News: KC Maker Faire, Oster Inks & Pencil Subscriptions

This Weekend:

If you are in Kansas City, please come by the Maker Faire at Union Station. Not only is it tons of fun with all sorts of ‘bots and gizmos but there are also crafts and makers including Skylab Letterpress! There will all the wonderful Skylab goodies like posters, prints, coasters and some notepads you may recognize. I’ll be there helping out and we might even have some Col-o-rings squirreled away if you ask nicely. Don’t miss the epic experience including costumes, robots, 3D printing, crafts, food and more. Don’t forget sunscreen!

Blackwing 73: Lake Tahoe Edition

Blackwing unveiled its latest Volumes Edition this week, the #73 Lake Tahoe edition. This edition is a bright vivid blue with textural raised lines to mimic the topography of the lake. The number is the maximum depth of the lake in feet. The ferrule is plain silver and the eraser is white. The branding is white foil stamped. It’s a nice looking pencil overall but I see a striking California-centric trend following the John Muir, the Jade and now the Tahoe. I suppose that’s their focus with the California cedar as well. Maybe they are clustering their themes by year… this year California?

Baron Fig Archer Prismatic

Baron Fig also introduced its newest release of its pencil, The Archer Prismatic. This time the Archer comes in three bright colors: red, yellow and sky blue. Subscribers to the quarterly Archer subscriptions should be getting theirs in the post this week.

Retro51 Tornado Popper Play Ball!

Retro51 unveiled the latest Tornado Popper this past week. It’s the new Play Ball! edition and they are selling out fast. If you collect the Tornado Poppers and you like this one, you better hoop over to your favorite retailer quick and purchase it because they are selling out fast.

(photo from Anderson Pens)

Robert Oster Signature Inks:

Robert Oster has been releasing ink colors faster than I can keep up. At the Chicago Pen Show was the release of Ryde Green and Tangerine. A couple weeks ago he released the new Blue Water Ice and then Plumb Nut and Sublime. Somewhere along the way Marrone Mustard and River of Fire were also released. And this week there’s more with Eucalyptus Leaf, Red Clay and Golden Brown.

While I appreciate the constant influx of new inks, I think the flood of colors makes it hard for consumers to appreciate the colors and hard for retailers to sell and promote the new colors. I would like to see releases from Oster in a more targeted manner.– maybe four to six colors released quarterly? That would give both shop owners and consumers a chance to appreciate the inks they’ve purchased to appreciate what they have and crave new colors.

Also, in the midst of all of these new releases, the price for Oster inks also went up. I’m sure there’s a lot of reasons for the price increase

And more new sponsors!

Federalist Pens joins the ranks this week. All readers can use the coupon code “desk” at checkout to get an additional 5% off at checkout! Federalist Pens already discounts 20% or more and offers “Daily Deals” that are at least 20% off so the extra 5% on top sweetens the deal a little bit more. Federalist Pens also offers free shipping on all orders over $99.

Appelboom has also come on board as a sponsor to offer great service and products to our European (and global) readers. Appelboom has a huge array of brands of pens, inks, paper goods and more.

Product Review: Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book (by Tina not Ana!)

Review by Tina Koyama

Like many fountain pen aficionados, I have way more ink than I’ll ever use in this lifetime (but don’t worry, I have several more planned to take care of my stationery and art supply stash). I’ve been keeping a log book of sorts to track all the colors. The problem with using a notebook is that I had initially assigned one page per color family, so when I filled a page (it happened way more quickly than I’d anticipated!), the rest had to be put on a different page out of sequence. Do it all over again? Argh.

When Ana offered me a Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book, I knew it was an ideal opportunity to put my inks in order and log them in a more functional system – this time in the Col-o-ring book’s loose-leaf format. I know a compact ring-bound card system idea isn’t new, but it certainly is the best format for comparing colors easily (like paint chips at the hardware store). It means I’ll never run out of space within a color category, and if I eventually decide Iroshizuku Yama-budo is really closer to pink than to purple, it’s easily moved. Much better than a bound book! I also simply love the way the pages (2-by-4 inches with nicely rounded corners) look when fanned out.

A major improvement over my previous system is the paper. Unlike most fountain pen writers, I also use my inks for drawing. One of my favorite techniques using water-soluble fountain pen ink is to wash the line lightly with water for shading, so it’s important to me to see how the washed ink looks. The fountain pen-friendly notebook I had been using isn’t sized for water media, so I had to make separate wash samples in a sketchbook. The Col-o-ring book’s 100-pound paper is heavy enough to withstand a light wash. In addition, the surface sizing keeps the ink from sinking into the paper, which allows water-soluble inks to wash nicely and sheening inks to show their stuff beautifully. (The paper reminds me of Stillman & Birn’s Alpha sketchbook paper in both texture and sizing.)

With a subtle tooth (seen most easily in my sample of Viarco Artgraf water-soluble graphite pencil), the paper’s texture surprised me a bit, since it’s intended for fountain pens and dip nibs, which usually do better on smooth paper. But I made all my ink samples with a flexy Zebra G dip pen, and it had no problem with the tooth.

