Tag: review

Massdrop: Ferme à Paris Planner, Calender & Notecards

Ferme à Papier Yearless Planner

Massdrop did a mass drop on me this week with some of the new products they are stocking from Ferme à Papier. They sent me the new Yearless Planner (currently $21.99), the Desk Calendar (currently $24.99) and the boxed Thank You Cards (currently $19.99). The planner is 5″x8″ with a perfect bound spine and decorative gold foil details on the cover. Inside, the paper is a crisp, heavyweight white paper with minimal black printing. Since the calendaring is dateless, you need to write, draw, stamp or embellish a lot of the details yourself. Luckily, the paper is heavyweight enough to hold up to both lots of types of pens and inks including rubber stamping inks.

Ferme à Papier Yearless Planner

I’m not too scrapbook-y but I like using some stamps, arrows, washi tape and arrows to embellish and color code notes in my planners. The bright white paper gave me lots of freedom to plus up the planner. Inside the front is a forward-planning spread for the whole year — not much to plan for 2017 yet except pen shows and some knitting events but there’s still plenty of room to add birthdays, anniversaries and other dates to remember.

Ferme à Papier Yearless Planner

Following the forward planning is a monthly calendar across two pages. I stamped the numbers for the days in January and added the few upcoming events I know thus far. While I included the Philly Pen Show on the calendar, I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to go but I like to keep track of these events.

Ferme à Papier Yearless Planner

After the monthly spread are a series of weekly pages. I used number stamps for the days and added a few of the meetings I know I’ll have when I return from the holidays. Not much yet but it will get filled up fast!

Ferme à Papier Yearless Planner

In the back of the book, I did a series of pen and pencil tests and was pleasantly surprised to discover how well the paper handled most inks. There was no bleeding or feathering issues . I didn’t use any super wide nibs since the book is not huge but a fine italic fountain pen, Le Pens, rollerballs, Papermate Flairs and even a fairly fine brush pen all did well so I feel confident that a range of tools for convenience and decorating options will be open for users.

Ferme à Papier Yearless Planner

Above is the pen testing page, viewed from the back. There’s a little tiny bit of show through but its only from the thicker markers like the Pentel Touch and the Kuretake Fudegokochi which is to be expected. So I’m quite pleased with the paper quality.

My only peeve with the planner is that the spine really needed to be worked to loosen the glue to get the book to open up. It does not lay flat very easily on its own. The binders put way too much glue on it and in some of the spreads you can see that it cuts into the usability of the space in the left hand edge of the right hand page — parts of the text fall into the gutter that is in the binding area. And while the Yearless Planner concept is interesting the layout really forces users to still start the planner in January rather than a format that allows for users to start the planner in any month and use it for 12 months. So its still a bit limiting. That said, the paper quality and the compact size and the ability to do a lot of decorating or no embellishing at all make it quite appealing.

There are eight different cover options to choose from and the Yearless Planner has met its Massdrop goal so its at the lowest price of $21.99.

Ferme à Papier Desk Calendar

Next up is the Desk Calendar which is a 12-month cardstock calendar in a walnut, wood slat base. The wood base is a bit wider than the cards, and all the cards fit into the stand so you can keep them altogether.The cards also stand more rigid and upright if you keep all of them in the stand together. I think the wood stand could be re-used at the end of the year for personal ephemera so I think there’s some longevity to it as well.

The designs of each of the calendar cards have a Memphis-style vibe in graphic pastels.

Ferme à Papier Desk Calendar

The visible design is about 5″x5″ and the base adds another 1.5″ to the height and about 3″ to the width.

Ferme à Papier Desk Calendar

The cactus montage on the September page is my favorite. I can’t believe I’ll have to wait nine whole months to gaze at it!  The Desk Calendar is currently at $24.99 and needs 3 more purchases to be a fully funded drop. There’s only three days left too. It’s a pretty unique desk calendar and would make a nice gift.

