Ink Drop Soup: CursiveLogic

14 02 2015

Most Kickstarter projects, at their heart, are a delightfully selfish proposition. I give you money, but you give me a sweet pen, which I will then lord over everyone else in my day-to-day activities. There’s nothing wrong with that. I like that. But the CursiveLogic Kickstarter is a little different. Sure, I can give money and receive a sweet book on how to learn cursive, but that money is supporting a fantastic new system of learning the perpetually-dying art of writing by hand.

This is not your mother's rote memorization

This is not your mother’s rote memorization

Heck, you don’t even have to receive the books yourselves. You can gift them to schools. Schools full of children. Children who can learn and ENJOY cursive writing. Imagine a new army of little cursive writers. They will demand better pens to showcase their beautiful writing. The slow revival of fountain pens will explode with the force of a million tiny hands. Or give them to adult learning facilities. Though the books are colorful and fun, they don’t rely on childish gimmicks to try to force children to participate, and thus are appropriate for all ages. The draw is in the beauty and function of the writing itself.

If you're making a gift of it, I'd recommend pairing with some entry level Pelikan fountain pens, like the Pelikano or the Twist

If you’re making a gift of it, I’d recommend pairing with some entry level Pelikan fountain pens, like the Pelikano or the Twist

The CursiveLogic system for teaching the cursive alphabet makes a lot of sense—breaking it down into a few basic shapes, reinforcing with colors, catchy phrases, etc. I wish learning cursive had been like this when I was in school. Take a look at the CursiveLogic Kickstarter page, which explains the whole system a lot better. I’ve been sent an advance copy to look through and it looks great. Simple, but, dare I say, logical.

CursiveLogic: Cursive is Endangered, Together We Can Save It on Kickstarter





Ink Drop Soup: Back Me Up (The Pen Rest)

8 02 2015

Because I can’t resist these sorts of things but am not made of infinite money, I have an unofficial Kickstarter budget for myself. It isn’t any kind of dollar amount, rather, it’s number of projects outstanding at a given time. My tolerance is approximately 3 projects having my money with me not yet having my reward. With only two projects outstanding right now (the Nexus minimal fountain pen and the Scanadu Scout which should be arriving within a week), the time was right to throw my money at something else. I picked The Pen Rest

I don't have this pen though. See aforementioned limitations of money

I don’t have this pen though. See aforementioned limitations of money

In order to better appreciate the pens I already have, I’ve been shifting a lot of my personal purchases toward pen-life support objects (cases, ink, nibs, nib altering implements, etc.). The Pen Rest is in the right place at the right time, so I’ve backed it. My plan is for enough other people to back it that we reach the second stretch goal because I REALLY want to be able to easily hang it on the wall. I have plans for a very awesome DIY Murphy Desk in which I plan to store inks and pens and nib altering stuff and in which it would be PERFECT to hang this Pen Rest on the wall. Otherwise I’ll just have to put it on the desk, where there is a significant chance of the cat slowly pushing it off the desk and onto the floor.

One day I'd like some kind of wood top for it. But I'm getting way ahead of myself

One day I’d like some kind of wood top for it. But I’m getting way ahead of myself

I’ve only backed for one Pen Rest at this time, but there’s a reward level for up to nine of them. They are stackable (the top you see in this picture is removable) and interlocking. They could go all the way from the floor to the ceiling if you wanted.

Feel free to back this many or more

Feel free to back this many or more

Make my desk dreams come true, and I suppose get a cool pen rest for yourself in doing so. :)

 

The Pen Rest by David Frieslander on Kickstarter

 





United P2: Pocket Pen

7 02 2015
Time to kick another starter!

Time to kick another starter!

What I have here today is a prototype model of the United P2 Pocket Pen that just launched on Kickstarter. I’ve spent a few weeks throwing it in pockets and bags, I’ve showed it off to nearly everyone I work with, I’ve lost it for almost a week in someone else’s car before finding it again, and I’ve scribbled my fair share of notes with it. Now, my memory is a bit hazy, but this just might be my favorite compact ballpoint pen.

