Friday, May 31, 2013

May Miscellany: Calligraphy, Sketches, Fountain Pens

How was your May?  It ended up being a surprisingly productive month for me.  I did a lot of prioritizing to identify my most important tasks to work on, and tamed my unruly to-do list so I could get more done.  Here are some links I've been enjoying lately:
  • If you're even slightly interested in calligraphy, you have to check out this gorgeous video.  The artist is using a Pilot Parallel pen in the video, and now I really want one of those pens as well!
  • Michelle shares some more lovely sketches of art supplies in her post on sketching from life.  For some reason, sketches of small, ordinary household items and art supplies really appeal to me.  I'm not sure why, but I have to start sketching again.
  • Mary reviews and swaps out nibs in the 2013 limited edition neon yellow Lamy Safari.  This pen would probably look nice next to my 2012 limited edition green Safari, but I don't think I'm really into neon.  The standard yellow Safari would probably be more my style.
  • Here's a useful time management tip to tame your to-do list: organizing tasks by effort.  My to-do list tends to be HUGE, and it can get overwhelming, so I've started doing a variation on this to identify the most important tasks.  I'll probably write a complete post about this at some point.
  • I love this piece of circular artwork by Alisa Burke.  I like how she placed the main design slightly off-centre.  It makes the end result look more interesting than it would if it were perfectly symmetrical.
  • Cole reviews the Pentel Pulaman "fountain pen" and ends up liking it, even though she is confused about what it really is.  Not a fountain pen, not a felt pen, but something else altogether...  I reviewed the Pentel Pulaman last December and I was also confused by it, even though it has become one of my new favourite pens.
  • Finally, No Pen Intended has returned!  This is one of my favourite pen blogs and one that you should check out as well if you don't really follow it.  The author has a great sense of humour, and every review includes her awesome sketches.  Her most recent review is of the Uni-ball Signo BLX gel pens - pens that I would probably love if only they came in 0.5mm.
That's all for this month!  Stay tuned for new posts in June, including a new pencil review!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bic Exact-Tip Roller 0.6mm

I normally wouldn't bother reviewing a pen that has been discontinued, but the Bic Exact-Tip Roller is different.  For one, it's got its own fan page on Facebook, created by users longing for Bic to make it available again (although the page hasn't been updated for two years).  And also it is a really great pen.  And since I recently came across a pair of these at a thrift store, I thought I'd quickly review them anyway.

The Bic Exact-Tip Roller is a chunky 0.6mm rollerball pen.  Because of the size of the barrel, I think it would be great for anyone with larger hands, although I also find it very comfortable to use.  It has a sturdy metal clip on the cap that you can actually clip onto things without worrying about breaking it off.  The grip is soft but not squishy, and I like its textured pattern of dots.  It also has a large and aesthetically pleasing window to show the ink supply, and, best of all, a needle-point tip!  I love needle-point tips on pens.

Showing the grip and needle-point tip of the black pen, and the ink supply window of the red.

At 0.6mm, the Exact-Tip Roller writes with a relatively fine line, and it is very smooth.  The ink does not feather, even on cheap paper, but it does bleed through.  Even on the 80gsm Rhodia paper there is a considerable amount of showthrough and some bleeding, although it writes so well otherwise that I can forgive some of that.  It reminds me quite a bit of the Uni-ball Vision, but I think the Exact-Tip Roller is a much better pen (it does not feather, whereas the Vision feathers on just about everything, and it writes with a finer line).  I love the black ink; it is very black and it really pops on the page.  The red ink is rather dark and may not appeal to those who like bright reds, but I like it, and I think it is more suitable for everyday writing than a bright red.

According to this post at The Pen Addict, Bic stopped making these pens in 2005, which means that the pens I have must be at least eight years old.  The fact that they write so well after all these years also impresses me.  Overall, I think the Bic Exact-Tip Roller is a great pen.  If they were still available, I wouldn't mind buying some more of them.  It seems like a better pen that the other similar rollerballs that I have used, the design of the pen is good, and I love the ink colours.  If you are lucky enough to come across one of these pens, it is definitely worth trying out.

