Link Love: Notebookish

Link Love:  Notebookish

As I am madly packing for the DC Supershow, this week seems to be about notebooks. I love having a good notebook for a pen show so that I can try pens from friends and inks, both purchased and from the ink table. There are some interesting articles in the Notebooks & Paper section listed below as well as the Arteza Sketchbook in Art & Creativity section.

If you can’t find just the right notebook, you can always grab a Col-o-ring Oversize ($15 each) at the Vanness Pen Shop table at the show, starting Friday morning. We will have a small stash of them available there for show attendees! You can still order one directly from our shop if you are not attending the show.

Even if you don’t buy an Oversize, stop by the table and say hello or come by the bar in the evening and show us what notebook you are using.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Mattel Bowie Barbie

Other Interesting Things:

Planners: Where are they now?

Review by Laura Cameron

At this point we’re more than halfway through the year and we’re on the precipice of ordering 2020 planners, so I thought I’d take a quick look back at the planners and organizers I’ve reviewed in the last year or so and which ones are working for me, and which ones I haven’t used. I should say that even if I haven’t used a planner it doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it (I’ll be specific about that if it’s the case), but in general it just means that the planner didn’t work for my routines.

Let’s start with the ones I can’t live without.

  1. Desk Calendar Weekly Planner from Ruff House Art (review)

Far and away the best planner I found in the last 12 months in terms of what works for me is the Desk Calendar Weekly Planner from Ruff House Art. The calendar is 6.5″ tall by 12″ wide, and contains 54 weekly pages that are undated – you can add your own dates and use as you wish. I find that this is the perfect calendar to keep at my desk right next to my keyboard. I can jot down notes during calls, make my daily work to do lists and flip over the current page and write on the back of it if I need more space. The paper isn’t 100% fountain pen friendly, but since the pages are only intended for 1-side use, I use whatever fountain pen I have handy and don’t worry about any bleed through or ghosting. I only have a few pages left, so I just placed an order for another one. If that isn’t a sure sign this is the right one for me, I don’t know what is!

  1. Rhodia Goalbook (review)

The Rhodia Goalbook isn’t a planner per se, but it’s perfect for a list maker like me. I keep my events on my desk calendar, but when I need to make a to do list that is a huge brain dump, Rhodia is my jam. The Goalbook measures 5.8″ by 8.3″ (14.8 cm x 21 cm) and contains 120 dot-grid numbered pages and lives in my purse (you can see it’s a bit worse for wear). I don’t leave home without it and I’m constantly adding things to it that I need to remember (as I get older I find things fall out of my head more, eh?). I can’t guarantee this one will work for everyone, but this one is my favorite way to keep track of things.

Now let’s look on the books I reviewed that didn’t quite work for me.

  1. The Knitting Planner 2019 (review)

I was super excited to see this entrant to the planner world, a planner geared towards knitters. I did fill out the first section of the book and tried to use it, but I found it just didn’t work well for me. First, I didn’t need to track my daily work to-dos because I already had the desk calendar, so this felt like a duplication of effort for me. I did really like the 2-page full month spreads for a month-at-a-glance view, but it seemed like a big book to carry around for just those. I had also intended to do more knitting design this year, so I thought the project pages would be a big help. However, the way the year worked out I have mostly been doing sample knitting for other designers, so I haven’t had a chance to make use of those features. Overall, I still think it’s a great book, but it just didn’t fit my daily planning needs.

  1. Saint Belford Curation Diary 2019 (review)

When I received the Saint Belford Curation Diary 2019 I was super impressed with the production quality and details that had been included. I have a lot of anxiety, and I was hoping that a diary devoted to self care and practicing good habits would be a good fit for me. I think I didn’t use this diary much for a few reasons. First it’s hard cover book and a bit heavy and bulky to throw in my purse each day (6.25″ x 8.5″ (16cm x 21.5cm) and approximately 1lb, 4oz. (520g)). Again, I did like the organization of the book which includes both monthly and weekly spreads, but I found it duplicative of some of the other planners I was using, so I didn’t keep up with this book. In 2020, I might take a closer look at this book and see what elements of self-care I could add to the systems that already work for me. I still think it’s a gorgeous book and might work for a lot of people.

