Monday, August 3, 2015

Montblanc Meisterst├╝ck Blue Hour Twilight Blue



MB Twilight Blue

Montblanc (MB) Meisterst├╝ck Blue Hour Twilight Blue baffled me at first.  Besides a relatively long name, I cannot quite pinpoint which shade of blue it is.  After I revealed its "true color," I become mesmerized by the shade, as enigmatic as blue hour of the day.

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A little bit about the ink:
  • Color:  blue with teal undertone
  • Volume:  30 ml
  • Price:  $17*
The packaging of this ink is standard for most other Montblanc fountain pen ink:  simplistic outer package that contains a substantial glass inkwell.  I am rather taken by the geometric pattern printed on the packaging, make it an ideal gift even without wrapping paper.

The shading of this ink is rather subtle and more revealing if a broader nib is used.  In effect, I did not discover the teal undertone until I performed a wash test (more obvious with multiple washes).  It is a calming and serene blue on paper that renders the ink appropriate for business purpose, but the tint of teal with a bit of red edge makes the color more nuanced.  Very similar to the surprising and decadent ganache hidden underneath the seemingly plain dark chocolate.  

Twilight blue behaves very well with different types of paper, even with standard printing paper.  There is no bleed through on premium paper and very minimal on normal paper.  



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At first, Twilight Blue reminded me a bit like Montblanc JFK because of the slightly gray tint, but when scrutinizing the shade further, JFK leans toward purple, while Twilight has a nice subtle green.  The hue also reminds me of Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo.  Unfortunately I do not have Tsuki-yo handy for a side-by-side comparison, but I surmise the two would belong to similar color group.  

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Twilight Blue is a good choice if:

  • You are looking for a professional looking yet fun color 
  • You need an alternative from royal blue or blue black
Unit price wise, Twilight leans on a higher side (approximately $0.57/ml), 30 ml is a good size for those who have an assortment of ink and feeling that there is always one less bottle.  If you are unsure whether this is a good color for you, Twilight is also available as cartridges.  


*price listed at Pen Boutique, accessed August 2, 2015.

This ink is graciously provided by Pen Boutique.  I was not compensated monetarily for composing this review and all opinions expressed here are entirely mine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monologue Notebooks

Exploring new notebooks is probably one of the most fun activities because it means a series of experiment:  what kind of media does the paper take?  How does the paper feel?  What is the notebook range that a given brand offer?

Grandluxe is a company based in Singapore that offer several lines of notebook, stationery goods, as well as lifestyle items.  One of the lines, Monologue, is characterized by notebooks with simple yet attractive design.

This post will cover the following sub-series in the Monologue line:

  • Ruled Notebooks
  • Platinum
  • Basics
All series in the Monologue line shares the following common factors:
  • 80 gsm acid-free cream or white paper
  • Line ruled
  • Rounded corner page
  • Elastic closure
  • Expandable inner pocket on the back cover
Appearance


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Monologue Ruled Notebooks, from A8 to A6

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From left to right:  back covers of Basics, Platinum, and Ruled Notebook 
At first glance, Monologue notebooks remind me of Moleskine and even Rhodia Webnotebooks, in that  they have elastic closure in matching color as the cover.  The cover material differs slightly depending the sub-series.  Ruled notebooks have plushy polyurethane covers that are similar to Rhodia Webnotebooks and because how soft the cover material is, the elastic closure does leave a visible indentation on the cover.  In Ruled Notebook line, there are 8 colors to choose from (black, brown, green, purple, red, pink, orange, and yellow), all equally bright and appealing.  The covers for Basic and Platinum are fashioned more similarly to Moleskine, where the cover is made with harder leatherette.  In all series, the "Monologue" word is embossed on the back cover.

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Monologue Ruled Notebook on the left, Rhodia Webbie on the right.  Pretty similar, wouldn't you say?
Regardless of the cover material, the covers provide decent support when writing surface is unavailable. All series of Monologue have a bookmark made with matching color ribbon.  The expandable pocket in the back gives additional portability to the notebooks because small memorabilia can be stashed away easily while on the go.  What is nice about these pockets is that the accordion side is made with polyester with a satin finish, which potentially makes the pocket more durable. This set-up, however, is only available in Ruled Notebooks.  The pockets in Basic and Platinum are entirely made with paper that is in similar weight as card stock.

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1.  Inside of a Monologue Ruled Notebook  2.  Ribbon matches the color of the cover  3.  Expandable pocket in the back.  The accordion part is made with a polyester material which makes it more durable  4.  Binding of the notebook
The case binding securely holds paper together, it also means that tearing pages out would be difficult.  The Monologue notebooks share the same problem with similar style notebooks in other brands; they do not open or stay flat, so the opposite page would need to be "fight off" during the process of writing.

