Guest Post Ink Review: MontBlanc Ladies Edition Pearl

Guest Post Ink Review: MontBlanc Ladies Edition Pearl

Guest Review by Jaclyn Myers (AKA Inkpothesis)

Typically my opinion of an ink forms long after I have opened it. Assessing the important characteristics of an ink requires a pen to be filled, a nib to be dipped, and my Col-o-Ring collection to be expanded by yet another swab.

Other times, the presentation of an ink calls for some commentary. And in this case, two important topics must be addressed before we proceed.

Let’s start with the good news. Montblanc certainly knows what it’s doing when it comes to packaging. It’s not rare to find an ink bottle that catches my eye, but it is rare that I enjoy the process of actually unboxing an ink.

Montblanc Ladies Edition Pearl in box

Montblanc special edition inks come in signature drawer-like boxes. They each feature the color of the ink on the inner box, and no detail is overlooked. Like all things Montblanc- it feels premium, and in this particular case, it’s done in a way I appreciate. If I’m judging this ink by outside appearances, consider me hooked.

Montblanc Ladies Edition Pearl ribbon pull

But before I get too far ahead of myself, I have to go back to the moment I pulled this ink out of it’s shipping box. There’s just that one little thing- the little black text along the bottom of the box. The name of the ink.

I don’t know how many “good” names for pink exist in the world, and I do know that a lot of those names are already taken. Still, out of all the names- does anyone really need another “Ladies Edition” anything in the world? I won’t belabor the point here, as this lesson should have been learned many times over by now (Looking at you Bic for Women). But since something must be written with an ink to properly review it, I might as well make the quote applicable.

Montblanc Ladies Edition Nora Ephron Quote

The thing that immediately stood out to me about this ink is the shading. In the quote above, I used everything from an extra fine TWSBI nib to a folded nib. With a pastel ink like this one, there’s a very fine line between great shading and sacrificing readability. Overall, I feel like this one strikes that balance well. Even in an extra fine nib, it’s acceptably readable. But in a broad nib and beyond, it really starts to shine. Sheen is all the rage- and I’m all aboard that band wagon- but shading is the dark horse of ink properties, and highly underrated overall.

TWSBI pink pen caps

There are a lot of pink inks in my collection that I REALLY like. Most of those fall under two categories: “eye-searing bright pink” or “dark pink with purple undertones.” So when making comparisons to this ink, I tried to grab a few pinks that I thought off the top of my head might lean towards a more dusty or light pink.

Comparison Pink Inks in bottles

Confident in my choices, I gabbed my trusty Col-o-ring “Oversized” and swabbing accessories…

Col-o-ring Oversize folded nib pen and glass pen

…I should have consulted with the ink experts Ana and Jesi.

A pink PAlette featuring Montblanc Ladies Edition Pearl

I promise you that all five of the inks above are pink or at least pink-ish inks, but against the Ladies Edition the red tones of each of the other inks is exaggerated. In fact, when I went back to the rest of the inks in my collection- this pure, pastel pink was impressively distinct from all other pinks I currently own. It’s somewhere in the middle of the purple-pinks and red-pinks, and lighter and a little less saturated than most other shades.

Col-o-Col-o-Col-o-dex swatch comparison pinks

Pastel Pink is not my favorite shade of pink. I tend to prefer more saturated inks. Overall however, in a crowded color range, I think Montblanc Ladies Edition Pearl sets itself apart as a pure light pink with excellent shading.

But…if you want a ladies opinion, you might have to look elsewhere.

tabletop image of Montblanc Ladies Edition Pearl


JaclynJaclyn is a research pharmacist and graduate student in Indianapolis. Follow her on Instagram, on her blog at Inkpothesis, or find her at pen shows behind the NibSmith table.

Eye Candy: Diamine Inkvent Calendar (and Giveaway)

Eye Candy: Diamine Inkvent Calendar (and Giveaway)

For several years, we try to do a 12 Days of Inkmas here are The Desk. But Diamine had the genius idea to take it even further and create in the Inkvent Calendar for 2019. Inside the paperboard windows are 24 sample sized vials (7ml each) of unique, holiday-themed ink colors plus one larger 30ml bottle for Christmas Day.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar 2019

The artwork on the box is charming and will make keeping the Inkvent Calendar out on my table for a month a true delight. It was created by Sarah J. Coleman, aka The Inkymole.

Really though, I cannot wait to punch open those little windows and retrieve what’s inside!

Diamine Inkvent Calendar 2019

I slid the end of the box open for a quick peek to make sure the bottles had not been damaged in transport. Each bottle is labelled to indicate if the ink is standard, shimmer, sheen or a combination of these traits. I cannot wait to swatch them up! But I am waiting and doing this properly.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar 2019

For Spoilers, check out posts from Mountain of Ink or Nick Stewart. I prefer to pop each window open one at a time and be surprised and delighted at the colors in the spirit of the holiday.

