Ink Drop Soup: Someone Buy Me One (HMM RULE/ONE Kickstarter)

16 05 2014

This Kickstarter for the HMM RULE/ONE is so close to almost funded with six days to go…and it looks so sweet…look at it!

It’s magnet close (a feature that was added thanks to backer feedback), and the refill is Uni 0.38! And it’s black anodized aluminum. And you can use it like a bookmark thanks to the teardrop shape. And you can put in a lanyard loop. UGH I WANT ONE. Someone else go fund this thing all the way so maybe one day I can get one when I’m not so poor.
 
EDIT: they’ve reached their funding goal! …and I went ahead and backed them anyway. Ramen dinners and cool pens ahoy!
 

HMM RULE/ONE by HMM PROJECT on Kickstarter





Daycraft Animal Pals Notebook – “Aberdeen” Movie Edition Whale and Greenie

12 05 2014

I think Daycraft has nearly perfected the art of making almost unbearably adorable notebooks. Their latest offering is part of a tie-in with the movie Aberdeen. Why don’t we get sweet movie tie-ins in America? T-shirts and Happy Meal toys don’t count.

I think the movie is out now? Someone tell me if it's any good

I think the movie is out now? Someone tell me if it’s any good

I love Daycraft’s polyurethane—it’s so smooth and high quality, so well constructed. The embossing used to create the baleen whale plates, the cutaway for the blowhole, the stitching and cutaways for the chameleon—all brilliant details. These are wonderful stylizations.

If I had enough Animal Pal notebooks I could have made a looping chain of pockets in pockets in pockets!! Alas, opportunity missed

If I had enough Animal Pal notebooks I could have made a looping chain of pockets in pockets in pockets!! Alas, opportunity missed

A bookmark is pretty standard, but for some reason I was surprised to find a pocket as well. I guess I’m used to pockets only being present when there are elastic closures; it was a pleasant surprise (though it does create a slight bump in the back cover; life is full of trade-offs). Bonus: movie postcards!

I'm pretty sure #1 and #3 are the same. Oops.

I’m pretty sure #1 and #3 are the same. Oops.

Tell y’all what. The first three people to translate for me what these postcards say, I’ll figure out how to mail you that postcard. One postcard per person. Leave a comment indicating which # postcard above you are translating. One and three are, looks like to me anyway, the same. So, eh, once 1/3 and 2 are translated, the next person to leave a comment saying I want the last one can have the one that’s left.

Animal shapes!

Animal shapes! A tail, perhaps?

The paper is cream-colored with pale orange animal patterns on it (ears, tails, paws). The performance is standard Daycraft—does well with ballpoints, gels, felt-tip pens, pencils, but not so hot with liquid inks like fountain pens and rollerballs (unless you’re using the magical Rorher & Klingner Scabiosa ink, which I really need to review, on account of the magic).

Are my performance standards for liquid ink on papers too high? It's possible.

Are my performance standards for liquid ink on papers too high? It’s possible.

See? Fountain pens are doing okay on the animal print parts, except there’s kind of a weird pattern happening in the ink. Outside of the animal print, there’s a little feathering. It’s not the worst, but I’m picky. I’ll no doubt be happier using gel pens and other less particular instruments of writing.

Quick, someone go see Aberdeen and tell me if there are any catchphrases associated with Greenie. And then I can use that as the caption instead. Or, be lazy and just not.

Quick, someone go see Aberdeen and tell me if there are any catchphrases associated with Greenie. And then I can use that as the caption instead. Or, be lazy and just not.

If I could go back in time with these notebooks, I’m pretty sure I would have been voted coolest child in school. I don’t know how children vote for their superior peer leaders these days, but if it’s still based on the adorability of stationery products, then these notebooks are instant winners.

Animal Pals Notebooks – Greenie and Whale Special Edition at Daycraft





Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil Set

7 05 2014

 

Pen is Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven't reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Pen contains Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven’t reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Kickstarter has launched quite the Renaissance of pen bodies, mostly focused around the popular Hi-Tec-C refill (and why not, with all the colors and sizes it comes in). Now, I don’t keep my finger on the pulse of the Kickstarter pen community (because if I did, I’d be broke and buried in a mound of Hi-Tec-C bodies) but I don’t think I’ve seen another pen body on Kickstarter so prominently featuring wood. But then, I don’t pay much attention.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn't looking at pens.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn’t looking at pens.

