Monday, December 27, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Phil, you are the lucky winner of the Sheaffer fountain pen giveaway.

Please contact me at to claim your prize. You have until December 31st to contact me, or a new winner will be drawn. Please include your mailing information, and I will get that in the mail to you shortly.

I will have additional giveaways in the near future, so become a follower for future posts and giveaways! 


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Zebra Penpod, I will miss you.

Dear Pen Section of My Zebra Penpod,

       I know not why you left or where I went wrong. We had so many good times together. You were always there for me when I was without a writing instrument. You saved me in so many instances when I needed to take down that phone number, that book recommendation, that lofty thought, that stolen recipe. Your blue ink was smooth and vibrant. Your size was convenient. You were there with me just as often as my car keys, and now it is all over. I last saw you the other day, but I do not know where you have gone. I will miss you, always. And I hope that I can one day find you...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Field Notes Review

After spending over a month in my pocket, I would say this Field Notes graph notebook has held up pretty well.

To test the paper, I used a wide variety of instruments and inks to test show-through, bleed-through, feathering, and overall quality. As you can see, there was some feathering with the inkier pens.

Even with quite a bit of showthrough, the ink did not leave anything on the next page. 

The saddle-stitched binding has held up pretty well considering it has spent so much time being sat on. I've folded back the cover quite a few times, too. Overall, this notebook held up quite well - better than Moleskine, which has turned into pulp with the same abuse. 

The Field Notes notebooks are not a bad value. If you want something that is more fountain pen friendly, I'd go with a Clairefontaine/Rhodia pocket notebook but, given the price (3 for about $9.99 + shipping), they are a decent notebook. Because of the shipping costs, I'd consider signing up for their newsletter, and they will let you know when they have special offers. When I bought my 3-pack, which included a blank, a line, and a regular notebook, they added a free 3-pack of the graph notebooks, my personal favorite. 

They have a pretty cool website, too, so go check it out. Field Notes

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pilot VBall Extra Fine Purple

It is nice to find a quality product that is readily available at your local office supply store, but I almost want to boycott these stores until they learn to optimize their selection. This pen is available at most of the big chains, and, for the most part, I really like it. The ink does not work on all types of paper; many liquid ink pens are very wet writers and bleed much the same way as a fountain pen can. 

Regardless of this issue, this pen pretty much has everything else that I look for in a $2.00 pen. One thing that I did not note in the sample is that I love the look of the ink sloshing around inside the pen, and this is the same reason people love "demonstrator" fountain pens - it is just cool (and useful) to see what the ink is doing inside the barrel of the pen. 

I'd say this pen would be fairly agreeable for most preferences, but some people avoid liquid ink pens altogether due to the tendency for the ink to spread on the paper's fibers. At two bucks, I think this is easily worth the risk. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Schneider Topball 845 .5mm rollerball (green)

It is hard to beat a Pilot Precise for liquid ink rollerball pens, but I think this one is worth trying. Schneider is apparently a German company, and I can't think of a time when I've seen them in the store, but has them in their catalog. This green one came home from work with my girlfriend, so it may be more difficult to find the green color. You will notice from the images that there is some inconsistent areas in the lines but, overall, the pen is adequate, especially considering they are under $1 U.S. each. I would like to try some higher-end offerings from this company, so if you have any you are willing to trade, please contact me. One other point that I noted in the review is that this very much reminds me of the regular Uni-ball Roller or the Uni-ball Onyx - a cheap pen that does the job. Nothing more. Nothing less. 

Found these for sale online at
This pen reminds me of this Uni-ball pen

Let me know if you have any questions about this review. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pilot Neo-Gel .7 Black/Red/Blue

I am pretty familiar with most of items in the Pilot line, but never heard of, or tried, the Neo-Gels until my girlfriend brought them home from work today. Apparently these are common around her office, but I have not seen this in the big-box stores, and I have not heard much buzz about them in the pen community, either. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention, but I certainly don't feel like I missed much. These seem like a cheap G2, and everything about them feels like it is inferior to the G2, also.

