Posts Tagged ‘review’

Book Review: Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

While I’ve been under the weather, I’ve been catching up on my back log of reading, including Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing by Liz Williams. Its a pretty book with short pieces about the history of letter writing as well as common references, quotes, books and movies where letters feature prominently and other tidbits about our favorite paper missives.

“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.” – Lord Byron

This book is definitely for the letter enthusiast though it will not probing new information on the subject. As a gift to a young person, it might spur them to start writing but does not necessarily provide compelling analysis or deep investigation about the topic. Kind Regards is written in short blubs, often less than a page, which makes it easy to thumb through or read an entry or two over coffee in the morning.

Williams clearly loves the written word and provides enough interesting facts to inspire me to tackle that pile of incoming correspondence again. If you’re looking for a little something to nudge you back on to your letter-writing path, then Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing might be the ticket.

Ka-Week-O! Review: 14K Gold BB Nib

Kaweco 14K Gold BB Nib

Have you heard about the new 14K gold nibs available from Kaweco? Ooh la la! I got the chance to try out the BB, double broad nib. By eye, it looked like a stub nib, wide and flat but when I put it to paper, it created a wide soft line. Not hard edged at all.

Kaweco 14K Gold BB Nib

The ink just poured out of this nib. It really was quite wet and super smooth. There’s a little bit of a spring to the nib but as you can see from the writing sample, it doesn’t actually flex. I suspect it has as more to do with the overall broadness of the nib than how flexible the gold nib is. I’ve never used a BB nib before. It was a lot of fun but with my small writing, it might be a bit too much nib for me.

Kaweco nib size sampler

As I was testing all these Kaweco pens this week, I was able to compare the line widths of all the various Kaweco nibs I had on hand. I have almost the full gamut available (just missing a B and the calligraphy nibs). I’ve often commented that there is very little difference that I can see between the Kaweco steel EF and F nibs and, from the sampler page, I think that stands true. It also makes it abundantly clear how much wider and darker the BB 14K nib is.

The BB nib I received is a full unit, not just the nib so, out of the box, its designed to fit onto the higher-end Kaweco fountain pens like the AL-Sport, Luxe Sport, Special, Allrounder, Elegance, Student or the Dia2. It could probably be wiggled out of the housing to fit into a standard Sport but since its a nib that will retail for around $100, is it really something you’ll add to your $25 Sport?

The 14K nib is available in the full range of sizes: EF, F, M, B and BB. There is a two-tone version available in M only.

Overall its a gorgeous nib and speaks to Kaweco’s commitment to advancing their pen line, staying true to its historical roots and listening to the numerous requests of its loyal users. And that makes me very happy.


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.

Ka-Week-O! Review: Kaweco Skyline Rollerball in Grey

Kaweco Sport Skyline Grey Rollerball hack

With pens, I tend to choose silver and grey as my go-to colors since there are seldom options in green. With the new Skyline series for the Kaweco Sport line, I went straight for the Mint color. I did not pass GO, I did not collect $200 – or a grey pen.

Most people are excited about the Skyline series because they feature silver-toned nibs and chrome silver hardware instead of the traditional Sport series’ gold-toned nib and hardware. So when the Skyline series was released, lots of folks were just pleased to purchase the black or grey Skyline model with silver hardware.

Its only now that I see the appeal of the neutral grey color of the Skyline series. In an effort to expand my horizons, this time, I’m test-driving the rollerball version.

Unfortunately, the Kaweco refill was not the least bit left-handed friendly – at least not on the Rhodia paper I use for most of my testing. The Skyline rollerball refill is probably about a 0.7mm in black and I smudged for the word “go.”

So, it was time for a hack. I found a Uni-Ball Sign RT 0.38 refill which looked to be the right length in the point section but the barrel was a little too long. I used scissors to trim the end and then put the spring on the tip and loaded it back into the Skyline body. Voila!

No smudges and a great new pen!

Kaweco Sport Skyline Grey Rollerball hack


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.

Ka-Week-o! Review: Kaweco Skyline Clutch Pencil 3.2mm in Mint

Kaweco Clutch Pencil 3.2mm Mint

Everyone knows how much I love my Kaweco Skyline Fountain Pen in Mint so you can imagine how tickled I was to see the 3.2mm clutch pencil in the same gorgeous mint color. I’ve got a matched set!

Kaweco Clutch Pencil 3.2mm Mint

This is my first experience with a large diameter graphite pencil and it was a pleasant surprise. I was worried that the point would wear down too quickly but it stayed sharp through a page or more of writing. I will definitely need to look into a graphite point sharpener because this pencil will definitely be getting a lot of use.

The wide lead was smooth and easy-to-use. I think it will be great for writing and sketching.

Kaweco Clutch Pencil 3.2mm Mint

These two beauties snuggle up beautifully together in my leather soft case. Now I’m thinking all my Kaweco pens need pencil pals.


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.

Ka-Week-O! Review: Kaweco AL-Sport RAW

Kaweco AL-Sport RAW

The Kaweco AL-Sport in Raw is the same size and shape as the other Sport models but with a raw aluminum body with a high gloss finish. Its gorgeous in the hand.

Kaweco AL-Sport RAW & Aluminum Liliput

When compared with the brushed aluminum finish on Liliput, its obvious how much more polished the RAW AL-Sport is. Shiny!

The RAW finish will show scratches and patina with wear and pair beautifully with a leather notebook like a Midori Traveler so that they could age together.

Kaweco AL-Sport RAW M nib

This is my second medium nib on a Kaweco. I had a little trouble with the nib on this one out of the box. I removed it from the pen and rinsed it completely and that fixed the problem completely. I suspect that, with the aluminum finish, there may have been a bit more oil or some other lubricant on the pen that may have transferred to the nib so I definitely recommend rinsing this nib before inking it up for the first time.

