Art Supply Party: Allex Scissors & Kokuyo Gloo

Art Supply Party: Allex Scissors & Kokuyo Gloo

Sometimes, I just need to play with scissors and glue. I recently upgraded both my scissors and my glue stick so I thought I’d share my results.

I had the matte black Allex S-165F Office Scissors with Fluorine Coating($18.50) in my cart on JetPens for eons and I finally decided to buy them. Their most notable feature is that glue and other sticky substances will not stick to the blades.  The insides of the holes for your fingers are lined with silicone for a softer grip. This makes it more comfortable for long collage sessions. Even Bob, whose hands are much bigger than mine, has commented that he likes using these scissors for day-to-day cutting in the studio.

Allex scissors and Kokuyo Gloo

So far I haven’t gotten a lot of glue or stickiness on the scissors but they are light, well-balanced and cut cleanly. The blades are sharp!

Allex scissors

The glue stick I purchased is the Kokuyo Gloo. I purchased the medium Gloo stick in disappearing blue ($4 per sick). I was enticed by the simple clean design on the outside of the tube. The Gloo sticks have a slightly wider end that makes it easier to stand them on one end. Everything about the Kokuyo GLoo stick in terms of performance is pretty consistent with a lot of other brands on the market. The square shape makes getting into corners a little easier.

Allex scissors and Kokuyo Gloo

The confusing part for me is that the glue end is the one with wider cap end which is different from almost every other brand I’ve used so I kept trying to pull the twist end off. “Turn the square end, pull the round end off.”

The smell of this Gloo stick is mild but a little sweet. It’s definitely not chemically or offensive but might not be suitable around small children who might eat glue because it smells pretty nice. Way better than Elmer’s glue.

So, if you’re itching to do a little creative paper cutting, these tools are a great start. I have been watching some of Lisa Congdon’s Creative Boot Camp – Six Exercises to Spark Artistic Discovery on Creativebug and it features a lot of collage and papercutting if you want to try collage but need a jumping off point.

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.

Link Love: Stationery Habits of Celebrities

Link Love: Stationery Habits of Celebrities

Sometimes I am challenged to come up with a cohesive title and theme for Link Love. I like a snappy title. It helps me remember what might be in any given week of Link Love. So, while the two celebrity related posts are not entirely stationery-related, I decided to take creative liberties with the title. You’ll forgive the discretion this time?

As for the posts, check out Other Interesting Things for the posts in question.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

Fountain Pen Review: Ensso XS Minimalist Pocket Fountain Pen

Review by Laura Cameron

Being of small hands, I’m always up for trying cute pocket pens. So when Ana sent over the Ensso XS Minimalist Pocket Fountain Pen in Silver Aluminum ($59) that she backed on Kickstarter, I was excited to give it a try!

Ensso is committed to building “Sleek, minimal, and modern pens made in aluminum, brass, and titanium.” I’d say the XS fits the bill!


The XS is a machined pen made out of aluminum (available in silver or black) or a limited edition Titanium version. The site makes mention of a brass version, and I see that in the Kickstarter, but it doesn’t appear to be available currently on the site. It is a 12-sided pen, designed that way so it doesn’t roll away from you! It is embellished with black rubber rings on the finials and near the section and two extras are included with the pen in case you need replacements.

The XS sports Bock steel nibs (available in F, M and B) and there is a titanium nib available if you’re interested in an upgrade (available in M, $40 extra).

The XS is comparable to other EDC pens. I took a few shots for comparison with my Kaweco Liliput in Fireblue and the Kaweco Sport. As you can see, it’s closest to the size of the Liliput in length and girth, but when posted it also compares to the Sport in length. The actual length is 95mm/3.75″ capped and 115mm/4.5″ posted.


The most interesting factor on this pen, at least for me, is the weight. It weighs in at just 9.7g because of the aluminum body. If you’re into lightweight pens, this one’s for you! (Titanium weighs in at 15g.)

pen weight comparison chart

The XS takes standard international cartridges or will use a small aerometric (bulb) converter. However, based on my experience with the little Kaweco converters, I’ll be sticking with cartridges for this one.

When I loaded up a cartridge in the pen, it only took a few seconds for the ink to get flowing. It flowed smoothly and the nib wrote well on the first try. I think what I love most about this pen is that the facets keep it from rolling, but the section is left smooth so it’s not uncomfortable to hold (I’m looking at you Lamy Safari!).

Honestly my only complaint about the pen is that it’s SO lightweight. I prefer a slightly more substantial pen and the Kaweco Liliput just feels better in my hand. Even though the machining on the pen is great and the nib writes well, I guess I just wanted MORE pen out of the XS. But again, if you’re looking for a super lightweight carry, then you should give this one a try!

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.

Kickstarter Review: Iris Drawing Compass

Kickstarter Review: Iris Drawing Compass

When I saw the Iris Drawing Compass pop up on Kickstarter, I was intrigued enough to back the project. I have backed enough Kickstarter projects to know that no matter how optimistic the creators are,  they will never hit their shipping date goals. So when it arrived right around the holidays, I was pleasantly surprised.Iris Drawing Compass

It came nicely packaged in a protective cardboard box. The brass ring is heavy. Heavier than I anticipated. The compass came with a wooden stand for your desk. Upon realizing that the Iris compass was considerably heavier than I anticipated, I realized it’s too heavy to be carried regularly. So, being a desk-only accessory, a nice stand makes sense.

