Review: Rickshaw Pen Sleeves

Review: Rickshaw Pen Sleeves

I had a total fan girl moment at the San Francisco Pen Show when I saw Mark Dwight of Rickshaw Bags walking the show floor. I wanted to run up to him and tell him how I’d followed his company since he first launched it in 2007 and I had a very early Moleskine notebook cover and several Zero messenger bags but I chickened out as I saw other people approach him. The moment had passed. I sighed. Sometimes, my shyness and general fear of making an idiot of myself gets in the way of telling people what an impact they make on my life.

I proceeded to berate myself all day for not being braver and going over to talk to Mark. Then on Sunday, fate worked in my favor and Mark came back to the show so I took a chance and worked up my courage to approach him. I told him what I had been too shy to say days before and he was kind, polite and as humble as you can imagine. And surprise! Like the rest of the pen community, he was generous too! He asked if I’d like to try out some of his new pen sleeves and give him some honest feedback. Mark pulled a Solo Pen Sleeve ($12) out of his giant messenger bag in the perfect shade of neon pink to match my Caran d’Ache 849 Fountain Pen.

The Solo Pen Sleeves are available in an array of colors, with matching plush lining. They are also available in a few different configurations like short, skinny, long and variations of these to fit some different pen styles. I’ve put several other pens into the regular sized Pen Sleeve with no issues, even if the sleeve was a bit long for it and then just pinched the bottom to get it out like a pen Go-Gurt. Since the sleeve is plush lined, even a snug fit isn’t worrisome so I’ve put slightly larger diameter pens in the sleeve as well even if they weren’t as perfect a color match. However, the 849 pretty much lives in the sleeve. It’s the perfect pocket companion for me.

A few weeks after the show, I received a lovely package in the mail with the WALDO Field Case Model 3($30) in the matching neon pink to test. This case has three pen pockets under the flap plus a larger pocket to hold a pocket notebook and business card sleeve. There are two other configurations of this case available where the front pocket stitching is rearranged to hold one pen and a business card sleeve or divided in half to allow pens and/or tools to be stored in the front pockets.

This particular case features the Cordura outer fabric which is pretty stiff. Over time, I am sure it will soften up but it will take some work to do so. Laura ordered the FPD WALDO Field Case ($30) which is made from polyester canvas which is a bit softer fabric and makes it a bit easier to form it to your pens, pocket, hand, etc.

My biggest issue with the WALDO case is the Velcro closure. I am often in meetings where the “RIP!” sound would be unwelcome and distracting. Even the sound of my obnoxious MacBookPro keyboard gets me the hairy eyeball. Hello, quiet-as-a-mouse paper and pen! So, being the person with the “RIP!” Velcro pen case is just not the way to go. I keep looking at the case trying to figure out how to re-engineer it. String-and-button closure? Snap? Just a real button? Anything but “RIP!” Velcro!!

(Side note: Totally amused to discover just how many pink fountain pens I actually own!)

Because inside of it are features I really like. The pen pockets are plush lined like the pen sleeve which I love. I also like being able to carry a few pens and a pocket notebook. I also like the plastic business card sleeve in the back pocket to hold cards, receipts and paper ephemera. It makes it easy to slide things into the pocket and then get it back out.

And finally, the included in the package was the Efficiency Supply Dots+Plus notebook ($5). It’s an interesting combination of reticle and dot grid. The pages are numbered and have arrows at the bottom. At the top is space for a date and a topic or title.

I tested an array of different pens to see how it handled fountain pen, rollerball, felt tip and other writing tools. The paper definitely soaked up fountain pen ink giving my line quality a mushy look.  Finer nibs and rollerball performed better and, of course, pencil was a champ.

From the reverse, there was definite bleed through with the wider fountain pens and a little show through with the others. But the form factor is very unique so if you are more inclined to carry rollerballs or mechanical pencils in your EDC, it might be worth grabbing a Dots+Plus in your next order from Rickshaw to try one out.

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

Link Love: For the love of bound books

Post of the week:

  • Beatrix (for the win!) and her excellent drawings of donuts and ice cream in her video review of the Baron Fig School Set.




Notebooks and Paper:


Other Interesting Things:

Preview: Baron Fig School Set

Preview: Baron Fig School Set

The latest limited release from Baron Fig in their Vanguard and Archer lines were meant to be together. They are the Archer Number 2 Pencil set ($15 for a dozen pencils) and the Vanguard Composition Notebook Set ($14 for 3-pack of notebooks), known together as the School Set ($26 for the set, 10% discount for purchasing them together).

The Number 2 pencils come in Baron Fig’s signature paperboard tube and, to date, are my favorite pencils that they’ve done. Many have already commented on the distinctly John Deere color combination of yellow and green but the classic yellow paint and the green dipped end cap is also reminiscent of Ticonderogas sans the pink eraser. This is probably the smoothest, best writing Archer pencil yet. It looks good and writes well so if you’ve held off getting a set of Archer pencils, this is the edition to try.

The Composition notebooks harken back to the classic school notebooks with three covers in the sponge-speckled designs in black, yellow and green with a faux tape edge. Inside are lined paper with blue lines and the double lined margin. I would have loved if one would have been graph, one lined and one blank but I can’t have everything.

