Notebook Review: Nuuna Inspiration Mood Book

Notebook Review: Nuuna Inspiration Mood Book

Finding a truly unusual notebook is a bit of a feat for me these days so when I stumbled across the Nuuna notebooks at Vanness Pen Shop a couple weeks ago, I was blown away at the innovation and playfulness. I decided to try the Nuuna Inspiration Mood Notebook ($34). It’s 13cm x 19cm (roughly 5″ x 7.5″) with heavyweight cardstock covers printed with a spray paint-style white design on the cover. It looks like a silkscreen print as the white ink feels tactile and very opaque.

Nuuna Mood Notebook sample pages

While there are not a lot of the accoutrements normally expected with the modern notebook like a back pocket for ephemera or ribbon bookmark, the Nuuna Mood notebook is special in its own way.

Inside is where the magic happens. The pages are printed in an array of undulating hues like skyscapes. Each two page spread looks like a horizon line of some sort to me. It’s like looking out on a foggy morning or staring up at the sky as the sun sets. Maybe you see the shoreline on a foggy day? Whatever the softly shifting colors evoke, you are bound to be inspired to pick this book up just to thumb through the array of colors.

writing tools used in notebook test

I decided to run the paper through a whole variety of pen and pencil tools to see how it performed. This is definitely the kind of notebook that would be fun to experiment with not just regular pens but brush pens, colored pencils, markers and other tools. I wanted to try them all.

Nuuna Mood notebook writing sample

And now for the pen worthiness of this paper. I’m delighted to say that, even with the heavy application of ink to create the “moods,” I didn’t have many issues using the paper. Yes, it’s a bit more absorbent than other papers that might be more specifically designed for fountain pens but there was bound to be a trade-off for the magical color. There was some bleed through with wetter inks and heavier coverage but I plan to set aside a few pages in the back for testing pens as I go along so that I can keep the front of the book looking good and make a mess in the back.

Nuuna Mood notebook writing sample reverse

This is the reverse of my test page and it really didn’t show through much. In person, I can see a little bit more. I just happened to luck out and the Aurora Flex nib pen landed right where the darkest printing is on the reverse side so it obscured the tiny dots of showthrough. There are a few dots further up the page where I was using the wet deAtramentis in my Pilot Decimo. You may be able to see the dots just to the right of the spine in the light blue area at the top of the page. Overall though, the paper handled the pens quite well.

Nuuna Mood notebook super ink test

To push my luck, I pulled out some folded nib dip pens and really ladled the ink onto the paper. It definitely blobbed and bled at this volume of application. I think the bleeding had as much to do with my over-enthusiastic folded pen as it did for the paper.

Nuuna Mood notebook super ink test reverse side

As expected.  you can see the writing through onto the reverse side of the paper in bloops and blobs. Considering the size and volume, I don’t see as much as I thought I would.

Overall, this notebook is a lot of fun to use and it definitely brightens my spirits. I am looking forward to some creative experiments like adding various brush pens, opaque gel pens and other unique tools that don’t often get used in my collection.

Even if you only intend to jot notes, this would definitely make a budget meeting more pleasant.

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

Paper Review: Life Typewriter Paper

Paper Review: Life Typewriter Paper

While I was in Little Rock for the pen show, I couldn’t resist picking up a pad of Life Typewriting Paper. It is not everyday in 2019 that you find paper specific to typewriting at your favorite pen and stationery shop so how could I pass it up?

Life Typewriter Paper

The Life Typewriting Paper ($10) is A4 sized sheets in a 50 sheet top bound pad. The paper is a warm white. It’s not ivory or cream colored but its not a bright, arctic white either. The paper is also quite thin. It’s similar in weight to some of the Tomoe River paper or airmail paper.

Like a good typist, I inserted two sheets in my typewriters to protect my platens and tested the paper with four of my typewriters: three manual typewriters and one electric.

Life Typewriter Paper

Life Typewriter Paper

Life Typewriter Paper

Life Typewriter Paper typing sample

I can’t guarantee the newness of my ribbons on any of my typewriters or the enthusiasm with which I pound on my manual typewriters but the paper seemed to perform pretty well. My Privileg being the most finicky but I think that pink ribbon is on its last legs. The Adler, Webster and Smith-Corona all worked as expected.

