Friday, October 31, 2008

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.....

How long ago? Not sure - but I have a bottle of Zima in my hand and Kelly was still playing with the Bills, so you figure it out. Oh - and check out my spiffy fanny pack...

This photo was taken at a college party long after each of us in the photo would have actually been in college. We all used to work together and the party in question was being thrown by a younger co-worker that was attending Kutztown U at the time. She invited us to the party but never expected us to actually show up.

And show up we did. That's me on the left in the Kelly jersey. To my right is Lori in the poodle skirt. Seeing this picture reminded me of how Lori always used to go all out and have some of the biggest & most spectacular Halloween parties. It was at one of her shin-digs that I first tried home-made salsa on a hot dog, and boy was it good.

To the right of Lori is my friend Lisa, dressed as a typical Disney World tourist. Wearing a Goofy shirt, pants pulled up to her chest, three cameras around her neck and toting an ill-folded map, she is the princess of cool.

On the far right- that's Matt. I haven't kept in touch with Matt and it's a shame because I really liked him. He was funny, kind and sometimes a real pain in the ass but ultimately a really good friend. I still remember that time he cooked me and Deb that beef soup from scratch...

Happy Hallo-weenie Everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Purple and Orange Chakra Mandala for Halloween...I guess

Purple and Orange Chakra Mandala

I had a hard time scanning this one, and I might have gone a bit overboard in Photoshop trying to get the colors right, but I like the way it ended up, all punchy and in-your-face orange. Created with a maroonish/violet Sharpie marker and some Daniel Smith Transparent Pyroll Orange watercolor paint applied with a Niji Waterbrush applied on Bordon & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens.

It's like a Great Pumpkin Chakra Mandala. So Happy Halloween y'all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Review: Kunst & Papier Pocket Book - The best white paper ever???

Moleskine Cahier and Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

Moleskine Cahier sitting on top of the Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

Moleskine Cahier and Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

Showing the corners and lip of the K&P binding.

Red Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

I spoke with at Gil at Kunst & Papier, to discuss their various products and their unique design.

The books are German crafted with German paper and the products were designed by an artist for personal use.

They are made per an artist's standards, rather than to the standards of a marketing team or salesperson. It's why the pocket books have sewn bindings & wont fall apart. Why they will perfectly fit in a shirt pocket.

From the Kunst & Papier Website: "Hardbound with full synthetic linen cover. Sewn and gauze spliced bindings provide strength and durability. The Efalin covers are scratch, scuff and stain resistant. Available in five colors." (Black, gray, blue, red and yellow.) Perfect to match your Lamy Safari's!

With the textured cover, it feels like an old mini book with library binding. You remember- the kind that would hold up to an atomic blast, or at least falling into your dinner plate of roast beef and mashed potatoes when you weren't supposed to be reading at the table in the first place? (yes, that happened to me...)

Inside back cover

The Pocket Book is filled with a bright white 100gm paper and per Gil, can take anything you can throw at it. (Within reason, I'm sure. Gil was a pretty funny guy to chat with. His remedy for a paper that bleeds? "Write faster." LOL)

I must mention that Kunst & Papier uses various different papers in their various products, and as best as I understand, the paper used in the Pocket Book is ONLY found in the Pocket Book. (At least until increased demand gets them to put it into a larger book....)

And from what I've tested no inks are bleeding through it - not even a little bit. - but more on that in just a bit.

Pocket Book lies flat

The book lies pretty flat. Flat enough for me.

Sewn and gauze spliced binding

Sewn and gauze spliced bindings provide strength and durability.

Can your Moleskine do this?

Oh, and can your journal do this? As I was just writing up this review, (the pictures were taken a few weeks ago) I noticed in the previous photo, that the cover was bent back and I wondered if the paper would fold back as well.

Ayup. It sure did. And I just snapped the pic to prove it. Look at the way the spine collapses to let it get flat. Try this with your Moleskine and you will most likely blow it in half.

