Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Favorite New York Stationery Store

One of my favorite stationery and office supply stores is Essex Card Shop on Avenue A and 3d Street, just before the Avenue turns into Essex Street when you cross Houston. This is actually a fairly large old-fashioned stationery, office supply, hardware, and copy shop that's been there at least 30 years if not longer. Looking for a hard to find Rhodia address book, a small Rhodia 2010 daily planner, different sizes of Clairefontaine notebooks, colorful Quo Vadis planners? This place has everything and more.

The Moleskine selection is excellent, and they also carry Kikkerland WritersBlok and Leuctteurm journals. There are some really different Mead notebooks (the cream-colored graph paper notebook is really neat looking), and an interesting selection of Miquelrius journals and notebooks (I bought a few of each to use and review later). It's not someplace to browse if you are going cold-turkey on buying journals or pens, but if you are looking for something unique (a clear plastic portfolio, or burgundy metallic binder clips) then it is a great place to wander through and enjoy.

The far right aisle near the counter is paper heaven--notebooks, journals, and planners on one side and hundreds of artist sketchbooks, paints, and washes on the other side. The other three aisles are crammed with office supplies, hardware, painting supplies, paper plates and napkins, and pretty much everything else except the kitchen sink (which may be around somewhere). At the front counter are the pens and pencils, a very good selections to look over and find a few unique items.

The owner of the store is an elderly man from India, a very friendly, talkative sort. He emigrated to the US some 40 or so years ago, and has self-published a book about his journey.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Something to Ponder

When I was in the hospital recently for surgery, I noticed that quite a few of the attendings, residents and medical students (long white coats, medium length white coats, short white coats, respectively) used Bic 4 Color Pens to take notes and get my signature on various forms. If there is one pen I remember from childhood it's that 4 color Bic, one of the least attractive pens I've every seen. Are medical and nursing staff attracted to Bics in particular, or are these pens just more available at the hospital? Maybe it's the ballpoint, which is better for multi-page forms than gel ink? Maybe they are freebies from the various companies? Had I brought my Hi-Tec-C Coleto I'd have made a point of letting them know that the below is a better multi-pen option.

Comparing Colors: Field Notes

There are any number of reviews of Field Notes memo books so I wanted to focus on something slightly different. When I saw the Mackinaw Autumn collection I wondered how much the brown and orange were differed from the Standard Brown Memo book and the special color edition Butcher Orange book. And so here is the side-by-side comparison.

On the bottom left to right: the Mackinaw Autumn collection in Running-Board Brown, Harvest Moon Orange, and Burnt Red. On the top, left to right: Standard and Butcher Orange. There is a huge difference between the Running-Board Brown and Standard Brown, the former is a deeper, warmer brown that I have to admit I like much more than the Standard Brown color. The Harvest Moon Orange is slightly more yellow than Butcher Orange, which I think is a truer orange. I do like the Harvest Moon just a bit more than Butcher Orange, but both are strong colors. Finally there is the Burnt Red, a very pretty red that does look like the color of turned leaves and apples.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gel Pens Best Quality--A 99 Cent Shop Find

One of the great, inexpensive pleasures of city life is trolling the 99 Cent shops/Dollar Stores for supplies of every type. Cheaper soaps and shampoos, ceramics, kitchen utensils, candles, off-brand canned goods are all staples of a well-stocked 99 Cent shop. With real estate in Manhattan always at a premium, but more so during the boom from 2003 to 2007, at least three 99 Cent shops in my immediate neighborhood closed in the past two years. The final two are more like $1.29 Stores now, but they are still an incredible deal for certain goods.

For some reason, I've never checked out the pens and notebooks at my favorite 99 Cent shop on E. 14th Street near Avenue A. The place is crammed to the rafters-literally-with all sorts of stuff, but as there is a great little stationery store right next door I've never looked at the pens until now.

A three-pack of black gel ink pens in an orange and blue-gray card caught my eye, simply named Gel Pens Best Quality. Given the generic brand and the $2.99 plus tax price they were definitely 99 Cent shop merchandise. And I really didn't think they were "best quality" as claimed on the package, but at that price even if they were bad it wouldn't be too much of a loss. To my great surprise these really are very good gel ink pens. The ink is a rich, dark black, not watery-looking at all. The ballpoint glides across the Doane Paper with no bleed through but a definite shadow, qualities in much more expensive gel ink pens I use. In addition, there is a cute scratchy noise the pen makes across the paper, more of a scritch than a squeak, that I kind of like. I can hear the ink being laid down on the paper and it's more endearing than annoying.

