Link Love: For the love of bound books

Post of the week:

  • Beatrix (for the win!) and her excellent drawings of donuts and ice cream in her video review of the Baron Fig School Set.




Notebooks and Paper:


Other Interesting Things:

Preview: Baron Fig School Set

Preview: Baron Fig School Set

The latest limited release from Baron Fig in their Vanguard and Archer lines were meant to be together. They are the Archer Number 2 Pencil set ($15 for a dozen pencils) and the Vanguard Composition Notebook Set ($14 for 3-pack of notebooks), known together as the School Set ($26 for the set, 10% discount for purchasing them together).

The Number 2 pencils come in Baron Fig’s signature paperboard tube and, to date, are my favorite pencils that they’ve done. Many have already commented on the distinctly John Deere color combination of yellow and green but the classic yellow paint and the green dipped end cap is also reminiscent of Ticonderogas sans the pink eraser. This is probably the smoothest, best writing Archer pencil yet. It looks good and writes well so if you’ve held off getting a set of Archer pencils, this is the edition to try.

The Composition notebooks harken back to the classic school notebooks with three covers in the sponge-speckled designs in black, yellow and green with a faux tape edge. Inside are lined paper with blue lines and the double lined margin. I would have loved if one would have been graph, one lined and one blank but I can’t have everything.

Inside the back cover is an array of handy, dandy conversions and info just like old school composition notebooks.

The Composition notebooks do what I was hoping the COMP notebooks on Kickstarter would do which is to provide a better quality composition notebook experience. I hope that Baron Fig keeps the black Vanguards as part of their regular line-up in a variety of rulings because I think they would be quite popular. I also think that the improvements to the Archer Number 2 bodes well for the future of their pencil pursuits.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Baron Fig for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Notebook Review: Nuuna Journal

This year was my first year participating in Inktober and I wanted a new notebook to use, so I was thrilled when Ana offered me a Nuuna notebook for review.

Nuuna notebooks are produced by Brandbook which is a German Company. The notebooks feature fine Swedish paper with a very subtle light grey dot grid. The grid is pretty tiny; there are approximately 8 dots per inch (slightly more than 3mm). The pages are thread stitched together and then bound in fine materials; mine was a thick cardstock although there are leather bound versions as well.

This particular model is 16.5cm x 22cm (roughly 6 1/2″ x 8 3/4″, or slightly larger than the standard A5 size). The notebook contains a generous 256 pages of a thick 120g white Munken paper.

I was really impressed with this notebook. It felt substantial and the paper felt thick and lush, although it was quite smooth. Throughout the month of October I tested a variety of pens: fountain pens and inks, Marvy Le Pens, Papermate Ink Joy gel pens and a few others, and I also pulled out a water brush for some of my Inktober drawings.

When writing normally, the paper had no bleed-through and just a bit of ghosting on the backside.

On my drawings, which included heavier ink lines and sometimes water, there was some bleed-through, which is to be expected, but the paper held up really well. Water made it wrinkle slightly, but overall the book hasn’t expanded a lot. One of the things I liked best about this book is that other than the first few and last few pages, it laid open flat every time I went to write and draw. I didn’t need any extra props to hold it open in order to create, or to shoot photos.

I don’t see this exact design on the Nuuna website, but I did find a variety of graphic covers for anywhere from 14,90 € to 27,90 €, all of which seem reasonable prices for notebooks of this quality.


Ask The Desk: Adapting Lever Fillers, Leaky Gel Pens & More

Aaron asks:

Have you ever heard of adapting an old lever bladder filling pen into a converter set up?

I had a suspicion that making this sort of adaptation was not exactly possible but I reached out to Nibgrinder and pen expert Mark Bacas to get a bigger brain in on this and here’s what he had to say:

The likelihood of that being feasible is probably very small.

The nib units that most manufacturers use today (mostly from JoWo or Bock, both German companies) have a nipple on the back side of the nib unit where the converter attaches. Most (probably all) of the older style bladder filling pens will not have this.

