Yarn + Ink: Wild Thing

Sometimes, when you want to work on a crafty project you grab all the colors to see what works well together. And sometimes you never know until you start knitting. In this week’s chicken knitting chronicles, my boss handed me a skein of some WILD yarn and asked me to knit it up so she could decide if it was a mess or the next big thing. Seemed like a perfect time for an ink palette no?

So what do you think? Are these colors you would use together?

And for a little Friday earworm…

California Pen Show Wrap-Up

Another pen show is now in the past – the California/LA pen show. Last week I joined the Dromgooles and Ana “Well-Appointed Desk” Reinert for several days in LA surrounded by pens, ink, paper, and an amazing group of people.

However, California wasn’t as sunny as I thought it would be…

Inside the hotel, however, I found Ana’s sunny face!

Of course, we had to dress alike. It’s important to pick a dress with pockets.

Ink. Everywhere. It’s hard to believe that the two and a half shelves of Wearingeul ink were eventually reduced to barely half of a single shelf.

Ink shelves are so beautifully neat and tidy just before the start of a pen show!


Stay tuned – the Baltimore show is the next stop over on the opposite coast starting March 1. Who will be joining us?

My question for everyone here – I have stood much new ink to fit into one single post. What should I review first? Wearingeul Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Anna Karenina, or Persephone? Ferris Wheel Press Sugar and Spite, ColorVerse Blue Dragon, Dominant Industry Old Man and the Sea, or Lamy Blackberry?

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Link Love:

(This week’s Link Love illustration was created by artist Chris Purcell in Adobe Illustrator)

(Re-entry after a pen show weekend is tough. You’ve got the Pen Show weekend hangover and you don’t know what day it is. All that is to say, apologies your Link Love is a day late! XOXO)

After my post last week about the thicker paper journals, there were a lot questions and curiosity about how similar the journals with Olive & Archer and other brands. All About Planners did a comprehensive comparison of the 160gsm (or higher) complete with a spreadsheet. Hopefully, that post will answer some of the other questions about this hefty paper journals.




Paper, Notebooks, Journals, Etc:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

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Pen Show Recap: California Pen Show 2024

Pen Show Recap: California Pen Show 2024
Spectacular view of the mountains as I flew into California on Thursday morning.

On Sunday night over dinner, we were talking about how, prior to actually attending pen shows, we’d heard people say, “I go to pen shows for the people.” As an introvert, I never quite believed it until I started attending shows. The California Pen Show is definitely a pen show all about the people.

As the second pen show on the annual US pen show circuit, it is often the first opportunity for regular pen show attendees and vendors to see each other since last year. As a result, there is lots of catching up that occurs. And lots of opportunity to see new acquisitions and products.

The new location: The Marriott in Torrance

As this is only the second year for the California Pen Show, its also interesting to note the changes and improvements in how the show was run. First, the event moved to a new hotel in Torrance, across the street from a shopping center that included lots of food and drink options for attendees and vendors. For locals, I think the location was easier to access than last year’s hotel which was adjacent to the airport.

Overall, the space to navigate through the main ballroom seemed good. The aisles for both attendees and vendors were wide enough to provide easy passing for multiple people at once making Saturday, often the busiest day of the show, to feel busy but not claustrophobic.

There were new classes and workshops offered this year. Regarding the classes, I think there were some issues with the classes being overbooked so I hope that in 2025 there will be a way for people to sign up for classes in advance so that they don’t exceed capacity. Also, I think, for the instructors, a sign up would allow them to provide additional information prior to the class so students know what they need to bring ahead of time. I also believe that most classes should have a fee. Instructors should be paid something for the time and preparation it takes to organize a good class. San Francisco has one of the best pen show systems for their classes and workshops so I hope that the California Pen Show will adopt a similar system in the future.

A sneak peek of the space on Thursday night.
The entry hall on Thursday night before set up was completed.