Did you ever use the Bic Exact-Tip Roller?  Do you know of any other pens that may be similar to it?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Handwritten Post: The Story of My Pen and Paper Addiction

I didn't have a post planned for today, so I thought I would do something a little bit different, inspired partly by Kayte's story, and partly by the handwritten posts that I see from time to time around the web.  I tried to write more neatly than I usually do, so I hope you can read my writing.  You can find relevant links in the notes at the end.  Enjoy!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double-Sided Sign Pen

The Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double-Sided Sign Pen (wow, that's a mouthful!) wasn't a pen I had even heard of before The Pen Addict wrote a review of it earlier this year.  Brad's review was so positive and the pen itself looked so great, I knew I would have to try this pen out for myself.

The Pure Color-F is a double-sided porous-point pen.  The double-sided part is a bonus, because it's kind of like getting two pens for the price of one!  One tip is a medium 0.8mm and the other is an extra-fine 0.4mm.  The porous point is apparently extra sturdy to resist breakage and deterioration - something that can be a problem with these kinds of pens - but I have not yet used this pen long enough to really comment on that.

What I do know is that I love the way this pen looks.  The barrel is long, narrow, and boldly coloured to match the ink colour.  The name of the pen and the barcode are printed in silver, which make them more unobtrusive than they might otherwise be.  It has no grip, but I really love its minimalist look and bright colour.  The caps are translucent and both post on the ends.  Only the cap on the 0.8mm end has a clip.  The two caps look like they should be interchangeable, but they are not.  I think it would be nice if they were (I'd like to switch them around to put the clip cap on the 0.4mm end), but that's a minor quibble.

For some reason I find this far more entertaining than it should be: a cap posted onto a cap.

Both the 0.4mm and 0.8mm tips write very well.  I would describe the 0.8mm tip as more of a marker rather than a pen, simply because it lays down such a wide line (I actually think 0.8mm might be a bit of an understatement).  The 0.4mm tip is not at all scratchy, and writes very smoothly with a crisp fine line.  Both tips feel very firm, and not mushy.  I doubt that I will use the 0.8mm tip much for writing, as it is simply too wide for me, but I may be able to use it for doodling or colouring.  The 0.4mm tip, however, is just about perfect.

0.8mm and 0.4mm tips.  This photo also shows another detail I like: see those silver dots on the barrel next to the tip?  The large dots are on the 0.8mm end and the small ones are on the 0.4mm end, a quick and clever way to tell which end you are using before you uncap the pen.

I chose this pen in orange and yellow-green, and the orange is definitely my favourite of the two colours.  It's a bright, relatively dark shade of orange that is easy to read, even using the 0.4mm tip.  The yellow-green, however, is a bit of a disappointment, as it is simply too light for me.  It's fine when I use the 0.8mm tip, because then the pen is laying down enough ink to make it easy to read, but with the 0.4mm tip, it's simply too light and too fine to read easily.  That said, I'm not too upset about this - I knew I was taking a chance with the yellow-green, and I'm still happy with the performance of these pens.  (And the orange is awesome enough to make up for my disappointment with the other colour.)

For some strange reason, the orange ink looks lighter than it really is and the yellow-green looks darker.  Odd.

Overall, I love the Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double-Sided Sign Pen (but I do not love its long name!).  Although there are a lot of porous point pens out there, this one really stands out because it has an eye-catching design, comes in a multitude of colours, and is double-sided.  It's both fun and functional, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.  It's also very inexpensive, so there is no reason why you shouldn't give this one a try.  Many thanks to Brad Dowdy for bringing this pen to my attention!

Related review: The Pen Addict

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Old Art Journals Rediscovered: The Gluebook Journal

My gluebook journal was the largest journal I ever worked in.  It was an 11 by 14 inch spiral-bound sketchbook that began its life as something that I called a scrapbook - a book to collect images that appealed to me.  Over time and as the pages got fuller, I began calling it a gluebook, and then, finally, a full-fledged art journal, as I realized that the book had become more than a simple collection of images and more of an exploration into design and colour.  It is still a gluebook, however, as I restricted myself throughout to collage and pen work only, no painting.

Because my gluebook journal is also one of my thickest journals, it took me over two years to finish it, from the summer of 2010 to the fall of 2012.  It has a lot of pages, which made it difficult to pick my favourite page spread.  I kept coming back to this one, however, probably because it represents the time when my gluebook was starting to transition from a scrapbook to an art journal, and because it represents a nice mix of both found images and remnants of previous art projects.  The paper scraps include an old greeting card, cutouts from magazines, parts of calendar pictures, squares of scrapbooking paper, cardstock triangles, and stickers.  I also included a mandala that I coloured with pencil crayons (a leftover from the days before I drew my own mandalas, but simply found them online, printed them out, and coloured them) and a hand-mandala (or "handala") that I think I originally created way back in high school (a while ago, but I saved it).  (There were originally two hands; the other hand appeared in this earlier art journal page.)

