12 Days of Inkmas: KWZ Walks Over Vistula

12 Days of Inkmas: KWZ Walks Over Vistula

On the tenth day of Inkmas (I’m starting to think I didn’t count my days correctly or maybe I should have done Inkmas Advent because I have a ton more inks I could review!), I decided to go to Poland and take a walk with KWZ Walks Over Vistula ($15 for 60ml bottle). The name derives from the Vistula River which runs through southern Poland, through Krakow and Warsaw.

The ink swatches up with a good deal of shading. Its a deeply saturated blue with turquoise undertones and a reddish sheen. Because of the saturation though, when confined to a finer nib, there is less color variation.

In writing, there is more evidence of shading but the Rhodia paper does not show off any sheen. The dry time was a little slower than I expected so I smudged a bit (lefty problems).

KWZ is definitely making efforts to encroach on Oster territory with Walks over Vistula. This ink splashes solidly between Blue Sea and Lake of Fire in the color range. All three are competiviely priced as well.

This is a very saturated color and KWZ inks have been known to stain so be cautious if you are putting this color in a favorite demonstrator or light-colored acrylic pen. Its a lovely color but I would hate to see this ink stain a Pelikan M605 Ghost (AKA Transparent White). I plan to test drive it in my Wing Sun 698 first.


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

12 Days of Inkmas: Scriptus 2017 Confederation Brown

12 Days of Inkmas: Scriptus 2017 Confederation Brown

On the ninth day of Inkmas, I reviewed an ink that is virtually impossible to get. Sorry!

Scriptus 2017 Confederate Confederation Brown is another sample I acquired from a member of my local pen club. It was the special ink created by KWZ for the Toronto Pen Show this year in honor of the 150th anniversary of Canada becoming a confederation.  It was a limited edition color for the show and as far as I know, unless you know someone who attended the show and purchased a bottle, there is no way to acquire any of this ink. I am reviewing this to share the ink and hopefully provide some other options if you love it but can’t get any.

Scriptus Confederate Confederation Brown is a cool brown which is similar to the Glare Olive Brown from yesterday. Coincidence? The club member who shared it with me was a bit disappointed that the ink wasn’t a warmer brown given the name. I can’t blame her. I was expecting more brown as well and was surprised at how green it was.

In my small stub nib that I use for my writing sample, the green undertone becomes pretty apparent on the Rhodia paper. In finer nibs, I suspect it would be less evident but this is definitely not a warm chocolatey brown reminiscent of brown bears, hot cocoa and rich soil. This is more of a deep forest, woodsy, evergreen brown.

The color is very saturated so there is only a little shading and no sheen.

But in the plus column, this is a classic KWZ formula with the original scent that is so distinctively KWZ. Accept no substitutes here.

When compared with other brown inks, Confederate Confederation Brown reminds me most of Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Guri or Sailor Jentle Rikyu-Cha which are both readily available.

Edit: Thanks to Twitter follower @skeskali for correcting me. The ink is actually called Confederation Brown not Confederate Brown… That’s a whole different color!

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3-Point Perspective Review: Baron Fig Tote Bag

3-Point Perspective Review: Baron Fig Tote Bag

Review by Tina Koyama, Laura Cameron and Ana Reinert

All the reviewers on The Well-Appointed Desk participated in the Baron Fig bag Kickstarter and all three of us purchased the tote bag so we decided that it would interesting to write a review with each of us weighing in. Hope you enjoy this mega-review. (All links for this post will be at the end of the review.)

Tina’s perspective:

A long-time fan of Baron Fig’s notebooks (I backed their very first Kickstarter for the hardbound Confidant), I was excited to see that the New York City company was initiating a collection of bags with a Kickstarter campaign. Although I needed another tote bag like the proverbial hole in the head, I backed it immediately for $45.

