Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Here she is!

So I've been receiving a lot of emails and messages through twitter about my absence. I would like everyone to know that I am doing just fine and there was indeed a big reason for my absence in combination with some of life's minor annoyances (work).

Here she is, my 3 month old daughter Ashleigh!
This little bundle of joy has kept me plenty busy as of late, but I couldn't be happier!

I do look forward to blogging more regularly but daily seems to be a bit much right now. Thanks again to everyone that has sent me a message!

Monday, June 14, 2010

J. Herbin delights!

I'm new to the game, but whether it is gel ink or fountain pen ink, I like to play the same way. I like to play with LOTS of color. Deep, rich, vibrant colors. When Brian offered some samples up in exchange for some reviews, I couldn't type my email to him fast enough! I have my own blog that sort of fell by the wayside due to life, but that did not take away my desire to write, or try out new pens and inks. Brian did a great job with the trio of ink samples.Being a lefty makes medium nibs a blessing and a curse. I love the ink that is laid down, it makes my brights brighter (and my whites whiter?) I can get a sense of the shading of the ink but I also need to worry about the actual amount of ink I'm laying down because my hand will trudge its way through and push and plop ink all over the page. To even out the mess I normally make with my Pelikano Junior medium nib, I thought I'd ink up my fine nib Lamy Vista.

Clairefontaine Wirebound:

Rhodia Graph Pad

The pictures speak for themselves as far as colors are concerned. I will take this time to dish out my thoughts on what I saw in each of these inks. I am posting the swatch print that Karen from Exaclair sent me so you can get some sort of baseline of color.

J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage:
When I first glanced at the inks out of the package I was certain this would be my favorite. I was wrong. This isn't a bad thing but I did manage to surprise myself. This is also the only one of the three that I preferred in the fine nib. The green lays down pretty dark and that is my problem with it. Personally I like my greens lighter. Now please understand that I say this only from my experience from gel pen colors. The way the Lamy put a line down made the green lighter and was more enjoyable to me.

J. Herbin Violette Pensee:
A very smooth purple. This is the color I'm most likely to add to my collection. It is unique and soft but pops off the page very well. I adore how each nib brings out a different side of this color as well. Medium nib gives you a powerful deep purple and the fine nib delivers a softer side, both of which I like.

J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen:
Real men use pink! Okay, maybe not everyday but this is a very vibrant color. It comes off as a neon pink to me. The way the Pelikano Junior handled this ink was awesome! Tremendously bold and despite my initial thoughts of it out of the package, this turned out to be my favorite of the bunch. I simply wouldn't use it enough to justify purchasing a bottle, but I will enjoy the sample as long as it lasts.

Drying times:
I did this test for each color despite the fact that each ink came from the same company. I did this to keep a baseline for myself as I (hopefully) continue to review different inks. Some of the dry times varied, which I can't really explain but I did find it interesting. I also did this to emphasize the importance of quick drying to a lefty over-writer.

Lefty Bottom Line: I enjoyed these colors, especially the Violette and the Rose. Despite the awesome coloring J. Herbin tends to be on the page awhile before drying. This is negligible with a fine nib at a decent pace across the page but the medium nib will surely test the patience of a lefty if they are looking for a tidy page by the end.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel 0.4 mm Blue/Black

Some people swear by their broad nibs or points. Others wouldn't dare pick up anything larger then a 0.5mm or a nib broader then fine. Me? I'm on the hunt!

I, like you, read the Pen addict's rave reviews of the teeny tiny points. The first thing that struck me about his site, other then his fantastic handwriting, was that he wrote in caps like I do. I also made note of the obvious problem of larger lines equals more ink on the page, which 11 times out of 10 will lead to a very unhappy lefty over-writer. This thought has lead me to search for that perfect point. I used my Hi-Tec-C Coleto for a bit, but with my work I need to write pretty fast, and I always felt that I had to treat the 0.3mm refills very gingerly. I am not saying it would have broke down, it simply made me feel that way. (not to mention the scratchiness) So with plenty of prior experience with 0.5mm points I decided to give a 0.4mm point a try.

Body: The usual suspect here, plastic. The highlight of the body is the clip. This pen sports a sturdy binder clip. I really do enjoy these zebra binder clips. I have encountered my share of "where the heck did that paper clip go" moments. The ability to throw my pen clip over my paperwork and go is a really convenient feature. (6)

Grip: Simple lined ridges make this a great grip. It's not soft, but it does sort of puff at the end of the grip. This allows for a very comfortable hold because it is right after the point I put pressure on the grip when writing. This creates the feel of a fitted grip, which is nice. (5)

Ink: Blue/Black is currently at the top of my favorite colors for ink. This pen delivers a very nice flow and ink color pops off the page. The thin point prevents smearing issues on every page I've written on with it, including the brights. (7)

Price: $2.00 on jetpens (8)

Lefty Bottom Line: The lines are nice and thin which allows for superior control and reduces the chance for lefty pitfalls. The ink has nice depth and the clips is a fantastic feature.

