Monday, February 28, 2011

Music Painting

Don't remember where I first saw this, but it's brilliant. Enjoy.

The Giveaway Winners (and others)

Looking over all the entrants and wishing I'd bought more of these Passport Notebooks to give away (and support unemployed philosophers in Brooklyn). So I decided to add a few other giveaway items, if you're interested.

First, the Passport winners. Email me at (subject line Passport Notebook winner, please) and I'll send this out to you right away.

The Passport to Eden Winner is: 10

Shaynie said...

Oh, wow! Those are really awesome! Thank you for the giveaway!

The Passport to Wonderland Winner is:
Result: 24
JoniB said...

Those are so cute! Count me in.

The Passport to Oz Winner is: 12

Vicki Holdwick said...

Oh, Diane, How I'd love one of these lovely passport notebooks!

Thanks for the opportunity,


And now, for the second giveaway. Almost a year ago I reviewed the Fabriano Bouquet of Notebooks, and I realize I'm not using them as quickly as I thought.

So for three other entrants chosen at random I am offering a small, very elegant Bouquet notebook of my color choice. Congrats, and email me at so I can send this to you (subject line Bouquet Notebook winner, please).

The Dark Green Ecologica (Recycled) Notebook goes to: Result 13:
Aimee said...

Aaah, those are so fabulous. I love little notebooks, I use them for all sorts of things. None of mine look like that, tho :)

The Dark Blue Marcata (Felt Marked) Notebook goes to: Result 25

Jackie Flaherty said...

These look terrific! I hope I win. I think I have room for more notebooks. I'm pretty sure I do. I do.

The Yellow Goffrata (Embossed) Notebook goes to: Result 1

Truppi said...

Wow! Those look awesome.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Economy Pens Reviews the Ikea Golf Pencil

Missed this post originally, but I love the review of the Ikea golf pencil. I always pick up a couple when I hit the Red Hook Ikea store and write down all the things I'd love to order, then forget about them when I re-enter The Real World. Great review of a humble pencil that carries our wishes.

Writing on Water by Leigh Reyes

Absolutely wonderful, do check out her blog for other great posts.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Uni-ball Jetstream Ballpoint Pen

I liked the looks of this Uni-ball Jestream Ballpoint pen and thought I'd try one out, the 0.7mm Basic series with blue color accents and ink.

This is one of the nicest-writing ballpoints I've ever used, the ink seems more like a gel than an oil-based ink. And the 0.7mm line seems more like 0.5mm, not as wide as I thought it would be but just the right width for me. I just learned that oil-based inks give a finer line, and this one does.

This ink is also in the "fraud proof" line, as the ink bonds with the paper so as not to be susceptible to a chemical wash that could create a blank check with a good signature. Nice to know I'm protected, even though I bank online and write on check a year.

This little black pen is a great accessory, with a slightly cinched glossy plastic barrel and a matte rubber grip that complement rather than clash. The clip is sleekly rounded, which I love, and the accent colors break up the sameness of the black.

Something I hadn't noticed is that the middle of the barrel is actually opaque. But as it is tinted black, it can't be to check on the ink level in the refill as you can't see it. Put the barrel up to a light and you'll be able to look through it, but I have no idea why unless it's just an interesting design feature meant to baffle and amuse.

All in all a great pen, order a few in different colors if you're rounding out a JetPens order.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Unemployed Philosphers Guild Giveaway

The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, located at 105 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn as well an amazing online store, has some great items for the tourist making a quick visit to this planet. Gifts range from Atone Mints candies, a Sigmund Freud plush doll, and a Global Warming mug (watch the continents disappear as the mug warms up--not dishwasher safe, btw). They also have a free e-card service, sure to get you noticed.

The Guild also sells paper items, including Passport Notebooks. The 3.5" x 5" notebook is a handy travelogue for your inner journey, and has 64 lined pages of what feels like 80gsm paper. The insides covers contain travel tips as well as official passport information (including a place for a picture).

I recently picked up a few items from the Guild, and bought three Passport Notebooks for a giveaway. The Passports are pictured above: Paradise (yellow), Wonderland (dark pink), and Oz (emerald green, of course). All are in their wrappers waiting for some lucky winner to claim as a prize.