The look is Ikea-chic, hip and minimalist, the aluminum in a tasteful matte finish, the sustainable bamboo luxurious. The Eco-Essential utensils are lightweight, but strong. It looks and feels like a quality product.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Customization begins at the cap. Do you want a flat top (with logo), or would you like a capacitive stylus? I prefer the flat top, as I’ve got no end of capacitive styluses in my life, but I appreciate the option. And what color accent would you like? I’m partial to this deep, beautiful blue.

I will admit, sometimes when I'm posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly

I will admit, sometimes when I’m posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly, especially on the pen

Both the pen and the pencil have twist-on posting/closing caps (one full revolution to open and close, about a quarter revolution to post). The grip unscrews just below the threads to either access the pen refill or pencil insert (which you can pull out to put more lead in, or you can also pull off the knock button on the outside end which honestly seems a lot easier and likely more what they were intending). The pen refill, I will note, is a tight fit when you’re screwing the grip back onto the body, but it will go back to being flush with the grip. Just keep tightening.

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

The pen is almost like air in my hand. Because everything is so lightweight there’s little difference for me between writing with it posted and unposted. Sometimes I think I’d like for the grip to be knurled, for better grippability; other times I’m pleased with the smoothness and wouldn’t have it any other way. The grip lines up perfectly with my hands such that I’m not on the threaded ridge, but your grip may vary. The only thing that would make me happier would be if this were a silky-smooth Jetstream refill, because my love of Jetstream knows no bounds.

For as much as you'd pay for this pencil, I'd expect significantly less critical flaws

For as much as you’d pay for this pencil, I’d expect significantly less critical flaws

Now, as much as I admire the pen, I do have some unfortunate things to point out about the pencil that lead me to suspect it was envisioned as more of a matching afterthought than its own stand-alone product. Post the cap on the pencil. Congratulations, now you can’t advance the lead. That’s pretty crucial for a pencil. Yes, I could just not post the cap, but then why bother even having the threading? Why include an option that renders the pencil practically unusable? The only advantage to not posting the cap is then you’re less likely to accidentally use the stylus as an eraser, since there’s no eraser on the pencil. The pencil is beautiful, but the functionality is lacking. This is the result of asking, how do we turn the Eco-Essential pen into a pencil with the fewest structural changes possible? And I get that. Keeps costs down I’m sure. But the end product suffers for it. Are there self-advancing lead mechanisms that would work in this body? Perhaps design a special knock-cap for the pencil?

 

So pleasing to hold and behold

So pleasing to hold and behold

Go for the pen, especially if you’re a Hi-Tec-C refill fan (like I mentioned, it also takes Pilot G-2 refills but we know how I feel about the G-2). The Eco-Essential is an attractive and professional pen body. I kind of want to crash a fancy business scenario just to bring this pen with me. Anyone got any important board meetings I can drop in on? I have a suit and impressive array of office supplies, which I’m pretty sure is all you need.

The pencil, on the other hand, I would pass on, unless you just really want a matching set. If that’s the case, it will match quite beautifully.

Thank you to ISHUJA for providing this sample set for review!





Stone Paper from the Da Vinci Notebook Kickstarter

18 04 2014

I’ve been hearing murmurs lately about stone paper, like that it’s a thing and doesn’t require trees. Treeless paper? That’s as crazy as an inkless pen.

Note: this paper is not actually made of Lake Superior stones. They just looked pretty for the picture

Note: this paper is not actually made of Lake Superior stones. They just looked pretty for the picture

This stone paper was provided by Nick Romer, who is using it in his Kickstarter Da Vinci Notebooks. I can’t speak to the notebooks themselves as a whole, but I can tell you about the paper, and as we know, the paper is the most important part. This paper is made of calcium carbonate waste material from marble quarries and offcuts (80%), ground to a fine powder, combined with a non-toxic resin (20%) to hold it together. The process uses no trees, no water, no bleach, and less energy than traditional wood pulp paper. The catch in the whole eco-equation though is the resin, which is typically high-density polyethylene for most stone papers; I don’t have the numbers to do the necessary calculus to tell if the environmental impact of the plastic in stone paper in general is bad enough for the environment that wood pulp paper with its trees, water, bleach, and greater energy use (plus less ease of recyclability) would still be environmentally better. It’s just something to keep in mind for the stone paper category as a whole.

