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





Mythology A5 Black Hard Cover Notebook

6 04 2014

The Mythology notebook is…strange. No other word for it.

Black is classy. Silver is classy. Black and silver metallic snakeskin, say, pants, on the other hand, would be questionable. So where does this notebook fall on that spectrum

Black is classy. Silver is classy. Black and silver metallic snakeskin, say, pants, on the other hand, would be questionable. So where does this notebook fall on that spectrum?

The duo-tone leatherette casebound hard cover features two types of silvery faux skin: snake, and who knows what (I can’t think of what animal has oval bump patterned skin, so we’ll say “miniature basketball”). It feels durable, and the rounded corners are smart—helps keep them from getting banged up.

You may be wondering how many shades of grey this notebook possesses, and I'm here to tell you it is not an erotically significant number. Like, maybe a dozen tops.

You may be wondering how many shades of grey this notebook possesses, and I’m here to tell you it is NOT an erotically significant number. Like, maybe a dozen max.

Between the decorations and the word “MYTHOLOGY” printed on the spine, I feel like I should be writing some kind of deitastic legends/fan fiction…I’m thinking “The Modern Mythology of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent God / Goth Prince.” Part 1.

Coming soon to the New York Times Bestseller list near you

Coming soon to the New York Times Bestseller list near you

The book-style hardcover is an interesting choice. I feel like I’ve checked out the World’s Weirdest Library Book. Normally I’m used to my hardcover notebooks being more…notebooky. I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t think I’d use this to write out random lists, thoughts, etc. I’ll put my grocery list down in my daily Leuchtturm1917 but not in the Mythology.

In spite of what you may see before you, this paper is white

In spite of what you may see before you, this paper is white

The paper is standard, not particularly fountain pen friendly unless you’re using lighter colored ink (like the J. Herbin Vert Pré) or magical ink (such as the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa Iron Gall ink). Finer nibs and writing in cursive also helps. Rollerballs, the few I have anyway, performed meh. Ballpoint, gel, and felt tips like the Sakura Pigma Micron are all good.

This will probably be the first notebook your descendants grab to crack open after your will has been read.

This is not a notebook designed for hiding

If you’ve been looking for something completely different in the notebook department, the Mythology fits the bill.

Grandluxe Mythology A5 Notebook – Black at Amazon 





Lamy Safari Fountain Pen – Apple Green Body – M nib

4 04 2014
The summery delight of this turquoise cannot adequately be represented in a mere scan

The summery delight of this turquoise cannot adequately be represented in a mere scan

The Lamy Safari is pretty much THE classic beginner fountain pen of these modern times—nice enough, lots of options, and not too expensive. This is the pen that a lot of people get when they step up from disposables or the $15 and under category, or heck, I’m sure it’s probably just plain old what a lot of people start with (though I moved up from my beloved disposable Ink Bar to the Sailor A. S. Manhattaner’s and the Platinum Preppy and all other manner of fountain pens but I can confidently say that the Safari’s clear demonstrator version, the Lamy Vista, was my first in-store fountain pen purchase).

I am reasonably confident that this is the 2012 Limited Edition Apple Green body

I am reasonably confident that this is the 2012 Limited Edition Apple Green body

The Safari has a number of great design features, starting with the plastic body—it’s available in a wide variety of colors, from bright and ostentatious (like this green, or last year’s neon yellow) to subdued and classy (like the white or the charcoal black). It’s not a scratchproof plastic, but it is durable (I haven’t broken one yet anyway, and I don’t treat them delicately).

The iconic Lamy clip

The iconic Lamy clip

I love this clip. There is no mistaking the Lamy clip. You may spot one across the room in the hands of a total stranger and KNOW that there’s a Lamy. Then you will hiss at your dining companions “THAT DUDE’S GOT A LAMY” and your dining companions will have no idea what you’re talking about and wonder to themselves why they invite you to brunch. Note how the wide clip arms curve down around the body of the cap—helps hold it snug to the page or the pocket, while the flared end makes it easy to slip on.

Proprietary cartridges, my greatest nemesis

Proprietary cartridges, my greatest nemesis

One of the drawbacks to the Lamy line is that they require proprietary Lamy cartridges. So if you inherited several metric tons of standard international cartridges from your grandmother, this won’t be the pen to use them in. But there is at least sort of a reason for the special cartridges: they are designed to snap themselves on. Just make sure the cartridge is sticking into the grip like so, just resting there really, make sure there’s no cardboard ring on there, and then screw the rest of the body back on. It will push the cartridge down and puncture the bit that lets the ink go from cartridge to feed. That’s a nice feature for beginners (and people with poor arm strength and people who just may be lazy). No wondering (as I hope you rarely do in life) “did I push hard enough?”  You can also pay to get a Lamy converter and use the pen with bottled ink. If I were to rotate the grip in that picture 90 degrees, you’d see the little secure-posts where the converter snaps on.

This right here is the biggest reason you may not want a Lamy

This right here is the biggest reason you may not want a Lamy

If you are a normal human being, or perhaps a German schoolchild, then you will hold your writing utensils with the ultra-efficient and ergonomic ideal pliers grip. The Lamy Safari is molded with this ideal grip in mind, and if you have proper gripping technique or like to be corrected by the pen you hold, then you’ll probably love this. I do not love this. I am forever in battle against the sharp edges and my horrible overwriter lefty cavedwelling hookgrip. If you are getting a pen for someone else, consider how they grip. A rounded grip, or at least one not so sharply sculpted might serve them better depending on their style.

Comparatively speaking, the options here are endless

Comparatively speaking, the options here are endless

The stainless steel nibs are excellent beginner or workhorse nibs. They are sufficiently smooth, but not so smooth that you’re in danger of losing control (or needing to write in cursive, really fast). The nibs are easy to change out and come in extra fine, fine, medium, and broad (all of which can either be in stainless steel finish or black finish), plus three sizes of calligraphy nib (1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm). If you want to be able to try a wide range of nibs without having to get a new pen every time (though, where’s the fun in that, besides not being broke?), then the Lamy Safari is an excellent way to go—nibs are sold individually all over the place.

Buy one. Buy three. BUY EVERY COLOR EVERRRRRR

Buy one. Buy three. BUY EVERY COLOR EVERRRRRR

It’s not the perfect beginner pen for everyone, but even in spite of the things I don’t like about it I keep buying them. Those darn colors are just so irresistible. It looks like the Limited Edition 2012 Apple Green body is still in stock at Goldspot Pens at time of writing. Or you can browse through other colors at some of my other favorite online places.

 

Lamy Safari Fountain Pens at the Goulet Pen Company

Lamy Safari Fountain Pens at JetPens





Ink Drop Soup: Pen Chalet Giveaway!

1 04 2014

A giveaway that I don’t have to run??? Yes, awesome, sign me up and sign you up, too. The folks at Pen Chalet are having a gift card giveaway which you can enter here. They’re also offering a 10% discount to us all! :) The coupon code is NOPENINTENDED

 

Good luck!








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 198 other followers