Planner Review: Pebble Stationery Co Traveler’s Regular Sized Undated Planner

Review by Laura Cameron

2020 has been a strange year, and despite the fact that the Desk LOVES planners, clearly we haven’t needed them in months. A few weeks ago, Pebble Stationery Co. asked if we would be interested in reviewing their new Traveler’s Regular Sized Undated Planner ($17.99) and planner love won out and I eagerly accepted.

One of the best parts about this planner is that it’s UNDATED, meaning I can start using it whenever I wish! Given the uncertainly in our world these days, that flexibility is fabulous.

So let’s start outside and work in!

The new planner is Traveler’s sized (4 3/8″ x 8 1/4″ or 110mm x 210mm) and approximately 1/4″ or 6mm thick. It comes with a gorgeous vegan leatherette cover in either Navy or Red.

The inside front page is cardstock and includes a place for name and contact information if your notebook should ever get lost!

The paper inside this planner is a treat! It is white 52gsm Tomoe River meaning it’s perfect for all those fun sheening inks we love so much. The paper is 3.6mm dot grid, in light grey ink. The planner is organized into three main sections.

At the front is the year at a glance section with two six month 2-page spreads (say that 10 times fast!)

Then comes the month at a glance section, with each month as a 2-page spread. There are 12 monthly spreads.

The third section is the week at a glance section. On the left side you have the days of the week and the right side is unformatted dot grid. There are 52 weekly spreads.

Finally, at the end of the book are several extra pages of dot grid, available for notes, ideas, and jotting down anything important.

And, to keep your place, there are two ribbons (red and navy).

I did a quick paper and fountain pen ink test and it performed as expected. It’s lovely to write on and drying times were fairly quick. However, as with most 52gsm Tomoe River paper there is quite a bit of ghosting on the opposite side, so you’ll have to be comfortable with that.

Overall, if you’re looking for a slim, elegant and flexible planner for the coming year, I think Pebble Stationery Co. has provided a great option!

DISCLAIMER: The item included in this review was provided to us free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Robert Oster Frankly Fifth (Federalist Pens 5th Anniversary Ed)

Ink Review: Robert Oster Frankly Fifth (Federalist Pens 5th Anniversary Ed)

Robert Oster Frankly Fifth Cap

Robert Oster Frankly Fifth bottle

I’ve gone around over the years about my feelings regarding the size and shape of the Robert Oster 50ml ink bottles and, while they are not the most romantic, elegant bottles, they really are pretty easy to use once you get the hang of them. The plastic is a standard #2 plastic making them recyclable in most major cities and towns worldwide. It also means they are pretty nonbreakable if your bottle gets dropped or tipped over. This also means that there is considerably less merchandise loss for vendors who often get this Australian ink shipped to the other side of the world and then repackage it to ship to you. The plastic is lighter than glass reducing the overall costs to ship as well. Once in our individual ink collections, the bottles take up considerably less space and are easy to store multiple bottles.

Now, that I’ve waxed poetic about the bottles, let’s get to the actual review.

Robert Oster Frankly Fifth ink swatch

I was so flattered that the brothers at Federalist Pens asked me to review their new custom ink color, Robert Oster Frankly Fifth which was created to celebrate their fifth anniversary. The brothers said it was a way of bringing everything full circle since it was way back in 2017 that I first reviewed their first ink collaboration with Robert Oster, Frankly Blue, to celebrate their first anniversary.

Robert Oster Frankly Fifth folded nib

Robert Oster Frankly Fifth writing sample

A lot has changed for everyone this year. I’m sure the intention was to release the new ink in time for the DC Supershow but well, we all know how that turned out this year. I say that because the new Frankly Fifth is definitely a brighter, more indigo blue that makes me think All-American, true blue, denim and red, white and blue. In writing though, the color has a more violet cast than I expected. In my medium nib, it reminds me a little of some of the washable blues from the vintage pen eras. Or maybe the color of the ink from school mimeograph machines.

When I was writing the heading, my nib still had a little water in it and the writing had that light, almost periwinkle color of the Sailor Studio/Manyo inks. Curious. There’s some lovely shading with this ink but no sheening. It dries pretty quickly on the Rhodia paper I was testing it on. It’s funny, the more inks I use, the more inks I love and not the other way around.

Robert Oster Frankly Fifth swatch comparison

In comparisons, Frankly Fifth is pretty close in color and shade to Sailor Ultramarine and Nioi-Sumire as well as Diamine Bilberry. I included the Monteverde DC Supershow Blue from 2018 since I made reference to “show inks” but it’s a bit more ultramarine with no hint of violet.

Robert Oster Frankly Fifth ink comparison

I pushed the swatches closer for a better look and you may notice that Bilberry is slightly more purple and probably has less shading. If price/value is an issue, the Frankly Fifth compared to the Sailor colors is a much better deal $/ml.

I’ll go back to my previous statement that I’m often hard pressed to find an ink I don’t like. I may find an ink that’s a better value or better suited to a certain pen or certain mood but if what you want is to maybe think your paper might smell like cornflowers or a mimeograph, this might be the ink for you.


