Palomino Blackwing Slate

27 03 2017

In my mind, I’ve only made it to sometime around October of last year. It really isn’t, nor can it possibly already be, nearly the end of March 2017. This is some kind of trick of the light, or perhaps part of a marketing campaign by some cringeworthy brand that thinks making any type of commercial with the phrase “going viral” is gold, rather than something that should be quietly placed in a fire and never spoken of again. Surely not part of actual reality.

No, it really is reality, and I really took way a bit too long to getting around to this review

So, about six moons ago, I received the Palomino Blackwing Slate Drawing Book from Pencils.com for review. If you’re working on reviewing a Palomino Blackwing Slate, I suggest quickly getting over the first month of reverent adoration in which the notebook feels too pretty to open, or even touch. The wear-resistant polymer cover has a wonderful smooth matte feel to it, that I can successfully verify after several months of rough transport in an overstuffed lunch suitcase (it can’t really be called a box when you could probably pack a week’s worth of clothes in it) really is wear resistant.

Classy

The canvas spine is a simple design element that makes the Slate stand out from all your other typical black notebooks. The pages are sewn-bound together to form a block, then the canvas spine is sewn-bound to that block for a spine that is strong, sturdy, yet flexible that opens quite flat without hassle. But the really stand out feature is that elastic holster on the spine. It comes loaded with the fantastic Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil, but what else can fit on there? Any pen or pencil of comparable thickness of course, but pushing the limits I was surprised to fit (one at a time, of course!) a Rotring Art Pen, the Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, a Pilot Vanishing Point, and even a Lamy Al-Star (though that was really pushing the limit, and might wear down the elastic more than a less girthy pen). I like the spine as a convenient, handy, yet out of the way place to stash a drawing implement so the notebook is never alone.

Don’t mind the show through and such. It means nothing to me

This paper. This 100 gsm paper. This delightfully smooth, cream colored, wonderfully chosen paper is beyond what I’d hoped for. This paper is GREAT with fountain pens. I’m talking crisp lines, shading, sheen, no feathers, no bleedthrough. Let’s move in for a close-up.

I can’t pick just one. Must look at all

Delicious. Also did well with watercolors/water brush pen, Kuretake and Koi brush pens, and PITT artist pens. Not so great for Sharpie markers, Copic markers, the Pilot Twin Marker, the Sakura Gelly Roll Gold pen, and the Pentel Tradio felt tip pen, all of which showed signs of bleedthrough. The downside to this paper is that there is showthrough so significant it almost defies logic. But you get 160 pages, in a slim and easy to transport format. It’s a tradeoff. For sketching and brainstorming, I prefer thinner drawing paper, and especially prefer fountain pen friendly paper. And with all the Hobonichi Techo use in my life, I have come to fully accept a world of showthrough. But if showthrough bothers you, this might not be the notebook for you.

Clever little pocket, how could I have doubted you?

 

The Slate also has all your typical features: ribbon bookmark, elastic closure, unobtrusive branding on the back, and a back pocket…with a slot cut into it whose purpose I could not intrinsically divine. Apparently, it’s a pocket-in-pocket for holding things like business cards in a more accessible place. I was very suspicious of the functionality. It seemed like a dangerous set-up just asking for a business card to fall out. But then I actually tried putting a card in for photographic purposes and discovered that there’s a lip there for the card to tuck into.

Accept the corgipillar

In summary and conclusion, I love this notebook. Would I change anything? Not that I can think of. I guess you could make it in other colors?? Other sizes? But I really like this size, not too big and not too small–perfect for portability and usability. You’ve got me stumped. Good work, Palomino.

 

Palomino Blackwing Slate at Pencils.com

(Pencils.com provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)

 

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Pentel Jolt Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm

26 02 2014
It comes with normal lead, but what's the fun in leaving a writing utensil unaltered? Gotta make it yours, though sometimes all that means is just putting in a different color lead

It comes with normal lead, but what’s the fun in leaving a writing utensil unaltered? Gotta make it yours, though sometimes all that means is just putting in a different color lead

Ever since the Kuru Toga came into my life, I haven’t tended to give much thought to mechanical pencils. But the Pentel Jolt has kept a stylish place in my heart, and it’s high time I got around to reviewing it.

Especially since I first mentioned the Jolt almost 3 years ago

Especially since I first mentioned the Jolt almost 3 years ago

Style style style style STYLE. I love the look. I love every part of the look. I love the faceted nosecone (and I love that it allows the tip to be retracted).

