Paper Review: Midori Autumn Silk Screen Printed Pads

When browsing for paper recently, I was absolutely taken with the Midori Autumn Silk Screen Printed Pads ($7.00-9.50). The designs were beautiful, and the message pad and letter pad (with matching envelopes) called to me.

I ended up purchasing the Japanese Maple Message Pad ($7.00) and the Dahlia Letter Pad ($9.50). These top bound pads are filled with ivory textured paper, and silk screen printed with designs inspired by Maki-e lacquer art.  Both contain absolutely lustrous colors with foil accents. They are, in a word, stunning.

Each pad contains 16 sheets, 8 each of two designs. They are intended for writing letters or notes, and there are guides included at the back of each pad. Even though I’m not a letter writer, I just had to buy these – I have no idea what I’ll use them for, but they’re just so pretty!

The paper is quite interesting. It’s textured and almost has a cottony feel, but it doesn’t seem to absorb more ink than usual. Sheening inks don’t appear to sheen so much on it (I tested Robert Oster Fire & Ice), but the paper doesn’t feather or bleed either. And it’s thick enough that you could clearly use both sides.

These seem to be selling out fast, but if you’re looking for lovely stationery gift for a fellow pen addict, I’d definitely recommend these!

 

 

Black Friday Deals!

Black Friday Deals!

In the past, we’ve waited until FRIDAY to post a bunch of Black Friday Deals. This year, Black Friday sales have started early (this year is Black November!) and, honestly, trying to corral all the deal is next to impossible.

So… here’s our advice for getting in on the best Black Friday Deals.

Sign up for email newsletters

Go to your favorite sites (pen related or not) and sign up for their email newsletter today. Many online shops are offering rolling sales starting yesterday. So to get all the details and when exactly the best deals will happen, sign up for newsletters.

You don’t have to stay subscribed forever but if you want to get the specifics for each shop, this is the best way to do it.

If you’re already subscribed, build a filter so all newsletter funnel into one folder. Depending on your email app, the method to do this will vary but it’s 30 minutes or less to set this up and is a great way to get all the shop newsletters in one place and out of your inbox.

Follow your favorites on social media

Despite my protestations in Link Love last week, if you do utilize social media, be sure you’re following your favorite shops. Often, they will post about sales, discounts and other deals.

Forward deals to F&F

If you are looking to help a friend or family member know what to get you for the holidays, forward a newsletter and/or your wishlist.

Tell them you read The Well-Appointed Desk

Finally, it helps us if you tell shops you heard about them or read about a product here on The Well-Appointed Desk. Just add it to the comments with your order, if there is that option. Thanks!

Paul’s Fountain Pen Journal

Paul’s Fountain Pen Journal

I can’t believe I’ve never talked about the small, highly researched and well-crafted publication called Paul’s Fountain Pen Journal. If you’ve attended just about any pen show in the US, you’ve probably met or heard Paul. He’s got a distinctive East Coast accent and is the enthusiastic Grand Poobah of the Black Pen Society.

The Grand Poobah himself, Paul Erano, in 2018 at the DC Pen Show meet-up

Paul’s Fountain Pen Journal is filled with detailed articles about modern and vintage pens, profiles of notable folks in the pen community and really great photography. It arrives in my mailbox wrapped in protective plastic. The magazine uses high quality paper and includes full color photography throughout.

The latest issue, Volume 7 No.1, is at the printers, and should be mailed out sometime in late November.  If you would like to become a reader of this small independent publication, you can subscribe to via PayPal. Cost for a subscription (3 issues per year which works out to about $8 an issue and includes shipping in the US) is $25 and can be sent to Paul directly via PayPal to this email address: plerano (at) aol (dot) com. You can also mail a check directly to Paul. Email him at the same address for his mailing address.

Paul's Fountain Pen Journal

The pandemic has made it hard for a lot of the pen community who made a good deal of their yearly income from pen shows and the subsequent sales after meeting people at shows. Paul’s Fountain Pen Journal was no exception. So, if you’ve never subscribed, help keep this independent publication going by subscribing now. (According to Paul’s email: “It also makes a great gift!”)


I am a subscriber to Paul’s Fountain Pen Journal. This post was not sponsored, I just want to support the community.

Ink Line Review: ColorVerse Project Series 2 Part 2

Ink Line Review: ColorVerse Project Series 2 Part 2

Today’s inks are part 2 of the ColorVerse Project Series 2. If you missed part 1, make sure to read that as well!

