Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pelikan M205 Duo Yellow Highlighter Ink

My Pelikan M205 yellow duo arrived a few days ago, and I wanted to play with the highlighter ink but didn't want to use the M205 pen. As I happened to have a Preppy highlighter available I made an eyedropper out of it and started highlighting.

This ink has an amazing green neon tinge to it, which you can see a bit of in the bottle in the above picture. There wasn't any feathering or bleed through (the journal is an Ecosystem with bright white paper), although the felt tip of the highlighter picked up some of the ballpen ink (which always happens).

This is just a fantastic neon yellow color, and you can purchase it at Goulet Pens (and other places I'm sure) separate from the pen itself. I don't use highlighters much these days, but I'm planning on using this one as it's just so bright and clear. If you make your own highlighters this might be an option to check out. I filled my Preppy about 2/3rds full but the 30ml bottle hardly seemed to have been used. So I'm thinking this will last a very long time with many, many highlighters filled.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin Ink

This is Mandarin, a clear true orange with just the slightest tinge of yellow, but that may be only when compared to another orange such as the Diamine Pumpkin. I'm not familiar with that many orange inks, but I think this might make an interesting highlighter if you wanted to dump the yellow and try this in a Preppy eyedropper (maybe with a drop or two of White of the Whale).

As you can see from the picture, this ink is not waterproof. There is no noticeable shading to Mandarin, and the ink didn't make my Muji steel fountain pen into a wet noodle. The pen's fine nib remained dry, no nib creep, and worked continuously--no dry starts or skipping, no shaking the pen to try and force ink into the capillary/feed. It's a well behaved ink, and there was no feathering on the paper and no bleed through on the Franklin Covey notepad, so this seems like a good choice for double-sided writing.

I wouldn't call this fast drying, while I didn't do a test of the Mandarin I have tested the Topaz and Jade and it's neither slow nor fast. It's definitely a fun color, not as serious as black, as soft as blue, nor as bold as red. If you're into orange inks or just want a change, give this one a try.

On the top right, courtesy of The New York Times, is a recent pic from the Milan fashion shows that actually does a good job of explaining Mandarin and Pumpkin. The Edelstein Mandarin ink is the color of the skirt, the Diamine Pumpkin is the top; jacket and model not included.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pelikan M205 Duo Is Here

Just picked up the package so I haven't had a chance to try it, but am looking forward to inking this up and highlighting everything in sight. I also purchased an extra fine nib, for when I want to use this yellow beauty straight. This will make a nice addition to my collection, as I already have the M205 Clear Blue pen with a fine point.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pelikan Edelstein Ink -- Jade

The one color among the much-anticipated Pelikan Edelstein inks that I very much wanted was Jade, which looked to me from the various pictures to be a soft yellow-tinged green that was different yet acceptable in polite company. I was thrilled to find that the color lived up to my expectations, it's a beautitful soft green with distinctly yellow overtones.

Jade is a very well-behaved ink, so polite and gentle you almost forget it's there. No ink creep on the nib, no skipping, flows very well, and while it almost made my Lamy Al-Star EF into a very wet writer the ink flow never quite reached that point. Just a bit wet, but not too much that it became annoying and messy. Drying time was average, neither incredibly short or long.

But the color is the main attraction for me. Jade is as close to a darker, more visible version of J. Herbin's Diabolo Menthe as I've seen; the latter is a touch more blue, but for me it's way too pale to use as an everyday writing ink. The above picture shows the two colors side by side, as well as the bottles. Jade is quite to my liking, and will definitely get a lot of play in my fountain pen rotation.

Finally, the bottle is a tie with Pilot Namiki's Iroshizuku as being one of the most elegant designs in glass. The picture above compares Edelstein's Jade on the right with J. Herbin's Diabolo Menthe on the left, showing off the Edelstein bottle's rectangular shape and larger bottle mouth. All four sides of the rectangle are slightly concave and give a nice, tapering look and feel to the thick glass, while the printing raised--also giving the bottle a distinctive feel and look.

