Shopping the Trenches of Purchases Past

31 10 2017

The pen world is fueled by chasing the new. Must have new ink. Must have new pen. Must have new notebook, new case, new stickers, new washi tape, anything out there so long as it’s new. Or at least new to you; vintage collecting isn’t exempt from the madness. It’s not a hedonic treadmill, it’s a hedonic runaway train barreling through my wallet and leaving scores of barely used, briefly effused-over products in my wake. I have so many things acquired that I haven’t even gotten around to reviewing yet—things that burned with the white-hot need of acquisition in the moment, the heady intoxication of having that thing, carrying it everywhere for a week, perhaps two, and then slowly the excitement fades, a pen is cleaned, tucked away in a storage case, forgotten for a while, because there is some new pen out there and I must buy it.

buy it all, buy it now

It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted. I have all these wonderful stationery objects which I’ve barely taken the proper time to appreciate. I haven’t taken the time to use them to create, because I’ve been so preoccupied with the never enough hamster wheel of consuming. I suggested to a friend that I was going to cut down on buying pens—“but you love pens!“—as if by not buying more pens, my whole vast collection would suddenly vanish. As if there isn’t a small shop worth of barely used products in my possession, ready to be organized and ‘shopped’ through with fresh eyes. I’ll still be going back through the things I love, I’ll still do reviews, but I’ve got to take a pause from chasing the new.

Let me show you an example born from this shift in mindset. I bought this pen, grouped with several others, back in…2016? Yes. 2016. It needed a new sac. I gleefully photographed it along with the rest of my newly bought DC Pen Show hoard, moved it to a holding tray, put the tray by my desk in the garage, and there it sat for a year, unthought of, untouched. I’m sure at the 2017 DC Pen Show I looked longingly at pens just like it, because the patterned red hard rubber (especially this wood grain swirl type) has always appealed to me, and yet intimidated me because it seemed like they were all so expensive (for someone with no idea what vintage models were what). This year at DC I picked up a wicked cheap lever filler fountain pen with a flex gold nib that also needed a new sac, which finally prompted me to acquire a proper selection of resacking tools and supplies. With supplies in hand, naturally I had to resac as many pens as I could, which included this guy.

spooktastic

It’s a fantastic little pen. No gold nib, but for a firm nib it’s satisfyingly smooth. And even more satisfying is the knowledge that I fixed the pen. There’s a deeper level of ownership knowing I brought it back to life. The smooth matte red hard rubber has faded to a more fall-appropriate reddish orange. The imprint, Wahl Eversharp, can barely be read, but it doesn’t matter. The pattern is gorgeous and the pen is great for every day use. It’s a new crown jewel in my regular fall line up.

the crown jewels need some….organization

I’m not going to stop buying new pens forever. But I’m not going to keep buying with reckless abandon. There’s going to be a lot more careful consideration before adding pens to an already great collection. More continuing to do my own repairs and modifications on pens I already own. Focus on enjoying what I have, and selling what I don’t enjoy to fund any future purchases.

Advertisements




Pelikan Edelstein 2017 Ink of the Year – Smoky Quartz

30 09 2017

My dudes, there has been an update to the WordPress app and now I can’t find the add caption button. Had to drag out my laptop to add this. If only I had some way of searching to access a world of knowledge that might tell me…..

Time to lay down some quick thoughts on Smoky Quartz before the dawn of spooktober, as this is a perfect ink color for the pumpkin spiced season.

Pumpkin spice scented ink, make it happen. Somebody. J Herbin, I’m looking at you

I wasn’t excited about this color when Pelikan first announced it, I will admit, but was willing to give it a shot if it came up at, say, the year’s Pelikan Hubs meetup. Well lo and behold:

I kicked Ina-ho out of one of my fall pens and replaced it with Smoky Quartz. A wise choice. I keep typing “smoky quarts” which is something entirely different, like artisinally woodsmoked small batch quantities of milk.  Perhaps not a wise choice

It’s got just enough shading when writing regularly to keep me delighted while still remaining a nice, professional, time-to-stomp-on-some-leaves-and-chug-spiced-wine brown. No real sheen to speak of, but I’m content to have nice shading. You got me, Pelikan.





Jacques Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l’Oural

31 08 2017

Another year, another deliciously sparkletastic J. Herbin anniversary ink. I like the J. Herbin strategy of releasing one ink at a time—there’s no agonizing decision-making to undertake, simply: here’s this year’s choice. Take it or leave it.