Ferme à Papier Thank-You Cards

The last item from Ferme à Papier is a set of eight Thank You cards in an acetate box with kraft envelopes. I received the box set of Black Carrara with gold foil stamped lettering on the cover. I also received a single sample of the Purple Floral design but I forgot to photograph it (so sorry!). As the holidays are rapidly approaching, its important to have some thank you cards on hand and these simple, universally appropriate cards would be perfect to give to your boss, co-worker, friend, or family member. I am always looking for thank you cards appropriate to give to my gentleman friends or for work colleagues that are not overly flowery or floofy. These cards are perfect for that.

My only fuss with them is the foil stamping is a little rough. It appears that way in the photos on Massdrop so there is no false advertising so I’m wondering if that was the look the designer was going for because its almost consistent on every card. I’m particularly picky because I do a lot of foil stamp design work for my job but I just thought I’d point it out. Alternately, I don’t often find such simple cards where I work so I guess I should pick my (picky) battles.

The Thank You cards boxed sets are $19.99 and need 10 buyers to meet the drop and there’s just three days left.

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

Ink Review: Papier Plume Garden District Azalea

Papier Plume Garden District Azalea

Garden District Azalea is the last of the three color I purchased from the New Orleans ink collection from Papier Plume. I laughed because earlier this week Sarah mentioned in the comments for the Streetcar Green that she specifically passed on the the “pink ink” and here I was thinking I was saving the “best for last”.There’s a color for everyone.

Alternately, there’s been a lot of other folks who have come around to appreciating pink inks, myself included. I think Callifolio Andrinople and the Sailor Pink Love helped to woo us over to the “pink love” for sure. But since this spring, I’ve been slowly adding new pink inks to my collection and coming to appreciate a few that have sat idle in my collection.

Papier Plume Garden District Azalea

The Papier Plume Azalea is a good pink addition. It shades nicely and is not too pinky-pink, leaning more towards a reddish pink than a candy watermelon pink. I didn’t notice any sheening in the color. I found the ink a little on the dry side so I think it might perform better in a wider nib pen than an extra fine. When painting the title, it did take a bit longer to dry and I got a bit impatient — especially considering I managed to misspell GARDEN. Doh! Overall, I like the ink and the price point cannot be beat.

Papier Plume Garden District Azalea

Compared to other pink inks in the Desk vault, Garden District Azalea is closest to J. Herbin Rouge Opera which is a very wet, runny ink and a touch more red. Andrinople is a tiny bit darker and moodier than Azalea and  Iroshizuku Tsutsuji is more magenta pink. Both Sailor Sakura-Mori and Iroshizuku Kosumusu are more peachy pink (watermelon-y) and the Kobe #41 is more purply-pink.

I hope that gives you a good idea where Garden District Azalea falls in the pink spectrum. Would bright up any black pen — would probably make the Black Pen Society guys weep so don’t tell them I said that.

Ink Review: Papier Plume Streetcar Green

Papier Plume Streetcar Green

Continuing the Papier Plume ink obsession, today’s review is the Streetcar Green from the New Orleans collection as well. I purchased this in the same batch with the Sazerac from yesterday. And while I had been given a big thumb’s up from Brad about the Sazerac, I bought the Streetcar Green sight unseen. Now, I love green inks and I have a soft spot for all things vintage and I love of New Orleans so I was willing to take the $8 gamble.

Papier Plume Streetcar Green

The color is one of the most unusual shades of green I’ve gotten. Its sort of a deep evergreen but was not like any color I had. It definitely reminded me of the color of the leather seats on an old streetcar. The one odd thing I noticed was how dingy the color looked when wet. It seemed to brighten and look cleaner as it dried. It was the strangest phenomena I’ve seen in an ink. So, don’t be fooled if you see the ink wet. It looks rather lusterless wet but it has a lovely appearance when dry.

Papier Plume Streetcar Green Ink Comparison

I had very few greens in my stash that looked even close in color to Streetcar Green. Oddly, DeAtramentis Document Green and DeAtramentis Cement Grey were the closest in hue and neither I would have thought would be even close. I would think something like Diamine Evergreen might be close but I don’t actually own it so I couldn’t do a side-by-side comparison.