The pen itself is thick-barrelled with a beautiful matte black finish over 2/3 of the body. The grip is clear plastic and not too slippery; I would have preferred the matte black over the entire body, but that may have not worked out in terms of being able to hold the pen firmly when writing. The silver clip and pointed top are aesthetically appealing, though for some reason it reminds me of Ultra Man, as if he's hiding in the pen waiting for the world to be threatened by some monster in order to jump out and save humanity. Or am I projecting a tad too much?

Anyway, the ink flow is smooth and dries very fast, a plus for lefties. There is some skipping when I write, but that seems more a function of my not holding the pen more firmly rather than the ink being at fault. All in all, this is a great gel ink pen. If you're near a 99 Cent shop check and see if they have any of these; this no-name will surprise you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Time Travelling by Address Book

Back in 1990 a friend gave me a hand-crafted leather address book she had seen at a local fair. It's been a mainstay in my life all these years, though not much used these days as an address book. In a way, it's my own private time capsule, as I never crossed out any names or addresses, just wrote on new lines. So I can see how many times B. moved around the country (NYC, upstate NY, RI, PA, Canada), and the different phone numbers to reach D., who was working undercover at that time. It's as much a journal of my life as my diaries are, and I would never get rid of it. It tells the story of me in an indirect fashion, one we don't usually think of when contemplating our personal history.

The best part of going through this book was when I went to check who made the paper and saw an old, familiar name--Exacompta of Paris, and Exaclair in "N.-Y." That address in Manhattan in the West 80s dates from 1985; I don't know when they moved from that location but I'm wondering how long it's been. Certainly this is a time capsule in more than one way.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Pen

These were something different I found at a favorite stationery shop on 8th Avenue and 13th Street (Typewriters 'n Things) in New York City, the Sakura Pigma Micron 05 pen. According to their web site, Sakura "invented and patented PIGMA® ink over twenty-five years ago. A formulation of pigment based inks, more complex and stable than dye based inks, PIGMA® ink has become the standard for what is defined as reliable, permanent, archival quality ink." Quite impressive, and all for about $2.49 plus tax.

I bought two of the 05 pens, which are waterproof, fade proof, and have a 0.45mm line width and fine point. The colors I chose were purple and blue-black, although I do remember orange, brown, pink, and green among the color choices. The barrel is khaki, with a silver clip and is lightweight yet solid-looking. The fine point is fluid across the paper, no scratchiness to speak of and an overall nice writing experience. I don't know that I've seen the Sakura brand before, but this shop has a lot of unusual items among the regular things and this was a great find.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coming Soon to Art Brown

Art Brown The International Pen Shop has some new inks coming soon, the De Atramentis inks made from wine. These inks will be shipped in early October 2009 and quantities are limited. According to the site: "These exclusive handmade inks are suitable for fountain pens. The inks are produced on the basis of latest ink technologies and according to current regulations of the European Union. Content per ink bottle: about 35 ml. Colors are reproduced from printed color card and are not reproduced exactly as liquid ink." A 35 ml bottle is $14.50; I can't imagine there is a wide range of colors here but I'm definitely interested and will have to give them a call.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Light posting today

I probably won't be able to post anything of interest until tonight or tomorrow. I had emergency surgery yesterday to remove my gallbladder, due to a large gallstone obstructing the bile duct.

On my way to Presbyterian to check into the ER, I did stop by a great stationery store and picked up a few new pens to review. Glad my priorities are straight here!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bandelier Journals and Kits

Back in the early 90s a friend and I would prowl the stationery stores in Manhattan looking for interesting journals and papers. We would often see the Bandelier Environmental Papers journals and kits; the company came out of Santa Fe, NM and the paper was recycled and acid free, quite impressive back in the day. Bandelier also sold kits to make your own journals, photobooks, and notepads. The kits came with glue, chipboard for the covers, the paper journal, and cloth for the covers--enough to make two journals. They were a lot of fun, albeit slightly messy and frustrating if you got bubbles in the paper as you glued it to the front and back covers.

These are journals I made back in early 1996 from one of the Bandelier kits. The journal on the left above is a remnant from some throw pillows I made (I did a lot of sewing back then). The right is one of the pieces of cloth that came with the kit. Bandelier did a lot of those "sun, moon, stars" themes for their journals and photobooks. The paper is quite nice, I'm guessing 80 gsm. It's thick, takes color well, and there is no bleed through. My only quibble is that I'm not fond of blank paper. Anyway, I've looked in stores an online and can't find the Bandelier brand. So the company may not have survived, which would be a pity as the kits were a lot of fun.

