Ink Drop Samples: February 2012

I just joined the Ink Drop, the Goulet Pens monthly subscription service that sends five ink samples directly to subscribers every month. I was lucky enough to subscribe in time to receive the February Valentine’s Day assortment which included Noodler’s Purple Heart and Black Swan in Australian Roses, Diamine Pink Hope, Waterman Red and Private Reserve Chocolat.

To test these colors, I used a dip pen so I could quickly sample each color with minimum clean up between colors — just swipe the nib with a rag and dip the next color. Nib is of an unknown origin, fairly stiff in a Koh0i-nor No. 127 N cork and wood holder. This is not my finest lettering or anything, I just wanted to see how these colors performed.

I was surprised how much I liked the Diamine Hope Pink, with a fine line its a bright magenta pink. With a flexible or wider nib, the color darkens to a rubine red. It also feathered least of all the inks. As this is my first experience with Diamine inks, I am excited to discover if this phenomena is common with all Diamine inks or if its just a quirk of this perky pink.

I would describe both of the Noodler’s colors as tinted blacks. The Purple Heart is a black-purple and the Black Swan in Australian Roses is a black-red. The Purple Heart is not distinct enough in color for my taste but I find the subtle color of the Black Swan in Aussie Roses to be intriguing.

The Waterman Red (now called Audacious Red) is a bit on the orange-y side of the reds. Its a bright tomato-y color. Red isn’t an ink color I would normally choose for myself but this makes me consider searching others out to compare.

The last sample is the Private Reserve Chocolat which is a rich chocolatey tone. They couldn’t have picked a better name for it. I have tried two other browns so far, J. Herbin Lie de The and Waterman Havana Brown (now called Absolute Brown) and I think I am going to prefer Private Reserve Chocolat. Its a much warmer dark brown. Havana Brown is a little bit lighter and a touch more neutral in color. Lie de The is lighter with a distinctly greenish cast in comparison.

Brown ink samples.

PS: In case you’re curious, I used my Miquelrius medium notebook with grid paper to test the inks.

Peanuts Moleskine Weekly Planner

Peanuts Weekly Planner

If you had asked back in November what planner I would choose as my planner for 2012, I’m pretty sure that the Peanuts Moleskine weekly planner would not have even made it on the list. However, since I waited until the first week of January to actually commit to a planner, my options were not only limited but almost nil. That’s not to say I haven’t ended up being quite pleased with the hand that fate dealt me.

I scoured around looking for a week-at-a-glance planner in a size approximately 5”x8” (give or take) preferably with a hardcover. I am choosy about the fonts used for the dates, the color of the lines or presence or said lines (I tend to avoid them if at all possible) and that left my options fairly limited even before my procrastination.

Inside page view

I finally just had to make a decision and it was getting to be well into the first and then second week of January. Lo and behold, I found the Peanuts large weekly planner with no lines on the date side of the page and then a full lined page for notes each week. Perfect. And somehow, Charlie Brown’s mopey face on the cover was just the sort of humor I needed for work.

Address book addition

But the best surprise was found tucked into the back pocket: a small address book, prefect for keeping all my correspondents information handy.

Tabs from address book

For every couple letters of the alphabet nicked into tabs is a simple lined page with plenty of room for not just addresses and phone numbers but also an array of additional information as suited to your needs.

Despite my normal reticence to Moleskines somewhat thin paper, this creates a thin volume that doesn’t add a lot of bulk to my day-to-day bag and still leaves plenty of room for meetings, notes and reminders.

I would definitely consider another one of these planners for next, with or without the Peanuts gang gracing the cover.

Pen Lust Podcasts

I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me sooner but just like every other hobby or interest, pen lovers have podcasts. Thanks to Brad Dowdy starting his Pen Addict Podcast, I’ve discovered a couple other options to keep you entertained and informed.

The Pen Addict (only two episodes so far but lots are planned for the future)

Geek of the Week (from the folks who created Fountain Pen Geeks, also a podcast!)

Ink Nouveau (Brian Goulet of Goulet Pens features fountain pen videos, reviews and tip, available as a podcast on iTunes)

Review: Uni Style Fit

Uni Style Fit

Upon the recommendation of one of the fine readers here at Well-Appointed Desk, I purchased the Uni Style Fit, a direct competitor to the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto multi-pens.

Uni Style Fit

The model I purchased is a black body with white polka dots (though there were other more sedate options available) which holds five different writing tools. Oh, joy! Choices!

Uni Style Fit

I chose four ink colors in 0.38mm size and the mechanical pencil in 0.5mm. The ink cartridges are avaiable in sizes from 0.28, 0.38, 0.5, 0.7 and 1.0mm. There are 16 different gel color options available for the three smallest diameter pen sizes and just three at the 0.5 and 0.7mm sizes (red, blue and black), which are ballpoint ink. The mechanical pencil is only available in 0.5mm.

To load the pen body, I needed to unscrew the clear tip from the body and then press the ends of the pens into the top until snug. Through the clear tip, I can see the colors and the sizes written on the cartridge bodies. Clicking one of the white levers on the pen halfway will cause the pens to retract for easy transporting.

When organizing the pen and pencil inserts, I put the mechanical pencil on the clip so that it is easy to find. Pushing down on the clip repeatedly advances the lead as you would expect.

Uni Style Fit

The pen body is fairly substantial as a result of holding five tools and completely smooth plastic on the outside which might not be comfortable or conducive for long-form writing. I favor this pen for meeting notes as the different colors allow me to embellish my notes and create call outs with the various colors. I did discover quickly that the ink flow is super smooth and requires the lightest touch to flow which is quite lovely.

