Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pen

The Pilot Petit1 has the honour of being only the second fountain pen ever reviewed at A Penchant for Paper.  (The first was the Platinum Preppy.)  I must admit that I am still somewhat intimidated by fountain pens.  Luckily, the Petit1 is about as unintimidating as a pen can get.

Capped (top) and posted (bottom).
The bullet-shaped body measures just over 10cm when capped, coming perilously close to being called a "cute" pen. I initially worried that a pen this small would be uncomfortable to write with, but it expands to nearly 13cm when the cap is posted and is actually not that bad, although I wouldn't want to use it for long periods of time and I wouldn't recommend it for those with large hands. One thing that I really appreciate about the design of this pen is that the barcode is printed on a sticker that easily peels off.  It always annoys me when an otherwise nice pen is marred by an ugly barcode printed directly on the barrel.

The nib of the Pilot Petit1 is marked with an "F", which presumably stands for "fine", although after writing with this pen I am beginning to suspect that it actually stands for something like "fat" or "full."  The nib is certainly not as fine as that of the Platinum Preppy, an otherwise similar sort of cheap, "disposable" fountain pen.  The Petit1 is also a much wetter pen than the Preppy, and tends to feather on most papers, even slightly on the paper of my Rhodia No. 11 Pad.
The business end.
One thing that I love about this pen is the dark green colour of the ink.  It is a much more distinguished and elegant colour than the brighter greens that are more commonly seen among pens.  The ink also shows some shading, which I always love in a pen.

Green ink!  I love it!
I think that some people have modified this pen as well as the Preppy to be used with bottled fountain pen ink so they don't have to rely on cartridges.  However, as this is approaching the intimidating side of fountain pens, I won't be getting into that here any time soon.

The Petit1 (top) looks like the little brother of the Platinum Preppy (bottom).
Overally, the Pilot Petit1 is a decent, inexpensive fountain pen.  If you're a bit nervous about fountain pens as I am, then the Petit1 is not a bad introduction, although if you prefer finer-nibbed pens you're probably better off with the Platinum Preppy.

Related reviews: The Pen Addict (1), The Pen Addict (2), Pen and Design (1), Pen and Design (2), Tyler Dahl Fountain Pens, No Pen Intended, East West Everywhere, Good Pens, From the Pen Cup, Potentially Percipicacious, UnpostedCrónicas Estilográficas, OfficeSupplyGeek.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rhodia Webnotebook Dot Grid

I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I opened my mailbox to discover this dot grid version of the Rhodia Webnotebook waiting for me, a sample from Karen at Exaclair.  Because I have already reviewed the orange-covered, unlined version of the Webnotebook, this will not be a complete review, but will instead focus on the unique features of the black-covered, dot grid version.  If you want more information about the notebook in general, check out the original review.

Black notebook in orange packaging.
As I mentioned, my new Webbie is black rather than orange, meaning that not only the cover but also the endpapers, back pocket, and ribbon bookmark are black.  I'm not used to seeing very dark endpapers in books so the black endpapers did come as a bit of a surprise, but overall this is a great-looking notebook with a somewhat understated appearance - not nearly as bold as the orange version.

Checking out the pocket.
However, the most exciting part of this notebook is the dot grid format of the paper.  I have never before used any paper in a dot grid format, so I was really looking forward to trying this out.  The dots are grey (therefore unobtrusive on the off-white paper) and 5mm apart - possibly a bit narrow for some but ideal for my small handwriting.  The dots run all the way to the top, bottom, and sides of the pages, with the pages being otherwise unmarked.

Unlined (top) compared to dot grid (bottom).
Just as with the unlined version, this dot grid version offers 90g Clairefontaine vellum paper.  Keep in mind that, as I described in my review of the Rhodia No. 11 Pad, the very smooth nature of this paper may lead to slow drying times for some pens and inks.

I tested a number of pens on this paper and, unsurprisingly, they all performed very well.  Only the Sharpie marker bled through the paper (is there anything Sharpie markers don't bleed through?).  The pens with darker ink and wider nibs showed some shadow on the other side of the page, while the Uni-ball Vision rollerball and Pilot Petit1 fountain pen (both very wet pens) showed minor amounts of feathering

The pen test.
The back side of the pen test.  Curiously, the paper appears a different colour in this photo.  It is in fact the same colour on both sides of the page.
I really love the dot grid format of this notebook.  The dots offer the look of a plain, unlined page, while also allowing you to keep your words lined up as if you are writing on lined or graph paper.  I usually prefer to write on unlined paper because I don't like the look of the lines, but sometimes find my writing meandering over the page, so this dot grid format really seems to offer the best of both worlds.

Although I probably prefer the orange cover over the black, the Rhodia Webnotebook is an excellent choice in any format.  I highly recommend it.