15bc338a-24f0-40f7-9a7e-d4eb3f0cdd83

I’ll take it! As if there were ever any question…

This year’s release inaugurates a new J. Herbin ink category, the Jacques Herbin 1798 Ink Collection. Welcome improvements over the 1670 Anniversary ink series include: a wider bottle mouth that you can actually fit pens into, clear color-coded labels on the bottle and the box (as opposed to the 1670 series, whose boxes were labeled with mermaids and french hieroglyphics), and the decorative improvements of using a satiny cord around the bottle (silver grey to indicate the sparkle type??), and the J. Herbin ship logo on the bottom of the bottle (which will handily identify all my enemies when I inevitably have to smack them in the forehead with my ink bottle..?).

img_0065

Like a jewel! A deadly jewel…

Whether anything has changed about the ink itself, I can’t say, but in my experience no improvements were needed. Though I have heard tell of others who have had pens get clogged, I have committed the most heinous and egregious of pen hygiene practices with the shimmery Herbin inks and experienced nary a consequence (but I do not recommend doing as I do; don’t hold me responsible if you screw up your pens). I’ve had Amethyste de l’Oural loaded in a Pelikan M205 with broad italic nib since July 5th, and the pen has started up without fail every time I take the cap off.

img_0058

I had a caption here, which I’m sure was most clever and perfect, but the internet ate it and now it is lost forever, much to the detriment of society

Amethyste de l’Oural is a rich, vibrant purple, brightly saturated, leaning a hint of a bit more toward blue than red as far as purples go. Shading is good, but no sheen. I’ve piled this ink on the page to try and get it, but sheen is not there. Compare it to some of its sheeny 1670 brethren:

img_0039

Note the unquestionable sheen on Rouge Hematite, Emerald of Chivor, and Caroube de Chypre

But shimmer and sparkle we’ve got in ready abundance. As with other shimmer inks, make sure you shake the bottle thoroughly (I shake until there’s no more shimmer particles on the bottom) before filling up your pen to get maximally even sparkle distribution. In a break from the 1670 inks, 1798 Amethyste de l’Oural features silver shimmer rather than gold. What I love about these sparkles in particular is that if you look closely you can see hints of other colors, pale pinks and blues among the silver.

img_0029

LOOK CLOSELY! GAZE WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT!!!!

This ink is another winner. It doesn’t have perhaps quite as much going on as Emerald of Chivor, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a beautiful ink in its own right. Load up your favorite broad, stub, italic, and other such vast juicy nibs with this ink and enjoy.

0109a325-f1aa-4985-8150-ac68ef7ce7ef

When ink looks like the cosmos, it’s a good thing

While you’re here, have another lovely review of this ink from the Desk of Lori

(Exaclair provided this ink at no charge for reviewing purposes — opinions entirely my own)





Nock Co. Fodderstack Mini

31 07 2017

Let me introduce you to my new security blanket, the Fodderstack Mini:

Some people like baby humans, I like baby office supplies

This is the littlest member of the Nock family, designed to hold a Kaweco Liliput (or similar small writing implements) and business / tiny note cards. All the same wonderful materials as I’ve touched on before, in an itty bitty body. Since this is a Nock case, one must immediately load it up with more than the designated amount of goods.

One Kaweco Liliput, one Zebra Minna, several DotDash notecards, a credit card, a debit card, and my ID. It’s a good start

Just looking at the design of it, my main concerns were things falling out, and rain falling in, since the top is left open for ease of access. ​I did not have any rain available on my latest motorcycle trip (gosh, darn), and did not feel like creating artificial weather conditions, so that test will remain for another day. ​

gif1

yeah thanks GIF Maker, get a better logo font

You actually have to put some effort in to get something to start coming out of the case. It held onto everything wonderfully when it fell out of my motorcycle jacket pocket, and because it was so brightly colored we spotted it right away rather than it getting left at some outlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I will need more of these

The DotDash notecards are an excellent balance of the characteristics wanted for EDC. I love the unobtrusive dot and dash grid. Though the lines of writing are not tight and crisp like I like, there’s no bleedthrough up there, not even with the Copic or the Sharpie markers. The dry time is quick (about 3 to 4 seconds), which is great for making quick notes with fountain pens especially, and you can see all the sparkles in the Emerald of Chivor ink. Sure I wish there were more shading and crisp lines of fountain pen ink, but I don’t think I’d trade away something like the drying time to get it.