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

It looks part lava lamp, part minimalist rocket. It feels fantastically smooth to the touch, the finish some kind of mix between metal and silk. I’ve left it unprotected, free to jangle against keys, pocket knives, coins, and yet still I can’t find any signs of a scratch yet. I haven’t tried chucking it across a roughly paved parking lot or tried dropping it from the top of a five story building, but I’m not sure I’d want to. I like this pen too much to take the abuse quite that far.

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

The cap (machined out of solid 17-4 stainless steel bar stock) and its locking grooves are machined so precisely that when you push the cap on, air has nowhere to go, thus requiring the hole in the top of the cap. When you pull the cap off, the air being sucked back in as you pull makes a little pop! when the cap is free. The result is a very secure cap that is nevertheless easy to remove and incredibly fun to play with.

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

Not sure what I was expecting the first time I pulled the cap off, but this wasn’t it. This was something altogether strange and different. This looked like a candle, with the writer’s flame of a ballpoint tip. I was a bit skeptical. But then I followed the groove of the pen and was pleasantly surprised with the result.

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

For my hand, the prototype is the perfect size. The weight of the pen gives it presence in the hand, but the comfortable way it’s balanced makes the weight almost unnoticeable. The refill included, a medium Schmidt, is nice and smooth in its own right. But the United P2 is designed to take a D1 refill. You know who makes a D1 refill? Do you?! UNI BALL. THE ANSWER IS JETSTREAM. THE ANSWER IS I CAN HAVE A FANCY LITTLE JETSTREAM REFILL POCKET PEN AND A CHOIR OF PENLY ANGELS SHALL SING ABOVE MY HEAD. Ok put that thought on pause. Brad Dowdy has discovered (as I did once he pointed it out and I tried swapping the refill) that the Jetstream refill is too skinny. I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP YET. RESEARCH MUST BE DONE. But I’ll have to come back to this. I’m holding out hope.

UPDATE from the inventor himself:

“Also for the record, the production pen WILL accept all D1 refills. Currently the prototype doesn’t accept some refills because the coating thickness is a little too thick which in turn made the hole size a touch smaller than it needs to be.”

HOPE RETURNS!

Everyday carry approved

Everyday carry approved

Tweaks are already planned for the production run vs. what I have here in the prototype. The pen will be a little larger, both in length and in diameter. Personally I’m fine with the prototype size, but I have medium sized hands. It would be nice, down the line, to perhaps have “large” and “small” size options for the United P2. No one size will be perfect for everyone, but it would be nice to have a choice. I worry that a larger pen wouldn’t fit nicely in the pockets of my fitted jeans. The production run pen will also have a smaller cap hole, which I didn’t have a concern about either way. Finally, the production run will have the press fit cap on the back end of the pen flush with the pen body. It sticks out so slightly on the prototype that I didn’t even notice until I saw this improvement listed, but that update is a good idea. Don’t know when I’d need to stand the pen upright, but just in case.

There are still 28 days to go and already the United P2 has reached its (admittedly easy to attain) funding goal. The makers of this pen have successfully completed a Kickstarter project before (a small brass spinning top that looks really cool and I really want one now, thanks a lot research). If you’re interested in this pen, hop onboard.

United P2: Pocket Pen by Dylan Polseno on Kickstarter





! 200th Review Giveaway Winner !

25 12 2014

WOW!!! There were 177 awesome giveaway participants. Everyone said so many nice things! I wish I could give everyone everything, but I can’t afford all that postage. I do want to thank everyone for entering and especially for all the wonderful comments! Now, for the winner:

jeff, the winner is you

jeff, the winner is you

If this jeff is you, please send me an email (link is on the upper right links menu) with your mailing address ASAP! That way I can start wrapping all these goods up, and possibly figuring out international postage if necessary. Thanks again everyone for participating!





Tombow Airpress Giveaway Winner!

3 12 2014

I got distracted and temporally displaced, and forgot to announce the winner yesterday! So, without further bibble-babble, out of all the contestants, here is your winner:

Winnerwinnerwinner

 

martha, you are the winner! Please send me an email (link is on the upper right links menu) with your mailing address so I can get this pen to you ASAP!





