Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Speedball Elegant Writer Is A Cheap Thrill

01/15/2016

Playing with the Speedball Elegant Writer is a lot of fun. Just grab a wet brush and make it dance around the paper. The more water the better so a paper of at least 150gsm will make the best surface and yield the most satisfying results, but Midori and Tomoe River paper like it, too. Four pens for less than $10 makes this an inexpensive tool for journal decorating or mixed media art. I predict much doodling ahead.

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Leuchtturm1917 Ink And Watercolor Tests

01/12/2016

Pen friends are great! One of mine sent a Leuchtturm1917 Squared Notebook that she thought I might enjoy. She was right. The soft surface of the paper is kind to nibs as well as my hand. The pale gray grid on ivory paper is even easy on the eyes. All to the good. However, a reader mentioned that he was having trouble with bleeding so I put my dozen ink rotation to the test.

Four of the twelve inks bled and showed slightly stronger marks than the photo. Iroshizuku tsuki-yo and Diamine Merlot left dots behind on almost every paper and remained true to form here. Great colors, but disappointing performance except with the finest of nibs. Earlier in the year, I wrote pages with Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu, Pelikan Violet and Iroshizuku yu-yake without bleeding. In order to use both sides of the paper, I have to be a bit selective with using free-flowing ink in a wide nib. Not a big deal since I love the paper’s texture and the size of the notebook.

The mild Moleskine-like feathering is only visible on close inspection and is not a deterrent for my purposes. The show-through was not offensive and in line with the 80gsm paper.

The surprise was that a light wash of watercolor did not exhibit any feathering or bleeding and so little buckling that the reverse can be written on with a fountain pen. That last is impressive and very convenient for my tendency to write about all kinds of things in my journal.

The form factor, paper texture, grid size and color, make the Leuchtturm1917 Squared Notebook a worthy contender for your affection. It may not be perfect, but it’s good enough for me.

 

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Taming Paper With The Right Ink

01/08/2016

Proof positive that Noodler’s Black deserves its #1 ranking on my list of favorite inks.

The paper is Greenroom recycled from Target. Made in Taiwan, it feathers and bleeds exactly like Moleskine. However, it is inexpensive and pencils do very well on it so the composition book has a use in my work flow. No significant show-through with pencil and amazingly little with Noodler’s Black. Any wonder I always have a pen loaded with it?

Perhaps a comparison of inks that tame naughty paper is in order. Which inks would you nominate for this list?

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Review: Clearprint Vellum Field Book

12/13/2015

Since 1933 Clearprint has offered cotton vellum paper in a variety of forms from 100 yard rolls down to 8.5″ x 11″ sheets. Now offered as a portable field book, this unique paper can fit anywhere including a pocket.

As a child I loved the texture and crinkly sounds from the discarded scraps that came into my hands. To a budding paper hoarder, this was treasure. Not long after rediscovering fountain pens, a packet of vellum made its way into my paper stash and became a happy mate to any fountain pen ink.

What’s not to like about a notebook that is

  • filled with translucent paper
  • works well with any fountain pen ink
  • good for many uses and excels at layering
  • incredibly smooth and kind to nibs
  • good with watercolor though the paper may buckle mildly
  • tough enough to be primed for oil or acrylic painting
  • available in blank or grid (3mm) formats
  • outfitted with a substantial cardboard back for field use
  • made with removable pages
  • free of bleed-through with FP ink though translucency produces show-through

Note that vellum is not absorbent so ink can take a long time to dry. Blotter recommended. That or a ton of patience.

The notebooks come in 3 x 4, 4 x 6, 6 x 8, and 8.5 x 11 inch sizes holding 50 sheets each. Since the sheets detach easily, the 6 x 8 pages could be used for correspondence. I like the thin but sturdy paper for notes to slide between the pages of a book and it is perfect for tracing or overlays.

Got a thing for paper, but aren’t acquainted with vellum? You are in for a treat. If you have experience with vellum, a Clearprint book presents a handy form and size to take this lovely paper on the road if only so far as the local coffee shop.

If you can’t find these notebooks locally, toss one into your shopping cart at Amazon for some good, clean inky fun.

 

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You Should Get A Second Opinion

12/11/2015

Yesterday, Gourmet Pens posted a review of the Conklin Duragraph 1.1mm stub. I was surprised that the review, while not negative, was not as favorable as mine.  The points made are valid and worth considering if the Duragraph interests you. Two reviews, two perspectives.

My pen reviews tend to be slanted toward the nib, pen performance and comfort because they are more important features to me than appearance or the aesthetics of the box. Build quality ranks just below comfort because I will compromise that to an extent for the sake of a brilliant nib. My reviews will reflect my preferences which is a good reason to read more than one review.

If you can’t find reviews of the pen in question, try one of the message boards where opinions abound. Lots of other things, too, but we won’t go into that here.