Made in the USA and all that jazz

Because it’s so small, the Fodderstack Mini is easy to grab and throw in a pocket, or carry in my hand; any time I am going somewhere away from a home base of stationery goods this provides a quick way for me to be reassured that I have some good paper and pens with me if needed. That’s why it’s become my stationery security blanket—someone wants a quick word at work? I don’t need to bring a notebook? Au contraire, silly other people, pens and paper are as essential as shirts and shoes. I grab the little Fodderstack and I am instantly prepared.

 

Being a limited release, the Fodderstack Mini isn’t available on the Nock Co. website right now. But hopefully there will be more batches, if not as a regular product then as a special goodie to acquire at pen shows.

Thanks Brad for my lil buddy!

(Brad provided this case at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)





Penco Prime Timber 2.0

30 06 2017

Really need to get out my scanner. Sorry kids, today is once again not going to be the day I do that


Was at Parker & Otis, shopping for some overpriced edible hipster goods, as I am wont to do, when I spotted a writing utensil just screaming to be impulse purchased. A quick look online told me that this little lead holder was not actually overpriced, unlike the artisanal  nut butter that cost three dollars more than what it would have at Whole Foods. Unfortunately for my wallet, I bought them both.

The nut butter was a gift, and is therefore exempt from judgment


The look of the Prime Timber 2.0 is appealingly retro, though I personally only felt the appeal of the mint model (just wasn’t feeling the yellow and red, or the orange and blue, etc.). The packaging has design elements of wood and some pleasing, nearly-spot-on English phrases extolling the virtue of the wooden pencil.

Needs to get a stash of these for delivering bad news. It softens impact, says so right there!


The body feels and smells exactly like a wooden pencil, as well it should. The weight isn’t noticeably different with its interior non-wooden components needed to hold and advance the lead. The lead-advancement knock is satisfying, and nothing is in anyway loose or off about it.

This is not a lead holder. Do not confuse yourselves as I did


The Prime Timber 2.0 comes with a separate lead sharpener (which I generally prefer to lead holders that include no lead sharpening mechanism whatsoever). Having the lead sharpener be part of the lead holder itself is more convenient, but typically more messy. It is nice having the lead sharpener in its own little contained unit that will gather the lead shavings, rather than casting them to the wind (not that I would ever do such a thing). The plastic seems sturdy. Time will tell.

Now to take a little side trip to problem town


My two main quibbles with the Prime Timber 2.0 are as follows. The lesser of the two evils is that I’m already seeing wear and tear in the form of paint chipping from the edges of the wooden body. I’ve only had this thing a day and a half. I generally think of wooden pencils as something that doesn’t need to be carried around in protective housing, so I would expect a pencil-based wooden lead holder to be no different. The major evil is how uncomfortable the wooden edges of the body are where it meets the nose cone.

I fixed it, but at what aesthetic cost?


On a regular wooden pencil, you wouldn’t have these sharp edges on the writing end. Luckily this is wood, not adamantium, so it’s pretty easy to sand down yourself, but it seems like an important detail that should not have been overlooked.

Get yours wherever* expensive nut butters are sold! *maybe


Overall it’s a charming, solidly-built lead holder whose biggest functional issue is easily fixed. You get to feel like you’re drawing or writing with a regular wooden pencil while enjoying the advantages of a mechanical pencil. Like most lead holders it’s bring your own eraser (would be great to see a matching Prime Timber eraser holder). If it ends up breaking in half in the next year, I will probably feel differently, but for now I’m happy with the purchase.





Ink Flight Box #4

31 05 2017

I’m SORT OF trying to be SOMEWHAT more responsible this year in terms of gratuitous purchases, and focusing instead on enjoying the pens, papers, and inks I already have. So I don’t know what exactly Tom wrote in the Ink Flight announcement for May that made me overcome my sense of responsibility and decide that I had to have whatever extra mystery item was, but good job. The wheels of capitalism thank you.

I’d like to make a wheelie clever pun here but I’m too tired

My particular Ink Flight box decided to take some extra layovers through the US Postal Service for whatever reason, but Tom was super helpful in making sure my Ink Flight got to me (also super helpful in getting me sorted out when I somehow managed to accidentally place my order twice when trying to use ApplePay while half asleep). Prompt A+ customer service.