The Contest Rules:

1. Leave a comment below by 3 pm Sunday, February 26.

2. Comments will be considered to be in number order (first comment = 1, second comment = 2, etc.)

3. I will pick three winners at random to receive a Passport of my choosing, and will post the results on Monday, February 27 in the morning.

4. You will have one week to contact me via email. If any notebooks are not claimed, I will simply pick another winner at random.

5. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Uni-Ball Propus Erasable Highlighter

Looking at highlighters I decided to try this Uni-Ball Propus erasable yellow pen. The idea that a highlighter could be erased has a certain appeal to me, but I didn't think it would take away all of the ink so I didn't have very high hopes.

Actually, the erasing went quite well. The yellow color is more neon with a green tinge to it (I'm thinking black light), and while I needed to put a lot of pressure on the eraser it did take off the yellow ink. The eraser crumblies left in the wake actually seemed to cling to the paper a bit and took two or three brushing to clean off this notebook.

I should add that this Propus isn't smear-proof, using it with a ballpoint pen left a black stain on the tip of the highlighter and a smear on the first line. However, the stain did lessen as I used the highlighter so I'll only take away half a star.

Finally, the tip of the pen is depressed initially to get ink to flow down, then you pump every once in awhile to get more ink on the tip.

An interesting concept, and if you want to get rid of all the markings in a book to sell or trade it then this is the highlighter to use.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Doubting Thomas

My friend's husband is the drummer in this band, which has achieved some renown in Charlotte, NC. I love this song, Lost in LA, and thought I'd share the video.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How To Make A Fountain Pen

I thought this clip was really fascinating--never could figure out how the makers got an iridium tip on a gold nib. Beryllium copper? And watching the machine press the nib and feed into the section made my eyes pop, I would have thought the pressure would crush everything but all the pens survived.

The pens are Aurora, the official pen of Italy's sesquicentennial and featured in the latest Goldspot Pens post.

And yes, it's "it's" not "its" but life is short so its okay. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

6th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival

Just discovered this via Groupon, the 6th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival is this weekend in Manhattan (2/19 and 2/20) ad 7 W. 34th Street. What an amazing-looking show, I'm planning on attending Sunday.

Zebra Techno Line 0.4mm Ballpoint Pen

The Zebra Techno Line Ballpoint Pen has a lot going for it: small enough to fit into a purse or back pocket, great styling (the steel section below the grip is tapered and curved), complementary colors on the barrel (clear) and grip (darker matte) that gives it a coordinated look, a hard-plastic clip that's rounded, and an oil-based ink that really doesn't smudge.

Minuses? Pretty minor: the 0.4mm tip is much thinner than that, and the ink is just a touch too light for me--this may be more a function of the thin line, so I'd like a really dark black that I can see better. Otherwise, it's a great ballpoint pen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Whitelines Perfect Bound Square Notebook

Ever since I saw the new Whitelines squared paper at the National Stationery Show I've been meaning to try the new style in a notebook and finally had the chance. The Whitelines Perfect Bound Square Notebook with a black cover really is a perfect notebook, with the great whitelines paper but in a square format that's fantastically readable and writable.

The Perfect Bound notebook has rounded corners which is a nice detail, and the medium size A5 notebook has 48 sheets of 80gsm paper. The squared grid is similar in size to Rhodias (5mm I think), but the white lines don't get in the way of writing (and disappear when photocopying).

This has to be the first notebook I've used where the first page isn't bound tightly to the cover, making it almost useless for writing. I was very surprised and pleased that the first page lay flat against the rest of the notebook, and I didn't have to skip over that sheet or rip it out and undertake a repair job.

The paper is fantastic, truly fountain pen friendly so ink saturates the paper quickly and thereby dries very fast. The heavyweight paper doesn't let the ink bleed through, although there's something of a shadow as you can see in the above picture. But double-sided writing should be not problem, and you get used to the ghosts of sentences past.