Kaweco AL-Sport RAW writing sample

Once I got it going, this is another lovely medium nib. Its a bit stiffer than the medium nib on the Dia2 even though they are both steel nibs with an iridium tip. I definitely think that Kaweco medium nibs are not as broad as a comparable Lamy medium. Kaweco medium nibs are not as fine as Japanese nibs but not as broad as some other European medium nibs.

Kaweco AL-Sport RAW writing sample

The AL-Sport is definitely a more durable option compared with the plastic Sport models. If you’re looking for an Everyday Carry pen, you can’t get a better option than the AL-Sport.

If fountain pens aren’t your thing, the AL-Sport RAW is also available in rollerball version with a cap as well. Click models are available in pencil, ballpoint and the touch model with twist and clip.


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.

Ka-week-o! Review: Kaweco Dia 2 Fountain Pen M Nib

Kaweco Dia 2 Fountain Pen

I know Kaweco is pronounced “ca-vek-oh” but I thought it would be fun to play on the habit I have of saying “ca-week-oh” and start the first ever Kaweco Week – KA-WEEK-O!

To get the week started, I thought I’d show you a fountain pen I’ve always wanted to try: the Dia 2. Its got such beautifully classic looks. Kaweco hasn’t changed the physical look of this pen since it was introduced in the 1930s. It has the streamlined details inspired by the era, like the soft curve of the chromed brass clip, etched with the Kaweco script logo and decorative feather lines.

Kaweco Dia 2 Fountain Pen

At each end of the pen is the classic is Kaweco logo mark inlaid in chromed metal on the plastic. There is knurling at the ends of the pen which gives it a little grippy area and a functional but elegant look.

Kaweco Dia 2 Fountain Pen

There are some simple chrome rings around the base of the cap and on the ends of the pen which echo the look of all the streamlined designs from the 20s and 30s.

There is a simple stamped logo name on the cap, on the reverse side from the clip that simply states “KawecoDia Germany”.

Kaweco Dia 2 Fountain Pen

The nib is etched with the same decorative lines and text found on the Sport line and the nib is the same size. The nibs are not interchangeable from the Dia to a Sport, however.

Kaweco Dia 2 Fountain Pen

I’m a little ashamed to admit it but this is the first time I’ve used a medium nib on a Kaweco despite several people recommending it to me. The nib is buttery smooth and writes very well. There’s a little spring to the steel nib. It gives the writing experience a pleasing quality overall.

The Dia is a bit heavier than my usual go-to pens at 19gms unposted but, for me, is perfectly weighted for writing. Posted and filled the pen weighs 28gms. The Kaweco Student is 27gms capped but most of the weight feels like its in the chrome grip area to me, making it feel a little off balance when writing.

Kaweco Dia2 comparison

From top to bottom: Kaweco Student, Kaweco Dia2 and vintage Estrbrook

The Dia2 is just a hair longer than the Kaweco Student model and a little bit bigger overall than a vintage Esterbrook. I used to think a Pelikan M200 would be my dream pen but I’ve changed my mind. The Dia2 is my dream pen.


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

Review: Levenger Circa Leather Pro Folio Notebook in Black

 Circa Pro Folio

Honestly, the Levenger Circa Pro Folio is the most posh thing I think I’ve ever owned. Its a letter-sized, black leather folio with a Circa notebook inside. I’ve always been intrigued with the Circa system. It seems to be a great way to have flexibility with a notebook – add, rearrange or remove pages easily without the inconvenience of a 3-ring binder. The Pro Folio takes this to a whole new level.

 Circa Pro Folio Presentation Box

I’m not inclined to go into a lot of detail about packaging but the box that the Pro Folio came in deserves notice. It felt like a box worthy of the product inside. The Pro Folio came in a heavyweight, glossy bronze box with an fabric elastic closure and subtle “Levenger” embossed on the box – prestigious without being fussy.

 Circa Pro Folio in box

Inside, the leather Pro Folio was wrapped in a felt cloth to protect it. The wrap was tastefully stamped with the Levenger logo.It reminds me of how high-end handbag manufacturers provide a felt bag for storing purses when not in use. Very elegant.

 Circa Pro Folio

By the time I had completely unwrapped it, it felt like my birthday. Inside was this beautiful, black leather folio. The Pro Folio is made of a soft-to-the-touch leather but has a sturdy material stitched inside to keep the covers rigid. It would be easy to use this folio on your lap in a lecture or meeting, if necessary. The leather along the spine is supple and the folio easily opens flat. I suspect the cover could fold back on itself but I can’t bring myself to mar the leather spine trying it.

 Circa Pro Folio detail

 Circa Pro Folio

Inside the front cover are two pockets for business cards and a larger slot for loose papers. The back cover has a full-length slot for holding the Circa notebook in place. The folio came with a standard Circa notebook with black rings and a clear, frosted plastic cover. The Circa notebook has 0.5″ rings and contains 60 sheets of 90 gsm soft white paper. The paper is lightly lined in a pale grey with a wide left margin left blank and spaces at the top for date and topic headers.

The folio will accommodate up to 1.5″ rings and 200 sheets of paper so there’s definitely room to grow with this folio.

 Circa Pro Folio Paper

I was so grateful to discover that such an extraordinary leather folio contained equally stunning paper. It took ink beautifully. Since Levenger does sell fountain pens I would have been surprised if their paper didn’t behave well with fountain pens. However, I was delighted with how well it behaved. The lines were light enough to accommodate even the lightest ink colors and pencil without obscuring legibility while keeping all the fountain pen lines crisp.