I have been enjoying this look at ColorVerse Project Series 2. Each of the 8 inks is named after the brightest star in well-known constellations and it has been fun learning a bit about each star/constellation combination. I purchased my samples at Vanness where they were $3.10 for a 4mL sample or $27.50 for a 65mL bottle.

The first ink today, (alpha) PSC, is named after the brightest star in the constellation Pisces. It is actually two stars, so a bit of a cheat! I love the dusky pine green- it is dark enough to be legible and swings from dark to light in writing, but not in a way that causes shading. It is quite a peaceful, gentle color.

The next ink, (alpha) CYGNI, is the first of two glistening inks in the second Project series. This is a dusky sky blue with subtle shimmer – appropriate for the white giant that is one of the brightest in the night sky. ColorVerse does a great job with shimmer inks – the particles are smaller than several other manufacturers’ shimmer inks, making it less likely to clog in your nib feed.

The only other glistening ink in this series is (alpha) SCORPII. The color is appropriate for this star – a red supergiant that is said to have a mass 12 times that of our own sun. The dusty pink has an orange undertone that isn’t quite a salmon pink. It is close to the color of PenBBS 140 – one of my favorite sparkling inks.

The last ink in the Project collection is (alpha) CMA. The ink shows medium shading in writing and is an interesting blue-gray color – not quite a blue-black but close. This is probably the most office-friendly color of the series but the shading keeps it from far from boring.

These are the same photos from last week’s post – the entire series on Tomoe River paper (first) and Cosmo Air Light paper (second).

 

A photo of both papers in the same light for a clearer comparison. It will never cease to fascinate me – the difference paper makes in the character of each ink.

ColorVerse has done a great job with this collection. Three of the inks here, (alpha) And, (alpha) UMa, and (alpha) Ori, will make their way into my collection sooner or later.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me and I was not compensated to write this review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Planning and Social Media

Link Love: Planning and Social Media

Two things have been occupying my mind this week: the first is very Desk-appropriate. Since last week’s Link Love andthe predominance of planner posts plus my Monday post about Plotter inserts, I’ve been in full planner mode. Specifically, ring bound planners and the ability to build and design a planner specific to my needs. I can choose (or make) weekly and monthly pages in any configuration and I’m not beholden to a specific notebook layout or format. So I’ve been giving real thought to what I want to track and organize in a way I haven’t done in some time (probably since before the pandemic). I’ve been listening to lots of episodes of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Plannerverse Podcast and watching YouTube videos of planner set-ups. The reason I like the Plannerverse podcast is they dive deep into the whys of planning. The YOuTube set-up videos spend too much time on the hows and the pretties. I don’t care which fancy tab you used, I want to know why you chose to divide out a section just for habit tracking instead of including that on your weekly or monthly pages.

The second thing is social media. Social media, specifically Instagram, is no longer something I enjoy. It’s work. And it’s fruitless work — whether I’m posting or consuming content. I am feeling obligated to post regularly to try to stay ahead of Instagram’s ever-changing algorithms only to discover that it’s a losing battle. Unless I’m willing to dedicate hours everyday to building Reels, Stories and posts, the posts I create will continue to be seen by fewer and fewer people. I’m not rewarded for not bombarding Followers with endless posts. Nope, the few posts I do make will continue to be seen by fewer people.

Scrolling through other people’s posts is a seige of moving images, ads and recommendations to switch to Instagram’s Reels or Stories platforms to view other content. I know the whole point of the app is to suck people into the endless cycle of posting and liking other posts but it’s starting to feel like a hamster wheel I no longer want to be on.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are designed to make it difficult if not impossible to find previously posted content. Whether it’s something I posted or something someone else posted and I want to refer back to, accessing the archive of previously “liked” posts is frustrating and there’s no way to fine tune searches to a specific timeframe, only users I follow, etc. It makes me miss the days of Flickr.

To find not one but two different posts about getting off social media this week felt like kismet.

What’s your current feeling towards social media?

Links of the Week:

Pens:

Ink:

Notebooks & Paper:

Other Interesting Things:

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Ways to use a Col-o-ring OVERSIZE

When Ana and Bob designed the Col-o-ring OVERSIZE ($15 each) they had some ideas on how they would use it. But it was more exciting to see how you all use it. Today we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite Instagram posts showing how people make the OVERSIZE work for them!

I personally use my Col-o-Ring for lots of little ink swatches. Since I have my Col-o-ring and Col-o-dex cards at home (they’ve become too numerous to travel) I like using my OVERSIZE as a handy “pocket” guide. That way when I want to reference what I already have in my collection, and want to add, it’s right at my fingertips!