Related reviews: Stationery Review, Note Booker Esq., Whatever.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: 1,000 Artist Journal Pages

1,000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations by Dawn DeVries Sokol is a unique and valuable book on art journaling.  The book contains hardly any text, apart from a few introductory pages where contributors provide journaling prompts and their motivation behind journaling.  The bulk of the book is taken up by images of 1,000 pages that artists from around the world (but mostly from the United States) have created in their journals.

Probably more of the pages represent the complex, multi-layered, painting + collage style that seems to be most popular among art journalers today, but a great variety of styles are presented, from abstract pen-and-ink drawings to watercolour nature sketches to boldly coloured paintings.  Most artists are represented by more than one page, allowing the reader to get a feel for each artist's individual style.  These are indeed "personal" pages: in their journal entries, the artists complain and worry and question the directions of their lives, cross things out, scribble over their work, and make "bad" drawings.  These pages are not "pretty," finished works of art, but raw glimpses into the personal creative process.

I do not recommend 1,000 Artist Journal Pages for those who have never kept an art journal before.  The extreme variety of journal pages and styles presented could prove very intimidating to complete beginners.  Instead, I would recommend The Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn, which describes basic supplies and techniques for art journaling and is, I think, more approachable for beginners.  Diehn's earlier book, The Decorated Page, is also good, although not quite as detailed.

However, for those who have done some art journaling already, whether you've just completed your first journal or have been doing it for years, then 1,000 Artist Journal Pages is a great resource.  After flipping through the book a few times, I feel full of new ideas and ready to start creating some new pages in my journal.

Because so many different styles are presented in the book, it can help you to discover things about your own personal style.  For example, most of the pages that I have created in the past have been fairly busy, stuffed full of colours and images.  However, the pages I am most drawn to in 1,000 Artist Journal Pages are the spare, minimalist pages, with lots of white space and perhaps only one main image as a focal point.  I also noticed that while it is the colours and images that attract me to a page, it is the words that really draw me into the page and keep me looking at it longer.  My favourite pages had a nice balance of words and images, something that my own pages have often lacked, being either word-heavy or image-heavy.

Overall, 1,000 Artist Journal Pages is a great resource for art journalers, experienced or not, looking for further inspiration in their practice, although I do not recommend it for complete beginners who have never journaled before.  It is the kind of book that you could look at again and again and always receive more inspiration from.

4.5/5 stars

Friday, July 8, 2011

Journal Writing - Daily or Weekly?

I began my current journal on January 1, 2010 - I liked the idea of beginning a new journal at the beginning of a new year. I began by writing in my journal daily and, for quite a while, this worked.  I looked forward to opening up my journal late in the evening or early in the morning to jot down a few of my thoughts.  Because I typically write no more than a paragraph for each day, and because I have very small handwriting, I am still using the same notebook (a small unlined Quo Vadis Habana) over a year and a half later.

However, lately my journaling habits have changed.  Instead of eagerly writing every day, I find myself letting my journal sit untouched for days at a time and sometimes even forgetting to write altogether.  When I do return to my journal after a week or so, I feel guilty for not writing in it as regularly as I used to.  My feelings of guilt then make it difficult for me to write freely.  And because it has become so ingrained in me that this journal is a daily journal - and nothing else - I still end up writing an entry for every day, even though I'm only writing in it about once a week.

I can't switch from a daily to a weekly format until I move to a new notebook, and I can't move to a new notebook until this notebook is completely filled.  When this notebook is finished (which will be fairly soon), I will not keep a daily journal anymore.  As much as I love the idea of writing in my journal every day, it is just not working for me.  It would be better for me to write less often, but to look forward to writing without any feelings of guilt.

Do you keep a journal, or have you kept one in the past?  Do you write in your journal daily, weekly, or just whenever you feel like it?  Do you feel guilty if days or weeks go by without writing in your journal, or do you just shrug and let it go?  If you do write daily, what do you do to motivate yourself to write every day?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pentel EnerGel RT 0.7mm Red

I have reviewed a Pentel EnerGel before - the 0.5 mm, non-retractable, needlepoint version.  This version is a 0.7 mm, retractable, conical-tip rollerball.  Although similar to the 0.5 mm EnerGel, the 0.7 mm has its unique qualities as well.

To begin with, the Pentel EnerGel RT 0.7 mm writes very smoothly - I mean, seriously, this thing is smooth.  While many pens are described as "gliding across the page," the 0.7 mm EnerGel actually does.  And if you usually hold your pens with a death grip (as I do), then this pen might encourage you to lighten up.

The ink quality of the 0.7 mm EnerGel is very similar to that of the 0.5 mm, although the 0.7 mm version is a bit more prone to bleeding through thin, poorer-quality papers, probably because it lays down more ink than the 0.5 mm.  On Rhodia paper, there is some slight showthrough (and perhaps the tiniest bit of bleedthrough where I held the pen down at the beginning of a letter), and feathering is minimal on all papers.  The red ink is a very brilliant, deep colour - this is a seriously red ink, without a hint of orange or blue.