 Circa Pro Folio Writing Samples

I had the tiniest bit of show through with the Mont Blanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey ink in my 1.1mm fountain pen but all the medium and fine nibs didn’t have a hint of show through which means this paper really can be used on both sides.

The Levenger Circa Pro Folio retails for $109-$129 depending on size.


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

Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 2 (and Giveaway)

Productive Luddite Notebooks

This is part two of the Productive Luddite notebook reviews. If you didn’t get a chance to read Part One, check it out.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper

The first up is the Blog Paper notebook ($14.95). Its another soft cover book with 108 pages between the 7×10″ glossy black covers. (I completely forgot to photograph the cover so I’m using the promotional image. You can see the spine in the stacked photo and the glossy stock like the New Daily Planner reviewed in Part One). Inside is bright white paper with tinted areas to plan a blog or a post or just employ the various sections for your next project.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper

The pages are laid out to emulate a traditional blog page with a header at the top, a notes section for writing, a sidebar area, a footer and a section for tags for your post. The layout allows for other kinds of note-taking too beyond blog posts or blog planning as each section allows for various content — the sidebar for to-dos, the center section for project, class or meeting notes and the header can just be for date and subject.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper writing sample

I find the form factor very interesting but, sadly, the books are glue-bound so it does not lay as flat as I’d like it. I’m more inclined to work on the left-hand facing pages as a result which makes me feel even like a weird lefty. Oh well.

The paper is good with most pens. Rollerballs, ballpoints, gel pens and pencils all worked great and fountain pens did not feather but there was a little show through on the reverse of the stock with wider nibs.

Productive Luddite Freestyle Really Big Notebook

The Freestyle Really Big Notebook $29.95 (and available in ten different colored covers) is an extra large notebook boasting over 800 pages of space for your biggest projects. The book is 7×10″ and as thick as a New York City phone book (when NYC still had phone books). The paper is the same bright white as the Blog Paper notebook but the only printing on the pages is a small grey page number in the lower corner of each page. With no lines to mar the paper, you can easily use a guide sheet or two behind your page to turn each page into lined, grid or whatever your whim.

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In the front of the book is an index to help organize and locate your idea in the massive book.

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook  writing sample

I found the paper particularly receptive to whatever tool I threw at it, even some juicy brush pens with minimum show through. Colors stay true and there’s enough heft to the paper to tackle some light washes, colored pencils and other art-making tools.

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook  writing sample

There was a little feathering around the edges of my Lamy Studio 1.1mm writing with the Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Permanent Grey but overall, with finer tipped tools, the writing was really good and would make this paper a good candidate for writing or drawing.

Because of the size of this book, there can be some awkward writing angles if you’re working at the very front of the book or the very back but there are some compromises if you need 800 pages in your notebook.

With the soft covers, I don’t know how well this book will hold up after you fill all 800 pages, the spine and covers might show some serious wear. If you finish a whole Freestyle Really Big Notebook, I want to see pictures!

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook reverse writing sample

Overall, I think Productive Luddite is doing some really unique things with their products and the prices are really good.

Giveaway:
Productive Luddite is kindly allowing me to give away three Freestyle Really Big Notebooks and three Matte Black Star-Studded Samplers. Six winners in all. Winner’s of the Really Big Notebook can pick the color of the color. Just “like” Productive Luddite on Facebook to be entered to win and then add your entry via the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest eligibility limited to US Continental addresses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Ink Review: J. Herbin Poussière de Lune

J. Herbin Poussière de Lune

 

If you’d told me five years ago that I would like purple inks, I would have scoffed. The older, wiser me nods agreeably. “Indeed, there are some purple inks I do quite like.” J. Herbin’s Poussière de Lune (Moon Dust Purple) is one such purple. This is another ink I purchased in the little 10ml shooter bottle ($4.75 each) which is just such fun. Any day now, I think I’ll own the whole spectrum of J. Herbin inks just because I can purchase them all in these little snack-sized bottles.

Poussière de Lune is an eggplant-y purple black. The photos show a bit more luminance and a touch more red than it appears in person.  When I first touched the ink to paper, I was immediately struck with the complexity of the color and it reminded me of the original formula of Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. When I compared the inks though, Poussière de Lune is actually closer in color to Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa without the iron gall. This might be a plus for some people who want the color of Scabiosa but are worried about damaging their pens with an iron gall ink.

J. Herbin Poussière de Lune

The color does dry a flat, matte color but I think that’s to be expected with any inks that aren’t in the J. Herbin 1670 line with the metallic flakes in them.

Overall, I like the performance of J. Herbin inks. They are wet enough for my fine nib pens and have a good amount of shading. Poussière de Lune is no exception and may actually be one of my favorite J. Herbin inks thus far.


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.

Faber-Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set

Faber Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set

The last time I was in my local pen shop, The Pen Place, I saw this box set of Faber-Castell Grip pens in neon pink sitting on a high shelf. I made the clerks pull the box down for me and I insisted on taking them home. The box set included three neon pink triangular-shaped Grip pencils with laser foil dots along the body, a pink fold-out sharpener and a matching pink fold out wedge eraser. I paid $30 for the set which was probably more than I should have but the Faber-Castell Grip pencils are some of my favorite pencils ever so I had to try this version.

I did find a two-pencil set on Amazon in pink and black for about $15 with the sharpener and eraser. I also found a set that looked more purple-y than pink but did include the three pencils for about the same price on Amazon as well.

Faber Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set

In my testing of this version of the Grip pencils, I realized that I much prefer an eraserless pencil. Sorry, Palomino Blackwings! I love the look of those wedge erasers but I find myself reaching for the pencils without the eraser caps more than the ones with the erasers.

