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Monday Morning Review Round-up

2 Apr

Ink Reviews

Seize the David: Noodler’s Black Revisited

Does This Pen Make Me Look Fat?: My Favorite Inks: DeAtramentis Jane Austen

East, West, Everywhere: Iroshizuku Ku-jaku

Pen/Pencil Reviews

Leigh Reyes: TWSBI meets vintage nib

Economy Pens: Paper Mate InkJoy 700 RT 1.0 Black

No Pen Intended: Lamy Pico Pocket Size Extendable Ballpoint Pen & Pilot Vanishing Point Yellow Body Broad Nib Fountain Pen

Well Appointed Desk: Kaweco Guilloch 1930 EF Fountain Pen

Stationery Review: Lamy Nexx

Writing Instruments: Noodler’s Ahab Fountain Pen

Recording Thoughts: Parker Duofold Pen

*We also wanted to wish Brad Dowdy [The Pen Addict] all the best on his new adventures (he’s looking for a new job currently).

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Fountain Pen Water Painting

27 Mar

Isn’t it great when you find a new use for something? For those of us who love (and purchase) nice pens, it’s especially great because it makes your already valuable tools even more valuable. 

The particular use I’m going to share with you today works with any fountain pen no matter how expensive (or inexpensive) it may be. And for those of you with a creative aptitude, you’ll really like this.

Fountain Pen Water Painting is a very simple technique. Draw a line with your fountain pen, inked with a favorite color of course, and then come along with a wet brush to make it bleed.

It creates a lovely effect and really highlights your inks.

In the images of the orange flower, I’m using a LAMY Safari with a Fine nib and Diamine Ink in Pumpkin. I’m using a Kuretake Waterbrush, but you can use any water brush and for that matter, any paintbrush at all. What makes a waterbrush nice is that you can house the water in the barrel of the brush itself.

 

Do you see in the progression of the flower being colored in how much variation there is in the color of the ink? This technique really gives a lot of dimension to the piece and it looks lovely too.

I stumbled into this technique a few years ago. It was spring and I was sitting outside with some postcard-sized pieces of cardstock, a fountain pen and a waterbrush. I drew a simple outline of a manatee and then ran back over the lines with my water brush. The ink didn’t bleed, but rather I was able to spread the ink around to exactly the spot I wanted it. My simple line drawing of a manatee became a nicely shaded illustration in just a few seconds with very few tools.

Here’s the original manatee, it was done with a LAMY Safari as well and I used Diamine ink in Damson.

This method became my method of choice as time went on. All I needed was paper, a fountain pen (which I already carried in my purse) and a water brush. No need for paintbrushes, cups of water, mixing dishes, blotting towels … the simplicity of the technique and the portability of the items needed is what has kept me coming back.

This technique lends itself well to lettering. The effect created when you add a little water to ink is beautiful. I’ve used this on the front of notecards myself and I always surprise the recipient when I tell them it’s just a little ink and water and a few minutes of time.

Here is the front of a notecard. Just lines.

Now, with my waterbrush, I trace over the letters. And I go over the letters once more, making them even thicker.

This technique can include actual watercolors too. You follow the same procedure as above, except you fill in or highlight specific areas with watercolors, acrylics, inks, marker or otherwise. Don’t be afraid to add more than one additional color.

Aside from being fun, this technique is incredibly relaxing. Since you don’t have to fuss with many materials, your focus can entirely be on the illustration. And for those of you who enjoy scrapbooking, journaling or writing letters, you can probably see how the addition of a waterbrush might be a worthwhile one. The options are as endless as your inks!

