Monday, October 31, 2011

Peacable Kingdom

I've never seen my three girls lounging this close. But as we all know, the best place to sleep is (left to right) on the windowsill (Seranne), on the radiator (Mally), or on mom's knitting (Theia).

American Cursive Handwriting @FPGeeks

Check out this blog post by Fountain Pen Geeks on Michael Sull and his American Cursive Handwriting, a 349 page guide to traditional cursive handwriting in the US. That is amazing, I'm thinking of ordering the Reference guide.

Lost Crates October 2011 @LostCrates

I've been a bit ambivalent about my October Lost Crates shipment, not because anything was terrible but because it was so...blah. Nothing really excited me, so I've been putting off showing the Crate haul.

From let to right: Pressed Ink set of 10 thank you notes,Conceptum soft cover blank journal ("the new notebook with numerous practical functions"--if it would make coffee for me in the morning, that would be new and practical as well as greatly appreciated); Semikolon photo booklet; and in front, a Le Pen by marvy Japan in burgundy. The latter is probably the one item that got my attention, as I remember when those came out about 35 years or so ago and I loved them (and still do).

Not a bad group of products, but for some reason I just can't get excited about any of these items because I don't tend to use many of them (I'm not a photo booklet person, and I have stationery I use for thank you notes). The Le Pen will be reviewed, and that's about all for this Crate. I'm looking forward to November, just to see what type of pen they put in.

Carpenter Pencils at Went Sketching Blog

Great post on drawing with carpenter pencils by Tom Lynch at his new blog, Went Sketching. Take a look at the Halloween cut outs as well, spooky!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Compendium Write Now Journals @ShopWritersBloc

Cheryl at Writer's Bloc very generously offered me a journal to review from their Compendium line, a name I wasn't familiar with that has an assortment of message journals that look to add a little hope and inspiration to your life. In particular is this Write Now Journal with the "Make the World A Little Kinder" motif that immediately grabbed my attention: it's a really beautiful image of the 7 chakras centers on the front cover.

The front and back view is beautiful, with the vibrant Roy G. Biv assembly of circles on a page green-gray background. I'm impressed with how bright the inks are and the overall design of this journal; the others in the series are equally compelling, but I have to say this one is my favorite. The cover is flexible, and has a light grain texture that's actually pleasing to the fingertips. Measuring about 5 by 8 with 128 pages, it's a good journal for every day use.

Inside you see the pages, which are printed in soy ink on chlorine-free paper. The paper is actually a bit on the scratchy side, I could feel the tip of my fountain pen going over it but there wasn't much resistance and the surface actually feels smooth to the touch. Every 6 pages is separated by a colorful buffer page containing a quotation, which adds a nice touch.

The inside cover has a space for writing your name or whatever you want to put down, with a lot of colorful images that add to the overall appeal of this journal. That, and the price, make it a winner!

Fountain pen ink had a slight bleed through, although the actual writing didn't feather out on the line. I'd say it would be about the same with a gel ink pen, so double-sided writing will have some shadow to it.

That said, this is one of the best-looking and most thoughtful journals I've ever seen. If you're a reiki/chakra enthusiast this would be a great journal for detailing your work and thoughts, but it's perfect as a daily diary for the less esoterically inclined.

Monday, October 24, 2011

BIC Triumph 730R Rollerball

The BIC Triumph 730R rollerball is a sleek looking pen, with a molded plastic body that ends in a rounded point. Like it's sibling the Triumph 537R, it's a smooth writing gel ink pen that bills itself at The Ultimate Writing Experience. Perhaps, but one problem I find with it is that the cap won't post and I find myself misplacing it on my desk or around the office. I like to post the cap so I know where it is--with this, I have to hold it in my hand or else risk misplacing it.

The other thing to mention is the 0.7mm tip, which is billed as a medium width but seems quite wider than that. I'm definitely going to swap out the refill for a 0.5mm when the time comes, as the line width just seems way too wide for my taste.

