Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Miscellany: Black Paper, Nature Sketches, Planners

Finally, it's the end of December.  2013 is very nearly done, and 2014 is soon beginning - in fact, it has already begun for some of my readers.  I'm feeling relieved that this year is almost over; it was a frustrating year for me in some ways, as I didn't get done a number of things that I wanted to do.  But, as always, I'm full of plans for the new year...  Here are some final links for 2013:


That's all for now; happy new year, everyone!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Best of A Penchant for Paper 2013

To follow up on my top 10 supplies of 2013, here are my top 10 blog posts of the year.  These aren't necessarily the posts that were the most popular or that received the most comments, but they are posts that I think express the best of A Penchant for Paper and what I've been doing this year.  If you like this kind of thing, you might also want to check out my top posts of the year on my other blog.


  1. The Next Step: Lamy Z24 Converter - I mentioned in my top 10 list how this converter changed my relationship with my Lamy Safari fountain pen, turning it from a pen I liked to a pen I loved.  This is also my favourite post of the year because I was exploring a new area (bottled inks), I had no idea how things were going to turn out (for example, I was halfway through writing this post when I realized I needed a bulb syringe to properly clean my pen), and I needed to do a lot of research.  It was a fun - if time-consuming - post to write and photograph.
  2. My Productivity System - My system is continuing to evolve and it looks different now than it did at the beginning of the year when I wrote this post, but simply being able to understand my system enough to write this post was an important step for me.
  3. Ink Review: Diamine Meadow - I was nervous about this post, because I had never reviewed a fountain pen ink before.  But I did some research so I knew what I wanted to include in the review, and I think it turned out well.  And I may have started a new tradition of including a poem with each of my ink reviews.
  4. Handwritten Post: The Story of My Pen and Paper Addiction - If you've ever wondered just how I became such a geek about pens, pencils, and paper, read this post.  Another fun post to write.
  5. My Growing Wooden Pencil Collection - I had hardly any interest in wooden pencils when I started this blog, but that has certainly changed over the years.  I've reviewed a few of them, and somehow I've ended up with this collection...  Now I just need to get into the habit of using them more often.
  6. Rethinking the DIY Planner for 2014 - My DIY planner is an important part of my life, but I'm contemplating some major changes to it next year.  I may be a bit too obsessed with my planner, but that's okay, right?
  7. Creating & Using a Blogging Schedule - 2013 was a good year for me in terms of maintaining a regular schedule of posts, something that is important to me.  This post summarizes how I do it.
  8. Less is More Art Journaling - I didn't do much art journaling this year, but I was really happy with the art journal that I did work on, my "less is more" art journal.  I think it really expresses me and my style better than any art journal I've kept before.
  9. Seeing the Big Picture: When Paper is Better Than Digital - Sometimes paper really does work better than digital, especially if you're a writer and you're easily overwhelmed when the piece you're working on is many thousands of words long (um... yes, that would be me).
  10. Question & Answer With A Penchant for Paper - This was a series of questions from readers that I answered this summer.  It was a fun post to write, but also a lot of work!


And here are the most popular posts of the past year:
  1. Guest Post: Life as an Addicted Cursive Writer by Alice Jenkins
  2. How Small Can You Write?
  3. Rhodia Pencil
  4. Laurentien Coloured Pencils
  5. My Productivity System
  6. Handwritten Post: The Story of My Pen and Paper Addiction
  7. Ink Review: Diamine Meadow
  8. Five Disappointing Pens
  9. Pens for Dark Paper
  10. The Joys & Challenges of To-Do Lists

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ink Review: Private Reserve Shoreline Gold

I have to admit that I wanted to try Private Reserve Shoreline Gold ink partly because of the name.  "Shoreline Gold" makes me think of the colour of beach sands at sunset - a nice image to contemplate in the depths of winter!

Private Reserve Shoreline Gold in Rhodia dotPad.

Fancy aside, Private Reserve Shoreline Gold is a soft warm orange colour (not a bright orange at all, which I like because I prefer more muted colours).  It becomes noticeably darker as it dries, but I feel that for me the colour might still be a bit lighter than I would like, especially with a fine nib.  I suspect that with a broader nib it would be better.  Shoreline Gold is also not a very saturated colour - to me, it seems a bit watery, but it makes up for this with some lovely shading to a deeper earthy orange.

Private Reserve Shoreline Gold in Paperblanks journal with lines from the poem "This Time of Year" by Barbara Crooker.

The flow of this ink is nice - perhaps slightly on the wet side on smoother, less porous papers.  As with most fountain pen inks, you may see some bleedthrough on cheaper papers, but generally I found this ink to be well-behaved, and on better papers (i.e., Rhodia) I had no problems with it.  One of the best parts about it is that it dries relatively quickly - 10 to 15 seconds on Rhodia (and probably faster on more porous papers) - making it the fastest drying ink of the three inks that I have so far used (the other two being Diamine Meadow and Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki).

Scan of the writing sample for a more well-rounded impression of the ink's colour.  The two photos showed the ink looking a bit darker than it really is; this scan shows it looking a bit lighter.  Take the average of the photos and the scan and maybe you'll get something approaching reality.

Overall, I think that Private Reserve Shoreline Gold comes very close for me.  If it was a bit darker (or maybe if I changed my combination of pen, nib, and paper), I think that I could easily love it because I really do like the colour, flow, and fast drying time.  As it is, it's just a bit too pale for me and - while I really want to like it more than I do - I find it a unsatisfying because of that.  However, if the colour appeals to you, then certainly give Shoreline Gold a try - maybe it will be just right with your favourite pen and nib.