Fountain Pen ink tests in the Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

Tested with every one of my fountain pens that had ink in it.

Fountain Pen ink tests in the Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

NO BLEEDING OR FEATHERING AT ALL. Barely any shadowing, and of all the inks, the Midnight Blues in the .07 Cursive Italic was the only ink that came close to trying to push through this paper.

Fountain Pen ink tests in the Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

My two most annoyingly bloody markers. The Sharpie and the Staedtler Lumocolor.

Fountain Pen ink tests in the Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

Each of these markers are typical bleeders, but they didn't come as far through the paper as they typically do on other papers.

Watercolor paint test in the Kunst & Papier Pocket Book

The paper took watercolor quite decently (considering it's not specifically a watercolor paper) and there was slight buckling - nothing that wouldn't keep me from painting in it again.

Bravo!!! Paper that can stand up to multi-media applications.

In conclusion, this is an AWESOME little book with some of the most amazing paper that stood up to every fountain pen ink I tested in it with a variety of nib widths. They are light in weight and are perfect for pocket or purse.

I would most definitely purchase these in the future, but if I could improve on it at all, I'd prefer rounded edges on both the book and the paper. Writing down the page, the edges of the paper start to dig in my hand. A ribbon bookmark would be nice - but with how wonderful these little beauties are, I'm pretty well sold on them just the way they are.

The books are 3.5"x5" contain 96 pages, and sell for $9.95. The Kunst & Papier website offers free shipping on orders over $25, or they can be found at these US retailers.

Additional reviews on other Kunst & Papier products will be posted here in the future.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Review: Italian Cartesio Journal

Red Moleskine, Cartesio Journal and Lamy Studio Fountain Pen

Cartesio and Moleskine

The large Cartesio is the same size as a large Moleskine. (Note: the Barnes & Noble Red Moleskines have fewer pages than the regular black ones.)

Cartesio has a ribbon bookmark.

Cartesio Journal with Lamy Studio

Available in orange or black. Textured and ecological bonded leather.

From The Journal Shop "The notebooks have cream ruled paper (which is acid-free archival quality stock that takes fountain pen and ink beautifully) and are available in pocket 9x14cm and large 13x21cm sizes."

Cartesio Journal

Rounded cover, rounded pages. Rounded elastic band. Rounded edges allow for less damage to the book from repeatedly pulling it in and out of a purse or backpack.

Cartesio Journal

Cover is grooved, and the elastic band holds the book tightly closed with less chance of it slipping off in my bag like my Moleskine often does.

Cartesio Journal

A small raised emblem on the front cover designates the brand.

Cartesio Journal

Rear stamped logo "Tempo"

Cartesio Journal

Cover is a stiff recycled leather - and though not a hardcover, it's stiff enough that I can use it to write with it propped on my knee.

There is not a strong odor of leather with this cover.

Cartesio Journal

Cartesio Journal

The book lies "flat enough" for me, but not as dead flat as the Moleskines's do. Mid-weight pages are a creamy ivory. Signatures are sewn, not glued.

Cantesio Journal

See? Flat.

Cantesio Journal

Odd rear pocket. It's connected on the left, but it's left free to slide up and down the elastic on the right. I'm not sure I understand the purpose of that. Perhaps by being able to life the pocket away from the book, it's easier to get into?

Cartesio Fountain Pen Ink Test

Multiple fountain pen inks tested in various pens with various nib widths. No feathering, spreading, showthrough or bleeding at all.(See additional comments about this below - other people have had varying results.)

I did notice, that inks do not dry ultra quickly on this paper. It's not a shiny paper, and it actually has a small bit of tooth, (in a good way)

In the large Cartesio journal, the lines are ruled wider than in the large Moleskine. Cartesio lines are 8mm wide, versus Moleskines 6mm. 26 lines to the page versus Moleskines 30, but the Cartesio doesn't have the wide ruled top margin like the Moleskine.

I'm not crazy about the wide ruling, but because of all the other great features surrounding this journal, I think I'd be willing to overlook it.