To our readers in Europe, Appelboom has the Inkvent Calendar (€60.74) in stock!

If you don’t want to leave it to chance, I found a few Inkvent Calendars still in stock:


Now, for the most exciting part. Ms. Jesi was worried she wouldn’t get an Inkvent Calendar so, despite the fact that we order two Inkvent calendars directly from Cultpens back in August, she insisted on ordering a second one — “just in case” — from Pen Chalet when they announced they would also be receiving them. As a result, we here at Desk HQ have an extra Inkvent Calendar to giveaway.


TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me how/what/where do you plan to use the Inkvent Calendar inks? 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 moneys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, November 22, 2019. All entries must be submitted at, 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 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 3 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. I want to get this in the mail ASAP so that the winner can start their Inkvent Calendar on December 1. Shipping via USPS first class/Prioirty Mail 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.


Planner Review: Leuchtturm 1917 Weekly and Pine Book Free Diary Washi Set

Review by Tina Koyama

For years I’ve been DIY-ing my own planners because none of the commercially available options gave me the exact format and features I wanted. This year I’m using Baron Fig’s undated planner (dressed up with a little washi fun) which does give me the page layouts I prefer – but I still had to do the work of filling in all the dates. For 2020, I got lazy and decided to forego DIY altogether: I’m trying a Leuchtturm 1917 weekly planner ($23.50) in the A5 size (Ana reviewed the weekly + notebook format a few years ago).

The leatherette hardcover is plain on the front and has an understated debossed logo on the back. The year is debossed on the spine. The elastic band matches the cover (I chose Berry; eight other colors available), and two coordinating ribbon bookmarks are attached instead of the more common single one. An obligatory pocket is on the inside back cover.



Except for Saturday and Sunday having to share space (is it just me, or aren’t weekends as busy as other days for everyone?), the weekly spread has the format I prefer in a planner: plenty of unruled, freeform space for appointments and to-do items as needed.

Several additional planning and information pages are included, such as reference calendars for 2019, 2020 and 2021, vertical planning pages, international holidays and project planning pages. All pages are numbered, as is typical of Leuchtturm’s notebooks, and the last nine blank pages are perforated for easy removeable. Although I tend not to use reference or project planning pages, all the other features are useful (and I’m thrilled to have unruled pages, which are so hard to find in planners).

Also included are a sheet of handy adhesive index labels and a gridded guide sheet – both standard with Leuchtturm notebooks.

An interesting anomaly included in the Leuchtturm planner is a thin, staple-bound booklet, which is suggested for anniversaries and addresses. I recall that Moleskine planners used to come with a similar address book that eventually disappeared. As much as I prefer analog tools to most digital counterparts, I cannot ever see myself giving up Outlook Contacts and going back to a messy, handwritten address book. The Leuchtturm address booklet seems anachronistic. But in fact, I have a use for it! More on this in a moment.

The planner’s ivory paper is the same as in most Leuchtturm notebooks. Shown below are my usual media tests. The paint pen bled through, as expected, as did tiny spots with my juicy Sailor fude fountain pen. None of the pens feathered, however. A more significant issue is the paper’s lack of opacity: There’s quite a bit of ghosting of darker, bolder pens that might annoy some. I generally prefer more opaque paper, but since I’ll usually be writing in my planner with a graphite pencil, show-through will be minimal and not bothersome.


One planner element that I find essential is a monthly calendar in a traditional grid format. This is where I like to record birthdays, anniversaries and other special days. I also use this space to get a long-term overview when I’m planning travel or large projects. Although the Leuchtturm planner includes European-style vertical planners and tiny monthly reference calendars, there’s no monthly page spreads.

This is where that address booklet comes in! I started thinking that its 13 index-tabbed pages would be ideal for making exactly the monthly calendar pages I want. Having already decided I wasn’t in a DIY mood, however, ruling the grids and filling in the dates seemed tedious. I started looking around at all the amazing planner stickers and other tools available these days, and I found the Pine Book Free Diary Washi Tape Set ($9.75). It’s available in several formats (I chose the color set, of course, but a more professional black set, a B6 size, and a set with slightly narrower tapes are also available), including an A5 set, which fits my Leuchtturm planner perfectly.

First, I ruled the page spreads horizontally to accommodate six weeks, which means that two days would never have to share a space at the beginning or end of longer months (as happens in many calendars gridded for five weeks – another planner pet peeve of mine). The provided address-book ruling gave me enough guidance that I didn’t have to measure the spaces; I only had to count lines. I decided that the dates themselves would demarcate the days sufficiently, and vertical grid lines weren’t necessary.