So, if what you are trying to preserve is a vintage nib, you are better off finding a nib unit in a comparable size and finding someone who might be able to retrofit the nib into a modern nib unit with a modern feed and converter attachment rather than trying to save the whole unit. If you are trying to preserve the whole pen and nib, then you’ll have to learn to love those rubber sacs.

Or dip fill your pen. I dip a lot of my old Esterbrooks. The nib unit will suck up a good deal of ink just from the capillary action to allow me to write or draw for a half a page or more before I have to dip again. It’s far less disruptive than a classic dip pen, even if there’s no bladder in the pen at all. Then I just dip the pen in water to clean at the end of a writing session so I can use a different ink color the next time.

Mary reports:

I have recently had 2 gel pens totally leak out from the opposite of the point end. All the clear gel leaks out with all the ink. I have a lot of gel pens, markers, ball point, color pencils, all mediums, this is the 1st time this has happened. These particular pens are stored in there own container and I noticed the clear gel in the pen tube has separated a little and it’s attached to the sides inside of the tube.i feel all these pens will eventually do the same. my other gel pens I have, do not have this happening. Could it be Heat, pressure, falling down or simply a fluke
Thank you
This brand is CaseMate so it surprises me a bit.


This is definitely a unique situation. I have not used the CaseMate brand of gel pens but it is possible that heat, pressure or some other environmental factor caused the clear gel to shift thereby causing the gel ink to run out of the end of the pen. I had a few gel pens in a suitcase that went into the bulkhead of an airplane which caused some unfortunate results.

If anyone has any suggestions for Mary, please leave a note in the comments.

Marko asked:

Can you recommend a product that could hold a 5.4″ x 7.7″vanguard flagship and maybe a couple of pens? I asked Baron Fig and they didn’t have a recommendation.

As this question was posed a while back, I am happy to say that there is now a leather cover for the Vanguard called the Guardian. While it does not hold any pens, it does cover the notebook nicely and is available in six colors.

Alternately, Galen Leather makes a cover for the Confidant that will hold a pen, phone and iPad.

Review: NockCo Seed Case

Review: NockCo Seed Case

Everyone in the pen and planner community have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the NockCo Seed cases. Between the production delays and hurricanes, we had to wait as patiently as 8-year-olds going to Disney, which is to say not very patiently. But finally the A6 cases are here just in time for the arrival of the 2018 Hobonichi Techos.

NockCo made the A6 Seed case ($60) slim and low profile and available in two colors: steel with silver dust lining and iris (purple) with electric blue lining. The cases have sturdy zippers with two zips so they can be opened from either the top or the bottom. There is a slit pocket on the front to slide small ephemera.

Inside the front cover, there are two pen pockets as well as a secretary  pocket to hold the cover of your Hobonichi Techo or other A6- sized notebook.

In the back, is the corresponding secretary pocket for the back cover of your Hobonichi Techo or notebook  as well as a pocket for your business cards or a small stash of DotDash Petite Notecards.

What I discovered while test driving the Seed cases is that they work best in a minimal set-up with slim pens. I could use a Taroko writing board ($5.50) as it had no tab but not the stock Hobonichi Tools & Toys board ($4.50) as the tab caught on the zipper.

I thought I’d include some photos of the Seed cases with some other Hobonichi cases each with an A6 book in it, to show the size differences.

From top to bottom:

From the various views top, bottom and side, the Seed cases are considerably slimmer and lower profile than the Hobonichi covers. Compared with the traditional Hobonichi fabric cover, the Seed case does provide a zip closure, keeping everything contained. A lot of folks don’t like the pen loop closure on the standard cloth Hobonichi covers and NockCo definitely solves for that keeping your pens inside the case however, because the case is so slim, your pens need to be slim too. You will not be able to fit a 5-color gel pen into a Seed case and close it comfortably. I did get my 3-color Zebra Sharbo-X LT3 into the case with no problem. The Mermaid cover from Hobonichi also has a zip but not a two-way zip.