Related reviews: Inkophile, FPGeeks.

~~~

Reminder: Don't forget to submit your posts to the upcoming Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper!  All posts on relevant topics are welcome.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 10 of 2013

Once again it is time for my list of my top ten supplies of the year.  This is not a list of new products of 2013 and not necessarily a list of items that I would recommend, but simply a list of my personal favourites of the past year.

I just realized that everything on my list is either green, orange, or black.  I think this must be my most colour-coordinated top ten ever!

  1. Lamy Safari Fountain Pen + Lamy Z24 Converter - Yes, I know that's two items and not one, but it is together with the converter that the Lamy Safari really shines.  Before I bought the converter, I liked the pen but I was quickly growing bored with the limitations of the Lamy cartridges.  Now, I absolutely love this pen because I can use any ink I want in it.  And when I'm filling my pen from a tiny sample bottle and flushing it out afterwards with a bulb syringe, I feel like a serious pen geek.
  2. Diamine Meadow Fountain Pen Ink - My first bottled ink!  I love the colour of this ink and how well-behaved it is.  I'll definitely be buying a full bottle when my sample runs out.
  3. Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double-Sided Sign Pen - I just love using these pens.  I love that they're double-sided, I love their minimal but colourful design, I love that they come in lots of colours.  Using them just makes me happy.
  4. Pentel Pulaman Disposable Fountain Pen - I could probably say the same for this pen.  It's quirky and strange (then again, so am I; maybe that's why we get along so well), but I love it and I always enjoy writing with it.
  5. Rhodia dotPad - You knew there had to be something Rhodia on this list, didn't you?  I love this little notepad - the paper is heavenly, it's dot grid, and the perforations are magical (seriously, I'm always amazed at how uncannily well the pages tear off).
  6. General's Kimberly Drawing Pencil in B - While I still not in the habit of using my wooden pencils as much as I should, I love this one.  I like it's history, I like the metal cap on the end, and I like that I can both draw and write with it.  And it's green.
  7. Rhodia Webnotebook Dot Grid - More Rhodia!  More dots!  I know that some version of the Webnotebook has been on every single top ten list I've compiled so far, but I honestly think that this may be my perfect notebook.  I'm not even that interested in trying out other notebooks anymore.  Though I would prefer this one in orange rather than black for next time.
  8. Tombow Fudenosuke Twin Tip Brush Pen - I wasn't overly impressed with this pen when I first tried it, but I ended up reaching for it a lot when I was doodling in my art journal.  And I still think the combination of black and grey inks in one pen is kind of neat.
  9. Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38mm Green Black - I have used and loved this pen for a long time (the review is from 2010!), but I found myself appreciating it more this year.  It's just right in so many ways: gel, fine-point, smooth-writing, and green black - quite possibly my perfect ink colour for everyday writing.
  10. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens - Another old favourite.  While I didn't do much sketching or drawing this year and so didn't use these pens as much as I have in previous years, they're still an essential part of my supply kit.  I wouldn't want to be without them.

And that is it for the top ten of 2013!  What were your favourite supplies this year?

~~~

Thursday, December 12, 2013

PaperMate Write Bros. Ballpoint Pens & Mechanical Pencils

I'm fairly sure that I have liked none of the PaperMate ballpoints that I have tried. Not that I've tried a lot, of course, because the few disappointing examples I have tried haven't exactly encouraged me to try more.  I don't understand it, because PaperMate does make a perfectly decent gel pen.  So why can't they make their ballpoints better?  But let's get back to our subject - the PaperMate Write Bros. ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils.


The PaperMate Write Bros. ballpoint pen looks like a cheap stick ballpoint.  Which is of course just what it is - a narrow plastic cylinder with no grip and a flimsy-looking clip.  The kind of pen you can buy a dozen of for a couple bucks.  Writing quality is fairly terrible.  The ink appears pale and washed out, and these pens (along with most other PaperMate ballpoints I have used, with the possible exception of the InkJoy, although that one had other problems) have the bad habit of simply ceasing to write when left attended for too long.  Until they reach that point, the ink seems to gradually dry up and become more and more difficult to write with, requiring you to put more and more pressure on the pen to make a mark on the page, and - because these pens are just narrow plastic cylinders with no grip - that in turn causes more and more pain to your hand, as you grip the pen tighter and tighter.


For whatever reason, the single black pen I have writes much more smoothly and with a darker ink than the three blue pens I have, although given my small sample size, I'm not going to draw any conclusions about whether or not there actually is any difference between the blue and black inks.


Let's move on to the mechanical pencils.  These are actually usable.  I'm not very fussy about my mechanical pencils, and as long as the pencil holds lead and I can refill it with my favourite Pentel Hi-Polymer refill leads, then it will generally be acceptable.  And the PaperMate Write Bros. mechanical pencils do fulfil that basic requirement, more or less.  They also come in a lot of different colours, they're available in 0.5mm, and I like the pop of the white eraser against the translucent black clip and how the eraser matches the bold white lettering.  Apart from that, these pencils are very lightweight and the plastic feels rather cheap and flimsy.  The eraser also erases poorly.  But I could see these being a decent choice for a parent who needs to buy their kid some mechanical pencils and knows that their kid will probably lose all the pencils by the end of the school year, so quality and durability of the pencils is not as important as something cheap that can be bought in bulk.


Overall, the PaperMate Write Bros. ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils are cheap, basic supplies.  The mechanical pencils are usable, but I would certainly not recommend them in most situations.  The ballpoint pens, however, are among the worst pens I have ever used, and I would advise you to avoid them unless you want to give them to someone you don't like or to use them as bait for pen thieves (though I would hope that any self-respecting pen thief would know that these aren't worth stealing!).

Related reviews (ballpoint pen): Dan Reviews the World, Writing by Hand, Art Supply Critic.

Related reviews (mechanical pencil): Dave's Mechanical Pencils (make sure to check out the photo of what happened to the eraser!).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Working With Mistakes and Imperfections in the Art Journal

For my current art journal, I chose to use a PooPooPaper spiral-bound notebook.  This notebook has a hard cover, and square pages of rough paper made from elephant dung.  It's rather awful as an art journal.  The rough paper is a challenge to work with.  Many inks bleed through and feather.  Even the pigments of my watercolour pencils will bleed through after I add water to them.  But despite all of this (in fact, because of it), this is the perfect art journal to use to work with mistakes and imperfections.


First, a mistake: On the above page, I doodled with Diamine Meadow ink, but when I looked at the page afterwards, I realized I didn't like it.  The colour seemed too bright for the page.  It wasn't the look I had been thinking of when I began.  So I moved on to another page.  Sometimes we need to sit with our mistakes for a while, and give ourselves time to think about what we're going to do, and whether this mistake is really a mistake at all.  Later, I went back.  I used my waterbrush to lightly brush over the doodled lines (but not my writing; I blurred out the words in Photoshop in the photo above because it was a bit too personal to make me feel comfortable sharing).  Because Diamine Meadow is not a waterproof ink, this softened and blurred the lines.  I still think the colours are too bright, but I like the softer look and I'm more comfortable with this page, mistakes and all.