Iris Drawing Compass

Iris Drawing Compass

Iris Drawing Compass

The wood base is fairly small and made of a light wood stained dark so the compass sits “just so”. If it isn’t seated perfectly in the stand or if its jostled, it will tip over.

Iris Drawing Compass

It looks nice as a desk accessory. At this point, my enthusiasm for this product has come to an end. The mechanism to turn and adjust the aperture to reveal the opening is very difficult to turn. I struggled with it. I attempted to improve the mechanism with graphite and household oil with no improvement. The leaves of the the compass are too tightly layered and the smooth brass exterior makes it difficult to grasp and turn. If I press down hard it’s no better than a light touch.

Iris Drawing Compass

Finally, when in use, the large brass ring, and the opaque aperture completely obscures whatever you are drawing. So, while the Iris drawing compass is a lovely piece, it does not function from a mechanical perspective nor as a functional perspective.

Oh, and I almost forgot, the brass oxidizes onto your hands… turning them grey. As if pencil graphite wasn’t bad enough.

This product was not provided free for this review. I purchased it with my own money.

Ask The Desk: Waterproof Ink & More Refill Questions

Ask The Desk: Waterproof Ink & More Refill Questions

Stacey asks:

Hi there, I was gifted a pen in 2017 which is personalised with my name as I was working as a TA. It needs a refill now (I didn’t use it much) but the refill I bought doesn’t fit properly. It takes a Parker style refill but made of white plastic. I’ve measured it and it’s approx 8.5cm long, with a fat body and tapered tip where the spring would sit. And advice on what sort of refill I actually need would be great. I have pictures of the refill which I can attach to another email if this would help. Kind regards features a Size Guide section that shows a picture of a particular refill along with the length measurements. I didn’t see one that was the same length that you described but since I’m not looking at the refill, maybe there was a modification made to a refill (like the plastic insert on the end was removed)?

The Fisher Space Pen Refill looks closest in length. It’s essentially a regular Parker-style refill but without the plastic fins on the end. It will sometimes ship in a blister pack with removable plastic cap to fit the refill into standard sized pens. Do you think that might work?

Aimme asks:

I am wondering about what kinds of waterproof inks would be best for watercolour art? So I wanted to sketch with a waterproof/resistant ink and then paint over it with watercolours. Any suggestions would be great! Wishing you all a very happy New Year! -Blessings, Aimme

For water resistant inks for watercolor, I recommend Platinum Carbon Black ($22.50 for 60ml bottle). I did all of my Inktober one year using it plus grey watercolor brush and can attest to its waterproofiness. Some people prefer Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black ($21.33 for 50ml) but the reviews I’ve seen don’t seem to be as waterproof as PCB (that’s Platinum Carbon Black, not Panama City Beach, FYI).  I’ve never had issues with PCB clogging my pen. A quick dip in water or a wipe on a wet towel, even after sitting for months, was enough to get it going again.
I also did a test of a few various waterproof inks awhile back. You can also search the site for “waterproof” as there have been several other inks tested by Jesi and Tina as well.


Frederick asks:

Does another gel refill, other than Monteverde, exist for the somewhat unique Montblanc ballpoint format?

Unfortunately, Montblanc has designed their ballpoint pens and refills in such a way that they are proprietary. For drop-in ease, the Monteverde or Montblanc refills have been your only options. I found a listing on Amazon for a new refill that is “Montblanc compatible”, The Jaymo Montblanc Compatible Ballpoint Refill. I have not tested it nor do I know anything about it but this gives you another option to try.

My last option for you is to purchase a 3D printed  adapter from Tofty. He has several available for Montblanc ballpoints:



Eye Candy: Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Eye Candy: Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Two years ago, the San Francisco Pen Show was rocked by the arrival of Yamamoto Paper and their Paper Tasting packets. The creators came across the ocean from Japan to share some of the many unique and different papers with western paper fiends.

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

These cellophane jewels each contain a stack of B7, A6 and B6 paper. Yamamoto organizes the paper tasting sets by color and includes a reference sheet that provides information about the paper included. The details are written in Japanese and English.

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

The information sheet also has a key indicating how suitable each paper might be for dip pen, fountain pen, ball point, gel and pencil. I think the circles mean the paper is good for the specific tool and the black triangle means it is not so good. Occasionally there is an X- mark which maybe means it’s okay? Or your mileage may vary? However you look at it, I appreciate that some effort has been made to at least try to provide some information in advance.

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Each stack is held together with a bright silver bulldog clip. There are lots of sheets in each set, maybe 25?

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Obviously, if you’re looking for writing paper, the black set will be most suitable for opaque gel pens and acrylic and metallic dip pen inks.

Yamamoto Paper

In the back of each packet, is one of two possible guides about Japanese paper. One provides details about the “hierarchy of paper” from newsprint and toilet paper to fine art paper.