Monday Morning Review Round-up

26 Mar

Ink Reviews

Stationery Traffic: Noodler’s #41 Brown Ink

Inkophile: I’m In The Mood For Green – Ink That Is

Pen/Pencil Reviews

Rhonda Eudaly: The TomBow Airpress Ballpoint Pen

Leigh Reyes: Platinum Kanazawa-Haku Goldfish

FPGeeks: Graf von Faber-Castell 2012 Pen of the Year

From The Pen Cup: Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen

East, West, Everywhere: Platinum Kanazawa Leaf Maki-e

Multi Pen Dimensions: Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen

No Pen Intended: Ohto Comfort Sharp Lead Holder

Writing Wrong-Handed: Tombow Object Rollerball

Well-Appointed Desk: AutoPoint TwinPoint Mechanical Pencil

A Penchant for Paper: Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3mm Kurikawa

Stamp Reviews

Your Postal Blog: Work Like a Dog

Pen Thief: St. Patrick’s Day

 

Finding the Fountain Pen Nib That’s Right for You

22 Mar
Image provided by Cole Imperi.

A smattering of nibs to ogle. Image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

A fountain pen nib exists for every style of writer. Whether you press hard and dig deep into the page or prefer to elegantly draw loops and curls, there is a perfect nib waiting for you. The tricky part is looking objectively at the way you write and from that determining what style of nib is best for you.

Actually, the tricky part is probably that there is no global standardization of nib sizes. Your best bet? Become familiar with terminology, find a brand you like and work from that brand as your ‘base.’ Below, you’ll see commonly accepted definitions and descriptions for nib sizes and types (however, there is dispute within the community).

Nib Sizes

All nibs come in different sizes whether you are purchasing a flex nib, an italic nib, a stub nib or any other kind of nib. The most common width sizes include Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), Broad (B), and Double Broad (BB). You can also find nibs that come in EEF-BBB, but they’re traditionally harder to come by.

Nib Types

Needle & Accountant Nibs

Sailor Desk Pen [EF Nib]

Image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

These are basically EF (Extra Fine) nibs. The Sailor Desk Pen in the photos would be considered by most to be a needle nib. Most people would agree that the thinnest, finest nibs come from Japan. If you’re looking for a needle nib/accountant nib, go for a Japanese-made pen in either EF or EEF.

Stub Nibs

A stub nib is like writing on a thin oval. Imagine that the tip of the nib (the part that makes contact with the paper) is an oval shape. The lines that you create from writing will show this slight variation. (A round tipped nib, which is known as a standard nib will not show variation in writing much like a ballpoint pen doesn’t show variation.)

Italic Nibs & Calligraphy Nibs

Image provided by Cole Imperi.

Kaweco Sport Calligraphy 1.1 image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

An italic nib is like a stub nib, but the oval is longer, thereby producing more variation in line width as you write. Many use the terms ‘calligraphy nib’ and ‘italic nib’ interchangeably. The basic gist of what makes an italic and calligraphy nib different from others is that the nib will have sharper corners. The sharper corners create very clean, crisp lines in line strokes. The stub nib does too, but those corners tend to be ground to rounded points so the stub is less likely to ‘catch’ or scratch the paper when you write quickly. Calligraphy nibs also tend to come in wider sizes. With an italic or calligraphy nib you will likely need to write slower than you do normally because they tend to catch or skip more by design.

Oblique Nibs

An oblique nib is exactly the same as an italic or a calligraphy nib, except the nib is cut on a slant (or angle), rather than straight across.

Music Nib

Music nibs (designed for the purpose of writing music) traditionally have two slits in the nib rather than just one, but not always. They are made so the user can produce lines crosswise and longwise easily.

Flex Nibs

Image provided by Cole Imperi.

Prosperity Pen, Medium Flex Nib image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

Flex nibs have some amount of ‘flex’ in the nib itself so when the user presses down on it variation in the width of the stroke is produced. Flex nibs can be found in various amounts of ‘flexiness,’ from slight flex to super flex. Vintage flex pens produce some of the greatest flex around. What makes flex nibs unique is that they can be combined with other types of fountain pens. You could find an Italic Flex Nib for example, or a Needle Flex Nib. Flex nibs have a bit of a learning curve but produce lovely, unique results. The flexibility of the nib highlights the natural nuances of each person’s handwriting.