The Edelstein Jade ink is a very pleasant surprise, with nothing usual or boring about either the color or the marketing design. I'm looking forward to trying the other colors I purchased, Topaz (a deep blue) and Mandarin (clear orange).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Diamine Twilight Ink

One of the new Diamine inks I really wanted to see was Twilight, a deep blue with just a hint of black in it that looked great in The Goulet Pen Company's pre-release swatches. The twilight time is a favorite of mine, so this became a must purchase. And as I had my De Atrementis Sherlock Holmes at hand, I decided to compare them.

First, the Diamine Twilight is a well-behaved ink. No skipping or nib creep, great saturation on the paper, and the drying time is okay. The color is rich and dark, and it's a great addition to your lineup. I used a Cross Century II fountain pen with an extra fine nib to try the Twilight, and was surprised at how dark the line was and how smoothly it flowed through the pen.

What I hadn't been expecting was how close it was to Sherlock Holmes, which is also a deep night blue color. The Diamine tends towards black while the De Atramentis has a touch more green in it, but at first glance they were hard to tell apart. Oxidation led to the Twilight looking a bit darker than the Sherlock, but I'm inclined to say that if you have one you might not need the other.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Erin C. Reviews Iroshizuku Syo-Ro Ink

(Guest Post by Erin C. with some fantastic ink pics!)

Having followed pen, ink & paper blogs for the past 2 or 3 years, it was quite a thrill to be the lucky winner of Pocket Blonde's one-year blogiversary giveaway. I promised Diane a review several weeks ago and today, having just read Notebooker Esq.'s review of Private Reserve Burgundy Mist, I am inspired to finally review Diane's giveaway prize: a bottle of Iroshizuku's Syo-Ro ink. Diane was also so kind as to include a Field Notes memo book.

I laughed in recognition at Notebooker, Esq.'s describing the goal of writing "the world's best ink review" as daunting as there are so many variables involved in an ink's performance. That said, I will list the two variables I can control.

Paper: Basics notebook journal with Clairefontaine paper (sent to me by Karen Doherty, VP of Marketing at Exaclair)

Gallery Leather Co. planner
Field Notes notebook (Diane sweetly added this with the ink she sent)

Pens: Parker 51 Flighter (F)

Lamy Safari (F)
Commander - American vintage lever-fill (M)
Parker Vector (broad Italic nib)

The ink flowed silkily across the Basic notebook's Clairefontaine paper, as you seasoned inkophiles might have guessed, with minimal to no show-through and no feathering. This held true with all of the pens, except where I wrote over a letter 3 times and of course you couldn't expect it not to go through in that case.

In the Gallery Leather Co. planner, the ink did show through as the paper is not as heavy as the Clairefontaine. The paper in the Field Notes memo book was absorbent, so bleed-through did happen, but no feathering.

The Iroshizuku ink has been reviewed as having “nice flow” and therefore is more prone to those characteristics. I would chose Noodler's or maybe Lamy ink in a fine point, such as Pilot 78G to use in Field Notes journal.

Iroshizuku's bottles are as beautiful as perfume bottles, if not more so. It has been discussed by many as a pricey ink, but if there is a color you like, it would be a worthy splurge. Plus, as mentioned in other reviews, there is the feature of a cone-shape at the bottom to enable you to draw up the last drop of ink.

I want to thank Diane at Pocket Blonde for the opportunity to try this ink. Syo-Ro (Pine Needle Dew) is a beautiful color, combining blue with green in a very subtle way. I would have called it Ocean.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

De Atramentis Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Ink

Another De Atramentis Historic Persons ink I recently purchased, as a companion to the Sherlock Holmes Night Blue ink, was this bottle of Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. The color is Oriental Red, which should be reddish orange but looks too dark and with a slighrtly blue tinge to it.

I've included the above photo of some of my reds to show where it it on the red ink scale. The photo to the left hasn't been enhanced, but in that pic it looks more like red-orange than the above. Perhaps a difference in paper (Rhodia vs. copy paper) or light or...whatever.