The back side was so absolutely clean I had to put a stone on it to get the camera to focus (because I was too lazy to manually focus)

The back side was so absolutely clean I had to put a stone on it to get the camera to focus (because I was too lazy to manually focus)

It’s heavy. It’s thick. It’s smooth. Best performers on this paper seem to be markers (like Copic and even Sharpie), felt tip pens (such as the Sakura Pigma Micron, Uni Live Sign Pen, Sharpie Pen, etc.), and thick lead pencils. Second place goes to gel pens and ballpoints. Liquid inks (fountain pens, some rollerballs) had a tendency to spread on the surface, and sharp mechanical pencils kind of dug in to the page a bit.

"How crisp are my liquid ink lines?" is probably my #1 question with any paper

“How crisp are my liquid ink lines?” is probably my #1 question with any paper

But there’s no bleedthrough, no showthrough. Not even on the ink-heavies like Copic or Sharpie. Marker is king for this paper.

Trying to tear this paper at first was like entering a magic illusion

Trying to tear this paper at first was like entering a magic illusion

This paper cuts AMAZINGLY quietly—like whispers parting the molecules. I didn’t realize the sound of paper cutting was something to even remark on until suddenly it wasn’t there. The paper is tear resistant, in that unless you’ve got an edge to the page (like your nail, or perhaps a metal ruler) the paper will warp instead of tear. Is that better? I’m not sure.

Stain test: chili garlic Sriracha, red wine, ketchup that got inundated by the red wine, and salsa

Stain test: chili garlic Sriracha, red wine, ketchup that got inundated by the red wine, and salsa

It’s claimed to be grease resistant, so I stuck my finger in some movie butter microwave popcorn residue and pressed my buttery print onto the page, then tried to wipe it off—there’s a pale yellow stain remaining, and you might even be able to convict me off the print (I can still see ridges), but it’s very faint and didn’t eat through to the other side like some opaque greasy window the way you see with ordinary paper. I wonder if stone paper plates are a thing. I decided to further test the stain resistance with whatever red edibles I could find in my fridge, and was surprised that everything except the Sriracha washed off easily, and with some scrubbing (and then a little dish soap, because how often do you get to wash paper with dish soap?) the paper was almost completely clean—just a few faint orange marks.

Are you a scuba diver who likes to write poems to Australian coral reefs in their illustrious presence? I have got the paper for you.

Are you a scuba diver who likes to write poems to Australian coral reefs in their illustrious presence? I have got the paper for you.

Write on it in water. Put it in water, take it out, write on it. Go stand in a torrential downpour and scrawl out haikus about the meaninglessness of your rainsoaked existence—this stone paper is up for it.

You can even print on it, even if your cat jumps on the printer while printing, unless your printer uses heat to print, in which case it will not do so well regardless of application of cat

You can even print on it, even if your cat jumps on the printer while printing, unless your printer uses heat to print, in which case it will not do so well regardless of application of cat. Also, ART!

All in all, this is some cool paper. I don’t think I’ve ever seen paper handle bleedtastic markers so well; if you love using Sharpie Markers but have been looking for the perfect paper where you can use both sides of the page for your writings and drawings, HERE IT IS. If your father was a tree and was killed by Moleskine to make a crappy notebook because they diluted your father’s noble wood pulp content with who knows what kind of garbage, and you’ve vowed never again to write on wood pulp paper, YOU CAN WRITE AGAIN! Or if you just want something that is both familiar and yet completely different, this is the paper.

 

At time of writing, there are 5 days left on the Da Vinci Notebook Kickstarter and it’s already funded, so if you want a stone paper notebook, hop on board!





Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple

15 04 2014
Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus

Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus to some poor sap not smart enough to be using a Jetstream

What’s better that a Jetstream? Several Jetstreams rolled into one. Thank you to JetPens for providing this sample!

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

The body is simple and professional, with tasteful silver accents. The markings to denote refill colors are unobtrusive—quite appreciable, as multipens are ever in danger of looking like rainbow vomit with their many-colored plungers.

I like how the pencil is referred to as "0.5mm SHARP"...it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

I like how the pencil is referred to as “0.5mm SHARP”…it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

The sticker on the body was easily removable and left no residue. Coupled with the subtle branding imprinted on the clip, you’ve got a pen that looks good and keeps distractions low key.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

The pen itself is nicely balanced, with the majority of its light weight focused lower, in the grip. The grip section is metal, with a nice grippy rubber on top (though it would be PHENOMENAL to have the grip be Alpha Gel instead, that would probably make the pen unbearably wide, and would collect more debris than this grip does). The upper half is mostly plastic (excepting the clip), and the overall composition of the pen makes it pretty comfortable for a longer writing session.

