Posts Tagged 'Reviews'

Blog Talk (Some Recommendations)

Part of why I blog, even as somebody who generally fights for analog over digital, is because it can open doors to a kind of community. So, I wanted to talk up some blogs that I’ve enjoyed lately!

Darkly Wise, Rudely Great is the blog of philosopher, author, and commentator D.A. Young. He has some good things to say about a technological world, and I like the emphasis that he places on his real/family life in conjunction with his profession.

Leigh Reyes. What more can I say? Totally indulgent artsy-pen goodness, plus fantastic videos of nib action (sounds dirty?)

Drawing With A Squirrel is the blog of “Gentian,” whose delicate watercolors and drawings are some serious eye candy. Her portraits and still lifes verge on the edge of abstraction, but they definitely reflect a controlled drawerly discipline. Plus, she has some excellent art supply reviews.


Kunst & Papier Sketchbooks

Have I mentioned that I’ve been working in a new book? After two Exacompta sketchbooks, I wanted to try something slightly bigger with a sturdier cover. So I ended up purchasing two Kunst & Papier sketchbooks from my local art supply store– a grey hardbound 6×7″ and a black softcover that I actually can’t quite identify on their site, but I photographed the labels below.

The Look. I was drawn immediately to the stunning textures of the covers. The hardcover is a synthetic linen,  They’re simple but tactile, and (my favorite part) completely free of logos or designs. I prefer my sketchbooks and journals to advertise nothing but myself. And although sometimes a blank cover just begs to be decorated, I think these look classiest when left alone.

The Binding. The hardcover sketchbook has a sewn binding while the softcover is glued. Actually, the K&P site tells me that the hardcover is “smyth sewn and gauze spliced bindings” –which sounds very fancy even if I have no idea what it means. Both, however, open beautifully, marvelously, flat.

The Paper. Both books are fountain pen friendly, but in different ways.  The K&P website says that the hardcover book contains acid-free alpha cellulose paper, but it also mentions chlorine-free “pH buffered lignen” –and if I’m not mistaken, cellulose and lignen are two different plant-derived materials. Hmm. In any case, the paper in the hardcover book is thinner and smoother, while the paper in the softcover book is a heavier weight (120g, versus 100g in the hardcover), but also rougher/more porous. So actually, even though the paper in the softcover book is heavier, it was more difficult to write on, and there was a bit of bleedthrough when I used a flex nib. Below is an example of writing with the same pen (a Pilot 78G with an italic nib) on the two different papers.

You can see on the first image that the “P” is uneven and jagged, while it’s much smoother on the second image (in the hardcover sketchbook).

In any case, I’ve been using the hardcover book for my last semester of college, and I’ve been extremely pleased with it. After the Exacompta sketchbook, I had to adjust to seeing my writing through the pages, but I’ve never had any bleedthrough so it doesn’t bother me anymore. I would also warn against using too much wet media, although I’ve used acrylic paint with some success. But in general, this is an excellent book for fountain pens and dry media, and the hardcover provides more sturdy protection than the Exacompta.

Ink Sample Tests and Reviews

Browns full pageMy ink samples have provided some good art therapy during exam time. Luckily, exams are over and I finally have the free time to post some ink reviews. I ordered:

+ Noodler’s Tiananmen Square
+ Noodler’s Golden Brown
+ Noodler’s Nightshade
+ Private Reserve Black Cherry
+ Waterman Havana Brown
+ Omas Sepia
+ Diamine Blue-black
+ J. Herbin Vert Olive

I tried to scan the test pages, but the colors were so inaccurate that I decided to just take photographs. Note: click on any images to view larger!

Clearly, I prefer neutral inks. They’re much more versatile, and a good neutral ink can be just as interesting as bright turquoise. I tested all 8 inks with a dip pen because I didn’t want to take the time to flush my fountain pen 8 times in a row. Of course, a dip pen gives a much more saturated sample, but they’re all still accurate. I’ve already tried three of these in my Lamy Safari (fine nib) over the past month, and they’ve written only slightly lighter.


Noodler’s Tiananmen is a deep wine red. Somebody on FPN described it as “dried blood red,” which I suppose is accurate. It’s definitely dark, but it’s rich enough that it won’t easily be mistaken for brown. It has good flow and some attractive shading, as you can see below:

Tiananmen Cherry shading

Private Reserve’s Black Cherry is certainly more brown than Tiananmen, but seems to be a true dark maroon. It may be one of those rare colors that actually resembles its name: black cherries! Has visible shading, but less than Tiananmen.

Waterman Havana Brown is a rich chestnut brown with lovely shading. This is a very popular brown, probably because it’s not too red or too yellow. This is a classy color, an ink that says, “Why, yes, I own many leather-bound books.”

sepia shading

Omas Sepia is quite a dark brown, almost identical to Waterman Havana but with less red. You can see in the above picture that it’s the ink with the least shading in the set of samples.

golden brown shading sample

Noodler’s Golden Brown: I love this ink! It’s the color of crystallized honey, or desert sand. I thought at first it would be too light for everyday use, but it dries to a lovely shade that fully legible. I’ve had this ink in my Lamy Safari for the past week and I love it. You can also see from the above image that it has the most shading of all the inks that I ordered– it’s even visible using my fine nib in my Safari.  

Cool Colors

I seem to have ordered far more warm inks than cool ones...

Noodler’s Nightshade is a shade that seems to vary widely depending on the paper and pen. When I first tested it in my exacompta sketchbook, it was a beautiful dusky eggplant color. I was excited because it seemed like it would be a good alternative to black without being too flamboyant. However, when I inked my Safari with this shade, it appeared much lighter and more transparent. 

Diamine Blue-Black is a dark turquoise with some shading. It’s one of the lightest blue-blacks out there, but it’s certainly still a lovely color. 

J. Herbin Vert Olive needs to be used on an absorbent paper to be legible; it’s another ink that dries darker and becomes easier to read. It’s a great “pop” color in my repertoire of neutrals.

Coming Soon…

I received two ink sample sets from Pear Tree Pens a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to write up a review. I’ve also begun to experiment with dip pens and italic nibs, so I’ll post with those soon as well. 


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