  1. MYO String Tie Planner and Midori A5 Color Paper Notebooks (review)

This one falls into the category of not quite a planner, but a system I tried to employ this year. Ana gave me a lovely MYO String Tie Planner from MochiThings at the end of last year and I attempted to fill it with beautiful notebooks (Midori A5 Color Paper Notebooks) to replace my haphazard brain dump lists in the Rhodia Goalbook. I had hoped to maybe segment my lists (i.e. work, home, craft) into different colored notebooks in an attempt to get more organized. This one failed miserably. I found that I stuffed the planner cover full of notebooks which made it too big and bulky to carry with me everywhere, so I never really used it to its full advantage. Given that this one is undated though, I still hope to work these beautiful materials into my 2020.

  1. Compoco Airplane View Journal (review)

This one also falls into the category of not a planner, but I added it to the stack of things I meant to use this year but haven’t. This beautiful journal from Compoco is perfect for documenting your travels to exotic places. I meant to take it with me to Ireland when I went earlier this summer, but I ended up voting against it because it was a running trip and we were hauling gear everywhere. I was too exhausted at the end of each day to think about writing and there weren’t as many ticket stubs and items that I wanted to keep in memory. But I’m saving it for the day I take another trip.

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.

Fountain Pen Review: Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Co Pygmy Invasion Pen

Fountain Pen Review: Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Co Pygmy Invasion Pen

Hippo Noto created some special add-ons and collaborations for the pre-order period for the latest phase of their Hippo Noto notebooks.  Along with new notebooks in A5 an B6 size and a new Robert Oster ink color, there is also a limited edition fountain pen collaboration with the Herbert Pen Company: the Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Co Pygmy Invasion Pen ($345). These pens are an unusual combination of sparkly colors inspired by the colors of the Hippo Noto notebooks. There are just 32 of these pens available.

Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Company Pygmy Invasion Pen!

The material used to create these pens is Diamond Cast which means the glitter effect is the result of actual diamond particles in the resin. So, not only is the color a combination of vivid fuchsia, turquoise and dark grey, but it’s full of diamonds.

Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Company Pygmy Invasion Pen!

(The Pygmy Invasion pen was hanging out with my original Hippo Noto A6.)

Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Company Pygmy Invasion Pen!

It’s a bit ridiculous to post this pen as it’s 6.75″ long posted. If your hands are very big, then posting it may be useful. For me, it makes the pen back heavy. Unposted, it’s 5.125″ and capped it’s 5.875″ which is manageable.

Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Company Pygmy Invasion Pen size comparison

Here’s a size comparison photo: from left to right: Sailor ProGear Slim, Parker 51, Opus 88 Koloro , Leonardo Momento Zero, Hippo x Herbert Pen Co. Pygmy Invasion, Platinum 3776, Lamy AL-Star, Sailor Pro Color (different model).

The Pygmy Invasion is notably larger in diameter and length than many of the pens in my collection. It’s even bigger than the Leonardo which I thought would be comparable in size.

Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Company Pygmy Invasion Pen size comparison

As you can see in the photo above, when posted, the only other pen that is similar in length is the Lamy AL-Star which is similarly weighted.

The Pygmy Invasion weighs 13gms uncapped and 22gms capped or posted and filled. So, even though it’s a big pen, it’s not particularly heavy.

pen weight comparison chart

Hippo Noto x Herbert Pen Company Pygmy Invasion Pen writing sample

The model I tested had a 1.5mm stub nib on it. I don’t normally use a nib this broad but it was kind of fun to experiment with something this broad. The pen takes a standard #6 Jowo nib so you can easily switch out the nib for something that might be customized by your favorite nib doctor.

Some of the 32 pens available have already been claimed so if this is a pen you want, I wouldn’t hesitate. I’ll be returning this pen to Herbert Pen Company at the DC Supershow so if you want to see it in person, I recommend swinging by his table to see it.

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

Ask the Desk: Danish Time Manager & Water Erasable Fountain Pen Ink

I have had several people ask me about the Danish Time Manager planners recently. It’s been brought to my attention that they will no longer going to be manufacturing their inserts for their A5-sized planners.

Hello For 30 years I have used an A5 Time Manager shipped from Denmark for my diary. I am devastated that they cease trading at the end of 2019. I am looking for A5 diary pages to replace the the Time Manager ones. I have looked at Filofax and whilst they do an A5 version the holes are wrongly spaced for my A5 binder. However, the holes of the Filofax smaller size are spaced correctly. It would be a compromise for me to switch from A5 to this smaller size. I would like to know if there is a company which produces A5 pages with 4 hole ring binder where the holes are spaced like this : Hole 1.5 inches Hole 2 inches Hole 1.5 inches Hole 0————————0————————————0———————0 (Not to scale) Can you help? Julie

There was also a comment in one of the planner posts (I don’t remember which one. My apologies!) about this as well. So,  my best advice is:

Agendio inserts

My best advice would be to try Agendio customizable planner inserts. The advantage of Agendio inserts is that you can order them without the holes punched and then take the pages to a local copy shop and have them punch the holes for you. Just remember to save a page from your old inserts as a guide for placement and size.