Inside the back cover is an array of handy, dandy conversions and info just like old school composition notebooks.

The Composition notebooks do what I was hoping the COMP notebooks on Kickstarter would do which is to provide a better quality composition notebook experience. I hope that Baron Fig keeps the black Vanguards as part of their regular line-up in a variety of rulings because I think they would be quite popular. I also think that the improvements to the Archer Number 2 bodes well for the future of their pencil pursuits.

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

Notebook Review: Nuuna Journal

This year was my first year participating in Inktober and I wanted a new notebook to use, so I was thrilled when Ana offered me a Nuuna notebook for review.

Nuuna notebooks are produced by Brandbook which is a German Company. The notebooks feature fine Swedish paper with a very subtle light grey dot grid. The grid is pretty tiny; there are approximately 8 dots per inch (slightly more than 3mm). The pages are thread stitched together and then bound in fine materials; mine was a thick cardstock although there are leather bound versions as well.

This particular model is 16.5cm x 22cm (roughly 6 1/2″ x 8 3/4″, or slightly larger than the standard A5 size). The notebook contains a generous 256 pages of a thick 120g white Munken paper.

I was really impressed with this notebook. It felt substantial and the paper felt thick and lush, although it was quite smooth. Throughout the month of October I tested a variety of pens: fountain pens and inks, Marvy Le Pens, Papermate Ink Joy gel pens and a few others, and I also pulled out a water brush for some of my Inktober drawings.

When writing normally, the paper had no bleed-through and just a bit of ghosting on the backside.

On my drawings, which included heavier ink lines and sometimes water, there was some bleed-through, which is to be expected, but the paper held up really well. Water made it wrinkle slightly, but overall the book hasn’t expanded a lot. One of the things I liked best about this book is that other than the first few and last few pages, it laid open flat every time I went to write and draw. I didn’t need any extra props to hold it open in order to create, or to shoot photos.

I don’t see this exact design on the Nuuna website, but I did find a variety of graphic covers for anywhere from 14,90 € to 27,90 €, all of which seem reasonable prices for notebooks of this quality.


Ask The Desk: Adapting Lever Fillers, Leaky Gel Pens & More

Aaron asks:

Have you ever heard of adapting an old lever bladder filling pen into a converter set up?

I had a suspicion that making this sort of adaptation was not exactly possible but I reached out to Nibgrinder and pen expert Mark Bacas to get a bigger brain in on this and here’s what he had to say:

The likelihood of that being feasible is probably very small.

The nib units that most manufacturers use today (mostly from JoWo or Bock, both German companies) have a nipple on the back side of the nib unit where the converter attaches. Most (probably all) of the older style bladder filling pens will not have this.

So, if what you are trying to preserve is a vintage nib, you are better off finding a nib unit in a comparable size and finding someone who might be able to retrofit the nib into a modern nib unit with a modern feed and converter attachment rather than trying to save the whole unit. If you are trying to preserve the whole pen and nib, then you’ll have to learn to love those rubber sacs.

Or dip fill your pen. I dip a lot of my old Esterbrooks. The nib unit will suck up a good deal of ink just from the capillary action to allow me to write or draw for a half a page or more before I have to dip again. It’s far less disruptive than a classic dip pen, even if there’s no bladder in the pen at all. Then I just dip the pen in water to clean at the end of a writing session so I can use a different ink color the next time.

Mary reports:

I have recently had 2 gel pens totally leak out from the opposite of the point end. All the clear gel leaks out with all the ink. I have a lot of gel pens, markers, ball point, color pencils, all mediums, this is the 1st time this has happened. These particular pens are stored in there own container and I noticed the clear gel in the pen tube has separated a little and it’s attached to the sides inside of the tube.i feel all these pens will eventually do the same. my other gel pens I have, do not have this happening. Could it be Heat, pressure, falling down or simply a fluke
Thank you
This brand is CaseMate so it surprises me a bit.


This is definitely a unique situation. I have not used the CaseMate brand of gel pens but it is possible that heat, pressure or some other environmental factor caused the clear gel to shift thereby causing the gel ink to run out of the end of the pen. I had a few gel pens in a suitcase that went into the bulkhead of an airplane which caused some unfortunate results.

If anyone has any suggestions for Mary, please leave a note in the comments.

Marko asked:

Can you recommend a product that could hold a 5.4″ x 7.7″vanguard flagship and maybe a couple of pens? I asked Baron Fig and they didn’t have a recommendation.

As this question was posed a while back, I am happy to say that there is now a leather cover for the Vanguard called the Guardian. While it does not hold any pens, it does cover the notebook nicely and is available in six colors.

Alternately, Galen Leather makes a cover for the Confidant that will hold a pen, phone and iPad.

Review: NockCo Seed Case

Review: NockCo Seed Case

Everyone in the pen and planner community have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the NockCo Seed cases. Between the production delays and hurricanes, we had to wait as patiently as 8-year-olds going to Disney, which is to say not very patiently. But finally the A6 cases are here just in time for the arrival of the 2018 Hobonichi Techos.

