Monday, March 29, 2010

Uni-ball Jetstream 0.7mm Black

The Uni-ball Jetstream, which I suspect will be familiar to many of my readers, has become a recent addition to my ever-growing list of favourite pens.  It is a rather stylish looking pen, but in an understated way: sleek, smart, and professional are adjectives that come to mind.

The aspect of the Jetstream that I am most thrilled with, however, is the way it writes, combining the feel of a ballpoint with the smoothness of a gel pen.  Almost every time I have picked up this pen to write with, I have thought to myself, "Wow, this pen writes smoothly."  Although I have the 0.7mm version, the width of the line is comparable to that of a 0.5mm gel pen (such as the Pilot G-2).  The black ink does not stand out for any particular blackness, but is perfectly acceptable.

If all of that wasn't enough, the Uni-ball Jetstream feels very comfortable to write with: not too thin, not too thick, not too smooth, not too squishy, and no sharp edges.

The only issue that I had with this pen was the colour of the pen body, which is dark blue, while the colour of the ink is black.  I find this a bit confusing, but it is clearly a very minor issue.  Other than that, I love the design and the writing ability, and would recommend this pen to anyone, particularly someone who likes ballpoints.  I never thought I would like a ballpoint pen this much!

Related review: The Pen Addict

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Sketches

I went for a walk on Saturday, the spring equinox, and ended up at the horticulture garden on campus with my sketchbook.  It was a good day for sketching: not too cold, filtered sunlight, and a breeze that was not strong enough to ruffle the pages of my sketchbook.

I had already added the knotwork drawings to the pages, which made fitting in the sketches more challenging.  It also made starting to sketch less intimidating, as there was already something on the page.  I am still very new to sketching and drawing, so please be kind in your comments!

The sketches were done with Staedtler Triplus Fineliners; the knotwork patterns with Sharpie Pens.  For the curious, the title "South Bench" in the second page spread refers to the fact that there are three benches in the garden, at the north end, in the middle, and at the south end.  Obviously I was sitting on the southern bench while I worked on this page.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In the Pencil Case

This is going to be a quick look at the pens (and other items) that I have in my pencil case these days.  They are not necessarily my favourite pens, but are simply the pens that I find myself using most frequently, mainly for school-related purposes.  From left to right:
  • Mechanical pencil - I've had this pencil for years and it's getting fairly worn and tattered, but I can still make out the writing on the side, which reads "Pentel 120 A3 DX 0.9mm."  I'm not a big user of pencils generally, and I would prefer 0.5mm, but I have this one and it works, so I'm going to use it.
  • Sanford Speederase - I love this eraser.  Not only is it much more convenient to use and to store in my pencil case than a block eraser, but it also erases very cleanly.
  • Extra leads for above-mentioned pencil - These are also by Pentel, and are HB.
  • Pilot Dr. Grip with a red ballpoint refill - I have a suspicion that the refill in this pen is not by Pilot and was not originally intended for this pen.  This is my last ballpoint pen, and when it runs out I will not be sorry.  I mainly use it for writing drafts of blog posts.
  • Pilot FriXion Color-Pencil-Like Erasable Gel Pen 0.7mm purplish red - I use this pen for note-taking, mainly to add some variety of colour to the pages.  It does come in handy sometimes to have an erasable pen, but for some reason the 0.7mm of this pen feels wider than it is, and that, combined with some issues I have with the design, prevent me from really enjoying it.
  • Uni-ball Signo Gel Grip 0.7mm blue - This is my basic note-taking pen that I use for the majority of my notes.  Generally smooth writing, occasionally the ink flow seems to slow down and the pen becomes somewhat scratchy.
  • Staedtler Silver Ball 404 0.3mm pink - This is the last of a set of pens that I bought about 7 years ago, which shows you how I like pink the least of all colours.  These pens are fairly decent rollerball pens, but I would probably not buy a set again.  I use this pen for words that I want to stand out on a page, but it is not ideal on thin papers as the ink will bleed through.
  • Pentel Slicci 0.3mm sky blue - I own several colours of the Pentel Slicci, but the sky blue version has found its way into my pencil case mainly because I have two of them.  Because of its fine point, it is good for adding notes in the margin or in situations where I need to write fairly small.
So, what's in your pencil case?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5 Blue

A friend of mine loves liquid ink pens and will not use any other kinds of pens (I keep trying to convert her to fine point gel pens, but I haven't succeeded so far), so I thought I should try one out myself.  My university bookstore has a fairly wide selection of liquid ink pens, making a decision difficult, but I eventually settled on the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5 in blue.

First of all, I really enjoy writing with this pen.  I love the 0.5mm needle point tip, and I love how the rich blue liquid ink effortlessly glides onto the page.  But, I am not so impressed with how it behaves on certain papers.  (Keep in mind that I do not own all that many different papers to try it on.)  On the 80g Rhodia paper that I used for my written review, there was some minor feathering and showthrough.  When I used it on the paper in my Paperblanks journal there was no showthrough, but still some minor feathering.  On standard looseleaf paper like that I use for taking notes in school, there is more noticeable feathering and some bleedthrough.

