship practice in each day and, for me, a chance to do something creative that is not for anyone but me. I’ve been sharing my pages on Instagram and some are better than others but I felt it was fair to show when things worked and when they didn’t — even when I misspelled something!
The best thing about this challenge is that is has re-ignited my desire to make more art the way it has recharged other people to write more in their journals or just write more in general. So if you’re looking for a way to help get you back into a regular habit of putting pen to paper, than maybe just practicing your handwriting is a good place to start. After writing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” you might just want to write a story about that fox or draw a picture of them and off you go!
For this month’s Books for the Desk Set, I decided to focus on books about drawing, sketching and painting. All the books included are books I own this time so they are “Desk-approved” recommendations, if you’re looking for inspiration to draw, sketch or paint.
Drawing Beautiful Faces is one of the best step-by-step books I’ve purchased for learning the techniques for drawing both whimsical and anatomically accurate female faces. I’ve bought this book for several months ago and found the assignments and examples to be very helpful in creating realistic albeit stylized faces. Davenport started her career as a fashion illustrator and reveals tips and techniques for giving faces a fashion aesthetic versus a more realistic look and provides lots of examples so you can decide which style you prefer.
What I find most intriguing about Urban Watercolor Sketching is that it brings a loose, expressive quality to adding color and paint to sketchbook, outdoor and travel sketching. However, you don’t have to be an “urban” painter to appreciate this book. All the information would be just as useful if you just want to paint outside or have a good portable watercolor set-up.
The style of the artwork definitely reminds me of Danny Gregory and his Everyday Matters, Creative License and An Illustrated Life books. I have loved Danny Gregory’s books and they have definitely been inspirational to me to just draw my lunch, or a rock or a leaf and move past that blank page. Urban Watercolor Sketching is a great resource for getting a lot of basic watercolor theory and technique in one book. There is also a bunch of great factoids about the history of pigments you can use to impress your friends at the next trivia night.
I read this book quickly and appreciated that it focused on color theory and painting techniques first then at the back of the book included recommendations for what paints, paper and others the author recommends. I find books that put all the “buy all this stuff” up at the front of the book can be a little intimidating.
If you are hoping to turn your Midori Traveler’s Notebook, Hobonichi or other notebook into a visual chronicle this book may provide some creative inspiration to help you on your journey.
How could I not notice a book about Sharpie pens? While not necessarily the go-to pen for day-to-day writing, I know there’s not one of you out there that doesn’t have at least one Sharpie marker in a drawer for writing on just about anything. And it is a favorite tool for artists to use for big bold sketches, graffiti, and drawing on a lot of surfaces that won’t often take other materials. They are bold and messy and the tips dull but they are certainly ubiquitous and make a statement and there looks to be a lot of bold, fun artwork included in this book. The author is a designer, artist and instructor at the School of Visual Arts so included within the book are some simple activities to try using Sharpies as drawing tools as well as inspiring art and artist profiles.
The bulk of this book is creative exercise spreads with a concept for drawing or sketching and then examples and descriptions of the technique. If you are looking to start a regular drawing practice (like a 30-day project or a more ambitious 365 project) but are worried you are going to run out of ideas, this book would be a great tool to be able to refer to when you’re feeling stuck. From simple mark-making techniques like blind contour drawings and making patterns to more complex projects like sketchbook collaborations and used book sketchbooks. The artwork examples included are interesting and range stylistically. I really like some of the project ideas and think they would make great week long (or longer) drawing projects, particularly the sticky note quilt idea.
I hope you find these books as inspiring as I do. Let me know if you pick any of them up or what your favorite drawing, sketching or painting books are.