  • The ink of the black seems very similar, but the ink in the blue and red feel more like a bad ballpoint than anything else.
  • The grip is a set of raised rings. They are a very basic grip, and I guess they serve the purpose of being a grip. 
  • The rest of the barrel is like a cross between a Sakura Gelly Roll and a Bic Crystal. Nothing noteworthy in this department. 
  • The end of the cartridge has the familiar yellow-orange goo at the end, but this doesn't result in a feeling like the G2.
  • The label 'Neo-Gel' and '07' point size are bold on the cap, but this hardly saves the performance or comfort of these mediocre pens. 
  • I might keep the black one around as a pen to loan out to others, but the blue and red are, essentially, worthless. 
I'm all about affordable pens, and even though these cost $1.09 U.S. on, I'd much rather spend a dollar more to buy a G2 and call it a day.

Pen: Pilot Neo-Gel 
Paper: Doane 8.25 x 11.75  This paper has been great, because it takes a variety of inks quite well, and there is less glare than glossier papers when I take photos.

Q: Have any of you tried these pens and, if so, what do you think of them?

Notebook Stories - Daycraft Giveaway

Nifty, at Notebook Stories, is having another giveaway. Go check out the cool Daycraft products Nifty has available to win. Click Here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sheaffer Fountain Pen Giveaway

My girlfriend and I like to try new restaurants and then hit thrift/antique stores from time to time; this is one of the fountain pens I picked up along the way. The pen is made by Sheaffer, which is based out of Fort Madison, Iowa. The nib is a fine point, and is stamped 'Made in USA.'

The closeups make the pen look like there are scratches or flaws, but it is just the dust clinging to it from static electricity, which is quite prevalent in Minnesota during the winter. The average temperature in Minnesota during this time of year is -15 F to 25 F. 

I do not know what model this is, but it appears to be an entry-level school/economy pen. This pen does not have a built in filling system - it is a cartridge/converter style pen. What's great about Sheaffer is that the cartridges have not changed in decades. You can buy the refills from Goldspot, Sheaffer, or many of the large office supply stores. The pen is in really good shape, but I do not know when it was made. It looks like it was probably the 70s. 

Since this blog is relatively new, I am going to let the giveaway go a bit longer than usual so that more people can get a chance to enter. 

  • Leave a comment on this posting to enter.
  • You are limited to one entry. Duplicate entries will disqualify you from winning.
  • You can enter any time between now and midnight, December 26th.
  • The winner will be selected using the Random Number Generator @
  • The winner will be posted on Monday, December 27th. 
  • For the time being, I will only be shipping to winners in the U.S., so I apologize to international visitors. Future giveaways will include international winners, but I am still trying to get this blog off the ground, so I appreciate your understanding. 
Good Luck!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pilot Varsity "Disposable" Fountain Pen

What was it that first got you into fountain pens? For me it was the Pilot Varsity. The Varsity is roughly $3.00 (U.S.), and it is actually available at most office supply stories, which is more than I can say for many of the interesting offerings out there. This pen sports a medium nib made of steel, and the ink that in it is Pilot blue. While the image above might not express how dark this ink really is, it is definitely one of the darker blues out there. The ink feathers a bit in my Doane notepad, but part of this is because of the medium nib, and it puts out a lot of ink. Doane is also fairly porous, so I typically don't use it for fountain pens unless I am using a fine or extra-fine nib.

The most exciting part of this pen, for me, is the fact that the nib/feed section can be removed to allow for replacing the ink. I have several ink samples that I wanted to try, and being able to use this pen as an eyedropper allowed me to play with the inks before deciding if I wanted to buy them. In addition, I have this beautiful ink called Noodler's Baystate Concord Grape and, though I love it, the ink is notorious for staining pens, as it did with my Lamy Safari converter. I highly recommend the ink for eyedroppers, dip pens, and pens that you do not care about, but don't ever put it in a clear demonstrator, unless you are looking to stain the pen on purpose.

While there are now other options out there for super cheap fountain pens, I think this one is good to have around to test more finicky inks, inks that you might have samples of, or for testing how the shading of an ink, which comes out more in a wet, medium nib than it will in a fine nib.

The bottom line is that these pens are surprisingly long-lasting disposable  eyedropper pens, and they will allow you to bring a fountain pen out-and-about without worrying too much if it is lost or damaged. If you are not ready to jump into the $10-25 price point, then this is a solid option if you want to see what fountain pens are all about.

Feel free to comment on your thoughts about this pen or whatever other fountain pens you first tried.

