Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Fabriano Artistico 100% Cotton Traditional White Hot Pressed Paper


Fabriano Artistico 100% Cotton Traditional White Hot Pressed Paper is one of my ALL-TIME favorite products. I bought this pad of 25 sheets two years ago and I just finished it the other day. You might wonder- if it's one of my favorites, why I haven't gone through more of it in that two year period? The answer is, I have many different kinds of paper in different shapes, sizes and surfaces and I tend to jump around a lot.

This is just the smoothest paper to work with any media - and I probably love it best for drawing with a fountain pen. Watercolors are wonderful on hot press, but it works differently than cold press. Cold press is textured and shows more depth. Cold press also absorbs the paint a little faster than hot press- paints can be worked on the surface longer than on cold press. (Which can be challenging to people new to watercolor painting.)

I love the 5x7" size, and that the cover folds back. It makes it the perfect size to work in one hand, and I love that you can remove a sheet from the block by lifting up one corner and peeling it off. I prefer this method of removal over the watercolor blocks where I have to cut the page free with a knife because I often end up tearing or cutting the edges. (Because I'm impatient.)

So now that it's finished, I looked back through my archives to see what I created with those 25 sheets of paper. I was able to find 20 of the 25 and I wonder what happened to the other 5 pages. Did I somehow screw them up and throw them away? That's not like me so I wonder where they are.

What follows is each of the 20 pieces I found, and they are in somewhat chronological order from oldest to newest.


051807 Bright energy

One of my early watercolors - opaque Grumbacher paints. (I never use them anymore.)

Today's watercolor mandala

Grumbacher opaque watercolors

052007 Seeing through

Possibly Van Gogh watercolors

0607 Looks like that one plate pattern (Delft? Willoware?)

Using a Niji Waterbrush for the 1st time

0607 Pinwheel of Pain

Grumbacher again, painted while I was recovering from hernia surgery.

0507 Watercolor

Not one of my finest pieces.

071207 Rose Madder Watercolor

My 1st tube of artist quality water color. I drove to Blick and bought a tube of Holbein's Rose Madder.

093007 Happy Flowers

Watercolors - maybe W&N Cottman?

Mandala Doodle

Ink doodle. Mandalas have started to kick in.

Colors of my Heart

Artist grade paints. Holbein, Schmincke, Daniel Smith

Finally finished

Started a long time ago - probably the Grumbacker, finished with black marker and Pitt Brush Pens.

Lost and Lonely Mandala

Artist grade paints. Holbein, Schmincke, Daniel Smith

Mixed Media Mandala

This is actually purple... very purple. Scanner couldn't capture it. I was painting with fountain pen ink, then added the doodles and additional colors. (Prismacolor pencils...I think)

Mandala Doodle

Fountain pen mandala

063008 And this is my Reality. Elemental Mandala Doodle

Mandala was drawn with fountain pen ink, and then I took a waterbrush and carefully touched the lines to pull in some of the color in the white spaces. Additional watercolor added to the corners.

Ink Mandala

Painted with Private Reserve Burgundy Mist fountain pen ink.

Ruth's TIde Pool Creature Mandala

Fountain pen doodle

Watercolor and India Ink Mandala

I believe this was drawn with a calligraphy dip pen and Sennelier China/India Ink. Painted in with artist grade watercolors.

Mandala with healing mantra - created with intent

Fountain pen and Prismacolor pencils.

Mandala - Like Attracts Like

Fountain pen mandala. Diamine Steel Blue and Violet inks.

Mandala Doodle

Fountain pen mandala. Diamine Violet (yes... it looks blue here) and Diamine Gray.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Review: Piccadilly Journals - The System

Piccadilly Journal - The System

This is one of the 12 books in Piccadilly's "The System" series of journals.

The journals are 7.3" x 10.3" with 200 cream colored pages lined on one side in a 100gm wood free paper. The book has 2 satin ribbons and a flexible cover.

The size is a bit too large for me because I don't have many flat surfaces to write on. You can't fold the cover back and that makes it too large for me to use writing on my knee.

Cloth cover material feels good to the touch.

