Kickstarter: Qwerkywriter


Even typewriter lovers among us occasionally have to use a modern-day computer. Why not experience the beauty and feel of a vintage typewriter while you pound out your emails or Twitter missives? That’s where the new Kickstarter Project, the Qwerkywriter comes in. Its a USB keyboard (though there are plans for a Bluetooth adaptation if they exceed funding) that has a 88-key mechanical keyboard with the classic good-looks of a vintage glass-key typewriter. The “paper feed” doubles as a tablet stand for your iPad or Android tablet.

At the $289/$299 funding level, you can receive this unique keyboard. The developer is about a third of the way to his funding goal so if you’d like to see this project come to fruition, support it today. The funding period end July 3.

Qwerkywriter with tablet

Kickstarter: SketchyNotebook


Sketchy Notebook Kicktarter project


If you liked my post form yesterday of the template guides sheets, you’ll really like the SketchyNotebook Kickstarter project which is an A5 notebook that specifically focuses on providing an assortment of high-visibility page templates for more than just lined paper. There are templates for grid, film/animation storyboarding, 3D perspectives, and more — all printed on water-resistant vinyl stock for durability.

Sketchynotebook templates

One notebook plus your choice of three templates starts at $30 and there is about two weeks left in the campaign.

Sketchynotebook drawing sample

Hop over, check it out. Let me know what you think and if you’ll be funding this project.

(Shout out to My Pencil Draws Worlds for the tip)

A Better Option


When recently asked “What pen do you reach for most often?” my less-than-pen-nerdy husband answered, “Whatever is at hand.” Oh, my aching pen geek heart! I succinctly told him that using “any old pen” when you’re married to a pen nerd is akin to me getting business cards printed at Kinko’s. No offense to Kinko’s but my husband is a premium letterpress printer and I would never dare to tarnish his reputation or sensibility by carrying a less-than-fabulous card. That said, I’m on the hunt for pens that are not “fancy-pants” fountain pens but not a disposable plastic pen either. The catch is that he genuinely likes the writing quality of the Uni-Ball Vision and similar gel/rollerball pens.

This conversation synced with thoughts I have been having about the upscale (non-fountain) pen. Like most pen geeks, I have a deep-seeded respect for the writing quality of the gel/hybrid rollerball pens but I just don’t want to carry around a plastic pen. One of the things I like best about the fountain pens I use is that they are aesthetically appealing and endlessly refillable.

In looking for a suitable pen for Bob (and continue my own search for a good non-fountain pen), I went to the most successful Kickstarter pens. Most of these are well-designed pen body that utilizes the most favored refills (either the Pilot G2-sized refills or the Pilot Hi-Tec C-style refills).

Render K Uni Ball Signo Refill

I immediately went back to my well-loved Karas Kustoms Render K which tends to be my go-to pen at work. It is loaded with a Pilot Hi-Tec C refill (in green, of course). It looks professional but will write on any surface I might be faced with in the average meeting (photocopies, 3×5 notecards, post-it notes or my own notebook). I’m considering adding a Render K that accepts the G2-style cartridges to the mix as well to expand my refill options.

Eco-Essentials Pen

Another pen up for consideration is the Ishuja’s Eco-Essential Pen ($55) which is a bamboo outer casing with aluminum interior and hardware. I really like the look of this pen. Its a clean, simple design and is available for either the Hi-Tec C-sized refills or for the G2-sized refills. The mix of silver metal and warm bamboo wood is gorgeous.

Big Idea Design Aluminum Pen + Stylus

The Big Idea Design’s Solid Aluminum Pen + Stylus ($59) is also a possibility. It has an all-aluminum body with a titanium clip and is the less expensive sibling to the solid titanium version that was originally a Kickstarter project. This pen also includes a touch-sensitive tip for digital devices on the end. This can be swapped out with a flat screw for a cleaner look that ships with the pen. The pen accepts the G2-style refills too, of which there are lots of refills to choose from.