Paper 


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Gel and ballpoint ink close up
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Monologue Basics (A6) on the left and Ruled Notebook (A5) on the right.  Noticed the extent of feathering on Basics comparing to Ruled Notebook
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Bleedthrough comparison.  Ruled Notebook on the left and Basics on the right.
The 80 gsm cream colored paper in Ruled Notebook is easy to the eyes.  The surface is smooth but not satin glossy as in Rhodia.  Even with a gel pen with the finest point, the pen tip writes on surface without resistance.  The same for both ballpoint and felt tip, as well as fountain pens.  The paper is also very absorbent, that means drying time is superb; however, because of the absorbency, there is significant amount of feathering and bleedthrough when it comes in contact with any wetter media.  As seen on the ink testing page, feathering is not limited to fountain pen ink, but also the liquid felt-tip pens.


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Monologue Ruled Notebook comparison:  A8 (left) v. A5 (right).  
The point of curiosity is that the only fountain pen ink that did not feather is Sailor Nano black, in this case paired with Pelikan M205 Duo, a definite wet pen.  The curious case becomes even more interesting when paper in the larger format of Ruled Notebook (A5) can take fountain pen ink better than A8.  There is still visible feathering on A5 size Ruled Book, especially when a flex nib is used, but it outperforms its A8 counterpart.  I do not have a sure explanation to the difference in paper performance, given both notebooks consisted of paper of same weight.  Perhaps it is a different batch of paper?  
Though by in large the Monologue notebooks are not entirely fountain pen friendly, it takes gel and ballpoint pens very well, the two types of pens that are most commonly used.

Page Layout/Format
The paper density across the Monologue line is the same, but the page layout, line width, as well as paper color differ depending on the size of the notebook as well as the sub-series. While Monologue Notebooks and Basics have cream color lined pages, Monologue Platinum has white color lined pages.  The line width in Platinum runs slightly narrower (4.5 mm; .18 inch) than Monologue Ruled Notebooks and Basics (6mm; .24 inch) in same notebook size.  Because the line width in Platinum and Basics are narrower than standard college ruled, it would be a challenge for those with larger handwriting. 

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Left:  Monologue Platinum  Right:  Monologue Basics.  Platinum's ruling is a bit narrower than Basics and Ruled Notebook.
  • Monologue Platinum
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1.  Monologue Platinum has metallic colored cover, with pebbled leatherette  2.  Comes in gilded edges  3.  This notebook fashioned a bit like an undated planner, since the first page allows user to fill in personal information, in case the notebook is misplaced.  4.  Address book section  5.  A section to record commonly visited websites.
As the name implies, the Platinum line features metallic color covers (black, bronze, gold, and silver).  The notebook is also fashioned in an informal/undated planner because of a variety of page formats it contains.  Besides the lined pages, there are pages for personal information, address book, and a log to record frequented websites.
  • Monologue Basics
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1.  Monologue Basics comes with a hard leatherette cover with some design.  2.  Pages are rounded and numbered.  Good for indexing or recordings.  3.  There is a table of content page to help keeping track of everything.
Monologue Basics features a harder leatherette cover.  In addition to lined page, each page is numbered and there is a table of content that will facilitate organization of information. 

Conclusion
Overall, notebooks in the Monologue line are well-made, given that one of them survived my chaotic messenger bag for the past two weeks remaining unscathed.  Though the paper is not 100% fountain pen ink friendly, it is great for daily note-taking or jogging down thoughts with gel and ballpoint pens, especially while you are on the go. 

Interested in exploring these notebooks?  Grandluxe has an online store, as well as an Amazon store front for your purchase convenience.  Want more information?  There is a FaceBook page for the Monologue line and other reviews at Notebook Stories and No Pen Intended.

Monday, July 27, 2015

De Atramentis Dianthus



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Here comes the first post in a search for that perfect purple.  De Atramentis Dianthus in the strictest sense is not purple, but a magenta with a bit of purple hue.  It has sticking resemblance to Rohrer and Klingner's Solferino; the difference lies is Dianthus is a mangenta with more pink, while Solferino with more purple.

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Similar to other De Atramentis ink, Dianthus is not waterproof.  With one wash, most words in a sentence are somewhat legible.  With 2 washes, the content of the sentence is close to illegible.  While this property would not be desirable to novelists, for example, as one drop from condensation of a drink can obliterate one's magnum opus; it can be highly desirable to those who use fountain pen ink for painting or craft purposes.  The effect of ink wash is quite nice, as seen above, as water lifts layers of colors.

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In general, it is best to couple De Atramentis ink with fountain pen friendly paper to prevent feathering, though feathering can still happen.  Feathering can be a rather complex problem that goes beyond paper, ink, and pen.  I would suggest to test on the paper that you will use before seeing small feet start to crawl out of your writing.

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Last note about Dianthus, it is a scented ink.  The fragrance is rather faint compare to De Atramentis Plum Blue.  Sadly, the scent is not long lasting for the recipients to enjoy the experience, as it fades as soon as one finishes writing the word.