It's a pretty subtle faceting until you get right up onit

It’s a pretty subtle faceting until you get right up on it. Minus 2 points for me not having fully retracted the lead/tip in this picture

I love the zigzags indented in the grip, which is a nice grippy black rubber that doesn’t grab up a bunch of debris. And that shaker mechanism window, bright white spring popping against the black tube—

I could stare at this all day

I could stare at this all day

Just a solid YES. Even the branding looks good.

Probably named as a nod to Jolt Cola, that highly caffeinated beverage of my youth; consuming Jolt Cola will aid and amplify in the use of the shaker mechanism

Probably named as a nod to Jolt Cola, that highly caffeinated beverage of my youth; consuming Jolt Cola will aid and amplify in the use of the shaker mechanism

A++ on this design, Pentel. Please call up whoever worked on this design and remind them of what a good job they did.

This is a real eraser. None of those useless little crumbs that companies like hiding under an easily lost plastic cap

This is a real eraser. None of those useless little crumbs that companies like hiding under an easily lost plastic cap

Not content with mere aesthetic mastery, the Jolt hits as many functional points as it can. Number one in my heart is this extra large, wide black eraser. The only improvement there would be for Pentel to make it out of their hi-polymer black eraser material.

I don’t have many shaker pencils, so I don’t know exactly how to evaluate them. You shake the pencil, and like you’re some kind of wizard having a fit, lead magically advances from your flailings. Or, if you’re more traditionally inclined, you can advance the lead by pressing down on the eraser.

Strong lead for a strong pencil

Strong lead for a strong pencil

I forget what kind of lead it came with; I loaded it with Pentel’s Ain Stein enhanced 0.5mm blue lead. It’s smear resistant, with a reinforced silica core. Plus it makes all your drawings look cool.

Also comes in a lime green body for the 0.5mm; pink and orange bodies with white accents are for the 0.7mm

Also comes in a lime green body for the 0.5mm; pink and orange bodies with white accents are for the 0.7mm

At a little under $3 and widely available in regular office supply stores, the Pentel Jolt is probably one of the best-looking mechanical pencils you can get out in the wilds of the American market.

Pentel Jolt Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm at Pentel

Pentel Stein Enhanced Silica Pencil Lead – 0.5mm – Blue at JetPens





Pentel Tradio Pulaman & Stylo “Fountain Pens”

19 02 2014
What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

Time to write the Tradio review that I thought I’d already done. The  nomenclature of these two pens is screwy from top to bottom; I think the Pentel policy is to arbitrarily switch what is called the Tradio Pulaman and what is called the Stylo on a regular basis in accordance with some arcane and esoteric ritual. The black, refillable Tradio I have is called Tradio PulaMan; for 50 cents more you can get what, according to JetPens, is the exact same pen, but called Tradio Stylo. Meanwhile, the disposable brown model I have says “Pentel Stylo” on the clip; JetPens’ disposable is called and labeled “Pentel PulaMan.”

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

The disposable is a very simple, retro sort of design, while the refillable model is a much more modern and attractive affair. Basically, everything I said about the Tradio TRF100 design, minus the black pearl coating. This black is a nice, solid-feeling matte black.

These are no so much "grips" as just the sections where you grab the pen...not exactly much went into the grippability of these sections

These are not so much “grips” as just the sections where you grab the pen…not exactly much went into the grippability aspect of the grip

The smoky translucent grip of the refillable gives something of a clue to the biggest baffling mystery of the naming of these two pens: clearly you can see a feed in there. But rollerballs also have feeds; that doesn’t magically make them fountain pens.

Maybe they're like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the "nib" they meant?

Maybe they’re like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the “nib” they meant?

This is what they’re calling a nib, such that these things may be called fountain pens. But I don’t think they’re fountain pens any more than a chimpanzee can be said to be a human. They’re similar, they’ve got a common ancestor, but you are dealing with two different branches on the tree. This is some kind of chisel-tip thing, some sort of hard-tip brush or marker-like thing. There is this plastic assembly where the felt/marker/brush tip comes out through the middle…if I were to describe it in terms of a fountain pen, I’d say imagine a nib made of plastic, and instead of a breather hole and slit replace that with some kind of long thin felt marker strip connected to the feed and then devolve into sheer madness and that’s about what it’s like.