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

Tool Review: Kutsuwa Round and Triangular Pencil Caps

Tool Review: Kutsuwa Round and Triangular Pencil Caps

Review by Tina Koyama

My daily-carry bag contains many pencils, both colored and graphite. To prevent broken points and inadvertent stabs, I keep them and myself protected with pencil caps. Although I’ve tried some fancy ones made of leather or metal, my favorites are inexpensive, lightweight, colorful plastic ones. Kutsuwa makes several, including round ones with roll-prevention nobbies (12/$2.25) and triangular ones with bonus sparkles (12/$2.50).

The round set includes four transparent pastel colors. Tiny nobs near the base keep the caps from rolling off your desk (or down the sidewalk).

round set

The triangular set is a candy palette of six glittery colors.

triangular set with package

Both sets come with name labels so that you can identify your caps.

 name labels

Although the triangular caps are designed for triangular pencils, they also fit onto standard-barrel pencils. All caps fit securely on the standard barrels I tried. The triangular ones feel a bit more snug than the round. Unfortunately, neither style fits on slightly larger barrels such as many Caran d’Ache pencils.

Interestingly, I learned about minute barrel-size differences among some pencils I thought were the same size by capping them. In the photos below, I pushed each cap down as far as it would go. While the triangular caps fit about the same on all the pencils shown, the round caps indicated that the two Staedtler pencils (blue Mars Lumograph and striped black/red Tradition) are a hair narrower than the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni and Blackwing, as I was able to push the caps down further.

triangular caps on pencils

triangular caps on pencils

I like having both styles on hand so I can use the one that fits a particular pencil best.

pencil bouquet

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

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.


A Tale of Two Notebooks

A Tale of Two Notebooks

By Jessica Coles

You may or may not have heard about the changes coming to Tomoe River Paper (I won’t go into depth on it here). The change is, in my world, like saying goodbye to an era where good fountain pen paper was easy(ish) to find and the choice of paper was clear.

Now that the era is closing, it is time to go back to earlier days in fountain pens when the hunt for great paper is on again. Back to debates about what “Good for Fountain Pens” means when shopping for that next notebook and the excitement of finding a new type that makes your fountain pen feel great on the page and your ink look amazing.

I’ve started on such a hunt and today have two notebooks to present. The smaller of the two is the Tsubame Note University Notebook H60S – A5 7mm Lined ($4.50 for 60 sheets) and the larger is the MDS University Notebook, B5 ($7.50 for 40 sheets). Both notebooks were sent to me by Alex of Alex carries several amazing varieties of paper in his store (not to mention a plethora of ink) and at amazing prices. Thank you, Alex, for sending these for review.

Both the Tsubame and the MDS notebooks use Fools Paper, each at 80 – 85 gsm for the paper weight. The Tsubame paper feels slightly thicker than the MDS and is a bit brighter white as well. Both have the same binding type – a thick card stock cover, stitched signatures, and black binding tape stamped with a gold identifier.

First, the MDS University Notebook, B5. The cover has very little printed on it with plenty of room for labeling or ornamentation. Personally, I recommend stickers from Well-Appointed Desk, but I may be biased there.

The binding is stitched and allows the notebook to lay nearly flat (with a bit of pressure required when first used). This notebook is blank and has no markings at all.

I started out with Sailor Manyo Yamabuki in a Pilot VP with a medium nib. The paper feels luxurious, not super smooth but not much feedback either.

The MDS notebook has 40 sheets which translates into 80 pages (when numbered front and back).

I tried to show inks with various properties – Sailor Ha Ha and 143 for shading and mulit-color, Montblanc Psychedelic Purple, Pent Ebizome, and Sailor Irori for sheen, Taccia Sabimidori for color, and three different non-fountain pens to see if they bled.

Sailor Ha Ha had a slight bit of feathering which can be expected with so much ink coming from the Fude nib. Sailor Irori had quite a bit of feathering at first (I had also just filled the pen) which calmed down by the end of the line. Ebizome and Irori each showed sheen on the edges of the letters and Psychedelic Purple showed no sheen. The metallic gel pen looks amazing!

Below is the back side of the same page – no ink bled to the following page. I realized after I uploaded these photos that the watermark is very visible here.

Each ink spotted on the back side of the page except for fine and extra fine nibs. I was pleasantly shocked that the gel pen and the brush pen didn’t go through at all.

The second notebook up today is the Tsubame Note University Notebook H60S – A5 7mm Lined. The cover has more ornamentation than the MDS.

An index page is included in the front of the notebook for quick reference.

Below I used Tono & Lims “A Smile is a Sword” ink with a medium Franklin-Christoph SIG nib. Writing on the paper felt like writing on Rhodia. A very pleasant experience.

Folding the unused pages back was a bit tougher with the Tsubame than with the MDS, most likely due to the increase in pages.

I tried MANY inks.