Most copy shops will punch holes for a few dollars/pounds/euros and then your inserts should fit perfectly. If you would prefer to punch the holes yourself, there are hole punches available on Amazon with adjustable hole placement. This Officemate Adjustable Hole Punch (90070) can be adjusted from 2-7 holes for about $19.

Alternately, you can print your own pages. Etsy is filled with printable options for planner pages or you can download free inserts from Philofaxy and then punch the holes yourself or take them to a copy shop and have them punch them.

Hashini asks:

Do you know of any water erasable fountain pen inks that will just wipe off, if i tried to wipe them off with a wet cloth. Something like the Pliot Frixon pens. The reason is, i have been wanting to buy one of the reusable notebooks. I write a lot and am very environment conscious. Using as much plastic as the Frixon pens for this purpose seems a waste. I want to make it more sustainable and use a fountain pen in conjuncture with either the Rocketbook Everlast notebook or the Elfinbook which is made of stone paper.

Oh, this seems like such a great idea on so many levels but then there are also so many ways that make it not as great as it sounds.

Where to start? First, stone paper is not as environmentally friendly as it may sound. Some folks have also had issues with potential damage to fountain pen nibs, particularly gold nibs because the surface of the stone paper can act as a “smoothing stone” and gold nibs are generally softer than steel nibs. Long term use of stone paper can continue to “smooth” your nib in ways that you may not like.

As for the Pilot Frixion pens, it is possible to purchase a pen body and just replace the refill which will cut down on the overall waste. An example would be the standard 0.7mm gel refill which, according to JetPens site can be used in 200 different products found on their site alone.

The Rocketbook Everlast books use polyester paper (so it’s still synthetic material) that you can write on and wipe off like a dry erase board. However, this will allow you to combine it with a pen like the Pilot Frixion or potentially (and I say potentially because we have not tested this out) or something like the Noodler’s Watererase ink in a refillable marker like a Platinum Preppy Highlighter (which accepts Platinum cartridges or converters) that could be filled with the Noodler’s Watererase/Waterease ink. On traditional paper Noodler’s Watererase/Waterease is listed as permanent so results on Everlast paper could be mixed..

In the end, all of this seems like a lot of work to find a “paperless” solution. Depending on how long you plan on keeping your notebooks, keeping paper may be an easier task than maintaining digital storage solutions (when factoring in cloud storage fees, changing formats, etc). Especially since paper can be recycled and a good pen with refillable refills, cartridges or bottled ink limits overall environmental impact.

Some paper (like Tomoe River) is made from bamboo, other is made from sugar cane or cotton. All of these are renewable sources and not likely to create environmental issue. If purchasing paper made from wood pulp, be sure it’s FSC-certified which means it’s sustainably grown and harvested.

Fashionable Friday: Camp Out

Fashionable Friday: Camp Out

I am pretending to be camping this week. In actuality, I would be eaten alive by insects, burned to a crisp by the sun, and die of an asthma attack from the smoke of a campfire. So, I am pretending I’m outdoorsy. Maybe I can fill a cute backpack with a fun notebook and pen and walk on our trail with a big floppy hat, lots of bug spray and sunblock to my favorite local coffee shop instead? I’ll get a s’mores brownie. Then I’ll write of my imaginary adventures and knit for awhile. What imaginary adventures will you embark on this week?

  • Doughnut Macaroon Standard Backpack in Brick $80 (via JetPens)
  • Elum Designs Exposed Binding Woodgrain Journal $16 (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Diamine Shimmer-tastic Firefly Fountain Pen Ink, $20 for 50ml bottle (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Caran d’Ache 849 Nespresso Ballpoint Pen in India Green $45.90 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Edison Pearlette Fountain Pen in Sonoran Sunset with 18K Gold Fine Point $299 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Lamy Studio Olive Fountain Special Edition $89 (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Coleman Stand-up Pen Case $40 (via NockCo)
  • Ystudio Classic Pen Case €86.78 (via Appelboom)
  • Kaweco Liliput Mini Fountain Pen in Fireblue – Fine Point $180 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Pineider Pen Filler Inkwell $20 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Camp Karas “Write Outside” Notebook $2.75 each (via Karas Pen Co)
  • Robert Oster Signature Fountain Pen Ink in Dark Chocolate, €13.64 for 50ml bottle (via Appelboom)
  • Fine Writing Golden Armor Brass fountain pen €115, (via Fontoplumo)
  • Montblanc Petit Prince Sand of the desert brown Fountain Pen Ink, €35.60 for 50ml bottle (via Fontoplumo)
  • Yamakoshi Paperable Watermelon Memo Block $6.75 (via JetPens)
  • Field Notes National Parks Edition, $12.95 per 3-Pack, 3 different options available (via Field Notes)

