Posts Tagged ‘review’

Ink Review: Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple

After my Fashionable Friday: Purple Rainy Day, I’ve been itching to add more purple inks to my stash. I started hoarding various shades of purple and taking recommendations from friends and shop keepers. The first color that was brought to my attention was Montblanc Lavender Purple (60ml bottle for $19) thanks to Matt over at The Pen Habit.

I don’t usually dwell on the bottle designs of inks but I’m finding as I accumulate more inks, I’m becoming more opinionated about bottle shapes, sizes and graphics. Lavender Purple is one of the “standard” Montblanc inks and comes in one of the most useful and interesting bottles in my collection. Its a long oblong glass bottle with a divot on the bottom of the bottle just behind the cap. This creates a divided chamber in the bottle. By tipping the bottle forward, ink in the back chamber can fill the front chamber making it easier to refill a pen as the ink volume is depleted. Ingenious! And except for the slightly too-modern label on the top of the bottle, its a really aesthetically-appealing bottle overall. Its such a nice bottle that I could see buying an empty Montblanc bottle and transfer some of my inks in difficult-to-dip-my-pens bottles into this little gem.

 

Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple is not really lavender nor purple, at least not to my eyes. Its reminds me a bit of Grape Kool-Aid. Its a warm, purplish-black with a bit more red in the color than any of the other purples I tried in my hunt for the “perfect purple.” I like purples and violets that have a duller, deeper tone rather than garish, bright jewel tones. Its not to say that a vibrant purple isn’t beautiful, I just find that I don’t reach for such “showy colors” on a regular basis.

The color has a little shading and depending on how wet the nib or feed is, the color can look almost purple-black or a softer, muted black cherry. I had no issues with drying times though I’m not very scientific about dry times. If the ink dries before I get my hand over it, then it dries fast enough. On the Rhodia paper, drying is slower than most and I had no issues.

Montblanc Lavender Purple ink swab comparison

When I put the swab swatch next to some of the other purples in my collection, its easy to see how much rosier Montblanc Lavender Purple is to the other colors in my stash. I’ve had a couple days to admire it and the more I look at it, the more I like it. This is definitely a color that will be moved into my regular ink rotation.

Review: Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner 0.4 mm 18-Color Set

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

One of my friends had a set of the mini Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners in her pen case that she uses to draw and sketch on the go. I have always envied this set so I finally broke down and got my own set. I got the 18-color mini finerliners in the “sporty” water bottle for $15.

I confess that I have a huge soft spot for metal-tipped, felt-tip markers. Marvy Le Pens were one of my middle school “gateway drugs” into the wonderful world of pens. I like the slight grippiness of the felt tip that helps me slow down and write a little bit neater than with the smooth-as-glass experience I get with some rollerball and gel pens. I love the wide array of colors for taking notes and color-coding my planner and calendars so a large set of colored, felt-tip markers thrills my inner 12-year-old. If I get anymore excited about this little mini bottle of markers, I might start drawing rainbows, kittens and unicorns.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

The pens are shorter than the regular Point 88 Fineliner 0.4mm marker pens but the cap posts nicely so that it feels like a full length pen in use. Since I tend to wear the tips of these sorts of felt-tipped markers out long before they run out of ink, the shorter pen seemed like a reasonable option. I can also fit a lot more of these shorties in my travel case, which is a bonus.

(via JetPens)

The pens are the same width and shape as a standard hexagonal pencil. Even the color of the barrel is reminiscent of a classic yellow Ticonderoga pencil but with classy white pinstripes. The cap snaps snugly on the pen cap or the base for posting the cap.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner writing samples

The individual Point 88 mini pens do not have color names written on them so I made up some descriptive names as I went along. Jet Pens lists official names if you’re curious. The colors were all bright and clean colors. The point size is in my “sweet spot” for nib sizes at 0.4mm and exactly the same line width as the Le Pens.

(I lost to my inner 12-year-old and drew a panda. You forgive me, right?)

My first reaction when I started testing the Point 88 minis is how much the writing experience and colors reminded me of the Marvy Le Pens. I’m don’t have a complete set of Le Pens here but was able to cross-reference the writing experience and color with at least a dozen colors and there are some very comparable shades between the two brands.

The inks are not waterproof but neither are the LePens. The Stabilo pens are designed to allow for a long cap-off time without drying out. I didn’t test this out but hope that they live up to the hype and provide me a long life of colors over the next several months.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner comparison to Marvy Le Pen

When posted, the Stabilo Point 88 minis are a tiny bit longer than the Le Pens full length but unposted.

The same Stabilo 88 mini Fineliner marker pens are available in a soft plastic wallet instead of the goofy “water bottle” but it costs $0.75 more for the envelope rather than the bottle. My Stabilo mini Fineliner pens will end up being dumped into my regular pen case so I’m okay with the $0.75 savings. The full-sized set of Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners includes all 25 standard colors for $21.50. I might go ahead and order the full set so I can have the greys, browns and the midnight blue color which are some of my favorite shades to use. Individual pens are $0.80 each so its worth adding a few to your next order if you’re not sure you want a full set or you need to “complete” your set.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 20-color set is a little bit more expensive ($25) but a little bit finer at 0.3mm. I know the Staedtlers are quite popular as well so if you find the 0.4mm to be a bit too wide, these might be a good alternative. I’m going to stick with the Stabilo Point 88s.

 

Ink Review: Diamine 150th Silver Fox

Diamine Silver Fox

I’m sorry it took me so long to post the review for Diamine 150th Anniversary Silver Fox ink. I wrote the review but forgot to photograph the results. In the meantime, its been dark and rainy here for two weeks making it almost impossible to take good photos of the results, especially the neutral grey-on-white combination of this ink.

Then my darling cats decided they should help and caused me splotch ink, then walked around on the test sheet with wet feet. Sheesh. I’d think this ink review was cursed if the color wasn’t so lovely and the ink so well-behaved. So its not the ink that’s cursed this week — just me.

IMG_2895-2

Silver Fox is as neutral a grey ink as I’ve ever seen. Its not a cool grey with bluish tones and its not a warm grey with reddish hues. Its in that sweet spot, a true neutral grey. To be honest, Silver Fox is quite similar in color as the J. Herbin Stormy Grey, just without the divisive gold flecks. It also reminds me of pencil graphite so this could be THE ink for pencil lovers.

The dry time is reasonable for this ink and there’s some fun shading. Since the color is so neutral, there was not any sort of sheen. The ink dries a bit lighter than it looks when wet which is preferable to inks that start light and darken like the J. Herbin Gris Nuage which is practically invisible when wet and much too hard to write with in my opinion.

Diamine Silver Fox ink comparison

In comparing ink samples, Diamine Graphite is a bit of a greenish cool grey and DeAtramentis Silver Grey is a bit bluish in comparison. I think the Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey is similar in hue but a little bit darker grey.

Diamine 150 Years Silver Fox is available for $18.50 from Jet Pens in a 40ml pie-shaped bottle. This ink is part of a special collection so if this is a color you think you might want to try, better purchase it soon.


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

Ink Review: Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat is the second ink I purchased from this line produced by L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio and sold in the US through Vanness Pens in Little Rock.