As a temporary solution to my husband’s lack of appropriate pen, I gave him my Karas Kustoms RETRAKT in brass ($65) with a standard G2 black refill in 0.5mm. Hopefully, he’ll resist the urge to just use “any old pen”, especially in front of clients.

He has a Fisher Space pen, a Sherpa and an Acme pen, all of which he’s misplaced. Maybe I shouldn’t have given him the RETRAKT after all?

Do you have a favorite pen that accepts standard rollerball/gel refills? Let me know in the comments!

Kickstarter: ClickTape

(Also available in GREEN!)

(Turquoise ClickTape pictured. Also available in GREEN!)

I see a lot of pen projects on Kickstarter so when I heard about the ClickTape tape dispenser, I was pretty stoked. Its time for folks to start innovating other office supply stndards. And the CLickTape is a great idea with a cool design. Modern but classic.

The cost of entry is minimal: just €10 for a blue version and it include worldwide shipping (I just shipped a 2 oz package to the UK and it cost me over $7 so you’re basically paying for postage at this point). To get the coveted green version, I’ll have to jump up to the Triple Pack and get the turquoise and blue one as well for €25.

There’s only a few days left in the Kickstarter campaign and the project is shy about €1000 of reaching the goal. I’d really like this project to get funded (for my own selfish need to have a green one) so please consider this project.

Kickstarter: HMM Rule One

HMM Rule One

Have you seen this Kickstarter project? This is a multi-functional tool made from black anodized aluminum that includes a pen, a ruler and an optional strap or touch stylus. The whole object is a teardrop wedge shape that can be used as a bookmark. The pen closes with a magnet and can accept any refill comparable to the Mitsubishi UNI like Pilot, Lamy, Uni-ball, Signo, Pentel, EnerGel and more. Backing options to receive a HMM Rule One start at $45. There’s only two weeks left to back this project and they have not reached their goal yet.

UPDATE: I tried to embed the video here but it didn’t work so I’ve added a photo instead. Sorry!)

Kickstarter: Leafcutter Designs’ World’s Smallest Post Service Kit

As a diehard mail enthusiast, I could not possibly resist the new and improved Smallest Post Service Kit from Leafcutter Designs. This might look a bit familiar to you because several years ago Chronicle Books published a version of the kit but this new, Kickstarter version will be exactly the way Leafcutter Designs wanted the original kit to be, with all the bells and whistles including tiny stationery, tiny stamps, tiny envelopes, a tiny newspaper and a super-fine tipped pen for writing your letter. If you purchase the deluxe kit, you’ll also receive tiny rubber stamps, stamp pads and glassine envelopes to mail your tiny mail through the big postal service.

I went ahead and purchased the deluxe option because I always want the rubber stamps. Lea is super cute in the video above so, if for no other reason, make a contribution to her Kickstarter just to see her sweet, happy smile.

Leafcutter Mini Post Office

(via Make Everyday A Good Mail Day)

Kickstarter: Tiletto


By now, I’m sure you’ve probably already heard about the Tiletto. Tiletto is a Kickstarter project that’s a multi-function letter opener made from titanium, of course. It can also be used as a bottle opener (my favorite additional feature), hex wrench, straight edge, pry bar, box opener, and the list goes on. Its durable, functional and pretty elegant looking. You can get in on the ground floor for $30. The project has just eleven days left.

Review: Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen

Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen

I’ve alluded to the latest Kickstarter project from Karas Kustoms for several weeks but I wanted to write-up a good thorough review with lots of photos to entice and satisfy any questions. So here it is!

Dan over at Karas Kustoms was kind enough to send me a prototype Ink fountain pen to get my opinion and allow me to share in the excitement. My initial impression taking this pen out of the package was “DANG! this think is huge!” Keeping in mind, I generally prefer smaller pens like the Kaweco Sport and little vintage jewels like the Esterbrooks. Both of these pens have plastic bodies and are diminutive in size so my perspective is a little skewed. I also have child-sized hands.

The Ink fountain pen in aluminum weighs 44gms with cap, 27gms without. This is fine with me since 44gms way exceeds my weight limit for a comfortable writing tool. The brass RETRAKT weighs 63 gms so if that pen is comfortable to you, the weight will be no issue.