There's no obvious tie in between Arthur Conan Doyle and the Oriental Red color De Atramentis chose for his ink, just as Sherlock Holmes and Night Blue ink also have no particular connection. The color is not bright like the Diamine Poppy, and I think of it as being a good editor's red, something I could see marking up a handwritten page of fiction dealing with ratiocination and hell hounds.

Like the Sherlock Holmes, the ink isn't particularly quick drying. It flows well from my Platinum Affection fine point fountain pen, and there was no bleed through on the paper (copy paper in a very pretty notebook). It's a muddy red more like claret that hasn't been decanted--something Conan Doyle and Holmes would have seen as a clue to the time of Lord Something-or-Other's death, perhaps (after the cheese tray but before the butler could do it).

Reds are hard to describe, harder to use and not make it seem as if you're critiquing something or someone. To me they're more personal, a Greek chorus in a bottle warning of lemurs. A great addition to your red collection, if you're looking for something a bit different.

Monday, September 20, 2010

American Eagle Star Needle Tip Pens

American Eagle Star is a small importer located in Edison, NJ that deals in variety goods, an old-fashioned term that includes office supplies such as you would find at 99 Cent stores and such. The one brand that seems to be common to the dollar-and-below stores is Elite Series, part of the lineup that includes pens, pencils, scissors, thumb tacks, and many other school and office staples.

I happened upon these Roller Needle Tip Pens at my neighborhood store and added them to my basket. For about $1.19 these are a very nice needle point gel ink pen. The blue ink, which has a vibrancy I didn't expect, flows well and there's no skipping or streaking. There is a slight amount of bleed through of the ink on this Doane Paper notepad, but other than that I have only compliments for the pen. The plastic grip has a diamond pattern to add a little texture to the sleek silver barrel. There's also a side window on the barrel to check the ink level of the pen, and an orange accent on the lettering.

If you happen to see these, get a few packs. They're inexpensive, write well, and look good.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mosaic at 42nd Street GCT Subway

This is one of the mosaic patterns at 42nd Street Grand Central Terminal's Lexington Avenue Line. All of the pillars have this design, which I found really mesmerizing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

De Atramentis Sherlock Holmes Ink

One of the De Atramentis Historic Persons Inks is Sherlock Holmes, which along with their Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ink commemorated Doyle's 150th birthday (May 22, 1859). These inks just got to the US, and I've been to Art Brown International Pen Shop several times looking for a bottle only to find the slot empty. Third time's the charm, and on my last visit I finally found Sherlock on the shelf, one bottle in the slot and none to replace it for a few more weeks.

The color is called Night Blue, and it does seem like a dark but not stormy night sky. To me it looks like there's some turquoise in this (the picture is true to the color, no special effects added), but I'm not totally sure. What's nice about this ink is the smooth flow, no skipping or dry starts where you fear for the nib tip because you're pressing so hard trying to get ink to flow out. What makes this a lot of fun is the bottle (use the link above), which has a silhouette of Sherlock Holmes in deerstalker and pipe rather than a portrait like the other Historic Persons inks. Because each of us has our own perfect Holmes in mind, but the character is universal rather than specific--like night blue sky, I imagine.

There's a bit of shading to this color, though not much, and drying time is good although not a quick dry ink. The Platinum Affection I used has a fine nib, and the paper is some regular copy paper from a new notebook that I recently bought because I loved the cover. There was no bleed through, but not for lack of trying on the ink's part.

Definitely a beautiful and different blue, one that I'm looking forward to using a lot.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Diamine Syrah

Came back from Art brown with several new inks, including Diamine's new Syrah. This is a really beautiful burgundy/maroon, with enough blue in it to make it stand out amongst the red colors as different.

All my pens seem to love Diamine ink, and Syrah is no exception. My Pelikan's medium nib got a touch of ink creep, but the pen itself was amazingly wet--absolutely no problem with ink flow on the first letter of a sentence, as I've had with pens using Noodler's.

