GIVEAWAY Winner: Keep Going by Austin Kleon

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway and left wonderful comments. It makes me sorry we only have one book to giveaway. That set is going to Lisa who says:

Oh Lisa…. I’ve been to a couple quilt shows and I am always amazed at those gorgeous quilts. I’m a terrible sewist (this is Laura) but a girl can appreciate the artistry. I hope you enjoy your new book!

Pencil Review: A Taste of Blackwing Sampler Set

Pencil Review: A Taste of Blackwing Sampler Set

Review by Tina Koyama

Maybe you’ve been wanting to dip one toe into the Blackwing pencil pool without diving into the deep end of the mixed metaphorical rabbit hole. Or perhaps you are already a Blackwing aficionado, and you want to show your uninitiated friend (the one who insists that pencils are for school kids) why you love them so much. I found something for you: a sampler set of the four Blackwing cores in a nice box that will give you or a friend A Taste of Blackwing ($15/four pencils and accessories).

2 box side

3 box bottom

The set contains one each of Blackwing’s four current production pencils, each with a different core: 602, Matte, Natural and Pearl. Also included are four eraser refills in colors to match the originals and a KUM long-point one-hole sharpener. (The pencils and sharpener are also available individually at, which provided the set; erasers are available in a larger set of assorted colors.) It’s handy to get these as a sampler because many retailers do not offer Blackwings individually.

I’ll be including the KUM sharpener in an upcoming handheld sharpener showdown. (As for those Blackwing erasers. . . well, you already know how I feel about those. A true friend would hack up a Tombow Mono Smart to include with this gift.)

4 opened box

5 contents out

In addition to this gift set, Notegeist offers Blackwing samplers containing “legacy” pencils (with Blackwing’s previous branding) and most Volumes limited-edition pencils. New collectors might find the Volumes samplers an easy way to grab those editions before working on the much harder-to-find early collectibles.

Go ahead – dip your toe in and determine your favorite Blackwing core. For variety, pick out some Volumes in your favorite core. And then you (and your friend, too) might as well start collecting like the rest of us.

6 contents on box

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.

Notebook Review: Galen Leather Notebook

Notebook Review: Galen Leather Notebook

By Jessica Coles

Have you ever finished an entire notebook? How about a notebook that uses Tomoe River paper? Because the paper is so thin, Tomoe River full sized A5 notebooks usually fall between 350 to 400 pages. Similarly sized notebooks made with thicker paper (Leuchtturm1917, Rhodia…) are closer to 250 pages. The dive into a new Tomoe River notebook is like an adventure waiting to happen.

I think Galen Leather knew how long it would take someone to fill a notebook with such thin pages. Their newest line of notebooks have no less than 400 pages of 52 gsm Tomoe River paper – even for individuals who constantly journal, attend pens shows, and test ink, one notebook lasts many months to well over a year. During that period of time, the cover of your notebook can take quite a beating unless you use an additional case. But what if that case was built into each notebook? The Everyday Book from Galen Leather is just that – a 400 page Tomoe River notebook, A5, that is covered with the same leather from their lineup of other leather stationery supplies. The paper is white and all notebooks are blank – no ruling.

The shipping case for the notebook is made of a thick card stock envelope that includes a ribbon and magnet closure – minimal, but very sturdy.

So far their lineup includes A5, B6, and A6 sizes. Each size is available in Crazy Horse Brown (that’s the one here) and Crazy Horse Forest Green. Crazy Horse is used here to denote leather that has a distressed, suede-like finish with several different shades of color. I love the finish because I am incredibly tough on notebooks and cases. The crazy horse finish just looks better with every scratch or bend.

The leather used on the notebook is the same as the Galen leather cases but mush thinner. The notebook can bend without creasing the cover.

The only branding in the Everyday Book is a foil stamp on the back cover:

The foils is a toned down gold – it fits with the theme of the notebook rather than being flashy.

Included with the notebook is a thin piece of leather to use as a blotter or under the piece of paper you are writing on. Using the blotter under your current page gives the paper a softer feel – somewhat like writing on a thicker piece of paper. Also included are two guides for lines.

The templates for the guides come from our very own Well-Appointed Desk Ana. If fact, you can find several here.

The other side of the guide sheets are smaller grid and lined sheets.

The binding looks sturdy – signatures of 8 pages (which make 16 fronts and backs) are sewn with thread and secured with glue. The end pages are both thick black paper.

The notebook does lay flat when opened.

I know that one of the questions we will get about this notebook is when was it made? Before the Change of Tomoe or after?

The answer is, there’s really no way to know for sure. However, I can show how ink looks on this paper. I chose a few inks that I have reviewed lately so you can see how those same inks perform in the Everyday Book.

I tried to show both highly shading and sheening inks, but remember it can be hard to capture sheen on camera. Although I can’t say if the paper is pre or post Change, I can say that this paper is great. Normal writing had normal amounts of show through for Tomoe River paper and the only time I was able to get bleed through was when I accidentally spilled a large amount of Sailor Irori. My hands suffered for that one.

