Upcoming Events: Maker Faire KC & Saint Louis Pen Show

Maker Faire KC

If you are local to Kansas City, the Maker Faire is fast approaching. Its the weekend of June 23 and 24th at Union Station and we will once again be participating under the Skylab Letterpress banner. We will be inside in the main hall again this year. If you are interested in coming by and saying hello, purchasing fabulous letterpress wares, seeing our mini letterpress in action or even getting some Col-o-ring or Col-o-dex product in person, please stop by!

If you want to pre-order Col-o-ring or Col-o-dex products and pick them up at Maker Faire, you can place an order on Big Cartel and use the coupon code KCLOCALPICKUP to avoid those pesky shipping costs. Just leave a note in the comments that clearly states “Maker Faire Pick-up” and we will pack up your order and have it ready for you at the show. If you want to combine Skylab merch with Well-Appointed Desk merch just drop us a message using the contact buttons on either Etsy or Big Cartel. We can make that happen! (Someday, we hope to have all products available on both Etsy and Big Cartel. It just hasn’t happened yet.)

St. Louis Pen Show

Just one weekend later, June 29 through July 1, the first ever St. Louis Pen Show take place on the opposite side of the state. The Well-Appointed Desk and Skylab will be there. In fact, three out of four of the writing staff of The Desk will be present! That’s right! You can meet and mingle with me, Laura and Jesi plus the man behind the press, Bob! Our dear Tina will be with us in spirit.

The Desk/Skylab will be bringing Col-o-ring and Col-o-dex products, of course. We are also bringing letterpress paper goods, typewriters, some vintage desk accessories (a few choice Rolodex!), vintage colored pencils and even some fountain pens.

Many of Kansas City’s finest pen aficionados will be in attendance as well (that would be our local pen club, the Kansas City Stylographic Society) and I’m sure you will find us all spread out on tables in the bar sharing pens and ink like we do at every pen club meeting. We cannot be contained.

Both The Vintage Pen Shop (Jesi) and The Well-Appointed Desk/Skylab Letterpress will have tables (side-by-side, no less) in St. Louis so we will be easy to find. Bob is threatening he may spend a good deal of time in the bar watching World Cup. C’est la vie. The less supervision I have, the more pens and ink I can buy.

We look forward to seeing everyone in St. Louis! Please stop by and say hello. We will have stickers and button badges and maybe even a sneak peek at the RelayCon enamel pins if you ask to see them.



Link Love: #MPRraccoon made it!

Lots of paper love this week plus a couple reviews of the new Karas Pen Co. Starliner pens. Lots of arts and creativity action which is great because summer and the extra sunlight make me want to spend more time making art, sewing and being generally more arty. Susan at the Pen Addict wrote the first review I’ve seen of the Col-o-dex rotary cards and two of my favorite inks got reviewed this week: Pigeon Blue and California Teal. Finally, the Pelikan Hubs were announced for this year! Hope everyone had a good week. And if that’s not enough, check out #MPRraccoon on twitter. I think the trash panda made it to safety. It was a tense situation last night, I thought I was going to need a TylenolPM to get to sleep last night.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

In Memory of Kate Spade

(image via AOL)

The Well-Appointed Desk is hurtling towards its eighth year of blogging (officially, June 17th is the anniversary) and, in that time, I  have mentioned Kate Spade 45 times. Clearly, she has been an influence on my life and this blog. Whether a product became the focus of a Fashionable Friday, or the backdrop for a photoshoot, Kate Spade has influenced the look and feel of what it means to have a well-appointed desk or a well-appointed life. So, I was shaken to hear that she had taken her own life last week. It took me some time to find a way to actually put it into words.

Outwardly, Kate Spade, the person and the brand, created a vision of carefree glamour and adventure with a hint of cheekiness. There was always fabulous tastefulness in the clothes and handbags and clothes but there was also bold colors and patterns on classic shapes and simple designs. And the details on the clothes and accessories was top notch. I have a navy satin jacket with silver piping on the inside with a tag that says “always find the silver lining” which is a detail only the wearer ever sees. It’s both excellent finishing and something to make me smile on a rainy day when I have to pull out my spring rain coat.

I even have a functional, oversized gold paperclip necklace. Jewelry that is also office supplies? How could I not love Kate Spade?

My classic black leather handbag, which is “oh so proper” on the outside has a poppy black-and-white striped lining that is fun and playful. My black leather planner has hot pink lining. Again, playful. Its these details that kept me coming back to Kate Spade again and again. I have stationery, jewelry, handbags, clothes, shoes, even home items because every item has added a little pizzaz to my life and I have the vision of Kate Spade to thank for that.