As for writing, it's a great pen that is smooth but I'm not sure I'd call the ink flow controlled. I noticed the ink was very wet, and took a few seconds to dry. So smears and stains are definitely possible with this pen. But if you're not in a hurry, this is a great option. Two packs can be found in the office supplies aisle of your local supermarket, so take a look next time you're grocery shopping.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Monami Love Pet Pens @ShopWritersBloc

When Cheryl from Writer's Bloc very generously offered me a set of Monami Love Pet gel ink pens to review I was really thrilled, and couldn't wait for them to arrive. What an incredible set of 10 gel ink, 0.38mm needle tip pens in a great array of colors.

Each pen is labelled for a specific dog, and there's a small picture of a puppy on the end of the pen. I'm guessing that the Love Pet label is a literal translation of the Korean, and on a whimsical level it works well. Who doesn't love their pet? Whatever, let's move on to the pens and leave the explanation to someone else.

First, the design: these are square pens and very easy to hold, the edges don't get in the way of holding the pen and so aren't really noticeable. All of the details are coordinated to the pen's color, so with orange you have an orange barrel, orange detailing on the barrel, and orange writing and accenting on the end where the specific dog picture is located. Each cap is labelled 0.38, and the 10 pens have their own plastic carrying case so you won't misplace a color in your bag.

The colors are: black, dark blue, red, green, purple, pink, light blue/turquoise, navy blue, brown, and orange. Each one features a dog, such as a maltese, siberian husky, shihtzu, fox terrier, and pomeranian.

I have to say that the first blue above, which I think of as a regular blue, really caught my eye. It's a deeper blue, while the royal blue below has a decent touch of purple to it. The 0.38mm width of the tip is perfect for both reading and writing, and the line seems to jump off the page.

If you want just one Love Pet pen rather than the 10 pack, Writer's Bloc has the blue, black, and red available.

The pens are refillable, and while I don't see a refill available at Writer's Block I'm pretty sure these are standard sizes. A Hi-Tec-C or something similar would probably fit, but an email or phone call would give you better information. The above pic shows them capped, posted, and taken apart to show off as much of the pen as possible.

What a great pen set, and the price is quite reasonable. Definitely Shop Writer's Bloc, and check out the Monami Love Pet gel ink pen set. They also have an amazing selection of Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebooks and pads that make a great combination with the Monami Love Pet pens.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moleskine Reading Light

While I don't use reading lights much these days for reading, I do like having one handy in case I need a quick light to see what the cats knocked over.

This Moleskine reading light caught my eye for it's design and the product material, which is some type of polymer that's very flexible and reminds me of Gumby.

The thinness is achieved by making it rechargeable using a USB port, so there's battery pack attached to the light and I don't have to go looking for double or triple As. The light has a blue dot that turns off when recharging is complete, and each recharge lasts for hours. (Is it me, or does the USB connection "tongue" look a like a middle finger?)

The Moleskine reading light works well as a book light, not the brightest I've ever seen but quite usable. If you're a Moleskine person, or into gadgets, then this is something you want to take a look at. I can see keeping this in my bag for lighting emergencies, or for when I'm going some place where a regular flashlight won't do (such as through a Federal security system, where batteries are frowned upon).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Uni-ball Jetstream 3 Color Multi Pen @JetPens

Many thanks to Brad, Pen Addict and JetPens marketing whiz, for generously feeding my habit for new pens by sending me a Uni-ball Jetstream 3 Color multi to review. This one is has a navy colored body with a pink clip and plunger, something I know will stand out among all my other gel ink pens.

I have several Jetstreams in my pen holder, including a different style of 3 pen multi and my favorite retractable ballpoint. Pictured above is the navy/pink Jetstream multi next to the RT ballpoint, a nice comparison of the multi's dimensions.

This Jetstream comes apart in the middle of the barrel, revealing the blue, black, and red ink refills. Uni-ball gel inks are a proprietary formula, and really do glide across the paper. While this has 0,7mm refills, a medium-large width, you can also purchase 0.5mm refills and try out various other brands to see if they fit or have different colors. In this case, I'm quite taken by the brightness of their red, which has some yellow in it and really stands out. The clip is big and solid, and also stands out.

The Jetstream 3 Color Multi is a good looking gel ink multi pen, writes very well, and comes in an assortment of colors. Do take a look when you're at JetPens, particularly if you are interested in a multi pen.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Maruman 5 Section Binder

Maruman makes a lot of interesting notebook and office supply products, including the Mnemosyne and Sept Couleur notebooks, this caught my eye at Kinokuniya: a B5 sized black vinyl binder with 5 colored sections (B5 paper is 6.9 by 9.8).