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

Normally I’m not a fan of easily-lost caps covering uselessly tiny erasers, but this cap hold surprisingly firm to the pen. It’s not going to get lost unless you set it down and forget to put it back on. The eraser itself isn’t much to speak of—more of an emergency provision. The pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the clip, and lead is advanced by pressing the deployed clip down again. It’s a wise design choice, providing a larger plunger for easy use of the pencil while concealing it design-wise in the clip. The only improvement I’d like to see here is for Uni to find a way to shrink the Kuru Toga mechanism into the size of a multi pen refill. A multi pen made of Jetstreams and a Kuru Toga would be unstoppable.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn't have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn’t have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

I’ve had some problems recently with certain Jetstream color models not living up to the Jetstream name—consider this pen redemption. All colors perform smooth and vibrant, as a Jetstream should. The 0.5mm provides crisp lines that glide onto the page with almost no pressure whatsoever. The barrel is a bit wide, as almost all multipens are, but it’s not unwieldy—only if you really prefer a slim pen will it be something that might bother you. And, after handwriting out this whole review, the side of my hand is clean. This is the Jetstream I know and love.

If someone at Uni isn't feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don't know good money

If someone at Uni isn’t feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don’t know good money

If you use red, blue, green, and black ballpoints on a regular basis, you’ve got to give one of these a try. I’m thinking especially professionals and students in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, plus anyone who needs to mark up papers, or just likes having access to all the traditional pen colors at once. The refills are smooth, the mechanisms solid, and the pen looks good. Classic Jetstream goodness!

Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple at JetPens





Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen – Bluegreen 2014 Special Edition – Black B nib

11 04 2014
ggg

Mint chocolate! If only. 

My local pen store and the place I go to get my coffee beans are located in the same shopping complex. It’s a dangerous set-up. I head out intending to get more beans and come home with a new bluegreen Lamy Al-Star.

This is the color mermaids would choose for their fountain pens

This is the color mermaids would choose for their fountain pens

You know how Pikachu will evolve into Raichu with the application of a thunderstone? The Al-Star is basically what the Safari evolves into with the application of more moneystone. Instead of a plastic body, you have an aluminum body that’s slightly thicker but still comfortably lightweight. The only problem is that the finish becomes worn with time.

And yet I keep buying these pens!!

And yet I keep buying these pens!!

But the finish feels nice and smooth, and the bluegreen is a wonderfully mesmerizing color. So calm.

Unfortunately the grips between the Safari and the Al-Star in spite of being similar are not interchangeable. I've tried

Unfortunately the grips between the Safari and the Al-Star in spite of being similar are not interchangeable. I’ve tried

The grip is a smoky translucent plastic, but otherwise identical to the grip of the Safari or Vista. Meaning another shaped grip, which you will probably either enjoy or consider the bane of your existence. Why can’t Lamy put out lots of special color editions of one of their models with a softer, more rounded grip? One that’s also, you know, reasonably affordable?

You can really see the thicker body when looking at the clip. Also, look it's the converter! This part is interchangeable between the Al-Star and the Safari

You can really see the thicker body when looking at the clip. Also, look it’s the converter! This part is interchangeable between the Al-Star and the Safari

In all other respects, the Al-Star is the same as the Safari. Same iconic clip, same cartridges and converter system.

Black nibs is the best fountain pen trend. Coolness factor intensifies!

Black nibs is the best fountain pen trend. Coolness factor intensifies!

Even the same steel nibs. For maximum coolness, I went with a black nib, in broad, as that was the only Lamy nib size I didn’t yet own (besides one of the calligraphy nib sizes, but those don’t come in black). The nib is smooth and steady—you can feel it on the page. The flow is good—I worried that the broad nib would throw down too much ink, but that fear was unfounded. The flow keeps up perfectly with the nib.

Resistance is futile.

Resistance is futile.

I got my Al-Star from Office Supplies and More, and he’ll be taking them to the pen shows (including Atlanta this weekend. THAT’S LIKE RIGHT NOW AS I’M WRITING THIS; GET ON IT!). But if North Carolina or the Atlanta Pen Show aren’t on your way anywhere any time soon, you can also get them online from the Goulet Pen Company.

