Link Love: No Game of Thrones Spoilers

Kitten Update: Our newest resident is settling in but is still a little skittish. She is super cuddly once she feels safe and loves to play with the string toy. The other cats are slowly warming to her except “El Presidente,” our 6lb Siamese who is having none of this micro-invader. So, for the time being, we are keeping the kitten sequestered and introducing her slowly to the rest of the brood. The vets gave her a clean bill of health except for ear mites. Name is still up for debate. Suggestions?

Link of the Week:
This is the best, most-thorough and accurate review of the Platinum Classic inks I’ve seen yet. It’s also stunningly beautiful. I wholeheartedly agree that the Platinum Classic inks exhibit iron gall-like properties but are not true iron gall inks.




Paper, Notebooks, Etc:

Art & Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Fountain Pen Review: Noodler’s Ink Neponset with Music Nib

Review by Tina Koyama

I think it was Azizah of Gourmet Pens who said that one can never have too many music nibs. If my handwriting were as beautiful as hers, I could rationalize having as many music nibs as I damn well please. Alas, it’s not (in fact, I usually print in a utilitarian manner), so I’m not sure why I felt compelled to add a fifth music nib to my collection (and will undoubtedly add more in the future), but I’m happy I did. The Noodler’s Ink Neponset music nib is quite different from the others I own.

Before I get to that nib, though, let’s talk about the Neponset’s body, which is substantial. According to Pen Chalet, the Neponset (appropriately named after an airship blimp) is the largest of Noodler’s fleet. Despite my relatively small hand, I prefer pens with a good heft and girth, both of which the Neponset has. It’s also more than a half-inch longer than a Lamy Safari.

That extra length balances well with the pen’s large diameter without the cap. With the cap posted, however, it feels a little back-end heavy to me. The cap screws on and posts securely.

I chose the Calligraphy Stone color, which looked orange in the model photographed on Pen Chalet’s site, but mine is closer to a golden topaz hue with more dark marbling. Some parts of the body reflect light more than others, and the marbling varies widely, too. Made of acrylic, the body is fitted with a silver-colored clip, trim ring and band to match the nib.

The Neponset uses a plunger-style piston filler. For people who are used to eyedropper pens or those with built-in pistons, the detachable piston’s capacity may seem small. Compared to the miniscule Pilot and Sailor converters I’m used to, though, the Neponset’s filler seems enormous.

Before I move on to the nib, I must say something I’ve heard other Noodler’s users complain about but had never experienced myself until now: that smell! I noticed it immediately when I uncapped the new pen, but when I unscrewed the section from the barrel, that odor nearly knocked me out! (Yes, I have said the same thing about alcohol-based markers and Xylene pens.) I quickly inked it and put the barrel back on, hoping that would hold the smell at bay, and it did. As long as it’s completely capped, I don’t smell it. (I’ve heard that if I disassemble all the pieces and leave them out in the open for several days, the smell will dissipate, so I’ll do that before its next inking.)

Now let’s get to that nib, which is the most important part of any pen (at least for me). Called the Vishnu Victory, the Neponset’s music nib has the traditional three tines. (I have a Sailor music nib with only two tines, but the Platinum, Pilot and Franklin-Christoph all have three.)

Apparently music nibs are so named because their stub-like shape can make a thin line horizontally and thicker line vertically, both strokes being used to write music notations. I also understand that the purpose of the double slits (three tines) is to keep more ink flowing. The Vishnu Victory certainly manages well on both counts. Immediately after its first inking and ever since, it has been flowing beautifully with no skips or hard starts, and it keeps up with longer or faster strokes with ease.

Pen Chalet’s description calls it a “flex music nib,” which caught my attention; none of my other music nibs have any flex at all (hard as the proverbial nail). While I probably don’t take advantage of flexing when I write, I sometimes enjoy making deliberately slow pen-and-ink-type drawings using fountain pens instead of dip pens, and the Neponset’s nib gives me just enough spring that I can get interesting line variations. Mind you, it’s not a wet noodle by any means or even as flexy as some contemporary nibs (my Pilot Falcon and Pilot FA nibs are much flexier), but it has just enough bounce to make the nib fun.

Final Impressions

Flexier than all the other music nibs I’ve tried, Noodler’s Neponset is a versatile pen for both writing and drawing (and is therefore a welcome addition to my music nib collection whether I can rationalize another one or not). I hope that stink goes away.

By the way, if you’re curious about that quotation I used for my writing sample, it’s by Naoki Ishikawa, an explorer and photographer, quoted in last year’s Hobonichi Techo: “I want to spend the rest of my life continually astonished by things I’ve never seen. When I saw the world’s tallest mountain peaks, or Tibetan worshippers chanting prayers as they spent all day circling a temple, or the deep crimson sunsets of Africa, my body responded on its own. By the time I realized it, my finger was already pressing the shutter.”

I’d like to spend the rest of my life that way, too.

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 Pen Chalet for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Book Review: The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting

The title of the book, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting by Anne Trubek did not instill a lot of confidence that I was going to see eye to eye with the opinions of the author. The urge to make marks to communicate seems hardwired into the human DNA, in my humble opinion. How we go about doing that has changed over time but the essence of mark-making continues. And even children who seem fascinated by technology still gravitate towards crayons and paint just as often so I’m inclined to think that Ms. Trubek’s “uncertain” stance is a little premature.