If you use sectioned notebooks for keeping your projects in order, this is a really great idea. The colored tabs on the outside look striking next to the black vinyl binder, while the inside tabs can be further identified and described on this starting page.

There is also space on each tab's main page for further description, or it can be left blank if you want the sections to remain pristine.

What really makes this different is the way you load the paper: the binder unlocks at the bottom white rectangle, and the entire ring system slides out for greater ease. That is one of the sharpest designs I've seen, taking a plain ring binder system and giving it a memorable feature that distinguishes it from every other notebook and binder manufacturer.

Here's a close up of the locking mechanism: the upper ring system has a screw-type nob that fits into the bottom hole, and when you twist the system locks back into place, snaps the rings closed, and there is an additional lock on the bottom of the system that tightens everything. So there's no way the rings can accidentally open, which sometimes happens and sends papers flying all over.

One thing I like about Maruman loose leaf paper is the variety of line widths they offer: 5mm (think Rhodia webbie), 6mm, and 7mm. If you prefer wider lines for writing as I do,the 6mm and 7mm are ideal.

This is a really different tabbed binder system, with the front color coding and inside locking mechanism making it stand out from ordinary binders. Not sure where you can find one, but if you do see one definitely check it ou.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vintage Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen

This is one of my favorite fountain pens that took some time to find, mostly because I was looking for the Azure (blue) color in a slim profile. The Parker Vacumatic comes in a lot of shapes and sizes: Major, Junior, Debutante, Sub-Deb, and whatever else.

Mine seems to be a late model (1941-1945) plastic filler sub-debutante, a smaller model than the Debutante and measuring 4 9/16 inches capped (from nib tip to end it's 4.25 inches, and capped it's 5.25 inches). This plunger system, made of celluloid, was used in response to the lack of materials during war time. It's smaller in diameter than it's metal predecessors, with a button end.

This is a small pen but a bit larger than vest pocket size, likely meant to fit into a handbag or perhaps into a shirt pocket. The nib looks like it's a fine point, and one of the smoothest writers I've got (all of my vintage pens have fantastically smooth-writing nibs, while my modern pens seem to be temperamental).

From what I've seen, the transparency is okay (I have to hold it up to the light to see through it) while the imprint (Parker Parker Vacumatic USA Pat) is clear and fairly deep.

What's interesting to me is the clip, which is a non-blue diamond that came about in 1947. Reading around I've learned that the blue enamel on the diamond at the top of the clip indicates a lifetime guarantee. The nib simply says Parker and the arrow has 5 feathers to it (some nibs have 8).

Next to my Parker Sonnet you can really see the size difference, both length and diameter. The jeweled tassie on the cap adds a nice touch, while the blind cap at the end (the part over the filler) is plain and sleekly curved. I like the profile of this pen, and the single gold-filled band just gives it a touch of sparkle.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thanks, Tiger Pens!

Totally forgot about this (September was a busy month), but Tiger Pens posted an interview with me on their wonderful blog. Many, many thanks for the ego boost!

October Carnival of Pen, Pencil & Paper

Economy Pens is hosting the Carnival, head over and take a look at all the great posts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Muji Double Ring Blank Notebook @MujiUSA

I am not fond of double ring notebooks, as I've had problems in the past with the end rings separating and catching on my clothes or other things. But this Muji beige double ring notebook caught my eye for its unusual shape: 6.9 by 9.8 inches. It's a hard cover as well, so notetaking using my knees as a desk top works out okay.

The blank paper also made an impression: the pictures don't capture the color, but it's a very deep ivory with a lot of weight to it that I don't expect in recycled paper. It's also got a very smooth surface, making writing a pleasure.

The paper (80 sheets, by the way) is also fountain pen friendly, and does pretty well with gel ink pens. The ultimate test is a Sharpie fine point, and there the paper couldn't keep back the bleed through. But the paper did absorb the ink quite well, so there was not dotting or ghost writing on the following page.

All in all, a good notebook and something I'm going to enjoy using. But I will have to stop by one of the NYC stores and check out this recycled dot notebook, which comes in an A6 pocket size.