Review: Galen Leather Pen Cases

Review: Galen Leather Pen Cases

Galen Leather has become a well-known leather goods maker from Turkey specializing in stationery-related products. They recently sent me two of their newest products to try out: the 3-pen zippered pen case in Crazy Horse ($39) and the 5-Pen Zipper case in Chocolate Brown ($49) .

The 3-Pen case opens with the pen loops on the right and slots on the left for business cards and receipts or stamps. When I first got this case, I was not sure I would like it as I have a tendency to carry dozens of pens at any one time but it turns out I carry about three really good pens with me most of the time and it has turned out to be the perfect case for me. The zipper slides smoothly, the case fits in my hand and is roughly the same size, albeit a little thicker than my iPhone 6s. So, I can grab it along with my phone and a notebook and run to a meeting without looking like I’m carrying a ton of crap. I’ve even managed to spatter ink on the leather cover already which looks perfect with the roughed up “crazy horse” finish.

There’s something very Indiana Jones about the “crazy horse” finish. Really dig it.

The larger 5-pen case has a polished, professional look. The leather is warm cocoa colored with a smooth finish. It has the same smooth performing zipper closure which I found to be a pleasing surprise. Sometimes, zippers that have to navigate corners stick but this one does not.

The leather pull tab makes it easy to open and close as well and it looks good.

Inside, the elastics snugly hold pens with a variety of cap sizes. The widest cap I had was the new Karas Decograph which was a snug fit while the narrowest was the silver Platinum which fit loosely but the clip kept it from shifting.

The Field Notes or other comparable sized notebook tucks into the stitched seam pocket and stays in place. For me, as a lefty, this notebook on the right layout was not effective as my arm ended up laying on the pens. Also, this case configuration made using the left-hand pages difficult if not impossible if the pens were in the straps regardless of whether you are left-handed or right-handed. However, if you’re not inclined to use the left-hand side of the pages and are right-handed, this is a beautiful and super handy way to have a pen (or five) and some paper handy at all times.


THE GIVEAWAY: I’d like to giveaway the Galen Leather Zippered 5-Pen Case to one lucky reader who can put it to good use.  It has been used for review purposes so there may be light signs of wear. Photos show its current condition. Pens and Field Notes not included. Just so you know.

THE RULES: Answer the following question in the comments below: What pens and/or paper would you fill the 5-Pen Zipper case with?

One entry per person.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, September 11, 2011. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. 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 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 7 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 residents only.

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

Product Review: Global Arts Pencil Case

Product Review: Global Arts Pencil Case

Review by Tina Koyama

Last winter I took a class in colored pencil drawing. On the first day, when students started pulling out their materials, I saw that everyone had brought their pencils in the flat metal tins that they had come in.

I have so many colored pencils that I had difficulty choosing a couple dozen or so “to start with,” as the instructor had suggested. Since I hate working out of those metal tins and always store my pencils upright in mugs, I simply grabbed several sets’ worth and dumped them all into a plastic storage bin to take to class. They rattled around a lot as I carried and dug through them. While our instructor advised us to transport our pencils carefully to avoid dropping them and shattering the cores, she glanced at my plastic bin through the side of her eye. Chagrined, I vowed to get a better case for them.

I finished the class still using the plastic bin, but fortunately, I never dropped it. Next time I take a colored pencil class, though, I’ll be ready, because I now have a Global Art canvas-covered pencil case.

I chose the 48-pencil capacity case in the Rose color. (It’s available in seven other colors and a 24-pencil capacity size, too.) The sturdy canvas fabric feels soft like a nicely worn jacket. The black nylon zippers move smoothly and easily around the rounded corners.

The zippers have an unusual detail that I’m not sure I’ve seen before on something like a pencil case: When zipped closed, the tabs can be snapped onto the spine. If I thought the zippers could slide open easily by themselves, I can see that the snaps might be necessary (the packaging says the snaps provide “security when traveling”), but I can’t imagine that happening. (Read on for another reason why the pencils’ security is never at risk.) Frankly, I can’t be bothered with snapping and unsnapping something I want to get at easily like my colored pencils, so just zipping is enough security for me. But if I were storing the case on a bookshelf, the snapped tabs would look neat and tidy.

