Thursday, January 22, 2015

Celebrating National Handwriting Day with Inkly Cards

I have always had trouble bridging the digital and the analog.  While the calendar app on my smartphone is covered in imaginary weeds, my good ol' paper planner thrives with all types of scribbles.  Though the calculator app is readily there for me to use, I stubbornly balance my check with a pencil and a pad.  There is something magical about writing.  How the tip of the pencil touches the paper, how soothing the sound of pencil writing is, and how mysteriously I tend to remember things I have jotted down rather than typed.  


Though I am old fashioned, I do not think the two are antagonistic.  A nifty app called Inkly Cards combines the convenience of technology with the personal touch of sending postcards and greeting cards straight from your smartphone.  Developed by Lee Hawkins and Peter Ryder in 2012, Inkly Cards is targeting those who want to maintain that personal touch in their busy life.  The app does so by allowing one to make personal postcards or greeting cards with the photos taken on their smartphone, along with a picture of one's own handwriting.  The company then will print and send out the card on your behalf (including postage!) to anywhere in the world, priced at $1.49 for postcards and $3.99 for greeting cards.  

Simple interface, very similar to most photo editing apps 

Log-in with your Facebook account to receive reminders on your loved ones' birthdays.

There are different templates and filters to customize your outgoing postcards/cards 
This app would be especially ideal for those who are traveling and want to send postcards to loved ones, but just cannot find a good selection of them.  This service allows you to create your own postcards, can save you from a mailbox hunting, as well as a trip to the local post office. It will also be a good alternative for the upcoming InCoWriMo (International Correspondence Writing Month) in February.

You can also track the progress of the correspondence


To commemorate this year's National Handwriting Day, Inkly Cards has teamed up with Campaign with Cursive to encourage every to send a handwritten card.  Interested?  Hit the App Store for iOS and Google Play Store for Android to find out more for yourself!



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mont Blanc JFK Fountain Pen Ink

This is an ink review since a long time!  Not that I stop liking ink, but more like there are too many to write about them.

When I first saw Mont Blanc JFK ink, I immediately thought of the JFK Memorial in Dallas, Texas.  The outer packaging is without bells and whistles, just simply stated.  The navy blue, according to Mont Blanc's site, is chosen because of JFK's passion in yachting or navigation in general.

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Outer package
The inkwell is quite magnificent in comparison's to its simple and clean outer package.  Made with glass, it is a bottle that you would want to save and store other ink with once you are done.  Its presence give an executive air to my humble desk.
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Substantial and elegant inkwell
The mouth opening of the jar is wide enough to accommodate fountain pens of all girth.  The heavy glass bottom adds stability and prevents tipping during the fill.
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The opening of the inkwell will accommodate fountain pens of various sizes

Mont Blanc JFK
When it comes to ink, being adventurous in color has been my motto.  Back in elementary school days, black and blue were pretty much the two colors that we were allowed to use, let alone magenta and turquoise.  Then again, not all circumstances allow such liberty in colorful expression, which render these two colors essential.  Mont Blanc JFK is definitely a possible essential shade.  The adjective that comes to mind while writing with this ink is "presidential" with its subtly and formal air.  First contact with the paper, the ink appears navy blue, but as it dries, the gray undertone starts to show, as the above scan image also showed.  
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See tint of purple hidden in the blue?


However, the residual ink underneath the inkwell cap tells a different story.   As you can see in the above picture, the purple is hiding beneath the blue.  The purple hue, in my observation, usually presents itself in the shading of the ink, which I did not expect to have.  The nuances give some liveliness to the color, besides the majestic aura that the color projected.  

One of the complaints that I have about Mont Blanc ink is that the ones I have used in the past (Mont Blanc Lavender Purple, Irish Green, and standard black) are all very selective on paper, so I would expect the same with JFK.  To my surprise, it fares very well with all paper I have tested on, including regular 20 lb printing paper.  That is actually quite amazing, which means that no embarrassing feathering would happen, should one sign important documents with it.  

The drying time on the testing page a bit long, but probably because of its satin surface.  On regular printing paper, the drying time is quick in comparison so the lefties won't need to worry about smearing the text.

The ink bottle is priced at $19 for 30ml bottle.  In my opinion, the color does not match the name, especially when comparing to other blue black ink, such as the one from Sailor.  The inkwell, on the other hand, is a bonus of this ink, since I can always already seeing myself filling it with other ink.  In all, this color is a toss for me.  It is a very work friendly and safe color, but not one that I will associate with fun and merry-making.

Do you have a favorite work friendly color?

This bottle of Mont Blanc JFK is provided by Pen Boutique for review purpose.  Pen Boutique is a Maryland-based vendor who also carry fine writing instrument, stationery, and accessories.  Besides the generous sample, I did not receive additional monetary compensation for writing this review.  All opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hobonichi Techo follow-up

It is planner season again.  How fast has this year passed!  I thought this would be a great time to review on I have used the Hobonichi Techo that I have shared at the beginning of the year.  Does it worth the hype?

