Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Doane Paper Leather Works Utility Notebook Cover

Mrs. Claus was good to me this year, and she came through with one of the items from my Holiday Gift Guide posting, the Doane Paper Leather Works Utility Notebook Cover. I wanted something that would protect my pocket notebooks so they don't get destroyed when I carry them around in back pocket for a weeks/months.

Opening the box revealed this card. Genuine leather? Sure! Handcrafted? Excellent! 

The leather for this product was sourced through Horween. If you go to their site, you can see that they take leather making very seriously. 

On the other side of the card, you get more information about Horween and the techniques used to produce the (exceptional) leather.

Alas, the notebook cover. The notebook features a light blue stitching reminiscent of Tiffany's blue. The leather is thick, soft, and just feels durable. The semi-dark brown looks classy and rugged. 

'made in the USA' is stamped on the back, which is rare to see these days. Do you see that stitching?!

The notebook cover includes one utility notebook. If you haven't tried Doane's paper products, they are excellent. I love the way the grid + lines layout offers a friendly way to switch between standard text and charting, graphing, and planning.

We have a lot of projects at home right now, so Doane is perfect for coordinating the to-do lists, supplies, and necessary time lines. During school, Doane serves me well on any assignments that I have, especially during the initial stages.

In short, it is easy to recommend Doane paper, and this Leather Works Utility Notebook Cover is exceptional. Go get one (when they are back in stock).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sharpie Pen Grip

When I first bought these, about a year ago, I had meant to review these immediately, but, alas, that did not happen. Staples had these as a buy-one-get-one, so I jumped on the opportunity to stock up.

These pens performed exceptionally well. The ink doesn't feather, bleed, and the ink barely shows through the other side of the page in this Ampad Gold Fibre notepad. 

The colors in this image are slightly more muted and brighter than the appearance of the ink in real life, and even the orange is very easy to read. The colors are exactly what I had hoped they would be. 

The torpeda shape of the grip section allows me to hold the pen as a choose, which is typically right next to the nib/point/tip. The grip section is very "grippy", and the barrel doesn't move at all as I write. 

The point is some sort of plastic and holds up very well against my heavy hand. I love the design of the barrel, the ink-to-paper experience, the grip, and the secure *click* of the cap. With the exception of the barrel scratching very easily, these pens are flawless. I absolutely recommend these, and I applaud Sharpie for this excellent product. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pilot Bravo

Sorry for the delay in postings; I just finished up another semester of grad. school, and I am very relieved it is over. So, I will try to post more frequently going forward.

A few weeks ago I made trip to my campus bookstore.  One of the items I picked up was this, the Pilot Bravo, a pen I had never before seen on any store shelf. This is the same store where I found the Alvin Penstix I recently reviewed. As it was sitting on the shelf, I initially thought it was a Pilot Varsity and, as you can see, the barrel and cap are quite similar to a Varsity.

The ink poured jet black on this Staples Bagasse notepad. The ink did not feather or bleed, but it did show through quite a bit on the other side of the page.

 I loved how dark and smooth the ink was, but I did not enjoy how sloppy it made my writing look - even if my writing doesn't look so great to begin with. 

The overall weight of the pen is fairly light. The barrel is thicker than many pens and is comfortable to hold. In my ink review, I classified this as a sign pen. It is somewhat like a regular Sharpie Marker, but it doesn't seem up to the heavy-duty work of a permanent marker.

I also noticed that the tip seemed to be losing its shape after just one page. I don't know how much life one could expect to get out of this tip, but maybe you don't mind if point conforms to your writing style.

Given how close this design to the Varsity is, I am curious about pulling out the cone/ink section to see if this could be used as an eyedropper. I'd like to give this pen away, so I didn't try it on this one.

So, a cool little pen, but one that I have little need for. I think people that love super bold points or people that like to make large sketches would dig this pen. Has anyone else ever used this one? I'd like to hear what your thoughts are.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Giveaway Winner Revealed!