Faber Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set writing sample

The pencils aren’t labelled with the hardness but I’d guess these were a HB or #2. Because the dots on the grip area of theses pencils are actually hot foil, they are slightly debossed compared to the raised rubber dots on the standard grey Grip 2001 pencils. This makes them a little less comfortable out of the box. I do like the triangular shape a lot and I have a feeling that, with use, the grip area will feel a little smoother and I’ll notice the foil debossed areas a little less. That said, I’m more inclined to stock up on the classic 2001 pencils with the grippy rubber dots, even though they melt in the heat. The pink pencils can be my “extreme weather” 2001s.

The sharpener worked well and created a short but sharp point. The blade was not labelled but since Faber-Castell is a German company, I wouldn’t be surprised if the blade was from KUM. I didn’t test to see if I could swap it out or not but there was a screw holding the blade in place so I hold out hope that it can be replaced when needed. The closing mechanism covers the sharpener hole so that shavings and graphite chips are less likely to coat the inside of my bag. It won’t hold a ton of shavings but its suitable for on-the-go sharpening needs.

The eraser is a great wedge shape that folds into the plastic carrier to keep it from picking up dirt and lint. The wedge shape also gives it a sharp edge that’s easy to use on a single word or line of writing. I’m sure it will blunt over time but this is definitely one of the most pleasing travel eraser configurations I’ve come across. It works pretty well. The Staedtler Mars Plastic still outperformed it but it is more the adequate for most purposes and the shape and plastic travel cover help make it an eraser that will get a lot of use in my collection.

This unique neon set makes me smile everytime I pick them up.  I love Faber-Castell Grip pencils so I’m glad I bought this. I’d recommend seeking out the less expensive sets which are probably a better value though.

Ink Review: Rouge Opera

J. Herbin Rouge Opera Ink Review

These little shooters of J. Herbin ink are just so addictive! This is the Rouge Opera ($4.75 for 10ml bottle) which came highly recommended by a friend as a “good red”. I paired it with my Kaweco Student with an EF nib. What’s black and chrome and red all over? (HA!)

J. Herbin Rouge Opera Ink Review Writing Sample

In the swab and the brush lettering, the red looked a little pinky but when writing its a good clean red. It doesn’t lean too pink or burgundy. Even with my EF nib, I got some shading which is nice.

The J. Herbin Rouge Opera Ink is also available in a larger 30ml bottle ($12) and tin of 6- European short cartridges ($5.50). Tested in Rhodia No 18 Uni Blank pad with a Kaweco Student EF.


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.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen: Emerald Pearl M Nib

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen Medium Writing Sample

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen

When the Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen ($52) arrived I could not wait to load it with “good ink.” I installed the stock blue cartridge that shipped with it on the counter at the post office and started doodling on the back of my junk mail. Who says pens aren’t an addiction?

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen

I got the Pearl Green version of the IM Premium, of course. No one is surprised about that. The pen shipped in a simple paperboard box with a faux velvet lining and ribbon wrap to hold the pen in place. Its not expensive packaging but its fitting for the price point.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen Medium Nib

The pen was only available in the medium nib which I was a bit worried would be too wide for my taste but I was pleasantly surprised. The nib is beautifully etched with a classic Parker design and super smooth. Its a steel nib but felt good on the paper and caused no issues for this left-hander.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen

The look of the Parker IM Premium is inspired by the vintage Vacumatics, which if I’m honest is the WHOLE reason I got it. I have one vintage Vacumatic and I love the look and feel. I am easily swayed by anything that is retro- or vintage-inspired so it was a no-brainer for me to grab this pen.

Of course, its not the Vacumatic. Besides the nod to the Vacumatic with the etched lines on the aluminum barrel (which are horizontal not vertical), the lovely etched nib (which is pretty but not the same etching used on older Vacumatics) and the arrow shaped clip (still used even on the Parker 5th line), there is nothing about this pen that makes it truly inspired by the Vacumatic. It takes cartridges or a converter, its metal not plastic or resin or whatever material was used with Vacumatics, the nib is not 14K, there is no ink window… need I go on? I do appreciate that Parker recognizes that a lot of the modern appeal is from pen collectors like us so I want to support their efforts to trip down memory lane occasionally.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen Medium Writing Sample

Now that I’ve said that, I really like the pen. The aluminum body is light in my hand (just 16 gms filled and capped) and the overall width of the pen is on the smaller side (about the same as a Sharpie marker fine point). I can hold it comfortably in my hand and write with it unposted. The cap will post but it makes the pen a little top heavy in my small hands. My husband took it for a spin and his big “monkey paws” found the pen a little too small for him.

  • Capped length: 5.5″
  • Uncapped length: 4.625″
  • Posted length: 6.125″

This was my first foray into modern Parker fountain pens and I’ve come away pleased. I don’t know why I thought they would be bad except that I often only see them in office supply big box stores which I associated with low cost/low quality. At the sub-$100 price point for a fountain pen, this is a really good option. The medium nib might be a breaking point for some folks but I like that it gave me an excuse to break out of my EF or F nib rut.

It’s been my daily carry fountain pen for a week now. I’m not thrilled with the blue ink cartridge included with it. When the pen has sat overnight, the ink comes out quite dark at first and then gets lighter and lighter until its sort of a washable blue/washed denim pale.  I need to swap out the ink so that I can experience this with an ink I actually like.

I should have purchased the Parker converter ($9.25) too but I forgot to check if one was included with the pen (only a cartridge is included with the pen).