Line width is 7mm. The paper feels smooth, though maybe a little scratchy when using a fountain pen with a thinner nib.

Piccadilly Journal - The System

The book pretty much opens and lies flat. I like the dual bookmarks - one for where you left off, and one to use as a placeholder from your earlier writings.

As a fountain pen user, I appreciate that they left the left hand side blank to allow a nice space for doodling, but I experienced bleedthrough with the water based fountain pen inks and that would probably be a bit of a distraction if you wanted to draw on a pristine surface.

Piccadilly Journal - The System

There was slight feathering and spreading with most inks tested, and also a fair amount of bleedthrough which on 100g paper, is surprising.

All in all, this is a very nice, well made book and I would recommend it- but not necessarily for use with a fountain pen.

From the Piccadilly Website:

"The System is comprised of twelve journals.

You can use each journal as a stand alone subject, which interests you, or you can use it as part of the system for a life changing adjustment.

Here you can write from your very soul about what you think and feel, without being judged by anyone. Your writings are secure here, so relax and let go. When you commit something to paper, somehow it takes on a deeper meaning and a permanency in your life. So write easily and freely with no restrictions or limitations. Visualize what could be and make it your new reality."

You can order them for $11.21 each from the Piccadilly Website.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Review: Paperblanks Smythe Sewn Journal Filligree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

I owe my friend Bobbie a big thanks for this one. I remember that she used to carry one, and I'd seen them for sale at Barns & Noble and Wegmans, but after having read comments on the Fountain Pen Network show the paper was iffy with fountain pen inks, I had chosen to stay away. (Also because I typically prefer plain covered journals.)

But my friend Bobbie who knew I loved to write, gifted me with this journal as a going away present when I left my last job. Afraid to try it with my fountain pens, I let it sit on my shelf for 6 months before giving it a shot. And am I glad I did.

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

Let's first talk about size. This is a 5x7" Midi Journal. Smaller than a Moleskine and bigger than a small Habana, I like it's portability.

The cover design is Lyon Floral and this model is called Filigree Floral Ebony Wrap.

The cover is very hard and the book is closed with a magnetic flap. Other models of Paperblanks have the same flap but cut in a slightly different design - like a curve. I prefer the straight vertical flap on this model. To me, it's less complicated.

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

The paper is a beautiful cream color. The 7mm ruling is very light, and does not run to the edge of the page. 80 leaves/160 pages. Paper weight is unknown, though I'm guessing it to be in the 80/90gm range. Paper has a very slight laid appearance. Acid-free sustainable forest paper.

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

The books binder boards are European made of recycled materials. Cover design allows the book to lie very flat, and the pages open pretty close to flat. I've noticed that the book has been opening flatter as I've been using it. (I'm half way through it)

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

Smythe-sewn binding.

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

Large reinforced memento pocket. Sides of the pocket are a stiff fabric, and the pocket itself a stiff cardboard.

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

My only pet peeve so far. I write on my leg a lot, which means that the flap dangles because you can't fold it back. This being said, it's left in a position that's prone to be bent backwards and apparently that's what happened because the cover paper split about 3/4 of an inch near the bottom.

By the way - these pictures do not do these covers justice. They are extremely vibrant in color and design, this one is embossed and simply striking. So much for my previous love of only plain covered journals.

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

And now on to testing the paper with fountain pen inks. Many, many of them.

First off, it's smooth. Very smooth, but maybe just a hair less smooth than the new 90g Rhodia Webnotebook.

As I previously mentioned, I'd heard comments about the Paperblanks paper being unfriendly to fountain pen inks. I'd heard of some feathering, but mostly I heard of the paper being "weird" to write on if you leaned on it in a way that allowed the oils on your hand to be absorbed into the page. I understand what they are talking about because it used to happen to me all of the time with the Moleskine paper. Rest your palm on the edge of the page and go to write on it and the ink almost beads up and is repelled by the paper. I'm almost halfway through this book and I only had this happen one time and it wasn't as bad as with the Mole. This company (like others) mixes a clay wash into their paper to make the paper resistant to ink. An ink resistant paper is less likely to bleed, spread or feather. I'm guessing that the clay in the paper rises to the absorb the oils in your hand. If you often write with your hand on the page, then I could see this being a problem. I on the other hand usually do not, and I am not hindered by this issue.