Unlike the dozens of other totes hanging in my closet, however, Baron Fig’s is built like travel gear – a very heavy-duty canvas fabric that looks like it’s going to go for miles and miles. I haven’t had it long enough to abuse it, but I have no doubt of its sturdiness. I also appreciate that its wide straps are made of cotton weave with a texture that helps to keep the bag from slipping off my shoulder.

Also unlike most of my totes, the Baron Fig is attractive and “urban” looking. I could see myself throwing produce from the Pike Place Market into it, and then meeting a friend for lunch downtown afterwards, and I wouldn’t look schleppy at the café. I chose the Fig Wine color, which is pretty but not bright. While I don’t have a problem carrying garish bags around town, if I had the kind of job where people look askance at such things, this bag would slide into a conference room without turning heads.

The tote’s front, embellished with Baron Fig’s logo, is taken up with one compartment the length and full width of the bag. It’s a handy place to slip a newspaper or magazine for commuter reading. However, I’d be wary about putting anything of value there, since it offers easy access to the carrier as well as a deft pickpocket.

Inside the roomy tote is one zipped wall pocket near the top, which is the only secured pocket. It’s a generous space, so it fits my phone, keys, wallet and anything else of value.

Curiously, there’s also one shallow, unzipped pocket at the bottom of the tote that I didn’t even notice, even after taking photos, until someone mentioned it. I really don’t know how I would use it, since it’s so far down that it doesn’t serve to make things easier to reach. A second zipped pocket at the top of the opposite wall would have been more functional.

As for the very roomy main compartment, Baron Fig’s marketing copy suggestion – “throw in notebooks, clothes, your dog” – is not an exaggeration! I know several dogs that could comfortably fit inside, along with the notebooks and clothes. My concern, though, would be BF’s other suggestion, which is that the space is large enough for a 15-inch laptop. It may fit, but I would be very nervous about carrying one, because if I set the bag down on the bus seat, the large opening would expose the laptop and everything else inside. If it fell over, the contents would be on the floor of the bus.

Final Impressions

Overall, the BF tote is strong, well made, attractive and roomy. (It’s a bit out of scale for those of us who are “vertically challenged,” but I can hardly blame the bag for that.) I find it handy for schlepping groceries without looking schleppy. The unsecured compartments, though, make me hesitant about schlepping anything more valuable than a loaf of bread.

Laura’s Perspective:

Several months ago I eagerly backed the Baron Fig Kickstarter campaign. I really liked the look of the Fig Wine tote bag and thought it would be good for an everyday carryall.

When the tote arrived I was a little surprised by the color, which was a more mauve and less wine-colored than the photos indicated. That said, I was pleased with the tote overall. The tote bag is made of sturdy canvas and is approximately 11″ x 13″. The size is perfect for me: big enough to hold items that I don’t want to carry in my purse, but small enough not to be a huge bag to lug around with me.

So far I’ve been using mine as a carryall to and from work. I use it to store my Hobonichi Techo, a couple of pen cases, and a knitting project. I can usually throw a snack in there, and a bag of charging cables as well.

The bag has been holding up well for the last few weeks of constant use, and still looks brand new. I appreciate the zippered inner security pocket to hold keys, credit cards, or the like, although I don’t use it exclusively for that. I’m not sure what to make of the inner pocket towards the bottom of the bag; I did notice it was there but, like Tina, I don’t find it useful for anything. The outer pocket is fine to throw my keys into, and my bag doesn’t happen to gape open the way Ana’s bag did. I think a snap or a zip would make that front pocket less of a theft risk, but for my suburban needs, I’m not terribly bothered by it.

Overall, this is a very functional tote bag. It seems slightly more expensive than similar totes at L.L. Bean or Land’s End, but if you’re itching to support a pen and stationery company then this one seems like a decent buy.

Ana’s Perspective:

I am the last to weigh in,  so most of my notes will relate specifically to my use-case for the bag and the advantage that Laura and I had in being able to put our bags side-by-side to compare the materials. I will try not to repeat too much that Tina and Laura have already covered.