In fact, I started thinking that the tooth on the paper would be nice for pencils, too – but why stop at pencils? After finishing the inks, I kept right on going and sampled all my favorite water-soluble media – colored pencils, graphite pencils, brush pens, markers – just to see how they’d do. They sampled beautifully, and I gave them all my usual swipe with a waterbrush to test the wash. From now on, the Col-o-ring Book will be my handy go-to sampler when I want to see how any water-soluble medium will behave.

The book contains 100 pages, which is plenty for my bottled ink collection (I’m leaving my ginormous ink sample collection for one of those future lifetimes I referred to).

Although I wrote all the ink titles with a fine dip pen, I know that inks can look entirely different when used with other nibs, especially the fatter nibs that I favor. So whenever I ink up a fountain pen, I write a sample on the reverse side of the card as a reminder of how it looks.

Ok, now that the review is done, here’s the pop quiz: How many of you get how to pronounce Col-o-ring? I’m sure you all do. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t get it until I heard Ana and Brad talk about it on the Pen Addict podcast. Dang – that’s the kind of product name I wish I’d come up with!

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 The Well-Appointed Desk for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Editor’s Note: Tina was in no way coerced into saying nice things about this product by the editor. I’m glad she liked it though.

Ink Review: Platinum Classic Lavender Black

Ink Review: Platinum Classic Lavender Black

Review by Laura Cameron

Up until a few weeks ago, I only owned one bottle of ink.  I have been ordering samples of everything; every time I place an order for anything I throw in a few more ink samples.   However, several weeks ago I saw the Pen Addict photos of Platinum Classic Lavender Black and I really wanted a bottle.

Unfortunately, I was jonesing for the Lavender Black at the same time of the rest of the world and it took me a bit to find some. I finally found a bottle at Fahrney’s.  It arrived quickly and I was eager to break into it and ink up my TWSBI Eco.

Lavender Black is produced by the Platinum Pen Company as part of their Classic ink lines. The inks themselves are water-based, pigmented ink made for fountain pens.  As you can see on the test page, the ink is not water resistant.

Lavender Black is one of those inks that you can watch change colors.  In the bottle it looks sort of like grape juice, and as it dries it moves more towards a wine color.  It would definitely work for shading techniques as you can see from my swatches.

I had heard Lavender Black referred to an iron gall ink. I had no idea what this meant, so I spent a little time learning (thanks, Wikipedia!). Iron gall inks are either purple-black or brown-black inks made from iron salts and tannic acids.  These inks are potentially more likely to stain your pens if they aren’t frequently used and cleaned, so that is something to keep in mind when using Lavender Black.

I don’t have a lot of experience in inks, but this was a fairly wet ink, not viscous.  It flowed smoothly through my nib and dried as a really nice plummy wine color. I’m definitely a fan and I think my TWSBI may have found its signature color!

You can obtain samples of Lavender Black and the rest of the new line (Cassis Black, Citrus Black, Khaki Black, Forest Black and Sepia Black), or you can purchase the standard 60cc bottle at your favorite pen store.

Addendum:  After I sent this review to Ana she noted that iron gall inks are supposed to be permanent and wondered whether I had conducted more than one water resistance test.  I ended up trying several different water resistance tests on several different types of paper and the results were always the same.  While the original text was definitely still readable, the ink wasn’t entirely permanent – it continued to bleed even when water hit it 24 hours later. So, if you’re planning to use this ink, it might not work the best for your mixed media uses unless you’re ok with a bit of bleed.

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.


Ask The Desk: Art Supplies – Black Paper, Blacker Inks & Bleedproof Traveler’s Notebook

Catherine asks:

Please can you tell me where I can purchase black paper that is lined? It’s for my sons Art GCSE. He wants to make his annotations on BLACK background and it’s taking so much time for him to mark and rule up for each piece of work.
Any ideas?
Would have to be faint lines though as he plans to write up in silver/white.

John Neal Booksellers, supplier of the finest calligraphy materials, sells lined black notebook paper. It’s available in packs of 150 sheets for $4.39. Lines are white so I don’t know how faint they are but hopefully it is better than having to draw them all by hand.

Another option might be to invest in a light box and lay a sheet of lined paper under the black sheet as reference. I own an Artograph Light Pad but there are less expensive models available. You might have to try a few different methods until you get one that shows up through the black paper – another black sheet with white lines inverted out (maybe printed off of a laser copier) or a bright colored sheet with dark lines.

Jose brings an art-related question:

I use to ink with fine liner pens in Fabriano Bristol paper of 250 grames. The problem is that when the stroke dries, loses its dark color and become a bit grey. It has happened with Pigma sakura, stabilo and Faber castell Pitt. Some of my friends have told me that is normal, and the original ink drawing always get grey, no the reproduction copy. But I watched this video and I think the stroke is dark
I think she uses Deleter paper, but I am not sure.
So, I ask you, what is the best paper (ah, I almost forgot, I also used Canson Xl Bristol, Canson Mayor, Canson Marker, Canson the Wall, and Canson illustration bd and no one were a good purchase, they made the same problem with the stroke…) to get a dark stroke, and the darkest fine liner pen that you know?