This year, Jesi and I worked with the Dromgoole’s for the show. We had six tables and two large ink displays. We were allowed to bring in our ink racks on Thursday night but couldn’t set up until Friday morning. Due to the early admission of VIP pass holders, we were not completely set up when people were allowed in. I think they were a bit lax about the rules about when the VIPs were allowed in which was frustrating for vendors, particularly on Friday morning since many of us were knee deep in boxes when people started to swarm. In the future, on Friday particularly, if vendors cannot set up on Thursday night, we need the full three hours to set up.

A view of one side of the Dromgoole’s tables on Friday morning
The view from the other side of the Dromgoole’s table after set-up was complete.

Other than stressing out over the set up time, Friday was a really good day. Like many pen shows, Fridays tend to be the die hard pen enthusiasts. They are the people who travelled some distance to attend the show or folks who took the day off from work specifically to attend the show. As a result, many people on Friday know exactly what they are looking for and what they want. Often times, its just to see or touch something they have seen online. For others, its their chance to get an early appointment with a nib grinder or first dibs on a small maker’s one-of-a-kind pens. For Jesi and I, it’s the ink lovers who want to make sure they have first dibs on a coveted ink and extra time to peruse the giant ink swatch tome that we bring with us.

By the time the show closed at 6pm on Friday, Jesi and I were exhausted and could barely drag ourselves across the street for a bite to eat before collapsing back into bed so we were rested and ready for Saturday.

photo by Jon Szanto

Jesi and I have jokingly embraced “Stripey Saturday” after we coincidentally wore matching dresses at one show last year. So now, we just plan for it.

A photo of Francisco Durán and me without shoes. It was a long day but we still had fun!

Saturday was an absolute blur. Sooooo many people! We worked hard to sell lots of ink, paper, and pens. There were many happy faces leaving the Dromgoole’s table with smiles. I think we were pretty successful.

Busy view of Saturday from our corner of the pen show
SOOOO many people!

By Sunday, particularly first thing in the morning, there is time for us to wonder around and even make a few purchases. I get to see other folks’ tables and get a better sense of the show as a whole.

Jose Munuera, Nib Scientist. Check out his work at nib.lab on Instagram.
Kirk Speer from Pen Realm working hard to make nib magic!
More pens and goodies on the Pen Realm tables. 
Kanilea Pen Co — another family business! 
John Corwin of Flexxies — always known for his silver balloon!
Our good friend Stephen and his chock-full pockets of pens.
Plotter came all the way from Japan to custom build binders for folks.
Stamping fun at the Traveler’s Company table.
My favorite new vendor: Rubato Pens. There will be a review coming soon.

Once everything was packed up Sunday evening, we were taken to dinner by our very favorite LA hostesses, Kim and Diane. We went to Din Tai Fung, an amazing Taiwanese Dim Sum restaurant that just happens to be in the mall across from the hotel. We were too busy eating to get photos of the epic amounts of food we ate but I highly recommend making a reservation if you plan on being at the show next year.

Diane, Kim, Jesi and I pre-food coma.

Overall, the California Pen Show is quickly moving up in my favorite pen show list. If you have been considering attending this show, it’s worth the trip.

What the heck is a Zibaldone?

As you’ve seen, Ana and I have tumbled headlong into the world of journaling. So I was tickled to see an item in Austin Kleon’s Friday Newsletter giving me a whole new perspective!

Austin referenced an article about the Zibaldone,  a type of commonplace book that dates back to the 13th century. (Zibaldone is the Italian word for “heap of things”). If you ever wanted to see the inner minds and stream of consciousness of folks like Walt Whitman or Lewis Carroll or Thomas Jefferson, the article above shows fabulous shots of their books. A zibaldone was sort of a 14th century tumblr?

A page from the Zibaldone da Venice, a 14th-century hodgepodge. (Image: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


Notebook Comparison: 120gsm and 180gsm Paper

Notebook Comparison: 120gsm and 180gsm Paper

If you’ve been into stationery for awhile, you start talking about paper in gsm. Most folks learned about gsm from Tomoe River and it’s paper weight is a light, delicate 52gsm and 68gsm respectively. Non-Tomoe River paper weights that are suitable for fountain pens or making art are often 80gsm or 100gsm.