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: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 1

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The folks at Productive Luddite sent me a massive pile of notebooks to try and share with you. When I mean massive, I mean MASSIVE. The Freestyle Really Big Notebook is letter-sized and features 800 pages. So they are serious when they say “REALLY BIG”. The Matte Black Action notebook features ten different styles of paper in ONE BOOK. So, its a complicated task to review — its like reviewing a dozen notebooks.

I decided the only way to give each notebook its proper due is to split the review into two parts. First up is the New Daily Planner ($8.99) and the Matte Black Action Notebook($9.95).

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The New Daily Planner is an interpretation of the Chronodex-style daily planner. It’s a soft cover, perfect-bound, 6″x9″ with 104 bright white pages. The cover is a gloss black cardstock with bold white lettering.

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Inside, on the first two pages are places to include your personal information and instructions on using the clockwork-style planning system.

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The first few pages include monthly and yearly planning on a clock which I am not sure how useful that would be but the rest of the book is daily clockwork pages. Because of the perfect binding, the book does not lay flat easily but the soft cover means that its easy to fold the cover back if you prefer to work that way.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I tested an assortment of pens in planning out my day. There is some bleeding with fountain pens on the paper but rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils and gel pens all performed well. The paper is thick enough that with non-fountain pens, there was no show through on the reverse side of the page.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I use a lot of fine and exra fine nibbed fountain pens so you can see that the ink does spread. As cool as the planning calendar is, this notebook definitely requires a specific set of writing tools for best results. I think I’ll pair it long-term with one of my multi-color gel pens like the Zebra Prefill or Uni Style-Fit so I have lots of color options and no need to worry about bleed, show through or squishy-looking writing. I might assign specific colors to specific sorts of tasks: blue for work, green for blog, red for home, etc.

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The Matte Black Action notebook has a matte soft-touch coating on the cover. I believe my husband’s exact words (as a printer) was “matte aqueous soft touch coating on coated stock”. Thank you , Mister Specific. The bottom line is it gives the book a pleasing feel similar to the finish on the Field Notes Drink Local Colors Edition. Inside the book is 100 ivory-colored pages in ten different form factors including blank, lined, grid, dot grid, and many more.

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I tested the 8″x8″ sized notebook but the Matte Black Action Notebook is available in several other sizes if square is not your cup of tea.

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Toward the back of the book is journal and list-making pages with grey printing to demarcate the header area from the rest of the page.

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In the very front of the book is a page for personal information and pages to index or tag the pages in the book. This would be particularly helpful if you are using blank pages for sketching, list pages for to-dos and lined paper for writing — all for the same project. You can list the page tags in the front of the book to make it easy to find the various pages.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

All the pages have page numbers in the lower right hand corner unless you are a contrarian left-hander that flips the whole book upside down regularly to get the best writing angle (see above).

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

I tested most of the various paper styles. What I found quite exciting is that the paper was quite fountain pen friendly. I had no issues with bleeding, feathering or show through with any of the pens I tested. The paper did seem like it was slightly heavier than the white stock in the New Daily Planner so maybe that little extra weight made it epically more fountain pen friendly?

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The paper styles, though, seemed to have inconsistent line weights. I found that the dot grid dots seemed overly large for my tiny writing. I mostly wanted to play connect-the-dots with these pages. The graph paper lines seemed much heavier and darker than the plain lined paper. I quite liked the color and thickness of the lined paper which is at the front of the book so when I got to the grid and dot grid I was a bit disappointed.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

Towards the back of the book was reverse grid  and dot grid paper (grey with white lines) which I much preferred to the lines on the regular grid and dot grid.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The great thing about the Matte Black Action Notebook is that its a great introduction to all the various forms that Productive Luddite offers in their Everyday Carry Notebook line.  All the EDC line notebooks are available in ten different sizes ranging from 4×6 up to 7×10 in horizontal, vertical, square and some variations. There are definitely lots of options!

With one $9.95 purchase, you have the chance to try all the form factors and determine which is your favorite. If you’re inclined to use some grid, some lined, some lists and so forth the Matte Black Action notebook may be the right choice for you.


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

Ink Review: J. Herbin Vert Réséda

J. Herbin Vert Réséda and Kaweco Skyline in Mint

Jet Pens recently started carrying the 10ml small bottles of J. Herbin ink and I’m absolutely mad for the little things. They are just the right size for my insatiable appetite for inks. I can fill pens several times with the quantity but it won’t stick aroud indefinitely like larger 30, 50 or bigger bottles. They remind me of bottles of nail polish — little colorful treats!

Sometimes an ink color was just meant to be paired with a pen. J. Herbin Vert Réséda is just such a color. Its a turquoise green-blue (not a blue-green) and it immediately made me think of the cool glacier mint color of the Kaweco Skyline in Mint. So, a pen/ink match was made. I bought the dainty 10ml bottle, slightly more than a sample but not the full commitment of a full 30ml bottle. I’m running out of place to store all my ink bottles anyway!

J. Herbin Vert Réséda

The color is a little bit lighter when wet then it is when its dry. So, at first, it seemed almost as light as the pen but it dries much darker and frankly, looks fantastic once dry. I did notice that in the fine nib of the Kaweco Skyline, the ink was a bit too light, even dry but when I dipped my vintage Parker Vacumatic with a slightly flexy 14K nib into the ink, I got a deeper color that I just loved.

The Vert Réséda is similar to De Atramentis Mint Turquoise but the Mint Turquoise is a bit more blue and darker. If you’re looking for a minty color that is good for finer nibbed pens, then I’d probably recommend the Min Turquoise over the Vert Réséda. Diamine Soft Mint swab is as light as the writing sample of the Vert Réséda with a fine nibbed pen so I suspect it would be too light for anything but a stub or calligraphy nib.