For more information about using this pen as an eyedropper, check out Seth, of Good Pens, tutorial on refilling the Pilot Varsity.

Paper: Doane 8.25" x 11.75" notepad
Pen: Pilot Varsity - available at JetPens or an office supply store near you.

Zequenz Giveaway at Notebook Stories

I love giveaways, and I know you do, too. So head over to one of my favorite blogs,
Notebook Stories, and enter to win a Zequenz notebook. I hope that I win one, but
there are a total of three going out, so go throw your name in the hat.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Images + Design + Posts

I am working on trying to improve the quality of my images, so any suggestions on close ups and lighting would be appreciated. I am getting too much glare or not enough clarity.

The design is another area I will be looking at changing soon. The current color scheme seems too drab, in my opinion. So I will be lightening that up, too.

If any one wants to see reviews that cover particular aspects or categories - so that this blog is not too similar to other blogs - please let me know.

Thank you to those that have visited as I try to make this a "favorite" in your bookmarks.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pentel Tradio EnerGel Combo .7

I've heard from several sources that the Pentel Tradio has a cult following, and I can see why. This pen has a variety of barrel colors, in both hard plastic and soft rubber. There are .5, .7, and 'fountain' (angled/chiseled felt), and ink comes in blue, red, and black. The ink is about as smooth and dark as it gets, as many will know from using the Pentel EnerGel line of pens.

There is an odd retro submarine window/bubble type thing in the cap, and I don't know what it does, but it looks cool. The clip is sturdy plastic, and seems like it will hang on pretty tight, but it is not very flexible, so it could break easily if over-exerted. The grip is a herringbone pattern and works pretty well, but it is not as good as the soft rubber of the regular EnerGels, in my opinion, because it is a hard plastic. The pen is, overall, pretty comfortable, and I think that if you like the characteristics that this pen offers, the $8.50 price tag (JetPens) is pretty agreeable. You should get a lot of solid writing out of this pen.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Copic Multiliner SP .3

This is the Copic Multiliner SP .3, which is Japanese in origin. The Copic line is well-known among artists for the  "copic" characteristic, meaning that the ink is resistant to smudging and smearing, and the marker states that the ink is waterproof. says that there are 10 different sizes, "ultra fine .03 to brush," which allows you to find just about any size you need, depending on the purpose in mind. There are also 12 different colors, but the one reviewed here is in black, my most frequently purchased color. I wouldn't mind trying the blue or purple, however. The pen itself looks great, and the cap stays posted pretty snugly on the back.

When I first tried this pen, I couldn't help not being reminded of the Sharpie Pen and the Sakura Pigma Micron. While Copic does make a disposable version of this pen, I try to avoid disposable pens in an effort to be a little bit more friendly to nature. The barrel of this pen was comfortable to hold, and the aluminum barrel looks cool, too. For $6.75  (JetPens), you get a modern, refillable pen that can be used for writing or art. It is easy to recommend this pen, and I think that most people can find a color, size, and purpose to really appreciate this offering.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Uniball Signo DX Brown Black vs. Zebra Sarasa Clip Tea Brown

Let me be very clear: Both of these pens are awesome, and I highly recommend that you try each of them. Depending on your preferences, you might like one more than the other, but it is hard to fault either of these options given the price.

  •  I did not experience skipping or any issues with the ink flow. Both pens have sharp lines and a similar line width. 
  • The colors are vibrant and are exactly what one might expect given the names of the color.
  • As a chocolate fan, the colors remind of milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Yummy.
  • The points are small, but the ink is bold and easy to read. While both pens are refillable, it might be difficult to find refills in these colors. But the pens are cheap, and you can try both for under $4.00 U.S. 
  • I prefer to use the DX when I am on the go, because I have a tendency to get ink  on my pockets and it bleeds through my pants, so the capped works better for me.
  • If you like retractable, the clip on the Sarasa is large and could easily grab a bunchof loose paper, a notepad, or a folder.
  • The paper shown here is a Doane Grid + Lines 8.25" x 11.75" notepad, a personal favorite, and the lines of the ink look great with the lines of the paper. I also like the way these brown inks look in Field Notes which has brown lines on the paper, complementing the colors of the gel ink.
  • You can get both of these great pens in a wide variety of colors so, if you don't like brown, you can go find whatever color you want.