Inside are two separate fabric-lined compartments, each with its own zipper. Each compartment has six wide elastic bands to hold the pencils.

I filled the first compartment with Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils, which are slightly larger in diameter than average pencils. For a capacity of 48, each compartment should hold 24 pencils, but I couldn’t fit four Museum Aquarelles into each elastic band; even three are a bit of a squeeze. So if all I used were pencils of this size, I’d say the maximum capacity of the case is 36 – not 48.

Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils have an average pencil diameter, so I put some into the second compartment to test their size. I was able to fit four Pablo pencils per elastic band, but just barely; they are really tight and require a significant struggle to put in and take out. Three are comfortably snug. Perhaps over time the elastic bands will loosen, but until then, I recommend placing no more than three per band.

One thing I will never have to worry about with this case is my pencils falling out, ever – even if I were to leave the compartments unzipped. These bands are super-secure!

Some pencil cases I’ve used look great empty or with only a few items in them, but when filled to capacity, they look bulky and messy. The Global Art case, however, looks neat and compact with both compartments filled and zipped. There is no bulging or forcing of the zippers.

Final Impressions

The Global Art pencil case is designed well, looks and feels nice, and is probably the most secure pencil case I’ve ever used. Nothing is ever falling out of this baby! However, due to that extra-tight security, and depending on the diameter of your pencils, I recommend putting no more than 36 pencils into this case intended for 48. I just signed up for a graphite drawing class this fall, and I’ll need to bring several grades of pencils, so I’m looking forward to carrying them to class in this case (and avoiding that sidelong glance from the teacher).

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.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Pens & Friends

Posts of the Week:

Writer and pen fan favorite, June Thomas wrote a fantastic piece for Bloomberg about Nakaya. I have been fascinated by them but did not know enough about them to consider making a purchase. After reading this article, I just might be ready to jump on board.

Once again, Mary Collis revealed a very personal story of what the pen community has brought to her world. I have to say that her experience reflects what a lot of us feel. We are so glad that you found your tribe and that we found you!




Paper & Notebooks:

Other Interesting Things:

Ink Love: All the Inks Fit to Print

Ink Love: All the Inks Fit to Print

No, that’s not a typo. This morning I thought I’d share with you all the inks I bought at the San Francisco Pen Show. After four pen shows in as many months, I finally lost all control and bought ALL THE INKS! Well, not all the inks but I did buy a lot.

Since I spend the better part of almost every show selling ink, I get a chance to see all the inks people are buying. I can often get ink crazy or ink overload by the end of the weekend. And sometimes by Sunday, the colors I want are all sold out.

But in San Francisco, I not only got many of the colors I wanted but was also able to get some new, never-before-seen inks from PenBBS from China.

I bought the PenBBs inks ($16) at the very last minute, literally as we were packing up the Vanness Pens “inkvan” so I selected my colors off a sheet of paper and what I could find in the already packed crate. I chose three colors: No. 178 Rose Quartz, No. 220 Watermelon Red and No. 224 Tolstoy.

The boxes are orange with quotes printed on them. Inside, the bottles are hexagonal with different graphics printed on the labels. This makes them considerably more unique and easier to identify.

Of the three bottles, a couple had really unusual embossing on the cap. This was my favorite.

The No. 220 Watermelon Red is super bright and vivid pinky red. It’s more red than Kosumosu or Sakura Mori but not as orangey as KWZ Grapefruit. I was worried it was a bit too similar to the considerably more expensive bottle of Bungbox Lycoris Red I had purchased earlier in the day but as you’ll see further down, there is enough difference in the color that I feel like its okay to have both bottles. And while there is definitely some shading in Watermelon Red, Lycoris Red has major sheen so that was totally worth the money. I haven’t put it into a pen yet but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

No. 224 Tolstoy turned out to be a total win. I put it into my Peyton Street resin slim bamboo fountain pen and have been using it for over a week. Every time someone tries it, they say, “Oooo, what is this ink?” Every. time. It writes a good deal lighter in the fine italic than it appears in the swatch but it shades beautifully and then gets lovely light olive-y spots in the writing. Quite lovely.

I was hoping that the Rose Quartz might be a good match for my new Carolina Pen Company pen but when I swatched it, the color ended up being lighter when wet and dries darker– almost like a sunbleached, terracotta color.  I don’t have any other color like it in my ink library. Tonally, Black Swan in English Roses was the only thing even close. Everything else was either too red or too pink.