Next, an imperfection: This is the back of the first page.  Because the paper in this notebook is very imperfect, you can see that the green fountain pen ink bled through.  I used a brown Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pen to trace over some of the lines of bleedthrough, incorporating them into a new page, rather than covering them up.  I circled the darkest spots of bleedthrough, turning them into floating bubbles.  (Readers of Quinn MacDonald's book Raw Art Journaling may recognize this design from one of the exercises in that book.)  I also used a white Uni-ball Signo Broad gel pen to cover some of the green spots, but because the paper is not white and white ink is not completely opaque, this doesn't really hide anything so much as it gives the appearance of scar tissue.

This page, like the first one, is not finished yet.  I will continue to work on them, bit by bit, working with the imperfections in the paper and with the mistakes that I have made.  These pages may never be completely finished.  That is okay.

Some art journal blogs and books recommend painting over mistakes so you can start again or prepping all your pages with gesso so you can start with a smooth surface every time.  While those can be useful techniques, I think it can be equally useful to let our mistakes and imperfections stand, work with them if we can, and even embrace them.

How do you work with mistakes and imperfections in your art?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Submit Your Posts to the Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper!

The Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper will be coming to A Penchant for Paper on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, so please start submitting your posts now!  The deadline to submit your posts is 5pm EST on Sunday, January 5.  Any posts related to pens, pencils, notebooks, journals, and related topics are welcome (especially pencils; I'd love to see more posts on pencils in the Carnival).

You can submit your posts by using this form (although please note that the Blog Carnival site now requires users to login before submitting posts, so if you don't want to use the form, you can also email me directly - just be sure to put "CARNIVAL SUBMISSION" in the subject line and get your email to me by the deadline).

If you need more information about the carnival, you can check out its page on the Blog Carnival site, this page at Notebook Stories, or the FAQ.  I also encourage you to visit the December Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper at Life Imitates Doodles.

I have noticed that recent editions of the Carnival have been a bit quiet, so let's make the first Carnival of 2014 amazing by submitting lots of great posts to it!  I'm looking forward to receiving your entries.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Zebra #2 Mechanical Pencil

The first time I saw one of these Zebra #2 mechanical pencils, I thought it was a wooden pencil.  Then I looked closer.  Wait a minute...

These pencils are fun.  They're short plastic mechanical pencils finished off with a metal ferrule and an eraser.  And they look a lot like wooden pencils.


The standard Zebra #2's come in orange (the traditional yellow-orange of wooden pencils) and black.  Both are very convincing imitations of wooden pencils.  You can also find them in different "Cadoozles" patterns; these are obviously targeted towards children, but of course that's no reason why you shouldn't enjoy them as well.

See, I told you these were fun pencils!

The hexagonal shape makes the Zebra #2 comfortable to hold, although it may be a bit small and light for some users.  The small size, however, also makes these pencils very portable.  I keep one by my chair in the living room for doing crossword and sudoku puzzles, and it works very well for that.  It's also a cheap enough pencil that I don't have to worry too much about a cat losing it behind the couch.

The orange pencil has a mauve-pink eraser, the black one a white.  The eraser works reasonably well, and is larger than many mechanical pencil erasers.  It also serves as a cap that you can pull off to insert spare leads directly into the pencil:


One problem I have with the Zebra #2 is that it's only available in 0.7mm.  I prefer 0.5mm for mechanical pencils, so it would be nice to see it available in that option, but that's just me, and I actually have been quite happy with how the wider lead writes.

The biggest problem I have with these is that the finish is not that great.  Many of my pencils show noticeable white marks where the paint has rubbed off.  To me, the problem seems slightly worse with the Cadoozles patterns, but maybe the traditional orange and blacks just haven't been used as much.


Despite that issue, the Zebra #2 is a great little mechanical pencil.  It may not have any fancy features, but it makes up for that by being both cute and clever.  It's always a pencil that I enjoy using, just because it makes me smile.  Recommended if you need a cheap and portable mechanical pencil to toss in your bag, or if you like the look of wooden pencils but don't like writing with them.  Or if you just want to add a bit more fun to your writing experience.

Related review: Unposted.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Miscellany: Journals, Collages, Nerds

The end of November, and the year itself is almost done.  I'm started to get excited for 2014 as I make plans for things I want to do next year.  As always, I have all sorts of big ideas that probably won't all get completed, but that is okay.  Sometimes just the planning and the dreaming is important.  If you need some extra reading while you plan, here are some links from the past month:

  • Jono at Pentorium has a great post on how to enjoy your everyday mundane tasks - cheaply.  I don't really have much to say about this post, because it's awesome and I agree with all of his points - and now I feel even more ashamed of the cluttered surface of my desk!
  • Check out Gennine's gorgeous journal pages.  I'm also working in a square-format journal right now; I like the look of square pages because there's more room to expand horizontally and so things seem more open, somehow.  Or something like that, anyway.
  • I know I've mentioned iHanna's 365-collages-in-2013 project before, and now she's written a detailed post on her creative process of making a collage for every day of the year.  I especially like the idea of having a weekly goal rather than a daily goal, because there always are a few days where my mind turns to mush and nothing gets done the way I want it.  If you love the idea of a 365 project, you should also check out her post on how to plan for it.
  • Perhaps as a counterpoint to Hanna's collages, Michelle writes about why she has moved away from using collage in her journals.  This post really resonated with me, because I've experienced something similar.  Although my early art journals were strongly based on collage, lately I've been more focused on drawing and sketching and developing my own style rather than borrowing someone else's style.
  • I love this story of nerds, cell phones, and (somewhat) antiquated technology.  I also love Microsoft Word, but I love my pens, pencils, and notebooks even more (and I don't even own a cell phone).  Compasses are also great!  I own an excellent Silva Ranger compass that I bought for a class in university, but I've hardly used it since.
  • Tammy has created an awesome post summarizing and describing the different kinds of Sakura Gelly Roll pens available.  It's an older post, and she doesn't cover quite all of the varieties (no Gold Shadows or Silver Shadows, for example), but it's excellent if you're trying to decide what the right Gelly Roll for you is.
  • Finally, on my other blog I've done an A to Z survey about my favourite books!  This is a bit silly and not the usual kind of thing that I write about there, but it was rather fun as well so you should check it out if you love books and want to find out what I love reading.  And if you enjoyed Jono's post at the beginning of this miscellany, you may also want to read my post on raking leaves and joy of everyday tasks.