I did see some feathering occasionally, especially with wetter inks and most inks ghosted through the page. However, I did not see any spotting or bleed through on the opposite side.

I enjoyed this foray into paper hunting once again. If I had to choose one of the above notebooks, I would pick the Tsubame notebook – I like the A5 size better, the paper seems to take a wide variety of inks without a problem and the paper feels slightly nicer. It pains me to say that I even enjoyed the ruled lines. But blank is still best. Always. Except this once.

DISCLAIMER:  The items in this review were provided free for the purpose of reviewing. Otherwise I am one of the unpaid monkeys that Ana talks about occasionally except for Col-o-rings which she provides to me because she knows that I can’t resist. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: United States of Letterpress

Link Love: United States of Letterpress

We have really, really good news and really sad news this week.

So we will start with the good news. This week, the new edition of the Field Notes Colors Edition was released and we (I mean my husband, Skylab Letterpress and myself) were actively involved in creating. And we had to keep quiet about it for months. Skylab was asked to be involved in the United States of Letterpress just as the COVID-19 pandemic was shutting down the country. It presented some challenges in the production processes. Normally, a large print project would be a “all hands on deck” event with every pressman and -woman in the shop, along with interns and friends pitching in to help. But social distancing made this very difficult. So  Bob spent everyday in the month of July in the shop with me, and a couple friends taking turns helping in the shop in shifts.

FN United States of Letterpress

There are nine amazing covers created by letterpress printers across the country. Each cover is printed on a different colored paper stock with the Field Notes logo litho printed in grey then letterpress printed in process blue and rubine red by each letterpress shop. Skylab printed every slipsheet in every edition of the United States of Letterpress edition in black and light brown.

For full details about the project, watch the Field Notes 12-minute video. I even got a shout-out in the credits for filming the Skylab footage! (Look at what a goof ball my husband is up there in that photo!)

I Dissent Book
from Elizabeth Baddeley

In the sad news, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away last week. Not only was she an inspiration to women everywhere, she was a lefty and was spotted using a Blackwing. My friend Elizabeth Baddeley illustrated the book I Dissent and even got to meet RBG. Though I never got to meet RBG, she still left an idelible mark on me and on so many others. The hope now is that there is not a rush to try to replace her in the Court but I’m sure every effort will be made to further political agendas. It just saddens me that the urgency to fill the vacancy will overshadow the loss of her legacy.

from Elizabeth Baddeley

Links of the Week (United States of Letterpress):

Links of the Week (RBG):




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

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Inky YouTubers

Last week I did a roundup of ink for your ears, so this week let’s focus on your eyes! As before, this list is by no means exhaustive. If I’ve missed someone important please let us know and we’ll update the post to reflect that! Otherwise, grab some pens and a notebook, a tasty beverage and dive right in!

Figboot on Pens: David offers extensively researched reviews on pens including fun trivia and occasional giveaways. He also does interviews with pen makers, retail store owners and fountain pen aficionados…even Neil DeGrasse Tyson!



Gourmet Pens: Azizah explores delectable pens and associated addictions on her YouTube channel. Fountain pens, inks, notebooks, paper, and more! If I’m allowed a personal favorite, it’s Azizah’s video from 3 years ago showing how she plays with new fountain pen inks. Yes the video features Ana’s Col-o-Ring, but I learned so much!

Inkdependence: We mentioned Mike briefly last week for his Friday pen chats, but Mike has tons of great reviews of the products we all love to use. Pens, inks and bags are where it’s at for Mike!


The Pen Habit: Although Matt retired from reviewing approximately 2 years ago, his archives are chock full of great reviews of pens, journals and ink. There’s still lots to watch and catch up on!

Pens and Tea: Join Kerry as she talks about her two favorite loves: fountain pens and tea! New uploads every Friday.




Peter Draws: Peter doesn’t so much review pens as he uses them to doodle some amazing drawings. Whether it’s glass dip nibs, fountain pens, brush pens or fine liners, you’ll be amazed at what he creates!



Sbrebrown: Stephen’s channel is full of pen and ink reviews, writing samples as well as live streams. He also includes simple tuning and troubleshooting tricks!



Waski the Squirrel: Join Jason as he explores is love of fountain pens and North Dakota life! New episodes every Thursday.


Edited to add these suggestions from our readers:

Inky Rocks: Alesa produces videos about fountain pens, stationery and Japan. She posts every Friday night, Tokyo time!

Giveaway Winner: Formal Dept Notebook Case

Giveaway Winner: Formal Dept Notebook Case

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway this week. Congrats to the winner of our Formal Dept Notebook Case Giveaway! It was fun to imagine all the ways people would put the case to use. Now for an opportunity to GO somewhere besides the couch!

Formal Dept Notebook Case inside

This case is really nice and would not break the bank, if you have the cash, maybe you can go over and support another small business?

DISCLAIMER: I was not paid for this review or giveaway. I purchased these cases with my own money because I think they make really cool stuff. Please see the About page for more details.