Saturday, August 23, 2014

Traveling and stationery

Thanks to my fellowship, I more chances now to travel than before, though most of the time, I do not have choice of where I am going.  This past June, I attended my very first library conference in Las Vegas.  It is probably the last place I would associate with libraries in general, but it turned out to be better than my original assumption, mostly due to good company and dreamy dessert.

The traveling kit for this trip was different from the past, mainly because I had anticipated that I would be ambulating between hotel and convention center, as well as within convention center, I must make sure that the load was comfortable enough to carry out in my messenger bag.  Given the main focus of this trip was the conference itself, I packed based on the assumption that I would not have much time playing with stationery in general, but I should have all the essentials for note-taking and possible calligraphy practice.  Based on the above consideration, I had selected the following:



Yes, an old-fashioned planner despite the fact that ALA (American Library Association, the organization that hosted the conference) had an app for every platform.  I used it to plot out obligatory events as well as the ones that attracted my attention.
  • Midori Traveler's Notebook
I have attended several panels and anticipated some degree of note-taking.  Instead of carrying a traditional notebook for note-taking purpose, I chose Traveler's Notebook.  Given how thick it is, it provided a sturdier writing surface than conventional one.  One unexpected use of the notebook was for people I have met to put down their contact information to keep in touch.
  • Rhodia Rhodiarama in Iris
Call me a dreamer, but I had planned for down times toward the end of my day, distilling thoughts and wrapping my day up by practicing calligraphy.  Rhodiarama's portable size and high quality paper made it a great candidate for this task.  You wonder whether I actually did practice, yes, I did!
Instead of bring a quill and a portable inkwell, I defaulted to Pilot Falcon for its flex nib.  Plus, in case panels were extremely dry, it would be able entertain myself without dousing off.
  • Pilot Vanishing Point
This is one of the two fountain pens I had brought with me.  It was chosen because it was retractable. Instead of unscrewing the cap, I could simply click on the knocker and write.  No chance for me to lose a cap.

  • Uni-Ball Signo DX
Though fountain pens are preferred, I always bring a gel pen for "just-in-case" situation.  Especially when you were in a hurry (i.e. using express check out at the hotel), gel pens can be the unsung heroes.  


Besides picking out a working travel kit, I also had an unexpected stationery gain while at the conference.  My friend and I discovered a booth for Library Fair and Forum hosted in Yokohama, Japan.  While she was chatting with the representative, my sight meandered and settled on one of the take-away goodies:  a letter pad with flower motif from the scroll of The Tale of Genji.  The other representative had noticed that my sight was fixated to notepad and asked whether I have any questions.  I asked whether the notepad was fashioned after the flower motif from the famed novel.  The representative first looked at me puzzled, then exclaimed, "you know about The Tale of Genji?  Then you should really take a notepad with you."  At that moment I felt for once nerdiness worked to my advantage.  :)

The letter pad turned out to be a sheer pleasure to use.  The paper is on a thicker and toothier side, but it takes all media that I have tested, including a metallic silver Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen.  Even De Atramentis Magenta Purple plays well with the paper.



Design wise, the paper is simple yet exquisite.  There are 4 varieties:  maple leaves, morning glory,
bellflowers, and cherry blossom.  The ethos and name very much coincided with Pilot Iroshizuku's naming convention.





Have you ever find nice stationery at unexpected places?  

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Small Announcement

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is enjoying the exciting matches the World Cup has to offer.  To everyone who habitually writes to me, I am moving at the beginning of July to a slightly bigger apartment (definitely a cross the city blocks move, not a cross-continental one!).  Please e-mail me for my updated snail mail address.  If you already have a letter en route, fear not, I have submitted a change of address form so your letter will reach me during the transition.

Hopefully I can gather some time to write proper posts while packing for a short business trip and boxing the apartment!