Paperblanks Filigree Floral Ebony Midi Wrap

To date, I have experienced only minuscule feathering, no spreading, (pen nibs are writing true to width) and only the most minuscule of bleedthrough with my super wet writing M nibbed Sapporo. (See below for update)

The only ink based issue I had with with Noodler's Bulletproof Black. In fairness, I primed the pen right before testing it, and what happened is that the ink stayed smudgy for several hours after writing with it. It's like the top of the ink dried before the bottom. I remember that happening in a Mole.

06/19/09 - UPDATE. I have a second larger Paperblanks journal that I've been using to test Diamine inks. I've tested 18 different inks so far in that book and I noticed that the Steel Blue is bleeding. I have it in an EF Lamy Studio and it's writing very wet. (That ink also seems to take a long time to dry.) I also saw a few dots bleed through from the Aqua Blue but the Steel Blue is the worst - and when I say worst, it's not a terrible mess of bleeding, but it's enough for me to rescind my above statement that nothing was bleeding.

All in all, I am impressed with this product - despite the bleeding I had with one or two inks. Other than the small tear in the flap crease - with how happy I've been to write in it, I would definitely use these again. Several models are available in blank paper, (which I prefer) and you will also see me test a blank book with watercolor, marker, etc.

The only thing I think this company is missing is a plain solid black book. This is a premium product, and since it's fountain pen friendly, I know that there are a lot of people that prefer the plain black covered journals - and I think they would sell quite a few... hint hint.

Hartley and Marks is the Canadian Distributor of Paperblanks products. The journals are made in China and they have impeccable attention to detail and show environmental concern. These books are not inexpensive. This midi version sells for approximately $16.

Paperblanks makes tons of journals in multiple sizes, form factors and cover designs. I have a few more to show you in future posts, including a small sketchbook and a hand-stitched Tao journal.

Buy Paperblanks at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, and Vickerery.com.

From the Paperblanks website:

"Lyon Florals: master patterns inspired by the natural world.

This new collection of journals reproduces with astonishing fidelity a series of striking French fabric designs. Providing a glimpse into the creative process, each cover is inspired by the original artwork of a new fabric design. Dating from the 1860s, these master patterns were hand-painted prior to machine production. Drawing inspiration from the natural world, the designs feature an abundance of flowers, luscious plume-like foliage and twining tendrils."


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review: Diamine New Century Ruby Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Ruby

Diamine New Century Ruby Fountain pen ink tested in an EF Lamy Accent, in a lined off-white Paperblanks journal.

This is one of the darkest red inks I've yet to test. It's the color of fresh blood. Ewww - sorry. :o) With my glasses on, it looks as though it has a brownish hue, but when I take them off, it's definitely red.

I've recently fallen in love with Diamine's Poppy Red (showing both side by side for comparison) and I still prefer it to the Ruby. The Ruby isn't as saturated as the Poppy Red but it's still a nice and aptly named color. It has good flow, is moderately saturated and shading is evident.

From the Diamine Website:

30ml Diamine Fountain Ink:

"Brand New Design PVC Bottle, Light weight and with an affordable price makes the full range of 60 colors very collectible, ideal for students or beginners still searching for their personal color of choice.

Ruby is a "New Century" Fountain Pen Ink. Launched in January 2006, New Century Fountain Pen Ink is available in 30 vibrant shades also suitable for any fountain pen brand"

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: Picadilly Leatherlook Journal

Piccadilly Leather Look

Piccadilly Leatherlook specs:

200 lined cream colored pages, 100gm wood free paper. Leather-free soft cover and a finished satin ribbon bookmark.

Piccadilly Mole Clone and Leather Look Journal

Same height, but slightly wider than a Moleskine. These days, I prefer the wider journals.

Piccadilly Leather Look

The website shows the word "Journal" in white, but it's actually embossed on the cover. I do not find it intrusive. I love that it has rounded corners on both the cover and the pages.