Have you ever kept a journal that could have been described as a scrapbook or gluebook?  What sorts of things did you keep in it?

Other pages from this journal: The Scrapbook Journal; Checking In: Sketchbooks, Gluebooks, Art Journals; The Gluebook Becomes an Art Journal; Collage Tree.


Old Art Journals Rediscovered is a series of posts dedicated to rediscovering the art journals that I have created over the past four years. In each post, I will introduce you to one of my old art journals, and share with you one page spread from that journal - not the page spread that is the prettiest or the fanciest, but the one that speaks most clearly to me today. I hope that by sharing with you the evolution of my own art journals, you will feel inspired to start your own explorations with art.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sharpie Accent Highlighter

I've had this highlighter for years.  I originally received it as part of a welcome pack of freebies in my first year of university, which was... getting to be a while ago now.  So this highlighter certainly has held up well over the years, other than having some of the paint wearing off the barrel from general wear and tear.

The Sharpie Accent highlighter must still be popular today, because a quick search turned up a number of different styles.  The one I'm reviewing here is the Pocket model, and it is a fairly basic pen-style highlighter with a chisel tip.  It's a basic design.  Unlike some highlighters, it will fit easily into a pen case, which may be a plus for some users.  I like the combination of translucent and opaque plastic on the cap, but other than that, there's nothing too exciting here.  Let's move on...

Highlighting in a textbook.

The chisel tip still holds a point firmly after all these years, and has not turned mushy, so that is good.  I am not sure whether or not this particular aqua colour is still available.  If not, I wouldn't be upset, because I have always found that this colour is simply too dark for me to use for highlighting.  It appears lighter on the smooth paper of the textbook (see above), but on ordinary paper it looks darker.  Because of that, I've hardly ever used this highlighter as a highlighter (which is probably part of why it's lasted so long).  I currently use it for bold, bright check marks for completed tasks in my planner.  If I ever was to buy another of these highlighters, I'd probably steer clear of the darker colours and opt for a lighter shade.

The Sharpie Accent highlighter performed way better in the tests than I had expected.  For some reason, I thought that it always smeared ink, but that was not the case at all.  I let the ink from the pens dry for 5 to 10 minutes, then swiped the highlighter over top.  The 0.7mm gel pen smeared slightly, but everything else was perfect.  It also didn't smear the page printed on my inkjet printer (see below).  However, I think that these last two photos do show better how dark this highlighter's ink is.  I can still read through it, but for me, it's just too dark.

Overall, the Sharpie Accent highlighter is a better highlighter than I thought it was.  It's safe to use with most inks, although if you don't like dark highlighters, you may want to choose the lighter ink colours.  Or just use it in textbooks.  It's not a particularly exciting highlighter, and, while I doubt that I would seek out another one, it still gets the job done.

Related reviews: School Supply Dance, OfficeSupplyGeek.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Shades of Brown

Brown is probably my next favourite colour after green (although it may be tied with orange).  I would have compiled the shades of brown ages ago, but I thought I didn't have enough brown supplies for the photos. Though as it turned out, I did:

From left to right: wooden ballpoint pen; Pentel Slicci Metallic 0.8mm in Bronze; Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3mm Kurikawa (Chestnut Bark Brown); Sakura Pigma Brush Pen; Stabilo Pen 68 in Brown; Pentel Pulaman Disposable Fountain Pen; Staedtler Triplus Fineliner in Brown; Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell watercolour pencils in Venetian Red (it's actually a brown, despite the name) and Van Dyke Brown; a much-abused white nylon round paintbrush; wooden beads in a plastic case; brass leaf stencil; Prang ColorArt crayons.  Bottom: wooden ruler.
From left to right, bottom to top: Paperblanks Journal in Old Leather; Daycraft MyTravel Notebook; Field Notes Memo Book; box of 0.5mm Pentel Super Hi-Polymer HB refill leads; Laurentien pencil crayons; Fashion Dimensional Fabric Paint in Pure Gold Metallic.

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