I am excited to see how long this notebook takes for me to get through, but mostly, I’m excited to see what the cover is like at the end as well. The cover may tell as much the writing inside!

DISCLAIMER:  Some of the items in this review were provided free for the purpose of this review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Little Nuggets of Joy

Link Love: Little Nuggets of Joy

I won the Link Love lottery this week. All the regular content was present and accounted for–  pen, ink and paper reviews — but my little nuggets of joy were also present. Star Wars related? Check. Cats? Check. Beautiful typography and design? Check, check! Lisa Congdon craft pattern? BONUS! And.. my friend Marcos Roman created free downloadable digital wallpaper this month that you can download through the links below.

Link Love collage
Links to all this goodness is below!

What are your nuggets of joy? Cat or dog videos on Instagram or TikTok? The sound of the coffeemaker first thing in the morning? If I were not such a pessimist, these are the things I’d write down in a gratitude journal. Along with Baby Yoda macarons, stacks of new/old books and buckets of tea and coffee. Hope you can get a nugget or two of joy this week.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:


Safework Signs

Black Lives Matter:

Other Interesting Things:

We all need each other. Please support our sponsors and affiliates. They help keep this blog going. Without them, we would not have products to review or a server to house our content. Your patronage of their shops, services and products will let them know you appreciate their support of the pen community. Without them, and without you, we could not continue to do what we do. Thank you!

Fountain Pen Review: Traveler’s Company Fountain Pen in Factory Green (Fine Nib)

Fountain Pen Review: Traveler’s Company Fountain Pen in Factory Green (Fine Nib)

The Traveler’s Company, best known for their leather notebook covers, has released fountain pens using their brass bullet pen casing. The current fountain pen available is in the limited edition Factory Green color ($75) or brass ($71). In the past, they have sold ballpoint pens and pencils in the bullet style so this is the first time they’ve released fountain pens in this style.

Traveler's Company Fountain Pen

The Factory Green is matte coated over brass so the overall pen is fairly weighty. The clip is a simple bent aluminum clip that is silver tone. On the end is a loop should you want to hang the pen from a chain or ribbon.

Traveler's Company Fountain Pen

In white ink on the green body is the company branding. It’s clean and simple like so much of Traveler’s Company’s design.

Traveler's Company Fountain Pen

When the pen is opened, there is a long grip section in brass and a silvertone nib with “Traveler’s Company TR C” and the nib size debossed onto the nib.

Traveler's Company Fountain Pen

Above, the pen is shown open with an original Traveler’s Notebook for scale.

Traveler's Company Fountain Pen

Traveler's Company Fountain Pen

Traveler's Company Fountain Pen

One of the biggest plusses with the TC fountain pen is its pocketability. It snaps open and closed which makes it different from other pocket fountain pens. Most that I’ve used are twist closures so the snap open and close makes it great for a quick note.

One of the biggest downsides is the small space inside the pen means it can only use a cartridge or one of those tiny Kaweco cartridge converters (mini or squeeze). For a travel pen, cartridges are fine for me. If I’m using it at home syringe filling empty cartridges allows me to continue to use my bottled inks.

The nib on the pen is good quality steel. It’s a small nib but is proportionally scaled for the size and shape of the pen.

Traveler's Company Pen Comparison

The TR fountain is narrower than many fountain pens but, since this is a small pocket pen, I think the thinner, smaller dimensions are appropriate. If you prefer a wider pen, I recommend that you stick with the Kaweco Sport in Brass for a comparable weight and feel but a bigger pen.

Pictured above, left to right: Kaweco Sport, Kaweco Lilliput, Traveler’s Company Fountain Pen, Fisher Space Pen, Pokka Pen.

Traveler's Company Pen Comparison

When open, the Traveler’s Company fountain pen is the longest of the pocket pens. The grip section is also the longest with the least amount of hinderance.

Pen Weights

The TC fountain pen weighs 28gms with a cartridge when open (5.7″ / 145mm) or closed (4″ / 103mm). If used without the cap, its only 16gms and a mere 3.34″ (85mm) which is really too small to do much more than put a checkmark on your grocery list.

Costwise, the TC fountain pen is competitive with other brass fountain pens. It is more expensive than a lot of plastic pocket pens. It’s an investment… but it’s pretty, functional and I love the snap mechanism.

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

Fountain Pen Review: Scrikss 419

Review by Laura Cameron

A few weeks ago Galen Leather contacted us and asked if we’d be interested in reviewing some product. I immediately zeroed in on the Scrikss 419 Fountain Pen ($35).

Scrikss is a Turkish company and has been a manufacturer of fine writing instruments since 1964. I’m always game to try new fountain pens!

I ordered mine in the Mint Green color, though there are several other colorways available: Indigo, Blue, White, Black, Burgundy, Beige, and Poudra (light pink). All come with Medium nibs.