I purchased five other bottles of ink: Robert Oster Viola ($17), Kobe #43 Fresh Green ($30), Kobe #48 Marchais Blue ($30), Bungbox Lycoris Red ($37) and Kyo-Iro #5 Cherry Blossom of Keage ($28).

I don’t know if anyone remembers my adventure last year in trying to find the perfect shade of lavender purple but I think Viola by Robert Oster might be it. It’s a little bit deeper than Australian Opal Mauve which I freakin’ love and a bit more purply. Viola still maintains lots of shading though so its feels textural and interesting. I put it next to a couple other complex tonal purples for comparison. There is definitely more color detail in Viola!

I also got a bottle of Kobe #43 which is loosely translated to include “fresh green” in the name. It definitely has a happy yellow green aspect to the color that I’ve been looking for for years. It’s edging into “signature Well-Appointed Desk” territory!

The other bottle of Kobe  purchased was the #48 Marchais Blue which is unlike any blue I had really. The closest comparable color I had is the Kaweco Paradise Blue which I really like and its quite a bit darker and greener. I added a swatch that was bluer (Lamy Pacific Blue/Turquoise) and one that was darker Oster Fire & Ice just for reference because I really didn’t have anything else close. Most turquoise colors are more like the Lamy Turquoise/Pacific or darker like Fire & Ice. This Marchais Blue is the coelacanth of ink colors.

Oh, Bungbox Lycoris Red! You out sheen Sailor Irori Red!

So, here’s a little Col-o-ring secret fact. When we were testing papers, Irori was THE ink I used to verify that the papers we tested would show sheen. I tested other inks but I always tested Irori and if the gold sheen didn’t show, the paper didn’t make the cut.

But Bungbox Lycoris Red is a brighter red with MORE gold sheen than Sailor Irori and that’s saying something. Initially, I thought Lycoris Red was going to be more pinky red but it actually ends up being a vivid red. I think the gold sheen helps to temper it. I have a pal who swears by J. Herbin Rouge Opera as the perfect true red ink, however, I find the J. Herbin inks to be a little watery and ill-tempered in some situations. Bungbox, being Sailor inks, are well-behaved particularly in finer-nibbed pens and so I’m inclined to argue for the premium price. Plus, gold sheen out the wazoo!

The last ink I bought was my first from the Kyoto TAG series. I bought the Kyo-Iro #5 Cherry Blossom of Keage.

Photo from the official Kyo-iro product page.

I am too enthusiastic about the packaging for pens and I seldom make much about the packaging for inks beyond it’s usefulness but the Kyoto TAG packaging is so quintessentially Japanese its hard not to appreciate it. The boxes are stunning white heavyweight paperboard with printed spatters of ink and debossed lettering. Inside the design on the small, squat bottles in simple and understated. Besides a single bottle of Akkerman and some vintage ink bottles, this is the only bottle that will live on my desk. It might usurp the Akkerman bottle.

Colorwise, Kyo-Iro #5 is a bit deeper than Robert Oster Cherry Blossom in my swatch but I think it will work out to my benefit because, in writing, the RO Cherry Blossom is a bit too light.

I bought this ink with plans to use it in my new Carolina Pen Company pen.  It might not be a perfect match to the pen and maybe it doesn’t need to be. I didn’t find the PenBBS ink until after I had purchased this ink and I still think this will be a better pairing. But who knows? I think it’s a beautiful color and it will definitely get used.

So, is there anything you go crazy for at pen shows? For Dallas, I’m looking forward to checking out Retro51 table, Dromgoole’s and hopefully partaking in some delicious snacks from the Dallas area. I hope the horrible weather doesn’t keep people away as I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone from last year and new folks this year.


Fountain Pen Review: Aurora Duo Cart (& Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue)

Fountain Pen Review: Aurora Duo Cart (& Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue)

The Aurora Duo Cart fountain pen ($180 in burgundy and gold)  is a re-creation of the original Duo Cart of 60 years ago.  If the photo on the box is any indication, only minor alterations have been made to the original design. Originally, the name came from the pen’s ability to carry two cartridges, the one it was using and a spare. Hence the “duo cart.” The modern version comes with a converter which occupies the majority of the barrel and modern cartridges appear to be a bit longer making it difficult to fit two in the barrel, though the name lives on.