I stumbled across two notebooks with paper weights at 120gsm and a whopping 160gsm, I had to try them.

The only other papers of such heavy weight in gsm, is the Stillman & Birn line of art drawing papers.

First up is the 120gsm, ridiculously cheap STATIONERY ISLAND Bullet Journal Dot Grid Notebook (120gsm, 180 Pages, A5 Hardcover, $9.99 on Amazon). It features 120gsm dot grid paper, comparable to the Leuchtturm1917 120gsm notebook which sells for considerably more at $27.50. Both feature ribbon bookmarks, gusseted pocket in the back and the classic vertical elastic closure. I’ve reviewed the Leuchtturm1917 120gsm in the past and quite liked the paper. The Leuchtturm1917 120gsm does offer a few more pages at 203 pages but a 23-page difference doesn’t seem like a huge difference.

The Stationery Island notebook has a white and black ribbon bookmark to mark your place.

A close-up of the Stationery Island paper and dots.

The paper in the Stationery Island journal is a warm ivory color and the paper is pretty smooth. The dots are a darker grey and a bit larger than I would prefer. I really like it if the dots are tiny and very pale so as not to overpower inks or pencil marks. Honestly, for this notebook, the darkness of the dots is the only mark against it I have.

Overall, in writing tests, the Stationery Island notebook performed very well. There was no feathering or splining of the ink. The paper did not absorb the inks making the strokes look wider or anything like that either.

Reverse side of the Tombow Dual Brush pen tests
Reverse side of the fountain pen, brush pen and gel and rollerbal pen tests

BUKE Dotted Journal Dot Grid (180gsm, 160 Pages, A5 Hardcover, Bamboo Paper with Silver Foil Edges, $18.59 on Amazon). There is definitely more to the BUKE journal when compared to the Stationery Island journal beyond just the paper weight. The call out to the bamboo paper is a big difference. I was curious how the bamboo paper would perform.

The journal shipped in a gold foil stamped ivory box inside, the notebook was wrapped in a waxed paper which was sort of fancy and made it feel like a gift.

Inside, the journal had a belly band with more foil stamping and all the pertinent information about the notebook.

The journal features silver iridescent foiled edges, three ribbon bookmarks and a foil stamp design on the cover. To be honest, I would have preferred a plain black cover on the notebook. Generally speaking I prefer plain journal covers. If I want to customize it with stickers or other embellishments, I can but if I want a stealth notebook, I prefer them to start out that way.  BUKE featured several other stamped designs and different colored PU leather options but this design was one of the few available on a black cover and the design is small enough I can cover it with a sticker if I want to.

Inside the box was also a set of copper foil-stamped, diecut stickers and a self-adhesive elastic pen loop that can be added to the journal.

The paper is a bright white and the dots on the paper are much smaller and lighter than those on the Stationery Island journal.

There is a nice little bookpate on the inside of the BUKE journal for adding your personal information.

In writing tests, I found the paper performed very well with, again, no feathering or other aberrant behavior. There was zero show through either. I would say, that when compared to the Stationery Island journal, the BUKE paper is a bit toothier so there may be more friction or feedback when using it. I don’t know if this is a result of the bamboo fiber content or if the paper was processed in more of a “cold press” method. Needless to say, if you like super smooth, silky paper, the BUKE journal will not be for you.

Becuase the paper is a true white, all inks colors show true. I even noticed a bit of color variation in the fountain pen inks where there was multi-chromatic effects or sheening which is a plus. Its not Tomoe River or Cosmo Air Light levels of sheening and such but it does retain some of those ink characteristics.

Reverse side of the Tombow Brush writing sample.
Reverse of the fountain pen, brush pen and gel/rollerball pen tests.