I backed the Baron Fig Kickstarter for the Three Bag Level so I received the Tote, Messenger and Backpack. The Tote bag is the only one I got in the Blue Slate color which was available as a stretch goal option later in the Kickstarter. The Messenger and Backpack I received are in the Smoke (originally listed as Charcoal).

I schlep a lot of books, projects and sundry items back and forth from work so the tote bag seemed like a perfect option for me. I drive to work so the open top isn’t a huge issue and I only walk from the parking lot to the office.

I work in an enormous series of buildings where I occasionally have to move materials from one end of the building to the other (9+ stories and often half a mile or more of walking from one location to another with samples, books, projects, etc) so I hoped the tote bag would be a perfect schlepper.

One of the first things I noticed with my Slate Blue bag was that the outside pocket is very wide and open. Laura and I compared notes and after some test runs with the tote filled with various amounts of items, I determined that the outside pocket flops open too easily to be useful. If the tote has only a couple items in it then the problem is exacerbated. I really wish that there had been some sort of closure put on the outside pocket.

I threw my keys in the pocket the first time I used it and it gapped so widely that I referred to it as the “pickpocket’s dream”. Having lived in Chicago for years and taken the El and the bus to and from work, I often still consider bag security and this does not have it at all. The photo above the pocket only has a packet of tea in it and its enough to flay the pocket open pretty easily. Sad.

If the tote is packed full, then the pocket is pushed closed but its still best not to put anything in it.

If your goal for the bag is to take your knitting to your Knit Night or, like I mentioned earlier, schlep around your gym, office or campus, then its a pretty durable canvas bag but the advertised option to put your valuable laptop or other electronics seems a bit flashy, even in suburbia.

The zipper pull on the interior pocket is a little small for me. I think I’ll put a zipper pull on it to make it a little easier to grasp. And I completely agree with Tina and Laura about the interior slot pockets. They are far too low in the tote bag to be useful. I just kept catching things on them rather than actually organizing or coralling anything. I know its supposed to hold a notebook and pen but they just flop forward. I just find it awkward.

The cotton weave straps feel durable but, for some reason, they slide off my shoulder. Maybe its specific to the material that my winter coat is made from that is contrary to the straps but I don’t normally have this much trouble with things falling off my shoulder. My Orla Kiely bag has super smooth straps that don’t slip so I’m a little befuddled.

Final Impressions:

It seems our consensus on the tote is that it is a decent first effort but needs some refinements to make it truly top-notch. It was pretty ambitious to try to reinvent the tote bag so I admire the gumption on the heels of trying to reinvent the backpack and messenger bag too.

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tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.


Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.

12 Days of Inkmas: Glare Ink Olive Brown

12 Days of Inkmas: Glare Ink Olive Brown

On the eighth day of Inkmas I actually got an ink that was wholly new to me! While at pen club last month, I was gifted two unique ink sample and Glare Ink Olive Brown from India was one of them. I know very little about the Glare brand. Internet searching revealed little more other than that most of their ink sales appear to occur on Ebay and the ink can be had in volumes as large as 250ml! Glare also sells fountain pens.

The listings on Ebay claim that Glare inks contain Clean-X which “protects pens in 4 ways. Prevents gumming & clogging. prevents metal corrosion, rubber-rot. Dissolves, flushes away sediments. Cleans your pen as it writes.” Mighty ambitious claims. I did not do any testing to verify or dispell these claims but it’s intriguing marketing. Suffice to say that this ink does not sound like it would be harmful to pens, is water soluble and easy to clean up.

The color is a cool brown, leaning heavily towards green. It reminds me of safari tents and the colors used in WWII movies.

The ink is dark and saturated so there is not a lot of shading and I may have over dipped a bit. The ink seems a little thick. But the price on Ebay is $8.75 per 60ml bottle with free shipping so it could probably be watered down a little if necessary and it doesn’t look too risky to pens.