Thank you to all who entered, but, as usual, there can be only one winner. That winner is:

Congratulations Melody! You have won the giveaway. Please contact me when you get this to claim your prize. For everyone else, stay tuned. I will have more giveaways coming up soon. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Economy Pens Holiday Gift Guide + JetPens Giveaway!

Brad, of The Pen Addict and JetPens, recently asked me if I would be doing a Holiday Gift Guide. I had not considered doing one, but I think it is a great idea. I've chosen a few of my favorites and several other items I desire to own, but overall I think most pen, paper, and ink fans would love to receive some of these. 

Make sure to pay attention to the end of the posting, because JetPens is sending out a $10 gift card to one person's comments on this posting. I will be adding to this list over the next few days, but I wanted to get it up so people could start commenting! And,without further ado, here is the first annual Economy Pens Holiday Gift Guide! 

This is the first, and only, brush pen I have used, but I think it is great fun to use. The tip is hard enough to be able to write with without too much variation, but additional pressure allows for a good amount of flex in the tip. I can easily recommend the Fudenosuke as a worthwhile addition to your next JetPens purchase.

Kaweco Sport 

The Kaweco Sport is not only an excellent starter fountain pen, but it is just darn good all around. You can get the Sport in a variety of colors and nib sizes, and the barrel is designed for on-the-go travel. While some people have found small converters or used this pen as an eyedropper, the pen primarily accepts short international cartridges, which I usually just refill with a syringe. I'd say this pen or a Lamy Safari are a great gift for people wanting to see what a fountain pen is all about.

Pentel Graph Gear 1000

Between the lead indicator, the excellent grip, the retractable sleeve, and the superior build quality, this is one of my favorite writing instruments. If I am in the mood to carry a pencil, this is my go-to choice. Highly recommended.

Nomadic Flap Type Pencil Case

If I am going to be away from home for more than I few days, I want a nice selection of writing tools with me, and this is the pencil case I use. This pouch has ample storage for even the most indecisive of tastes, and you can get it in a few different colors. Nomadic also has other models of pencil cases worth checking out if you don't like the format of this one.
KUM Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener

If you want a sharpener that has great utility and does the job well, it is hard to beat this offering from KUM. This sharpens pencils in a way that results in a longer point, which is great if you prefer a sharper point or more lead exposed, as one might desire for shading/sketching. It also includes a lead pointer for your 2 mm and 3.2 mm leads, as well as spare blades. Yes, it is just as great as it sounds.

This past summer I signed up for a Field Notes Colors subscription, which includes four shipments (postage paid) of limited edition notebooks + free goodies. These are the primary notebook I carry with me (If not Doane or the Clairefontaine Roadbooks), and it is great to get packages of unique notebooks every few months. The Field Notes Colors subscriptions is only $97 right now; I paid a good bit more, so you can get this offer cheaper than ever. 

Goulet Pens Ink Drop Membership

If you want a variety of great fountain pen inks each month without investing in whole bottles, you might be interested in subscribing to the Goulet Pen Co. Ink Drop. $10 per month gets you five ink samples and a special member page with exclusive discounts.

I may not have tried this product, but it is absolutely on my wish list. Doane Utility Notebooks are great, but they are even better when you know they wont get overly abused. I think this may work well with Moleskine Cahiers and Field Notes, too, so if you want your notebooks to last longer and look a little bit more sophisticated, this may be a great option. I will do a review if Santa brings me one. :)

I don't own one of these, but I would like to get one, especially after reading posts about it over at Scription. I own quite a few journals, but many of them do not have covers that would last beyond a few months being brought outside or in a pocket all of the time. I've read a lot of good things about this journal, and I think most journal fans would enjoy it, too. 