Have a great week!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sailor Colors of Four Seasons

Sailor fountain pen ink rank very high on my personal list, for the hues are saturated and can transform any scratchy nibs into fine buttery ones due to their lubrication.  However, no new addition was made to the Jentle ink line for quite some time, so you can imagine my ecstasy when Sailor announced the reissue of limited edition ink from the past, under the series Colors of Four Seasons.  Three colors from this series are purchased:  Nioi Sumire  (Sweet Violet), Shigure (Drizzle), and Tokiwa matsu (Tokiwa pine).

While I was making samples out of these ink, I could not help but to observe the similarities between ink from Color of Four Seasons and the soon-to-be-retired Jentle series.  Since I have Ultramarine from the previous series, I decided to do a quick color comparison.  

Nioi Ultramarine
Writing done by J. Herbin glass dip pen on Tomoe River paper

For the lack of better example for Sailor Epinard, I only found a message that I wrote to myself on the Hobonichi planner with that ink.  You can still see the similarities between the two.

To my eyes, Nioi Sumire does not have as much purple undertone as Ultramarine, while Tokiwa matsu has resemblance to Epinard.  As Paper and Hand kindly explained to me, Nioi Sumire was released back in 2010 as a limited edition ink. It seems that Sailor renamed it to Ultramarine when the Jentle line was introduced.  Now the old favorite is reinstated (in a sense) in place of the replacer.  Oku-Yama is identical to Grenade (a written comparison can be found here on Fountain Pen Network, notice the chromatographic similarities between the two).  Souten, as I suspect, might be very closely related to Jentle Sky High.  

What does this finding  tell us?  From the Colors of Four Seasons, it appear that the only colors that are truly retired are Apricot and Pêche.  I cannot personally vouch for Pêche, as it was described to me as a pale pink with brownish undertone (found here, Gentian's beautiful ink art), but Apricot is simply gorgeous.  It reminds me of a ripe Aprium, with rich and subtle orange hue.  Do not worry if you have not gotten all colors from the Jentle line; most of them will still be around, with a few new exciting colors!

The new line up can be found at Pen Boutique, Gold Spot, and Anderson Pens for $18 a bottle.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Currently Inked

Currently inked

This round of rotation involved more pens than the past because of my recent acquisition of some colors from Sailor's Colors of Four Seasons.  As you probably have heard, Sailor will retire the existing Jentle Ink line, but do not panic, almost all colors will remain in place with the exception of Apricot and Pêche, with reintroduction of some limited edition colors from the past.  I will talk more about it in my next post.

I am glad that J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe is available again for my rotation.  Back in January, I wanted to ink Pilot Kakuno with it but detected a funny whiff from the ink bottle.  J. Herbin responded to my inquiry immediately and offered to send a replacement bottle after receiving mine.  Glad to know when manufacturer stands behind their products by offering robust customer services regarding possibly flawed products.  This is actually my second time contacting J. Herbin about ink that has possibly gone bad, and I am equally satisfied both times.

On the other note, I am planning to attend the Pelikan Hubs meeting in Los Angeles tomorrow evening.  Not sure what to expect yet, but I hope I will have something exciting to report later!

Any new ink on your horizon?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dialogue Too A5 Notebook

Problem with liking nice designs is that many notebooks will involuntarily following you home.  When I received a hefty box from Grandluxe sometimes last year, Dialogue Too notebook was the one that caught my eyes with its embossed motif on the cover.  Like many GrandLuxe notebooks that I have reviewed1,2 Dialogue Too is made with same paper; hence similar writing performance.  Here is a summary of Dialogue Too's specification:

  • Available in both A5 (21cm x 14.8cm; 8 1/4 inch x 5 7/8 inch) and A6 (14.8 x 10.5 cm; 5 7/8 x 4 1/8 inches).
  • Italian polyurethane cover with blind embossed motif.
  • 80 gsm acid free cream paper.
  • Lined and blank pages.
  • Available in blue, lime green, ivory, pink, and turquoise.
  • Weighs 358 g (12.65 oz) 

A pink one is sent for review.  The color reminds me of Pelikan Edelstein Turmaline, a nice and rich magenta.  The embossing on the lower right hand corner along with the elastic closure add a degree of finesse to the notebook.