Life Typewriter Paper comparison on laser copy paper

For comparison purposes, I ran a piece of standard office laser printer paper through the typewriters as well, which is what I usually use for typing. It’s the big box office supply store 24# bond. I used two sheets as well. Obviously, the copy paper is a brighter white which provided more contrast to the typewriters with colored ribbon but I feel like the thicker, softer laser printer paper also absorbed more ink overall and created a cleaner read.

Life Typewriting paper writing test

At the last minute, I decided to try this paper with pens and pencil on the off-hand chance that it would prove to exhibit interesting characteristics. I am glad I held off on finishing this review until I could thoroughly test the Life Typewriting Paper with pens. It had an unusual texture and the thinness of the paper reminded me of Tomoe River paper.

The natural clean white of the stock shows ink colors well and inks dry fairly quickly under normal circumstances. When I applied larger swashes of ink like the folded nibs, it did take longer to dry but that’s to be expected.

Life Typewriting paper writing test close-up

The paper did show sheen. I didn’t do extensive testing so I don’t know if the sheening is as good as Tomoe but you’ll some sheen. The texture is different. It’s hard to explain… it’s a bit toothier while still being smooth. It’s like difference between silk and satin. They are both smooth but in different ways.

Life Typewriting paper writing test reverse side

In standard use, fountain pens did not bleed through, only the flex nib, felt tip and liquid ink showed signs of bleed through. The paper is thin like Tomoe River so there is showthrough with everything but pencil. Until Tomoe River though, this Life Typewriting Paper took pencil quite well.

The paper would be good for letter writing or other long form writing. The paper is thin enough to work well with A4 guide sheets.

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

Fashionable Friday: Cherries A-Bloom

FF Cherry Blossom


It finally feels like spring and the cherry trees are blooming. The magnolias and other flowering trees are starting to bloom here so it’s put me in the cherry blossom spirit. In my enthusiasm, I completely forgot to include Fahrney’s exclusive (and annual) Retro 51 Cherry Blossom pen and pencil offerings.

  • MT Japanese Cherry Blossom Washi Tape $3.50 per roll (via CuteTape)
  • Kurochiku Magnetic Bookmark – Sakura (Cherry Blossom) $6.25 (via JetPens)
  • Kobe #30 Ooji Cherry Fountain Pen Ink (50ml bottle) $30 (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Visconti Breeze Cherry Fountain pen €82.64 (via Appelboom)
  • NAVA Design Haiku Notes – Pocket-Sized Notebook $8 (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Freund Mayer Wax Seal Stick in Pearl Pink $2.75 per stick (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Cherry Blossom Enamel Pin $10 (via Jenni Bick)
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu Ink (Fall Cherry Blossom) (15 ml Bottle) $9.90 (via JetPens)
  • Kyo-Iro Cherry Blossom of Keage Ink (40ml bottle) $28 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Daydream Nail Polish $9.50 (via Noodles Nail Polish)
  • Caran d’Ache 849 special edition “Claim Your Style” Pink ballpoint pen €39 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Kaweco Frosted Sport Fountain Pen in Blush Pitaya (Dragonfruit) $27 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Lamy Safari Pastel Rose fountain pen (2019 Special Edition) €20.90 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen in Orchid $52 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Kurochiku Japanese Pattern Eco-Bag – Small – Sakura (Cherry Blossom) $9.50 (via JetPens)
  • Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff $18 (via Glossier)
  • Pilot Lady White Fountain Pen in Sakura Cherry Blossom $187.50 (via JetPens)

Thanks to my sponsors that provide some of the images I use for Fashionable Friday. Please consider making your next purchase from one of the shops that support this blog and let them know you heard about them here. Thank you for reading the blog and for supporting the sponsors that help keep it running.

Pen Review: Silo Ballpoint Pen by Caravan Designs

Pen Review: Silo Ballpoint Pen by Caravan Designs

By Jessica Coles

A while back, Ana asked me if I would like to review something a bit different than my usual; it was the Silo ballpoint pen from Caravan Designs ($25.00 for the pen, sleeve, and refill).  I was excited to try a new kind of pen – Every Day Carry (EDC) items are not usually my area.  Why not?  Because women don’t get pockets.