The body of the Scrikks 419 Fountain Pen is an acrylic resin. All of the hardware (nib, clip and cap ring) are made of stainless steel and plated in 23K gold. The pen is a piston filler, with a handy ink window to give you an idea of what ink is in there and how much is left.

I didn’t have any  light mint-colored inks so I settled for Robert Oster Spearmint. The pen filled easily, and was ready to write right away. The nib writes pretty well. It is firm, like steel nibs are, without a lot of bounce or feedback.

When I started to write this post and describe the experience I was struck by a few comparisons. The first is that the Scrikss reminds me a bit of the Pelikan M200. This is due to the piston ink filling system and the ink window. Obviously there are differences, but visually that’s what it reminded me of. I also tried to think about it in terms of other competitors in the price range. I primarily compared it to my Pilot Metropolitan and my TWSBI Eco.

L to R: Scrikss 419, Pelikan M200, Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI Eco

In terms of length, the Scrikss comes in at 4 7/8″ and 12.5cm capped, and 4 5/8″ and 11.75cm uncapped. It is comparable in size to the Pelikan, and smaller than the Pilot Metro and the TWSBI Eco. In terms of weight, the Scrikss is quite a bit smaller, weighing in at 12g, even filled with ink!

Overall, I have to say that the Scrikss is a decent pen, though not overly memorable. It writes nicely, but doesn’t have anything super special to recommend it. As a new fountain pen connoisseur, I really loved the weight of the Pilot Metro and the feel in my hand, and TWSBI Ecos are fun because you can see everything that’s happening inside the pen. That said, if the aesthetics of the Scrikss appeal to you, this is a decent little pen.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided to us free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Book Review (and Giveaway): Keep Going by Austin Kleon

Book Review (and Giveaway): Keep Going by Austin Kleon

I am a big fan of Austin Kleon and his books, blog and email newsletter. I have been following his career for several years. I find his approach to creativity — which is part writing, part collage, part drawing — to be very inspiring.

I know some people had a knee-jerk reaction to the title of his first book, Steal Like An Artist but I appreciated that it started the conversation about how to be creatively inspired without crossing the line into mimicry or copyright infringement. There’s also a lot of other good content in Steal Like an Artist so, if you haven’t read it, don’t get hung up on the title and give it a chance.

Since Steal Like An Artist, he’s published two more books in his series of creative inspiration books. The second book in the series is Show Your Work which delves into when, where and how to share your work. It’s a great follow-up to Steal Like An Artist. It focuses on using social media to keep yourself accountable and when its okay to step away.

Austin Kleon books

What I really want to discuss is Austin Kleon’s newest book Keep Going, which could not have been more poignantly titled for 2020 is he had tried. The subtitle is “10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad.”  How incredibly timely. He couldn’t have planned the book or title better for 2020 if he’d tried.

Even if you don’t decide to purchase the previous volumes of the series, Keep Going is a book I highly recommend for any creative thinkers who need some advice to, not ironically, keep going in 2020.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon

Just looking at the back of the book and the chapters sound incredibly relevant: “Everyday is Groundhog Day,”  “You Are Allowed to Change Your Mind,” “Demons Hate Fresh Air,” and “Plant Your Garden.” These chapters, in particular, stand out as poignant for anyone living through COVID-19, self-isolating, social distancing, distance learning, zoom meetings, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon

Above is one of the pages inside Keep Going. There is advice here that we, as pen-and-paper fans, can certainly support like making lists and writing in a diary. Pandemic-me heartily supports taking naps.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon

There are lots of little thought provoking nuggets throughout Keep Going. Often, like with many self-help books, the book often tells things we all know deep down. Having the information organized succinctly in ways that help remind us (me, really) what is important and to slow down is so helpful though. I feel like I spend so much time going, going, going… I sometimes forget to ask why or what is the goal or do I like what it is I’m going towards. Kleon’s books always challenge me to consider not just if I’m making but why.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon

The section “Disconnect from the world…” is valid even in the age of COVID-19. Disconnecting from the world (and in our case, the internet, news, podcasts, etc) is something we need to do, just to regain our sanity and perspective. We have spent too much time these days circling the drain of news despair and clicking refresh on endlessly depressing statistics. Not that our art cannot reflect and react to our frustration and anger but in order to react, we have to step away and formulate our own opinions and perspectives.

These books can be read digitally, but being able to sit down with an analog book, a notebook to jot down passages that most resonate and a favorite beverage and be “disconnected from the world” for a little while really helps to get in-tune with the world — be it the birds in the trees, the texture of the table you where you are sitting, the sound of your own breathing or the cat or dog sitting near you.

If you can’t tell, I highly recommend Keep Going as a paper kick-in-the-pants to regain some creative equilibrium in a very uncertain time.

And, you’re in luck, I have an extra copy of Keep Going for one lucky reader.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me what creative challenge/goal you’d like to tackle or overcome. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.

If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the monkeys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, August 6,2020. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Friday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual 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 5 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.

DISCLAIMER: Items in this review include affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.