A small notch designed for the elastic band.  Nice addition to an otherwise simple notebook.

Dialogue Too
Writing sample done on Dialogue Too.  Visible feathering on fountain pen ink
Backside of the same writing sample.  Visible bleed through.  Less show through for gel and ballpoint pens

Binding of the notebook.  
Personally I like cream colored paper because it is softer to the eyes; however, the paper color can distort, absorb, as well as sharpen ink color, so certain colors appear more pleasing than others.  Similar to other thick notebooks, one would feel a bit of an "edge" while writing on the last portion of the notebook that feels like an uphill incline.

One feature that stands out from Dialogue Too is the notebook has both lined and blank format.  At first I am perplexed by the format, but then I realize the benefits of this mixed format.  When one uses Dialogue Too as a journal/diary, one can easily use the lined page to compose the entry and use the opposing page for illustration or collaging.  Since the notebook comes with elastic closure and not entirely snug, it can accommodate other keepsakes that one put on the blank pages.

Cream colored pages with lined and blank format.  Lamy Al-Star with 1.1 italic nib is pictured here.

  • Elastic holds cover and content intact
  • Lines are wide enough to accommodate writings of different sizes
  • Mixed format in one book makes the notebook more versatile
  • Polyurethane cover is durable
  • Smooth writing surface that can improve overall writing experience
  • Notebook does not lay flat
  • Paper is less accommodating to wetter media, such as fountain pen ink and highlighters
  • Polyurethane cover is scuffed easily
Dialogue Too can be purchased on Amazon.
What do you think of notebooks with mixed formats?  

1 GrandLuxe Monologue notebooks
2 GrandLuxe Elastiq Journal

This notebook is graciously given to me by GrandLuxe as a sample for reviewing purpose, without any monetary compensation.  All opinions expressed here entirely mine. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nomadic Easy Classification Pencil Case


Selecting a suitable pencil case is close to a shoe fitting for Cinderella for me, probably because I am such an indecisive person who have hard time deciding what to bring.  Most of the time, I only transport my selected stationery goods between home and work; thus, there is no urgent need for me to look for an adequate pencil case, until I had to travel back home earlier this year.  Though the selected arsenal would be in my messenger bag with me in the cabin at all time, it was still better to be safe than sorry since I have planned to take a few fountain pen with me.  The prerequisites for this ideal pencil case are medium capacity (I prefer not to take too many items with me, as it does become harder to locate an item in the midst of pens) and some protections for fountain pens.  With these elements me mind, I thought a combination of a book style and a zippered compartment would do nicely, and after some perusal sessions, I settled on Nomadic Easy Classification Pencil Case in Blue.


  • Length:  21.7 cm (approx. 8.54 in)
  • Width:  9.2 cm (approx. 3.62 in)
  • Depth:  5.5 cm (approx. 2.17 in)
  • Material:  Nylon
  • Exterior color:  Blue with light gray trims (in this review), also available in black, gray, navy, red, and yellow.
  • Interior color:  orange (similar to the hue of Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki)
  • Closure:  zipper
  • Numbers of compartment:  3

Nomadic logo hiding behind the mesh part
Nomadic Easy Classification is large for me only because I am so accustomed to using pencil rolls.  With its dimension, it is a medium pencil case that is great for organization, daily carry, as well as traveling.  My very first impression of it was its lightweight.  Some pencil cases can be very hefty that discourage users from putting more items in it.  However, do not be fooled by its feather weight because all compartments have a thin padded layer to protect the enclosed goods.  The color combination is also eye-catching and gives an unisex appeal.  The one that is under reviewed here has hyacinth blue exterior and orange red interior.