When I opened the package, I was quite impressed by the look of the Silo pen; the pen sleeve is a thick leather in rich brown, exactly long enough for the pen.  The pen is an interesting item in the looks department as well; a slender cylinder of stainless steel with only a bare hint of where the cap and body meet. The design is a minimalistic look almost to an extreme; the result is a very eye-catching pen.


Of course, I had to take the entire pen apart before anything else.  I was impressed to find that it consists only of four components: the barrel, the section, the cap, and the refill.  No O-rings, no separate grip piece, no adapters.  The stainless steel has a brushed finish – I think it will take scuffs and scrapes beautifully without detracting from the overall look.

A quick rundown of the pen dimensions and some common pen comparisons:

Weight: 32 gms

Length: 150 mm

Diameter: 5 mm

The Silo ballpoint arrived with a lovely gel refill that looks to be a 0.5 width.  The Caravan Designs website claims that the Silo pen is “compatible with various ballpoint and gel style refillable ink cartridges” and I believe that means refills that match the Pilot G2 dimensions (see Ana’s world-famous refill guide if you want an easy reference for other refills that will fit).

The refill had no issues with a loose fit; there was no rattling or movement at all.

I did notice that it took several turns to open the pen – just over 5 turns which seemed too much in my experience.  The Silo pen can’t be posted, but holding the cap didn’t bother me at all since it was just the right size to act as a fidget piece.

Since there is no grip section with the Silo pen, holding the pen to write is either on the section very near the ballpoint tip or a bit further up on the barrel of the pen.  I had no issue with this and the brushed finish kept it from ever feeling slippery.  If you find metal grips to be slippery in your own writing, take that into consideration.


Another point to consider is the lack of a clip on this pen.  This definitely adds to the overall aesthetic of the pen, however, it introduces the danger of rolling away on a flat surface (especially with the same diameter along the length of the pen).  Pen loops may not work well for the same reason.  However, the included sleeve solves that problem for me.

The weight of the pen is quite nice in my opinion, but the weight distribution is a bit heavy in the back depending on how you hold your pen.  I found that it was perfectly balanced for my grip, but when I asked other people for opinions about the pen, a few individuals thought there was a bit too much weight towards the back.

If you hold your pen very near the writing tip, this might be an issue for you.

Overall, I found this pen to be quite fun to use especially because I like to fidget with pens; the price is a great one for a stainless steel pen that takes many other refills and includes a leather sleeve. I love the fact that I can use colorful refills (especially Pilot G2’s), that I can take it fully apart, and I love the weight.  The only point that was a downside for me? The time it takes to screw the cap off and on each time.  But I can get over that, especially since this pen is a great conversation starter!

Now to get some pockets…

DISCLAIMER: The pen included in this review was provided to us free of charge by Caravan Designs for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Baseball (Pencils) & Brexit (Notebooks)

This week, there’s a bit of follow-up on the F+W Media bankruptcy from an artist directly affected by it. Lamy Bronze and Sailor Studio inks are the hot topics in ink right now. There are the first sightings of the Blackwing 811 and as the weather warms up in the US, thoughts of baseball season makes the stationery set get out their baseball scoring pencils and reconsider how much time they are spending in front of their screens.

Go forth and wander!




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

My Arkansas Pen Show Purchases

My Arkansas Pen Show Purchases

Since Laura wrote a more extensive recap of the Arkansas Pen Show, I thought I’d just share a little about my experience and my purchases. Since the Arkansas show is much smaller than most of the shows I attend, its different for me in two ways: first, I have my own table and second, I often get to shop.

Arkansas was the first show I ever had a table which was a great way for The Well-Appointed Desk (and Skylab) to cut its teeth at a pen show. Its only a 6-hour drive from Kansas City so its drivable for us and its manageable in terms of overall costs. If we didn’t sell much, we wouldn’t be out too much money since we didn’t have to pay for airfare and such. That said, this is the third year that I’ve attended the show as a vendor. Having Laura come with me as a helper was awesome. It was also expensive because it meant I could shop.