This brief overview of the most common types of nibs should help you on your way in determining what nib might be for you. Personally, my absolute favorite nib type is a standard flex nib. Second choice is a calligraphy nib. To me, being able to highlight the unique way I naturally write is most important, especially when I write letters by hand. If you’ve never even held a fountain pen, I strongly suggest trying out multiple types first. Just pick the pen up in your hand, dip the tip of the nib in some ink (no need to fuss with cartridges or full refills here), and write a little with it. You’ll be able to immediately determine if you like one or not.

Monday Morning Review Round-up

19 Mar

Ink Reviews

Pocket Blonde: De Atramentis Australian Red

East, West, Everywhere: Ink Organization Part Deux: Cataloging

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Pencil Talk: Field Notes Brand vs. the office supply cabinet

A Penchant for Paper: Field Notes Memo Books

Pen/Pencil Reviews

Gourmet Pens: Pentel EnerGel Euro Black 0.5 mm Needle Point

Daydreamers Welcome: PaperMate InkJoy 300 RT 1.0mm

A Penchant for Paper: Uni-ball Signo DX 0.28mm Emerald Green

Ms. Logica: A Look at Lamy’s Interchangeable Nibs

PenInkCillin: Pilot Varsity and Noodler’s HoD revisited

Does This Pen Write: Change of Heart: Barnes & Noble Colored Pencils

Recording Thoughts: Uni Kuru Toga .5mm with Auto Rotate

 

Monday Morning Review Round-up

12 Mar

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Recording Thoughts: Living with the Leuchtturm1917 Master Dots notebook

Plannerisms: Guest post: Millie’s Moleskine weekly notebook as journal!

Pen/Pencil Reviews

From the Pen Cup: The Pilot Acroball 3

Well Appointed Desk: Lamy Studio Brushed Stainless Steel & My Vintage Esterbrook Fountain Pens

Multi Pen Dimensions: Lamy Tipo Rollerball Aluminum Pen

No Pen Intended: Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen

Note Booker Esq.: Tombow Object Rollerball

Stamp Reviews

365 Letters Blog: Beautiful Stamps & National Postal Museum celebrating women

Mailbox Happiness: Texas Brags Postcard-Texas Size!

 

Why We’re in Love with Lamy

7 Mar

Lamy Brand Story

“No design writes better,” promises the famed German pen manufacturer Lamy. With countless fans to attest that claim, Lamy rose to prominence using groundbreaking techniques with molded synthetic plastics in their pens. This is most notable when very carefully inspecting Lamy pens for lines where sections meet – look long enough and you may see the very faintest of a connection point, unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

Lamy’s Foundation: The 2000 Fountain Pen

Founded in 1930 by Josef Lamy (originally a sales representative for The Parker Pen Company), Lamy pens quickly rose to prominence as one of the most modern pen manufacturers with their flagship fountain pen the Lamy 2000, first released in 1966 and still their premier pen to this day.

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

Check out the Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com for all the details.

Made of a combination of fiberglass and brushed stainless steel known as Makrolon, the Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen is piston filled and thus can only be used with an ink bottle and not with ink cartridges. No worries though, the piston has quite a large and reliable capacity. It also has a gorgeous 14-carat gold, platinum-coated nib that is hand polished and semi-hooded to prevent ink drying when left uncapped, not to mention the spring-loaded stainless steel clip that can hold up to years of clip-on, clip-off.

Designed by Gerd Alfred Müller, the Lamy 2000 was awarded the Busse Longlife Design Prize in 1984. The 2000’s sleek design and smooth writing style has stood the test of time as it stays at the top of many a fountain pen enthusiasts’ wish lists. Just be sure not to leave it lying around the office as its refined look is sure to catch attention and it may “walk off” on its own! The innovative Lamy 2000 is so revered that it is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art and has won countless design awards. One other tip: the 2000 nibs are not marked, so keep the box you bought it in so you can always have the nib size on hand!