Cartesio Fountain Pen Ink Test

Yes, you are seeing correctly. NO BLEEDING from ANY fountain inks. (Once again, see additional comments below.)

Cartesio Marker & Watercolor Test

Cartesio tested with various markers - as usual, Sharpie & Staedtler bled, but not as bad as in other journals. (I'm not even sure why I keep testing them, because journal paper is never thick enough for them)

I was surprised that the Japanese brush pen didn't bleed at all, because it's a highly pigmented pen that usually bleeds.

Artist grade watercolor test came out pretty darn well. Paints went down well on the paper, blended well, and didn't buckle the paper too badly.

Cartesio Journal Review

In all, the Cartesio is by far, one of the best journals I've yet to encounter. I wish it had a harder cover and that the lines were ruled smaller, but I can definitely say that YES, I would buy these and I do recommend it.

Unfortunately, it's availability in the US is severely limited. I could find no US retailers carrying it - so if you know of one, please let me know.

In the UK, I found The Journal Shop and though their inventory on the Cartesio's looks a little thin right now, I just received an e-mail from Alex at the Journal Shop that states, "After a very long wait indeed, we have now confirmed that our delivery is on its way to us from Italy and will be here in 7-10 days or so. We've ordered plenty..."

***11/29/08 Edited to add: Someone just contacted me that bought the Cartesio. She showed me pictures of how hers feathered pretty badly and also bled. I had written on about 7 pages of that book with no bleeding. I just whipped out my wettest three: .07 CI (Midnight Blues) M Sapporo (Imperial Purple) and .05 CI (Noodler's Red-Black) and wrote a few lines on that 7th page. Still no bleeding, there were only two small dots where the Midnight Blues tried to push through, but checking with a magnifying glass, I'm seeing at least a small amount of feathering with all three, the Midnight Blues in the .07 CI being the worst.

*** 11/26/10 Edited to add: Just heard word from someone else who is having bad feathering issues with fountain pen inks on this paper. (See the comments section below)  I would suggest purchasing at your own risk. 

See a previous review for the Cartesio on the Black Cover blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Smythson's Featherweight Paper holds up to it's claim of being Fountain Pen Friendly

Perusing the web, I came across these splendid little notebooks- these in particular known as "Panama Notes."

Handmade in England by Smythson of Bond for 100 years, I was intrigued by these luxurious little books and surprised to read what they say about their paper; "Normally such thin paper is not appropriate for use with a fountain pen but Featherweight paper is tested to ensure that it is strong and opaque enough to be used with fountain pens without bleed."

Oh sure. I've heard that before.

So these days, anytime I hear a paper laying claim to being fountain pen friendly, I know that I have GOT to check it out. Especially when the paper in question is labeled as "Featherweight" and weighs in at 50g/m.

So I sent an e-mail off to Smythson of Bond Street and received a few sample sheets of this FABULOUS paper.

101108 113

No feathering, no's incredible. It's a light pale blue watermarked paper that reminds me of that thin airmail paper. (But not as crinkly)

101108 109

101108 112

The paper is very smooth, completely wonderful to write on, but the fountain pen inks I used in this test did take quite a while to dry. I would suggest keeping a sheet of blotter paper in the book. Take notice of how the heavily saturated Midnight Blues showed really nice shading on this paper.

101108 111

All pens tested on this paper wrote to their true nib width and didn't spread out all over the place.

101108 110

Showing how thin the Lamy EF Studio wrote on this paper compared to a Sailor F.


Showing a scan of the reverse of all 4 test sheets. Paper came out very light on scanner & I had to up the contrast a bit to get them to show up - which is making the color a little darker than it actually is. No bleeding at all.

Smythson's products may not be for everyone - the 3x5" Panama Notes runs $70, but these might make excellent gifts for those fountain pen enthusiasts that you never know what to buy for.

I sent another letter off to Smythson inquiring if their books lie flat, and if the Featherweight paper is available in all of their books.