Kate was a native of Kansas City so she is often spoken about in reverent tones here.She graduated from St. Theresa’s Academy, a local high school in my neighborhood, and I often see young girls who could be the next entrepreneur like Kate in the local shops. I know they are shaken too because they looked up to her as a true role model.

None of us really know what shadows lurk underneath the shiny personas we project on social media, in photos and in public. Remember that, when you envy the perfect life you see on someone’s Instagram, Facebook page or Pinterest. It might not all be exotic vacations, perfect lattes and fabulous photoshoots.

If you are suffering from depression or feeling like you are all alone in the world, know that you are not. Seek help, tell your friends and family. Don’t go it alone and please, please, please don’t take drastic measures. The world needs you, just like we need our Kate Spade (and Anthony Bourdain). Its a much sadder place without them.

Ask The Desk: Teal Pens, Dip Pens and Stationery

Zack asks:

I have been looking for a full-sized green/teal body fountain pen for the longest time. I haven’t seen many that are within my budget of <$200 that are to my liking. I was wondering if you have any in mind that could fit my specifications. Nib material is not important, but of course if 14k gold is within the budget, that is the best. I’d like to fill them with my everyday inks, which are more of a teal or green black colour, like Sailor Jentle Miruai, Noodler’s Air Corp and Cult Pens Diamine Deep Dark Green.

I have a couple that I’m choosing between, like the Karas Kustoms Decograph Green, or the Taccia Spectrum Forest Green, but I am open to more suggestions! Thank you!

Laura responds:

Zack! You are a man after my own heart because I love teal pens.  You are also somewhat in luck because the current Sailor Pro Gear Slim Special Edition Ocean ($200) is a teal pen right up your alley.  The next pen that came to mind is the Pelikan Classic M205 Aquamarine ($152).  Even with the color name Aquamarine, I think this one fits in the teal category.

Another completely different route would be looking into getting a custom pen made.  Many custom pen makers are happy to work with you and find the perfect color blanks (blocks of acrylic or other material that they turn into pens) for your perfect pen.  A few custom pen makers you could contact include Newton PensEdison Pen Co., or Woodshed Pen Co.  All have Instagram accounts you can follow to see what kinds of pens they make, and all can be contacted through their websites regarding custom orders, though some may have a wait list.

Editor’s Note: But you are right, the  Opus 88 Koloro Blue with Blue ($93), the  Taccia Spectrum Forest Green ($127) and the Karas Pen Co Decograph Green ($140) are all good options as well.

Russ asks:

I am interested to know which dip pen nib would you suggest I use with watercolor painting. I currently apply diluted watercolor paint with a Bamboo dip pen for outlining shapes on watercolor paper. Once the line has dried, I then apply water inside the shape. The clear water then activates the outline line and bleeds (vignettes) into the interior of the shape. This makes for very interesting paintings.

To see an example of one of my paintings employing this technique, go here.

I understand that no matter what nib I use I will need to refill the nib often. My concern is the fact that the pigment of even diluted watercolor will be thicker than standard dip pen inks. I also prefer a thicker line than the fine lines that stainless steel nibs produce. I can modify my Bamboo pen points if I want a thicker line. But, Bamboo pens wear out too soon. And, I don’t think a calligraphy-style (wide flat edge) nib would be the answer for the line boldness that I’m looking for.

I’m not looking for barrel-loaded pens. I am interested in dip nib pens that I can charge with diluted watercolor or colored inks on the fly. I may only need one color solution for an inch – then change color for another passage somewhere else in the painting.

So, which dip pen nib type would you suggest that would provide the best pigment ‘flow’ characteristics – and a slightly bolder line (if possible)?

P.S.: I know that a flexible steel nib can produce a wider line width. But, this would require a consistent pen pressure throughout the painting. If there was a nib that provided a naturally bolder line (without added pressure), this would be more comfortable and produce a consistent line width.

Thanks for your input. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Jesi responds:

Thank you for sharing your artwork, Russ.  I enjoy your unique use of both watercolor and dip nibs!

My first thought after reading your question was to recommend that you look into Lettering nibs, either modern or vintage.  These nibs, which come in varying widths, are designed with two pieces clipped together.  The space between acts as a reservoir, holding more ink (or in your case, watercolor) and helping you to write longer with a more consistant flow.   Lettering nibs are often used for styles of writing like Blackletter that were designed with with quills in mind rather than the thin point of a fountain pen.