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

Then in 1980, Lamy created the Lamy Safari, a fountain pen for beginners and students primarily, now heralded as one of the best introductory fountain pens on the market.

Lamy Z50 Nib

Lamy Z50 Fountain Pen Nib on EuropeanPaper.com

Designed by Wolfgang Fabian & Bernt Spiegel, the Safari’s stainless steel Z50 nib is interchangeable with several other Lamy fountain pen collections including the CP1, AL-Star, Vista, Joy, Studio, Accent, and Logo. Some other models that are fitted with a standard Lamy steel nib can also swap out nibs, but the previously mentioned styles are the most available and used in the US. The Z50 nibs do not fit the Lamy 2000 fountain pen.

Back to the Safari though: With a shiny flexible chrome clip, the Safari is ready to travel and comes equipped with a Lamy T10 ink cartridge so you can write with it straight out of the box. You can also modify the Safari to use Lamy’s Z24 Converter, in which case you can use any bottled ink like Lamy’s T52 Bottled Ink.

Made of sturdy ABS plastic, the Safari is available in Charcoal, Blue, Red, and White, on EuropeanPaper.com and is designed with the writer’s comfort in mind with its molded grip section. The Charcoal Safari comes with a black coated steel nib (your choice of fine or medium nib), while the Blue, Red, and White Safaris come with a non-coated steel nib (once again, your choice of fine or medium nib).

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

Grab the black, white, blue, or red Lamy Safari Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com or get all four!

Today, Lamy has branched into ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, mechanical pencils, and more, and is still at the forefront of pen innovation. Still made in Heidelberg, Germany, Lamy is a brand you can trust for quality, durability, and versatility.

Carnival of Pen, Pencil & Paper

6 Mar

Welcome to the March 6, 2012 edition of the Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper! We’re thrilled to host this month’s Carnival and we hope you enjoy the selection!

Notebooks

Nifty Notebook presents Early 1980s “Comp” Pocket Memo Notebooks posted at Notebook Stories, saying, “Some gems from my collection: 1908s spiral notebooks that look like composition books!”

Alex Witte presents (Most of) My Notebook Collection posted at Economy Pens.

Sandra Strait presents Bleedthrumanade in Moleskine & Review of the Moleskine Squared Notebook posted at Life Imitates Doodles, saying, “A review of Moleskine’s Squared notebook showing how it holds up to the alcohol marker.”

Sandra Strait presents New Tangle Pattern Malacca & Review of the Moleskine Volant Journal posted at Life Imitates Doodles, saying, “This could be considered for the art genre as well as notebook because I always do artwork to use in my reviews.”

Sandra Strait presents New tangle pattern Twining & Review of the Rhodia Unlimited Pocket size Notebook posted at Life Imitates Doodles.

@EuroPaper presents The Birth of the Book Letter posted at European Paper Company.

Office Supplies

Charles Chua C K presents All About Living With Life: 10 Office Efficiency Tips posted at All About Living with Life.

Liz Shaw presents You Can’t Make This Stuff Up posted at Liz Andra Shaw, saying, “How the lust for office supplies led one woman into a funny situation.”

Pens

Cheryl from Writer’s Bloc presents STAEDTLER Mars Draft 924 Technical Ballpoint Pen Review posted at Writer’s Bloc Blog.

Okami0731 presents Featured Pen – Waterman 42 Safety posted at Whatever.

Heather presents Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm Black posted at A Penchant for Paper.

Miscellaneous

Tiger Pens presents The Fountain Pen Rest Stop posted at Tiger Pens’ Blog.

Charles Chua C K presents All About Living With Life: Office Feng Shui – 5 Great Tips posted at All About Living with Life.