Syrah shades nicely, giving a very deep color where the ink pools a tad. It dries...eventually, lol. It's not a quick drying ink, and as I couldn't find my Rhodia pad for this I wound up using a regular blank notebook with standard paper. The ink didn't quite bleed through, but that may have more to do with my fanning the page and cursing rather than the paper quality. Definitely a true burgundy and not too red or too blue/purple.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Perfect Little Black Notebook: My Custom Design that Ended the Quest

Chuck sent me this email about how he custom designed his own perfect notebook, and he agreed to let me post it on Pocket Blonde. The time and dedication spent in creating this beautiful leather flip top notebook holder and notebooks made me feel both awed and envious. Enjoy the post, as I did.

Notebooks, for me, mean a lot of different things. As a kid, I think I was attracted to them for organizational reasons as well as convenience. Not that I could articulate it, but turning in homework and taking notes always seemed a little silly on huge sheets of paper. I often don't jot down much about what I need to recall, but the amount I do take down really always seemed to be better organized on smaller sheets. Then there's the convenience factor of not having 8 x 10 sheets that have to go in binders or bags.

My basic model is that the easier it is to take notes, the more likely you are to take good notes. Also, if you know that writing important things down once will allow you easy access to that information for the future, it “boosts” the incentive to write it down in the first place. The ability for the notebook to blend into your wardrobe so that you don’t have to hold it when you need your hands free, or are always leaving it on your desk or in your car, is critical. Taking notes should almost appear seamless, or least not a huge distraction. So to sum up convenience, it’s got to small and light enough to carry, but large enough to allow for room to have some form of organization and of course should include the all important writing implement.

Then there’s archiving. What good are notes you can’t locate? That’s where the Moleskines stumped me. I get that if you’re going to Greece and you want to scrapbook your experience, they may work well and look very elegant and sophisticated in the coffee shop or on your bookshelf. What, however, of the day to day? Projects, lists, phone numbers, addresses--all of these things have multiple recall uses.

Sometimes, I take down information that I don’t even know I’ll need later, but I’ve still got it. That’s where my note taking mantra really shines. Without inserts though, that display date ranges and important note content, I’d never be able to recall seemingly random records. The beauty of my little system is that my book looks every bit as elegant as the Moleskines, except I can remove and label the inserts and I fill them up. This allows my books a great deal of flexibility. I imagine that with Moleskines, you might hesitate to put “off topic” issues on your pages. That recipe or cute boys’ phone number would be difficult to locate on a random page of a book you used for journaling or traveling, and have now closed out.

There’s also the sexy factor. Growing up with a passion for the New York original Law & Order, the power and influence of the notebook was unmistakable. All cop dramas and news/media shows draw from the image of the concerned and altruistic investigator cobbling together seemingly random bits of information held together by little more than the spiral bindings their notebooks.

Notebooks show that you’re both caring and responsible. They indicate that you are prepared to personalize the concerns of others and have a real shot and getting the details of certain situation right. The ubiquitous “loose cannon” detective with his big gun and leather jacket, always scribbling notes in his notebook… or brashly flipping it open (always to the correct page) to prove the accuracy of something he’s talking about. This is another reason I wanted something in leather and w/ a pen loop. With a bit of practice, I could whip out the book, the pen and start writing all in one smooth motion; sitting, standing, walking, whatever.

So those are some of my visualizations. In reality, I’ve bumped around careers in journalism (early on) and real estate. Good notes, of course, are key to success in either field. My notebook makes conducting background checks in the court house a pretty cool endeavor. Investigating target properties, tracking their ownership through the recorder of deeds… these are all perfect notebook applications. In this capacity, the books are like a clearing house that stores all the bad or useless info, until you find what you’re looking for and proceed to the next phase of the project.