The pen is machined entirely out of aluminum. Dan made a point of telling me that my pen is a prototype and there are still some finishing details that will be plussed-up in the production version of the pens. The shape is slightly tapered towards the end that gives this pen a refined look. The cap screws tightly onto the pen but cannot be posted on the pen when writing, though at 44gm, why would you want to?

Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen cap

The clip is an industrial strength, streamlined bauty that’s held on with signature Karas hex bolts that give the pen a nod to its industrial roots.

Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen

The grip area is slightly tapered  but quite short. The screw tooling is pretty fine so even thought my fingers touched the ridges it provided a grip area and was not uncomfortable.

Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen nib

The nib is a Schmidt M nib which is a satiny-smooth, medium nib. I used it for the R&K Verdigris writing sample . I don’t usually use medium nibs but I found it easy to use.  Its a stiff nib with no flex but its not so wide that my tiny writing was completely obscured. The nib is a #5 size so if you like the looks of the pen but want a different nib for it, you may be able to swap it out. Dan said they may be stocking other Schmidt nib sizes after the Kickstarter campaign concludes. No promises but its something they may consider. In the meantime, several online reatilers stock #5 nibs including Edison Pen Co.

 with Lamy Studio

The first pen to come to mind for comparison is my Lamy Studio in brushed aluminum. Both the Karas Kustoms Ink and the Lamy Studio feature understated, classic good looks. They are both weighty pens of similar length. The Ink is a bit wider overall though.

The advantage of the size of the Ink is that it can hold two short cartridges, a long cartridge or the converter that ships with the Ink giving lots of ink options and possibilities.

There are still 20+ days left in the Kickstarter campaign and many options to choose from with the Ink pen including an array of anodized colors,  rollerball version and the option to have a brass or copper grip area. Prices start at $60 for the silver anodized version of the fountain pen or rollerball pen.

Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen size comparison

From top to bottom: Kaweco Liliput, Karas Kustoms Ink, Lamy Studio, TWSBI Mini, Kaweco Sport

Now, I just need to convince Karas Kustoms to make a mini Ink-ette and offer it in lime green anodized alumnium! A girl can dream, right?

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by KarasKustoms for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

News: Ink is UP!

Ink by Karas Kustoms

While the title might seem cryptic, it will all make sense in a moment….

There are so many things to be thankful for this holiday. And one gift I wasn’t expecting… a new Kickstarter project from the fine folks at Karas Kustoms. This is just a peek of the new Ink fountain pen (rollerball option is also available). Go over to their Kickstarter page for a full reveal. I’ll follow it up with some hands-on details in the next day or so.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Inkmas!” Or should I say “Penmas?”

Review: The Hightower from Nock Co.


I was lucky enough to receive an early prototype sample of the Nock Co. Hightower case in the awesome Kickstarter edition peacock. The Hightower is one of the six products in the initial product assortment from Nock Co. which is currently available through their Kickstarter page only.


There is no branding on the outside. Its a blank slate for you to add patches or keep it plain. I love that the Nock Co. branding is subtle inside and not emblazoned on the front.


The Hightower is designed to hold three pens on the left hand side and a small notebook (might I recommend a Field Notes?) on the right. Though the right hand could also be used as a freestyle pen pocket. The interior of the teal case is navy blue and the trim is black. The flap keeps pens protected and keeps them from falling out.

I have never really used a slotted pen case before being more of a “throw every tool into a zipper bag” girl so it actually took me emailing Brad to figure out I needed to slide the clips over the slot to keep them in place. I kept losing my itty bitty Kawecos into the slot abyss. (Shakes head at self and says exasperatedly, “Idiot.”) Once that issue was addressed, I started playing with which notebooks I could fit into the pocket.


I had a  Field Notes, a Miro Utility notebook and a Cambria Cove (discontinued Hallmark subsidiary catalog company) notebook in it over the course of the week. Then I stuck them all in. It was a little bulky but it worked. There’s not quote enough room for a pocket-sized hardcover notebook — it fits but its a little difficult to slide in and out and close with pens in it as well. This didn’t stop me from carrying it around most of the week with ONE pocket notebook and my iPhone stuck in the pocket though. That worked pretty well.