Ballpoint pens are not usually my favorites, but this one got me through very lengthy note taking and essay writing sessions in college. It writes a bit smoother than a regular ballpoint, and the ink is also a bit darker. The most important thing here is the grip and barrel. The barrel is larger than the average pen, so it is easier to hold for longer periods of time, and the grip has a slightly squishy, yet still fairly firm, rubber section on it, which is much comfortable than many pens, at least in my opinion. You can also get this in other barrel types, including the Dr. Grip Full Black, which is not entirely black, as The Pen Addict pointed out. 

I'm a big fan of getting a good value, as evidenced by the title of the blog. Noodler's Ink is made in the U.S., and you get a bottle, filled to the brim, with vibrant ink. I've had pretty great experiences with most of the Noodler's Inks I have tried, and you can inks with wildly different properties and colors. Highly recommended. 

The Goldspot Pens 2011 Pen of the Year. I reviewed this pen, and  it was one of the best pens I have used, hands down. There are several barrels to choose from, as well as the standard nib sizes. You can also get incredibly smooth nibs in steel or gold. This is the priciest item on my list, but I think it is well worth the money. 

And yes, there's a giveaway, too! One winner will receive a $10 gift card to JetPens. Here are the rules:
  • Leave one comment on this post between now and Thursday, December 8th, 12pm, CST. 
  • I will select one winner from the comments. You are limited to only one comment, and any duplicates will prohibit you from winning. I will use the Random.org to select one of the comments at random. 
  • The winner will be posted on Friday, December 9th. You will have one week to e-mail me with your mailing address. If the selected winner does not respond, I will select a new winner. 
Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Alvin Penstix No. 3013-EEF .3 Black

A few weeks ago, I found the Alvin Penstix at my University Bookstore. I've heard good things about Alvin products, so I was excited to take this pen for a spin. 

While I do not typically create graphics or technical drawings, I am certainly interested in "all fine writing."

As you can see from the writing sample, I was not a huge fan of this pen. It is not very comfortable to hold, and the ink is more of a grey-brown than black, so that, too, was very disappointing. The color of the scan was not entirely accurate on how dark the inks were, but the color of the Alvin Penstix is pretty close to how I see it in person. 

Outside of those two points, the cap takes very little energy to be removed, so I can see this pen ruining some clothes. The clip is not on the cap (it is on the back of the barrel), so this pen would be point down in your shirt or pants pocket. If the cap falls off, which it will, there will be ink all over the place. 

The one thing I can say about this pen is that I really did enjoy the way the point puts ink on the paper - it was fun to use in that respect, but otherwise there is little I can say to salvage the overall writing experience. 

See what I mean about the edges? There two edges that are not great to hold after a few minutes. The tip is one of those white plastic tips that feels like a firm felt-tip marker.

I will be sending this pen off to The Pen Addict to see what he says about it, but I don't recommend purchasing one.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When Zebra and Tul Combine...

I love the Tul .5 gel with a needle point. It is my favorite house brand pen, and it is also my girlfriend's preferred everyday pen, so we have several empty ones in my pen box. Every time I go to OfficeMax, which carries the Tul line, I look for the .5 gel needle point refills, but I am not sure if they are even being made yet, though the conical refills are available. 

I finally decided to look around in my stash of refills, and I did find one refill that seemed to match - the Zebra JF-.4 gel refill - this one happened to be in blue-black. 

Here is a better view of the package in case you are curious about using these in one of your Tul pens. 

And there you have it. The refill fits quite well and looks pretty nice with the Tul barrel. I have not included a writing sample, because I wish to review that model of Zebra on its own. What I can say is that the refills are excellent, with very saturated colors, smooth writing, and crisp lines. This refill, in an already great Tul barrel, is working quite well for me. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Millicent - you have won the giveaway! You will have one week to e-mail me with your mailing address. If there is no response, I will select a new winner. Thank you to all of those who entered. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dong-A Comssa Computer Sign Pen

I don't know what a 'Computer Sign Pen' is vs. a regular 'Sign Pen', but you can get a box (of 12) of the Dong-A Comssa Computer Sign Pens at JetPens for $5.75 (U.S.) They have been marked down from the original price for well over a year, so I took a gamble and ordered them. 