That's all for this month!  Stay tuned for new posts and reviews in December, and my top ten of 2013 coming up at the end of the year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Alternative Art Journals

I won this book in a giveaway at Lost Coast Post over a year ago, and I thought it was time that I reviewed it myself.  Alternative Art Journals: Explore Innovative Approaches to Collecting Your Creativity by Margaret Peot is a book that explores art journaling beyond the confines of the traditional bound journal.  Peot describes several non-traditional approaches to art journaling and offers detailed tutorials on specific techniques and projects as part of each approach.  Some of my favourites include a card set journal completed during the course of a year (one card per week), tag journals, shoeboxes where you collect items during the week and place them in your journal afterwards (drawing or photographing them if they won't actually fit inside your journal), accordion-fold journals, and journals that include three-dimensional objects and are built inside boxes.  Many of the examples expand the boundaries of what a "journal" is.  I know that I definitely have some ideas of what makes a journal, and I'm not sure that I would consider all of the examples in this book to actually be journals.  Nonetheless, they still look like fun projects, and that's not really a complaint about the book, but more of an observation about some of my own preconceptions.

One of my favourite parts about Alternative Art Journals is that it is very well illustrated. Each page is filled with gorgeous examples of Peot's work.  She favours muted earthy colours, rich textures, and images of birds, butterflies, and eggs.  I absolutely love her style, because it is close to what I want my own style to one day be, but if you prefer brighter, more contrasting colours, then you might not like her style as much as I do.  Of course, that doesn't mean you still can't learn from her techniques, but you might enjoy the book less.

Probably my main complaint about this book is that it feels a bit too short.  As I said before, it's filled with images and illustrations, but that means there's a bit less text.  This is not a major problem; I think it's mainly because I was enjoying this book so much that I was disappointed to see it end so soon.

I think Alternative Art Journals has become one of my new favourite books on art journaling, along with The Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn and Raw Art Journaling by Quinn McDonald.  However, unlike those books, Alternative Art Journals is probably one that I would recommend to someone who has already been keeping an art journal for a while and who is interested in exploring different techniques and approaches.  If you're a complete beginner, you'd probably be better off starting with one of those other titles, because I think Alternative Art Journals might prove a bit overwhelming and Peot does assume that her readers will already have some familiarity with basic art journaling supplies.

Although it is short, there is a lot in this book - a lot of techniques, a lot of potential projects, a lot of things that I've never seen anywhere else.  I haven't been working in my art journal very much this year, but Alternative Art Journals is a book that makes me feel excited about art journaling again.  I love to just flip through it and feel inspired and full of ideas for new projects to try.  And that, I think, is a good thing...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ink Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki

Pilot Iroshizuku inks are well-known for their high quality - and their corresponding high prices.  I doubt that I would ever buy a bottle of this ink simply because the price is a bit too high for me to feel comfortable with, but because these inks are so well-respected in the fountain pen community, I still wanted to try a sample of at least one Iroshizuku ink.  I chose Kon-Peki (deep cerulean blue), and in this review I'll find out if this ink will make me change my mind about buying a full bottle!

Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki in Rhodia dotPad.

The first thing I noticed about Iroshizuku Kon-Peki was that it was a bit drier than the Diamine Meadow ink I had been using before.  This meant that I needed to be a bit more careful about holding my pen correctly so that I wouldn't get any skipping.  Once I had that figured out, however, Kon-Peki wrote smoothly and I had no problems with the flow.

The best part about this ink is that (on good paper) it doesn't show even a hint of feathering or bleedthrough.  It did bleed through on some (but not all) of the cheaper papers I tried it on, but even then feathering was minimal.

Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki in Paperblanks journal with lines from the poem "Here is the Road" by Arlene Gay Levine.

I have to admit I'm not terribly excited by the ink colour.  As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of blue ink, and while there are some blues that I love, Kon-Peki is not one of them.  That said, I can see why this might be the perfect blue for some people - it's not too dark or too light, not too bold or too conservative.  It has a hint of green in it, but it is definitely NOT a greenish-blue.  For me, it's... okay, but there isn't anything about it that really stands out for me.  I honestly thought I would like this blue more than I do, so I am a bit disappointed because of that (but don't worry, Kon-Peki, it's me, not you).

The shading is also okay.  Kon-Peki definitely has shading, and it's easy to see even with my F nib, but it doesn't stand out.  I think I would like this ink more if the shading was a bit more obvious, but maybe with a broad or italic nib it would stand out better.  And of course if you're not that crazy about shading, then this more understated look may be ideal for you.

Scan of the writing sample for a more well-rounded impression of the ink's colour.

Overall, I have to say that while I like Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki, I simply do not love it because the colour is not for me.  But it does perform very well, and I would certainly recommend it if you are looking for a medium to bright blue with some shading.  I may be warming up to this ink the more I use it, but I doubt that there is a bottle of Kon-Peki in my future.  Then again, I'd certainly be happy to try other Iroshizuku ink samples, and if I find a colour that I really love... who knows what might happen?

Related reviews: The Pen Addict, Ed Jelley, The Unwritten Word, Tyler Dahl, Inkyjournal, Greasemonkeyhands, Pentulant, Vec Blog.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Help for a Question on Green Paper

I recently received this question in my email, and because I have no answer, I hope that you might be able to help this reader out with some suggestions.  Here's his question:

"I make 3D topographical maps using paper and glue.  My next piece is going to have 20 different layers going from a light shade at sea level to a dark shade at the top.  The problem that I've come across is that many of my local stores and national suppliers only seem to stock 5 or 6 different shades of a particular colour.  I was wondering if you had any knowledge as to where I could find a supplier that stocks 15-20+ different shades of green paper and could potentially ship internationally?"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rethinking the DIY Planner for 2014


Although it's only November, I've already started thinking about my plans for 2014, particularly about how I can be more productive and organized in the new year.  I've been relying on my DIY planner a lot this year, and it's made me happy to have a system that suited my needs so well.  But my productivity system has evolved over the year, and now my planner no longer fits me quite as well.  As the year draws to a close, I've been thinking about making some radical changes to my DIY planner for 2014.  Some of the issues I have with it include:

  • My productivity system has grown beyond my planner - I now organize my master to-do list on the computer, because it makes it easier for me to shuffle around the order of tasks by cutting and pasting rather than rewriting the entire list.  I also have a separate, monthly to-do list that I keep on a pad of paper, not in my planner at all.
  • I'm not using all parts of my planner - I rarely touch the Notes or Reference section.  My To-do List section has mostly migrated to the computer, as discussed above, and is confusingly organized.  I used to refer to the Goals section during my weekly reviews, but I've gotten out of the habit of doing that.  The only sections I really use anymore are the weekly and monthly planning pages.
  • My weekly layout doesn't work for me anymore - I've been using a layout that allows me to plan my day hour-by-hour, but I usually end up not following that schedule exactly anyway.  I originally thought of trying a different layout, but then I realized that there were all these other issues as well, so I think that would only be a temporary fix.
  • Finally, I love the flexibility of being able to add and remove pages from a ring binder, but I also like the permanence of a bound journal - With a bound book, I could combine my planner and my journal, which would cut down on the number of notebooks that I need to use, something that's part of my ongoing project to simplify my life.

I've been reading about the Bullet Journal system, and it looks very appealing.  I like that it is a simple system that I could easily modify to suit my needs, and that it would allow me to incorporate a planner, journal, and sketchbook into one notebook.  And instead of buying a new notebook for my Bullet Journal, I could simply use one of the Rhodia Webnotebooks that I'm currently using as journals.  I have been using one of my Webbies since September of 2010, which is rather a long time for me to be keeping a journal, and I would be glad of an excuse to use this notebook more often and fill it up.

I'm still nervous about the idea of giving up the system that has worked so well for me this year, even though I know I could easily change back again if I needed to.  Luckily, I still have over a month to decide what my system for the beginning for 2014 will be, and I certainly welcome any of your suggestions or ideas.

Have you tried the Bullet Journal?  Are you making any changes to your planner system for 2014?  Do you even use a planner, or do you survive without one?  Am I totally crazy to be spending this much time thinking about this?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pencil Review: PaperMate Earth Write HB

In my quest to discover more wooden pencils, I recently stumbled across the PaperMate Earth Write pencil in HB.  Unlike the other wooden pencils I have reviewed here, the PaperMate Earth Write is made from 100% recycled wood, making it an option if you're looking for a slightly more environmentally friendly pencil.  Although I think it's mostly an average quality pencil, I do have some mixed feelings about it.


The lead of the Earth Write is nice and dark, and, while it feels slightly scratchy on the page, I prefer a scratchier pencil for writing, so this doesn't bother me.  I  feel that the tip of this pencil started to wear down a bit fast for an HB pencil, but it's not a major issue; this pencil might be on the softer side of HB.  It also smudges very easily, which isn't great for writing.  Many of this qualities make the Earth Write better for sketching, but even there I feel that it might smudge a bit too easily.


The Earth Write is hexagonal, but it feels (to my hand) slightly narrower and the corners feel sharper than I'm used to, making it more uncomfortable to use.  It's also medium green, a suitable colour for a pencil that is claiming to be more eco-friendly, with silver lettering, .  I'm not sure what recycled wood is, but it still smells like cedar.  The green eraser is a nice touch, and actually worked very well, erasing even this darker lead cleanly.  And somehow the green eraser dust amused me far more than it should have.


Overall, the PaperMate Earth Write is not going to be one of my favourite pencils, although there are some things I like about it.  However, if you're looking for a basic pencil that you're not going to be too fussy about, you might as well choose one like this that's going to be a bit kinder to the environment.  I think that this would also be a decent pencil to get your kids for school.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Seeing the Big Picture: When Paper is Better Than Digital

I've read many posts discussing whether or not digital is better than paper, and whether computers will one day completely replace the traditional pen (or pencil) and paper.  I usually get bored with such posts, because I believe that both paper and digital have their benefits and drawbacks.  For some tasks, it's much faster and simpler to use a computer (or other device), while for others, it can still be more helpful to use paper.

I've been working on the revision of my novel sporadically over the last several months, but lately I was stuck.  I could see so many problems with the manuscript - scenes that needed to be shuffled around, characters that needed to be cut out, passages that needed to be rewritten - but the whole thing had become so large that it overwhelmed me.  I would open up the Word document, and stare at it blankly, aimlessly scrolling through pages, with no idea of how or where to start.  Before, I had been able to work chapter-by-chapter and scene-by-scene, but now the changes I needed to make were on a much larger scale and I was unable to see that larger scale on my computer screen.

After several days of this, I knew I had to completely change the way I was approaching things.  So I slowly went through the manuscript and typed up a detailed outline of my novel, one that identified and described every chapter, scene, and action.  This ended up being 17 pages long - still long enough to overwhelm me - so I printed it out, single-sided, and spread the 17 pages out in a circle on the floor.  I sat down in the centre of the circle, got out several dozen of my favourite pens and highlighters, and started at the top of page 1.


I used different colours of pens for the different plots and subplots in the novel, and for different chapters.  I crossed things out.  Highlighted things.  Circled entire scenes and wrote down the number of the chapter I would move them to.  Drew arrows indicating rising and falling levels of tension.  Wrote chapter summaries on the backs of the pages.  Jotted notes of things to change or add in the margins - sometimes writing diagonally and sideways.  When my mind went blank and I didn't know what to do, I doodled until something came to me.

And - most importantly - I could finally see the big picture of my novel.  I could see all 17 pages of my outline at once.  I didn't have to scroll up and down, I could glance from page 3 to page 9 to page 14 by simply turning my head, or lining up those pages in front of me.  Unless I had a computer screen as large as my floor, it would simply have been impossible for me to see all of those pages at 100% scale any other way.  Printing them out was my only option, and led to a complete shift in the way I was viewing my writing.

Plus, spreading all the papers out on my floor helped me to stop procrastinating.  Once they were on the floor, I had to keep working on them so I could clear off my floor again.  And using my favourite pens and highlighters and lots of bright colours made my task more fun than staring at a computer screen for hours.