The Seed Case does not have a ribbon bookmark in the case as the Hobonichi covers do so you’ll have to solve for marking where you are in your notebook or Hobonichi on your own.

If you like to fill the inside pockets of your Hobonichi cover with stickers, washi tape and other bits of ephemera, than the NockCo Seed case is not going to be for you. The Seed Case is minimal and there’s not a lot of space to cram it full of extra paper, stickers and miscellany.

I found the Seed Case worked best with the Hobonichi Avec and the Weekly Calendar. It seemed the most spacious, especially after I’d used several pages and the spine had loosened up. I also quite liked the case with the ever-so-slightly smaller Enigma A6 Notebook. While the physical depth of the book was the same as a Hobonichi, the height was about 2mm shorter and gave a bit more wiggle room.

I was told that as the cases are used, the fabric will loosen up but the Seed cases are still much smaller overall than the “pockets galore” Hobonichi stock covers. If you’re looking for a cover that is more durable, utilitarian, washable (I have personal experience washing other NockCo cases and can attest to the washability) and low profile than the Hobonichi covers currently available, the Seed cover is a great option. Just know that if you stuff your Hobonichi so full that you can’t close the cover, the Seed might not be the right case for you.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by NockCo for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Friday Faves: Top Ten Fountain Pen Day Activities

  1. If you live near a pen shop, visit your local store. They will most likely be celebrating Fountain Pen Day in some way. If they are not, let them know about Fountain Pen Day and hopefully next year they will participate in this international celebration.
  2. Visit your favorite online shop. Or cruise down the side bar and visit all the shops that support The Well-Appointed Desk. Every single shop is offering discounts, specials and sales on items in honor of Fountain Pen Day. This is your chance to purchase that pen, ink or notebook you’ve had your eye on. Or maybe pick up a pen to finally convince your friend or loved one that fountain pens are as awesome as your think they are.
  3. Check out the hashtags on Instagram #fountainpenday and #fountainpenday2017. Many bloggers and shops are offering giveaways on Instagram not to mention showing off their FPD finery. Share in all the celebrations and post your own photos with these hashtags.
  4. If you are in the Columbus area or can swing it, go visit the Ohio Pen Show which is THIS WEEKEND! What luck that it coincides with FPD. If you can’t make it to the pen show, start planning for 2018 and what pen show you can visit. Nothing solidifies the love of fountain pens and the fountain pen community quite like a 3-day weekend of pen show mania.
  5. Listen to or watch some pen-related podcasts like The Pen Addict, Pen Habit, Inkdependence, Figboots on Pens, SBRE Brown, Gourmet Pens: Serious Nibbage , The Nib Section, R.S.V.P., and Anderson Pens. There are so many more but these will certainly be a good gateway to get you started.
  6. Subscribe to the newsletters from your favorite online shops. You’ll find out when they are having sales, when new products arrive and other important information. This is the one time when you actually want the newsletter. I promise. Especially with the holidays coming up and family members asking what you want as a gift. You can actually forward the newsletter, from the shop you want them to purchase the item or a gift card.
  7. Write with your fountain pens. Write a letter to a friend, your grandma or finally write that thank you note.
  8. Set up your 2018 planner or Bullet Journal. Go on… you know you want to!
  9. Introduce your friends, family or co-workers to fountain pens. Maybe have a couple or your starter pens you’d be willing to pass along to them if they take a liking to fountain pens. Spread the love!
  10. Clean those fountain pens that have been languishing. Re-ink them with your favorite inks and take them out for a spin!