Monday, September 21, 2009

3M Post-It Flag Markers and Highlighters

Taking a trip through the supplies aisle at the local Rite Aid I saw these 3M Post-It Flag+ Permanent Markers and Flag Highlighters, and immediately added them to my cart. With two pens in each pack, one is a highlighter set while the other is a permanent marker. Both have the 3M flags inside the pen, which pops out and can be refilled with more flags. This is a great idea, because often when I'm highlighting I also want to note something else. The flags make it easy to find the important points in a book, magazine, or whatever you're reading. The yellow and pink highlighter set comes with yellow and pink flags; the permanent marker set comes with white flags. They are small enough to be seen but not be obtrusive, which I like. I find the large flags hanging out of books or whatnot to be sloppy and so I don't use them.

In addition to the highlighters, the permanent markers are great for writing. The marker has a small, extra fine tip, so the line definitely isn't broad or unruly for writing. And you can use it to make notes on the flags if you want to add some information. According to the information on the package, the barrel holds more ink that first generation Post-It Flag Highlighters/Markers. And there's a non-slip comfort grip, so holding the pen doesn't get too difficult. However, these black markers definitely bleed through paper, as I discovered when making some notes in a journal. But all in all, these are really great; at $5.49 plus tax, not too expensive for everything you get.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Because Life Is Not Just Pens and Paper

I was wondering what to do with a small refund check I just received, whether to get a Lamy fountain pen or maybe put in an order at JetPens for some notebooks. Then the email came from Hayden-Harnett announcing a sale on their handbags, shoes, clothing, and accessories. I'm a big HH fan, so I had to take a walk down to Elizabeth Street and check out the sale. Instead of paper and pens this weekend, I picked up a new handbag, a matching wallet, and some small coin and cosmetics bags. Certainly a more stylish way to carry my pens.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rhodia 4 Colors Book

This was an interesting find at Kinokuniya, a Rhodia 4 color wirebound notebook. I hadn't seen this on my trips before, and as there was only one I brought it home to meet the other Rhodias and compare notes.
It's a big book, and the four colors are blue, green, red, and orange. The notebook has 80 sheets/160 pages of 80 g/m paper, and the sheets are perforated for easy tearing. The top reminds me of planners I've used for projects, with a space on the side for a date or notes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Writing Supplies--Fountain Pens

These are the good fountain pens, which really is any pen that cost me more than $5. From left to right:

Faber-Castell Ambition black resin with a fine nib, the first fountain pen I've bought in about 20 years, purchased at the Art Brown International Pen Fair in March 2009;

Steel fine point fountain pen from Muji;

Rotring Surf in mint green with a medium nib, one of a set of four (but two have given up the ghost and one is at the office);

Pilot Cavalier with a fine nib bought from JetPens (the body is actually a shimmery warm pink);

Rotring Esprit Special Edition telescoping fountain pen with a fine nib; and,

My x750 Legislatur medium nib from xFountainPens. This last is an interesting website, and I'll review the Legislatur in a future post. I like it alot, and I'm not a fan of chunky-style fountain pens.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen

While at Kinokuniya I saw a display for the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen, with a choice of pink, blue, or clear body and ink refills in all four sizes (0.25, 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5) and 8 or 9different colors. I decided to go for it and get one. I've never liked multi pens (for some reason, I just find them basically ugly), but thought I'd check one out after reading some reviews at The Pen Addict and OfficeSupplyGeek. I chose a clear barrel and three 0.5mm inks: orange, dark blue, and dark pink. Total cost with tax was about $9.00, which is expensive for one pen but not for three.

The pen is easy to load: the white top flips up and the cartridges slide into place. The hardest part was deciding which ink should go where: left, right, or middle cartridge. I like this pink very much, it's a hot dark pink that's easy to read. The orange is quite different from what I usually write with, and the blue is vibrant and not your usual blah blue.

One feature I like on this pen is at the tip of the barrel where there are some frosted squiggly lines--these are actually strips of rubber, which make the pen easier to grip. Someone put a lot of thought into this design, and it's stylishly simple. I think next time I'm back at Kinokuniya I'll get a blue or pink barrel and a few more inks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin!