Per Amanda B. Doherty, Senior Account Executive KENT & COMPANY, "Most of our notebooks and manuscript books feature the Featherweight paper (from pocket notebooks to 8x10 manuscript books) as well as most of our diaries. The larger books lie flat when opened but the smaller books tend to close due to the binding, etc. And all of our Featherweight Paper is Smythson's signature pale blue color."

See more of Smythson's products here: diaries and books

It's Wednesday, so it must be time to groove....... Hey Ya!

Watch Mutwashi : Jim Donovan's Drum the Ecstatic in Music Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Because sometimes we all need a little something to get us through the mid-week hump.

The song is based on the traditional African rhythm called "Mutwashi" and is performed by Jim Donovan's band Drum the Ecstatic International.

Drum the Ecstatic on MySpace

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Like the way the Lamy Safari writes but want something a little classier? A little Sexier? How about a Lamy Studio?

Blue EF Lamy Studio Fountain Pen

Like the way your Lamy Safari writes, but want a sleeker, sexier looking pen for not much more money?

Then take a look at the Studio.

I want to start by saying that this is my 7th Lamy fountain pen, I currently own 6. 4 Lamy Safari's, an AL-Star, and now the Studio.

The Safari was my first fountain pen, and it's difficult for me not to compare all subsequent pens against it- and I don't just own Lamy's. I have two Pelikan M200's and two Sailor's (Sapporo and a full sized 1911 ) that I love just as much as the Lamy's.

I did at one time own a Lamy 2000 that I purchased used, but I ended up selling it because I couldn't get used to it not having some kind of grip for me to grasp the pen. I was concerned that the Studio might be problematic for me in that department, especially with the chrome front section, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Blue EF Lamy Studio Fountain Pen

The nib on this pen is un-be-liev-abley smooth, and the strange thing is that it's the same nib as the Safari. It's actually smoother than all of my EF & F Safari's, which are all pretty darn smooth in their own right. I can't really put my finger on why this Studio is writing so much smoother than the Safari's, except maybe for the fact that it's it's got more weight behind it.

Look at The Writing Desk on the Lamy exchangeable nibs:

"Genuine steel nibs that are direct replacements for the Accent (95 and 97), Studio (65 and 67), cp1, alu, linea, ST, Joy, Al-Star, Safari, Vista, Smile, abc and other models that are fitted with a standard Lamy steel nib...."

Blue EF Lamy Studio Fountain Pen

There is no doubt in my mind that this combination blue and silver pen is striking both in it's colors and design.

When you post the pen, it has a stopper built into the cap to keep the cap from marring the body of the pen. Nice touch.

The blue feels more like powder coated metal then the painted aluminum AL-Stars.

Compared to every pen I've ever used, this is a fairly heavy pen. It's balanced quite nicely, whether cap on or off. In my experience with this pen, I'm finding that when I write on a flat surface, I'm gripping the pen tighter than is probably necessary - or it might be due to the weight of the pen and the lack of a distinctive grip - it is balanced quite well, but it just might be heavier than I'm used to. I actually get an indentation in the side of my middle finger when I use this pen on a flat surface. I do NOT have this problem if I am sitting in a chair with the book propped at an angle on my knee. Perhaps the weight counterbalances to a place that's more comfortable to me- and I do spend a lot of time writing in this position.

As for the chrome grip, if my hands are cold & dry, it can get a little slippery. Otherwise, I don't have a problem with it.

Blue EF Lamy Studio Fountain Pen

Standard Lamy cartridges work in the Studio, and it can also use a Z26 converter, which is supplied when purchasing the pen new.

Blue EF Lamy Studio Fountain Pen

Close up of Z26 converter.

Blue EF Lamy Studio Fountain Pen on Moleskine

From the Writing Desk Website: "Finished in soft-touch black (model 67) or brushed stainless steel (model 65) (both with stainless steel nib). All models have a cartridge or converter filling system (converter supplied). This Lamy fountain pen is available with a wide range of nib sizes from EF to B plus oblique (OM and OB), LH (left-handed) and 1.1/1.5/1.9mm italic."

