Sketchbook Review: Clairefontaine Goldline Multi-Techniques A5

I’ve been testing the Clairefontaine Goldline Multi-technique A5 sketchbook for sometime now. It was something that was brought to my attention specifically after I bemoaned that Exacompta was no longer making a blank refill that contained excellent paper for sketching and drawing.

The book contains 140g/65lb smooth white paper and a classic “oil cloth” cover. The only branding is a sticker on the cover which looks fairly easy to remove.

The pages are inset so the edges are protected and the cover binding looks clean and well-made.

I did regular pen tests though the paper is a bit heavier than necessary to be used for a writing notebook. If you are combining sketching and drawing, you’ll find the paper is more than pleasant enough for writing.

For watercolor, it is definitely closer to hot press because it is a smooth finish but for street sketches, it did not buckle too much for as many pages as you get for the price.

For mixed tool use is where the paper really shines. This is a page of combination doodles with watercolor, fountain pen, and ink washes. The paper is smooth but not glassy which meant that I maintained control of my pen work and still got good values from ink and watercolor.

This last photo shows a little bit of the paper bowing. As you can see, its not too bad. The board covers will help to flatten the paper back out as well but for 65lb paper the warping is very minimal. I was also able to use both sides of the paper with little to no show through.

These sketchbooks retail for $18 which is on par with Stillman & Birn and other brands of this quality. They are not currently available in the US however. The Goldline is Clairefontaine’s fine art line which I’d love to see more brought to the US. I think this sketchbook would be a good first step. Fellow sketchers and artists, would you be interested in Clairefontaine USA importing these? I would!

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.

First Look: Krishna Inks

First Look: Krishna Inks

I was so excited when Vanness announced they were finally importing Krishna Inks because I had been attempting to email Krishna directly since I had seen Nick Stewart’s post about the inks back in July of 2017. Since July though, Krishna has been creating even more inks, including some groundbreaking sheening inks.

The Krishna Inks come in 20ml glass vials and sell for $6 for the “Super Rich” line and $8 for the RC line. The RC line only features six inks at the moment and I don’t quite understand the division between the Super Rich and the RC line. I thought it was the super-sheening vs. the regular inks but it doesn’t seem to be that clearly divided. If you figure out the difference between the two lines, please let me know.

One of my favorite non-sheening colors is Pencil… why? Because who wouldn’t want a fountain pen ink trying to mimic graphite? It’s a little warmer in tone than actual graphite but I respect the efforts and the acknowledgement. Sea & Storm is a deep, dark plum color that was very difficult to capture in swabs and photos. I look forward to inking up a pen and seeing how it performs in real world tests.

Monsoon Sky is a deep blue that really spoke to me. Overall, these inks are all a bit more viscous, a bit drier. I think they will perform better on lower quality papers but may have some hard starting issues for some people.

This is a better image of Sea & Storm… there is a spooky undercurrent of green.

My absolute favorite sheener of the bunch is Myrtle hands down. If this ink is in a wide nib, there is definitely going to be evidence of the green halo effect around the luminous magenta pink. It will make my heart sing. I am wondering if I can buy this in a bottle the size of the those old Parker Quink school bottles? Makes me want to run around saying, “So I says to Myrtle I says…”

Look how glorious that sheen is!

Azaelia (Floral) is a good shading pink too if sheen is not your thing.

Much hullaballoo was made about Goldfish Gold and Jungle Volcano. I will grant you that Jungle Volcano is all that and an extra shot (photo DOES NOT do it justice) but Goldfish Gold is just a dark orange-y brown for me. But maybe it was just that it got over-hyped, like a summer blockbuster movie. Everyone tells you how awesome it is and you expect it to give you handwriting like Michael Sull and the hands of a supermodel but in the end, you’re still writing with a cheap shark pen from China with a bad manicure and your same sloppy penmanship. $8 ink isn’t gonna make you a superhero.

This is a better view of Jungle Volcano. Is it orange? It is green? Is it brownish? Who cares. Make me another Mai Tai and let’s get inky!

One of the most perplexing colors is Brown Pink. Its not really brown or pink and it sheens like the devil. It’s similar but different from Jungle Volcano and definitely worth consideration.

All in all, Krishna Inks have a lot to recommend themselves. They are trying a lot different types of sheening. The smaller bottles and low prices mean you are not committing to a huge volume of ink or making an enormous investment.

I have not run any of these through my pens yet but that will be my next round of testing. The colors are quite saturated so there could be some possibilities for staining or difficulties cleaning so I may run these through the Shark pens first before tempting fate and putting one of the darker colors in my Pelikan ghost. I’ll have more detailed reviews of individual colors in the coming weeks but I wanted to share the colors and brand with you now. Enjoy!