New feature!
Pen Score: 26
Did you notice the red numbers at the end of each section? Those will be added up here at the end to give a pen an overall score. This score will eventually be a searchable feature. It will allow there to be a favorites list that will show my highest scores. This will help those that want to save time and search just having the highest score and corresponding review shown. Each score is how I relate the feature to a score of 1-10. It is a pretty easy concept. When I score a price it will be the score of how I feel the performance of the pen relates to the price point of the pen. I will be going back to old reviews and adding scores and each review from here out will have scores as well, including any ink reviews I do.(that will be a different system but that's a different blog)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tul Retractable Gels

My apologies for the brief interlude, but I'm back with another color explosion! If you've read much of what I've written previously, you'll know that I have to have bright vibrant colors if your not going to give me a cushy grip in a hip design. Tul decided they would go for all three! The trifecta.

Body: Sleek, plastic, and completely understated. A simple and clean design through and through. I like how the barrel is frosted and shows just enough of the colored plastic at the back of the pen to give it a two-tone effect. The button in the clip also matches the pen color. It's little things like this that makes this pen one of my favorites.

Grip: This is the weakest point of the pen but is still a strong effort. I call it a Swiss grip, it's not technical, it just reminds me of Swiss cheese because of the holes that run in a pattern along the grip. The grip can be a bit slick out of the package but does get better as you use the pen. It is very firm and also matches the ink color nicely.

Ink: I fell in love with this line when the only colors available were black and blue. A super deep black and a rich blue drew me in from the first scribble at my local Office Max (more on this shout-out later). A few months ago I found the green and red versions of this pen and picked them up in medium rollerball. Two weeks back, when making my office supply store rounds, I happened upon a light blue retractable at the checkout stand. This led to more and more visits, each one brought home more colors and each one proved very bright. My most recent trip to the "Max" unearthed a new type of ink in these retractables. Take note of the fourth pen in the picture. Notice that it has a metallic, silvery shading to it. Could this be part of a new line of inks for Tul?

Price: I bought most of these at the register display for $1.49 each. You can find blue and black in packages of 4 ($5.79) and 12 ($15.99). It is important to mention that these pens are ONLY available at Office Max. It is their house brand.

Lefty Bottom Line: I spent so much time raving about the ink that I did not mention how well it performs on paper. Tul performs better on the "brights" (Clairefontaine and Rhodia) then my EX2 and Signo DX's. The ink is bright and does not sit long on the pages. On Doane paper it is still very smooth and this combo is consistently my #dailyarsenal ( /wave to @DIYsara and @dowdyism). I simply chose to do this review on my Rhodia pad because the colors pop on the super white paper. This is truly a great pen and the colors are wonderful. No matter which hand you use it is worth your while to drive to your local Office Max and give them a go!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How do you craft your Jetpens order?

I think the multiple tab feature for web browsers is amazing! I can keep multiple sites open without having multiple windows up. I keep my google reader up, refreshing my favorite blog sites. I have my blog open, always awaiting user comments. I recently started keeping Twitter up. It's my guilty pleasure and the people I follow can easily keep me entertained and web surfing with their endless pen pron and interesting links. Another site I keep open is Jetpens.

If any of you are similar to me, creating a Jetpens order is work of art not dissimilar to those displayed on some of our favorite blogs. Heck, I'm so proud of my work that I post pictures when the order comes in the mail. I parade my own pictures like a proud pen papa. I believe I have a right to with all the work I put into it! Are you aware of how many times I've emptied my cart, thinking "ok, this time, only gel pens!" or "yup, nothing but those nice inks I've heard so much about!". Eventually in the process a highlighter marker will pop up, then a rollerball pen, before you know it your WAY over budget. So then comes the heartbreaking trial of picking the starters. It's like firing your best friend from your home business. "I'm sorry little slicci but today's just not your day". There is truly some joy and apprehension when you finally hit that checkout button. A rush of relief that the project is finished but a tad bit of worry that maybe, just maybe you would have been happier with that slicci after all. I love it!

My question to you guys is, What is your Jetpens ritual? How do you craft your order to this or any other stationery site? How do you explain to your significant other that it's another month of top ramen because you just HAD to have that fountain pen? (Only slightly kidding =P)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Win a cool notebook this week at notebook stories

Remember that teeny tiny little notebook from this post at notebook stories?

Well now you can have a chance to win your very own big brother to that lil' guy!

