Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pentel Vicuna Ballpoint Pen 0.7mm

I've been very behind in posts and reviews lately; in fact, I've only written two posts here yet this year!  I feel terrible about it, but have been so incredibly busy studying and working on my graduating essay for my 2nd last semester of university that I've hardly had a moment to spare.  That said, I've been using this pen for a couple of months now and thought I better get a review up for it before it runs out of ink!

My first impression of the Pentel Vicuna was that it was a very nice, smooth-writing ballpoint pen.  It did not skip and was certainly enjoyable to write with.  However, as I have used this pen more frequently, I have discovered that it is, unfortunately, prone to the occasional glob or blot of ink that I usually associate with much poorer-quality ballpoints.  Although I will not write the Vicuna off entirely for this fault, it is annoying, as well as disappointing.

Apart from the ink glob issue, I don't really have any complaints about the Pentel Vicuna.  It is retractable, which I normally don't care for, but in this case is redeemed by the very satisfying, faint popping sound the pen makes when I retract the tip back into the body.

The body of the pen is appealing and surprisingly comfortable to use, with a ridged grip that is slightly tapered towards the tip of the pen.  This is probably one of the more comfortable pens that I own.  The clip is made of clear plastic and is, as with nearly all pens, fairly useless for clipping onto anything more than a few sheets of paper.  The ink itself appears to be a fairly standard ballpoint blue, not particularly remarkable but perfectly serviceable.

Overall, I am pleased with the Pentel Vicuna.  If you are looking for a comfortable, smooth-writing, retractable ballpoint and you don't mind the occasional ink glob, then it may be the pen for you.  If you just can't stand ink globs, then you may be better off with the Uni-ball Jetstream.

Related reviews: Pocket BlondeDerek's Pens and PencilsThe Pen AddictOfficeSupplyGeek, Tiger Pens Blog,, Economy Pens.

In other news, my father recently bought a new camera, which means that I get his old one!  Although a couple years old, it allows me to take better close-up photos of pens than my old camera did, so don't be surprised if you see more photos in my pen reviews from now on.

Friday, February 4, 2011

PooPooPaper Notebook

PooPooPaper is an unusual kind of "recycled" paper made out of, yes, elephant poo.  As the back of the notebook helpfully explains, the digestive system of elephants does not break down the grass they eat very well, so their poo contains a lot of fibre and can be used to make paper.  While my notebook uses paper made of elephant poo, the PooPooPaper website also lists paper products made from cow, horse, and panda poo.  Products include notebooks, stationery, and other items.

The cover of this notebook lets everyone know you're using paper made of poo!
The paper itself is a creamy, off-white colour with bits of plant material clearly visible.  If it were not labelled as such, I would never have guessed that this paper is made of poo.

Does that look like poo to you?
The front of each page is quite smooth, while the back is fairly rough.  (Although the photo below makes the two sides of the page appear to be different colours, they are in fact the same colour; the difference is merely due to the different ways in which they reflect light.)  Although it is certainly has a different feel to it, PooPooPaper is not displeasing to write on.  None of my pens bled through, and showthrough was nearly non-existent.  Nearly all pens showed some (but not much) feathering, especially on the rougher side of the page.  The weight of the paper is not given, but it feels substantial.

Writing samples on the back (left) and front (right) of the PooPooPaper pages (click to enlarge).
The notebook itself feels very sturdy and well-designed.  It has a strong, double-coil binding and covers made of thick cardboard with rounded corners.  The front cover is proudly emblazoned with the words "PooPooPaper" while the back provides some information about the paper, claiming that it is a sustainable alternative to paper made from wood pulp.  (Note that while my notebook is spiral-bound, a number of styles and cover designs appear to be available on PooPooPaper's website.)

"We take the 'oo' out of poo!"
I am particularly struck by the shape of this notebook, which is almost square (17cm x 20cm), something that I find oddly pleasing.  Overall, this PooPooPaper notebook feels well-built and well-designed.  Personally, I do not see myself using it as a notebook for writing in, but I do think it would make an excellent future art journal.  I look forward to trying out different media in it, such as watercolours and pencil crayons.

The back of the page with the writing sample.  A slight shadow is visible, but nothing more.
Recommended for anyone who is interested in environmentally-friendly notebooks, or who just wants to try something that is a bit unusual.

Related review: OfficeSupplyGeek.
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