The bottom line is that this notebook/pen case is flexible, very well-constructed and easy to use. I kind of fell in love with it this week, not that I should be the least bit surprised with all the thought and care Brad and Jeffrey put into creating these products.

Now I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the line. There’s three weeks left in the Kickstarter and then they’ll start production with plans to deliver by January 2014.

(more details are available in my previous post, Nock Co. or their Kickstarter page. And their are some other reviews of the Nock Co. products listed on Link Love this week.)

Nock Nock? Who’s There? Pen Cases, That’s Who!


The Hightower: a 3+1 case

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the Nock Co. product launch, a collection of pen and writing tool cases created by my pal Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict and Jeffrey Bruckwicki from Old Fourth Tailoring. Well, today’s the big day!

The Chimneytop: A pop-up zip-top case
The Nock Co. just launched their Kickstarter campaign to launch their first collection of pen rolls, cases and sleeves. Its a 30-day Kickstarter but things are already selling fast and the site has only been live for an hour.
The Brasstown: Zippered roll case

There are seven products in the initial Nock Co. line. Here’s a quick highlight: the Hightower which is designed to hold three pens and a pocket-sized notebook like Field Notes; the Brasstown zippered roll case which is a 6-pen roll that fits into a zip pouch; the Lookout which is a 3-pen holster case, and the Chimneytop which is a single piece zipper pouch that will hold six or seven writing tools or other daily carry items. There’s also the Maryapple and the Sassafras which are variations on the pen + notebook concept (either two slots for notebooks or slots on both the left and right for pens).

The color options for all the products are navy exterior with a gray interior, orange-on-orange (Brad’s favorite colors!) and gray with a sky blue lining. Sadly, there are no green options…yet. All the products are made from heavy-duty 1000 denier nylon exterior coated with a water-resistant DWR and lined with pack cloth.

There is also a special Kickstarter edition of the Hightower in peacock blue.

The most appealing Kickstarter option is the $75 option which will get you one of each of the initial seven products offered. That’s essentially $10.75 per case which is ridiculously cheap. Most of the pen cases sold on the market start at $15 and go up from there.

The Lookout: 3-pen holster

Nock Co.’s Kickstarter products are expected to start shipping in January of 2014. And of course, all the products are made in the USA.

Link Love: Inks, RETRAKT and general pen love

Remind yourself to take a break throughout the day with this desktop wallpaper from How About Orange.

Remind yourself to take a break throughout the day with this desktop wallpaper from How About Orange.




The Great Gatsby in pencil

The Great Gatsby manuscript in pencil (via Pencil Revolution)


Other link lists:

Kickstarter: RETRAKT


Karas Kustoms has launched their latest Kickstarter project, the RETRAKT. It is a retractable pen, hand-machined from metal that takes standard Pilot G2 refills. Like their earlier projects the Render K and the Bolt, the RETRAKT is an incredibly crafted piece. The folks at Karas Kustoms sent me the amazing brass edition of the RETRAKT. Its a weighty piece at over 60gms but I’ve been assured that the aluminum models weighs in similarly to the aluminum Render K models (about half that). My favorite part is the absolutely whisper-quiet retracting mechanism. Just click, click, click through a whole meeting without annoying your co-workers.

I made a little video to show off the smooth silent motion of the retractability. It was so quiet I had to add some music (my apologies to Brian Setzer).

You cannot see the seam in this pen where the refills go (tip, its just below the clip). That is craftsmanship! I filled mine with a Pilot Juice refill, because I could but it holds a G2 and several other similar shaped refills.

There are 45 days left in the funding drive on Kickstarter but at Day One, Karas Kustoms has already met their goal. The aluminum model is available at the $40 contribution level and a brass model like mine is available at the $60 contribution level. There is also a copper model available over the $90 contribution level. If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of this amazing pen, support the drive today and get your pen before the holidays.