That said, I plowed through her text, and let me tell you, it was a bit of an ordeal. I am fairly familiar  in the history of calligraphy and the handwriting so I was sort of hoping that this book was going to take a slightly different perspective. Nope. Ms. Trubek dove right into the history and attempted to sum it up in a few short chapters (less than 60 pages) with her own biases about the church and the patriarch. It makes me wonder whether she was just lashing out at the world or actually researching handwriting. Yes, history is full of injustices but deciding whether children today or in the future should continue to learn handwriting because of social injustices of 300 years ago hardly seems like sound logic.

Adding a layer of irrevelance to her argument, she included chapters about handwriting analysis and the introduction of the typewriter as reasons why handwriting should be summarily dismissed. Actually, those were all reasons why I thought her editor should be dismissed. It made the book feel choppy and disjointed. The introduction of the typewriter and keyboard created less need for handwriting but the chapter did not fall appropriately within the book.

Many of the statements Ms. Trubek made felt she was aggrieved and put-upon. It was not until the last chapter or so that she admits she left-handed (pg. 151) and reveals being judged “less intelligent” because her penmanship was not as legible. As a fellow lefty, I understand there are issues facing us but she needs to remove her personal bias from her writing.

Handwriting, like riding a bicycle, is a skill that requires patience and practice. Anyone can do it — unless they have a physical condition that inhibits their ability and then, yes, there are many alternatives. We live in a world now that does not make it a requirement to write by hand anymore. But, if you read this blog, I suspect that you are someone who believes that handwriting and pens and analog tools are worth using and saving.

Skip this book. I sent my copy, annotated with paper sticky notes to my pal Penthusiast. No one else should have to pay cash for this.

Book Review: The Pencil Perfect

I was tickled pink (cover pun entirely intended!) to be able to read The Pencil Perfect: The Untold Story of a Cultural Icon by Caroline Weaver. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when the book arrived but it turned out to be about the size and shape of a text book with a black bookcloth spine and a ribbon bookmark and a salmon pink cover with a pencil-drawn illustration of a Blackwing 602 on the cover. Inside is a thorough history of the pencil from the discovery of graphite to the post-war Japanese pencils and the resurgent love of pencils in the 21st century. The text is annotated with coordinating pink call-outs and is ridiculously thorough. It is conversational but super-educational.

Even if you didn’t think you would be interested in the pencil industry, there is so much about how Faber-Castell, Caran d’Ache, and Empire all got started. Then how so many of them merged, married and submerged. Since so many of these pencil companies are also makers of pens, its curious to see the histories.

I know its not Caroline’s thing but I know she must have so much information about how the mergers must have affected the pen portions too. Maybe someday she’ll write a pen book? One could hope.

Until then, immerse yourself in the pencil history. Its fascinating! The accompanying illustrations are amazing. CW Pencils is currently sold out of the books but you can be emailed when they are back in stock. In the meantime, I dare you to read this book and not want to buy some pencils!

Photo of the Day: Wallace Motif Pencils

Photo of the Day: Wallace Motif Pencils

While at the D.C. Pen Show, my good friend John Martinson gave me a beautiful tin box of vintage pencils. It was a Wallace Motif box with nine unsharpened No. 2 pencils and three Eagle Mikado No. 3 pencils. I’ve never seen Wallace pencils before but the company was in Saint Louis so they were right here in Missouri. 

The ferrules are longer than modern pencils and have concentric hash marks. The black erasers look nice with the blue paint too.

The cores were nicely centered. I know I should sharpen one and try it because I’m sure it would write like a dream especially since its not a full box of a dozen but I feel like I should wait a little while longer. Let them nestle in their perfect tin for a little while longer.

Such a beautiful, perfect gift.

Link Love: Operation Kitten

For those curious, we managed to lure the stray kitten into the house last night. It took a good deal of food and patience but she’s currently in a good-sized crate waiting to go to the vet this morning. Operation Kitten was successful!



Paper & Notebooks:

Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Notebook Review: Pebble Paper Design A6 Notebook

Notebook Review: Pebble Paper Design A6 Notebook

Review by Laura Cameron

One of the perks of writing for “the Desk” is that occasionally I get to pick some samples from the review box and give them a go.  One of these such finds is a cute mint A6 notebook from Pebble Paper Design.

Pebble Paper Design was started in 2015 by Rachel Chew of Malaysia.  Ms. Chew is known for her whimsical illustrations, and the company produces several lines of notebooks and planners.

The book I reviewed is an A6 notebook. It contains 48 sheets of blank bright white 100gsm paper, which feels similar to copy paper, and a minty aqua 200gsm cover, which feels similar to cardstock.  It is staple bound with two staples in the middle.  The belly band on the notebook indicates it is intended for both pencils and pens.

I used my Muji fountain pen (reviewed in a previous post) and a Kaweco Palm Green ink cartridge.

Overall I was very pleased with how the paper performed.  The ink didn’t feather or bleed at all on the paper, and the nib moved quite smoothly over the paper surface.  There was a bit of ghosting on the pages, so if that really bothers you, you might stick with ballpoints or pencils. 

I think this notebook would be the perfect addition to a Travelers Pocket notebook, which is where I plan to stash this one for future use.

I didn’t find the notebook I’ve been using available for purchase anywhere, but if you’re interested in trying Pebble Paper Design products it looks like you might be able to do a little shopping through their Facebook page where notebooks range from 20RM to 59RM, or about $5-$14.

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.