Check out her great review then enter to win here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's get ready to RUMBLE! Clairefontaine vs Doane

I said some pretty bold things over Twitter about this matchup. Before we get too far into this post let's take a look at the notebooks we are comparing;

The Contestants: The Clairefontaine boasts a well known satin-finish with 90gsm pages. The Doane Idea Journal utilizes it's grids + lines also in a 90gsm page (the website says 60 lb. and to the best of my knowledge that translates roughly to 90gsm).

I decided to do something a bit different. I took a video with my blackberry to introduce you to the lovely pens that would be utilized in the testing. I'm no professional and this is simply to do things a little different. I am planning on getting a decent video camera later this week (hopefully) and I can do more of these.

I actually have some footage of the actual testing but with this cold and the poor audio quality of the blackberry it sounded like an obscene phonecall. So I will hold off on lengthier videos until I get better tools.

The Showdown: I used the traditional pangram in both print and cursive so I could get a good feel of the pens on each notebook. I then did a basic timed smear test. From here I used three of my fountain pens to get a better idea of fountain pen behavior with the notebooks.

(For reference the pen use order is Jetstream, Uni-ball signo, Pilot varsity, Foray 0.7 liquid ink, Sharpie Ultra fine, Parker Urban Gel)

First up, the Clairefontaine:
I was surprised at how well the paper reacted to the basic writing. I saw no problems with smearing which is great considering how you can see some of the inks sitting on the page for extended times. I suspect that consistent writing with a natural speed could lead to a few problems but it really depends on the ink.

At the bottom of the page is the timed smear tests. Here you can see why I say the Parker gel is a nightmare for lefty writers. It sat for 20 seconds and was still smearing pretty significantly. I was pleased with how fast the other inks dried but as you can see, even the "smear resistant" Jetstream is prone to the satin-finish. This makes hasty note taking very tricky for a southpaw because you will have smearing and ink transfer because you are hitting this ink very quickly.

Here you can see the back of the page. Only the Sharpie is pronounced and I think you would be just fine writing on both sides of the page with any of the actual pens. The picture speaks volumes, very impressive indeed.

Fountain pen users may want to avert their eyes from this next picture. Well, maybe it isn't all bad here. Though the ink sits on top of the page at first it does do a decent job of drying fairly quickly. I am thinking that the Pelikano's medium lefty nib is very generous with the ink output which leads to a very long drying time.

Another impressive picture. Clairfontaine does a great job of limiting shadow and bleed through.

Next up is the Doane Idea Journal:

There is a distinct difference when writing in these two notebooks. The Doane Idea Journal has a bit of tooth to it that is a nice contrast to the feel of your pen skating across the clairefontaine. Just as with the clairefontaine there was no problems with the traditional writing exercise. The main difference here is that while writing with the wetter inks you could see the ink absorbing quickly into the paper.

The picture shows a welcome difference in the smear tests. This notebook could make writing with a parker gel bearable, or maybe not. Take note of how fast the Varsity and Foray dry up on the page. It is a clean win here for Doane.

Unfortunately it is a victory that is short lived. As is evident in the picture to the left, we can see where that ink goes so quickly, to the other side. Moderate shadowing and slight bleed through can be seen. Many people are used to this sort of thing happening with their papers but it is still an issue. The cost of both of these notebooks is above average and I'd assume most people would want to get the most use of the paper possible.

Where the back images are impressive with the Clairefontaine, the same can be said for the writing images for the Idea Journal. The inks tested here were dry almost instantly after the ink was put to page.

The picture here was a pretty obvious guess given the previous photos. You can clearly see the ink here but only the Napalm ink is solid enough to disrupt writing on the other side. The key here would be fine nibs.

The Analysis: Both notebooks performed above what I originally thought. The clairefontaine is super smooth. Ink tends to actually sit upon the page until dried, which can take awhile. This is fine for a right handed person but for a lefty over-writer this presents some issues with anything that requires any sort of quick writing. When it comes to shadowing and bleed through, clairefontaine is a champ. It is very minimal and will allow for front and back writing.

The idea journal from Doane is a quick drying dream. It managed to soak up some ink in very impressive time. The downside to the fast dry pages is the shadowing on the back of the page. It is not bleeding through page after page, but it is noticeable and depending on your writer of choice can lead to one sided page use. I also notice that while I'm writing on Doane Paper of any sort I tend to write slower and my writing tends to look better. This is no doubt attributed to the added graph quads with the lines.

The Verdict: As a left handed person I am biased. I simply need a page to handle the ink I'm putting down and do it quickly. While the shadowing can be a bit of a downer, I do not yet use a lot of fountain pens. I do a lot of my writing with gel pens and rollerballs. This may eventually change with the pens and inks I choose to use but as it stands, The Idea Journal from Doane is my paper of choice.