Several gel pens I recently bought are orange, not a color I normally use. But I've gotten to like its brightness, and wanted to try something a bit different. So when I was browsing at Art Brown International Pen Store and saw the Diamine New Century ink in Pumpkin, I pounced. I had hoped this might be a slightly muddy orange, like a pumpkin in the field with a bit of mud on it or the dark-orange of pumpkin pie. But the color isn't diluted one bit by a darker shade, it's a bright orange attention-getter that I really like using. I'm thinking it would make a great highlighter as well, something to consider making in the future.

The Diamine NC Pumpkin dries fast, no feathering, and there is no bleed through on the Doane Paper but a definite shadow. So no double-sided writing for this ink. I'm using a Preppy fountain pen fine point eyedropper. This ink writes very smoothly on the paper, kind of makes me want to copy Moby Dick or War and Peace just to keep writing! In the pic to the left you can see two ink-stained q-tips (used to clean up the Preppy threads after filling); the one in the back has Noodler's Widowmaker on it while the one in the front is Pumpkin.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Foray Gelio Gel Ink Pens

This was an interesting find at Office Depot, a pack of Foray Gelio Gel Ink Pens. The six pen set comes with black, blue, green, yellow, orange, and pink; they have a medium 0.8mm point and a rubber grip for a firmer hold on the barrel. The pen is about the same size as a Sharpie fine point, and it feels wonderful in my hand and gliding across the paper. Just a bit of resistance at the beginning, then it writes smoothly and evenly. However, the ink cartridges come out, making me think refills are available--something I'll have to check.

I like the blue quite a bit, it's not a dark blue but it reminds me a bit of Noodler's Legal Blue. The pink is also a very nice medium shade, and I think the orange will also be a favorite. Yellow and green I'm not sure about as they are both very light, while black is a staple and of course will be used. There is no bleed through on the Rhodia paper, but there is a shadow with the darker colors so double-sided writing is probably not an option. A very elegant looking gel ink pen, and a great price of $5.99 plus tax.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Black Widow in an Eyedropper

Years ago when my aunt and uncle lived in Louisiana with their kids, we drove down to spend Christmas with them (quite a hike from Pennsylvania with two kids and one dog, but my parents survived). One thing I will not forget was my aunt reminding my uncle to wear gloves when he went to get wood, because of the black widow spiders. While I never saw one then (or now), I would sometimes think of that black splotch with the red hourglass on its body. So when I found a Noodler's ink named Widowmaker with a picture of a black widow spider on the bottle, I knew it was just a matter of time before I gave in to the temptation.

This is definitely a blood red color, deep and strong with no yellow at all. It flows beautifully from the Preppy fountain pen eyedropper I made. In fact, the ink came out the minute I put nib to paper; sometimes I have to shake the pen a minute or more to get the ink into the nib. I'm using a fine point nib, and this pen and ink feel so great together as they glide across the paper. No feathering, dries quickly, and a stop-you-in-your-tracks color make this a great addition to my ink collection. Can't wait to use this at work.

Any drawbacks at all? Heavy shadow on the reverse side of the Doane Paper and some ink spots as well indicating bleed through, so this isn't a good choice for double-sided writing.

An Intruder Among The Pens

I was looking around on my desk for something to write with (too many choices) and kept bumping into a small, white-and-black oblong-ish thing that I suddenly remembered was a pencil. Strange to find it there as I keep pencils in a different bin on my desk, but this is no regular pencil. Back in March 2009 I went to the Art Brown International Pen Fair (next one is October 2009) to take a peek at the pens. I wound up purchasing two from the Faber-Castell rep at the show, and she very generously gave me this pencil. The Fabert-Castell E-Motion twist pencil uses a 1.4mm lead, which is much thicker than most pencil leads, and the width of the line can be broad and fuzzy or slim and strong. There is an eraser inside the back cap, and the tip comes off to reveal storage space for extra leads. Pencil Talk has a great review from 2005 of the E-Motion.