Callifolio ink bottles

I’ve had the worst time trying to describe this color. Grenat is a warm, reddish brown that leans a little to a wine color — like “red wine stain” almost. Its not a vivid bright, eye-watering red but a subtle color that could potentially be a daily user because its not so garish as to be off-putting.

Callifolio Grenat

Grenat shades a little bit and there appears to be a greenish blue halo around heavier strokes. The color dried quickly, even on the Rhodia stock so that I could comfortably write without worrying that I’d stick my hand into wet ink as I went. Not a scientific number but I never hit a point where I was unconsciously smearing so I figure that’s good enough for me.

Callifolio Grenat ink comparison

Honestly, I had no other color in my stash that was even remotely similar to Callifolio Grenat. Its reddish but not bright or vivid so comparing it to red inks seemed too far from the mark. Instead I put it next to purply J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune and Kaweco Caramel Brown so you could see the color is neither purple nor brown.

At $11 per bottle, its totally worth investing in a bottle of Callifolio ink, whether you decide to experiment with Grenat or one of the many other colors. I’ve been pleased with both the Grenat and the Oliphants ink and I’m willing to try other colors in the near future.

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Following the success and enthusiasm over the gold fleck-filled Stormy Grey and Rouge Hematite, J. Herbin reformulated the 1670 Bleu Ocean to include gold flecks as well. I was really excited about this change because who doesn’t like sparkles?

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

I love the shape and look of the 1670 series bottle. Its a square glass bottle with a wax seal label and “wax sealed cap”. The cap is not actually wax sealed, its a traditional threaded twist cap but the cap is covered with a faux wax material so it looks like wax. I think the bottles are gorgeous and I love the details that have been added to make them look special. I have not tried to get ink out of the bottom of the bottle yet but I imagine it will not be easy. I suspect that to completely use all the ink i the bottle, I’ll have to use a syringe or transfer the ink into another container to access the ink as the opening will not be convenient to dipping a pen after multiple uses. That said, its really pretty.

As with the other versions of the 1670 ink, the gold flecks will settle to the bottom of the bottle and will require some stirring, shaking or rolling to redistribute the gold in the ink. I’ve heard folks mention that if they fill a pen with any of these 1670 inks, they will often roll their pen on a table to keep the gold flecks from settling in the reservoir.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

The ink color is actually a darker blue than most of the “true blues” in my collection and the addition of the gold flecks makes it even more appealing. The gold was quite noticeable in my swab sample, more so than with either the Rouge Hematite or Stormy Grey.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

When I painted the title, I got really excited about this ink. It sparkled, there were lots of color variation and I really liked the color. All this enthusiasm took a nose dive when I dipped my Esterbrook 9314M Medium Stub into the ink and the ink softened around the edges as I wrote. It didn’t bleed or feather per se, but it smooshed all my writing together making the line edges indistinct and filled in the counters of my letter. I dipped my pen in the ink and then wiped the nib of excess just once but the ink continued to display as runny and soft to the end of the page. I can’t imagine how much this would bleed or feather on lower quality paper instead of the Rhodia stock I used!

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Does this photo sum up my  feelings about the new formulation of Bleu Ocean? Yes it does.

Ink Review: P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet

Akkerman Voorhout

I was so excited to be able to choose a bottle of P.W. Akkerman ink at the Vanness table at the Atlanta Pen Show. For the past year, Akkerman has been “the ink” to acquire. And Vanness is the only place to get the ink in the US. So being able to peruse the quickly depleting stock at the pen show and seeing the ink sample swabs in person was a dream come true. I only purchased one bottle because (1) its pricey stuff ($30/bottle), (2) many of the colors had already sold out before I found the Vanness table and (3) I couldn’t make a sound decision to save my life. I really need to make a spreadsheet of all the inks and colors I have so I know what colors I have.

One of the most striking features of Akkerman is the extremely unique bottle. Its a very tall bottle with a long slender neck. Inside the neck is a ball that allows it to block the flow of ink back into the larger bottle reservoir. So, to ink up a pen, you tip the bottle slowly upside down and then right it so that the neck area fills with ink. This should be a very effective way to get the most mileage out of the bottle without a lot of trouble. And it looks really cool!

I’ve been on a bit of a purple/black kick recently so I picked up a bottle of the Akkerman#15 Voorhout Violet.

Akkerman Voorhout

Voorhout Violet is definitely a purple/black color. In my swashy brush testing, there’s a nice array of dusty purply tones and a distinctly warm undertone. When writing however, the ink appears almost black and then lightens a little as it dries for that more of the purple tones show through, particularly with a wider nib. There’s a bit of shading but because the ink is so dark, its pretty subtle.

The ink behaved well and dried in a reasonable amount of time. I write my samples at a standard writing pace to test “real world” usage and I use Rhodia paper which can slow drying time a bit. But overall the performance was very good.

Oh, I forgot to mention the noticeable “lacquer” odor when I opened the bottle. It wasn’t a noxious smell but it was notable in that there was a smell. Most of my inks don’t have a noticeable smell, the exception being Noodler’s inks which have a similar odor to the Akkerman. Once I dipped my pen and closed the bottle, I no longer noticed the odor but I wanted to note it.

Akkerman Voorhout ink comparison

When compared with my growing arsenal of purple/black inks, the Akkerman is not notably distinct to the other colors I have. Private Reserve Ebony Purple is very similar. In writing, I’m not sure I’d be able to distinguish one from the other. Kaweco Summer Purple is also quite similar in color. And both the Kaweco and Private Reserve inks are considerably cheaper.

I’ll continue to use this ink and try it in an assortment of different pens and under more diverse writing conditions so I may feel differently about this ink in a few months. Right now though, I’m sort of “hmmm” about this color.

That said, I think the Akkerman inks are a good array of colors and worth the investment for the unique bottle alone. I will be trying more Akkerman inks in some of the more popular colors like #5 Shocking Blue and #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen. I’m also itching to try the wildly yellow-green #28 Hofkwartier Green. I could always use more green ink, right?

Check out Ed Jelley’s review of Voorhout Violet for a different perspective.

Ink Review: Callifolio Oliphants

Callifolio ink bottles

One of most unusual items that I picked up at the Atlanta Pen Show was to bottles of Callifolio ink in Olifants and Grenat from the fine folks at Vanness Pen Shop. Actually, the official product name is French, L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio. But can we agree to just call them Callifolio inks?

The bottles for the Callifolio inks are absolutely identical to the bottles that Diamine is using for the 150th Anniversary inks — the pie slice wedges. The labels on the bottle are simple white labels with black printing. It’s not the most interesting packaging but I’m not going to judge this particular book by its cover.

Callifolio offers over  30 different colors in either the 40ml wedge-shaped bottles or in 50ml foil refill pouches. The refill pouches can be used to refill an existing bottle of Callifolio inks or poured into any ink container (like a TWSBI ink bottle or a vintage inkwell). One of the most appealing thing about the Callifolio inks are the price — just $11 per bottle or $8 per foil pouch. I could buy FOUR foil pouches for the cost of one bottle of Akkerman ink.