I was tickled that my first purchase came to me in the form of a wandering seller who said he was selling some Sheaffers and one of the other vendors said to bring this pen to me to sell. It was a Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. I wish I knew which vendor sent the man over to me. I suspect it was Danny Fudge or the Byler brothers which warms my heart to know I’ve become known for my Sheaffer collection.

I was WAY too close to the Dolive’s table which lead to two purchases throughout the weekend. The first was the Penlux snake pen, a close-facsimile to the Montblanc Agatha Christie pen (the earlier version of the Rouge et Noir which in and of itself was a reproduction of an earlier model). While I normally wouldn’t be inclined to purchase a “knock-off” pen, I have been taken with the look of the snake cap and the earlier Agatha Christie model and hence, the Penlux model features red crystal eyes which looked like glowing pink to me. It’s a bit wider pen than the Rouge et Noir and features a piston filling system and a Schmidt nib. It cost me a fraction of the price of a Rouge et Noir or an Agatha Christie. I feel so “poisoned pen” when I use it.

My other purchase from the Dolives was a Sailor Procolor in demonstrator clear with suspended gold flecks. It came in a box set with a bottle of Sailor Shikiori Shinmokusei ink. I had considered purchasing this particular pen at a couple shows but when Jimmy showed me I could swap out the steel nib for a gold nib (for an upcharge, of course) and how nice it upgraded the whole pen.  Of course I was sold! I got a M-F nib which I’ve never owned before and I absolutely love it. And I already had a color converter that would look perfect with it.

Pen Purchases at Arkansas Pen Show caps posted

While it was my very last purchase of the weekend, I won’t make it the last purchase I mention. I stopped by Shawn Newton’s table throughout the weekend to chat and admire the vast array of color and material. Like I said, the Arkansas Show is small enough to allow for browsing and selection. I spied several fabulous green pens on his table but couldn’t make a choice so I waited until Sunday to see what would be left. Luckily, the one I liked best was still available and I always take that as a sign. I don’t know if anyone else will see it but when I picked it up, I saw jellyfish in the brown details floating in the sea green resin. I excitedly said “JELLIES!” and claimed the pen as mine. The scepter to my mermaid princess-ness — well, in my own head anyway.

Pen Purchases at Arkansas Pen Show nib close-ups

Pen Purchases at Arkansas Pen Show nib close-ups

One of my greatest weaknesses at any show is An Tran’s table. While his table often looks like chaos and he may require learning how to haggle (which is not something I am all the comfortable with) it is often worth digging around to see what he has and piercing his steely demeanor. When I walked by his table, he was going through a BOX of NOS Lady Sheaffers in brushed silver basketweave. I told you his table is dangerous for me. I asked about the pens and it turned out that they were not standard fountain pens but marker tip versions. Well, I had to have at least one. If I’d been rolling in dough, I would have tried to negotiate for the whole box. I also found the Pilot V in brown plastic with a stub nib. After some haggling, I was able to walk away with both pens and still have gas money.

Nuuna Mood Notebook

Nuuna Mood Notebook quick writing test

I also spent a lot of time at Vanness Pen Shop where I grabbed a basket full of things like the Nuuna A5 Mood notebook. Each page is a different range of color like a horizon and is absolutely mesmerizing. We did quick tests in the back to see if the paper is fountain pen friendly. The ink didn’t feather though with some pens, there was a little show through or bleeding depending on the ink. I felt that was a fair trade-off for the amazing color. Using full flex nibs on pre-printed paper is probably not going to be the best option but finer nibs should be great.

I also grabbed the new Lamy AL-Star in Bronze and matching ink.

Ink Purchases at Arkansas Pen Show

One of my most unexpected finds was a vintage bottle of Akkerman Chinatown Red in the original bottle. I posted the bottle and box above next to a regular, modern bottle for scale. That’s a lotta ink!

Some of my miscellaneous purchases included a VP stub nib from Dan Smith for my Decimo, lots of ink samples from Vanness Pens and Davina laser etched a water bottle for me (photo will be posted on my instagram later since the bottle is at work right now).