Planner Review: Kokuyo Jibun Techo B6 Slim 2018 Planner

Planner Review: Kokuyo Jibun Techo B6 Slim 2018 Planner

The Kokuyo Jibun Techo is taking the planner world by storm. this year. It seems like it popped up into the community overnight but it seems to have been a slow build over the last year that has blossomed making the 2018 Jibun Techo THE planner to get this year. If you are unfamiliar with the Jibun Techo, it comes in a B6 Slim, an A5 Slim and a Biz version in the A5 Slim or B6 Slim. The Slim connotation essentially means that the sizing doesn’t fit the standard dimensions of A5 or B6. The regular editions have a very graphic, almost futuristic styling while the Biz edition has a more sedate styling.

There are two ways to purchase the standard edition: as a 3-book set with a LIFE book, an IDEA book, and the 2018 planner or as the individual components.

I got the Mini B6 Slim 2018 planner in Green. Since the entire system is in Japanese, the LIFE book ($10 purchased separately), which is designed to be a book that moves from one year to the next (and has all the details written in Japanese) I decided it wasn’t really going to be all that useful for me. There are dozens of videos on YouTube of other people flipping through it, trying to discern the purpose of each page if you’re curious about the LIFE book. The 3-book system also includes the IDEA books (pack of 2 for $9.10) which are blank books like Traveler’s notebook inserts for lists, to do’s and additional information. These are easily purchased separately so if I decided to add these, I could. However, I have several Hobonichi Techos that I plan to use in 2018, so I decided that I did not need the IDEA books right now, so I skipped on the 3-book set. If you are diving into this system, you might find the 3-book version more flexible and a lot of people are taken with the LIFE book.

SIDE NOTE: I’ll have reviews and details about my Hobonichis and covers and how I’ll be using them in the next couple weeks. I will also have a guest review about the Jibun Techo Biz A5 Slim coming soon.

The Jibun Techo comes with a flexible plastic cover that has a pocket on the front that runs horizontal and a pocket on the back that runs vertical for sliding papers or ephemera. Unlike the cover-on-cover from Hobonichi, the Jibun cover is included with the planner purchase and is a matte finish rather than shiny. Inside are three business card slots and vertical secretary pockets both front and back. Additional plastic sleeve pockets can be purchased if you want more room to tuck papers and ephemera into your cover.  The plastic cover can be removed completely.

If you remove the cover, you’ll discover that the paper cover stamped with the date is a simple paper wrap. It’s not cardstock. This is probably a good bit of information to know since there are not a ton of color covers to choose from. If you are even slightest bit DIY, you can easily make a new cover by measuring the existing cover and cutting paper to the same size. I have not done this yet but I did tuck a postcard from Uppercase, trimmed down a bit, into the front pocket as a bit of embellishment.

Underneath this wrap  is the actual book cover which is a stiff cream cover with a thread tape binding like a Midori notebook.

The first thing to note is that the paper in the Jibun Techo is definitely Tomoe River. What weight it is, I’m not exactly sure but it is good quality, fountain pen friendly paper with a dashed grid design on the pages and a warm white color.

The squares are a mere 3mm though so you had better be prepared to get out your XF or EXF pens. I included a regular pencil in the photos above for scale but I didn’t dare try to write in the spaces with one. If you ever wanted to try an 0.3mm mechanical pencil, this would be the planner for it.

The one upgrade or accessory I did add to the Jibun Techo was the writing board (I bought mine from Wonder Fair in Lawrence, KS for $11). It doubles as a “today” page marker and creates a smooth, firm writing surface. It also prevents indentations from passing to the next page due to pressing too hard on the lightweight Tomoe River paper. In a pinch, it can be a blotter card as well. One side is solid dark grey with a ruler down one side and the other side is the same dark grey with light grey dotted grid with the ruler down the edge. I cannot actually see the grid through the planner paper so it doesn’t really matter which side is facing up or down. The tab is light grey on one side and sky blue on the other.

The Jibun Techo planner has two slim ribbon bookmarks which are not sealed on the ends so I immediately dipped the ends in white glue (like Elmer’s school glue) to seal the ends to keep them from fraying. It makes them a bit stiff when I do this but I don’t like the shredded look of frayed ends. Its a pet peeve.

