Link Love: Boxing Day Edition

Fabulous video of a hand-writing automaton boy built over 240 years ago (via Letter Writers Alliance)

Paper & Notebooks:


Pen Pal Interview with Josh Scruggs (via Jet Pens Blog and 26symbols)

Pens and Ink:

Origami Santa


Link Love: Heart-Stealing Pens, Paper & Inks

Pen Buying Process

Pen Buying Process by Andrew Tan of Drewscape/Wibble Wibble


Notebooks & Paper:




Link Love: Miscellany Loves Company


There were lots of hard-to-categorize bits of wonderfulness on the pen-blogospere this week including the epic link list from the Pen Addict Podcast Gift Guide Episode (#81) which is a link list onto itself.

Fabulous Miscellany:

Letter Writing and Post:




Pencil stylus by FiftyThree


Pardon my repeated turns to digital recently. As computers, cell phones and tablet devices are as much a part of our working life as pens, paper and staplers, I feel its worthwhile to include references occasionally.

Review: Morning Glory Mach 3

Morning Glory Mach 3

I had to wait ages to get my hands on a few of the Morning Glory Mach 3 0.38mm liquid ink pens and, boy, am I glad I finally got them. I acquired three colors: lime green, red and blue-black. These are standard plastic, single-use capped pens with a metal, liquid ink/rollerball tip. The caps click when posted on the end of the pen so they don’t fall off while writing. It give the pen a nice weight as well. There is no fancy silicone grip area, just a bit of texture on the clear plastic at the grip.

Morning Glory Mach 3

Let’s talk about the wicked 0.38mm tips. My pen fandom started in high school when I first got to use a Pilot Precise V5 and I realized that not all pens were created equally. Now I know there are some flaws in the V5 — its leaky and a little gunky on the end — but they had a nice crisp point that writes well. So imagine a V5 on speed skates and you have an idea of the experience using a Mach 3. Its a needle point tip that’s much finer than a V5 and silkier too.

Now, should I mention that the Mach 3 is available in 13 colors though I question the usefulness of the flash yellow.

Morning Glory Mach 3

The Mach 3s write beautifully. Smooth. Great colors. The lime green is even a great useable shade. I love the blue-black! All hail, blue-black! At $2 each, there’s no reason not to pick up a few with your next order at Jet Pens. My next batch will definitely include the green, light blue and maybe a purple.

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

Link Love: Notebooks, Scanners and Places to Go


Places to Visit:



long point sharpener




Video: Staplers and Glass Pen

My husband stumbled across this video of  staplers found in Japan by this colorful Brit from The Grand Illusions web site, a site that sells toys, illusions and other novelty items.

I dug through his videos in search of other tidbits that might be interesting to readers and also found his glass pen demo. He comments that washing the tip with a little soapy water helps to make the ink adhere much better. Good tip!

Link Love: Fountain Pen Day and NaNoWriMo

Kaweco Liliput Nib EF

Two big pen- and paper-related events are happening on November 1. There is the second annual Fountain Pen Day so its time to dust off your collection, clean ’em or refill them and show your fountain pen pride. And then there’s the annual NaNoWriMo, AKA The National Novel Writing Month, which starts on November 1 and hopes to inspire and challenge anyone who’s considered writing a novel to devote the month of November to getting it on paper. If you’re more inclined to knit than write, you can join me and the other fiber-obsessed for NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater in a Month) over on Ravelry. We use lots of pens, pencils and highlighters to annotate our patterns and keep track of our stitches.

So, how can I inspire you to participate in these upcoming events?

7 Ways to Make the Most of NaNoWriMo (via European Paper)

November 1 is Fountain Pen Day (via Fountain Pen Day)



Paper & Notebooks:

Link Love: All Penned Up


Letter Writing:




Link Love: Overdue Again

Japanese pencils
Pencil acquisitions from Kinokuniya (via Paper Pastries)



Pens and Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:



Tiny Post Offices Print (via Power and Light Press , shoutout to Paper Pastries)

Review: Staedtler Triplus Mobile Office Set

Staedtler Triplus Blackbox Set

I must confess I am a sucker for a good packaged set so when I spied the limited edition Staedtler Triplus Mobile Office Set ($11.50 per set), I clicked “buy it now” before I knew what happened. I also love triangular shaped tools like the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 so again, “buy. it. now.”