Fountain Pen Review: Pelikan Violet & White

Fountain Pen Review: Pelikan Violet & White

By Jessica Coles

Earlier this year, Pelikan announced the newest special edition: the Pelikan Violet & White M600 ($440-$535). As soon as I saw the photos of this pen, I fell in love with it and I wasn’t alone. Purple seems to be an especially rare color in the pen world.

So far, I have only given into the less expensive, smaller Pelikan models in the 200 and 400 sizes; I didn’t feel the need for a larger pen since I typically reach for small pens. The Pelikan M600 is not much different than the M400 in length (M400 is 127mm long while the M600 is 134 mm long) nor in diameter (M400 is 11.7mm and the M600 is 12.4mm) but for my small hands, I always thought the jump was a big one. As a quick reference, a Lamy Safari is 139mm in length and 13.8mm in diameter.

The weight of the M600 is a bit over 17gms, placing it among the lighter pens in our common pen chart.

pen weight comparison chart

But. Purple. Not “purple” that is actually deep blue. The Pelikan Violet & White comes in a striking box that appears laced up the front that gives an air of elegance in the presentation. Rather than the laces closing the box, they are only for show; the box has covered magnets in the flaps and opens to reveal the pen held in place with another ribbon.

The Pelikan Violet & White edition brings to mind (at least to me) Victorian, striped silk in a parlor or perhaps fancy, striped candy. I have heard a few comments that the gold trim was a disappointment, but personally, I think the color combination is perfect. The two-tone, 14kt gold nib keeps the gold trim in check.

Like I said earlier, I usually reach for smaller pens. However, the M600 felt like a refreshing change; the fact that I refuse to post such a beautiful pen helps keep the length reasonable for me. The uncapped pen feels perfectly weighted to me and is light, great for long writing sessions.

One thing I appreciate about Pelikan pens – every Pelikan feels familiar as soon as I pick it up. Well-made pieces that endure through the years, only getting better with age. I love the classic black-and-green stripes that Pelikan has historically used and the Violet & White echos that tradition. The new violet color seems less an expression of popular colors than simply adding another classic color combination to an extensive lineup. I’m quite happy that Pelikan decided to add such a beautiful pen to their ever-growing flock.

Etched into the end cap is the brand’s namesake pelican and a single chick.

A closeup of the barrel of the Violet & White shows that the barrel is not translucent like many of the striped Pelikan pens. That does mean that there is no visual cues to the level of your ink; I enjoy both versions of ink appearance, but I do think it would have been handy in this case. However, that also means the distraction of ink level does not take aways from the overall look of the pen.

One decision I had to make was where I would purchase the Violet & White edition once it was released. Having purchased a gold nib Pelikan before, I knew I would want the nib altered. I love Pelikan’s fine and extra-fine nibs (Pelikan, being a German company, has nibs that run broader than Japanese nibs), but for my lovely purple Pelikan I wanted something different. Dan Smith (or Nibsmith) offers specialty nib grinds for pens purchased through him. Dan ground a lovely cursive italic for me from a Pelikan medium nib. It is lovely enough that I need a second review just for the nib – watch for part two next week!

Pelikan selected a two-tone gold nib for this edition and the 14k gold gives a touch of softness to the writing feel. It is a pleasure to write with any of their gold nibs, but there’s nothing quite as nice in my mind as a crisp italic nib and the medium nib was perfect base to create the italic nib. It give my writing a bit of line variation without feeling cramped. Again, please watch for the nib review next week.

As I said earlier in the review, purple is a rare color in the pen world. The Pelikan Violet & White is a perfect addition to those occasional purple special editions and I’m very pleased with how Pelikan has chosen to create this pen. Even though the price on the M600 is steep, my experience with Pelikan pens tells me that each pen ages beautifully and keeps its value over time.

I have never regretted a Pelikan purchase and this is one that I am absolutely going to add to my collection and keep in everyday rotation. Modern gold nibs pens start around $150 but typically cost $250 to $300. Is the Pelikan Violet & White worth twice as much as other gold nib pens on the market? Because of the luxurious look and feel of the purple, white and gold combination, along with knowing the performance and durability of Pelikan pens, I think it is well worth the money. This is a pen that I hope to pass down to my children and grandchildren one day. Especially if one has an eye for purple.