J. Herbin Vert Réséda

This is definitely an ink I’d recommend for nibs in the medium width and above for best results but if you’re looking for a light, bright turquoise green, it will even look pleasing in a finer nibbed pen.

($4.75 for the 10ml bottle, $12 for 30ml bottle)


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.

From The Archives: Pilot Envelope Pen

Pilot Envelope Pen Writing Sample

from-the-archivesI have been using the Pilot Envelope Pen in both the Fine and Extra Fine models for many years. These are rolleball pens. I’d most likely compare them in feel to a Pilot Precise V5 but a little bit slippier. The ink is silky smooth but because of the ink, the tip can get a little gunky. So why suffer a gunky tip? Because these pens are fine line AND waterproof and not prone to feather like a Sharpie Marker. In my writing test, the water test portion was wet with a water brush and dried. Not even a smudge!

The ink does have a bit of an odor but no worse than an alcohol-based markers and there may be some show through or bleed through on some papers but for envelopes or file folders, its not a big deal.

These do use ink quickly so buy two at a time. Stock up now before holiday card season.

Pilot Envelope Pen

I like the extra fine better for addressing envelopes since its easier to write long addresses small and neat. The fine is quite a bit broader.

Each model is just $2 and there is also a broad version and available from Jet Pens.

Ink Review: MontBlanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey

Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 90 Years Permanent Grey

I was having one of those weeks at work where all I really wanted was a pick-me-up. So, at lunch one day, I ventured across the street to the Pen Place and bought a bottle of the MontBlanc Meisterstück 90 years Permanent Grey ($22 for a 60ml glass bottle). I bought it sight unseen (no test swab or anything), spurred entirely by how much I like the Daniel DeFoe ink and I wanted something new, different and special. I don’t know much about MontBlanc and their heritage but I was inspired by the moment, so I bought a bottle of this ink.

Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 90 Years Permanent Grey

The ink swabbed almost black so I was a little concerned that in writing, it would appear to be black. I was pleasantly surprised when I started writing with it that the ink is a watery grey-black with cool undertones (leaning a little green). Because of its lighter coloring, there is some nice shading when writing. I suspect in a finer nib pen, some of the shading might be lost. I definitely recommend using this ink with a medium nib or wider to get the full benefit of its color quality.

I don’t normally look for or purchase black inks. There are so many color options with fountain pen ink that I can’t bring myself to buy plain ol’ black. But I really like grey so I make an exception for grey inks. There aren’t a lot in my ink library so the Meisterstück Permanent Grey is an excellent addition. It is also a fairly water resistant color so it would make a good option for signing documents or addressing envelopes or anything else that might be exposed to the elements. When wet, there was a little grey washing around the writing but it stayed pretty true, enough to withstand getting caught int he rain or spilling some coffee.

This ink was tested on a Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 18 pad with my Lamy Studio with a 1.1mm stub nib.

From The Archives: Sharpie Pen

Sharpie Pen writing sample

I can’t believe its taken me so long to warm up to the Sharpie Pen. As a Marvy Le Pen loyalist, I just couldn’t see what the big deal was about the Sharpie Pen. It’s similar in overall design; a fiber-tip pen with a slightly wider barrel than Le Pen and not available in nearly the array of colors. However, what Sharpie brings to the table with the Sharpie Pen in that’s its fairly water resistant and widely available for purchase. If what you want is a good quality fiber-tipped pen in black, you can’t really go wrong with the Sharpie Pen.

The tip is generically labeled as “fine” and I was able to compare it to an assortment of other fiber-tipped pens. I would say the Sharpie Pen is comparable to the Le Pen which is also unlabelled and an 03 Sakura Pigma Micron. Like most fiber-tipped pens, the point will blunt over time so I’ve had to make a “best guess” since all my pens are in various states of use.

Sharpie Pen

The simple shape of the pen and the clean graphics are all plusses for me. I’d prefer a nicer clip than the molded plastic provided but overall, its a good pen for the price and can be purchased at any drugstore, stationery shop or big box store. Other ink colors are available and the Sharpie Pen is non-toxic, archival and fade resistant as well.  All-in-all, definitely one of my go-to tools.

Review: Monologue Journals and Sketchbooks

Monologue journals

The folks at GrandLuxe sent me a whole heaping pile of their new Monologue journals. I received four A6 (5.5″x3.5″) sized books and three A5 (approx. 8.25″x5.5″).

Monologue journals

Even from the edges, you can see there are slight variations in each book to suit lots of personal preferences. The red A6-sized has pages that are  undersized to accommodate a golf-sized pencil tucked in under the edge for the cover with an elastic to hold it securely. The bottom two books have elastic loops to hold a writing tool. The orange book in the middle is a flip-top reporter-style sketchbook. The books and the top of the pile and the bottom are from the “platinum” line that include matching metallic edging on the pages.

Monologue journals

The books fall into two paper categories, the standard weight writing paper  (80 gsm acid-free) and the heavier sketchbook paper (140 gsm Italian high quality acid free). The black Monologue Basics sketchbook and the orange reporter-style Monologue sketh pad both feature the plain heavyweight sketchbook paper. The sketchbook paper is treated with a vegetable gel for long-lasting stability. All the other books have the lighter-weight, lined writing paper and additional paper treatment is labelled.

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From The Archive: Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword Pencil

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil

The Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword pencil is a 1.15mm pencil lead twist in a miniature version of the larger classic pencil.

As a crossword puzzle (and other paper puzzles) enthusiast, I received this pencil as a gift so I am not sure how expensive it was originally and I was unable to find a price for this particular model but plain Retro 51 mini pencils pop up on Amazon for around $20.