Comparison between the Stationery Island and BUKE Journals

The BUKE journal on top of the Stationery Island journal

One of the most notable differences between the two books is that the BUKE journal with the 160gsm paper is much thicker. It makes for a chonky notebook even before it is filled with stickers and washi tape and whatnot.

As mentioned earlier the Stationery Island features two ribbon bookmarks to the BUKE’s three.

The Stationery Island paper is visibly more ivory than the BUKE as show in the photo above and the one below. And the photo below shows how much more visible the dots are on the Stationery Island paper compared to the BUKE journal.

Final Thoughts

I know its probably unfair to compare these two notebooks since they are pretty distinctively different. When I purchased them, I didn’t realize how different they would be. I was really hoping the only real difference was going to be the paper weight. But I came to realize that its not just the paper weight that can be the deciding factor when choosing a new journal. There’s paper color, dot size and color, paper texture and so much more.

From an overall presentation and packaging standpoint, the BUKE journal clicks all the boxes. For less than $20, it would be a great starter kit for anyone wanting to try bullet journaling or art journaling.

The price on the Stationery Island journal is ridiculously low so if you’re looking for a budget alternative to the Leuchtturm1917 120gsm journal, its a solid alternative.

Unfortunately for me, neither notebook ticked every box. However, I think the BUKE was closer. I don’t know that I would have noticed the toothiness of the paper if I wasn’t testing the Stationery Island notebook right next to it.

Would you consider trying either of these notebooks? If so, which one and why?

DISCLAIMER: The item 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.

Pen Review: Tombow Dual Brush Cottage Set

Pen Review: Tombow Dual Brush Cottage Set

In my commitment to being a regular journaler, I have been adding some markers to my collection that will fill in gaps in my color ranges for my journal headers. I got the Tombow Dual Brush Pen Cottage Collection (10 Pen Set for $27) because it looked like a good opportunity to add colors I will like and a chance to use Tombow Dual Brush Pens a bit more.

The Tombow Dual Brush Pens have a flexible fiber brush tip on one end and a bullet-shaped tip on the other. The brush tip will allow for variable line widths when writing and the bullet tip will provide a monoline when needed.

I find the brush tip to be a medium flexible tip. To get the best range of strokes, a light hand will have better luck and blending light strokes with heavier strokes will have the greatest variety. In that regard, the brush tips can take a bit of experimentation and practice.

The bullet tips are easier for first time users. They are probably comparable to a 1.0mm felt tip or larger so they are not designed for fine details but will be good for adding headers to a bullet journal or underlining.

Tested on Tomoe River 52gsm paper.

All the colors are listed by a number designation only. The set included two green, two orange, a beige, a pale ivory, a blue, a pink, burgundy and a deep plum purple (almost black) pens. For the most part, I found the 910 ivory unusable for my purposes. If I were planning to use these pens for more drawing or art purposes, I might find it more useful but for writing purposes, it’s too light to really be useable for me. It might be useful as a blender if I want to try blending the colors of my pens… maybe? Something to consider. The other colors I think will be useful. The colors are a bit muted in tone and less expected than a lot of boxed pen sets. I don’t get “crayola” vibes from these colors at all. They feel more complex and intersting.

Pens tested on bright white, ivory and natural white paper.

My favorite colors are the greens (192 and 312), pink (772) and the burgundy (757). I think the oranges are a much needed citrus pop in my pen collection and will probably be used in the late summer and early fall. I even like the brownish tan (992) as it has a tea/coffee or fallen leaves vibe.

Close-up of pens tested on bright white paper and ivory paper.

Overall, the color range is to my liking for sure though I’m not sure that I would describe it as “cottagecore” though I’m not sure what colors would be in a cottage palette anyway. I just liked that the colors were more sophisticated and less primary than a lot of the pen sets available. I remain disappointed about the 910 color and think another blue or gray would have been preferred for usability.

Sample doodle on Tomoe River paper.

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.