Disclaimer: Some of the items in this review were provided on loan for the purpose of this review. Other items in this review were purchased by me.  For more information, visit our About page.

Eye Candy: Colorverse First Moon Landing Ink Set

Eye Candy: Colorverse First Moon Landing Ink Set

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the safe return of our intrepid travelers: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, it seemed only appropriate to post this Eye Candy unboxing of the Colorverse First Moon Landing Ink Set ($100).

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

Once again, Colorverse did a spectacular job with the packaging and presentation of this set. They included drawings on the box of the revolutions around the moon of the LEM and the Command Module (CSM) as well as the famous quote “… the Eagle has landed” on the top of the box.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

Hidden on the closure flap is distance traveled from the earth to the moon.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

On the inside of the box are diagrams of the various stages of the Saturn V rocket, Apollo 11, the CSM (Command Module AKA Columbia) and the LEM (Lunar Module AKA Eagle).

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

On the box flaps is a photo of the moon surface with points indicating where Tranquility Base is located, the date and various points where the two astronauts visited. On the right hand flap is the quote from President John F. Kennedy that to the fateful moment in 1969 that we are commemorating.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

There are more beautiful photos inside the flaps of earth, the LEM and more.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

As always, Colorverse includes a set of stickers and a napkin with the inks.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

The First Moon Landing set comes with a numbered card since this set is limited to just 1969 sets. An appropriate number, I think.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

Once all the packaging is finally removed to reveal the contents, the first layer of 15ml bottles of inks can be seen. Three bottles are on the top layer plus the metal pen rest with the moon boot tread mark. This tray lifts out to reveal the fourth 15ml bottle and the larger 65ml bottle.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

Here are all five bottles together plus the pen rest. The bottles feature a raised, dome-shaped, enamel-like sticker with the name of the color on it rather than the standard glossy paper sticker found on the regular inks.

The ink colors are appropriately named Eagle, Columbia, Tranquillty Base, One Small Step and Apollo 11. Apollo 11 is the 65ml bottle while the other colors are the smaller 15ml sized. All the inks are standard water soluble colors. None of the colors are metallics.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

The four 15ml colors are a medium grey, a turquoise, a green and an almost fluorescent red. I think the grey is amazing. It’s not too dark or too light. One Small Step is a cool grey. Eagle is a gorgeous aqua. I keep thinking its reminiscent of a color on some part of the NASA insignia but I can’t put my finger on where or what would make me think so. Maybe the worm logo?

The aqua and blue echo the colors of earth seen from space. The red is the other NASA logo color and the grey is the color of the moon’s surface? Does that sound plausible?

They are all really pretty colors and I wish they were much bigger bottles.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

The large 65ml blue is an almost exact match for the NASA meatball blue.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

My instinct was to compare Apollo 11 to the Colorverse Saturn V ink (of course) and Parker Quink Blue-Black (the other steely-eyed missile man ink). Amazingly, there is still a difference in the colors. Apollo 11 is a tiny bit more violet but not as much as Purple Rock. And the Blue-Black inks were all too black, as demonstrated by the Parker Quink and Diamine 150th and they were the least black.

Colorverse First Moon Landing Set

In order from top to bottom: Oster Purple Rock, Colorverse Apollo 11, Colorverse Saturn V, Diamine 150th Anniversary Blue-Black, Parker Quink Blue-Black.

Can you see the subtle differences? I realize they look slight on screen (and maybe not at all depending on screen brightness and calibration) but there is a noticeable difference in person.

Can I  justify a purchase like this? I did some janky math and determined that the average Colorverse ink costs about $0.45 per ml assuming each regular set is a total of 80ml for $36. So, with that rationale, the 60ml bottle costs $29.25 and each 15ml bottle costs $6.75 making the ink costs for the First Moon Landing set $56.75. Add in another $5-10 for the metal pen rest and fancy extras and the set should come in at about $66, not $100. Ouch.

Even with the deluxe packaging and attention to detail, the premium price is a bit much to swallow, even for an ultrafan like myself. I still love my set and I’m glad I purchased it. I did the above math in hopes of proving to myself that price was not that exorbitant. Sadly, I only proved to myself that, despite fabulous packaging and attention to detail, it was worth it. However, I don’t think it was worth the extra $34 of good packaging. Unless that pen rest was solid gold.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased with my own money. All opinions are my own. Please see the About page for more details.