Tombow AirPress Pen – White (Review & Giveaway)

27 11 2014
Lacking a portable scanner with me at this time, I'm having to make do with photographing the writing sample instead

Lacking a portable scanner with me at this time, I’m having to make do with photographing the writing sample instead

I don’t know if stormtroopers took over Tombow or if the staff there are just being remotely brain-controlled from the Death Star, but I too was contacted to receive and give away a white-and-black version of the Tombow AirPress Pen. Thanks to Tombow for providing these pens!

It also matches my car. I should give more rides to stormtroopers carrying these pens for the ultimate matching experience. More matching than a deathcage match even.

I’ve had some exposure to the AirPress before, evaluating it as a potential motorcycling pen, but I forgot to get around to actually reviewing it. And I have reviewed the similar AirPress Apro ballpoint pen. As I’ve noted before, I like the lightweight, compact body and the grippability of it—both the non-slip surface covering the whole body, and the slightly wider body itself.

I'm not sure if you can really see it, but it is snowing in the background. And foreground. And on the ground

I’m not sure if you can really see it, but it is snowing in the background. And foreground. And on the ground

That wider body makes it easy to hold and write with the pen even with gloves on (and in the cold, on wet paper, upside down, etc.).

Why is the arrow pointing? What does it mean???

Why is the arrow pointing? What does it mean???

The lanyard loop I understand. The hinged clip, we’re good. I like the grip, and the windows where you can see some of the process mechanisms that pressurize the ink cartridge. The only thing I don’t fully understand is the little plastic arrow thing on the end of the clip. I feel like it has some secret meaning or purpose and I just don’t get it.

UNDER PRESSURE, pushing down on me, pressing down on you—wait have I made this joke before

Just like the Tombow Apro AirPress, the regular AirPress ballpoint pen does really well with drawing. Each click of the pen (on the retraction actually, unless I’m mistaken) pressurizes the refill for 492 feet of writing. Is there a machine that tests these things? One robot arm holds the pen while another mechanism scrolls several hundred feet of paper by? Or is it just some probably underpaid guy writing the same word over and over until either he snaps or the ink cartridge runs out? The writing smoothness I would rank just under the supersmooth category; not butterglide skatesmoothery, but it’s still good. For the utility you get, there’s not much sacrifice of performance in terms of how the pen writes. I might loan my pen out to some LEOs I know to see how it holds up to some real field work.

What does 492 feet of writing even look like on paper? Has anyone stopped and really consciously looked at 492 feet of words?

What does 492 feet of writing even look like on paper? Has anyone stopped and really consciously looked at 492 feet of words?

Tombow AirPress Pen at Tombow

 

And now, for the thanksgiveaway! Tombow has provided an extra pen for me to give away, so give it away I shall!

The rules:

  1. Since I can only afford so much postage, I’m going to limit this giveaway to the U.S. only. Just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Cyber Monday, December 1st 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Only one comment per person! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. I will hand-number the entries because why not. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner on Tuesday, December 2nd. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

Thanks again to Tombow, and thanks to all of you for reading :)





A Trio of Fountain Pen Friendly Notebooks

25 11 2014

Tsubame Fools Cream Notebook // Kyokuto French Classic Notebook // Apica CD Notebook CD15

It was hard to decide what would make a better background: uninspired carpet, or cut up cardboard box

It was hard to decide what would make a more captivating background: uninspired carpet, or cut up cardboard box

JetPens sent me three different vintage styled softcover B5 notebooks to take for a spin: two explicitly listed in the fountain pen friendly paper section (the Tsubame Fools Cream Notebook – B5 – Comfort – Lined and the Apica CD Notebook – CD15 – Semi B5 – 6.5 mm Rule – Black) and one wildcard (the Kyokuto French Classic Notebook – B5 – Ruled – 32 Sheets – Gray). These are exactly the right size for convenient use: school, work, etc.; they are large enough to really write in, but thin enough not to be a burden (I’ve come around to appreciate filling up more smaller notebooks rather than breaking my shoulders carrying big notebooks with more pages than I’d ever need in any given period of time).

Is the notebook the comfort? Am I to outline my comforts in the notebook?

Is the notebook the comfort? Am I to outline my comforts in the notebook?

This notebook is my favorite of the three on appearance. The white decorative print pops off the background, and the whole affair together with the gauze binding is vintage classy. Of the three, the Tsubame has the heaviest paper weight at 83.5 gsm.