Piccadilly Leather Look

I do not care at all for how rough the stitching feels on the inside of the cover.

Picadilly Leather Look

As the cover is flexible, I noticed that if it gets bent, the cover retains the crease. Jam it in and out of a backpack or purse often enough and the cover is going to get really messy looking. I'd really like to see this book made with a stiffer cover.

Piccadilly Leather Look

I'm a little confused because the Piccadilly website said that these journals came with paper lined on only one side, but as you can see in this particular book, it is lined on both sides.

Cover allows book to open and lie flat. Very Flat

Piccadilly Leather Look

7mm ruling, 100gm cream paper. 100 gm paper is really thick for a journal. The most I've seen is Clairefontaine's 90g. So how did it work with a fountain pen? For me, it worked very well. Virtually no feathering or spreading, and no bleedthrough. For my friend at Inkophile, whose Leatherlook book was loaded with the one side ruled paper, she experienced feathering. Is the paper the same, but just ruled differently? Not sure. Read her review here.

Available in 16 different cover styles, you can order them online direct from Piccadilly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review: Diamine Amaranth Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Amaranth

Diamine New Century Amaranth fountain pen ink tested in a lined off-white Paperblanks journal, with a medium nibbed Sailor Sapporo fountain pen.

This is a dark, deep pinkish wine color. Good flow, (in this wet writer) and the ink color darkens as it dries... a lot. Shading is evident. It's a dark cherry/berry color.

Mandala Doodle

These days, I'm needing new glasses, (bi-focals) and the ink doesn't look pink to me until I look at it without my glasses but it's definitely a dark, very dark pink. Deeply saturated, I like it a lot, but it's still not quite the burgundy wine/ pigeon's blood color I have been looking for.

The level of saturation seems to vary if I write faster - it's hard to explain. Maybe more ink flows from this wet M nib if I write slower...

For now, it's a keeper and I'm looking forward to trying it in a thinner nibbed pen.

Loving the word Amaranth - and it's a new one for me. Wiki tells me that there are over 60 different kinds, and that some are cultivated as food. In the wild, it's a weed called Pigweed. But the most interesting bit I found was this: "The flowers of the 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth were used by the Hopi Amerindians as the source of a deep red dye." Love it. To me the name sounds like it could be of one of the fair maidens of King Arthur's time.

From the Diamine Website:

30ml Diamine Fountain Ink:

"Brand New Design PVC Bottle, Light weight and with an affordable price makes the full range of 60 colors very collectible, ideal for students or beginners still searching for their personal color of choice.

Amaranth is a "New Century" Fountain Pen Ink. Launched in January 2006, New Century Fountain Pen Ink is available in 30 vibrant shades also suitable for any fountain pen brand"

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Review: Diamine Damson Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Damson

Diamine New Century Damson fountain pen ink tested in a lined off-white Paperblanks journal, with a fine nibbed Pelikan M200 fountain pen.

I'm still not sure what to make of this color. It's a dark purplish eggplant/aubergine and you really have to look close to see the color. At first glance, you might think it's black but upon closer inspection it's a purplish black, similar to Herbin's Possuire de Lune, but not as gray.

The flow is good, though not spectacular with this pen and I'm not really sure if it's because of the pen or the ink. I'm feeling like I have to push the pen a bit. I would call it a "dry" ink because this pen isn't typically a dry writer but one never knows....

I first noted that I wasn't sure if I liked the color, but after using it for a while, (because the M200 holds a ton of ink...) It's starting to grow on me. I must like it at least a little bit because I could have simply flushed it from the pen - but I didn't. I'll keep it around for a bit ans see what happens. I've moved on from the Possuire de Lune because I felt it to be too gray once dry. This color does seem to not really go in that direction which is why I might be liking it.

There is some shading but it's hard to see. I'd call the color a bit "flat" and I almost wish it was more vibrant.

You can see more of the purple in the sample (0n white Clairefontaine watercolor paper than when I wrote with it in the journal.