There is also a Palladium version, which includes (at a higher price) a two-toned 14K gold nib with rhodium plating.

Blue EF Lamy Studio Fountain Pen on Moleskine

$70 seems to be about the going rate for a Blue Lamy Studio. (The prices vary per pen color)

In the US, you can buy the Studio online from Pear Tree Pens or in the UK from The Writing Desk

Lamy Studio Fountain Pen Test in Cartesio Journal

Lamy Studio Pen Test in Cartesio Journal with Noodler's Bulletproof Black ink.

Lamy Studio Fountain Pen Test in Moleskine Journal

Lamy Studio Handwritten Pen Test in a Moleskine Journal with Noodler's Bulletproof Black ink.

So do I like it? You bet! The weight will take a little getting used to, but for a metal pen, it's wonderful.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

USA Scores a Goal with American Made Field Notes Memo Books

Field Notes, Cahier & Lamy Studio

Field Notes, Moleskine Cahier, and a Lamy Studio fountain pen.

Field Notes & Bonus Goodies

$9.95 for a 3 pack of 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 Field Notes, with 48 pages of white graph paper. Bonus goodies received included a Field Notes brand click pen and pencil, along with a cool sticker that missed it's opportunity to have it's photo taken.

Field Notes next to Moleskine Cahier

Similarities abound when sitting next to the Moleskine Pocket Cahier, but it ends once you get to the paper. Moleskines run about $6.99 for a 3 pack and have 64 pages. (plain ruled or graph.) the paper is ivory in color and is horrible to write on. (Like trying to write on dead leaves.) For a fountain pen enthusiast such as myself, the Moleskines are a waste of money.

Field Notes Behind

The rear of the packaging shows Field Notes company slogan, "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now." Good stuff. Completely applicable. I'm always carrying a small notebook (in addition to my regular journal) to jot down ideas and remember stuff that I need to do.

Field Notes

While I absolutely *love* the intentionally plain generic packaging. Some people may prefer the plain cover on the Cahier, which screams to be doodled upon. (I'll probably still doodle on the Field Notes.)

Inside Field Notes Back Cover

The inside back cover contains all kinds of useful information. No back pocket, but again - I'm always more concerned with paper quality that the *extras* that try to make a journal out to be better than it really is.

Field Notes : Made in America

Read closely and you will see: "PRINTED AND MANUFACTURED IN THE USA."; Yaaaaaaay!!!! Whooooo-hoooooooo! (Moleskines are manufactured in China)

Field Notes Pen Test

Inside shot of the front cover and my pen test. So let's jump to the quick - NO FOUNTAIN PEN INKS BLED OR FEATHERED ON THE FIELD NOTES PAPER. AT ALL. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION. :o)

Field Notes Fountain Pen Test

Sharpies & Lumocolor bled, but that's to be expected. I also decided to try my watercolors. On the upper right side of the page, I tried a few scribbles with my Neocolor II watersoluable crayons. I doodled a little, then ran over them with a Niji Waterbrush. They did just fine. Then I tried painting a bit with my watercolors. (All artist-grade tube paint.) The paper handled the paint pretty well - better than I expected. Colors remained pretty vibrant, and while I wouldn't necessarily specifically buy Field Notes for painting, I would say that they will definitely accept a light wash and so throw one in your portable paint box - why not?

Field Notes - in conclusion

An American company is making a fountain pen friendly notebook. No fountain pen inks bled here. Sharpie & Lumocolor bled as expected. Pilot Petit tried to push through ever so slightly. White paper with tan gridded ruling.

We have to convince Field Notes to make a 5 x 8 hard back book.

Paper similar to Rhodia Graph Pads, but ink seems to dry a little faster here.

I wish the covers were a little thicker, but I know for sure that I have no need to ever buy another pocket Moleskine Moleskine Cahier, EVER AGAIN.

Highly recommended.
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