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

So how do they write? The refillable is leaps and bounds better than the disposable. The disposable is scratchy, catches on the page, and creates little splatters of ink (you can see some in the writing sample). The refillable is much better, but takes way too long to dry. My hand is a mess. This handwritten review is a mess.

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

But maybe it’s more of an art pen.

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that like, absorbs and distorts pretty much anything you put on it

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that absorbs & distorts pretty much anything you put on it

More suited to smaller drawings, I think, but maybe I’m too baffled by the false fountain pen-ness of it to truly appreciate its use.

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

The disposable is a bust. The refillable is something worthwhile, but with slow drying times is not a lefty-friendly pen. I may use its rich black ink to draw, but I won’t be using it to write

Pentel Tradio Pulaman Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink at JetPens

Pentel Tradio Stylo Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink – Allegedly identical to the above linked pen but costs 50 cents more??? at JetPens

Pentel Pulaman JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen – Brown Body at JetPens (same as the pen I have here that has Stylo on its clip)





Monologue Soft Sketch Book A6

29 12 2013
Bear with me kids; I'm still getting the hang of this picture editor. On the plus side, since it doesn't do resizing by percentages, every picture is now maximum of 1000 pixels.

Bear with me kids; I’m still getting the hang of this picture editor. On the plus side, since it doesn’t do resizing by percentages, every picture is now maximum of 1000 pixels.

Allegedly, this is a soft sketch book, and technically speaking yes, this is a soft, not hard cover on this book, but you will not find a stiffer notebook for your dollar without falling down a rabbit hole of double entendres. How am I supposed to use a notebook I can barely even open? Step one, crack this book like a winter walnut.

With great force comes great flatness

With great force comes great flatness

I like the texture of this cover, and the size of the notebook. I’m a fan of small portable notebooks for my doodles.

This is a very thick elastic band. Like possibly would double a headband if you pulled it free. And had a small circumference head

This is a very thick elastic band. Like possibly would double a headband if you pulled it free. And had a small circumference head

I’m not, however, a big fan of horizontal elastic closures, but this one seems to get out of the way pretty easily. That’s just a general preference issue on my part.

Maybe I should have just scanned these. Not that it really lays flat enough for that. Oh well.

Maybe I should have just scanned these. Not that it really lays flat enough for that. Oh well.

The paper is the same good heavy-duty paper as found in the Monologue Orange Sketch Pad, meaning it’s great general use art paper. And once you go through and crack the spine it isn’t so bad. It works for me because I can rest my hand on the left side of the pages to draw, and it keeps the book open. It still doesn’t want to lay remotely flat on its own, instead choosing to settle itself into something like an acute angle.

This is as far as it shuts itself. Elastic band required for full closure.

This is as far as it shuts itself. Elastic band required for full closure.

With the elastic band, I’m definitely more comfortable throwing this sketchbook in a bag. And I like the paper. Just get past the stiff spine, and you’ve got a stylish little sketchbook to use.

Thanks to Grandluxe for providing this sample.

Monologue Soft Sketch Book at Grandluxe





Monologue Sketch Pad A6 – Orange

24 10 2013
I swear I didn't plan on having such fabulous fall colors

I swear I didn’t plan on having such fabulous fall colors

On appearance, the Monologue sketch pad is getting a lot of things right—love the warm orange paired with grey cloth interior, and this striking minimalist design (pressed? embossed? cut? spellcast?) on the cover. The cover (suede polyurethane) isn’t standard smooth polyurethane; it feels like imitation cloth…which is beyond my understanding as to why the feeling of cloth would be one to imitate, but here we are. That’s art.

Things I probably shouldn't keep doing: pushing the cover askew

Things I probably shouldn’t keep doing: pushing the cover askew

I don’t like the free-floating factor of the front cover—I can’t in good conscience just toss this sketch pad in a bag because there’s 100% chance something else in the bag will push the cover askew, which can’t be good for it over time.

I suppose the trade-off for the free-floating cover problem is that it opens up quite nicely

I suppose the trade-off for the free-floating cover problem is that it opens up quite nicely

The main sketchpad seems well attached, and the way it’s designed the pages lay nice and usably flat. But how is the paper?