Callifolio Oliphants

I picked the Olifants color because I just love the teal-y blue/blue-black inks so I wanted to try a Callifolio ink in a color I’d use regularly. There was some nice shading to the color and a bit of a halo.

Callifolio Oliphants

Olifants dried quickly and with my fine stub testing nib, there was no feathering or line softening. I did test the ink on Rhodia paper so there may be some different results on lower quality or lighter weight paper but my initial reaction is that Callifolio is making good inks at great prices.

I did not test for waterproofness but I will do a little follow-up in a few days with more of my experience with the Callifolio inks but for general performance, I’ m quite pleased with this ink.

Callifolio Oliphant ink comparison

The Olifants color is a bit more green than Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo and a bit bluer than Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. But with the wide price difference, Callifolio inks are a reasonable substitute for the more expensive Japanese inks.

I’m really pleased with my purchase so far and I can’t wait to review the Grenat color which is not a color I normally buy.

Pen Review: Lamy Safari Neon Lime (2015 Special Edition)

Lamy Safari Neonlime sample

When I saw the new Lamy Safari in Neon Lime (the 2015 Special Edition Color) (19.50 €) I knew immediately that I’d have to have one. The color is just too perfect not to own it. The color is such a bright yellow green its practically highlighter yellow.

The Lamy is one of the longest pens in my collection but because its made of plastic, its very lightweight. I think it would be a comfortable pen for most writers, tiny to extra large hands. It can be used posted but it makes the pen extremely long. If that’s comfortable go for it but I prefer to use it unposted.

Lamy Neon Lime writing sample

I attempted to use the Neon Lime ink but quickly discovered that it is more useful as a highlighter ink than a writing ink.

I got the Neon Lime Safari with a Medium nib which is one of the only nib sizes from Lamy I had not tried yet. I had a little bit of an issue with a rough spot on the nib so I ran it across some micro mesh to smooth it out and then it seemed good to go. I tried to keep my fingers on the grip section as the grooves indicated but, as a lefty, it ends up being a little awkward to get the proper angle and goo ink flow upside down that way. Once I cocked the pen slightly, I was able to get more consistent ink flow with the medium nib. If I write with my hand below the line I’m writing (mirroring most right handed writers) I got much darker ink and flow.

I stand by my recommendation that lefties don’t start their fountain pen adventures with a Lamy Safari since the grip section can make it more challenging to find the best nib angle for our often-unique writing angles. A pen with a smooth grip section will work better as an introductory pen for a left-handed writer like a Pilot Metropolitan or the higher-priced Lamy Studio.

Lamy Neonlime writing sample

The great thing about the Lamy line is how easy it is to swap out the nibs. I pulled the 1.1mm nib out of my Lamy Studio and tried it in the Neon Lime. Surprisingly, I had an easier time getting the ink on the paper with the wider nib and I found the line variation more interesting.

Lamy Safari Neonlime

Overall, the Lamy is a great introductory fountain pen with easy-to-swap nibs and the Neon Lime color is bright, fun color. My only caveat to recommending the Lamy Safari is, for a left-handed writer, the molded grip section can introduce some challenges if you are an overwriter (you hook your hand above the line you are writing). That said, the Lamy Safari line is quite reasonably priced so if you haven’t tried one yet, its certainly won’t break the bank. Its a classic design in a bold new color.

Comparing Neon Lime

(Just for color comparison:  Pilot Prera,  Neon Lime Lamy Safari, Monteverde Intima in Neon Green, Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl, and Karas Kustoms Render K in green.


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

Review: Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5 Cartridge System

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

My gateway pen was the Pilot Precise V5. I’ve always had good results with it and found it to be one of my favorite big box store pens. Sadly, they are disposable plastic pens. I had always hoped there would be a way to refill them. And now there is! The V5 Hi-Tecpoint 0.5 Cartridge System (Way to come up with a confusing naming convention there, Pilot!) is the answer.

The V5 Hi-Tecpoint uses the same Pilot cartridges as Pilot’s fountain pens which means the pen could be fit with a converter as well. I believe either the Con-20 or the Con-50 should fit but you could also syringe fill the cartridge the came with the pen.

Aesthetically, the pen is the same round, straight barrel as the original V5 Precise. The clip is plastic rather than metal though. There’s new branding graphics which I’m lukewarm about but giant graphics on pens seem to be standard operating procedure for pens under $25 so I can’t fault them for going with the trend.

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

On my first test run, I removed the stock black ink cartridge and replaced it with a colored ink cartridge from the Pilot Mixable Color set for the Parallel Pens. I chose the violet cartridge. I was not sure how effective running water through it would be for removing the previous ink color so I just swapped out the cartridges and scribbled for about a half a page until the ink color shifted from black to purple.

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

The Parallel ink cartridge seems to work fine in the V5 Hi-Techpoint. I had no issues with flow or feathering so I feel pretty confident that I can jump to standard fountain pen inks next. Can I tell you how excited I am about this?

If you’re looking for a refillable rollerball that can take fountain pen ink, for $3.20 this is as good an option as the J. Herbin and gives a considerably finer line. The Hi-Tecpoint is also available in the V7 0.7mm version if you perfer a bolder line.


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

Review: Monsieur Notebook Soft Classics Leather A5

monsieur notebook

Monsieur Notebook has continued to improve and expand their product line. I can’t believe its been four year since I reviewed their first batch of notebooks. Since then, I’d like to think that my reviews have improved as much as their products have.

monsieur notebook

The latest product release is called the Soft Classics leather notebook. The leather cover is glued to cardstock end papers to give the leather a bit of stability but the book has some flexibility. I love the visible leather edge.

The book I received is the medium A5 sized (approx. 5.875″ x 8.25″) in Royal Blue. The book includes a matching vertical elastic and ribbon bookmark. I’d like it clearly stated that the ribbon bookmark is sealed at the end to prevent fraying. This is a little detail that means a lot to me. There is not pocket in the back cover.

The only branding in the book is on the front end paper at the bottom of the page. I appreciate the minimal branding and no logo on the cover of the book which I find presumptuous.

monsieur notebook

Inside the paper is 90 gsm, acid-free, ivory paper. I received a lined notebook but they are also available in plain and dot grid. The paper is described as ivory but I would call it “soft white”. Its not as yellow-y as Moleskine paper. I find it creamy enough not to feel stark white but not so tinted as to interfere with ink colors.

The ruled line spacing is approximately 6mm, comparable to US “college-ruled” in fine grey lines. While ruled paper is not to everyone’s taste, this is very easy on the eyes and fine enough to not be intrusive when writing. I’d be curious to see the dot grid to see if its as light and unobtrusive as well.

To round out their product line, Monsieur also sells a 120 GSM sketch paper, 200GSM watercolour paper and 100GSM bright white specifically for fountain pens.

monsieur notebook

Knowing that Monsieur also makes a notebook with paper specific to fountain pen use, I was a little concerned that the stock paper might not stand up to fountain pens. Turns out, I didn’t have all that much to worry about.

monsieur notebook

I tested a full array of fountain, rollerball, gel and felt tip pens and had no visible issues with feathering or dry time. I tested fountain pens with daily use nibs: EF, F, M and a 0.6mm stub and a 1.1mm stub. On the narrow ruling, I wouldn’t really be inclined to use a fountain pen with a nib much broader than that. My results were very good.

monsieur notebook

Close-up you can see the ink behaved nicely on the page and the ruling sort of vanishes once there’s something else to look at on the page.

monsieur notebook

From the reverse side of the paper there’s a tiny bit of showthrough but no bleed through at all.