While I don’t make a big deal of packaging, a well-placed vintage photo on a recyclable cardboard box is always welcome. Inside the box was the converter, cartridges and a small bottle of ink. Everything needed to start off on a fountain pen adventure.

Inside, was the vintage clamshell box with satin lining that was legendarily found in the Aurora basement. It even smelled like vintage attic! From what I understand, the stash of vintage clamshell cases has already been depleted and sadly, I don’t even get to keep this one (its just a loaner) but at least I got to sniff it.

The pen is pristine Mary Tyler Moore bordeaux red with a gold tone cap engraved with fine vertical lines. The ends of the pen are flat and smooth. On the barrel end is an embedded, smooth, gold disc, Very modern and understated.

Between the barrel and the grip is a matching gold band with engraved rings. This is a case where you can definitely put a ring on it.

The nib is hooded, similarly to a Parker 51 though there is a bit of a step down to the nib. Visually, I noticed it but once I started using the pen, the step pretty much disappeared.

The nib is listed as medium but it is a very blunt, almost italic-style medium. If there was anything that I would want added to the Duo Cart line, other than a variety of pen barrel color options, it would be nib size options. Not everyone is going to want a nib that is quite this broad and flat. It certainly has a lot of character is much more of a stub in the range of a 0.8mm to a 1mm than it is a traditional round medium nib. So, from that perspective, I liked it a lot better than I thought I would. It took a page or so of writing for me to find the sweet spot and get the feed good and wet so that it was writing smoothly and consistently for me and that may have had more to do with my being left-handed than the pen.

That said, once the Duo Cart and I got going, it was pretty smooth sailing on the Rhodia paper. The nib actually ended up reminding my of the Esterbrook 2442 Falcon that I like so much so we ended up getting along swimmingly.

The Duo Cart is also available with a black barrel with silver trim ($156) if you are feeling a bit more Mad Men and a little less Laura Petrie à la the Dick Van Dyke Show.

A little more about the ink: I used the new Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue ($17 bottle but everybody is sold out!) for this review which is a vivid bright blue with a bit of a red sheen. In writing, a bit more of the turquoise shading shows through particularly with the wider nib. I suspect the color would be darker overall in a finer nib.

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

Fashionable Friday: I Love it When a Plan(ner) Comes Together

  • Frankie Diary 2018 (Pre-Order) $26.95 AUD (via Frankie)
  • Planner 2018 $22 (via Baron Fig)
  • Flow Diary 2018 €16.95 (via Flow Magazine)
  • Hobonichi Techo Weeks 2018 in Sunset Red $17.69 USD (via
  • Sailor 1911 Standard Fountain Pen in Anchor Gray with Rhodium Trim $196 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Montblanc Oyster Grey Fountain Pen Ink (60ml bottle) $17.99 USD (via Appelboom)
  • RETRAKT R-Type Pen, Starts at $60 (Desk readers can receive 10% off their orders with the code “WELLAPPTDESK”) (via Karas Kustoms)
  • Lucy Printed Cotton Dress Paris Streets Print £70 (via Emily & Fin)
  • Kobe #25 Tarumi Apricot Fountain Pen Ink (50ml bottle) $30 (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • “Sorry. It took me forever to find paper and pen” greeting card $5 (via Mr. Boddington)
  • Retro Pattern Washi Tape $2 per roll (via CuteTape)
  • Robert Oster Signature Fountain Pen Ink in Direct Sun (50ml bottle) $18 (via Federalist Pens)
  • PCM Takeo Peta Clear Sticky Notes – Rectangle/Circle Speech Bubble $5.75 (via JetPens)
  • Platinum 3776 Century Fountain Pen in Bourgougne Special Sale Price Click for Price (via Pen Chalet)
  • Pencil UNO in red $45 (via Ennso)
  • Mitsubishi No. 460 Ballpoint Pen $1.50 each (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Phone “Hello” 6-Card Set $10 (via Sapori)
  • Conid Monarch Kingsize Bulkfiller fountain pen €995n(€822,31 Outside EU) (via Fontoplumo)

I could not possibly fit all the diaries and planners that have been released fit into Fashionable Friday this week. Moleskine released their new planners. There are 18-month planners as well as an array of 12-month 2018 options. Their paper quality is still iffy but they offer an array of formats and designs. Leuchtturm1917 planners will soon be available on JetPens and they will also be stocking Hobonichi Techo planners soon so you don’t have to order from Japan if you can wait a couple weeks. Jenni Bick has Paperblanks 2018 planners in stock. Kate Spade has all 2018 agendas and refills for her planners available now too. Appelboom has all the Filofax 2018 refills.