In color comparisons, I was close in saying it was a bit like Diamine Safari though not quite as green. Really, the Glare Olive Brown is an oddly flat color and the other cool browns and brown-greens that I own are more sheening or much warmer.

While I find the idea of trying other inks interesting, the Glare Olive Brown is kind of iffy. There’s nothing wrong with it and I might try another color in their range because the whole marketing pitch strikes me as unusual but this particular color doesn’t do much for me.

There’s a video on YouTube with a longer description of the other ink colors if you want more details.


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12 Days of Inkmas: Kyo-no-oto #7 Hisoku

12 Days of Inkmas: Kyo-no-oto #7 Hisoku

On the seventh day of Inkmas I couldn’t resist featuring Kyo-no-oto #7 Hisoku ($28 for 40ml bottle). This smoky blue grey color is one of my favorite ink colors. When I first got into fountain pens, one of the first bottles of ink I bought was De Atramentis Pigeon Blue which is not too dissimilar in color and has remained one of my favorite ink colors though De Atramentis inks can be a little finicky to use as they are what I tend to describe as “watery” and others describe as wet. As a result, Pigeon Blue can often run a bit wild or make my lines look wider than I intended on certain papers or with certain pens.

So…

Hisoku is the perfect remedy since Kyo-no-oto inks are known to be drier inks. I think of them as sometimes feeling a little sandy or gritty if I am using super smooth paper and a super smooth nib. After the ink dries, I can actually feel the ink standing up on the paper and it feels a little chalky. That’s not a bad thing or it doesn’t have to be. It means my spidery fine lines stay fine and legible and the ink performs better on crappy office paper. Not great, but better.

Hisuku also has shading and a lovely reddish, purple sheen. The sheen will be more noticeable on paper like Tomoe River than on Rhodia but it creates a nice edge on the letterforms with the wider nib.

Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine is probably the only other ink color I could find that was even close to Hisoku or Pigeon Blue. Organics Studio Nickel is lighter and starts to veer into the turquoise realm.

While I love Pigeon Blue and would never dissuade anyone from loving on a color based on service birds, Hisoku is going to be my next purchase as my Pigeon Blue is almost empty. Does Hisoku translate to “pigeon”?


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

12 Days of Inkmas: Kyo-no-oto #6 Adzukiiro

12 Days of Inkmas: Kyo-no-oto #6 Adzukiiro

On the sixth day of Inkmas, the ink fairy gave to me…

Kyo-no-oto #6 Adzukiiro ($28 for 40ml bottle)! Yes. There is are NEW Kyo-no-oto colors and my own personal ink fairy made sure I got a sample of it ASAP.

Like all of the previous Ky-no-oto ink colors, this is a muted yet rich color. It’s a sophisticated  brick red. There is an ever-so-slight undertone of pink but the overall quality of this color is much more ruddy. It’s a red-burgundy but not pinky at all, I promise. My photos may have skewed cooler than intended.

There is some shading in the ink and Kyo-no-oto is a bit drier ink than others. It almost feels sandy to me which works well, especially on less agreeable papers though in some fine Japanese nibs you may have issues with hard starts. The advantages of the softer, more sophisticated colors and the ink that sits up on the page might be worth keeping some scrap paper for priming your pen every now and again.

For color comparison, Diamine Syrah is probably the closest in hue. Diamine Oxblood is a little more orange-y. Oster Maroon 1789 is more reddish and Bungbox Tears of a Clown more orange-brown. Montblanc Shakespeare Velvet Red is much darker, redder and there is no shading to speak of. Both Grenat and Antoine de St-Exupéry lean a bit cooler.

I tend to convince people to buy at least one bottle of Kyo-no-oto. For the bottle alone,  because I think the bottles are beautiful in their simplicity. It’s the only ink bottle I have on my desk at work. So, if this color speaks to you or you think it would make a great gift, I say buy it.


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