As you can see from the review, I was a bit torn by these. They are comfortable, consistent, and if you like line variation, you can achieve it quite easily with this pen. I thought my handwriting looked atrocious - more so than usual, so that was somewhat off-putting to me. If I were one who doodled, and I'm not, I think I would appreciate these much more than I did.

I cannot fault the pen for my lack of drawing abilities, so I will say that I liked this pen, but I would like it more if I had different direction in mind. If you doodle, love sign pens, or don't care about your writing, you should probably give these a chance. 

The cap includes a raised portion to prevent it from rolling off of your desk, and there is no clip to speak of.

I did try using the period over the course of a few weeks, and the tip has not worn down at all, so it seems that you will get some good life out of these, unless you have a very heavy hand.

I tried to do the frontal shot of the point (a la No Pen Intended), but I do not have the skills to utilize my camera to the best of its abilities quite yet. As you can see, there are little fibrous hairs that compose the tip, and I do not know what the material is, but it seems like it could be some sort of plastic.

Overall, not bad. I just wish I liked them more for my preferences. I gave the rest to a friend of mine, and he is currently using them for some doodling. I am glad they found a good home.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Next Giveaway!

So, I drew a winner three times for this initial giveaway, and no one claimed their prize! To make the giveaway more enticing, I am adding two additional items:

  • Leave one comment on this posting to enter for the giveaway. You are limited to one entry, and duplicate entries are prohibited. 
  • You must be a public follower (the little pictures on the right) of Economy Pens to qualify for the giveaway.
  • Only U.S. residents will qualify for this giveaway. I don't mean to exclude any international readers, but I have read about several instances where people are simply not receiving their packages from international sources, and I don't want anyone to be disappointed if these items are held in customs. 
  • Entries will be accepted between now and November 4th, at 11:59, CST. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Staedtler (Noris) Student Set

I just wanted to give everyone early notice that this will be one of the items in the next giveaway. It is the Noris version of the Staedtler Student Set and, as far as I know, it is not sold in the U.S. It is fairly easy to find the Mars Lumograph 100 pencils in the U.S., but I rarely see the other models of Staedtler pencils here.

This pack comes with (2) Noris HB pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, a ballpoint pen, and a ruler. How great is that?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Q-Connect Executive Fountain Pen

The Q-Connect Executive Fountain Pen was another pen that was sent to me to review, courtesy of OfficeHero. Apparently Q-Connect is a fairly prevalent office supply company in Europe, but I had not heard of it until I saw it on OfficeHero.

This pen looks like an "executive" pen, but the price is very economical. OfficeHero sells this pen for £4.60, which, as of today, equates to just over $7.00 (U.S.) 
Of course there are many pens that you can buy cheap that you will probably hate, so I popped in the short international cartridge that came with the pen to try it out. 

The nib is a machine stamped I.P.G. (Iridium Point Germany), and for the most part, it looks alright. I am not a big fan of yellow gold, so I am biased, but this pen also has a flaw in the coloration where the nib meets the grip section. Outside of that, the nib has a nice size and shape to it. 

In my Rhodia Reverse Book, this pen performed surprisingly well. I didn't experience any skipping and the feeling of the nib was nearly "buttery-smooth." I did make note that the pen is quite heavy when the cap is posted on the back, but it felt pretty good, to me, when it was un-posted. 

As far as size goes, the Q-Connect Executive Fountain Pen (shown on the bottom) was about the same size as a Lamy Safari (middle), and noticeably larger than a Pelikan M205 (top).

Overall, if you like medium nibs and just want something you can bring around without an alarming concern of losing your pen, this would be a very good option. How many pens do you know of where you can get a German-made nib, metal construction, and the ability to use short international cartridges in one? I'm sure there are a handful out there, but now you know of one more.