I guess the last thing I’ll talk about are the various blogs. Firstly, they help you feel like you’re not the freak you think you might be when you realize you’re not alone. You’ll notice I haven’t really touched on pens or paper quality, cause for me those things don’t matter as much. A smooth writing, well weighted pen isn’t lost on me, but nibs and inks are probably a little far afield. The importance of keeping the book though… well let’s just say we’re all on the same page with that one. I feel that it’s interesting that I still desire to share with people though, because I’ve found what I consider a near perfect solution to my notebook woes. I realize that an inherent issue with blogging is that it does little good to discuss items that people can’t readily go purchase at a store. I spent years researching the notebook that I designed, though you’d never know it by looking at it, and I want to share my insights, but in truth, it would be prohibitively expensive and impractical for people to do what I did. I think this is what you wanted to talk about.

I designed this book because no other notebook combines size, convenience and style in the way that I needed. I began by designing the leather cover. This cover had to be small enough to fit in the back pocket of jeans and the inside pocket of jackets, but large enough to hold a book capable of organizing concepts and information that may not be collected “linearly” (often when you talk to people, they make errors or omissions in what they say, and I’ve learned that you need to leave space by skipping lines, so that you can include what they left out at a later time). The cover was also to have a pen loop and receipt flap, but those were easier to add and came only after we new the size of the cover was exactly right.

So I went to a leather guy. I’ll admit creating the notebook wasn’t his favorite activity. He did, however, really help me pick out the best leather, and show me the mechanics of putting it together. The case is two very thin, rectangular pieces of leather stitched back to back, and then simply folded in the middle to create the flip. The first time we tried it, the measurements were too big and it didn’t really fit in the jeans so well. He was nice enough to cut the cover down again, and it fit perfect with just enough sticking out of the pocket to grab it easily. The stitching looks like real craftsman’s quality, and the leather itself just gets softer with use. It’s pretty amazing. Other than that, we added two strips on the inside of the back of the book to hold the cardboard flaps of the not yet created inserts, and added the pen loop (just a strip of elastic in a loop) and a thin piece of leather on the top flap to hold receipts and loose paper.

The only challenge after that was locating a company that could produce inserts exactly the right size (3 7/16" by 6") to fit the cover. I found such a company in Florida, that could generate a spiral bound flip top notebook exactly in bulk. They did send a mock up for free, without which I’m not sure I could have committed the $400 they eventually wanted for the whole job. The mock up obviously let me see how the book would fit and feel in its case. How big the spirals would be, how much of an overhang the edge of the cover would have over the insert, questions I needed to answer before committing a ton of money. I did have minor adjustments such as the number of pages per book, and I was happier with this one and felt prepared to proceed.

The next step was the graphics of the book. Lucky for me I was looking for something very simple here--just a title line on the top with date slashes, and as many smaller lines as could fit on the page. The front covers of the inserts are similar, but they include a box for the volume number, date range and about ten lines for key topics that the insert will be filled with. The tough part was paying the $400 for the bulk amount, but by my calculations, I’m good on notebooks for 8 years now and that’s a lot better than 8 years worth of Moleskines I couldn’t use. So I bit the bullet and a VCR-sized box arrived a short time later with 100 books that were pretty perfect.

All told, after years of research and complaining about other notebooks, plus $50 to the leather guy (and buying a few of his wears) $400 for the books and I’m a happy camper. Convincing yourself that it’s worth the time before you do it--that was the toughest part.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Uni-Ball Vision Elite with Blue Black Ink

The uni-ball Vision Elite gel ink pen is a standard at my office, we all love it's smooth flow and milky-white-gray good looks. The silver accents give this pen a coolness that's akin to wintergreen mint, refreshing and surprising. So when I was browsing through the office pens at Art Brown I was struck by the color of the rounded plastic cap and took a closer look. This Vision Elite has blue-black ink, one of my favorite gel ink colors so I had to get it and see how well it does.

In a word, excellent. The line is about a 0.5m and thick, the ink flows well and dries fast, and the color is unusual. Writing with my black and blue gel ink pens makes this one stand out, and that's sometimes what I need when taking notes and highlighting different ideas. So this will go into my rotation, along with my Burgundy Sarasa and a few others.