So, like I said initially, the show was expensive for me but many shows, I don’t get to shop much and I seldom get time to walk around and visit with vendors because I am often busy behind a table. So, for me, Arkansas is often as close as I get to a true pen show experience.

Arkansas Pen Show Recap 2019

Review by Laura Cameron

Last weekend I had the great fortune to get to accompany Ana to the Arkansas Pen Show. I went to help her work her booth, and help other vendors out in general, and of course to look and shop!

We drove down to Arkansas on Thursday and arrived late in the afternoon. First destination: pen mecca, Vanness Pens! I had never gotten to see the store in person and it was so much fun! I immediately started a shopping basket (ooops!)

Although not fountain pen related exactly, one of the first things we did was get ourselves outfitted with Pen Show water bottles!

We also got to meet the Vanness shop dog!

After spending several delightful hours at the store, we grabbed dinner with friends and then went to bed early to prepare for pen show mayhem!

Friday dawned early, and with the aid of Starbucks, we had the Well-Appointed Desk booth up and ready to go fairly quickly.

Of course that left us a bit of time for hijinks!

Friday passed fairly quickly, but I did have time to poke around the show floor and see a few of the vendors. We were just down the way from Shawn Newton from Newton Pens. Arkansas is Shawn’s home town show, so he brought the goods! I managed to hold off until Saturday afternoon before I bought a pen, but I went back over to his table multiple times to check out all the lovely colors.

Patrick from Papier Plume also took a couple of tables at the Arkansas Pen Show. I really enjoy their ink, but I LOVE looking at all their wax stamping and sealing supplies.

Patrick also brought along their new Limited Edition Mardi Gras “The Mystic Krewe of Voodoo” pen. This 12 pen run with barrels created by The Herbert Pen Company, Sequel Nibs by Regalia Writing Labs, and gorgeous coconut shell details (and a coconut shell box!)


Friday Ana and I closed up shop early (oops!) and headed over to Vanness Pens for an open house evening. In truth, I was honorary store staff, running to get ink samples from the back room all night, so I didn’t get to enjoy the whole party, but it was a great time! The highlight of the evening was that Michael Sull, who was giving classes at the Pen Show, joined us. He talked about paper and gave demonstrations and was absolutely lovely.

Another fun part of the evening were the prize draws, including a new Esterbrook Estie donated by Kenro!

The party was great, but by the time it was over we needed a late dinner and BED!

Saturday came too early again, but we got ourselves up and armed with more Starbucks headed in for a full day at the show. Traffic was steady, but I still had time to wander some more.

I discovered a new-to-me pen maker, Hinze Pen Company, who had a stunning array of handmade pens. I didn’t manage to shop with them this time, but I see a Hinze pen in my future.

Next to the Hinze Pen Company booth, was the Kenro booth and Cary Yeager, Mr. Fountain Pen Day himself! In addition to picking up my show button, I also got a gander at the Montegrappa Montegrappa!

You always find a few curious sights at a pen show. This Medieval Toxic Walnut ink was an oddity that Nathaniel Cerf from The Pen Market had to share on his table. Stay tuned for an upcoming review!

The highlight of Saturday afternoon was getting to chat with lots of vendors as traffic slowed down. We even got to see an adorably tiny pen from our booth neighbor!

Well ok, maybe the highlight of the day was my fountain pen purchase – my first Shawn Newton pen! I went back and forth on whether I wanted teal or purple, but when all was said and done this one that reminds me of toasted marshmallows followed me home. I love the pen sleeve too – designed by Liz Newton. And I found the perfect ink – Robert Oster Toffee Brown!

Saturday night was a more relaxed gathering at Vanness – just a few of us and some barbeque with our new pens and inks!

Sunday was the slowest day at the show, and it was pretty slow. I went around to visit all the vendors again, and the one I’m sorry I didn’t get a photograph of was Dan Smith from The Nibsmith! Dan was fully booked up doing nibwork at the show, but he had a lovely selection of Sailors that I ogled more than once. One of those is going to follow me home soon!

Sunday night we tore down the booth, packed the mini and collapsed into bed. We drove home Monday and began reintegration to life after a pen show. I have to say it was a great weekend and I’d totally do it again! When’s the next show?