Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Diamine Bilberry Ink

02/11/2015

Recently, Jet Pens sent Diamine Bilberry for review. It’s a very dark purple-blue ink that needs good lighting to show off its highly saturated color. In low light, it looks black. Does that make it a chameleon?

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Grid Format and Why Didn’t I Try This Before?

01/31/2015

It’s only a month into this journal so my opinion might change in future, but for now, the grid format is working very well. That’s something I never thought would happen.

Ruled notebooks are designed for writing. Like the yellow brick road, just follow the path. I’ve used them for years and doodled in the margins, but with a few exceptions like when Gene Kelly danced across a page, seldom added anything else.

Blank journals have no limits, but do invite filling the empty space creatively. However, I miss the lines that keep my writing level and so use blank journals mostly for water media rather than words.

As my daughter pointed out, the pale grid format is like a background pattern. The horizontal lines can be followed for writing or I can ignore them and doodle in any direction. Turning the book sideways, allows for long sentences and a fresh perspective.

Line spacing on Miquelrius paper is 4mm so skipping a line when I write full-sized looks fine or I can use a fine nib and write on every line. For my journal use, this grid is just the right size. For comparison, the Moleskine and Rhodia grids are 5mm so there isn’t much difference.

Glad I didn’t spring for a dated planner since the freedom of decorating pages my own way is liberating. Plus I don’t write in my journal every day and some days I write more than a page. Despite the useful design and appeal of a Hobonichi or Midori, I need room to roam.

Things like Washi tape, paper cut outs, stamps will enliven pages, but not add significant bulk. Watercolor squiggles applied with a dry brush is another option. Filling in some of the squares to make various designs is relaxing and can add more details. No talent necessary for any of these embellishments.

Trying something different has paid off this time and added an element of adventure to keeping a journal. Predictable can get ever so boring. Where’s the fun in that?

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The Conklin Duragraph Fountain Pen

01/18/2015

My Conklin Duragraph has been the focus of several conversations the past few days so instead of writing a full review, here are a few comments and some images that say all there is to say about this well-priced, attractive and sweet-writing pen.

  • Attractive and well constructed especially at the price point.
  • Nicely balanced and long enough to not need posting.
  • Diameter at the section is very comfortable.
  • Cartridge or converter for easy maintenance.
  • Silver-colored steel stub nib is 1.1mm and smooth with good flow.
  • Good value for money at under $45 from several retailers.

Reviews From The Pen Cup and The Well-Appointed Desk sold me on the Duragraph and I’m so glad they did.

Caveat: I am still working to improve the photos taken with my phone. The colors are off in places and the clarity imperfect, but you can get the general idea regardless.

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Inexpensive Paper That Loves Fountain Pens

01/15/2015

Need an inexpensive paper that can handle ink flow from wide nibs? This letter sized TOPS pad (20490 V2) came from Staples last week and it loves fountain pens and fountain pen ink.

The surface is very smooth and while there is mild ghosting, only one ink showed a few dots of bleed through. The 6mm line spacing will work for most anyone. The lines are crisply rendered, but pale enough to provide no conflict with your written words. It is a light weight paper more like Tomoe River than Rhodia or Clairefontaine which explains the ghosting. But at $1.49 a pad, this paper is a steal. Permission granted to be a guilt-free thief.

Caveat: Please read the comments. This review is about a specific batch that works well with fountain pen ink. Other batches may not perform as well as one reader discovered.

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Miquelrius Ink And Watercolor Tests

01/10/2015

Much to my surprise, the Miquelrius journal paper handles watercolor from a waterbrush better than ink from a wide fountain pen nib. Admittedly the brush was on the dry side, but still there is a lot of doodling that can be done this way. Note that there was no bleed through. The show through is on par with the weight of the paper and similar to Tomoe River.

As for my continuing pen and ink experiments, a Lamy Safari EF with Noodler’s Black has proven the best match so far. Noodler’s General of the Armies works well, too. Some inks feather while others bleed through enough to make the back of the paper useless. However, at the price point of around $10 and for the amount of paper, these journals could be used up and trashed without regret which makes them perfect for having a little fun with ink, paint, stamps and some other doodads. And fun is what it’s all about.