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

Giveaway: Galen, The Note Board

This week, we’re continuing giveaways at The Desk with The Note Board, generously sent to us by the folks over at Galen Leather ($39).

Galen Note Board

The Note Board is a collaboration between Galen Leather and Walden Woodworkers Co to make this vintage inspired note board which holds a Rhodia pad, or your favorite A5 notepad, for jotting down all of your important notes and reminders.

Galen Note Board

The Note Board is beautifully finished Walnut with brass fittings, and would look excellent on your desk.  There’s even a pen slot where you can rest your favorite pen to keep it handy.

Included in this giveaway are:

The Pilot Metro Pop is not included but is available at many fine retailers.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment BELOW and tell us what your favorite A5 notepad is!

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Thursday, April19. 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 – just email you if you win. If winner does not respond within 7 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US residents and APO/FPO only please.

Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in giveaway were provided free of charge by Galen Leather. Please see the About page for more details.

First Look: Papier Plume House of the Rising Sun Ink

First Look: Papier Plume House of the Rising Sun Ink

We were honored to get a first look at the new ink from Papier Plume to be unveiled tomorrow (Friday) at the Atlanta Pen Show. It’s a radiant orange called House of the Rising Sun ($8).

House of the Rising Sun is a warm, bright red orange. It looks like it has some shading but no sheen and it is a very wet ink. Every time I tried to do a dip nib writing sample I would get a bloop. Very wet! It looks like a good candidate for your fine nib pens for sure.

Each 1oz bottle topped with their signature wax seal will sell for $8 and will also be available online and through their New Orleans shop location. So if you can’t make it to the show you can hop over to the web site and order it directly.

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

Link Love: Rising Sun

Link Love: Rising Sun




Paper & Notebooks:

Art Supplies & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

First Look: Birmingham Pen Co. Inks

First Look: Birmingham Pen Co. Inks

Laura’s Perspective:

Recently, Ana introduced me to the Birmingham Pen Company and their own line of inks ($7.99 per 30ml).

Birmingham Pen Company is located on the Southside of Pittsburgh, which was once called “Little Birmingham” due to the fact that it was a manufacturing hub in the 1900’s, like Birmingham was to England . Today, the Birmingham Pen Company serves as a reminder of this tradition. At the moment, the Birmingham Pen Company is online only though they had a store front in Shadyside for awhile.

The Birmingham brand inks are all named for historic places, events or people from the Pittsburgh area. Each writing ink is bottled in Pittsburgh in a beautiful glass bottle, and labeled with a bit of a history lesson. The inks are manufactured in Germany.

Birmingham Pen Co Ink

Birmingham Pen Co Ink

I tried Mt. Washington Sunset, David O Selznick Lilac Wind, and Kier Refinery Petroleum.

Birmingham Pen Co Ink

All of the inks I tried performed well. Of this set, I think my favorite was the Lilac Wind and I confess I filled up my Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Cosmos with it.

Ana’s Perspective:

Laura and I split duties for the overview of the Birmingham inks. Over the past few weeks, we’ve tried eight of the 40 colors currently listed on the web site with new colors being added monthly. They have even announced an ink subscription option as well called The Pen Parcel. They are currently sold out of subscriptions at the moment but check back… its a chance to get their new ink colors, as soon as they are available.

Somehow, I managed to choose mostly dark, moody colors. I ordered my ink in the deepest darkest months of winter so they were the perfect antithesis to my normal eye-bleedingly, bright palette of spring and summer.

I think the colors are a reflection of the soot-stained history in and around the industrial landscapes of the working-class city of Pittsburgh, PA. Having lived for several years, just over the border in Ohio, in another steel mill town, I can appreciate these hues. They are seeped in a sort of history. There’s a depth to the color but also a richness.

And come on, anyone who immortalizes Jeff Goldblum in ink is a friend of mine.

So far, I’ve found the inks to be very well-behaved. Others might call them a little dry but I’d say they are right in the middle… not too wet, not too dry. I love the apothecary-style bottles and the elegant typography on the bottles is very appealing. The logo branding could be a little more apparent but at least its not overly ostentatious.

There are some brighter colors in the Birmingham range like Fred Rogers Cardigan Red and Irish Festival Clover Green but I admire the deeper colors like Allegheny River Twilight , Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue and Andrew Carnegie Steel Blue. Looks like I’ll be placing another order soon. And at $7.99 a bottle, how can I resist?

My hope is that there will be an Andy Warhol ink in the future (there is! But sadly its sold out!) and that there might be some women of note that will be immortalized ink!

Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.

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