The Pine Book set comes with a 6mm roll of days of the week, and seven of them fit across the A5 page spread nicely. The adhesive is strong but forgiving and can be easily repositioned (in case you’re straight-line-challenged like I am).

Another roll contains a full year of dates. You only have to pay attention to which date starts the week, roll off seven days, and tear off at the handy perforations. Seriously easy and fun!

Month labels are also included. Look at August: On most commercial calendars, you’ll find the 30th and 31st sharing a space. Not on mine, baby!

The last step was to label the index tabs with number indicators for the months. To add more color and to conceal the existing A – Z index labels, I pulled out the Mark’s Maste Washi Tape Set that I got last year to jazz up my Baron Fig planner. The 15mm width fit perfectly on the tabs. Then I placed the Pine Book numbered labels over the tape. Done! All of this took so much less time than DIY-ing my own calendar pages – and it was much more fun, too.

Final Impressions

The Leuchtturm weekly planner has all the features I want in a planner and only one (admittedly idiosyncratic) flaw – the weekend days having to share space – so it’s a nearly ideal planner for me. After all these years of rolling my own, it’s a relief to find something readymade that’s close to perfect.

As for the Pine Book calendar tape set – I like it so much that I’m thinking I might order a set for the following year. I’d love to see more options (Different color themes? More sizes?). And it’s exactly the level of DIY I was up for this year.

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


Ink Review: Montblanc Maya Blue

Ink Review: Montblanc Maya Blue

By Jessica Coles

Montblanc recently released a line called “Blue Palette”. A lineup of six new inks that are all different shades of blue (although to be fair, they include turquoise and teal in the “blue”). Why would anyone need that many shades of blue? That was my first thought about the line, however, once I saw all of the boxes together, I began to understand a bit.

I picked up my bottle of Maya Blue from the Dromgoole’s table at the Colorado Pen Show last month. On a very pleasant note, Dromgoole’s recently announced that they are offering free shipping for orders over $35 until the end of 2019! Just use the code FREE and your shipping cost will disappear. Magic.

I then learned that each of these blues was a Pantone color. Interesting.

One thing to note is that these special edition inks come in smaller 30mL bottles rather than the larger 50mL bottles, although the price reflects this as well. The Blues are $28 rather than $43.

Please forgive the dust in my photos. Rearranging a room is never good for close up pictures! From the cap, this seems to be a mid-range turquoise ink that isn’t too watery – it holds on fairly well to the inside of the cap.

Again, I must apologize here; I should have re-dipped my pen before I did. This is actually Maya Blue, NOT Mayo Blue.

I was surprised to see some red sheen in this ink – very subtle, almost a halo rather than sheen. But the shading! So many different turquoise shades in one ink!

Maya Blue seems to fall somewhere between Robert Oster Aqua and Robert Oster Pacific Ocean Teal although it shades like Lamy Crystal Amazonite. Both the Lamy and the Montblanc here show an interesting characteristic – in certain portions of the shading area, the blue actually seems a bit lighter. I’ve noted this before with Robert Oster Avocado. Possibly arising from the various dyes rising as the ink dries.

Maya Blue is just a touch on the dry side of normal, and dries quickly – this helps create the incredible shading. To achieve shading, the ink needs to dry fairly quickly so the extra ink left as the pen leaves the page only travels partially up the drying ink.

I chose my newest pen for this review – a Newton Townsend made from BSea Glacier material with a fine nib. I’ve never owned a Newton pen before and I am quite enjoying the experience. The turquoise of Maya Blue fits beautifully with the swirled colors in the material.

When the pen is out of the way, you can see what incredible shading this ink produces. A light sky blue melts into a pacific teal with the heaviest applications a slightly lighter and greener teal.

The halo around the heaviest ink pools looks, for the most part, black. However, a faint reddish sheen is present at times.

I mentioned earlier that the Blue Palette inks come in a 30mL bottle. Another option is offered – a three-bottle box that includes Egyptian Blue, Maya Blue, and Ultramarine.

I love the blending of the three blues on the box. I never would have placed these colors together in a collection myself, but once I see it presented this way, I love it.

In this set, each bottle is labeled clearly – a nice inkstand for the desk with a variety of choices. As far as my research tells me, Montblanc has not done this in the past – packaged three inks together. The price for this package is $72, bringing the individual bottle price to $24.


I have reviews for the other two inks in this box coming soon. Any of the Montblanc Blue Palette inks would be a great gift for any fountain pen user, though!