Clearly, the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint is not ideal for all papers, and it will probably not become one of my everyday pens.  But if you are not planning to write on the back of the page and you don't mind the feathering, then these issues might not be a problem.

The pen itself is fairly basic: sturdy metal clip, smooth plastic grip, barcode printed directly onto the body of the pen (which always annoys me).  The dark section behind the "V5" is in fact a translucent window that allows you to see the ink inside.

If you're looking for more things to read on pens and paper, head over to Pocket Blonde for the latest Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper.  As always, check out the carnival home page at Notebook Stories.

Related review: On Fountain Pens

Friday, March 5, 2010


If you are an avid reader like me, then you can probably always use some extra bookmarks.  Bookmarks can become lost, ripped, or wrinkled, or you simply may prefer using a variety of different bookmarks (perhaps even matching your bookmark to your book).  If you also have a pile of scraps of coloured and patterned paper that you can't bear to throw away, then you can have fun making your own bookmarks.

How to Make Bookmarks
  1. Decide what size you want your bookmark to be.  7" x 1 3/4" seems to be a good size, but you will also need to take into account the size of the book that you plan on using your bookmark in.
  2. Choose paper - any kind will do.  If it is too thin, glue it to a piece of cardstock.  Cut to the desired size.
  3. Decorate as you please, with stickers, gel pens, markers, collage, etc.  Don't use materials that could get caught on something or damage or rub off on the page of the book.  Add silly book-related phrases, if you like: "Live to read, read to live."
Handmade bookmarks make excellent gifts for fellow bibliophiles.  Here is one of my bookmarks in action:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rite in the Rain Notebook

My university bookstore has a fairly wide selection of Rite in the Rain notebooks; I'd been looking at them for a while but finally purchased one last week.  Rite in the Rain paper is a great product that allows you to write in all weather conditions, and is available in many formats: loose sheets of paper, stapled notebooks, spiral-bound, hardcover, lined, graph, columns, and more.  They are targeted at people who are working outdoors and need a notebook that will stand up to any sort of weather.  I chose a stapled notebook, as the hardcover books cost a bit more than I was willing to spend.

The stapled notebook feels very sturdy and durable.  The logo and name of the book are boldly displayed on the front cover; while some people may not care for this, I rather like it, as I feel it adds to the character of the book.  The inside front cover has space for you to write your personal information, as well as a description of the project you are working on, if you are using the book for a particular project.  The edge of the inside front cover has a 6-inch ruler, the back cover a metric ruler - a practical touch for people working out in the field.

The pages are numbered and the first page has space for you to create a table of contents.  As someone who frequently numbers the pages in my notebooks by hand and creates tables of contents for them, I wish more notebooks came with this feature.  The white pages are ruled with blue lines and have a slightly waxy feel.

The back cover bears the motto, "Outdoor writing products...for outdoor writing people," and reminds you to use a pencil or all-weather pen when writing in your Rite in the Rain notebook.  Not being sure what exactly constituted an "all-weather pen", I decided to test a variety of pens in the notebook to see how they behaved.

I tested 0.9mm pencil, a ballpoint pen (I'm afraid I don't know what kind it was), a Sharpie pen, two gel pens (a 0.7mm Uni-ball Signo Gel Grip and a 0.4mm Pilot Hi-Tec-C), and a liquid ink pen (a Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5).  All of the pens, except the ballpoint, took a long time to dry, with the liquid ink pen and the Uni-ball Signo being the worst.  To simulate rain, I sprayed the page with water.

The Hi-Tec-C virtually disappeared, the liquid ink pen turned into a puddle of blue, and the Signo and Sharpie Pen also seemed to dissolve a bit into the water.  The ballpoint seemed to stand up to the water fairly well (and the pencil did as well, of course).  I blotted the water away:

To my surprise, all of the pens but the Hi-Tec-C were still readable.  However, probably in conditions of sustained rainfall, all pens would eventually wash away.  Ballpoints could probably be used if you were only expecting slight or occasional rainfall.  Even if the book was not going to be getting wet, the slow drying time involved would render use of any pen other than a ballpoint impractical.  Probably best to stick to a pencil.

I had used Rite in the Rain paper in the past, and thought that I could recall pencil lines being difficult to erase on the paper.  So I tested it out:

Not great erasure, but not terrible either.

If you write outdoors in wet weather frequently, then a Rite in the Rain notebook could be a very useful item to have.  Being a natural resource science student, I can certainly foresee myself needing to make notes or record data outdoors, so having a notebook that I will not have to worry about getting wet will be helpful to me.

Related reviews: Pencil Revolution, East West Everywhere, Gourmet Pens, The Pen Addict, Black Cover
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