I found a few other comparable ink colors on the Anderson Pens Ink Comparison tool:

Streetcar Green Ink Comparison

Pricewise, I think the Papier Plume Streetcar Green is as good a value as any of the other options and it dries fairly quickly. It shades nicely too.

Ink Review: Papier Plume Sazerac

Papier Plume Sazerac

After recording the Gift Guide episode of the Pen Addict podcast, I fell victim to our own enabling and bought some of the Papier Plume Sazerac ink. See? We are even dangerous to each other!

Sazerac is part of their New Orleans themed ink collection and being a cocktail connoisseur, I couldn’t resist trying a bottle.

Papier Plume Sazerac

The color is a warm, vivid orange reminiscent of the color of a Sazerac cocktail viewed in the glass. There are lots of interpretations of the recipe but all are variations of rye whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters, a twist of lemon and the glass is coated with absinthe. Some recipes add a little simple syrup or sugar and the original recipes included cognac. No matter how you drink it, you’ll agree that Papier Plume’s Sazerac ink is a pretty close color match.

Papier Plume Sazerac

The ink shades nicely and has lovely variation. My biggest issue was that the ink was much lighter wet than dry making it a little difficult to write with in some light.

Papier Plume Sazerac Ink Comparison

For color comparison, Sazerac is warmer, more whiskey-like than Noodler’s Summer Tanager ad Dragon Napalm. Sazerac was also a bit warmer and richer than the new Sailor Kin-Mokusei which is a very bright, sunny orange. Sazerac is more on the orange side of the spectrum than Fuyugaki and the now-discontinued Sailor Jentle Apricot which are both more red.

Overall, at a mere $8 per bottle, the Papier Plume inks are definitely worth the investment. I like the wax seal cap though it did make closing the bottle a bit more challenging. I would, however, be willing to pay a dollar or two more per bottle for a nicer label.

Brush Pens, Part 2: Water-Soluble Felt Tips

water-soluble-felt-tip-1 water-soluble-felt-tip-2

Guest review by Tina Koyama.

In part 1 of the brush pen series, I covered felt-tipped waterproof pens. This review is about 11 brush pens with similar compressed-fiber tips but containing water-soluble black inks.

In general, I’d say the tips behaved in the same ways as their waterproof-ink counterparts of comparable size. One of my goals with this series is to find pens that don’t mush down from my heavy-handed abuse, and as it turned out, I didn’t find any in this category with the slimmer felt tips that did tend to flatten in the waterproof group. Most in this review have either a relatively stout bullet-shaped felt tip or a small, firm plastic or rubber tip, and both styles stand up well to my heavy hand. However, the points of the broad end of the Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen and the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush did flatten after a relatively short while, which surprised me because they look sturdy.

Sakura Koi on Field Notes Lunacy
Sakura Koi on Field Notes Lunacy

The pens that are the most resilient tend to make a strange squeaky sound with slight pressure, such as the two Zebra pens (both double-sided and single-sided), the Kuretake No. 55 Double-Sided Brush Pen and the Kuretake No. 33 Brush Pen. Perhaps the squeakiness is related to the type of material they are made of. I know that’s not a very helpful characteristic if you haven’t bought and used the pen yet, but for me the squeak is a good indication that the tip will last. I’ve been using the four named above for a good while, and they are all still pointy and going strong.

Both the Sakura Koi and the Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker have tips that are a bit too broad for my uses. Even held vertically, I couldn’t get a fine enough point for detailed work (and since the Koi started mushing down quickly, its tip got even flatter). On the other hand, when held at a sharp angle to the paper, the Winsor & Newton marker makes a very wide swath of ink that covers a lot quickly. For that reason, I enjoy using it at life drawing practice with larger paper.

Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker on 140lb watercolor paper
Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker on 140lb watercolor paper

Ink Color & Solubility

Now, on to the inks. My favorite way to use brush pens containing water-soluble ink is to make a line drawing and then use water to wash the line slightly for shading, and I usually don’t add color afterwards. So the quality of the washed line is important to me.

water-test-1 water-test-2

One interesting thing I learned from comparing these pens was how variable the term water-soluble can be – and how long water-solubility lasts. To test solubility, I made a scribbly line on Canson 98-pound mixed–media paper. Within a minute, I ran a waterbrush through the line to see how much it dissolved. (Those water marks are shown on the right side of my test sheets close to the names of the pens.) Although all the inks are roughly the same shade of black when applied to white paper, some look very different after being washed with water. Often the wash is much bluer, and in a few cases turns brownish. The Kuretake No. 14 Pocket Brush and the Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen both washed with such pale smears that I don’t really consider them water-soluble for my purposes (yet neither is described as being waterproof by JetPens). If I’m going to wash a line for shading, I want the shading to be rich and strong, which is the case for most of the other pens. The Sakura Koi, the Tombow and the Zebra pens all washed to particularly dark shades.

Kuretake 33 on Field Notes Lunacy
Kuretake 33 on Field Notes Lunacy

Long-term Ink Permanence

The big surprise came a couple of weeks after I made the test sheets. Experimenting with a drawing I’d done earlier, I realized that the ink that had washed previously was now permanent. Curious, I went back to the test sheets and made a new waterbrush mark (shown on the left side of the test sheets) on each of the original lines. Most still responded in the same way as before, but the Zebra Double-Sided Brush Pen, the Kuretake No. 55, the two Kuretake Fudegokochi pens (regular and super-fine) and the Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen all diminished in solubility. In fact, the two Fudegokochi and Pentel pens were essentially waterproof after the passage of those weeks, showing no solubility at all.

Since I generally finish a sketch in one sitting and wash lines immediately after making them, the delayed permanence is not a factor I would consider as long as I knew an ink was soluble to begin with. But if you make a line drawing first and continue working on it quite a bit later, it’s something to consider. And the delay might be a favorable feature if you want your work to be insoluble for the long run.

Zebra double sided pen on 98lb mixed media paper
Zebra double sided pen on 98lb mixed media paper

All inks behaved well and showed no feathering or significant bleed-through on Field Notes 60-pound Finch Opaque Smooth paper. Even though I know this Field Notes paper is not intended for wet media and has performed poorly with water in the past, just for kicks, I put water on the test lines. As expected, the beautiful washes I got on the 98-pound paper were nearly non-existent on the 60-pound Finch. (My experience with other Field Notes papers is that this difference is primarily due to the sizing on the paper’s surface, not the weight. For example, I get satisfactory washes on Domtar Earth Choice 60-pound paper found in the Field Notes Lunacy edition.) However, even where water was applied, only the Winsor Newton ink bled through.

Field Notes Test
Field Notes Test
Reverse side of Field Notes #1
Reverse side of Field Notes #1
Reverse side of Field Notes #2
Reverse side of Field Notes #2

Although I tested only black inks in this review series, it should be noted that the Tombow, Sakura Koi, Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pens and Winsor Newton markers all come in a zillion colors, and their water-soluble qualities make them ideal for blending like watercolors.

As with the waterproof felt-tip pens, I experienced the same crankiness with some caps that have to be reversed before they can be posted! This time the guilty parties are the Kuretake No. 55 and Kuretake No. 33 (which will both most likely suffer an early demise because I keep inadvertently jamming their tips into the wrong end of the caps when I replace them after posting).

Kuretake No. 55 double sided on Stillman & Birn Alpha
Kuretake No. 55 double sided on Stillman & Birn Alpha

Final Impressions

My favorites from this group? Despite that cranky cap, the double-sided Kuretake No. 55 is my overall fave because the two distinctly different tip sizes offer a remarkably wide range of marks in one convenient pen – important for an urban sketcher like me who carries her studio in her bag. (Conversely, the two tips on the double-sided Zebra and double-sized Winsor Newton are too similar to offer the same range.) Its ink washes beautifully, and the Kuretake No. 55’s notably squeaky tip is also standing up well to my firm pressure. For richness in wash color as well as a good range in line width, I also like both the single- and double-sided Zebras and the Kuretake No. 33.

tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

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

Notebook Review: Moo Notebook


Moo-ve over, Moleskine. Moo is about to show you a thing or two about how notebooks are supposed to be done.