I tend not to use pencils very much, as I don't like the smearing and fading. Or maybe I'm just trained not to like writing that can suddenly disappear with a few strokes of some colored rubber (or plastic, as the case may be). But I'm re-thinking that decision as I like the way this writes. The width of the line adjusts depending on the angle you use to write, so it can have a finer, sharper line or a broader, blurred line. The lead is soft, which I like but may not be to every one's taste. I also don't have to worry about sharpening the point, and because of the thickness the lead isn't supposed to break under pressure. That's attractive to me as I tend to put a death grip on whatever I'm writing with, and pencil points break easily with me. I quite like this E-Motion, although the shape is a little too futuristic for me. But I plan on adding it to the rotation and getting acquainted.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Best Donuts in New York

The Donut Pub at 7th Avenue and 14th Street is one of the few remaining shops in New York that makes its own donuts from scratch. They also have outrageous muffins, scones, crullers, and biscuits; the coffee is a special blend, strong and excellent. Stop by for coffee and a chocolate covered donut.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Phone Booth

Every morning at 6:30 am I would catch the 14th Street crosstown bus heading west to the 8th Avenue subway. This guy would get off at my stop, and he would immediately go to the phone booth and start twisting nobs to see if any quarters would drop into the change slot. He wasn't just giving the nobs a turn or two, he was twisting back and forth so hard it seemed like he would break the phone. Then he'd walk across the street to catch a transfer uptown.

I started leaving for work a few minutes earlier, and would get to the stop before my buddy. Some months back I started putting a quarter in the change slot. Every once in awhile when I'm late I'll see him at the phone booth twisting the coin return, looking for the quarter I have in my hand. Tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Writing Supplies--Pens

How did this happen? I was taking out my vinyl carrier from my book bag to get a pen and couldn't believe how heavy it was. Then I saw all the pens I've accumulated in the past few months. I normally can't even find a pen when I need one, now I can't make up my mind which pen to use. I seem to recall a time when I only had two or three really good pens, and a bunch of cheap freebies from trade shows, mostly ballpoints. I don't like the feel of ballpoints anymore; I've become a gel ink and fountain pen addict.

This pic doesn't even show all of my pen collection either, as my fountain pens are kept in a different vinyl bag. Let's see: several Varsity fountain pens, two Sharpie fine lines, many Muji gel inks and retractable gel inks, the Hi-Tecs, and some Pilots. Lots of color, which I find strange since I mainly stick to black ink but now want something different when I write.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Second Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper

I made it into the Second Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper, hosted this month by Brad at The Pen Addict. Thanks much for selecting my post. I'm looking forward to reading all of the links.

Another New York story

Back in April the R&S Strauss on East 14th and Avenue C closed. A New York City area chain, Strauss sold discount auto parts and accessories. The building and lot were sold for over $12 million, which amazed all of us who are from around this area. Heading east on 14th Street one afternoon, I noticed that some stores for rent had white business cards taped to them. I went to take a closer look at one store and they were all questions about the store that had been there, inviting us to submit stories about it to a web site.

So when I walked by the former Strauss building, there were the cards taped to the gates in a long white line. I stopped to take a few photos and closeups to add to my "New York, strange" labels section of this blog. To answer the question, I do about half my shopping on 14th Street or in my immediate neighborhood near 14th Street. I like to keep the money in the area and support the businesses.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Platinum Preppy Sign Felt Tip With My Own Mixed Ink

I stopped by my local hardware store a few days ago looking for silicone grease as used by OfficeSupplyGeek to make his own highlighters. They had never heard of the grease, so I picked up a can of Pro Dope pipe joint compound, a gray goo used to seal pipe threads. I wanted to give this a try in addition to the Teflon tape I've used to seal pens. The process is simple: brush the compound (there is a brush attached to the lid) around the threads, then twist the pieces together until tight. Wipe away excess compound, and your pen is now water-tight and leak-proof.

The pen I'm using is a Platinum Preppy Sign felt tip I got at Kinokuniya just for this purpose. The line is a touch thicker than I normally like for writing, but life is not meant to be lived in fine point alone. The ink saturates well, and the pen flows smoothly over the Rhodia 80 g/m paper. The color is a mix of Private Reserve Chocolate and J. Herbin Bouguet D'Antan, a pale rose. Like the Diabolo Menthe, the Bouguet D'Antan is too light for me to use for writing, so I decided to try for a brown-pink ink. The mix is about 1 part Chocolate to 2 parts Bouquet D'Antan, and is a nice dark warm brown with a hint of rose.