BONUS PICTURE BECAUSE I CAN!

BONUS PICTURE BECAUSE I CAN!





The Bolt – Copper

9 04 2014
No part of this is not awesome

No part of this is not awesome

I got an email out of the blue from Dan Bishop, pen designer for Karas Kustoms, offering me one of their sweet pens to try—I had a taste for the copper, and with the Retrakt backordered out the wazoo, Dan offered to let me try the new copper edition of the Bolt.

I can't suggest what pen Theodore Roosevelt might use if he were alive today, but I can heavily imply

I can’t suggest what pen Theodore Roosevelt might use if he were alive today, but I can heavily imply that IT WOULD TOTALLY BE THIS ONE

I wish you could pick up this pen, because I bet you solid money if you picked it up you would be unable to resist uttering a variation of your favorite, possibly expletive-laden exclamation of disbelief. Something like, “BY THE GREAT BEARD OF ODIN WHAT A CUPROUS MASS OF RAW PEN THIS IS!” Grab two fistfuls of pennies while playing the most dramatic rock music known to your person—you still won’t be able to fully appreciate the weight of this pen until you hold it for yourself. They say this pen is machined from solid copper, and they are not lying.

It smells like a fistful of pennies

And it smells like a fistful of pennies

In spite of being weighty enough to quality as a weapon of self-defense, the weight is well balanced. The pen sits firmly in my hand. I may need to do some strength training before I’m able to write out a whole novel with so heavy a pen, but the weight is comfortably distributed. The copper will warm up with your hand (and will gain a patina in time, which I’ll update with once I’ve got it) and naturally possesses antimicrobial properties.

I'm pretty sure I could do a 60mph somersault and that pen would still be attached to that pocket

I’m pretty sure I could do a 60mph somersault and that pen would still be attached to that pocket

The pen has a fantastically simple, industrial look. The clip is bolted down as firmly as possible, but the flared end allows for it to slide onto papers and pockets with ease (and hold onto them with strength one level below rigor mortis).

Made this on my phone with the fantastic GifBoom app. Heckuva lot easier than making the .gif myself in Photoshop

Made this on my phone with the fantastic GifBoom app. Heckuva lot easier than making the .gif myself in Photoshop

The Bolt is named for its bolt-action deployment mechanism—it’s wonderfully smooth, and with a little practice can be engaged single-handed (at which point, you will be tempted to play with it endlessly).

Yes OF COURSE my motorcycle has a pen cup DOESN'T EVERY MOTORCYCLE??

Yes OF COURSE my motorcycle has a pen cup DOESN’T EVERY MOTORCYCLE??

I decided to take The Bolt out for a ride—the clip held firm to my jacket pocket and the pen did well, but when I put it somewhere less insulated from the V-twin vibrations, like inside the bag on my back rack, the pen ended up coming a little loose.

Note how you can see the seam where the two pieces come together? That's because it rattled a bit loose.

Note how you can see the seam where the two pieces come together? That’s the pen basically being unscrewed by the motorcycle. The knock also needed to be tightened back in after the ride

So if you’re carrying The Bolt in a bag rather than directly on your person, I’d recommend pairing it with something like a Nock Co. case.

This refill is a winner

This refill is a winner

The refill it came with—a Schmidt easyFLOW 9000—may be my favorite Parker-style ballpoint refill yet. It’s dark, it’s smooth; looking at my hand, it’s not 100% smudge resistant, but it’s approaching Jetstream-like quality.

Are you thinking of Abraham Lincoln? I'm kind of thinking about Abraham Lincoln

Are you thinking of Abraham Lincoln? I’m kind of thinking about Abraham Lincoln

The only complaint I have is that the top plunger can end up a little loose while still being on tight enough that you can properly deploy the pen without realizing that it needs tightening. When you get into this scenario, rattling can happen. If you’ve got rattling, you need to tighten the plunger all the way.

She insisted on being in the picture

She insisted on being in the picture

All in all, this is a heavy and heavy-duty unique pen, solid made-in-the-USA goodness. Thanks again to Dan and Karas Kustoms for providing this pen!

 

The Bolt – Copper Pen at Karas Kustoms

plus!!! a great roundup by The Clicky Post of all the Karas Kustoms pens








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