From the Diamine Website:

30ml Diamine Fountain Ink:

"Brand New Design PVC Bottle, Light weight and with an affordable price makes the full range of 60 colors very collectible, ideal for students or beginners still searching for their personal color of choice.

Damson is a "New Century" Fountain Pen Ink. Launched in January 2006, New Century Fountain Pen Ink is available in 30 vibrant shades also suitable for any fountain pen brand"

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sneak Peek at Diamine Violet and Steel Blue Inks

Mandala - Like Attracts Like

Mandala doodle using Diamine Steel Blue and Violet inks.

I had a bit of an inktastrophe with the violet by accidentally knocking over the 30ml plastic bottle. Ink on stove top, counter, wooden cabinet door, linoleum floor, hands, (a week later, multiple hand washings, showers and dish washings and I still have it in my cuticles) toes, Teva Sandals, new shorts from Old Navy and somehow... on the fridge across the room. hmmmm. And believe it or not, when I grabbed the bottle, it was only missing about a tablespoon of ink. What an UNBELIEVABLE mess. I seemed to get it everywhere EXCEPT the purple shirt I had been wearing. Totally stained the counter, floor and cabinet door. Brillo got it off the counter & door, a Swifter floor wipe got it up from the linoleum. Whew! Had anyone but me made that mess I would have lost my mind.

Stay tuned for future reviews of these inks.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Lamy Safaris : Charcoal & Black

Lamy Safari's

So who can't use a few more Lamy Safari's? I think I own 14 fountain pens and 9 of them are Lamy's. 6 Safaris, (.5 Cursive italic red, EF blue, EF yellow, F light blue with red clip, EF charcoal and EF black.) a silver M AL-Star, EF Studio, and an EF Accent.

Red was my real first fountain pen ever, and the charcoal and black are my latest acquisitions.

I'm not going to re-invent the wheel with this review, as I've talked about the Safari in several previous blog posts including this one. What can I say? I love this pen and the way it writes. They are not priced to break your budget. (About $30 with a converter) I like playing with different inks and I like to have a lot of pens inked at the same time so the Safari's work really well for me.

I love the black clip on the charcoal, and I'm wondering if I can switch it with the one on the black pen to make an a Darth Vader model... But don't get me wrong - I also love the silver clip on the black pen. My favorite pen color combination is black & silver.

My new charcoal Safari is actually one that's been around for a while - and I think they may have even stopped making it.

I see a few subtle differences between the charcoal and other Safari models.

Lamy Safari's

For one, it's got a textured surface rather than the ultra-shiny versions. It might be my imagination but it feels a little lighter in my hand. I'm just ok with the textured surface. I don't love it and I don't hate it.

Lamy Safari's

The shiny black Safari has a silver steel nib to the black steel on the charcoal. I haven't met an ink that hasn't showed nib creep on a Safari. No big deal - I just wipe it off if it gets really bad. Interestingly, each of these nibs are EF's, but the silver one writes really, really fine and dry. Probably the finest driest Lamy nib I own. That may be the only rub with the Safari is that their nib widths are sometimes inconsistent. I have a fine that's more like an EF, a few EF's that write like F's, and an EF that's more like a Medium. I don't care. I still love them. Replacement nibs are inexpensive and you can always have them fancied up like my Cursive Italic that Pendemonium cut for me.

I will absolutely be switching the nibs on these two pens. Black nib has to go on the black pen. No two ways about it.

Lamy Safari's

This is the only thing I don't like about the charcoal model. The rim of the cap is cut differently than on all of the rest of my Safari's. It's got a sharp edge and I'm not sure if it was a production flaw, or just the way that the charcoal model came out. I even called Filofax (Lamy Repair) and asked them if this was a new version of the Safari and that was when I was told it was an older model.

Lamy Safari's

99% of the time I post my pens as I write and the sharp edged cap digs into my hand. I'm wondering if I could maybe smooth the edge with a polishing cloth.

All said, these are still my favorite pens.

Go buy a few of them from Swisher Pens and don't forget a converter because I'm sure you will want to be trying out lots of different bottled ink- though these pens also take Lamy proprietary cartridges.

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