Relevant Links:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lamy Safari + Noodler's La Couleur Royale

While the focus of this blog is economical selections, one must remember that value comes with getting the most out of your purchases. This is the Lamy Safari fountain pen fitted with a Lamy 1.1mm calligraphy nib, available on Jetpens. The main thing to keep in mind when spending $26 for a pen and $10 for a replacement nib is the value over time. Lamy guarantees their pens for the life of the pen, and they have been around for spell, so they know how to make a quality product. The pen itself is made of ABS plastic, and there is little concern for dropping it or carrying it with you in your pocket. This pen will last you, and there are dozens of reviews out there if you want to learn more about this pen. I chose the color charcoal, which is like a matte black, and the nib that came with it was an extra fine. If you want to dip your toes in the world of fountain pens, I'd say this is a good place to start. If you want to do it even cheaper, you could try a Platinum Preppy, which will be a later review.

The ink shown above is Noodler's La Couleur Royale - a rich, vibrant, deep purple - which has some bluish tones to it. The ink flows extremely well, and there is no feathering to speak of. Some credit must be given to the paper - my Rhodia Reverse Book, with 80 gsm graph paper. Some people do not like the grips on the Lamy Safari because of the triangular shape, which is meant to help position your fingers for a more ergonomic writing form, but I do not mind it. If you like trying new inks, or if you are a purple fan, then this Noodler's ink is a great buy. You will need to get a converter or learn to fill your empty cartridges if you want to try this ink in a Lamy Safari, but another option for you would be to get a pen that has a built-in ink system, such as a piston filler. Some pens, such as the Platinum Preppy, will allow you to convert them to an eyedropper, and there are many tutorial out there to do this, such as this article on Jetpens. But if you have any questions, please let me know, and I will be glad to help. 

TUL .5 mm needle point + Rhodia Reverse Book

This combination is excellent, but my camera phone may not do it justice. What we have here is the .5mm Needle Point Gel from TUL, the OfficeMax house brand of gel pens. They also make rollerballs, ballpoints, mechanical pencils, highlighters, and dry-erase markers. I have tried the rollerball, which wasn't too bad, but the ballpoint was nothing to write home about (or with). In terms of performance, this needle point is one of the best:
-The grip is comfortable and is nice and grippy, which it should be given the name.
-The needle point tip feels sturdy and has no flex.
-The ink is super black and I have yet to experience issues with smearing due to the drying time, which is not quite as bad as the Pilot G2 .7mm. The ink is also very smooth, and I have not experienced skipping at all.
-This pen is retractable, which may be good or bad depending on your preference.
-The value? You get a 4-pack of really great gel pens for about $6 U.S., which is a lot more than I can say for some of the other brands with this level of performance. 

Of course there is the paper which, in this case, is the Rhodia Reverse Book. The paper is incredible, and it is known for being able to handle wet fountain pens and sign pens with ease. The paper is 80 GSM and the Reverse Book includes 80 sheets. The paper is buttery smooth, thick, and is in graph, which is excellent for most of my purposes. One interesting aspect of this paper is the purple lines, which helps many inks show quite well with the contrast of purple and whatever other color that you're using. The one thing that suffers in this review is my camera, which is 5 mega-pixels, but the lighting situation needs improvement; I will work on this going forward. 

The bottom line is that either of this products would be a great choice, and if you haven't heard of either, then you're in for a treat.  

Dowdyism @ The Pen Addict also has a review of this TUL pen, which is what led me to purchase these pens in the first place. 
For more information on Rhodia, go check out Biffy Beans' blog
Biffy Beans also has an excellent blog called Spiritual Evolution of the Bean, which has a ton of great reviews, especially if you like to see fountain pen inks used to create great art. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010


This is clearly my first post. I have never had a blog before, so I need to get acclimated to all of the nifty tools, and then I will be more consistent in my blog postings. This blog will feature my perspective on a variety of office supplies, focusing on affordable pens. Obviously there are many blogs out there that cover this material, but there are never enough reviews to read, right? If you are like me, you have quite a few office supply blogs that you follow to satisfy your need to read more about everything related to office supplies - and those who are addicted to them.  I look forward to your feedback, so feel free to comment. Thank you for taking the time to stop by!