The set came in a black plastic carrying case and the pen (and pencil) clip clasp into the case. The cover clicks into place and can be folded back and clicked to itself to make the tools easy accessible. Inside, there are six tools: a ballpoint pen, a rollerball pen and a Fineliner all in black ink plus a blue Fineliner, a 0.5mm mechanical pencil and a fluorescent highlight in yellow.

Overall, the tools are quite long giving them the weight and balance of an art tool rather than a pocket pen. Capped, the pens are a little over 6.25″ long. Campared that to a Sakura Pigma Micron which is a mere 5.25″ long or a Marvy Le Pen which is 5.625″.

The blue and black Fineliners are 0.3mm felt tip and comparable to the feel of a Sakura Pigma Micron, Staedtler Pigment Liners, Sharpie Pens or Marvy LePens. I like the feeling of the tips. They seem more durable than a Sharpie Pen of a LePen which start to feel dull pretty quickly. I’m curious to try a few of the other colors available now. The only downside of the Fineliners is that they are not waterproof. They are a slightly water resistant though.


Because all the tools are comparable in diameter to the average pencil, I was curious how the highlighter would work. Its a brush shaped tip to allow underlining with the tip and highlighting by angling the pen sideways. It works okay but not as easy to highlight as the chisel tipped versions of the classic Textsurfer. The color is fabulously highlighter yellow though.

The mechanical pencil was an odd delight. Overall, its a similar metallic asphalt gray as the Fineliners but with fine silver stripes running horizontally down the barrel. The tip area is a metal silver adding a little bit of weight to the “business end”. To keep its profile consistent with the other tools (and to keep the eraser clean) it retracts into the body. When fully twisted out, there is 0.75″ of easer which is considerably more than most mechanical pencils. The eraser is white so I’m going to assume that Staedtler had the forethought to use their legendary Mars Plastic eraser as it seems to erase quite well. The point end can also be retracted by pressing the advance halfway to make it easier to travel. The lead holds firmly so there’s no feedback or wiggle. When clicking to advance the leads, there’s is a little black bellows below the eraser cap that compresses. Its an oddly steampunk detail. The pencil separates at the bellows to add additional leads.



Now, I have to talk about the tool I was less pleased by: the ballpoint and the rollerball.  The ballpoint preformed well. Its a medium point, black ink and had a soft-touch rubber finish which feels good in the hand. The tip and the end are both chrome metal and the cap is clear plastic so its a very nice looking pen. The bummer was that the cap was hard to replace on the ballpoint which is odd. I had my husband try out the ballpoint as he favors ballpoints and rollerballs. He found that he had to bear down on the ballpoint to get it to write which caused his fingers to slide up the barrel.

And last, the rollerball would not play nicely with my wonky left-handedness. It gapped, didn’t put down a consistent line and generally annoyed me. I’ve had such luck with rollerballs lately I forgot how infuriating rollerballs can be for me. In the hands of my right-handed spouse, it worked, but he found it gloppy and imprecise.

Overall, I loved the portability of the set and several of the tools are good quality. The triangular shape is comfortable and aesthetically appealing. I suspect that the case can be refilled with other tools in the Triplus line so it will not be left with an empty slot when I banish the rollerball and ballpoint.



A smaller classic Tripus Mobile Office set with just four tools (ballpoint, pencil, highlighter and finerliner)  and a clear plastic carrying case is just $8.90.

(via Jet Pens)


Hot News:

Nock Co. Reviews and Previews:

Postal Enthusiasm:




Paper and Notebooks:

Link Love: Pencil-centric



Pens and Ink:

Paper and Notebooks:

Postal Museum Gallery Opening Flyer


Link Love: Long Labor Day Weekend Edition

I’m taking off for the Labor Day weekend but will be back, re-inked, freshly sharpened and opened to a clean page on Tuesday. In the meantime, enjoy the diverse collection of links this week and feel free to explore the archives! Happy Labor Day!



Paper and Notebooks:


Ballpoint Showdown Follow-Up #2 (Giveaway winner and comments)

First, I want to thank everyone who commented and posted questions.