@inkantadora uses hers to test different saturations of ink:

@kmkubo used the OVERSIZE for his 2019 Inktober effort!

How do you use your OVERSIZE? Drop us a comment below and let us know or tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #coloringoversize and show us. We’d love to see!

Paper Review: Plotter Inserts

Paper Review: Plotter Inserts

If you have been anywhere within shouting vicinity of me over the last couple of months, you’ll know that upon seeing the new Plotter products, I have been yelling, “It’s a fancy Filofax!”

As someone who never abandoned the allure of ring binders like Filofax, I am delighted to see that the planning trends have come full circle. When I started The Well-Appointed Desk, Filofax and its brethren were the go-to for paper planning. They were one of the few more flexible planning options available. Yes, discbound notebooks were also available but only through places like Levenger and were considered more as flexible notebooks than planner systems.

Then along came the Traveler’s Notebook and the spiral behemoths like Erin Condren and Happy Planners. As people continued to seek out flexibility and functionality, there was a bump in interest in discbound notebooks with the arrival of haute couture models from William Hannah. And now, with the arrival of the Plotter, the plannerverse has come back to ring planners. The Plotter offers high-end leather and the aesthetic minimalism of the Traveler’s notebook with the interior functionality of the Filofax.

I am glad that Plotter has come into the market with their version of the ring bound planner and inserts. I love the custom-ability of ring bound planners. The advantage that ring bound (and discbound) planners have over all the other is the ability to move pages, take pages out to work on them and add a variety of pages into the planner — the pages don’t even have to be the same size as the other sheets. Pages can be smaller or folded. All you need is a hole punch or binder punch to add in customized pages.

Comparing Sizes

While Filofax offers a slightly wider variety of sizes, the most common sizes for the binders and refills are the Pocket, Personal, A5. Plotter offers two very comparable sizes: the Bible size and A5. The Bible and the Personal are essentially the same size and the A5 options are as it says on the label, A5-sized. The Narrow size is a very slim paper refill and doesn’t have a comparable size via Filofax or other ring binder maker. So, if the Narrow binder appeals to you, you will very much be locked into Plotter’s refills and accessories unless it becomes a runaway success and other shops start making refills for this size.

The Binders

Plotter offers very slim, leather binders. The covers for the binders appear to be the same type of leather  as Traveler’s Notebooks. I was not ready to invest the money in these covers as I already own several Filofax-style binders. As a result of the slim design, the Plotter does not have pockets on the inside of the covers like most Filofax.

The rings on the Plotter planners are about 10mm. Filofax uses 11mm in their Personal Slim models but the average size rings are 23mm in the standard and 30mm in the A5. If you’re used to stuffing your planner, the Plotter binder will hold about 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of stuff you are used to. This is another reason I was not ready to drop coin on the Plotter binders. I don’t put a ton of stuff in my Filofax but I can quickly fill up the space with tab dividers and other miscellany. If you’ve already invested in a ring binder from another manufacturer, I recommend sticking with it before investing in the full Plotter set-up.

What does Plotter offer that other ring bound planners don’t?

The most noticeable features offered by Plotter is the paper and pre-printed pages available. Paper is listed as thin, strong, tear-resistant and fountain pen friendly. This is not a claim made by many other brands. Knowing that the parent company for Plotter also makes Midori paper and Traveler’s Notebooks, I excpect they really do make FP-friendly paper. Along with some good quality paper, some of the other insert options are minimal and very Japanese including very light 2mm grid paper, blank and drawing paper as well as the array of accessories available. There is also a more traditional 6mm lined option and 2022 monthly and weekly calendar options.

Plotter 2mm Grid inserts

Plotter 2mm Grid inserts
Plotter 2mm Grid Insert page compared to stock Filofax lined paper which probably have 5mm spacing. This is the best way to see just how light the grid is on the Plotter paper and how tiny that gird is.

The 2mm Grid Insert

The 2mm Grid Inserts (80 sheets Bible Size $6.20) are a soft ivory with a red rule at the top and very pale grey grid on the page. The paper is very smooth. What I discovered is that while the paper holds up well to fountain pens it was not at all good for rollerball or other liquid ink. I also found the paper to be too slick for ballpoint pen. Pencil performed pretty well on the paper despite the paper being quite smooth.

Plotter Drawing Paper & 2mm Grid inserts

The big surprise is that the paper is actually glue bound along the left edge into a pad. Most insert paper packs are loose sheets so this was a bit of a shock. If you choose to use the sheets as a pad and then insert them into the planner later, this may be an advantage but if you add blank pages to your binder to use as you go, you. will need to tear each sheet carefully from the glue edge. Plan accordingly.