Unlike the 0.5 mm EnerGel I reviewed, this version is retractable.  The plunger seems to require a bit more force to push down than that of other retractable pens I have used, and the retracting mechanism makes a slight scratchy sound, but otherwise works fine.  This RT version also has a wider barrel than that of the non-retractable version, making it better for those who prefer fat pens.  The grooved rubber grip is identical to that of the non-retractable version, and is reasonably comfortable, but nothing special.  The metal clip is a different shape on the RT, and is sturdy but not flexible.

Pentel EnerGel RT 0.7 mm (top) compared with Pentel EnerGel 0.5 mm (bottom).

The Pentel EnerGel RT has a silver body with a coloured grip and accents, giving it a sleek, stream-lined appearance.  I have always found the appearance of the EnerGel pens rather attractive, and this 0.7 mm RT version is no exception.

While I enjoyed writing with this pen, the 0.5 mm needlepoint remains my favourite version of the EnerGel (and one of my favourite supplies of 2010); 0.5 mm is more suited to my handwriting, and I always love needlepoint tips.  However, if you have larger handwriting, or just want a smooth-writing retractable pen, then you should check out the Pentel EnerGel RT 0.7 mm.

Related review: No Pen Intended.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rhodia No. 11 Pad

The Rhodia No. 11 Pad is one of those items that has become so ubiquitous in my desk drawers, it is astonishing that I have not reviewed it before.  This is even more astonishing when you consider that this same paper pad has made an appearance in most of my pen reviews.  (The Rhodia pad first appeared in my review of the Uni-ball Fusion, a pen that ultimately proved disappointing; luckily, the pad did not disappoint.)

Rhodia No. 11 Pad posing with a Stabilo Bionic pen.
Let me first draw your attention to the size of the Rhodia No. 11 Pad.  At 7.4 x 10.5 cm, this small paper pad will fit with ease and comfort into nearly any pocket.  As for the cover, it is made of a durable coated material, attached with a single staple to the pages.  A stiff cardboard backing provides a firm surface to write on, and the front cover is cleverly scored to allow it to fold over the back of the pad:

The clever cover scoring in action.
These Rhodia pads are available in both orange and the more staid black.  Both covers wear the Rhodia logo prominently (and proudly) on the front cover.  The back cover contains information about the pad:

The back cover.  Ignore the gluey remnants of a price tag that I was unable to remove cleanly.
Opening up the Rhodia No. 11 Pad reveals the 80 sheets of 80 g gridded "high grade vellum paper."  (I'm not exactly sure what "high grade vellum paper" actually is, but it sounds impressive, right?)  The paper is very smooth and very white (wet pens dry slowly on this paper, a hazard that left-handed writers especially should beware of).  The grid is printed in violet lines, a nice contrast to the orange cover, although some purple, violet, or blue pens may not show up that well.  The squares are 5 mm, ideal for those with small handwriting.  The pages are perforated at the top of the pad, and tear off very cleanly.

Curiously, this photo makes the lines appear pale blue.  In fact, they are darker and violet.
All pens that I have tried perform very well on this paper (click through some of my past pen reviews to see even more writing samples).  Feathering and bleedthrough are minimal to nonexistent with most pens.  As seen in the writing sample below, the only pen that really showed any significant bleedthrough was, unsurprisingly, the Sharpie marker.  The Uni-ball Vision and Pilot V5 Hi-tecpoint showed slight bleedthrough; since you probably wouldn't be using the back of the paper anyway, none of this really matters.  The Uni-ball Vision showed some very slight feathering, but it was barely noticeable.  The only real issue that some might have with the paper is, as I mentioned earlier, drying time, especially with wet pens, although it hasn't bothered me at all.

The writing sample, front (left) and back (right).  Click to see larger.
The Rhodia No. 11 Pad is one of my favourite writing supplies (it even showed up on my list of top ten supplies for 2010).  It is, however, not perfect.  Rounded corners, for example, would give the pad a classier appearance, reduce wear on the corners, and improve comfort if you're keeping it in your pocket.  The violet grid could be a bit fainter, to conflict less with your writing (especially if you use fine-point pens with violet ink), although if the grid really bothers you, you might be better off checking out a pad with a dot grid.

The most annoying thing that I have found is that the cover, once folded back, never returns again to a perfectly flat position:

To solve this, I use a wide elastic band to hold the cover down and prevent the pages from flapping about:

This looks kind of ugly so I wonder if some sort of closure could be invented that would keep the cover closed?  But then again, any addition would likely detract from the classic simplicity that is embodied in the Rhodia No. 11 Pad, so perhaps it is better left just as it is....

Finally, happy Canada Day to all of my fellow Canadians!

Related reviews: Gourmet Pens, Pens 'n' Paper.
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