The Soft Classic notebooks will be available in the US in August at a retailer near you or through Amazon. The list price on Amazon for the A5 is $25.95. The price puts the Soft Classics notebook in the “premium” category but I think the combination of quality leather and above average paper makes it a pretty competitive price for it. The original hardcover notebooks are a little less expensive and appear to use the same paper. They are listed on Amazon below the MSRP of $19.95 by a few dollars. And the original hardcover notebooks are available now if you can’t wait until August.

Overall, I really like this notebook. Its gotten all the things right that I normally complain about. Good paper, unobtrusive ruling, finished bookmark and a quality cover without enormous branding all over it. The Soft Classics will also be available in an array of cover colors (three shades of blue, two shades of red, British Racing Green, black and brown) that should satisfy most preferences.


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

Review: Pilot Frixion “Color-Pencil-Like” Pen Set

pilot-frixion-4

Pilot has made so many different variations of the Frixion line of erasable pens. Its a little bit confusing. There are highlighters, needlepoint “Point”, gel pens, markers and the “Color-Pencil-Like” pens. For you, my fine readers, I was willing to try these Frixion markers with the very weird description.

pilot-frixion-2

I purchased the 6-color assortment pack of the Pilot Frixion Color-Pencil-Like 0.7mm erasable gel pens ($13). The pens are plastic and have a faceted body to appear and feel a bit like a hexagonal pencil. The caps do not have clips, just a little nub to make it easier to remove the cap. The erasers for each pen are mounted on the end of the cap so that, when posted, the eraser is still accessible. The set came with yellow, red, blue, green, tea brown and black pens.

My first mistake was probably buying a pre-selected set of six since several of these colors I never would have purchased individually. Nine times out of ten, a yellow pen is useless for writing of any sort and the yellow Frixion is no exception. Because its a 0.7mm rollerball gel pen, its doubly true. The yellow is not wide enough to be used as a highlighter so it really is not particularly useable.

I would have much preferred trying an orange, purple, or one of the more unusual colors likt the gray, ultramarine blue or purplish red pens over this uninspired assortment.

pilot-frixion-1

If what you’re looking for with these pens is a pretty smooth, pretty quick-drying  0.7mm rollerball pen that erases, then these might be perfect. If you were genuinely hoping to have a uniquely “pencll-like” experience, then you will be disappointed.The pens did not seem to lend themselves to coloring large areas like I might do with a colored pencil so I’m not sure what Pilot was hoping people would do with these pens?

The product is described as “vibrant colors” but this particular assortment is very dark and solemn in tone. The red is the most vivid color in the set. The green is an evergreen color and even the blue is more blue-black than a bright royal or true blue. And the yellow is a total waste.

pilot-frixion-3

All of the pens in the set erased as well as any of the other Frixion products I’ve tried. The erasing is far superior to any other erasable pens I’ve ever used so if that’s a key feature for you, then these might prove useful.

In the end, I may have been more disappointed by the color assortment in this set than the actual writing experience. These are quite smooth and, even for a lefty, I had no smudging issues or false starts. Also, the writing experience was not “color-pencil-like” so I was disappointed by the sales pitch. They are just gel pens.

There is no cost benefit to buying a set of these pens rather than buying the pens individually ($2.15 each) so if you’re interested in trying these, I’d recommend building your own color assortment and avoiding the yellow altogether. There are other yellowish hues like the mountain yellow and yellow ochre available that might be a darker shade and more useable color than the yellow.

If you’re interested in trying some of the Frixion line, I prefer the Frixion Point 04 line and the Soft Color Highlighters. See my full review here.


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

Notebook: Baron Fig Confidant, Maker Limited Edition

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The Baron Fig Confidant in the limited edition “Maker” variation ($18) is identical in size, shape and paper stock to the original Confidant. What appealed to me was the darker grey book cloth cover that the original Confidant. I also purchased the Maker Edition with lined paper instead of dot grid, just to try a different experience.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The book comes in the same style box as the original Confidant, with a promotional flyer. I’m generally over the term “maker” to describe anyone in a creative endeavor but since the book itself is relatively free of the stigma of hipster branding, I let the name slide. Baron Fig has been pretty good with the naming of its other editions, hopefully this was a hiccup.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

The end papers are coordinating yellow that match the yellow cotton bookmark. I already kvetched about the fraying of the bookmark in the original Confidant review so I won’t flog that particular horse here.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

I do prefer the darker grey book cloth as I suspect it will withstand a bit more use before showing any dirt than the lighter original Confidant.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition compared to Code & Quill Origin

For comparison, I thought I’d show the tonal difference in the greys between the Code & Quill leatherette cover which is a warmer grey to the Confidant Maker Edition which is lighter and a cooler grey cloth.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition Writing Sample

The paper is the same color with the same toothiness as the Original Confidant and performs similarly. I did notice a bit more bleeding with the pesky Sailor Jentle Yama Dori ink but I think its because it was the last pen I tested at the bottom of the page. The Kaweco Ruby Red in the J. Herbin Rollerball took an age to dry and I did smear a little as a result but this has been consistent across all the Baron Fig notebooks. By the bottom of the page, there may have been some oils or moisture accumulated from my hands by the time I got to the bottom of the page. It happens sometimes regardless of ink or paper so I don’t think the paper is at all different from the original Confidant but be warned that warm hands or too much lotion may affect your pen/ink performance.

So, fountain pen ink performance on this paper will vary depending on nib width, wetness and ink composition. YMMV.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

With the lined paper, there is a bit of resistance to the ink when it touches the printed lines particularly with fountain pen inks. Its a little disappointing as I find it distracting. I didn’t notice this resistance to the ink with the dot grid Confidant, probably since there’s a lot less printed ink on the dot gird paper than on the lined version.

Baron Fig Confidant Maker Edition

From the reverse of stock, there’s a little bit of show through but its the same culprits from the other Baron Fig tests I’ve done this week. Which leads me to think that once you find a good pen and ink combination that works with the Baron Fig, stick to it or be prepared for some inks to bleed a little and be okay with that.

I wished I gotten this edition with the dot grid or blank as I like the overall book cloth color better than the original but find the ink resistance of the lines a bit disconcerting. Maybe Baron Fig will change the ink composition for the printed lines in future editions so this won’t be an issue any longer.

 

Pencil Review: Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The Paper Mate Mirado Black Warrior is an office supply store staple. I purchased a pre-sharpened package of 8 pencils in a blister pack for about $2.I ended up re-sharpening them with my Dux Varibel because I could.

This pencil has a smooth round barrel with a matte black paint finish, gold toned ferrule with a cherry red painted stripe and a classic pink eraser top. There were no bar codes or extraneous info printed on the pencil, just the branding and hardness info in gold foil in one line. Everything about it is classic looking which makes it a fairly appealing pencil. The packaging proclaims its the “world’s smoothest write — guaranteed.” Pretty big claim.