Plotter 2mm Grid inserts

Plotter 2mm Grid inserts
Back of the 2mm grid paper. Some showthrough with the rollerball and liquid ink pens. The gel pens and fountain pens as well as the pencil do not show through.

What I like: I really like the super light grid printed on the pages, the little diagonal line in the upper lefthand corner that could be used for the date or page x of x is a nice touch. Some sheening was evident with fountain pen ink. Not Tomoe River-grade sheening but overall the paper kept the characteristics of the ink.

What I didn’t like: The paper seems engineered for fountain pen but at the expense of most other tools. Planners are the place where notes are often jotted with whatever tool is at hand so making the paper so specific is a challenge for me.

The Monthly Calendar Insert

The Monthly Schedule Refill 2022 (Bible Size $7.80) is printed on the same paper as the 2mm Grid Inserts. The text printed on the monthly inserts is in English for the day of the week but everything else is in Japanese.

Plotter Monthly Calendar
Monthly calendar with a custom page marker. The marker completely covers the month number on the page. Annoying.

What I Like: These inserts are super minimal to the point where I had to search for the month info. So if you want minimal distractions on your calendar, this is an interesting option.

What I didn’t like: For as much as I appreciate the subtlety of the calendar layout, putting the monthly date on the margin closest to the rings is an odd design choice. If you are thumbing through pages looking for, say, May, you need to open the page all the way to find the number “5”. Other calendar layouts keep the month information on the far left or right edge of the page so its visible as you thumb through the pages. I also hate when Saturday and Sunday are stacked in the same square. I can’t be the only person who does as much on the weekend as I do during the week?

The Drawing Paper Insert

The Drawing Paper Inserts (30 sheets Bible Size $7.00) feature a heavier weight paper with perforations along the left edge to be able to remove the ring hole part easily. There is no specific indication about the weight of the paper but I would compare it to sketchbook paper found in mixed media or multimedia sketchbooks. It’s thick like an index card stock but with a little bit of tooth and texture that would make it good for pencils.

The Drawing Paper Inserts also include the pre-printed diagonal line in the upper lefthand corner (on the left side of the perforation) to include a date. The brand name is also printed on the lefthand side of the perforation. Finally, the Drawing Paper Insert are also glue bound on the left edge like the 2mm Grid Insert.

What I like: The paper is good for pen and ink and pencils.

What I didn’t like:  The paper was not adequate for any sort of water-based media like brush pens or watercolor. Those tools bled through the paper immediately.

For the same price as a pad of the Drawing Paper Inserts, it would be just as easy to buy a small, multimedia sketchbook that could be cut down to fit into your planner and have two or three times as many sheets and know exactly what kind of paper you were getting.

Plotter Drawing Paper inserts
The back of the Drawing paper showing the brush pen bleedthrough. Clearly, this is “drawing” paper, not “painting” paper.

The Envelope Folder Set

The Envelope Folder (3 Assorted Colors Bible Size $12.50) was the most unusual item I purchased. The structure of the envelope folders are such that loose items like receipts, stamps and other ephemera can be tucked under the top and bottom flaps, then the folder is closed and secured under the envelope flap. I have used plastic zip pouches in my binder for years to contain various bits. The paper envelope has two benefits. The first is that its paper so it can be recycled when it wears out until the plastic pouches. And second, the paper provides privacy. If you are squirreling away a prescription, credit card or other document that you would prefer to keep private, the paper envelope folder could be a great solution.

The Envelope folder viewed from the back. Tine 2mm grid is printed on the back in white.

The Envelope Folder differs from the Project Manager Assortment. The Project Manager set is designed to wrap around a group of pages as an alternative to using tab dividers. The paper used in the Project Manager set is also lighter weight than the Envelope Folders.

Plotter USA Envelope Folderinserts
The Envelope Folder open.

What I like: As I mentioned above, I like the recyclability and privacy that the paper envelopes provide.

What I don’t like: The color selection of the three envelopes was developed to coordinate with the overall brand but I would have preferred an option for just neutrals or just brights. As it stands, I will probably use the grey-green one until it disintegrates and probably never use the bright yellow and orange.

Final Impressions:

I like that Plotter is bringing ringbound planning back to the forefront. Like discbound planners, ringbound systems offer a great deal of flexibility and customization. I am not sure that I will invest in more of the Plotter products with the exception of the lightweight paper pads used for the 2mm grid, lined and blank paper.  YMMV.


DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me and I was not compensated to write this review. Please see the About page for more details.