Debmohn2013 asked for a comparison of the blue ink versions of these pens so I’ve added that to my to-do list. Look for that in the coming weeks.

Phillip Kallenburg asked why I didn’t talk about the feel of the barrel in my hand. Phillip, since these pens are available in a multitude of different configurations like multi-pens, silicone barrel retractables and even as refills, I decided that it was a very mutable aspect. The Vicuna, Acroball and Surari were all almost identical retractables with a “padded” grip style. The Acroball uses a ridged silicone which was the squishiest. The Surari has a firmer rubber grip but still felt nice in the hand. The Vicuna is more of a matte textured plastic with undulating ridges in the grip area and the hardest of the three. The Jetstream I used is a plain, smooth plastic barrel. Does that help?

*Wisher*, remember the Acroball does not dry quickly on coated postcard and greeting cards stocks but works great on plain papers.

Zoe, I didn’t like ballpoint pens either. I mean I REALLY didn’t like them. These pens changed my mind. I think you should definitely try them out. If you don’t like them, you can make a friend or co-worker happy by passing them along.

And finally… the winner of the $25 Gift Certificate from Jet Pens is…

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 12.13.17 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 12.16.22 PM

And its Jackie from Addicted to Pens And Paper! Congrats! You should receive your gift certificate via email this weekend.

Thanks again to everyone who entered and if you haven’t seen the advertisements for each brand of pens, check out yesterday’s post!

Kaweco Fantasie Fountain Pen


There is a new Kaweco fountain pen to ogle. Its called the Fantasie Fountain Pen. There’s a ballpoint option available as well and the refill is actually listed as a G2 and looks like a standard Parker-style refill. It’s designed with a raw brass body designed to accept decorative FIMO dough to the exterior. I love the raw brass and suspect that in its natural state, the pen should patina beautifully but I’m intrigued about the idea of wrapping a pen with FIMO dough (a type of polymer clay that can be hardened in the oven). It would give the pen a very different feel in the hand and would be one-of-a-kind.

The Kaweco Fantasie Fountain pen retails for $54.50 and the ballpoint for $40.50.


Video: Hybrid Ballpoint Follow-Up

After writing my reviews of the hybrid ballpoints, I found an ad for the Pilot Acroball that sort of horrified my senses. So then I had to look further to see if Pentel, Uni Ball or Zebra stooped to similar stereotypes. So I’ve collected them all for you here.

Seriously? This is another Bic For Her travesty (read the reviews for entertainment). Shame on you, Pilot.

This Uni Jetstream video just sells the pens and stops trying to stereotype all women as shopaholics with a penchant for matching their pen to their outfits.

Both Surari and Vicuna features ice skating as a metaphor for the pens’ smoothness. Points to Surari for weirdness of the ice skating zebra.

Judged entirely based on the promotional videos, I give the lead to Zebra Surari. Runner-up is Uni Jetstream but they lost first place because of the goofy music.

How would you rate these? Are you more or less compelled to buy any of these pens?

Link Love: The Gossip Edition

The Gossip:

  • There’s been some big news around The Pen Addict and a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter project under the name Nock Co.
  • There’s rumors that following the success of the RETRAKT, Karas Kustoms might be making something fountain pennish. You didn’t hear it from me.
  • Field Notes 18-month wall calendar is available and it won’t be long before the #20 in the Colors Editions will be announced. Find out more about Field Notes and its co-creator Jim Coudal on this week’s CMD+Space podcast.
My darling friend Sandi did this fabulous sketch and kindly included the pens she used -- the ever handy Sakura Pigma Microns

My darling friend Sandi did this fabulous sketch and kindly included the pens she used — the ever-handy Sakura Pigma Microns. 

Now back to our regularly scheduled program:

My Daily Carry for the Week of Aug 18

Daily Carry for the week of Aug 18

I haven’t done a daily carry post for awhile so I thought I’d give you all a peek into my bag, its a Letter Writers Alliance member pencil case, in case you were curious. I have a few of my favorite pins stuck to it as well. Paper geek pride!