Moo Notebook presentation box

Moo Notebook

First. Let’s talk about presentation and packaging. Now, normally, I’m not much for a lot of packaging because its usually stuff I have to either store or throw away especially in regards to fountain pens and that tends to be a lot of material that is not reusable or recyclable. In regards to notebooks though, a nice presentation box is something that is both recyclable and reusable. Moo is notorious for packaging that often lives long after all the business cards, postcards, or other paper ephemera has been distributed. I still have my original business card box from my first order of business cards that I use to transport cards to and from events almost a decade later. So, yeah for an awesome box.

Moo flyleaf on notebook

Moo Notebook and Slipcase


Next, for about the same price as a Moleskine notebook, the Moo notebook ships with a notebook and a slipcase. Now your notebook will have some amazing presentation on the shelf after its filled with your thoughts and ideas. Will my scribbles be worthy of a slipcase still remains to be seen, but having that option is certainly something that makes the Moo notebook more valuable than the average notebook.

colored pages in Moo Notebook

colored pages in Moo Notebook

Then there’s the colored pages in the center of the Moo notebook that provides a visual division between the front and back half of the book as well as blank pages for drawing, collage, and other purposes I haven’t thought of yet.

Tear and remove bellyband on Moo Notebook

Upon removing the bellyband on the Moo Notebook, there is a self-adhesive pocket that can be adhered into the notebook for business cards and other small ephemera.

note on reverse of bellyband on Moo Notebook


moo notebook pocketMoo coptic binding

But wait, I haven’t talked about the wicked, coptic, lay-flat binding. The cover opens flat, away from the spine to show the exposed binding, which is both aesthetically cool and functionally useful allowing the cover to open more fully. In the marketing materials, Moo expressly states that this binding method makes the notebook lay flat more easily which is better for left-handed writers. You know how to win my heart, Moo.

colored pages in Moo Notebook

Ribbon bookmark Moo Notebook

Oh, wait. I forgot to mention, they even thought to finish the edge of the ribbon bookmark so it doesn’t fray. And at the bottom of the box is a coordinating pencil, pre-sharpened with an inspiring message to get you going. Yeah. They thought of everything.

Moo Pencil in box


Seriously, at this point, even if the book has paper as crappy as your average Moleskine, its still leaps and bounds better at $20 than a Moleskine. If you’re looking for a great gift idea for someone who likes to write, do a little doodling or just likes beautiful things, this would make a perfect holiday gift. Just go order one. Go on… I’ll wait.

Lined paper and lay-flat binding in Moo Notebook

Now, let me tell you about my pen and pencil tests.

Pen & Pencil tests Moo Notebook white paper

I tested both the writing paper and the green blank paper. The information about the papers on the website list the white paper as Swedish Munken Kristall paper. There’s 160 pages and its lightly lined.

I decided not to hold back. I figured I’d throw the kitchen sink at this notebook and then accept my fate. Would it stand up to a bevy of brush pens or an assortment of fountain pens? Yup. Gel pens, rollerballs and even pigment-based Faber-Castell brush tip permanent pens. Yeah, some of the brush pens showed through but I was asking a lot but the paper withstood a lot more than I thought it would. And there was very little bleed through. There was no feathering issues on the right side of the paper and most pens dried in a reasonable amount of time which meant I wasn’t smudging my writing. If you really want to use both sides of the paper, stick to fine line pens, gel pens, pencils and fountain pens with lighter, drier inks.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the lines but they are light enough enough that the fact that they didn’t bleed to the edge of the page of to the spine did not end up bothering me.