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The Mirado is a decently smooth pencil for a big box tool but its not anywhere near the smoothest write I’ve experienced. The lead is quite dark and smudgy and the point dulls in a sentence or two.

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The eraser, as with most pencil toppers, is lame and I wore it out with one erasing. Even with the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, there was still a ghost of the writing left.

The bottom line: Meh. I’d give this pencil a C rating. Its too smudgy, too soft for an HB and the eraser is crap. There are better options available that are only a little more expensive.

Notebook Review: Baron Fig Apprentice, Time Travel Edition

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

When I placed my order with Baron Fig, I couldn’t just buy one notebook so I also ordered a set of their pocket-sized Apprentice books in the limited edition Time Travel design. The Apprentice notebooks come in a set of three books for $9 so they are in the same competitive price range as other pocket notebooks on the market. They are slightly smaller than most pocket notebooks at 3.5″x5″ rather than the average 3.5″x5.5″ inches. The Apprentice books feature rounded corners and a sewn stitched binding rather than staples which are nice details.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

I really like the designs printed on the covers and the pleasingly toothy cover stock. The designs are simple but quite appealing.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

Inside on the card stock is a lightly printed gradient that goes from the paper stock color to a twilight purple at the bottom. It almost looks like an optical illusion. There’s also a dotted line box printed inside the cover for contact info or details about the notebook contents.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

On the inside of the back cover is teeny tiny branding and info about the books. Its super subtle and understated and I appreciate that. Thanks for not sticking giant logos all over the notebook I paid to use. Most obliged.

Baron Fig Apprentice writing sample

The paper inside the Apprentice is the same weight and color as the larger Confidant. I did, however, mix it up in terms of ruling and got the Apprentice with blank paper which is the only difference in the paper from the Confidant. I do love a blank page.

Baron Fig Apprentice writing sample reverse

There seemed to be a little more show through and even a little  bit of bleed through on the Apprentice than the Confidant which seemed odd. The only thing I could attribute this too is that the smaller book might be more prone to picking up moisture or oils from your hands more quickly since there’s less space overall. That said, with pocket notebooks, the goal is to have paper quickly available and handy with a writing tool that’s also quick and handy and often that EDC pen is not a fountain pen but a gel, ballpoint, rollerball or pencil which should not present any problems with the Baron Fig paper.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

The absolute best thing, in my humble opinion about the Baron Fig Apprentice notebooks? They perfectly fit inside my Midori Traveler’s Notebook Star Edition Passport Sized. Perfect fit.

Baron Fig Apprentice Time Travel Edition

Overall, the Time Travel Edition of the Apprentice is a beautiful little pocket notebook set with fair-to-above-average ink handling. The books are beautifully constructed but I’m not inclined to combine them with many of my fountain pens in order to utilize both sides of the 48-page book’s sheets. And the fact that these books fit perfectly in passport-sized Midori Traveler’s is a win-win.

Notebook Review: Baron Fig Confidant

Baron Fig Confidant

I finally decided to take the plunge and order the Baron Fig Confidant notebook ($16). I purchased the Dot Grid format which was widely recommended by other paper-and-pen enthusiasts. I haven’t bought an A5-ish sized  hard cover notebook in a long time so it was about time. Though, the Baron Fig Confidant is actually a bit smaller than an A5, if you want to get technical, at 5.4″ x 7.7″.

Baron Fig Confidant

The book ships in a protective paperboard box with an advertising specification sheet included on top extolling the features of the Confidant such as the lay-flat design, acid-free paper, 12 perforated pages in the back of the notebook, and its 192 page count.

The book itself has a soft warm-grey, book cloth cover and a sunshine-yellow, cotton ribbon bookmark. The corners are rounded which are aesthetically appealing. The book does not have any closure elastics or inner pockets and the interior branding is minimal.

The first thing I noticed was the bookmark was already starting to fray even before I removed my book. I love the idea of ribbon bookmarks but I’m always peeved if the ends are treated to keep them from fraying.

Baron Fig Confidant

I didn’t have any Fray Check handy (available in the sewing section of your local craft shop) so I applied a liberal dollop of white glue (like Elmer’s) to the end of the bookmark to keep it from fraying any further. The photo above is before the glue has dried completely so you can see how much I applied. Once dry the glue is clear and should protect the ribbon from fraying any further.

Baron Fig Confidant

Now, on to the all-important paper and writing samples. The paper is a soft, warm white rather than an ivory or bright white. I think its a happy medium for daily writing and note-taking. Its not so yellowy as to dramatically change ink colors but not a harsh bright white that might blind with tis glare during an early morning writing session.

When I first opened the book the grey printed dots seemed large to me but once I started writing, they really disappeared visually for me. As someone who generally favors blank notebooks used in conjunction with a guide sheet, this was a pleasant surprise. Often times I find printed lines are too dark for the fine lined tools and light colored inks I like to use. The Baron Fig dot grid did not interfere with my writing.

AS I tested my variety of pens, the only issues I had was with the Kaweco Ruby Red cartridge in the J. Herbin Rollerball. It took a long time to dry which I find often happens with some red fountain pen inks when combined with the overhand left-handed writer. All the gel pens, ballpoint and felt tipped pens worked beautifully and the paper has a pleasant texture making pencils enjoyable on the paper as well.

The fountain pens I tried fall into the “everyday use” category like the Pilot Varisty, Kaweco Sports and Liliput and a couple TWSBIs and I threw in my new Super 5 with the 0.5mm stub italic nib just to see how it would work. There was no feathering on the paper with any of the fountain pens, not even the Super 5.

Baron Fig Confidant

From the reverse side of the paper, there was a little show through with the TWSBI filled with Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. I love the color of this ink but its been the culprit of show through on all the notebooks I’ve been testing lately. Alternately, the Super 5 with the stock blue cartridge it shipped with had NO show through at all so sometimes, you have to blame the ink for being particularly showy. The only other show through I got with this batch of test pens was the Retro 51 Tornado with the Schmidt with the P8126 refill. Its a rich dark black but the show through is minimal with no real bleed through.

Baron Fig Confidant

All in all, I’m quite pleased with the performance of the paper in the Baron Fig Confidant. Its definitely better quality paper than A5 notebooks found in most book shops these days for a similar price. I do worry that the light grey covers will show dirt and oils easily so I’ll be curious how the book looks after its been used regularly. Hopefully, my book mark hack will keep the sunny yellow ribbon from fraying into oblivion which is really my only grumble.

Gourmet Pens put the Baron Fig through its paces including extensive fountain pen tests and ink drying times if you’re looking for more thorough testing. Check Pennaquod for dozens of other reviews on the Baron Fig Confidant.

Notebook: Calepino Pocket Books

Calepino notebook

I’ve been wanting to try out the Calepino pocket notebooks for a long time. Its been hard to find a US seller that stocks them though so I’d put if off until I discovered CW Pencil Enterprise. A set of three notebooks in the kraft box is $10 which is competitive with most other pocket notebooks on the market.