The paper, according to Grandluxe: 140 gsm Italian acid free rough textured drawing paper surface treated with vegetable gel,  Suitable for drawing with the following techniques: Charcoal - Chalk - Graphite - Pencil - Pastel - Oil Pastel - Wax  Crayon - Red Chalk - Acrylic - Collage - Oil - Marker - Spray - Tempera.

The paper, according to Grandluxe: 140 gsm Italian acid free rough textured drawing paper, surface treated with vegetable gel, Suitable for drawing with the following techniques: Charcoal – Chalk – Graphite – Pencil – Pastel – Oil Pastel – Wax Crayon – Red Chalk – Acrylic – Collage – Oil – Marker – Spray – Tempera.

No worries! It does great for an all-purpose sketch paper. The only bleedthrough was from using Copic markers (which still look good on the page, just can’t use both sides). Everything else, from fine pens to watercolor to pencils and more, did wonderfully. The paper has some tooth to it, you can see, but not so much as to get in the way of using any of the pens. Good art paper all around.

Some people hit the open road. Some people hit the open sketchbook.

Some people hit the open road. Some people hit the open sketchbook.

Though I’ll worry about inadvertently tearing off this unsecure cover over time, the quality and usability of this paper ensures that I will be still using it until the cover falls off.

Thanks to Grandluxe for providing this sample!

Monologue Sketch Pad A6 – in Grey, Orange, Blue, & Red at Grandluxe





Mini Review: Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink

1 02 2013
This drawing is from 2010!

This drawing is from 2010!

In honor of Hourly Comic Day, I wanted to give a little shout-out to my HCD pen of choice, the Tombow Fudenosuke twin tip brush pen.

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

It pairs well with my Rhodia Dotpad No. 12 for the perfect quick-sketch experience.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I'm still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I’m still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

Though a little dark, the gray is perfect for rough sketching and shading, and the black is sufficiently dark for inking and borders. There is a little give in the brush tips, but not so much as to be unruly or unwieldy for a brush pen novice.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Though I would prefer a lighter gray, the big winning factor for the Tombow Fudenosuke is convenience. I only need to grab one pen and my Rhodia dotpad, no keeping up with multiple pens. The tips do wear down over time, and as they near the end they get dry, but you more than get your money’s worth before that day comes.

If I draw anything sufficiently neat this year, I’ll add it to this post! Happy Hourly Comic Day!

 
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink at JetPens
Rhodia DotPad Notepad – Black Cover – 3.25″ X 4.75″ – 80 Sheets – 5 mm Dot Grid at JetPens

 

 





Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gel Ink Pen – 1.0 mm – Blue

26 01 2013
Feel the sparkles in your heart

Feel the sparkles in your heart

I’m no connoisseur when it comes to glittery gel ink pens—I may snag one as a novelty, but I don’t have my finger on the pulse of that movement like I did in the 6th grade. My knowledge of the quality of entrants in the field is lacking. That said, I do have a rather cat-chewed Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen in sparkle purple that I will use for comparison.

Pleasantly acceptable!

Pleasantly acceptable!

The body is nice, as far as these cheap things go. Sparkles in the body and cap—noticeable but not gaudy. Cap posts securely on both ends. Pen itself is theoretically easy to refill (who knows how easy refills will be to find, however).

Looks like a mess waiting to happen, though I assure you it isn't.

Looks like a mess waiting to happen, though I assure you it isn’t.

First, how the ink writes. I find it smoother than the Sakura Gelly Roll, and generally more consistent. If I’m gonna be taking some sparkly notes, on writing quality alone I favor the Uni Signo over the Gelly Roll.

Unless I'm writing on my hand, then the day goes to the Gelly  Roll

Unless I’m writing on my hand, then the day goes to the Gelly Roll

As far as personal preference goes, be advised that the Signo ink is more translucent and the Gelly Roll more opaque.

Let it shine

Let it shine!

There is a big flaw in the Signo that you have to be warned of, one that does not plague the Gelly Roll: the Uni Signo glitter ink smells like fish. Smells *powerfully* like fish. If you write with it long enough (read: at all), you’ll think you’ve been transported to an open air fish market. It is truly bizarre.

Perhaps I should have known, blue---> water---> ocean---> FISH.

Perhaps I should have known, blue—> water—> ocean—> FISH.

If you like fish, get this pen. If you want glittery and smooth writing, get this pen. If the mere thought of seafood turns your stomach, DO NOT get this pen.

 

Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gel Ink Pen – 1.0 mm – Blue at JetPens