This paper is much more cream colored than my photographs are making it look. Take more pictures, you say? NONSENSE. USE YOUR IMAGINATION

This paper is much more cream colored than my photographs are making it look. Take more pictures, you say? NONSENSE. USE YOUR IMAGINATION

The cream-colored paper has an ingrained latticework between the printed lines that’s a bit reminiscent of french-ruled paper. I don’t know what the point of it is, but who says no to extras? Fountain pen ink on the page is beautiful, lines crisp and charactered with glorious shading, no bleedthrough, and no issue with showthrough (there is some, but I don’t find it a bothersome amount).

Note to self: remember all previous notes to self about not taking pictures on such dark and cloudy days

Note to self: remember all previous notes to self about not taking pictures on such dark and cloudy days

The only pen that didn’t do well was a Sharpie Marker. But there is a cost to this performance—this notebook has the slowest dry times of the three. Lefties tread carefully; I had some smudging with a few combinations of ink and nibs. If you’re heavy-handed, this paper seems slow compared to the others. Maximizing this paper performance requires good fountain pen form: a light touch and deliberate movements to savor the process of pen and ink and paper. This is the paper you use to practice your writing.

The actual notebook looks like more of a yellow gray. Or a muted tan. A sandy gray. Maybe I just ought to do a better job on colors

The actual notebook looks like more of a yellow gray. Or a muted tan. A sandy gray. Maybe I just ought to do a better job on colors

The Kyokuto French Classic has a charming design and the fastest drying times (probably due in part to having the lightest paper weight at 80 gsm). However, it also has the most showthrough and even a few points of bleedthrough, especially with broad nibs, dark inks, print handwriting, etc.

The most showthrough of the bunch

We’re talking if you had this notebook with you in person, you could clearly read what I wrote on the page below

You can use the back side of the page, but it’s not the most beautiful thing. And yet the ink on the top of the page looks pretty decent. You’ve got shading, with no fuzzing or feathering. It’s quite tolerable in the grand scheme of things, especially if you need to take quick notes and don’t mind the shadows of the words you wrote before.

I SWEAR THIS IS CREAM COLORED PAPER TOO

I SWEAR THIS IS CREAM COLORED PAPER TOO UGH

Some pens and inks do better than others. I’m having good results right now writing in cursive, using Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa in my Lamy 2000. Thin gel pens (0.5mm and under), ballpoints, pencils, and thin fountain pen nibs all seem to do best. If you pick this notebook, I’d recommend you spend the space of the back page figuring out what pen and ink combinations work best for you (rather than use pens and inks all willy-nilly and set yourself up for some potential disappointment). This notebook would do best somewhere you need to write fast, like for school or work.

The decoration stands out more when it's well lit. This is the disadvantage of completing the written portion of my review in a dimly lit cave

Looking at this picture, I realize the decoration stands out more when it’s well lit. This is the disadvantage of completing the written portion of my review in a dimly lit cave

Last but not least we have the Apica CD notebook. Similar to the Tsubame, with more subtle vintage styling printed on an irregularly textured cover, filled with 81.4 gsm paper.

Texture!

Texture!

The Apica notebook seems to present a good compromise between drying time and paper quality—dries faster than the Tsubame, yet does not have the problems of bleedthrough and extreme showthrough that haunt the Kyokuto with its faster dry times. Shading looks good, line qualities look good.

THIS is the only one of the three with white paper

THIS is the only one of the three with white paper

Of all three notebooks, the Apica is the one I would buy again first for my own personal use. Fountain pen inks look nice, the paper is delightfully smooth, and the drying time is sufficient. And, as I’ve grown addicted to with my Leuchtturm1917 notebook, it has a line for the date (the Kyokuto and the Apica both have lines for No. and Date).

WHO AM I KIDDING I LOVE ALL THREE

WHO AM I KIDDING I LOVE ALL THREE

Three notebooks, each with particular strengths and weaknesses, each with a time and place to shine. Thanks to JetPens for providing these samples!

Tsubame Fools Cream Notebook – B5 – Comfort – Lined at JetPens

Kyokuto French Classic Notebook – B5 – Ruled – 32 Sheets – Gray at JetPens

Apica CD Notebook – CD15 – Semi B5 – 6.5 mm Rule – Black at JetPens

 








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