This ink would be ideal for you if you are:

  • looking for an economical ink with consistent performance (between $0.28 to $0.37/ml)*
  • searching for magenta ink with purple tint (and that you do not have Solferino already)
  • preferring ink with some but not dramatic amount of shading
  • enjoying a faint floral scent while writing

*calculate based on Goulet Pens' listed price, accessed July 27, 2015


Friday, July 24, 2015

In the Mood for Purple

Purple is my favorite color for as long as I can remember.  In this context, receiving a batch of purple ink to test out is almost a gift from above.  Since this friend is interested in finding a particular shade of purple, having swabs as reference would be helpful.  All ink names are written with Rohrer and Klingner glass dip pen, which explains overinked spots.  Images below is to give you a sense on the hues of these ink, in case you are interested in taking advantage of Goulet Pens' ink sample sales.  If you think you have seen doubles from the images below, you are not alone.  There are definitely shades that are very similar.

Two ink swabbed below has been reviewed in more details:  De Atramentis Magenta Violet and Pilot Iroshizuku Murasaki-shikibu

If you want to know more about a certain ink from this swab list, let me know! 


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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sakura Arch Foam Eraser



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For as long as I can remember, I always have an obsession with erasers.  At one point during my elementary school days, I have always have a whole drawer full of Sanrio erasers (by the way, they are not only cute, but also erase graphite rather effortlessly).  Even though I do not use pencils as often as before, having a good eraser around saves the possibility of leaving awkward smudges on paper.

Sakura Arch foam eraser piques my interest because of the "arch" in the name.  According to JetPens' description, the arch is referring to light green part of the sleeve, indicating where one should hold the eraser.  The placement of the arch is beyond the breaking point of the eraser; hence, make the eraser more resistant to breakage.

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These bumps that are embossed onto the sleeve, making the eraser easier to hold and letting one know where to hold.

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One commonly encountered situation on a bar eraser is that the sleeve usually drag as the eraser gets smaller.  Arch eraser solves the problem by having perforated segments, so one can easier remove the excess sleeve.

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Unlike other foam erasers I have used in the past, the body of the eraser does not gather eraser dust.  As seen in the photo below, Arch eraser has a thin plastic-like shiny part on the body, very similar to the one seen on Tomboy Mono.  The both is smooth by touch, and the shiny part does wear off with use.

One thing I really like about this eraser is the dust gathering property.  As one erases, the dust gather into small pieces of string, which made cleaning up easy and leave the desktop less messy.

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How does Arch erases?  Comparing to Pentel Ain Clic, Arch erases a bit more completely.  With HB grade, both erasers are comparable, but with softer and darker graphite markings, such as the one made by Palomino Blackwing, Arch erases more thoroughly without spreading the graphite beyond where the writing is.
Eraser testing
Sakura Arch foam eraser can be purchased at JetPens

Is there an eraser that is indispensable in your arsenal?

I am not affiliated with JetPens professionally or personally; the link is shared only as a happy customer!  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Currently Inked, 2/28



Currently Inked
Ink and pen rotation is something that has not been featured here for awhile.  This would be something little that I can do between readings to make up for the rather erratic and irregular blogging intervals.  

One thing that strikes me of this rotation is the variety of width.  I specifically ink a flex and a wider italic for the two turquoise to see the shading and the sheen, which is also the case for Sailor Jentle Tokiwa matsu.  Platinum Preppy with extra fine nib is a new favorite.  The fine line is especially complimentary to those who write small and those who do detailed drawings.  Lamy coral cartridge surprises me with a golden glow and I have to say, I usually am not drawn to pink, but this year might be the exception.  Lastly, Sailor Jentle Apricot still has its capacity to bring smile on my face.  

A special note needs to be made about the paper.  It is called Dr. Thomas Mann Schreibblock (note pad) by Franz Anton Prantl based in Munich, Germany.  This company exists since 1797 and allegedly, the famous German writer Thomas Mann had used this paper exclusively.  It is probably one of the most fabulous paper that I have used and thanks to my very thoughtful friend, Marianne, who became intrigued about the company after reading a newspaper feature about it.  It was surely a nice birthday surprise.  Thank you, Marianne!  

By the way, please let me know if you would like to see a brief overview on any of the paper, pen, or ink featured in this post!

What about you, my dear readers.  Have you acquired any intriguing and enamoring goodies recently?  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Kickstarter: CursiveLogic



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I have never learned cursive properly.  When I first came to the US, I have passed the age when cursive was taught.  While the objective of English as Second Language classes is to help students becoming fluent in their adoptive language, cursive was not part of it.  Despite that, cursive posed as a curious intellectual challenge for me at that time.  I would stare at the cursive script printed on the back of an exercise book and painstakingly and awkwardly mimicked all the loops that seemed humanly impossible yet so fluidly flying across the pages.

Regardless whether one believes there is value and benefit learning cursive, it is a form of art that could promote hand eye coordination and train fine motor skills.  Learning cursive does not need to be as discursive as the way I have learned it.  Ifyou are interesting learning, relearning, or teaching someone on cursive, check out a Kickstarter project called CursiveLogic that offers a systematic and comprehensive way to tackle this seemingly daunting process.