Just as a note, I do not use planner in an orthodox way because I am pretty bad at using planner for its intended purpose, such as planning (and pre-planning), jogging down to-do list, and appointment, though I have gotten better with this particular planner.  Instead, I am using it as a quasi practice book, scrapbook, and of course, as a semi-planner.  As I have mentioned before, the paper that is used in Hobonichi planner is the famed Tomoe River paper, hence, extremely tolerant to all types of fountain pen ink.  Because of how much this paper can taken, I have been pushing the boundary a bit.  For example, I have tested out a new gouache with a dip nib, as well as watercolor pencils.  Besides minor buckling, there is no bleed through or feathering in any form.  It is good to mention that Tomoe River paper is thin, any pressure places on writing will leave an imprint.  To mitigate this problem, one can place a plastic sheet or mat underneath to avoid any imprint or carbon transfer, if you would use a pencil.

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I copied a recipe in an unused portion of the page.  Can anyone guess which recipe is it?

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Adding elegant postage from a thoughtful friend to brighten up the pages.

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More the better!

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Colorful addition for days spending at a library conference.

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I do use planner for serious business, albeit so occasionally.  Here, I was keeping track of viable sources for a research project in Korean.

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Keep track of different projects in the monthly planning pages.
I am definitely not a devoted user who plan out every single day; there are time when you are afraid to see how much to need to be finished.  I used those blank pages to practice to do penmanship and calligraphy practices, since the paper is too nice to go to waste.
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Here, I used the two days of blank pages to lament Cristina Yang leaving Grey's Anatomy.  
Of course, I still utilize some functions of a planner, such as keeping track of due dates and deadlines.  Since each page has a center divider, I often keep personal due dates (school, home) on one side, and work on the other.  To emphasize the due dates for different classes, different styles of page markers are used.

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Using these page markers, I keep tracks of due dates and deadline.  At one point, I used three different sets.

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This little guy keeps track of all the books I would like to read.. eventually.
I have used several different types of planner before Hobonichi and there is always something about the planner that I am not satisfied with.  If there is one advantage about Hobonichi is its open format/space that is suitable for any types of journaling/planning/lifestyle.  The thin and accommodating paper is fountain pen fans and artists' dream, but of course, the original intention is to keep the planner portable, light, and laying flat 180 degree.  In my case, I totally destroy that well-intention by stuffing various pieces of memories on these pages.  As a result, the planner has progressively become heavier in the messenger bag.

So what is my planner next year?  Because my hand tends to fall off the pages on Techo, I have elected to try Cousin, which is size A5 (14.8cm x 21cm; 5.83 inch x 8.27 inch).  That is roughly double of Techo, which is in A6.  So far, the larger format has more hand room and my writing becomes ever so minuscule as well.  I have also chosen the two-volume "Avec" version, so I will not need to carry whole year worth of time with me at all time.  I will let you know how it goes!

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Present and very near future.
What is your favorite planner this year?  Have a happy new year!


Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Celebrate Fountain Pen Day


Fountain Pen Day
I have been planning this post for some time now, but I could not decide when to post, only realizing that there would not be a better day to share this news with you than today.

This past summer, I learned about a handwriting archive called Kaminski Handwriting Collection through, organized and curated by David Kaminski from a friend.  David, a handwriting enthusiast, intends to provide a public forum to share and learn about different types of handwriting from different time.  In a way, this project is to maintain a history of people's handwriting.  The goal of this archive is not to showcase handwriting that is aesthetically appealing, but to preserve handwriting, something that starts to falter in our society, regardless of form and beauty.  My interpretation of this project is that it could be plausible to use handwriting as an angle to gauge a particular time period, especially when handwriting can say much about a person, and to a certain extent where a person is from, given that in some countries, handwriting is comparatively uniform than the education curriculum in the United States. Recalling my more active letter writing days, a letter written by a pen pal from Belarus is drastically different than a friend from Germany.

What would be a better to use the new addition that you acquired on the Fountain Pen Day than using it to compose a small writing sample to submit to this archive?  Here is a simple guideline for a writing sample:

  • It can be in any written form (i.e. print, cursive, italic, spencerian).  In other words, it can be in the form that speaks to you.
  • The content must be family friendly.
  • Make a note to the media you are using.  Paper, ink, nib size.  The usual fountain pen nerd details :)
Options to submit your sample:
  • Scan your sample with 600 dpi resolution as a PDF file. 
  • If you do not have a scanner, take a a nice shot of it with your Smart phone camera.
E-Mail it to David as an attachment.  Of course, you are more welcome to submit more than one!

Here is a small sample I have submitted to the archive:


Fountain Pen Day Italic

If this project interests you and you would like to submit a writing sample, leave a comment on this entry so I can let David know approximately how many samples he will be getting.  As far as I understood, this is a one-man project and I would like to help him in some small ways.  Please spread the words to those whom you know might be interested.

Want to find out more of this project?  Please visit http://davidkaminski.org/wiki/Main_Page

Enjoy this fabulous day!  Share and spread your passion of fountain pens with others!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Faber-Castell Basic Fountain Pen in Carbon Fibre

Fountain pens by Faber-Castell always gives me a sense of aloofness.  For one, it is owned by a count who did quite a bit of live demonstration to attest the quality of his products.  Two, the presentation of Faber-Castell fountain pens is always exquisite in pen shops I have visited. When I first saw Faber-Castell Basic, though I can still feel the finesse from the presentation and the craftsmanship of the pen, the overall design is younger at heart.