I’ll go from left to right:

The various and sundry bits at the bottom from the left:

  • Vintage letter opener
  • Lefty Pencil Sharpener
  • Pocket Swiss Army Knife
  • Wireless USB controller for my Wacom tablet
  • a couple spare SD cards
  • a USB flash drive (8GB)
  • my name chop I got in Stanley Market in Hong Kong

Its probably way more than I need but I like to be prepared and have options. I don’t have my own office at work so I tote a lot more with me each day than most people. How many tools do you carry with you each day?

Hybrid Ballpoint Showdown and Giveaway

Hybrid ballpoints

Over the past few years I’ve warmed to the idea that not all ballpoint pens are created the same. This is especially true with the hybrid ink ballpoints like the Pilot Acroball, Pentel Vicuna, Zebra Surari and Uniball Jetstream. I decided it was high time to put these four head-to-head. I wanted to know if they were all essentially the same or if there were any  distinct differences worth noting.

These pens are referred to as hybrid inks, emulsion inks, hybrid gel, hybrid ballpoint inks, to name a few. The bottom line is that they use a modified ballpoint ink crossed with the newer gel inks to create a smoother, quick-drying ink made to be easier flowing while maintaining the waterproof characteristics.

Hybrid ballpoints

I wanted an apples-to-apples comparison so I used single-color, retractable, 0.5mm black versions of the Surari, Vicuna and Acroball. I had a multi-pen Jetstream already and tested with that. The Jetstream is also an 0.5mm black but also includes an 0.5mm red and a 0.5mm lead pencil as well. All four brands  offer silicone grips and a whole array of configurations from point size, colors and pen barrel aesthetics. A single color pen can be had for $2.50 and up for a Jetstream, Vicuna and Acroball. The Surari is the budget pen at $1.65. My interest was specifically in the performance of the inks.

Ballpoint Showdown 1

On my standard Quo Vadis bright white notebook, all four pens performed quite similarly. At close examination I could see a little roughness in the swirl tests from the Jetstream and Surari and an occasional skip in the Acroball. The Vicuna was the smoothest on this silky paper. In terms of the richness of the black, the Acroball had the darkest color followed by the Jetstream and Vicuna. The Surari was the lightest black.

Ballpoint Showdown 2

In fairness, I also wanted to test these pens on more “everyday paper” so I used my new Poppin notebook which has better-than-average paper but not as fancy as the Quo Vadis. On the Poppin paper, all  but the Surari looked equally dark black. Vicuna was ever-so-slightly rougher on the paper but only minutely.

For me, the occasion I use ballpoints most frequently are either signing credit card receipts or writing postcards so I really wanted to try these pens on the toughest of all papers, coated stocks! I forgot to photograph my postcards before writing this so you’ll have to trust me on this. The Jetstream and Vicuna performed very well. They dired quickly. The Surari was good as well. The Acroball, for reasons I can’t understand, took FOREVER to dry which resulted in smudged writing and having to wait to post the mail until I felt sure it was dry. So… with that said I would rank the Vicuna as my most recommended for writing, smoothness and darkness. It wasn’t the darkest ink but it is super-smooth and worked on the most surfaces. Second place is the Jetstream. Its widely known to be awesome and it is but I did get a little fuzzing on nice paper.  I’d put the Acroball and Surari tied for third place. The budget price on the Surari gives it a little boost while the Acroball is a rich black color but terrible for glossy paper like greeting cards, postcards and magazines.

Finally, if you want to do your own side-by-side testing of the hybrid pens, I am giving away a $25 gift certificate to JetPens to help you on your way. Just leave a comment and tell me which of the four brands is or might be your favorite hybrid pen.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday August 23, 2013. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. Gift Certificate will be sent via email. One entry per person.

Link Love: Handwriting, Pencils and Rollerball Refills





Paper and Notebooks:


Review: Poppin Gel Pens (and Giveaway)

Poppin Gel pens

The fine folks over at Poppin sent me another package. This one was filled with boxes  of their gel pen assortments. Each box includes six different gel pens in a rainbow of vivid colors.

Poppin Gel pens

These gel pens have a similarly simple aesthetic to the ballpoint pens I reviewed last week. For the gel pens, the casing is colorless transparent plastic to see through to the colored ink core. The top of the cap and the metal clip match the ink color. The pens are minimally branded and don’t have any special ergonomic features.