And, of course, I included the NockCo Seed case which is coming soon. I’ll keep you posted as soon as I know more but I had to include the teaser image that was posted on their instagram account this week. The A6 case will fit a standard Hobonichi Techo! So many options!

Thanks to my sponsors for providing some of the images I use for Fashionable Friday. Please consider making your next purchase from one of the shops that support this blog and let them know you heard about them here. Thanks for reading the blog and for supporting the shops that help keep it running.

Fountain Pen Review: Parker IM (BONUS: ApPeel Notebook Review)

Fountain Pen Review: Parker IM (BONUS: ApPeel Notebook Review)

Review by Laura Cameron

In my ongoing quest to try every pen I can get my hands on, my most recent acquisition is the Parker IM Fountain Pen in Light Purple with Chrome Trim and a fine nib ($41).  This one appealed to me because of the look, the price point and the brand name.

The body features a brushed finish in purple and all the trim is chrome, making this a stylish, modern looking pen.  The postable cap features a contoured end cap and the standard Parker Arrow pen clip.  The nib is a Parker stainless steel fine nib.  The Parker IM comes with an ink cartridge and  a converter can be easily purchased separately.

When I received this pen, I was really pleased with it in terms of look and feel. I immediately filled it up with some Diamine Ancient Copper, found a notebook and took it for a spin.

I had a bit of an interesting experience with this one which, in hindsight, was related to the ink I was using. At first I had a bit of trouble getting the ink to flow smoothly through the nib, but after a bit it wrote fairly smoothly.  I found the fine nib a little bit scratchy, despite switching position while writing. 

Over the next few days I kept pulling out this pen, and that’s when I discovered that the ink sample I was using must have had some quality issues – each time I opened the pen there would be ink crusted all around the nib. I could run it under water, clean it off and start to write again fairly quickly, but as soon as it sat in my bag for a bit, I would open it to find the nib crusted over again. Within a day or two I went ahead and emptied and cleaned the pen and tossed the ink sample.  The second time I tried filling the pen with Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue, and that has been much better.  I still find the nib a little scratchy, but it’s far better with the new ink.

Empty, the pen weighs approximately 26gms.  It is lighter than I would have expected given the metal body, but I still feel like it has a decent weight in my hand.

Woot! New weight chart! The Parker IM weighs the same as a Pilot Metro.

Overall, I think this pen is a pretty good starter fountain pen. I’m not sure I enjoy it quite as much as my Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen, which is quite a bit heavier in my hand, but I like it far, far better than the Sheaffer VFM that I reviewed a few weeks ago. The two don’t really compare, but I was carrying both at the same time and I was far more likely to grab the Parker IM and pretty happy while using it.

I just wanted to add a quick note about the notebook that I used to test the Parker IM.  This was a generous gift to the desk by Julia Skott from Sweden. (Ed. Note: She blessed us with a heap ton of awesome Swedish and European notebooks at the Atlanta Pen Show this year that will be making an occasional appearance on the blog.) Appeel notebooks are made by an Italian company that wanted to create eco-friendly journals inspired by the Italian landscape.  The notebooks are called Appeel because the book covers and pages are made from apple peels and selected vegetable fibers.  I found a few examples of Appeel products being offered at promotional goods sites (i.e. for creating logo merchandise), but I didn’t find anywhere to purchase otherwise.

The notebook I used had a cardstock cover, though many of the journals I found online have leather covers.  The notebook measures 13 x 21cm with a sewn binding, and contains 80 pages of 80gsm lined paper, featuring the Appeel logo in the upper corner.   The paper is a neutral tan color.  In general I enjoyed testing the paper. Surprisingly, it tolerated fountain pen ink quite well, with some ghosting, but no bleeding through even in the areas where I filled in with extra ink.

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.