UPDATE: Since making this felt tip a few days ago I was trying out something and rinsed off the marker. The brown is now less intense and the rose-pink more noticeable. I like both colors, so whichever it stays or reverts to is fine with me. The only "problem" is that ink has gotten into the threads near the tip of the marker--that part does not come out so I couldn't put any compound there. Nothing has leaked out of the front of the marker, and the brown ink in the threads actually gives the pen a nice look; I'm just wondering what will happen later.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Muji Recycled Journal

I thought I would try something different and take a look at a new journal I'm using for some fiction writing, one that I just picked up at Muji. This journal, made with recycled lined paper, comes in a 5-pack and is a size B5--just a bit smaller than the Moleskine Cahier Extra Large Journal. The Muji journal has 30 pages, about half the amount as a Moleskine, but each 5-pack costs $3.95 plus tax, significantly less than the Cahier, which comes in a 3-pack and sells for between $15 to $17 plus tax.

The paper itself feels smooth and thick and not at all like recycled paper, which I find tends to feel a bit scratchy. But the pen doesn't resist the surface and glides right over the paper. The ink saturates well, doesn't feather, and dries quickly (I'm using a 0.38mm black gel ink and have tried it with some fountain pens as well). These are really great notebooks at an inexpensive price, and a workable alternative to the Cahier (which is on the right in this pic).

The song is one of my favorites, and this YouTube is the best version.

Times Square at Night

Pic of the pink heart sculpture in Times Square, taken sometime in January or February 2009.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Zebra Disposable Brush Sign Pen Fine Point

I've been intrigued by the brush pens at JetPens but didn't want to get one before I could try it. So while browsing at Kinokuniya I had the chance to play with a Zebra Disposable Brush Sign Pen with a fine point, and decided on the spot to adopt. This is amazing, it feels like I'm writing with liquid silk. The pen glides smoothly across the paper with no drag, and has two different looks to it, depending on whether I hold the pen at a 90 degree or 45 degree angle. The 45 degree angle has a wider line, but both look really nice.

There was no bleed through on the Doane Paper but there was a very definite dark shadow, making this pen ineligible for double-sided writing. But somehow I don't think the pen minds very much; it doesn't look or feel like a delicate writing instrument.

I am definitely going to get a few more of these, and I know they have the Extra Fine version at Kinokuniya as well as several Pilot Brush Pens I've been thinking of purchasing. The only drawback, and it is minor, is that I feel I'm going to crush the brush tip if I press too hard. So I am holding the pen very lightly, and my hand is starting to cramp. Tho' I suspect the pen is meant for a light grip, built to dance over the paper the way a brush with black ink on it does.

Red Ink

I don't think I've ever used a red ink pen in my life, so I'm rather amused that Muji could have produced a pen that caught my attention with its color and quality. This is one of the Muji pens I bought a while back, a gel ink 0.38mm. I like the feel of the 0.38mm gel inks, they flow very nicely across the page with just a touch of resistance to this Rhodia 80 g/m, and they have a fine line that's readable. Not much of a shadow either, so both sides of the page can be used.

The Muji gel inks have a standard ballpoint-type ink cartridge. This particular red ink is vibrant and a true red. The pen has a polycarbonate shell and is slightly frosted so you can't see inside the pen, and refills are available so you'll never run out of red. Very modern design with a rectangular clip. For the price, about $1.60, it is a great gel ink pen. Can't wait to try the other colors.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mixed Inks: Diabolo Menthe and Bleu Nuit

I love the J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe, but the color is way too light and the pen feels scratchy on the paper (Rhodia 80 g/m). So I was wondering how the ink might look mixed with another J. Herbin. I love the idea of Diabolo Menthe, just the color alone and the drawing of the glass of Diabolo Menthe is so appealing (the drink sounds refreshing as well, green mint syrup mixed with lemonade). But as a pen ink that I would use constantly, I seriously can't think of writing with this color as I have a hard time seeing it.

Getting out my bottles, I found the perfect companion--Bleu Nuit, a Bastille Day gift from Karen Doherty at Exaclair. The soft, dark denim blue would look wonderful with the menthol green. All I needed were the tools: an eye dropper, a glass vial to mix in, and something to store the ink in. All were present in my kitchen, and after a good scrub and some time drying out I began to mix.

The large glass test tube actually held vanilla beans, and I kept the container just in case. I mixed an approximately 1:1 concoction of the J. Herbins, and this is the result (of the three ink colors in the left top area of this pic, the middle ink swatch is the mixed ink color I finally decided to try).

This color is much lighter than the Bleu Nuit but darker than the Diabolo Menthe and definitely a keeper, altough it still feels a a bit scratchy in a fine nib fountain pen. I'm thinking a medium nib might work much better, and will give it a try. I have a lot of ink left, and might also add more Bleu Nuit to darken the color just a bit. I do like this mixed color, and with some tinkering I think it will be a great addition to my inks.