While I will return to my computer to continue my revision, without the help of paper I don't know if would have been able to get beyond the point I was stuck at - and certainly not that easily.  I may very well have simply given up on the entire project in disgust.  Now, thanks to paper and my pens and highlighters, I can move forward.

When is paper better than digital for you?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Stabilo Boss Original Highlighter

The Stabilo Boss Original highlighter bears a suspicious resemblance to another highlighter I've reviewed here: the Staedtler Textsurfer Classic.  Both are short, flat, roughly rectangular-shaped highlighters that are refillable.  The Stabilo Boss is more tapered and slightly shorter, and lacks the Staedtler's clip and colour-coordinated cap.  The Stabilo is also a bit more expensive than the Staedtler.


For me, I've found that most highlighters work well enough, so I tend to be more fussy about their appearance and feel.  And I really like these flat highlighters.  They have a distinctive shape that makes it easy for your hand to find them if you're rummaging around in a crowded pen case, they don't roll off your desk, and they are comfortable to hold.  And I think they look kind of cool.

Comparing the Stabilo Boss to the Staedtler Textsurfer Classic.

I usually use highlighters over my own handwritten notes, so it's important that my highlighter does not smear the ink of my pen.  I tested the Stabilo Boss on a gel pen, Sharpie Pen, Pentel EnerGel, ballpoint, fine-point gel, fountain pen, and pencil, giving the inks several minutes to dry.  The only pen that really smeared was the 0.7mm gel (and in my experience, wider-tipped gel pens almost always smear with highlighters because they have the slowest-drying inks), so I would feel confident using this highlighter over most inks.

Highlighter inks never photograph well.  Don't pay too much attention to what the ink looks like, just look at the amount of smearing (or lack thereof)!

The Stabilo Boss highlighter also works well on the page of a textbook, with no bleedthrough to the other side of the page, and over inkjet ink.  I did notice a bit of smearing on the page fresh out of my printer, but nothing on the older page.  One thing I really like about this highlighter is that the yellow ink colour is bright and stands out very well on the paper, but it is not a fluorescent yellow.  Although I like the more fluorescent highlighter yellow, I also like this softer yellow because it is easier on the eyes and not as harsh.

Stabilo Boss highlighter on a textbook page, and over inkjet ink, old (top) and fresh out of the printer (bottom).

Overall, I really like the Stabilo Boss Original highlighter.  Although I do think I prefer both the Staedtler Textsurfer Classic and the Platinum Preppy highlighter over this one, that is simply my personal preference and doesn't necessarily mean that those are better highlighters.  I also love that Stabilo Boss is refillable (all of my favourite highlighters are).  I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a good highlighter.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Miscellany: Travel, Automatons, Washi Tape

Here are some links for this month's miscellany:

  • I've updated my index of pen, pencil, and paper reviews.  This used to be on two separate pages, one for pens and one for paper, but as I've started writing more reviews of other items, such as pencils and bottled inks, I thought it would be simpler to group it all onto one page, organized by category.  Feel free to browse this page and look through some of my older reviews!
  • Mike Dudek reviews the Lamy Vista fountain pen.  I have a suspicion that my next fountain pen is going to be a demonstrator.  Maybe not this Lamy, because I would like try some different brands, but... the Vista is a nice-looking pen.  And Mike's reviews are always great.
  • Quinn McDonald offers a few tips for travelling with art supplies.  When I travel, it's usually by RV, so I don't have as many limitations to the stuff I carry with me, but these are still some very useful tips that I will probably be able to make use of one day.
  • I don't usually write about letters or mail art here, but some of the things I love are vintage letters and postcards, such as this appealing pair.  This post also reminds me that I have some vintage stamps and postcards that I should share on here one day.
  • A wonderfully lengthy and detailed post from Daisy Yellow on organizing gouache and watercolour paints.  I love this kind of organization; it's obsessive and geeky and very fun.  I don't own any tubed paints, but when/if I do, I will do this!
  • I saw the movie Hugo last year (aside: I rarely see movies, so whenever I do, it is a Big Event), and I was fascinated by the automaton that played a major role in the plot.  Well, here is a video of a real-life automaton that I think is even neater than the one in the movie.  The attention to detail is amazing: his handwriting is beautiful as well as readable, and I love how even his head and eyes move to follow the motion of his hand.
  • Angela shares a neat idea for covering notebook spines with washi tape.  Not only does this make your notebooks look nice on the shelf, I think you could also write on the washi tape to label your notebooks if you didn't want to write on the notebook itself.  I'm rather embarrassed that I still don't own any washi tape, but this is yet another reason for me to buy some!
  • Finally, I'm loving the pages from Mary Ann Moss's Amsterdam sketchbook.  Her pages always make me want to travel just so I can have an excuse to keep a travel journal.

What have you been enjoying reading about lately?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Growing Wooden Pencil Collection

I never used to use wooden pencils.  I gave up on them in elementary school, believing that they were always dull, always needed sharpening, and always broke when being sharpened.  I switched to mechanical pencils, and then to pens.  But then when we moved to town a few years ago, I started taking walks that led me through the yard of the nearby middle school.  And all around the ground were wooden pencils - neglected, forgotten, broken into pieces, soaked with rain.  I felt sorry for them.  So I started picking them up.  I sharpened them and found them new homes.  I took photos of them and wrote about them here a couple of times.  I began to think that maybe I should even start using them.  I cautiously asked readers for their pencil recommendations, and based on those recommendations I bought myself a Staedtler Lumograph in 2B.

But that pencil scared me.  I realized that I hadn't used a wooden pencil in years.  I hardly even knew how to use one.  Would I write with it?  Wasn't that what all my pens were for?  I never took my Lumograph out its package and stuffed it away in a cupboard so I wouldn't have to think about it, even though I kept reading blogs like Pencil Revolution and Pencil Talk.  Then in 2012 something happened: I realized that I was ready to start using wooden pencils.  I was still a bit scared of them, so I started with the least intimidating pencil I could find, the Dixon No.2/HB, the most common of the pencils I had found in the school yard.  Then I remembered my poor Lumograph hidden away in the cupboard and I brought it out and discovered that I could sketch with pencils too (well, somewhat, anyway).  Then the Dixon and Lumograph started to bring friends home, and I ended up with a collection that looked something like this:

Top to bottom: PaperMate Classic HB, Faber-Castell PITT Charcoal Soft, PaperMate Earth Write HB, Sanford Mirado HB, Earthzone Recycled Pencil HB, Staedtler Mars Lumograph 5B, Artex Company No. 731, Sanford Design Drawing 3800 6B, Dixon Ticonderoga HB (yellow), Staedtler Norica HB, Grumbacher Sketching Pencil 4B, General's Kimberly B, Dixon No. 2/HB, Dixon Tri-Conderoga HB, Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2B, Mitsubishi Uni F, Eckerd Quality Pencil No.2, Rhodia Pencil, Dixon Ticonderoga HB (blue), Grumbacher Charcoal Hard, Faber-Castell Castell 9000 4H, Eagle Mirado-174 B.