In spite of unforeseen flight delays, none of the surprise was spoiled for me online. A+ nice pen and ink community. The Ink Flight Box #4 came with 7 samples of J. Herbin ink —  4 regular colors, 2 special edition sparkly 1670 colors, and 1 scented color. All in all I think as good a representation of the brand as one can be expected to fit within 7 samples. Also included in the box: a Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book and a Neptune watercolor brush. The mystery items did not disappoint. I made squealy noises of excitement.

Please note if you want it to look like this, some effort will be required. But it’s worth it

My feelings toward J. Herbin inks have been all over the place throughout the years. I bought three bottles early on (Gris Nuage, Diabolo Menthe, and Vert Reseda) and some cartridges (Poussiere de Lune, Ambre de Birmanie), liked them well enough, then decided that they didn’t have enough shading or saturation for my tastes at the time and didn’t use them for a few years, got hooked on the 1670 anniversary editions (starting with Stormy Grey, the reformulated Bleu Ocean, and so forth), and have since gone back to my original bottles (plus a holiday gift of a bottle of Rouge Caroubier) and am loving them again. It’s a good time for more J. Herbin to come back into my life, even if only 3 of the samples are new colors to me.


Brief thoughts on the colors (asterisk for the ones new to me):

Emerald of Chivor — still haven’t reviewed it, though I have mentioned it in other reviews. It is magical and using it feels like I’m staring into the cosmos. It fills me with joy and I have no complaints against it.

Stormy Grey — love the shading, love the sparkle. I even have Stormy Grey in my bamboo brush pen right now. It’s like me: seems professional, but then the light hits it just right and you can see the mad gleam of insanity glinting in my eyes charming sparkle.

Rouge Caroubier — a very lovely slightly-pinkish-coral sort of red. Nice for spring and summer especially. Not a lot of very noticeable shading though.

Poussiere de Lune — a nice dusky purple. Writing with the paintbrush, it seems to have more shading than I remember when I last used a cartridge of it.

Eclat de Saphir* — what a vibrant blue! Much like Lamy Blue, but a bit more vibrant at its most saturated. Writing with the paintbrush has significant shading from a very vibrant blue to a slightly more muted one. I am intrigued to see how it will behave once I get it in a pen.

Bleu Pervenche* — it’s like a sky blue turquoise! The closest color I already have to it is Monteverde Turquoise, but not a lot of shading when writing with the paintbrush. I prefer turquoise and similar blues with more shading. But the color is so lovely, I’ll give it a chance in some pen on my next go-round of inking.

Cacao Brown* — it smells…kind of like vanilla extract?? But not quite. I like it. I don’t know that I really like this particular brown color. Can I add this scent to some 1670 Caroube de Chypre? That would be perfect.

Quick thoughts on the mystery items:

Neptune #2 Round Watercolor Brush — found it quite easy to use and write with. Could never seem to get it fully clean though. I’d think it was clean, and it would be clean on most of it except if I put a paper towel to where the bristles go into the metal ferrule (or whatever you call it), I’d always draw out a bit of ink. There’s probably ink stashed away up in there forever now. But using it didn’t seem contaminated with other colors so I’m just hoping for the best.

Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book — heckafreaking amazing. I am so excited to have one. I’ve already done swatches of every bottle of ink I own, Leigh Reyes-style, and am happy to report I own less than 100 bottles of ink and therefore have room to grow. More about the Col-o-ring by The Well-Appointed Desk here.

Here’s my calling card.

All in all a very satisfying purchase. I got to experience new colors, I gave away the two 1670 anniversary ink samples to a friend and spread the love, and I have a Col-o-ring now! The Ink Flight isn’t a subscription, so if I decide to go back to being responsible there’s nothing else I need to do. And if I decide I gotta have it, I can hop back on. The differently priced options for an Ink Flight are 1. just the 6 samples; 2. the Starter set including the 6 samples, a bonus sample, an InkJournal Black notebook, and a random piece of InkJournal swag; or 3. the 6 samples, bonus sample, and surprise mystery item(s) for fountain pen and ink lovers. The next Ink Flight is available to order now and ships out this Friday, June 2nd!

 





Denik Layflat Notebook

10 04 2017

Lays flat. Is notebook. Ok, I think we’re done here!

IMG_9903

Go home everyone, you’ve done great

While I’m still not certain I’m certified cool enough to own any of these notebooks, Denik has once again reached out to me to give my opinion on their latest release, the Layflat notebook. Picking one notebook among a huge host of awesome designs was challenging. I convened a panel of the coolest people I knew to weigh in on my life choice. Ultimately I went with a blank Copper Frost.