In comparison to the Hi-Tec-C ink quality, I would say that the Uni Style Fit ink is silkier and less likely to dry out or jam when left unused. Alternately, the Coleto multi-pen bodies have soft rubber grips to make them more comfortable to hold for long periods of time. My favorite pen body to date in the Lumio 4-color which is very comfortable to hold and not much wider than my Kaweco fountain pens.

Overall, I quite like the Uni Style Fit. Its sturdy for a plastic pen, the inks are smooth and creamy on paper and the colors and sizes available are enough to suit just about any taste. I may try the smaller, 3-color body which might be more comfortable for me to hold though I hate to give up those extra color options.

Uni Style Fit Pen body $3.30, mechanical pen component $3, individual cartridges $1.65 each. Total investment: $12.90.

Review: Zig Letter Pen Cocoiro

Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen

When I initially purchased the Zig Letter Pen, I only bought the holder. I didn’t realize the cartridge was sold separately. So, after a frustrating wait with an empty pen case, I received cartridges to fill it. Oddly enough, the end of the pen projects out of the pen case in kind of a jarring way. While I like the texture of the matte-finish pen, the wonky protruding pen cartridge really disappointed me. But since I finally had cartridges, I figured I would go ahead and put it to use. Maybe it writes better than it looks?

Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen

The cartridge has a fairly fine-point, fiber brush tip. As opposed to other brush pens I prefer, the fiber tipped tend to lose their pointy-ness over time, particularly on toothy paper stock.

Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen

I tested it on some fairly smooth paper (Ecosystem blank) and what pleased me most was the richness of the black, very solid which is great for sketching and drawing. Brand new, the pen held a fairly fine point but I don’t know how well it will wear over time, the tip already looks a bit frayed.

Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen

I bought several different colors but I always seem to end up going back to black since I use brush pens mostly for work which means the art is scanned and manipulated digitally and black scans the cleanest.

In the end, for blackest black, fine point reusable brush pens, this isn’t bad. I do find the exposed end a little strange-looking though I see that it does allow you to see if there is still ink in the cartridge. Though I’m a sucker for anyone who will sell me something in acid-y lime green, this does not rank high in my pen hierarchy.

We have a winner!

I’m blown away that we had over 100 entries in the latest Well-Appointed Desk drawing. I was tickled to read everything people wanted to buy with the winnings. There were lots of requests for Prera and Kaweco fountain pens, Pelle journals, brush pens and Hi-Tec Cs.

Without further delay, the winner of our drawing is:

Congratulations, Splitz! I’d say “don’t spend it all in one place” but I guess you’ll have to! (You should have received an email from me with contact info to claim your prize.)

To all the other entries, thanks so much for entering and sharing your wish lists. Hopefully, we’ll have another drawing soon!

A Pearl Among Swine?

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I had heard about the legendary Paper Mate Black Pearl eraser — the distant cousin of the old faithful Pink Pearl — but I had never located one to see for myself if it was all it was cracked up to be. I was visiting my local office supply superstore and lo and behold… the Black Pearl! It is black and a smooth, flat-like oval, like a polished stone. The shape alone is worth the price of admission. It feel delicious in my hand. PaperMate kept the delectable script lettering like the Pink Pearl as well so I was sold on these before I took them out of the package. If they even erased a little bit, I’m buying them in a gross. They sell in packages of two at the office superstore for about $2 per blister pack. The package claims that the Black Pearl produces less eraser dust. I took it out for a test drive today. I compared its erasing powers against my gold standard, the Staedtler Mars (well-loved) on standard sketchbook paper using a Zebra 0.7 mechanical pencil loaded with standard HB lead. The photo below shows the very faint remains of both erasers. The Black Pearl did not smear as much as the Staedtler and I think even erased more completely. I’m sold.

Don’t forget the other Pearl — the White Pearl, latex-free.

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[previously posted on my personal blog but it seemed appropriate to move it here, amongst other papery-related bits]

JetPens Giveaway!

The kind and benevolent gods and goddesses over at JetPens have given me a $25 gift certificate to give to you, one of my fine readers.

So, here are the rules:

  • You must tell me what you would buy with $25 at JetPens
  • You must leave this information in the comments here at The Well-Appointed Desk (comments on Facebook, Twitter and the like will not be considered an official entry)
  • You have until Tuesday, January 31 at 5pm CST to submit your comment.
  • Winner will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 1. (Only one winner will be chosen using random number generator).

Thanks for reading, playing along with the game and supporting both The Well-Appointed Desk and JetPens!

To start things off, I would buy a new Kaweco Sport in green with an extra fine nib and a gold clip. Just slightly over $25 but well worth it, I’m sure!

Currently available on the other side of the pond from Moleskine is the Postal Notebook. Its a paperboard folio enclosure, ready-to-mail, with eight plain pages bound inside. There are two sizes available: pocket and large for £4 and £5.50 respectively and each is available in six different color paperboard covers. What a wonderful way to capture a story, long letter or a travel missive and send back to friends.

Looks like these should become available in the US around Feb 1.

(via Moleskine)

The pocket notebook trend isn’t recent. Leave it to The Art of Manliness to find references to real men keeping pocket notebooks like the ones shown in the photo above since the early 20th century. Real men take notes, proudly, and the suggestions for uses for these notebooks are as valid today as they were 100 years ago: keeping a list of future to-do’s, names of potential contacts or recent introductions, and all those other valuable tidbits of information that can help you be more organized, successful or productive.

Also recommended is to keep a hard lead pencil with your notebook and not a pen or soft lead pencil which can risk being smudged or blurred entirely by moisture, be it rain or overturned canoe.

(via The Art of Manliness and Field Notes)