I tested the pens on both the Poppin lined notebook and in my standard testing notebooks, the Quo Vadis Habana. My results were pretty consistent between both books. I wanted to test it in both a high end and a mid-range notebook since these are the type of pens, based on price and style, that I would be more inclined to use at work or to leave on my desk for passersby who need a writing instrument. The Poppin gel pens would most likely be used on copy paper, legal pads and 3x5s so I wanted to be sure they were tested on comparable paper.

Poppin Gel Pens tests

The colors of the ink are bright and vivid. The line width looks to be about a 0.7mm. On the Poppin notebook, I included a comparison ink color from my stash. I didn’t have anything close to the brightness of the pink, orange or green short of a highlighter. The blue was similar in color to the bright blue Marvy LePen and the purple is close in color to the Pilot Juice Grape. The gel red is the least vibrant color in this set, more of a true red. Think fire trucks and maraschino cherries.

Poppin Gel Pens tests

All the colors dried quickly though the purple had a bit longer dry time on the Quo Vadis. On the Poppin notebook, I didn’t notice any dry time delays. I do think that all the pens preferred the slightly toothier Poppin notebook to the super smooth Quo Vadis. It is a subtle difference but I think these everyday pens will perform best on everyday paper.

I had a little trouble with the purple pen being a bit skippy. I tried one from another pack to make sure it was a fluke. It was. This could also be casued by my slightly wonky left-handed writing style. I often have trouble with gel and rollerball pens if I hold them at too severe an angle which basically chokes off the rolling of the ball bearing in the tip.

Overal, the Poppin gels worked fairly consistently. These are definitely more of a budget range pen, obviously, but their performance was consistent with the results I get from a Pilot G2 or other gel purchased at a big box retailer. What makes these gel pens stand out is the bright fun colors and the clean, simple designs.

Packs of 6 assorted or single color gel pens sell for $9.

GIVEAWAY: Would you like to win a box of these pens to try yourself? I am giving away two boxes (that’s two chance to win!). Leave a comment and tell me which color in this assortment would be used up first.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday August 19, 2013. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winners will be announced on Tuesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money.

Review: Edelstein Aventurine Ink (and Flex Nib Dip Pens)

Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine bottle

The very sudden acquisition of this ink can be entirely blamed on the folks over on We got to talking about green ink and voila! this ink ended up in my collection. It’s the Pelkian Edelstein Aventurine which is a deep green color.  I love the Edelstein bottles and the posh packaging makes it feel like a true gift to myself and you know how I feel about green. So, of course, I had to give it a try.

Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine ink sample

I went ahead and tested it here at work using my more professional tools rather than my daily fountain pens and was quite pleased with how it performed. I used three different dip pen nibs on Borden & Riley 100% Cotton Rag Marker Paper with a rough finish.

(I included the Karas Kustoms Render K in anodized green aluminum because its an almost perfect match for the Aventurine ink color. “Hello, Pantone Color of the Year, I think your ink just called.”)

In a swab test, the color appears to be a true green with a little lean to blue but no black or grey overtones. In a stiff nibbed pen, the color is lighter, a nice evergreen green. With flex nibs, the ink pools into variations from a dark forest green to a light, true green. The wider variety of color differences in quite appealing for me and the fact that even in these flex nibs, I got no feathering, splining or blooping was mighty impressive.

Tools used in Edelstein Aventurine Review

The nib on the bottom in the Tachikawa nib holder is my favorite, is the Brause 66 Extra Fine Arrow. It’s a super flexy and requires a delicate touch and probably a little super fine grit sanding paper to polish the end before using.

The middle nib is a Tachikawa G series. It has a medium flex. The top nib is a Central School Supply House Roudebush Vertical No. 2 and is the stiff nib used in the sample writing. Its a vintage nib but some of the standard Speedball Student nibs might perform similarly.

If you’re curious the other nib holders are both wood with a cork grip area, one from General’s and the other is an old Koh-i-noor with a red lacquer finish. Versions of both nib holders can be found at John Neal along with some other awesome nib holder options.

Link Love: The Two Weeks Late Edition



Ed Jelley's Pen and Ink Tattoo

Ed Jelley’s Pen and Ink Tattoo (via Ed Jelley)


Paper and Notebooks:

Paper Message Tape (via Oh, Hello Friend)

Paper Message Tape (via Oh, Hello Friend)