That's not quite all of them.  I have some doubles of these, and a few others that I forgot to include, and a whole jar full of found pencils still waiting for new homes.  But that photo should give you a good idea of what my current collection looks like.  I've found most of these at the thrift store, which means that many of them are older pencils or pencils that are no longer being made.  Some of them I found in the school yard.  And a few of them I even bought new.

I love them all.  Whenever I come across a wooden pencil I don't already have, I have this strong urge to pick it up and hold it tightly and carry it home with me.  For whatever reason, pencils have a charm for me that pens, even fountain pens and inks, just don't.  They seem friendlier, somehow.  Homelier.  More comfortable.  You can always count on them to write.  You don't have to worry about the ink drying up, or about tricky issues like feathering, bleed through, drying times, fading, or waterproofness.  You can break them in half and they still write.  You can forget about them for a decade or two in the back of your desk drawer and they'll still write.  If you take notes in pencil, you can count on them to last, unless someone burns them or goes after them with an eraser.  You can't always count on that with ink.


And yet when you use a pencil, you are in fact using it up.  The ink in a pen may run dry, but you still have the body of the pen, which you can choose to keep, refill, or dispose of.  But as you use a pencil and periodically sharpen it, the pencil itself disappears, until all you are left with is a tiny nameless stub.  And pencils are usually made of wood, a material that decomposes more readily than metal or plastic.  For these reasons pencils seem more ephemeral than pens, and I find myself more reluctant to use them.  I am much more of a collector of pencils than I ever was of pens.  I never bought a pen that I did not intend to use, but I have still not quite gotten into the habit of actually using my pencils regularly.  I think that may improve as I acquire more of them, and each individual pencil hence becomes slightly less precious, but I also think that there will always be a few pencils that I will not use, or will use only rarely, pencils that I will simply keep and admire and add to my ever-growing collection.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ink Review: Diamine Meadow

I have started my journey into fountain pen inks with an ink that I suspect will remain a favourite: Diamine Meadow.  This is a bright, happy yellow-toned green ink.  Not a lime green.  Not a dark green.  Just a nice medium green.  "Meadow" is a good name for it; think grass, leaves, springtime.  It's also almost exactly the same colour as my 2012 limited edition green Lamy Safari.  This is one of favourite colours EVER, so finding it in ink form makes me very happy indeed.


Even if you're not as much of a fan of green as I am, Diamine Meadow is still a nice ink.  For one, it has gorgeous shading, even with a fine nib.  I can imagine that it would be absolutely amazing with a broad or italic nib.  I have noticed, however, that it shows different amounts of shading on different papers.  It's beautiful on Rhodia, for example, but more muted on the rougher (and probably more absorbent) Paperblanks paper.

Diamine Meadow in a Paperblanks journal.  Lines of poetry from "Sometimes" by Hermann Hesse.  The ivory colour of the paper also makes the ink appear slightly yellower.

Diamine Meadow also does not bleed or feather, and is even well-behaved on cheaper papers.  The ink looks darker when the ink is wet, and dries to a lighter, brighter shade of green.  Because I am new to fountain pen inks, I find it difficult to judge whether this is a wet or dry ink, but I certainly have no problems with the flow in my Lamy F nib.  It does not skip at all, but the ink also does not seem excessively inky.

See how nicely this ink matches my Safari?  I love that.

The only potential problem I have found with this ink is the dry time.  On Rhodia, it took over 20 seconds to dry completely.  Dry time is not really an issue for me, so this is not going to make me love this ink any less, but it could be a problem for some.  Keep in mind as well that dry times will probably be faster on more porous papers.  Rhodia has a very smooth finish, which means that inks will dry more slowly on it.

This is a scan of my writing sample, not a photo.  I hope that by including a scan as well as photos of the ink on two different papers, I can give you a more well-rounded (if not 100% accurate) impression of the ink's colour.

Overall, Diamine Meadow is a beautiful and well-behaved green fountain pen ink.  If you're just getting started with bottled inks or if you're looking to expand your collection of ink colours (or if you're looking for a green ink to match your green Safari pen!), then I highly recommend Diamine Meadow.  I think this ink will become a favourite, and I can see myself buying a full bottle of it in the future.  I am very happy with my first fountain pen ink, and I am looking forward to trying more colours!

Related reviews: Ed Jelley, The Five Cat PENagerie, Ink of Me Fondly, Inkdependence.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blue Pen Comparison

As a follow-up to my green pen comparison, here's a comparison of the blue pens currently in my collection:



I'm not usually a fan of blue ink, but because blue pens are so ubiquitous, it's been impossible to avoid acquiring quite a few of them.  The Bic ballpoint, which must be the most ubiquitous of them all, writes with what I consider to be the default blue ink, somewhat similar to the blue colour of denim: it goes with everything, but isn't particularly exciting or helpful if you want to make a more unique style statement.

Because of that, I tend to prefer the blues that are the most different from the default.  The sky blue Pentel Slicci is probably my favourite on this list: it's a bright turquoise-y blue that is also dark enough to read easily, even with that fine of a line width.  Another favourite is the blue of the Sharpie Pen (the RT version in this post); on its own, it looks fairly standard, but when compared to other blues it looks slightly greenish.  The Centropen Liner's blue is similar to that of the Sharpie and writes with a finer line, but it is certainly not as widely available in North America.  The lavender purple Dong-A Miffy is not quite blue, but then it's not quite purple either, and it is also one of my favourites, partly because it is so different and helps to fill that elusive gap between blue and purple.  My other favourite is the greyish blue of the Pilot FriXion Point, even though I've now realized that it's actually quite similar to the Bic ballpoint blue.