Mini Retro 51 pencil size comparison

Compared to a full-sized Retro 51, the mini is tiny! Even the Kaweco Sport and Liliput look large next to it. That said, this is not a pencil I would use for long writing sessions because the clip did end up digging into my hand. However, for twiddling while filling in a crossword puzzle at lunch or jotting quick notes like a phone number or grocery list, it’s totally fine for me. But its just at 3.5″ long — without the eraser which I lost sometime ago.

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil writing sample

The thick lead is surprisingly easy to write with and its added width makes it unliekly to break easily.  Because of its small size, it often gets tucked into a pocket in my purse so I always have a pencil with me should the need arise.

I like using this pencil enough to strongly consider getting a full-sized Retro 51 Tornado pencil. I could even get a matching Crossword pencil in the full sized model for $33 (Also available in Sudoku or Stealth Black).

From The Archives: Pilot Precise V5

Pilot Precise V5

For the most part, rollerballs and I do not get along. Ink takes too long to dry or they skip or just don’t write at all. So, when I found my first Pilot Precise V5, it was true love. I hoarded them whenever I could find them. Now, they are readily available at every big box store, office supply shop or even your corner drugstore.

Pilot Precise V5 writing sample

When I discovered fountain pens and Japanese gel pens, I sort of forgot about the Precise V5. I think its time to re-embrace the Precise V5.

Its a simple cylindrical body pen with a silver clip on the lid. There’s no fancy silicone grip and no retractability. Just above the tip are some fins that remind me of fountain pen breather fins. The Precise V5 has a large ink reservoir and a clear window on the body of the pen to see how much ink is left.

On cheaper paper, the needle tip point tends to snag paper fibers and cause the tip to get a little gunky. A quick wipe on a piece of scrap paper or paper towel will clear up a gunky tip.

The Precise V5 is one of my Top 5 easily accessible pens. If you’re lucky, you might find the multi-pack that includes the pink, purple and turquoise ink versions. I love those!

Pilot Precise V5 tip

Japanese Pencil Comparison: Mitsubishi and Tombow

Japanese pencil comparison: Mitsubishi, Hi-Uni and Tombow

I recently purchased several of the more popular Japanese wood-cased pencils from Jet Pens. I got the Tombow 2558 ($1 each) and three Misubishis: the 9800 ($0.70 each), the Hi-Uni ($2.35 each) and the 9850 ($1 each). All of the pencils are the standard HB/#2 hardness.

Japanese pencils end caps

As far as I can tell, the only difference between the Mistubishi 9800 and 9850 is the color and the 9850 has an eraser top while the 9800 has an unfinished end.

Japanese pencil comparison points

This means that the Tombow 2558 and the Mistubishi 9850 are basically a head-to-head comparison with the same price point, metal ferrule and eraser top. The 9850 is finished in a burgundy, deep red lacquer and stamped in silver with coordinating silver ferrule and white eraser. On one side it is stamped “For Office Use”. The Tombow 2558 is painted in a bright yellow gold, comparable to classic American Ticonderogas. The ferrule is a bronze color rather than silver but it is topped with a classic pink rubber eraser. The 2558 is stamped on “For General Writing”.

Despite the fact that the Mitsubishi 9800 and 9850 should essentially be the same pencil at the core, the 9850 seemed smoother on paper than the 9800. Maybe it was just my perception. I like the looks and I do like pencils without eraser caps because I almost never use them.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

All four pencils wrote really well. They performed light years better than the cheap, no-name pencils found at drugstores or big box stores. When compared to each other though, I found the Mitsubishi 9850 to be my favorite. It just wrote silky smooth, the finish on the pencil was good and it looked good. The Tombow 2558 was an equally good performer and had the classic yellow pencil looks to recommend it. These two performed so similarly it was hard to say if one was better than the other beyond a preference for red over yellow pencils.

I was least impressed with the Hi-Uni if only that it performed quite similarly to the other three pencils but at twice the price. I realize I’m splitting hairs when comparing $1 versus $2.35 pencils. Yes, the lacquer finish is smoother and the end is dipped in black for a smooth cap. There are other design details in the finishing of the Hi-Uni like the white dot, gold foil ring and extra glossy finish, but in actual writing performance, the Hi-Uni was quite similar to the other pencils though maybe a little bit harder and therefore a little lighter on paper.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

I forgot to test the erasers but since only two of the four have erasers it is an unfair comparison, right? Besides, I use a hand eraser like a Black Pearl or a Staedtler Mars anyway.

All-in-all, the Japanese sure know how to make good pencils. There really isn’t a dud in this bunch but rather just personal preferences. They all sharpened easily and cleanly with my Lefty hand sharpener and retained their points well (the photos were taken after doing the writing tests).


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.

Book: Letters To My Future Self

Letters To My Future Self Cover

Letters to My Future Self ($14.95 MSRP) is a marvelously designed little book that contains self-sealing letters and prompts to write letters to yourself. The book was designed by Lea Redmond best know for the World’s Smallest Post Service Kit.

Letters To My Future Self Inner Page

The letters fold up and include designed stamps, labels and wonderful air mail patterns.

Letters To My Future Self Folded Envelope

On the back of each page is the prompt for the letter and a place to add the date your wrote it and the date it should be opened again.

Letters To My Future Self Unfolded Letter/Envelope

When you unfold the page, there is a full sheet of paper to write your letter to yourself. They remind me of Postalettes or the WWII V-Mail. I haven’t tried writing on the paper but it feels like a good quality 80lb text weight or so. This paper will probably withstand a fine-nibbed fountain pen or any good quality gel, rollerball, or ballpoint. Pencil would be good too.

Letters To My Future Self Sticker Sheet

In the back of the book are stickers for sealing the envelopes.