Pen & Pencil tests Moo Notebook white paper reverse of stock

Pen & Pencil tests Moo Notebook white paper reverse of stock

Then I decided I’d use the green G . F Smith’s Colorplan Park Green paper for drawing (as recommended by the web site) and it held up to an assortment of pens, pencils and markers with no issues. There’s some nice tooth to the paper which was nice with both graphite and colored pencils. Even my Copic Sketch markers worked well but they did bleed through but only to the back of the paper and not to the next sheet. There wasn’t even show through of any of the other tools. The colored paper also made it possible to use opaque white gel pens for accent which was fun. It definitely reminded of how much I enjoyed using the Field Notes Sweet Tooth editions this summer. I almost want a whole book full of the Colorplan paper not just 16 pages.

Moo Notebook paper tests Color Plan Park green stock

I did some snooping and the Colorplan paper is either the 80#/120gsm or 91#/135gsm, in case you are curious about the specifics. I couldn’t narrow down exactly the weight of the Munken Kristall paper other than to establish its the Arctic line and its probably the 120gsm.

Moo Notebook paper tests Color Plan Park green reverse of stock

What’s the downside? The Moo notebooks are covered with grey fabric book cloth which look fabulous but, in my world, is a cat hair magnet of epic proportions. And it will probably have coffee and tea stains on in a New York minute. And ink stains. And a bit of mustard, at least I think that’s mustard. Best not to ask. Maybe I’m just accident prone and messy but if you’ve met me at a pen show, my fingers are perpetually ink-stained so its not a stretch to think my notebooks aren’t also likely to suffer a similar fate. The Moo notebook also does not have a big secretary pocket for holding larger ephemera like postcards, mail and meeting notes.

These are not make-or-break issues for me but I would like to see Moo add an option for an edition of the notebook with the same exterior material as is used on the slipcase as an option and I’d love an add-on adhesive pocket like the business card pocket that is larger and could be added onto orders for other ephemera. I love that Moo is moving into notebooks and I look forward to seeing what else they will do, especially after seeing how exceptional this notebook is.

The Moo Notebook is available directly from Moo for $19.99.

CLARIFICATION: The special black box packaging with the pencil is for the MOO notebook launch ONLY. Any notebooks purchased from the website will not include the pencil and outer black box. MOO includes just the hardcover notebook and the slipcover. I apologize for any confusion. It’s still an awesome product and far and away a better deal at $19.99 than other similarly-sized and priced notebooks.

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

Pen Review: Morning Glory Needlepoint Liquid Ink Pen

morning glory needlepoint liquid ink

The Morning Glory Mach Campus Rollerball Pen in 0.28 mm with Stripe Body and Black Ink ($1.95) is part of the Morning Glory Mach Campus Rollerball Pen line-up, which are available with blue, black or red ink and all with 0.28mm tips. When I ordered it, most of the line was sold out. Knowing how much I liked the Morning Glory Mach 3, I was not surprised. While the Campus Rollerball Pens do not come in nearly the array of colors that the Mach 3 line is available in, the fineness of the tip more than makes up for it.

morning glory needlepoint liquid ink close up

The tip is needlepoint fine and writes well at any angle. I had no issues with it hard starting or giving me any grief as a result of being left handed or writing upside down, sideways or at any other janky angle.

morning glory needlepoint liquid ink comparison

And the Campus Rollerball writes TINY. I decided I need to compare how small I could write, without much effort, with something most people would be familiar with so I pulled out a Sharpie Pen and attempted to write as small as possible with it. You can see how quickly the cross bars and centers of the letters started to fill in on the Sharpie Pen writing on the right compared to the Campus Rollerball Pen writing on the left. These were done on the same page and were not resized or composed in anyway. I just scanned them in as is.

The Campus is a capped pen which might not be the favored model for everyone but the cap posts with a good solid click which means its not going to pop off. Since it is liquid ink, capping it closed before putting it away also means its not going to accidentally leak onto paper or an item of clothing in your bag like a retractable pen (Retro 51, I’m looking at you!)

Other graphics are available with black ink, including a model that looks like the Mach 3 if candy striping is not to your taste. Alternatives include a penguin design, mint with white polka dots, multi-color dots and a sedate pearl with black lettering.

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