The only blue on this list that I really don't like is the aqua Staedtler Triplus Fineliner; it's simply too light for me.  I don't usually want a deep dark blue colour, but the Pilot Hi-tecpoint V5 or the royal blue Fineliner would be good choices for that, or the blue Pentel Slicci if you want something with a finer tip.

Do you like to write in blue?  What are your favourite blue pens and inks?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pencil Review: Mitsubishi Uni F

I recently came across this Mitsubishi Uni pencil at the thrift store.  I can find little about this specific pencil online, but I'm guessing that it's a close cousin to the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni - a well-known pencil from Japan - since it looks almost identical, except that it is printed with "Uni" instead of "Hi-Uni."  Regardless, I am certainly impressed with this pencil and I think that it may become one of my new favourites (okay, I seem to be saying that about almost every other pencil I review these days, but honestly, I love them all).


This pencil also happens to be in the grade of F, which places it between HB and H in terms of hardness - a touch softer than HB, but still relatively dark.  (The F stands for "fine", because this grade - being harder - could hold a sharp, fine point better than HB pencils.)  Japanese pencils generally tend to be softer and darker than their European or North American counterparts, and I think this pencil might actually be a bit softer than some HB pencils I own.  I am fairly sure that this is the first Japanese pencil I have used.

Writing sample with a somewhat marginal sketch of a potted house plant.  And if you're wondering what the dragonfly is doing on a house plant, it's actually a glass plant stake.

I really love this pencil.  The lead is smooth on the page and not scratchy, but not too smooth.  It's not too dark and not too light.  Not too hard and not too soft.  Hexagonal rather than round or triangular, and with the corners rounded off just enough to be comfortable.  It works well for both writing and sketching.  It really is just about perfect.


I'm keeping this review short because I'm not sure if you can even buy this pencil anywhere, but if the Mitsubishi Uni is anything like the Hi-Uni, then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Hi-Uni based on my experience with this pencil.  And I will definitely be adding the Hi-Uni to my list of pencils I need to try.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Next Step: Lamy Z24 Converter

I recently decided to take the next step with my Lamy Safari fountain pen and venture into the world of bottled inks, so to get started, I bought a Lamy Z24 converter.  If you own a Lamy Safari, Vista, AL-Star, Joy, or Nexx fountain pen, then the Z24 is the recommended converter that you will need if you want to use bottled inks with your pen.  (However, if you don't want to buy a converter, you can also refill empty ink cartridges with a syringe.  I haven't tried this method yet.)  This post is not going to be a review of the Z24 converter, but more of an introduction to using it and getting started with bottled inks.

Here is what the Z24 converter looks like before it's inserted into the pen.  The red end is the part that you'll twist to draw ink up into the converter.  It has the Lamy logo on it to match the pen.  And (hard to see in this photo), the converter also has two tiny nubs on either side of it - you'll need to use these when you're inserting it into the pen.


But before you start loading up your pen and converter with ink, you'll first need to clean your pen.  If you have a Lamy pen, you'll need to do this even if your pen is brand new, because Lamy tests all of their pens with ink right out of the factory.  So even if you've never used your pen before, there is still likely some ink in the nib and the feed that you'll need to clean out.  And you'll definitely need to clean your pen if you've used the ink cartridge and maybe let some ink dry in there (oops, that would be me!).  With a cartridge/converter pen like the Lamy, you have two main options for cleaning your pen: by drawing water in and out of the pen repeatedly with the converter OR by flushing out the pen with clean water using a bulb syringe.  (The links above are to a pair of videos by Brian Goulet from Ink Nouveau, and you should check them out if you need to see how to clean your pen with either of these methods.)

Cleaning with the converter (left), a very slow, tedious process if your pen is as inky as mine was inside, vs. cleaning with a bulb syringe (right), a much faster method.  Note: I'm not actually using the bulb syringe in this photo, just demonstrating how I would hold it to flush water through my pen.  I would have needed at least three or four hands to take a photo while flushing the pen, and I only have two :)

I highly recommend that you buy a bulb syringe (which you may also find being sold as a "nasal aspirator" in the baby supplies section of your drugstore) and clean your pen that way, because the first method gets very tedious very quickly (unless your pen is brand new or doesn't need much cleaning, or if you want to waste an entire afternoon cleaning one pen).

Once your pen is clean, then you can insert the converter (if you haven't done so already to clean the pen).  Line up the nubs on the side of the converter with the small notches on the pen and push it on.  This will ensure that the converter is securely attached to your pen.  (Writer's Bloc has a more detailed post (with better photos) of how to install your Lamy converter.)


Now comes the fun part: loading up your pen with ink!

With the converter, it's very easy to do (much easier than I was expecting; for some reason I expected the entire process to be much more complicated than it was, which was partly why I kept putting off  buying my first bottled inks).  Just submerge the nib of the pen in the ink, and twist the piston (using the red end of the converter) to draw ink up into the pen.  You can fill your pen completely full with ink or just partly full.  If you fill it fuller than you want, you can twist the piston back the other way to remove the ink again.


After you've filled your pen with ink, use a paper towel to wipe any excess ink off the pen, and then start writing!  The ink I filled my pen with for this example was Diamine Meadow, a lovely bright green that's a good match for the green body of my Lamy Safari, and this will be the first ink I'll review here later this month.


Overall, I am happy with my first experience using the Lamy Z24 converter with my Lamy Safari fountain pen.  Once I become a bit more comfortable with the process (and don't need to be taking photos of every step!), I think that it should take me only a few minutes to flush out my pen and load it up with a new ink colour.

The main disadvantage to using the converter is that the converter has a much smaller ink capacity than the Lamy cartridges do.  This is why some users prefer to refill their old ink cartridges with a syringe rather than using the converter.  I may try this method in the future, but ink capacity is not something that I'm really concerned about at this point, so for now I am happy with the converter.  If you are interested in that method, Brian Goulet has made a video on it.

Other than that, I would definitely recommend a Lamy pen and a converter if you're looking to get started using bottled fountain pen inks.  It really is a very easy and pain-free process and there's nothing to be intimidated about.

Related post: comparison of the Z24 and Z26 converters.
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