You can find these nibs in a huge variety of widths from .3mm up to 4mm.  Choices also include the shape of the tip: sharp, round, or flat.  Each shape will give you a unique line style that will add more fun tools for you to choose from.

For larger line widths, you can look into Poster nibs, Brush nibs or Automatic pens.  These give an even wider variety of choices.

Good luck with your artwork and please come back to show more in the future!

John requests:

I want to write letters to my friends and others using very good stationery. All of my letters will be written using fountain pens.
I don’t want to just peel off a page Rhodia and stick it in an envelope.
Let’s accept that elegance is more important than price, but functionality is critical.

Ana responds:

There are some great, simple stationery options available that will look good without breaking the bank. Original Crown Mill and G. Lalo are the “go-to” papers for letter writing in the stationery community. G. Lalo pads are available in half sheet and full sheet sizes for $12 and $16 respectively and Original Crown Mill paper is available in pure cotton or a laid finish in A4 or A5. Prices for the Original Crown Mill range from $14-$58 depending on the package configuration. Both companies offer envelopes to match.

Of course, we cannot forget Crane & Co. They are the classic American stationery company that makes boxed letter sheets with matching envelopes starting at $26 for a box of 20.

And last, let me plug the firm and say that Hallmark Gold Crown stores feature a selection of letter sheets and envelopes. I can’t guarantee all will be fountain pen friendly but I’ve had good luck with a lot of them. The flat cards are particularly nice. I recommend the cream or white cards or paper over the ones with a lot of color printed on them. Some options are even available for purchase on the web site.

Ink Review: Blackstone Sydney Harbour Blue

I am a sucker for blues and Blackstone’s Sydney Harbour Blue (Appelboom, €7.44) is no exception.

Blackstone Sydney Harbor Blue

Sydney Harbour Blue is a dark ocean blue that shimmers red.  In lighter applications it’s got a bit of teal to it, but in darker applications it’s all blue.

Blackstone Sydney Harbor Blue

This ink is highly saturated and packs a lot of color in there.



In terms of color comparisons, I don’t have a great match for it. It reminds me a lot of Organic Studios Nitrogen, both in blue color and in red sheen, but side by side they are not as close as I thought; Sydney Harbour Blue is much darker. I also wondered about Robert Oster Fire & Ice, but seeing them side by side, Fire & Ice is a much lighter blue.


Sydney Harbour Blue is not permanent, as you can see by my clumsiness with water a full 24 hours after completing the swatch.

In writing, you can see some of the shading, particularly as the dip nib went through more or less ink over time.

Blackstone Sydney Harbor Blue

If you’re into dark inky blues and sheen, this one’s probably for you!

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

Eye Candy: New uses for pen cases.

By Laura Cameron

When I purchased a Nock Co. Sinclair at the LA Pen Show, I texted a photo to a friend of mine who loves pens and knitting. She immediately asked me to pick one up for her because she wanted to use it as a knitting notions case for her sock knitting.  Not a bad idea eh?

Sinclair Knitters Case

Sinclair Knitters Case

For the Knitters:

For all of us:

Notebook Review: Write Notepad & Co. Sakura

Review by Laura Cameron

I love anything cherry blossom themed, and I had never tried Write Notepad & Co.’s notebooks so it was a given that I was going to order the Sakura Spring 2018 Limited Edition notebooks (3 pack pocket-size for $12.99).

Write Sakura

Write Sakura

The Sakura limited edition pocket notebook measures 3.75″ x 5″ (9.5 cm x 12.5 cm).  The cover art is beautifully printed on 80# coverstock.  The Sakura has 48 pages of 70# graph lined paper, printed in Write’s standard blue-green color, and measuring approximately 4mm.  The edition is saddle stitched and finished with rose gold staples.  As with all Write products, the notebooks are 100% American made.

Write Sakura

I have to say, having never used Write notebooks before, that the paper blew me away.  I tested a variety of pens and inks on the paper, and even swabbed it with ink and nothing got through those pages.  In my experience, I haven’t found paper like this in most pocket notebooks.  The paper is fairly smooth, and none of my inks bled or feathered at all.  My only (very minor) complaint is that I think I would prefer dot grid to graph, but that’s just a personal choice.

Write Sakura

Write Sakura

As you can see, I enjoy a good themed every day carry, so I’ll be carrying my Sakura notebooks along with my Fahrney’s 2018 Retro 51 Cherry Blossom.

Write Sakura

If you’re interested in the Write Notepad & Co. Sakura notebooks they are a limited edition run, so make sure you don’t miss out.