IMG_9897

surprise!

…but also ended up with a lined Mandala Bloom and a lined Meadow Lark! I’ll be spreading the generosity with a giveaway on Instagram. In case you’ve forgotten, generosity and general goodness is sort of baked into the fabric of Denik as a company, with purchases supporting the artists who designed each notebook as well as helping third world communities where they’re building or have built schools. More here.

thankartist

Mesmerizing

I don’t really need to go into detail on the artwork, because it all speaks for itself. Freaking beautiful designs. I love them. I want them all. If I were made of endless dollars and thoughts to fill them all, I might actually buy all of them. But I’m not. So let’s get to the actual construction. I carried this notebook for about a week strapped onto the top of my lunchbox like a culinary stationwagon topped with creativity. I may not be as painfully hip as the beautiful people in the Layflat advertisements carrying their Layflats to all sorts of fancy trendy outdoor places, but I can fit at least a month’s worth of notebook abuse into a week or so.

spineandwear

A pancake stack would be more physically nutritious, but a notebook stack is more mentally nourishing?

The only damage I’ve done so far is a little wear to the copper foil. The cover is still delightfully textured with its soft-touch velvet laminated cover. It’s this magical smooth matte finish that you just want to rub all over your face. It’s also water resistant, though I wouldn’t go so far as to drop it in your nearest body of water. Just no need to fret if you set it on a wet desk or countertop.

laysflat

Layflat. Flat. Lay….flat. Life flat. Life flight. Life Alert. My notebook has fallen and can’t get up. Because it lays flat, you see. Alright, time for a nap.

I was surprised to see that all my pressing open of this notebook has not resulted in any cracking of the spine. No doubt due to the smyth-sewn binding. It doesn’t exactly lay flat on its own unless it’s open right in the middle, but it lays quite flat to use. Significant effort is not required to make it flat.

IMG_9916

My collage skills were not coming together to put the backsides of these pages in this example. If you want to see the back, let me know and I can email it to you. Also, per Denik the paper weight for both the lined and blank notebooks is “100gsm text (67.6lbs)”

Once again, the paper isn’t perfect but did bring some pleasant surprises. I was not expecting to see shading like I got from the 1.9mm Lamy calligraphy nib loaded with J. Herbin Indien Orange, and with no bleedthrough to boot. But with broad and/or juicy fountain pen nibs, you get some spots of bleedthrough, and some feathering (mostly feathering moreseo than fuzzing). This isn’t going to be a book to draw in with heavy applications of fountain pen ink.

PicMonkey Collage

Put this together using Pic Monkey collage, which was much more convenient than bringing all these together individually on my own in something like Pixlr. Most of the collages in this post I did with Pic Monkey, until it decided it had been too helpful and started loading only half of each image on the big writing examples

Watercolor washes also didn’t do very well. That  said, small applications of watercolor did great, no bleedthrough. Fine nib sketching with Rohrer & Klingner’s two iron gall inks (Scabiosa and Salix) gave crisp lines with no bleedthrough. Brush pen full of fountain pen ink was a no, but the Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen brush pen was a yes. For writing, the situation was similar. Some bleedthrough on the broader, juicier, heavier sorts of pens, but not much that was too egregious. With these notebooks, it’s worth your time to draw/write up a test page to figure out what all combos work best for you. For me, the sketchbook works best with pencils (wooden and mechanical), ballpoint pens, thin gel pens, Sakura Pigma Micron pens, PITT Artist pens, Uni Live Sign Pen, Sharpie pen, and fountain pens with thin nibs/crisp italics, especially with Scabiosa and Salix as the inks. And some spots of watercolor.

dada

I went to a prestigious university and what do I remember? This. Mostly this.

For the mixed media experience, I present to you washi tape on a precious adoptable catvertisement, and Dadaist poetry secured in poem 1 by generic tape, and in poem 2 by Zig Memory System 2 Way Glue pen glue. I think we’re done here.

IMG_9894

Time to ride this copper foil train horse off into the sunset

These are wonderfully portable notebooks in my favorite size, in a wide range of enviably attractive cover designs. The blank style is good for basic sketching techniques but not really the place for heavy media and tons of ink. Provided you’re using the right pen and/or ink, you can use both sides of the page in the lined version. Priced at $11.95, I think it’s a good deal for a good notebook supporting good causes.

 

Layflat Softcover Notebooks in Lined and Blank, So Very Many Designs at Denik.com

(Denik provided these products at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)