Letters To My Future Self Back Cover

The book includes a dozen letters to write and the hard cover string-bound spine gives a nice look to the whole package. There is also a Letters to My Baby book and several journals for grandchildren, neices and nephews all under the category of “Paper Time Capsule“.

I think the whole collection is incredibly well done and a great way to inspire me to write some goals and some “how I feel now” to refer to sometime later. If you’re not inclined to maintain  a full-fledged journal, this may be a great way to take a letter per week or, since there’s twelve, a letter per month, and get some words on paper.


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

From The Archives: Marvy LePen

Marvy Le Pen Array

from-the-archives

Over the last four years of writing The Well-Appointed Desk, I’ve mentioned my propensity for Mary Le Pens but I realized I’ve never actually published a review. I initially discovered Le Pen in my pre-teens and it may be THE PEN that lead me to where I am today. Before finding LePens, I had only known black, blue or red ballpoints and the occasional rollerballs. Le Pens opened my eyes to good quality “felt tip” pens in a wide array of colors at a price I could afford on a teenager’s allowance. By the time I graduated from college, I found it harder to find Le Pens and I assumed they had faded from the world like so many other things. Then a couple years ago, I stumbled across them in my local art supply store and I bought just about every color that was available.

Marvy Le Pen writing sample

Ergonomically, they isn’t much to recommend them. Encased in a slim, straight, plastic cylinder with a snap cap and a simple silver clip that can easily be bent out of shape, and a nylon/fiber tip point that wears down over time, they are not in the same league as many pens I’ve reviewed over the years. But with a retail price of $1.15, these 0.3mm, acid-free, smudge-proof markers are some of my favorite pens. There are more than a dozen colors available and my favorites are the deeper, more complex colors like the gray, orchid, olive and teal. A full set of all 18 colors is available on Jet Pens.

Full set of Le Pens

Giveaway: To share my love and devotion for LePens, I’d like to give one lucky reader a full set of 18 Le Pens, compliments of Jet Pens. Just leave a note in the comments and tell me which color is (or could be) your favorite Le Pen to be officially entered.


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, September 28, 2014. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. US readers only this time, thanks!

Review: Lokta Paper Goods by Monk Papers

Lokta paper is made from the fibrous inner bark of the high-elevation evergreen bushes in the Himalayans. This paper is often just called Nepali paper. Pen Boutique has started carrying a wide variety of lokta-based paper good from a company called Monk Papers including journals, notebooks, and stationery sets.

Monk Paper Computer Paper

I received a packet of deep violet printer paper cut to 8.5×11 to fit into US printers and copiers, an A5-sized hardcover journal and a boxed photo album.

The cut sheets are a deep vivid purple. I thought the dark color of the purple screamed for an opaque white gel pen and it looks fantastic.

Monk Paper printer sheets letter size

One side of the paper is smoother than the other and probably better suited to holding ink jet inks than the more textured side. Unfortunately the purple paper is too dark to be legible but I think other colors would work well and be great for invites, resumes or a typed letter.

Monk Papers Photo Album

I was also sent this festive photo album and matching storage box. Its about 8″x8″ in size. The dots are colored dots of paper attached to the cover. I think this is one of the best uses for this paper. It looks fabulous, durable and totally unique.

Monk Papers Hardcover Journal

I was also sent an A5 hard cover journal. The cover is the same color as the interior pages and the spine is covered in a contrasting colored paper . The binding is a traditional stitched binding that lays flat easily.

Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample close-up

I experimented with a lot of different tools with this paper because my standard habit of using super-fine pens just did not work on this paper. The super-fine gel pens and fountain pens stabbed into the soft, fibrous paper. Brushes, pencils and wider rollerballs and art tools work best on this paper. There doesn’t appear to be any sizing on the paper so wet tools like brush pens and watercolor absorb quickly. I think heavy water coverage would warp the paper pretty severely.

Monk Paper Journal reverse of stock

From the reverse of the page, there’s some bleed and show-through as I would suspect from such a soft paper.

The Lokta paper is unusual enough that I think everyone should have a chance to try it but it is like other specialty papers, not all the tools you normally use will work but other things might.


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

Review: Pelikan Edelstein Ruby Cartridges

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby tin

I’d been very interested in getting some of the Pelikan Edelstein ink cartridges. They come in a lovely tin and I like having a pack of cartridges at work so that, in a pinch, I can quickly refill a pen without making a big mess.  The tin means I could keep it in my daily kit so I have cartridges handy all the time. I bought the Ruby color from my local pen shop.

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby cartridges

What I didn’t realize is that the Pelikan Edelstein cartridges are European LONG cartridges. Most of my pens, that take standard European cartridges, are not big enough for the long cartridges. I finally found one pen that could accommodate the longer cartridges, my Kaweco Student.

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby ink

Inked and ready to go, I was finally able to test PE Ruby. Its a pinky-red color with some nice shading, even with the extra-fine nib in my Kaweco Student. Its a bit lighter color than I had expected.  A Google image search for “ruby gem” reveals that rubies are a bit pinky in color when light shines through them so the name is appropriate for the color. Just, in my head, I always thought of rubies as a darker red.

Edelstein inks are good quality and flow smoothly and feel lubricated which helps validate the steeper price point.

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby ink writing samples

When compared to other reds in my stash, it does fill a gap. Diamine Wild Strawberry is a bit more orangey, and Noodler’s Mandalay Maroon is darker and probably more what my head thought of as “ruby”.

Six LONG European-style cartridges are available in each tin for $7.95 from Goulet Pens since my local pen shop does not list them on their online shop. If you’re in KC though, stop by The Pen Place in Crown Center and pick them up in person.

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