I don’t know that it’s the paper that’s necessarily the problem. Most fineliner pens are water-based ink. The pens you are permanent and water-proof ink like the Faber-Castell PITT and the Sakura Pigma Microns. Alcohol-based inks might be a bit darker but the inks are more likely to bleed or feather on most papers except marker paper. If you’re planning to use the pens with alcohol markers as well, the markers will cause the fineliners to bleed or smear so alcohol markers might not be a good solution.

For the blackest of the black ink, you may want to consider switching to either a fountain pen that uses liquid inks or a dip pen. With a fountain pen, you could choose a permanent Carbon black ink like the Platinum Carbon or one of Noodler’s bulletproof blacks like Heart of Darkness. If you want to consider a dip pen, then you can try an india ink like Speedball Super Black, Higgins Black Magic or Pilot Document Ink.

I recommend checking out some of the great articles that Drewscape has written about using fountain pens and dip nibs to create some of his comics. While his illustration style might not be the same look you are striving to create, I hope you can see the potential for blacker blacks in his work.

Hayley asks:

I make my own Traveler’s Notebook inserts for my bullet journal but I’m struggling to find a paper that meets me needs: it needs to work in an inkjet printer, be fountain pen friendly, and thick enough or bleed-resistant enough that my W&N ProMarkers don’t obliterate the other side of the page. You seemed like the person who might know!

The only paper I can think of that might survive alcohol markers like ProMarkers without much show through might be Tomoe River 68gsm but I can’t find anyone who sells it in flat sheets. Alcohol markers are the single worst for bleed through of any  tool. Short of a heavyweight cardstock which would not be efficient for folding and would likely feather, I fear that you might not have a very compatible combo with the ProMarkers and the Traveler’s Notebook/Inkjet. Not to mention the inks that inkjets use are likely to be removed by the alcohol in the markers.

I say this only to prevent an extensive waste of time and money at this stage. Have you run a test print on regular paper and tried your ProMarkers? Do the markers pull the inkjet toner off? If the markers remove the toner ink from standard 20lb bond, then I really wouldn’t risk investing in more expensive papers at this point. Try a laser copy from a local copy shop, your school or office as well and see if the ProMarkers pull the toner on those. Not to mention if the toner transfers onto your markers. You wouldn’t want all your lovely, expensive markers to get all grungy from black toner.

Maybe handwriting your planner, diary, or calendar Bullet Journal-style might be a better solution on a blank 68gsm Tomoe River insert? Then, even if you did get some bleed through, you could choose not to use the back of the page on every spread.

Sorry, I didn’t have a better answer for you. Tough questions this week! If anyone has better ideas for any of the questions this week, please share them in the comments. Thanks!

Fashionable Friday: Sevens Years and Counting …Sheep!

Fashionable Friday: Sevens Years and Counting …Sheep!

Today marks the SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY of The Well-Appointed Desk. Yes, seven years! I can’t believe I’ve believe it either. To mark the occasion I decided to refer to the official anniversary gifts chart for a seventh anniversary and would you believe they are wool, copper, and desk sets? Well, of course they would be. So let’s start celebrating!

  • Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen in Copper $203 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Brasstown Zip Roll Pen Case in Peacock (AKA Patina Copper) $40 (via NockCo)
  • Montegrappa Mule Copper Fountain Pen $324.34 (via Appelboom)
  • Bronze Black Washi Tape Stripe Damask $2 per roll (via CuteTape)
  • Kaweco Liliput fountain pen copper €93, € 76,86 Outside EU (via Fontoplumo)
  • Diamine Ancient Copper Ink (30 ml Bottle) $7.50 (via JetPens)
  • Madeline Tosh DK Yarn in Brick Dust $24 (via Eat Sleep Knit)
  • Handspun Yarn: Widdershins $39 (via The Corner of Knit and Tea on Etsy)
  • The Planter Desk Storage in Walnut $59 (via Dudek Modern Goods)
  • Robert Oster Copper Fountain Pen Ink (50ml bottle) $18 (via Federalist Pens)
  • Options Interchangeable Caspian Circular Knitting Needle Set $55.99 (via KnitPicks)
  • Paperblanks Midi Journal – Brocaded Paper Golden Fuchsia, Lined $17.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Field Pen Roll in Cream £10 (via The Stationer)
  • Monteverde Tool 60 Ballpoint Pen in Autumn Copper $40 (via Anderson Pens)

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 your support, and for supporting the shops that help keep it running.

Link Love: Shhh, everybody’s sleeping!




Notebooks & Paper:

Other Interesting Things:

Giveaway Winners: Blackwing Notebooks

Congrats to the winners of the Blackwing Notebook giveaway.

Each of our winners was contacted directly by email. Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to Blackwing for supplying the notebooks for the giveaway.

In case anyone is curious, the figures in the photo are Momiji Birdie & Bowie. These aren’t available anymore but other figures are released regularly should you find them too cute to resist.