The Calepino books are 3.5×5.5″, exactly the same as Field Notes so if you have a cover you use, these will fit into it as well. The right hand corners are nicely rounded and the books have two staples on the spine.

The Calepino notebooks are available in several different paper linings (dot grid, grid, lined and blank) and each style features a different color stripe on the front. If you’re inclined to keep a lined notebook for lists and a grid or dot grid for doodles, you’ll quickly be able to identify which is which from the stripes on the cover.

Calepino notebook

I love the heavy, kraft paper box that the notebooks are packaged in. The box has a tab in the back and then unfolds to open. No glue was used in the constructing the box and there’s information printed in side the box in French. I plan to keep the unused books in the box and then will store used books back in the box. I seldom have a desire to keep packaging so this is high praise indeed.

Calepino notebook

Inside the covers is an area to include your contact info. The paper inside is white with fine orange-y lines. The lines are thin enough to be largely unobtrusive, even with the lightest or finest tools.

Calepino notebook

There’s a little bit of tooth to the paper which helps slow down slippery gel ink pens and makes the writing experience with pencils and fountain pens very tactile.

Calepino notebook

I tested an assortment of different writing tools. I always test on the back pages of my book so I can refer back later if there was any tool that really didn’t work well. Overall, the range of tools had no big issues on the front of the stock. The Sailor Jentle Yama Dori did soften a little bit on the paper so I’m inclined to think there may be some fountain pen inks that won’t perform as well on this paper as others. But most “everyday carry” tools should work pretty well.

Calepino notebook

From the reverse, there’s a a little bit of show through on the Yama Dori line. I’ve had some show through issues in other notebooks with this ink so I’m going to blame the ink more than the paper here. Overall, for a pocket notebook, the paper performed well and I like the toothiness of the paper. It kept certain tools from feeling too slippery on the paper.

I’m curious now to see the dot grid and grid lines as well and see if they are as unobtrusive as the lined version. I suspect the quality and attention to detail in the other editions of the Calepino notebook will be equally good.

If you’re looking for an option in pocket notebooks that is more utilitarian than collectible, the Calepino is a great contender.

Notebook Review (and Reveal): Code & Quill

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The generous folks at Code & Quill “notebooks for creatives” sent me some of their prototype notebooks to check out. They are already making improvements which shows how fastidious they are about the quality and appearance of these books (see notes at the bottom of this review). The notebooks started out life as a Kickstarter Project which was funded and then some (understatement) so there are definitely folks interested in the concept presented by these notebooks.

The most distinguishing feature of the Code & Quill notebooks is that the pages alternate between dot grid on the left hand pages and indention rule on the right hand pages. Indention rule reminds me of some of the papers form Japan that feature a short tick along the baseline to help with character spacing. For the Code & Quill books, the indentation marks help for writing out programming… the “code” portion of the Code and Quill. The dot grid provides just enough structure for drawing or writing without being distracting.

Both the soft cover and hard cover editions of the books feature 100gsm, acid-free, fine-grain, and ivory paper and both the hard and soft cover books measure 5.5×7.7″.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The Code & Quill hard cover edition, called Origin, is available with a white or grey pebble-textured PU leatherette (this is a leatherette material covered with a layer of polyurethane for added durability). I love the feel of the pebble texture. The grey is a warm grey and dark enough that dirt and smudges will be well-hidden. The logo is stitched on the cover as a red fabric tag. Its subtle and well done. I appreciate little-to-no branding on my notebooks and this is a pretty good compromise.

The book shipped in a matching tomato red rigid slip case (see prototype notes below). My slip case got a little dented in the post but it did its job protecting my book.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Inside the covers of the Origin hard cover are bright tomato red end papers with a space blocked out for content or contact information. Origin has 180 pages and features stitched signatures that lay flat.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The soft cover, called Traveler, is the same overall dimensions as the Origin but with a soft flexible cover. Its also available with a white cover and a grey cover. I was sent the white cover. It even shipped in a  slip case, too (again, see prototype notes below). The Traveler is a little slimmer than the Origin with just 100 pages. The pages are stitched in, not glued so they will also lay flat.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Code & Quill prototype notebook

Both book feature identical paper — dot grid on the left, indention rule on the right. The dot grid and indentation rule are printed in light gray. I wish the dots were a tiny bit smaller but, after my test writing, I found they weren’t as distracting as I thought they’d be.

Code & Quill Writing samples

As is always the case, we all want to know how does the paper take ink? Its the make-or-break for any notebook. I’m happy to report that the Code & Quill paper performed way above average. With all the standard gel, ballpoint and rollerball pens in my reach, the paper worked well. No feathering or bleeding. There was a little show through with the Morning Glory Mach 3 0.38 in black which seemed very odd. I would have expected the Schmidt refills for the Retro 51 to more likely show through but, nope.

I tested a variety of everyday fountain pens, like the Pilot Varsity, a hand full of Kaweco pocket pens, a couple TWSBIs and even the Super 5 with stub nib and there’s a little showthrough with the Varsity but no true bleeding. The only ink I had issues with was the Sailor Jentle Yama-Dori in my TWSBI Mini. The Yama Dori splined a tiny bit and kind of mooshed. I had some drying issues with the J. Herbin rollerball with Kaweco Red ink and the Super 5 required a bit longer dry time than I allowed, hence the smudge at the bottom of the right hand page.

With retail prices of $15 and $20 (comparable with most A5 notebooks sold),the Code & Quill paper is above average in performance. Its not up there with Rhodia Webbies for fountain pen friendliness but the A5 retail for a Webbie is closer to $30.

Code & Quill Writing samples

Can you see how the dots fall back once there is ink on the page? Even the light Sky Blue of the Pilot Frixion Point 04 is visible. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the dot grid and indention grid. I don’t necessarily need indention grid but the tick marks don’t bother legibility and may be useful for making nested lists since nobody wants me coding anything.

Code & Quill writing sample reverse

This is the reverse of my sample writing page. There are a few little dots of show through but overall, both sides of the paper could easily be used.

Code & Quill prototype notebook

The notebooks were designed in the US, but are manufactured in China. Code & Quill are very transparent about the production. In the notebooks, the country of manufacture is printed the end paper in the back of the book.

(photos of modifications provided by Code & Quill)

(photos of modifications provided by Code & Quill)

Some of the changes, based on the initial prototypes:

  • On the hard cover edition, the spine will be more indented and defined.
  • Improvements will be made the paper block so that it sits aligned and recessed inside the covers of the hard cover. This will create a more defined ‘lip’ around the pages. In the second picture below, you can see that the review samples are closer to the white notebook, while the production notebooks will have a page block that is like the light gray notebook.
  • The softcover notebook will be feature a thicker, leatherette cover that is flexible, for added durability and so allow the cover to actually lay flat when the notebook is set down.
  • Finally, the packaging will be changed. Information will be available about these changes when all the details have been finalized.

These books are simple and clean designs overall. There are no closure elastics, ribbon bookmarks or paper pockets in the back cover. If these extras are deal breakers for you, there are ways to make them yourself. I’ve made paper pockets for other notebooks and adding a book strap or bookmark would be easy as well.