Clement Dionglay presents Ink Review: J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie posted at Rants of the Archer.

~~~

Thanks so much for joining us! Use this shortlink to share this post: http://wp.me/p1PnL4-og

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of pen, pencil and paper using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Monday Morning Review Round-up

5 Mar

Ink Reviews

Rants of the Archer: J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie

East, West, Everywhere: Postscript: Scabiosa and Poussiere de lune

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Gourmet Pens: Comparison: Large Brown Midori Traveler’s Notebook vs. Large Burnt Cognac Pelle Leather Journal & Mailbox Goodies: Pink Ikea Sketchbook

Plannerisms: Quo Vadis Executive weekly planner

Pen/Pencil Reviews

A Penchant for Paper: Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm Black

FPGeeks: Lamy AL-Star the Awesome Review

Multi Pen Dimensions: County Comm Embassy Pen (Rev. 2) Black & Tombow Egg Rollerball Matte Black

Does This Pen Make Me Look Fat: The Bexley Jitterbug!

Pocket Blonde: Lamy CP1

Rhonda Eudaly:  The Pilot Plumix – Medium Nib Beginner Fountain Pen & The Palomino Blackwing Wooden Pencil

No Pen Intended: Sharpie Liquid Pencil

Stamps

Your Postal Blog: Submarine Mail in New Mexico

Pen Thief: Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

 

5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

1 Mar

Writers love to discuss writer’s block. Is it real or is it just fear? Is it a symptom of being creatively drained or of being undisciplined? Regardless of which side of the discussion you side with, there is one truth:  Whether you’re an avid journaler, a dedicated letter writer or a professional writer, we all get stuck once in a while. No matter how hard you try, sometimes those blinking cursors and blank pages stop us in our tracks. Next time you get stuck, try one (or all!) of these five tricks to overcome your block.

Obsess … With a Timer

It’s okay to fret about being stuck. It’s normal and healthy – as long as you don’t let it derail you completely. So spend a few minutes obsessing, but set a timer to keep you focused. Set the timer for nine minutes. Spend that time doing nothing but obsessing. Think about why you’re stuck. Is it the project? Do you have other, perhaps more important, tasks that you should do first? Let your mind wander. When that timer goes off, use one minute to refocus. Take a couple deep breaths, open a new window or flip to a new page, and start writing.

Dig Into Your Past (and Present and Future)

If you just can’t think of anything to write, start with your past. If you’re working on a daily journal entry, try to remember the names of your elementary school teachers and how they made you feel. If you’re struggling with a piece of fiction, start with the worst day you can possibly remember from when you were a child. Describe the people, the smells, the scenery. Apply those same principles to the present (how did I feel this morning during my commute?) and to the future (what is the best thing that could happen to me in the next five years?).

List, List, List

This is my go-to strategy anytime I feel stuck. Start a list. List anything: groceries, your friends’ names from junior high, things you’re grateful for, goals for the year, things you’d buy if you had a bottomless bank account. Get creative with your lists! Try your favorite books in alphabetical order or aim to list 101 of something.

Create Sentence “Starts”

On a sticky note or the back page of your journal, draft a handful of sentence “starts” that you can refer to when you get stuck. Some good options:

  • Nothing makes me happier than …
  • If I could change one thing about my family …
  • If I found a $50 bill on the sidewalk, I would …

Make a list of 10 to 20 that you can refer to whenever you feel blocked. Use it to start a journal entry or a piece of fiction.

Walk Away

This last-resort trick is for when you’ve tried everything but nothing’s working. Stand up, turn around, and walk away. Take your dog around the block. Make a cup of tea. Watch a daytime talk show. Sometimes the pressure can be too great, and when you’re focused on the fact that you’re stuck, it can be really difficult to find a way to get unstuck. Let your smarty-pants subconscious do the work for a while. The important thing here is to stay away from tasks that will keep you away from your work. Pick something short and something mindless (that laundry’s not going to fold itself) so that you don’t divert all your brainpower away from your writing. After a short break, do some stretches, take a couple deep breaths, and then get back to it.

Everyone gets stuck. In any creative project, it’s only normal. The difference between being successful and unsuccessful is to let a little block stop your progress!

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