Here are some details on Basic:

  • Length (capped):  19.05 cm; 7.5 inch
  • Length (uncapped):  14 cm; 5.51 inch
  • Weight: 28g; 1 oz.
  • Filling System:  International standard cartridge (included) or converter (sold separately)
  • Nib Material:  Stainless steel
  • Nib Sizes:  B, M, F
  • Finish available:  Carbon Fibre, mother of pearl, and leather

First Impression
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The packaging is clean and simple.  The small leatherette handle adds finesse to the overall presentation, so it is ready to be gifted for any occasions.  Of course, if you are like me who hang on every single next box that comes by, you will definitely have trouble letting this one go.


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When I first opened the box, I see this interesting tag attached to the pen clip, indicating the nib size, as it was not marked on the outer box.  It is sort of handy and easy to reaffirm that you are receiving what you are getting.

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The matte rubber cap bears the Faber-Castell mark along with its logo.  The matte texture helps with uncapping, so one's grip will not slip.  Though I do not have the habit of using the pen clip, this particular clip has a pretty good grip that exceeds the mere cosmetic aspect of the pen.

The Carbon Fibre finish appears very masculine to me; in fact, it reminds me of a sports car for carbon fibre is a pretty common material.  This model also comes in pearl of mother finish, which has more of a feminine appeal.

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This pen is also lengthier and heavier than most other fountain pens I have.  Usually I prefer to post the cap, but in this case, I would leave the cap off; otherwise, one would wind up with a Harry Potter wand, with the risk of jabbing one's own chin.  Moreover, the pen feels unbalanced when capped.

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The stainless steel nib reminds me of the ventilation part of a helm.  Very befitting for Faber-Castell's emblem of two jousting knights.

Performance

A fountain pen is pretty, but its beauty will fade quickly if its performance does not match up.  Good thing about Faber-Castell Basic is that it writes like butter.  As an European fine, it is expected to be thicker than Japanese fine, but the fluidity and smoothness is unparalleled.  The writing experience reminded me of the first time I inked my Pelikan M205Duo.  Even though it only has a stainless steel nib, the smoothness would make one believe that it has a gold nib.  Basic also writes wet, which enhances the overly smoothness of the writing experience.  The ribbed grip section is made with the same matte rubber as the cap, and is comfortable to hold.  Anything I do not like about this pen?  It might be a heavier pen overall, though the body itself is very balance.  I was hoping a converter would be included, but it is sold separately.  Most websites indicated that a Faber-Castell converter is meant for its Design and Ambition line, but according to Faber-Castell, it fits Basic as well.

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I believe that one of the indications of a good pen company is that quality is consistent throughout its product lines, regardless of economy or luxury class.  Faber-Castell Basic fountain pen might come with a humble stainless steel nib, but it writes heavenly.  The body material and finish feel substantial compare to pens within the same price range.  It is ideal for people who are looking for more than beginner fountain pen and admiring simple design.

The MSRP for this pen is $38 and you can find it at Pen Boutique, as well as other fine writing instrument retailers.

This Faber-Castell Basic Fountain Pen in Carbon Fibre is provided by Pen Boutique for review purpose.  Pen Boutique is a Maryland-based vendor who also carry fine writing instrument, stationery, and accessories.  Besides the generous sample, I did not receive additional monetary compensation for writing this review.  All opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Monk Paper Giveaway Winner

According to the nifty random number generator, the winner for this giveaway is....


Jeff, please e-mail me with your postal address by October 8th, so I can send this notebook your way!

Thank you, everyone, for participating!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monk Paper Pocket Lokta Notepad Giveaway (Closed)



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Pen Boutique not only sent me the Monk Paper Sketchbook that I have reviewed here, but also this pocket size Lokta notepad, which I will give away to a lucky reader to try!  

This notepad contains 48 pages of plushy yet lightweight Lokta paper and measures 3.14 inch in width and 4.72 inch in length (7.98 cm x 11.99 cm).  It has a bamboo closure where one slides a thin piece of bamboo through two pre-made holes to fasten the notebook.  This will be a great chance for one to try out Lokta paper, in a convenient and portable size no less.  

Here is how you can enter this giveaway and some dainty rules:
1.  Leave a comment on this post on how you would use this notepad.  One comment per person please.
2.  Each comment will be numbered in the order it is entered.
3.  This giveaway is open internationally, as long as USPS delivers to your country.
4.  The giveaway will end on September 30th, 2014 at 11:59PM PST.
5.  The winner will be announced on October 1, 2014 on a separate post on this blog and will have a week to e-mail me a valid mailing address.  If I did not hear from the winner during the given time, a new one will be drawn from the existing pool.  

For those of you who cannot wait to get your hand on some Lokta paper, here is a good news.  Contact Trista at PenBoutique at (800) 263-2736, ext. 202 and mention this blog, you will receive 10% off on any Lokta products that are currently in stock.  

Good luck everyone!