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Pelikan 4001 Violet Ink Review

01/02/2015

Pelikan has been making 4001 ink since the 19th century. Few companies can make that claim. While the lineup is limited, it covers the most commonly used colors. Readily available and reasonably priced, this is one brand of ink that could be a mainstay for the workplace and a fine basis for a limited collection.

Last month Jet Pens sent a bottle of 4001 Violet for review and it is very aptly named. Straight-up violet that shades and is dry enough to exert a little control over a too enthusiastic nib. (Dang. Is that not the shortest review ever?)

The color has a stronger red component than most inks called violet and from a free-flowing nib, produces a vivid look similar to Waterman Violet. Pelikan is known for inks that are somewhat dry writing, but I was surprised at the amount of shading.

The color and characteristics combine for a vintage look that is very appealing for use in a journal or to add a touch of romance to correspondence. With a dry writing pen, paper color influences the appearance. Ivory paper warms the violet color while stark white reveals a deeper shade.

The Pel website mentions that 4001 ink is designed for its piston-fillers. I don’t know if that means there is a component that benefits that type of filler, but it is something to consider when you fill a vintage Pelikan. It might not enhance performance, but running a fill through your pen from time to time certainly couldn’t hurt.

Note that the 62.5 ml bottle for $10 at Jet Pens is a veritable bargain in the world of ink. Not that I need another bottle, but the turquoise and brown are calling to me though that’s just between you and me. The budget nanny would be appalled.

Most anyone can use an ink that could turn a wet nib into a decent user. Pelikan 4001 Violet has that potential. Plus it’s good for your Pels and probably any other piston-type pen or converter as well. Actually, any of the colors should deliver on that based on the remarks at the Pel website. Toss a bottle into your next pen and ink order and see what you think.

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Caran d’Ache Ultra Violet Review

12/06/2014

Last year Caran d’Ache retired their much-loved line of inks in favor of a redesigned bottle and more saturated colors. Elaine at Jet Pens sent Ultra Violet for my first look at the current offering.

The current bottle design and packaging deserve a few remarks. The cap is overly heavy and unwieldy for me. The box top slips off with no way to secure it. Every time I pick it up, the bottom containing the bottle detaches. Luckily the bottle only fell a few inches onto my desk the first time it happened. Otherwise, it would have been a disaster. The slanted bottle and opening made it a little awkward to orient the nib in the ink.  While it may be attractive, the packaging is annoying if not impractical.

How does the ink fare? The purple has a slightly red bias and is highly saturated with no subtlety. The color looks slightly different on Rhodia than on Staples Sugarcane paper with the red component stronger on the latter. This doesn’t affect performance, but it is worthy of mention.

Depending on pen flow, some shading is possible though the Platinum #3776 Century SF used for the writing sample shades with most inks. As a Noodler’s and Diamine fan, I like saturated colors, but miss the more delicate shades that some companies have tossed aside. The discontinued CdA Storm was more to my liking. (Let me know if you have a bottle to sell, trade or know where one can be purchased.)

The ink seems a bit more thick than some brands though I have noticed no difference in pen performance. That  characteristic might contribute to its excellent coverage when used with a firm nib. Ultra Violet would be well suited to my Sailor Sapporo F or a Lamy EF. The degree of lubrication should be a treat with either nib.

So here’s what we have:

  • Purple with a slightly red bias
  • Highly saturated
  • Excellent coverage
  • Sightly more thick than some inks
  • Somewhat lubricating
  • Packaging and bottle are disappointing

Want a saturated purple ink? Caran d’Ache Ultra Violet might be the one for you. Just be careful with the packaging so the ink goes in your pen and not somewhere else. Well, unless you are fond of purple splotches where they don’t belong.

Much thanks to Jet Pens for providing this product. More purple ink reviews on the way soon.

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