Overall, I think these are good quality notebooks and if you’ve been looking for a combination notebook with lines and grid, this is a great option. The grey leatherette cover of the hard cover is worth the $5 upcharge.

If you missed funding the Kickstarter project, you can pre-order either the Origin hard cover ($20) or the Traveler soft cover notebook ($15) from their web site. They are listing shipping to be about 8 weeks out.


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

Pencil Review: Nataraj Platinum Extra Dark 2B

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

One of my other happy purchases from CW Pencil Enterprises was a dozen box of Indian-made Nataraj Platinum Extra Dark pencils ($0.30 each/ $3.60 per dozen). The package included a dozen pre-sharpened pencils and a plastic pencil sharpener.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The pencils remind me a bit of the Staedtler Rally pencils with the alternating stripes of color on the hex panels. Where the Rally pencils are navy and white, the Nataraj are black and metallic silver. On one side, the brand name is stamped in silver and on the reverse panel is the pesky bar code. Oh, I hate those bar code but at least its on the reverse from the logo branding.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The lead does write quite darkly as described on the package. It will smudge a bit which could be nice for sketching or if you like a dark line. Even with the dark line, the point did not dull as quickly as I expected it to which is a good thing.

The pencils have a traditional silver ferrule and white eraser but the white eraser cap is CRAP. Its one of the worst I’ve ever used. You might as well flick it off so that you don’t use it accidentally.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The pencil sharpens nicely with a hand sharpener and write smoother once sharpened than it does with the pre-sharpened points.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The biggest shocker was the little plastic sharpener. It sharpened an excellent point and made beautiful shaving roses.

I’d grade this pencil a B-. The eraser really killed it for me but the pencil performance is above average. The cheap-y sharpener is really good for a freebie.

Pencil Review: Ito-Ya

ito-ya-1

A big shoutout to Andy Welfle at Woodlcinched and the Erasable Podcast for sending me this treasure from San Francisco. The Ito-Ya pencil is a smooth round pencil with an almost red-lacquer-like finish and a black rubberized dip end. The only printing on the pencil is the gold foil “ITO-YA” close to the rubber dipped end.

ito-ya-2

There’s a little feedback noise on the paper (the scritch, scritch sound on the paper as I write) but its quite minimal and overall the experience of this pencil is smooth. It writes a fairly dark line and smudges a bit which can be a little messy for a lefty.

The lines erased super clean with the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser and did a passable job with the Black Pearl which pairs well with the ITO-YA pencil nicely. Very Japanese together.

My personal preference is for hex or triangular pencils so this isn’t an A+ for me but a solid B+ pencil. If you like round pencils, I’m sure you’ll rate it higher.

The ITO-YA pencil can be purchased online through Pencils.jp for ¥65 each.

Ink Review: Kaweco Paradise Blue

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

Kaweco Paradise Blue is a pretty good match for my TWSBI Diamond 580 in Christmas Green. The pen body is a little more green than the ink color but not too bad a match.

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

Kaweco Paradise Blue ($17.50 for a 30ml bottle) is a turquoise ink that leans a bit more green than most turquoise inks. It’s my second favorite Kaweco ink after Summer Purple because the hue is so unusual for a company that only makes a handful of colors. The label color is a little misleading as it shows a more bluish color.

Paradise Blue dries quickly and is not as watery as the closest color match I could find, De Atramentis Petrol which would make Paradise Blue a better option for wider nibbed pens.

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

In my hunt for comparison inks, I didn’t find too many colors that were similar. In terms of darkness, Paradise Blue fell between two offerings from De Atramentis: Petrol, which is a little bit darker and Mint Turquoise, which is a little lighter color overall. Most inks that aspire for a turquoise hue are much bluer. Paradise Blue walks that fine line between the slightly greenier hues that I found as a comparison and the much bluer turquoise inks like Lamy Turquoise or Sheaffer Skrip Turquoise.

Overall, Kaweco Paradise Blue is a good, solid ink in a pleasing color at a reasonable price.


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

Pencil Review: Kaweco Special 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The Kaweco Special 0.7mm mechanical pencil is a bit wider pencil than I expected. It feels in the hand like a jumbo pencil. Luckily the anodized metal, hexagonal octagonal finish is warm and soft in the hand and quite comfortable. I thought the metal finish might be too slick but its not a shiny finish and the tapered end has a bit more tooth to it to keep fingers from sliding down.

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The stock lead in the Kaweco Special Pencil is super super smooth. The great thing about mechanical pencils is that you can change lead hardness or lead brands, but the stock Kaweco leads are an excellent option. I was quite pleased with the smoothness.

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The most unusual aspect of the Kaweco Special 0.7 is that under the presser button is the teeny, tiniest, little eraser. Its absolutely dorky how tiny it is in comparison to the size of the pencil and the lead thickness. Erasing one word with this eraser and most of the eraser is used up. I’d definitely recommend using a handheld eraser instead of this little dude. He’s for emergencies only.


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

Ink Review: Diamine 150 Years 1864 Blue Black

daimine 1864 blue-black ink

The Diamine 150 years inks were on my inky radar as soon as I heard about them. Rare, historical or limited edition inks always set my fingers alight on the keyboard over the “buy it now” button.

There are eight colors in this collection, each bottle is a pie-shaped wedge that holds 40ml of ink and sells for $17.50 per bottle. I find the pie shaped wedge bottle a little odd and they have to be packed into the square boxes with padding so the bottles don’t shift around. When one or more bottles are put next to each other, they fit together. If all eight bottles are together, they form a full circle.

daimine 1864 blue-black ink

I knew immediately that I would want to try the 1864 Blue Black since I love blue black inks.Its a deep, dark blue-black so it doesn’t show a lot of shading even with my Lamy Studio with its 1.1mm stub nib.

Like most Diamine inks,the 1864 Blue Black is well-behaved and pretty quick-drying.

daimine 1864 blue-black ink

In the swab, I notice a bit of a reddish halo in the 1864 Blue Black that reminds me a bit of the Pilot IroshizukuTsuki-Yo though Tsuki-Yo is a bit more teal and the halo is a bit more reddish-purple. But the 1864 Blue Black is almost have the price of a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku which is a consideration. Compared tot he Kaweco Midnight Blue, the Diamine 1864 Blue Black is a little more indigo, ever-so-slightly to violet. Isn’t it amazing the little differences between ink shades? I love that there are little variations in ink colors.

I’m glad to add this color to my library.


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

Ink Review: Kaweco Royal Blue

Kaweco Royal Blue ink

When you live in Kansas City, Royal Blue has a very distinct connotation. Very baseball. But lucky for Kaweco, their Royal Blue ink is really spot-on for the local interpretation for the color. Kaweco Royal Blue, in writing, reminds me of a lot of those vintage “washable blue” inks like the old Sheaffer Skrip ink. If you like blue inks or something that looks like your grandfather might have penned letters to your grandma while stationed overseas, this is a good candidate.

Kaweco Royal Blue ink

There’s some shading and its overall a well-behaved ink. Kaweco Royal Blue is everything you’d want or expect from a classic “true blue” ink. I’m not always inclined to gravitate towards blue-blue inks, this one is not a bad option. Its classic, old-world blue.