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

The other guide provides details about how paper is printed.

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

The sets that are likely to be the most appealing to fountain pen enthusiasts are the Egg shell Vol. 1 and Silky Vol. 1. Both contain white and warm white/ivory stocks that are most common for writing. The largest B6 sheets are appropriate for letter writing and the smaller sheets would work well for notes. The Silky set includes a paper called Marshmallow which I fell in love with when I tried it in San Fransisco.

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

Yamamoto Paper Tasting

I feel terrible that I have done nothing but covet this paper for over two years. The colored paper sets are beautiful. The craft, translucent and egg shell sets beg to be written on and touched. This week I was finally inspired with ideas on how to utilize these papers to their fullest. My first idea came from a collage artist, Katie Licht,  who I love. I plan to use some of these papers to create simple collages in my journals and art books.

Second, I plan to bind some of the larger sheets into a book so that I can use them. Last year, I made several books filled with mixed papers and being able to use these fountain pen-friendly papers would be amazing. I like using vintage found book covers so that will be my first challenge. Below are pictures pictures of some of the books I created last year.

The good news is that the Yamamoto Paper Tasting sets are now available through Shigure Inks in the US. Each Set is $10.80 each. Or you can purchase directly from Yamamoto Paper on Etsy.

Ink Overview: Manyo Inks by Sailor

Ink Overview: Manyo Inks by Sailor

By Jessica Coles

Last week I presented a post featuring an overview of the Taccia Lip color ink collection, rather than focusing on a single ink in the line. Since several new ink collections have come out recently, I decided to again present an overview – let me know if you enjoy this type of post!

This week I am focused on the new Manyo collection made by Sailor. This is an ink manufacturer that seems to put out a new ink almost daily, especially store-exclusive inks for small stores in Japan. Their Sailor Studio inks are so popular that certain colors are still very difficult to find in stock.

However, the Sailor Studio inks were surprisingly small (20mL). That makes this newest line up even nicer – large 50mL bottles ($21.33 for 50mL at Pen Chalet).

These Manyo inks are surprisingly large compared to the Sailor Studio bottles – 2.5 times as large. That’s not where the similarities end, though. Two of the Manyo inks (Haha and Nekoyanagi) have been compared to Sailor Studio 162 and 123 (two of the more popular colors). I found these colors to be similar and to demonstrate similar multi-chromatic characteristics, but not similar enough to choose one over the other.

Other Manyo inks remind me of Sailor Studio colors – Akebi and Sailor Studio 653 are similar although Akebi is brighter. I love the brightness of Yamabuki.

Nekoyanagi is the first Manyo ink that I knew I had to get. However, Yomagi has been my favorite to use for taking class notes. It shades beautifully and has mid-level red sheen.

Kikyou has an understated sheen – not shiny, though. The sheen presents more as a secondary color than a shine. Sumire is a beautiful cerulean blue with a hint of sheen as well.

Kuzu is another ink that has a muted sheen. Haha is the best name ever for an ink. The halo color is a greenish teal – a color that is all around difficult to describe.

Here’s a big family photo of the Manyo inks!

As I stated above, Haha is a very difficult ink to compare and to show. It does have many of the same properties of Sailor Studio 162, but the halo colors remind me more of Sailor Studio 264. Shading is in line with Papier Plume Lake Michigan Winter, but the purple is close to Vinta Maskera (the photo two below).


Manyo Nekoyanagi is closely related to Haha, but less confused. Nekoyanagi is very close to Vinta Maskeraand Ya Ching Eternal Love, but it contains quite a bit of teal in the undertones. The teal does show as a halo in some writing.

Manyo Akebi is a beautiful bright purple-ish pink with a huge amount of muted sheen. The sheen moved between greenish-gold and dark brown and is very present in all writing. The underlying bright color is almost surprising when it peaks out.

Manyo Yomagi is a favorite of mine for writing. it moves from dark to light quickly and has a bit of a red sheen. I’ve been writing with it for three weeks now and I love it.

Manyo Kikyou is a close match to Monteverde Blue Velvet Cake but the sheen is very muted. A great work-safe blue-black.

Sumire is not quitet as bright at ColorVerse Supernova, but a deeper color than Pelikan Edelstein Topaz. The shading is beautiful.

Manyo Kuzu is close to Akebi is writing, but the color underneath is burgundy rather than a purple-ish pink. The muted sheen is gold-brown.

Yamabuki is a highly shading orangish-yellowthat reminds me of Diamine Amber butt the darker portions (and in writing) looks more like Diamine Marigold.

All of the Manyo inks are on the wet side of normal (only slightly) and behave like other Sailor inks I have encountered – easy to use, beautiful colors and shading, not water-resistant, no feathering or bleeding on fountain pen friendly paper. I am very happy that I own the whole set now! I’m also thrilled with the larger bottle size. One of the best differences between the Sailor Studio inks and the Manyo inks – Manyo inks are much easier to obtain in the US!


DISCLAIMER:  Some of the inks used in this review were purchased by me, while others were provided for the purpose of this review. Please see the About page for more details.