Now let’s get into the actual planner part of the planner…

Inside is a “How-To Use the Jibun Techo”, written in both English and Japanese but the details are in Japanese. I immediately grasped the 4-year calendar, yearly schedule, some of the lists and plans and so forth but the Age Chart, Promise List and My Dream are still a little befuddling.

I’m assuming the My Dream is like a Bucket List? And I get some of the Age List but not all of it. If someone can explain what a Promise List is for or how it differs from a to-do list, please let me know.

The page shown above is what is listed as the Monthly Project but what a lot of people are seeing as a great place for habit tracking. There is space for several different things (even using 2 lines you could fit 12 activities each month) and include doing it twice like going for a walk, taking medicine, or brushing your teeth. If the only thing you want to track is drinking 8 glasses of water a day, you can just take up a whole chunk of space for that. It depends on how granular you want to get about your life.

So, on to the core of the planner! First, is the monthly calendars which feature big, blocky numbers that remind me of playing the video game Wipeout. Next to each day is a face indicating happy, neutral or sad so you can track your mood each day. The monthly calendar is set up with Monday starts and Saturday and Sunday on the far right which might be different for some Americans but is common for European and Asian planners and is consistent with the rest of the planner.

Next, the biggest part of the planner, the Weekly pages:

Towards the front of the planner is a “Weekly Plan” page. You can use this as a test page or if you like to have baseline plane for your week, you can outline it here. I’m going to use this page to describe the basic page layout.

On the far left is a column for to-do’s. Every other line has a check box. I use the space to divide up between work to-do’s, personal, shopping, bills, etc. The space allows me to draw a line between them and clump them together. The rest of the page is the seven days of the week, equally divided, starting with Monday and going to Sunday in vertical columns. The columns are full 24 hours so you can account for your sleep, evening activities as well as your daily schedule or if you are someone who works nights, evenings of weekends, you can actually schedule all of that in easily. At the bottom is space for additional notes, the same face icons to document your mood, sun icons to document sunrise and sunset (I’m guessing here)  and a star at the bottom for your most important to-do of the day (again I’m guessing but you could assign a purpose to it). At the very top of each day, below the date is weather icons to document the day’s weather and space for marking a special event .

Did I mention that the Jibun Techo planner start on November 1, 2017? Okay, big news! I got to start using it this week so I am just getting my feet wet this week. you are seeing my real world use of it thus far. I haven’t gotten to inputting my sleep schedule or the weather but using it for my actual work and meetings and to-do’s is really effective. I always think I’m not going to like the vertical layout calendars but I love it. I like seeing how much time I have between meetings to actually work. The calendar has the time in 24-hour which is taking some getting used to since no one in the US outside the military actually uses 24-hour time. So when I get a meeting invite, I have to translate the “meeting from 2:30pm – 3:30pm” into “14:30-15:30” and put it into my Jibun Techo.

The dark dots on the weekly pages relate to the sunrise and sunset times in Japan, according to some of the videos I watched on YouTube… if you were curious.

Finally, in the back of the planner are some information pages like subway maps of major cities in Japan, time differences, a personal data page and an information page for Jibun Techo on Facebook and Twitter from Kokuyo.

I’m really happy with the B6 Slim Jibun Techo thus far. Its definitely way more function-based than the Hobonichi. The Hobonichi is very open-ended and can be very intimidating for a lot of people. The Jibun Techo has a lot of very defined spaces but those can be customized to individual needs and purposes. With just the planner, the Jibun Techo is super small and compact. It has the option to be super granular if you want it to be plus the paper is fountain pen friendly. However, be prepared to write REALLY SMALL.

Where the Hobonichi is basically a cult at this point, the Jibun Techo has the chance to be whatever you want it to be. It could be a planner that helps you stay organized or the next planner cult. You get to choose. And because the Jibun Techo starts in November, you can start using it right now!

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.