YKK zippers

double stitches all around
The nylon material is textured which gives a bit of grip to the pencil case that facilitates the overall retrieval of the case, and the standard YKK zippers ensure the ease of use and longevity.  I speculate that the driving force behind the design of this case is utility, since there is no feature or compartment on the case that appears to be "extra."  Though the quality of a product can be determined by the material or design alone, for me, details are indicative of the overall quality and concept of the product.  In the case of Nomadic Easy Classification, all the edgings have matching color double stitching to improve durability and to appeal aesthetically.

tray compartment with mesh pockets
The design of case intrigued me because half of the case is similar to a book-style pencil case in that the upper half has a pouch that allows vertical storage of pens, which is ideal for fountain pens, while the bottom half opens to a small compartment that is great for post-it and other smaller items.  The other half of the pencil case is tray style with two mesh pockets on the sides, with plenty of room for pens and gadgets and added sense of organization for commonly retrieved items, such as lead and bar style eraser.

book-style-like side

longer portion

smaller compartment
Notice that I said Nomadic Easy Classification has a similar to book-style pencil case because the two compartments on one side unzipped into two flaps and do not completely open like a book.  One side is long enough to accommodate an average size fountain pen, such as a Pilot Kaküno.  Also because how long the compartment is, mini size fountain pens, such as Kaweco Liliput, might "disappear" in the pocket.  Interestingly, this is one of the times when I found pen clip handy, since fountain pens can be easily secured in the pocket by clipping onto the edge.  The tray style side can fit quite a bit of pens; currently, I have 8 pens, a white-out pen, and a 15-cm (approx. 6 inch) ruler without the pen case looks overly bulging (that is with 6 fountain pens on the other side).  Though I place fountain pens in Nomadic Easy Classification as my daily carry, I would not suggest placing grail pens in them for the reasons that the case only offers light protection; however, it is suitable for any pens you would not mind or have a heartache if they have some signs of usage.

Nomadic in action!  Tray compartment

All fountain pens nicely stowed 

Storing page markers and post-it in the smaller compartment
For the one month I have used this case, I have not found any feature that I dislike.  It is a durable, lightweight, and utilitarian.  The space allowance that this case provides does not translated into the weight.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a nicely and streamline designed case for the daily carry.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Follow-up on Stipula Vedo

IMG_0160 Stipula Vedo was purchased at my first fountain pen show back in Washington D.C., and I have fond memories with the pen until recently.  When I first inked the pen, it wrote smoothly and beautifully, leaning toward a wetter side.  Gradually, the pen loses its luster because it started to skip.  From time to time, I needed to turn the piston to manually feed more ink to the nib.

At first, I suspected the problem was caused by my negligence in cleaning the pen thoroughly.  I soaked the pen over night, used pen rinse, but the skipping problem still persisted.  The tines on my nib were aligned, or at least to my eyes.  I did a little research with a friend's kind assistance.  It turned out that it is a common problem with Stipula, where the nib has residual oil on it during manufacturing process that it impeded with the writing.  This nib removing tutorial gives me the gist of the process, but it was still a bit scary to actually do it for the first time.  the nib unit was soaked overnight to loosen any residual ink there was.  With one hand  holding onto the neck of the nib unit, I gently held onto the nib and started wiggling the nib unit.  Stipula's nib unit was built somewhat similar to Kaweco's, where you can remove the nib by twisting and pulling at the same time.

Good news to me that nothing was broken during this process; moreover, the nib now writes so much better.  The pen writes every time I uncap and it lays nice wet lines as well.  That is one thing about fountain pens; they are always work in progress.  Even for a pen that works right out of the box, the writing experience with it changes over time.  The pen acclimates to one's writing style, and vice versa.  That is why writing with fountain pens is an enriching experience, at least to me.

Have you ever troubleshoot the fountain pens you own?  How did it turn out?