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Review: Midori Traveler’s Notebook

10/17/2015

Are you acquainted with the Midori Traveler’s Notebook? It’s a journal/calendar/notebook designed to follow you anywhere. Jet Pens introduced me to this brand that has since become a staple in my writing arsenal. The original black and brown leather covers are suitable for even the most conservative work environments, while the flashy, happy, colorful ones made by devotees invite a steady stream of journal entries. But there is more.

In case you aren’t familiar with Midori, there are lots of video tutorials about making covers and inserts (cahiers) and other clever additions to personalize your journal. One useful benefit is that the inserts can be limited to single subjects and archived for future reference.

Midori didn’t invent the cahier, but they did devise a means of connecting several together. What looks like a book is actually a number of inserts that can be removed or swapped for instant customization. Currently my Midori contains three inserts with pen and art related notes and swatches. In January, a calendar will get added. The elastic bands make it simple and easy to add or remove inserts as well as other additions like pockets and folders.

Pictured below is a single insert decked out with washi tape, Post-its, colorful tabs and some pen work. The uncoated and unmarked cardstock cover got along well with a brush pen and glue.

For brief notes, the Passport (90mm x 124mm) will do. For more extensive writing or for large handwriting, the Traveler’s size (110mm x 210mm) will provide room to roam. From minimalist to loaded to painterly, Midori works well for all sorts of uses.

Many of the modifications could be adapted for other journals and notebooks like composition books and Field Notes journals.

Midori paper is excellent with fountain pen ink and comes in a large assortment of styles from blank paper to calendars. It’s easy to see why it has a cult following and a variety of groups on Facebook.

A few DIY videos:

Not into DIY? Let an Etsy artisan do it for you.

Want to try Midori notebooks? Jet Pens has enough variety to get you started. There are plenty of inserts and other goodies available in the Traveler’s size. My favorite notebooks are the grid style #002 and the ultra thin paper #013. However, the Passport is more portable and fits nicely in the hand. I took an old passport cover and adapted it with Midori elastic bands to hold two inserts.

The Midori system is a tactile adventure as well as an excellent journal. Hard to knock it on any level.

The #013 insert contains Tomoe River paper and shows only a slight amount of buckling with watercolor. At 128 pages, this lightweight paper refill gets my vote for best value for money especially since it is excellent with fountain pen ink. Leigh encouraged me to buy one and I am so glad she did.

Stuff&Things Review: Midori Traveler’s Notebook (A Man’s Perspective) Bradley is a fountain pen user and has positive things to say about the paper as well as the format. He has made additional videos about the Midori TN including a modification that makes swapping out a journal very easy.

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Review: Platinum #3776 Yamanaka Fountain Pen

10/11/2015

Carol at Luxury Brands sent a Platinum #3776 Century Yamanaka for review several months ago and it has been a joy in every respect. But then I am a sucker for a clear demonstrator with silver furnishings and a nib that makes writing a pleasure.

The Yamanaka was designed to “reflect the image of a ripple of the brilliant” Lake Yamanaka near Mount Fuji. It’s a beautiful medium sized, light-weight pen, well balanced and comfortable in the hand. The textured effect reminds me of rain on a window pane and makes this pen very stable in the hand. No slipping whatsoever. Posting makes it slightly less well balanced in my smallish hand. For most users that won’t be an issue.

Loaded with Platinum Mixable Silky Purple, this is one of the smoothest nibs I have ever used. With practice, the soft medium nib will produce a very fine line to a bold 0.8 line. Typical of modern soft nibs, a little effort is necessary to achieve that range. However, it is good enough to create flourishes and a unique signature. When flex writing isn’t needed, the nib offers a hint of feedback and yet a nice grip of the paper. That makes it excellent as a daily writer.

The pen is a relatively wet writer so the line is just a little wider than a typical Japanese nib though not so wide as a Western nib. Throttle back just a tad and the line can be better controlled. Even an extra fine line is possible. Loaded with Platinum Carbon Black, it would make a useful pen for drawing expressive lines whether doodles or something more artistic.

Some users claim that matching ink and pen brand can produce ideal results. Filling the Yamanaka with Platinum ink might have made a believer out of me. All I can say is WOW! Match made in heaven and my little sample bottle of Silky Purple won’t last long. In addition, the ink is gorgeous in the transparent barrel though any colorful ink will look jewel-like.

Like other Century pens, this one can rest uncapped for several minutes without the nib running dry. Brand or color may contribute to how long ink will remain fluid. If you tend to pause while considering what to write next, this could make writing a much more enjoyable and relaxed experience. If you are a casual user, the Slip & Seal cap keeps ink from drying out even when stored for extended periods of time. No burps or hard starts either.

While I like the soft medium nib, it won’t suit everyone. My experience with a Platinum medium nib has been no less satisfying and I think it’s a size many writers could enjoy. It is a little less free-flowing so the line is a bit more narrow. Both pens make excellent daily writers.

Such perfect timing. The Yamanaka review is ready to post and the pen is in need of a refill. The breeze is gently tapping the shutters against my window and the lighting at my desk is as good as it gets. Time to close my laptop and put the pen to best use writing a long overdue letter. Life is good!

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