(The notepad is a large Rhodia Le Carre)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Piccadilly eJournal for the iPad

One of the iTunes apps that caught my attention after I acquired my iPad was this eJournal by Piccadilly. I was looking for something to take notes and downloaded a few different apps, and as I'm familiar with Piccadilly's paper journals I thought the $2.99 price tag for a never-ending notebook was quite reasonable.

The first thing to note is that there is no front cover to this eJournal, so no privacy. If you open the application, every page is available for viewing by you and anyone looking over your shoulder.

Pages are created by title or date, and the eJournal is searchable so that's one point over a paper journal. There are choices of page layout as well, such as butterflies, music, cherry blossoms, skulls; if you want something different, Piccadilly offers additional layouts for 99 cents. You can change the font and the size as you desire, and you can add photos or images, and you can email the entry as a graphic or as text. It's an amazing eJournal, although typing out my entries on a keyboard rather than using a fountain pen (or my finger as with some apps) is different.

The eJournal doesn't seem to have a set number of pages, so I can't give you any dimensions such as "80 gsm with 96 leaves in an 8.5 x 11 leather-like journal." I will be the first to say I miss writing on paper when I use this, as well as writing with a fountain pen and one of my various beloved inks.

But when I'm on the bus and I want to make a quick journal entry about something (lately, I've been recording dreams) then it's ideal. However, you do need an iPad to use it so it's appeal is to a limited group of journal and notebook enthusiasts. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September's Carnival

OfficeSupplyGeek is hosting the September Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Ink. Definitely check out Tom's HUNCH, it's an amazing post (as are all the others).

Some New Reds

I've added some red inks to my collection, all in the top row. From left to right: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the De Atramentis Historic Persons Ink Collection, described as Oriental Red and definitely a deep red; Diamine's Poppy Red, a bright tomato color with some yellow in it; and J. Herbin's 1670 Rouge Hematite, a beautiful scarlet red. I've swabbed some other reds from my collection to compare, and find I'm looking at that De Atramentis Dornfelder with new appreciation. Reviews to follow, as soon as I find some open pens to ink up.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Max Gui Clips

Some time back at Kinokuniya I found these metal Gui Clips from Max, colored blobs of metal that will hold about 20 pages in style. I have no idea what other stores offer these, and I would love to buy the orange ones (unfortunately the North American Max site seems to be mostly devoted to pneumatic drills. JetPens has something similar that makes a nice addition to your cart if you're going for the $25 free shipping and don't want any more pens.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Maker's Notebook

While visiting a friend in Brooklyn I stopped by Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store to check out the Field Notes Brand stock (got the last NY State Fair three-pack!), the Moleskines, and anything new. What caught my eye immediately was this beautiful Cyan Blue Maker's Notebook, a 150 page hard-cover journal created by the people at Make Magazine.

The engineering graph paper is great for diagrams, calculations, notes, doodles, or whatever you want to record, and the notebook includes 20 pages of reference material for electronics, conversions, caffeine comparison charts, and other equally vital information.

You can also label the spine, which has a large white rectangular space for dates, thoughts, numbers, whatever.

The white grid on the cover and the red elastic band and ribbon marker make this a tri-color delight of a notebook. The Maker's Notebook is $19.95 so it's comparable to a Moleskine or Rhodia Webbie; the notebook does lie flat, and it's much bigger than other large notebooks, measuring 6.25 x 9.25 x 0.50.

The pages are numbered, and each page has a blank heading that lists the project name, date, sign or note, and a place to link project/related pages ("From Page___, to Page___). There's also a two-page ruled Table of Contents.

Definitely check out the comments at the website, the second one in particular has a short list of errors in various drawings (such as page 161, the Basic DMM Circuit Tests, which is above)).

The notebook also features a back pocket, like a Moleskine, as well as two sheets of stickers with such lines as "If You Can't Open It, You Don't Own It" and "Harmless Science Project" to paste where you see fit. My favorite is "Need Sanity Check" and I might have that blown up into a poster.