DISCLAIMER: The ink included in this review was provided at a discount by Dromgoole’s for the purpose of review. Other items were purchased by me. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: The Gift Guides Cometh

Link Love: The Gift Guides Cometh

I can’t believe its the middle of November already and holiday music is being played in stores and holiday decorations are being hung. It also means that Gift Guides are starting to be published, including the all-important stationery and pen-related gift guides. Oh, and if you’re knit-inclined Mason-Dixon Knitting is hosting a Giftalong knitting challenge because we all love a good challenge to inspire us, right?

Gift Guides:



Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

[Oak Hollow Mittens from Paper Tiger]

Other Interesting Things:

[Christmas Envelope Decorating from Think.Make.Share]


Pen Review: Pentel GlideWrite Ballpoint Pens

Review by Laura Cameron

I’m always open to trying new ballpoint and gel ink pens and Pentel‘s GlideWrite (Office Depot, $13.99 for a pack of 10) pens are sort of a combination of both! 

The GlideWrite pens have medium point (1.0 mm) ball point tips in a white plastic barrel with a rubberized grip. They boast that they are retractable (true) and refillable (unverified, I was unable to find refill packages listed at retailers nor at Pentel). GlideWrites are available in black, blue or assorted colors.

To me, the most interesting feature about the GlideWrite pens is that apparently they use a mix of gel and ballpoint inks for a smoother flow. This creates a low viscosity ink designed to reduce buildup in your pen, while also creating a smudge resistant ink. My impressions on this are mixed.

The pens do write very smoothly to my touch and the ink is light and smudge resistant. I didn’t find any globs of ink on any colors the way you sometimes can in ballpoint pens. I didn’t FEEL anything in my writing, but if I look at the words I wrote close up, I still see the characteristic skips of the ballpoint pen in my lines. I tried to get a close-up of the Light Blue ink in which it was most obvious.

Overall, I didn’t think these were a bad pen if you’re looking for a few fun colors in ballpoint pens, and they do seem to perform better than some of the standard ballpoint pens. But if it were my money, I think I’d end up buying the PaperMate InkJoy Gels ahead of these. I realize comparing ballpoints to gel pens is kind of comparing apples to oranges (and Pentel has gel pen offerings) but I know I’d reach for the InkJoy Gels first over the GlideWrites. The InkJoy Gels are also quite a bit more expensive (Jetpens, $23.50 for a pack of 14) but I prefer the experience and the writing they produce.

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

Pen Review: Marvy Le Pen Flex Brush Pens (6-Color Set in Jewel Colors)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a young girl discovered her first truly unusual pen. It was the Marvy Le Pen. I was probably in grade school and along with hunting for Hello Kitty stuff, I found the exotic Le Pen. In the meantime, I’ve found many other pens that perform better and last longer than the Le Pen but I always have a soft spot for these. For the most part, their color range has not changed since my grade school days. The tips of the fiber tip pens still wear out quickly and the original Le Pen only come in one tip size. So I was pretty delighted to hear that Marvy had created a new product in the Le Pen line: the Flex Brush.

Marvy Le Pen Flex Brush Pen - Jewel - 6 Color Set

I got the Le Pen Flex Brush in the 6-pen Set of Jewel Tone Colors ($9.75). These were always my favorite colors when I went shopping for the original Le Pens as a kid and I think of them as Le Pen’s signature colors. The set includes: amethyst (lavender), burgundy, magenta, navy, Oriental Blue, and teal.

The 6-pen set come in a rigid plastic case with a flip lid that doubles as a stand for the pens making it easier to access the pens while working. The clips lock into the case with a click.

The easiest way to discern the Flex pens from regular Le Pens are two ways: the foil stamped “Flex” on the barrel and the end cap is a translucent version of the color rather than opaque. The pen width, length and clip are otherwise identical to the original.

Marvy Le Pen Flex Brush Pen - Jewel - 6 Color Set

The fiber tips are a conical shape encased in plastic. The “flex tips” are not particularly long like a brush tip. They are more like a soft bullet tip. According to the description on the package, they are “rubberized brush tips”.

Marvy Le Pen Flex Brush Pen - Jewel - 6 Color Set

While the package describes the colors as “vivid” the characteristic I associate most with these Jewel colors are rich. The colors are also a little unusual for markers and felt-tipped pens sold in mass market channels. Oriental Blue has always been one of my favorite colors in the Le Pen color line-up. In watercolor, it would be called Prussian Blue which is also one of my favorite colors. The burgundy always looks like red to me but that’s fine.

As for the flexibility of the tips, it’s enough to be interesting but not awe-inspiring. I suspect the tips will wear down quickly to a blunt, less defined shape like a Sharpie marker making these pens useful for filling in color at best. Because of their short length, the thick-to-thin ratio was not very dramatic to begin with.

The pens did make me nostalgic for the regular fiber-tipped Le Pens, however. Maybe my inner grade schooler will just need to pull out a Hello Kitty notebook and some Le Pens this week.

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.