NockCo made the A6 Seed case ($60) slim and low profile and available in two colors: steel with silver dust lining and iris (purple) with electric blue lining. The cases have sturdy zippers with two zips so they can be opened from either the top or the bottom. There is a slit pocket on the front to slide small ephemera.

Inside the front cover, there are two pen pockets as well as a secretary  pocket to hold the cover of your Hobonichi Techo or other A6- sized notebook.

In the back, is the corresponding secretary pocket for the back cover of your Hobonichi Techo or notebook  as well as a pocket for your business cards or a small stash of DotDash Petite Notecards.

What I discovered while test driving the Seed cases is that they work best in a minimal set-up with slim pens. I could use a Taroko writing board ($5.50) as it had no tab but not the stock Hobonichi Tools & Toys board ($4.50) as the tab caught on the zipper.

I thought I’d include some photos of the Seed cases with some other Hobonichi cases each with an A6 book in it, to show the size differences.

From top to bottom:

From the various views top, bottom and side, the Seed cases are considerably slimmer and lower profile than the Hobonichi covers. Compared with the traditional Hobonichi fabric cover, the Seed case does provide a zip closure, keeping everything contained. A lot of folks don’t like the pen loop closure on the standard cloth Hobonichi covers and NockCo definitely solves for that keeping your pens inside the case however, because the case is so slim, your pens need to be slim too. You will not be able to fit a 5-color gel pen into a Seed case and close it comfortably. I did get my 3-color Zebra Sharbo-X LT3 into the case with no problem. The Mermaid cover from Hobonichi also has a zip but not a two-way zip.

The Seed Case does not have a ribbon bookmark in the case as the Hobonichi covers do so you’ll have to solve for marking where you are in your notebook or Hobonichi on your own.

If you like to fill the inside pockets of your Hobonichi cover with stickers, washi tape and other bits of ephemera, than the NockCo Seed case is not going to be for you. The Seed Case is minimal and there’s not a lot of space to cram it full of extra paper, stickers and miscellany.

I found the Seed Case worked best with the Hobonichi Avec and the Weekly Calendar. It seemed the most spacious, especially after I’d used several pages and the spine had loosened up. I also quite liked the case with the ever-so-slightly smaller Enigma A6 Notebook. While the physical depth of the book was the same as a Hobonichi, the height was about 2mm shorter and gave a bit more wiggle room.

I was told that as the cases are used, the fabric will loosen up but the Seed cases are still much smaller overall than the “pockets galore” Hobonichi stock covers. If you’re looking for a cover that is more durable, utilitarian, washable (I have personal experience washing other NockCo cases and can attest to the washability) and low profile than the Hobonichi covers currently available, the Seed cover is a great option. Just know that if you stuff your Hobonichi so full that you can’t close the cover, the Seed might not be the right case for you.

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

Friday Faves: Top Ten Fountain Pen Day Activities

  1. If you live near a pen shop, visit your local store. They will most likely be celebrating Fountain Pen Day in some way. If they are not, let them know about Fountain Pen Day and hopefully next year they will participate in this international celebration.
  2. Visit your favorite online shop. Or cruise down the side bar and visit all the shops that support The Well-Appointed Desk. Every single shop is offering discounts, specials and sales on items in honor of Fountain Pen Day. This is your chance to purchase that pen, ink or notebook you’ve had your eye on. Or maybe pick up a pen to finally convince your friend or loved one that fountain pens are as awesome as your think they are.
  3. Check out the hashtags on Instagram #fountainpenday and #fountainpenday2017. Many bloggers and shops are offering giveaways on Instagram not to mention showing off their FPD finery. Share in all the celebrations and post your own photos with these hashtags.
  4. If you are in the Columbus area or can swing it, go visit the Ohio Pen Show which is THIS WEEKEND! What luck that it coincides with FPD. If you can’t make it to the pen show, start planning for 2018 and what pen show you can visit. Nothing solidifies the love of fountain pens and the fountain pen community quite like a 3-day weekend of pen show mania.
  5. Listen to or watch some pen-related podcasts like The Pen Addict, Pen Habit, Inkdependence, Figboots on Pens, SBRE Brown, Gourmet Pens: Serious Nibbage , The Nib Section, R.S.V.P., and Anderson Pens. There are so many more but these will certainly be a good gateway to get you started.
  6. Subscribe to the newsletters from your favorite online shops. You’ll find out when they are having sales, when new products arrive and other important information. This is the one time when you actually want the newsletter. I promise. Especially with the holidays coming up and family members asking what you want as a gift. You can actually forward the newsletter, from the shop you want them to purchase the item or a gift card.
  7. Write with your fountain pens. Write a letter to a friend, your grandma or finally write that thank you note.
  8. Set up your 2018 planner or Bullet Journal. Go on… you know you want to!
  9. Introduce your friends, family or co-workers to fountain pens. Maybe have a couple or your starter pens you’d be willing to pass along to them if they take a liking to fountain pens. Spread the love!
  10. Clean those fountain pens that have been languishing. Re-ink them with your favorite inks and take them out for a spin!