One thing I didn't really notice but will mention: at the bottom of each page is a large rectangle 3 grid lines tall with very faint lettering denoting that Whitelines has a patent pending. This didn't really matter to me, but I wasn't put off by the Rhodia trademark in the bottom corner of the Webbie 1.0 either. If that's something that bothered you, this may irritate as well.

Otherwise, the black Perfect Bound Whitelines is a handsome grid notebook with many pluses and only one minus. The color scheme is attractive and unusual as well--I like the deep matte black with bright pumpkin orange banding and white print (the pictures don't really capture how bright the color is, nor how fine the black color is on the very sturdy cover).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cartier Tiger Sterling Silver Fountain Pen

This is an amazing looking pen, second to last picture at the PenGallery site makes me want to reach in and scratch his belly. Besides the sterling silver and black striped body, the eyes are aquamarines and the stand is crystal.

Long Island Pen Show March 5 & 6

The Long Island Pen Show is coming up, Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6, at Hofstra University. Barring severe weather conditions I plan on hopping on the LIRR and heading out there, but I'm not sure which day. One of the pen club members, Norman, has decided to divest himself of his 250-pen collection (left menu at the bottom under Pen Collection Sale), so I'm definitely looking forward to the trip.

Nomadic Envelope Style Pen Case

The Nomadic Envelope Style Pen Case is a tri-fold case that holds anywhere from 14 to 20 pens (depending on the diameter) and can, among other things, can stand on its own. The durable nylon fabric comes in a variety of colors (Tokyo Pen Shop has black, orange, and red while JetPens has black, navy, red, and khaki)

What I like is the velcro on each wing of the case is positioned exactly for maximum tightness in holding the pens in place without stretching the nylon out of shape. I tend to carry a lot of fountain pens in this gray one (I think 15 at one point), and while the case didn't lay flat it didn't bulge so much that I couldn't get it into my satchel. With the fountain pens clipped to the side of each pen holder, I didn't have any problems with them falling out.

Opened all the way it's a big pen case, with lots of room in each nylon section for big or thin pens, while under the placket (top middle section) there's a compartment for erasers or coins. The height of each section is such that you can see your pen (fountain or otherwise) right away, making finding your daily arsenal all the easier.

The back view shows how the edges curve to make the envelope all the more distintive, just a detail that adds a touch of style to the case itself. So far I've had no ink spills or blotches, so I don't know how well the nylon cleans. But it's most likely washable. If you're interested in a soft, non-leather case that will hold a lot of pens then this is definitely something to keep in mind when placing your next JetPens or Tokyo Pen Shop order. The price is very reasonable, too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

He Didn't Carry a Pen?

Eliza Ward sent this to me, it's a great follow-up to Jack's post on Pretty Boy Floyd and she's letting me share it.

Besides the great story, she highlights something I've noticed about myself since I started taking an interest in pens and stationery--how aware I am of any mention of writer's paraphernalia in what I read. I'm almost yelling into the void "what size was the nib?!"

Many thanks for this, Eliza!

I've been reading Go Down Together: The Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn and when I read this passage I thought of your post:

"Then Clyde told his father he had some papers he wanted to sign and leave with him. He didn't say what kind of papers they were, and taciturn Henry didn't ask. Since Henry was illiterate, he couldn't read them anyway. ... After he signed them and added his thumbprint, he told Henry, they should be given to his mother, Cumie. She'd know what to do with them. But the pen Clyde took from his pocket was out of ink, and it was the only one he had brought with him. Henry didn't carry a pen--he never wrote anything, so he didn't need one. Clyde put the papers back in the suitcase and said that signing them could wait." (p314)

That happened just a couple of weeks before he was ambushed, so his parents never found out what the papers were regarding. Guinn thinks it might have been Clyde's will. Clyde's mom thought it might've had someting to do with property, since he'd been talking about buying land. Anyway, now no one knows, and it's all because of a pen!

Monday, February 7, 2011

J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite Ink

There are many great reviews of J. Herbin's 1670 anniversary ink Rouge Hematite, such as here, here, and here. I was more interested in comparing the color to a few others I love, Diamine Poppy Red and Noodler's Widowmaker (with Diamine's Oxblood thrown in for a third comparison).