Kaweco Royal Blue ink

When compared to a few other true blues, its easy to see the violet undertones in the Kaweco Royal Blue ($17.50) — giving it the “royal treatment”, so to speak. Its brighter than the Parker Quink Blue Black ($8.75) I have and darker than the Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-Kusa ($28). Price wise, Kaweco Royal Blue falls between these two inks as well — not a budget ink but not premium-priced either.


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

Review: ALL The Erasable Pens (Pilot Frixion + Uni Fanthom)

Pilot Frixion Uni Fanthom Erasable Pens

Since delving into using a paper planner this year, one of the tools frequently mentioned in conjunction with a paper planner is the Pilot Frixion erasable pen. I’ve acquired a couple Pilot Frixion Color Markers and an 04 gel pen on my travels in Hong Kong but I didn’t really understand why someone might use one. In a standard notebook, I’m fine just crossing something out something. However, in the limited real estate of the week-on-two-pages format, having a meeting move from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon to “no, let’s meet Tuesday morning” means that crossing out might not be the best solution. So, I’m starting to understand why folks are such loyalists to the Pilot Frixion gel pens.

Pilot offer the Frixion line in gel pen, “point” pens which seem more akin to a needlepoint rollerball like a Pilot V5 Precise or Morning Glory Mach 3, markers and even highlighters. I’m probably missing a variation but this covers a lot of pen needs. Pilot also offers Frixion colored pencils but erasable pencils are not as novel as a good erasable pen, IMHO.

Pilot Frixion Uni Fanthom

(Please ignore my misspelling of “erasable”. I do know how to spell it and I could have erased this but I didn’t notice the mistake until after I had already photographed the pages. Mea culpa.)

Pilot Frixion Gel 0.5

The Frixion erasable pens work because the heat caused by the friction of “erasing” makes the ink vanish. I received a letter this summer from a friend that was almost completely unreadable. It turns out it was written with a Frixion pen and must have either been left in the sun or out in a hot delivery truck that caused the writing to almost completely vanish. So, there’s the rub (pardon the pun). I would recommend keeping any writing done with Frixion pens to ephemeral data like calendar events and make sure that you don’t leave your calendar in a hot car.

I was worried that I might have to give up the convenience of a multi-pen if I switched to the Frixion gel pens for my planner but lo-and-behold, no. I can have my cake and erase it too with the Frixion 3-color Gel Ink Multi-Pen ($9.90).

I also noticed that Uni makes their own erasable pens called Fanthom, so I bought the 3-pack of 0.5mm with red, blue and black pens in the set ($10) to compare the quality. Both the Frixion 3-Color Gel Multi-Pen and the Uni Fanthom 3-pack use a conical rollerball-style pen tip. The Frixion pens feature a translucent rubbery “eraser” where the Uni Fanthom have a hard rubber cap that is supposed to be used to erase. The Fanthom caps just didn’t seem like an eraser to me but they worked.

Uni Fanthom Erasable Pens

The Uni Fanthom 0.5 pens had similar color in writing but erasing with the hard rubber cap left more residue and the black ink left a distinctly brownish haze on the paper. I can see why the Frixion pens are much more popular than the Fanthom.

Pilot Frixion Gel 0.38

I discovered that there are refills that will fit into the Frixion Multi-Pens that are available in a myriad of colors and some smaller tip sizes. So, I bought those too. While red, black and blue are good basic colors, the great thing about multi-pens is the array of ink colors available and I’m glad to see that the Frixion line is well-represented here.

Pilot Frixion 04 Point

I also tried out the Frixion 04 Point line available in a 5-pack ($18). When compared to the conical gel refills for the Frixion multi-pen, I liked the color intensity better with the Point pens. They more liquid ink left a slightly more contrasty color on paper which made the colors more legible, even in the lighter pink and orange colors.

Pilot Frixion Highlighter

I really liked the idea of erasable highlighters too so I grabbed a 3-pack of the Frixion Light Soft Color Highlighters, 3-pack for $4.95. Using the erasable highlighter over erasable ink leads to a completely erased page, so be warned. Using the erasable highlighters over standard gel ink (I used a Uni Style Fit Multi-Pen) left a smudgy mess. The highlighters might perform better with other types of pens for erasing so more testing is probably in order if you want to try these out. Using the erasable highlighters with text books, printouts or other documents would be a great option though. And the mild colors are bright but not blinding. I like the set a lot.

Pilot Frixion highighter smudge

Overall, I like using a specific ink color in my planner for specific activities (purple for work, green for personal, blue for general events and holidays… etc) and there are enough Pilot Frixion pen options to keep color-coding my planner while allowing for erasing as activities change, get cancelled or need to be moved.

Maybe one of our scientifically inclined cohorts will put the Frixion pens to the test? I’m thinking of Ms. Fountain Pen Physicist specifically who can put a more scientific spin to her test than I can.

Jeff over at The Pen Addict recently wrote his own write-up about the Pilot Frixion Ball Knock Series if you need more erasable pen impressions.

For more information and detailed information about all the myriad forms that Frixion pens are available in, check out Pilot Frixion Erasable Pens: A Comprehensive Guide on Jet Pens.


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

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

It certainly took me long enough to write a review of this equally coveted and disdained ink. The new(-ish) J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey ($27) “stormed” onto the market last year with raves and jeers. It took me an age to finally acquire a bottle as every place was selling out of it faster than I could place an order. Then finally, I got on Jet Pens’ email notification list and snagged a bottle of my very own.

This is a “made for me” sort of ink. I love grey inks, anything with historical implications and, hey, sparkles are a bonus! Of course, there are some warnings and downsides with the gold fleck inclusions in this ink but c’mon, who doesn’t love a fancy gold sheen?

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

When first using this ink, be sure to shake the gold flecks off the bottom of the bottle as they tend to settle. I suspect that if you leave the ink in your pen for any length of time, you may want to roll or shake the pen to redistribute the gold as well.

The warning that comes with the ink says the ink will stain so if you have a rare, vintage or super collectible pen, you may not want to use this ink with it or leave Stormy Grey in the pen for any extended length of time.

Now that I’ve finished with the “Don’t try this at home, kids” PSA, I had no noticeable flow issues in my Lamy Studio with 1.1mm stub nib, The ink flowed nicely, the grey color is dark and legible and I could discern some gold sparkle as the ink was drying. The gold flecks were less noticeable once dry in standard writing but the ink does have nice shading which more than made up for it.

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

In large swatches, the gold flecks are quite noticeable so this ink would show its best form with a flex nib, music nib or other ink-drenched application. I actually quite liked drawing with it with my paint brush.

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

Compared with other grey inks in my library, Stormy Grey is a bit bluer and darker than my others. De Atramentis Silver Grey was probably closest in hue but not as dark and the Mont Blanc Meisterstück 90 year Permanent Grey is a little more greenish but about as dark.

Bottom line: J. Herbin Stormy Grey is an ink collector’s ink. If you need a good workhorse grey that is not going to clog your pen or cost as much as a decent dinner-for-two, then this is not the ink for you. But if you like having a bottle of something “a little different, a little special” then grab a bottle of this when you see it available.

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