One thing I did finally notice about the 1670 is the gold sheen, which is very subtle. Shaking the bottle is a must, and even then you won't notice much unless, like me, you raise the notepad horizontally until it's even with your eyes (and just above your nose). Then I saw the slight gold tone to the red, which is very evenly disbursed within the red color itself.

As the picture shows, Widowmaker is darker and slightly cooler (I'm seeing a hint of blue) and Poppy Red much lighter (and warmer, with a lot of yellow in it). Oxblood is in its own category, a darker red that looks more like dried, oxidized blood than the drops of the fresh stuff you might see from a shaving mishap.

Another detail about 1670 is how much it shades. I used a q-tip for the swatch and the writing, and found the way the ink pooled and deepened an attractive addition to this ink's repertoire.

If you haven't gotten a bottle yet, check out Goulet Pens--you can order a sample to check it out, or the full bottle (which is as lovely as the ink).

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Rhodia dotPad Reverse Book

Rhodia's new dotWebbie can't get here fast enough for me, but I thought about my other favorite, the Reverse Book, and how a dotReverse would be a great addition to the line up. How would it look, would it work as well as the grid, would I love it as much? The only way I could find out would be to make one.

A few weeks earlier I had cannibalized some Rhodia large notepads to use with a three-ring binder, and hadn't thrown out one of the backs of an orange notepad. I cut down the paper, then got my buddy C. to run the Fellowes binder. We found the plastic rings, then started aligning paper and punching rectangles. (I now have quite a bit of dotPad paper for a 3.25 by 8.5 notepad, but that's another project entirely.)

The dotPad paper works well with the Reverse Book style, and doesn't overwhelm the way the grid paper does. The only part I would do over would be the size of the plastic ring binder, there was a smaller one available but according to the specs it wouldn't hold as much paper as this larger one. Now I realize I should have used it anyway, as this massive plastic binder takes up too much space. Maybe if it was in orange or black plastic, or bronze metal, I would be more accepting. But you can only work with what's on hand.

This is the top inside cover, where you can see that I'm really using the back of a Rhodia notepad.

And finally, the plain chipboard used to back the Rhodia notepads. All in all, this worked out very well. I used the same 8.25 by 8.25 dimensions as the Reverse Book, and added the dotPad and Rhodia motifs on the front cover.

Last, a pic of the Rhodia Reverse Book next to my "Rhodia dotReverse". I'm not a crafts-y person, although when I put my mind to it I can manage not to glue myself to the table when working on something. This came out much better than I expected, and now I have my own dotReverse while I wait and hope for Rhodia to make an official version.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pilot LE Grance in Yamabouki Koi

One of the truly stunning pens made by Pilot is the Grance, a slender flat top pen with a graceful curve to barrel. It's a beautiful pen, as you can see here (scroll to the middle) but unfortunately it isn't sold in the United States.

This Limited Edition Grance is in a finish called Yamabouki Koi, for the golden orange koi fish. The pictures don't quite capture the color, which isn't as deep an orange as the above would have it. The pen takes a CON-50 converter or international cartridges, and the nib (which I can't quite read, 14K something) is my favorite fine point.

I was lucky, as I won the auction on eBay having lost twice before. This was the last time, and I was amazed when no one outbid me--the golden orange fish was mine! It makes an impression when showing off to pen people. One of my best moments was at Art Brown, when I showed it to the assistant. He mentioned that people show him their pens all day and he didn't think much about them, but this was definitely an impressive pen. He's right, it is.

The golden orange really picks up the black tip of the cap and barrel, and the silver accents don't class with the warm overall color scheme. After all this, I almost couldn't care if it skipped and scratched across the paper, but it doesn't: it's one of the best pens in my daily arsenal.

If you come across the Pilot Grance, whatever the color or nib size, try and get it. It's one of the best writing tools ever made.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Simon's Cat Journals

Simon's Cat has his own journals available, a larger A5 and a set of three smaller A7 memo books. I am tempted to order, if only to find out the shipping cost.