Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Hidden Treasure for the Pen Lover

Hello all. I have been traveling for work lately and also for some personal obligations but in doing so, I made a wondrous find. I love all forms of analog based expression and I also love it when I get to meet others with the same passions, especially when they run a store with tons of goodies.

Welcome to The Tokyo Pen Shop

The Tokyo Pen Store is a very successful online retailer that sells Japanese based pens, paper, pencils, markers, erasers, notebooks and so much more. I have purchased some Traveler Notebook items from here in the past and I was amazed when I saw the return address was here in Iowa. Through some emails with one of the owners, I learned that they have a physical brick/mortar style shop in Fairfield Iowa. I was traveling in the vicinity of Fairfield and made the trip. Welcome to the Tokyo Pen Shop Store in person!

This store is very lovely and filled with a pen addicts' medication. I also was fortunate to meet Frank and Kimberly, the owners of this business and all I can say is these two are wonderful people.

Kimberly is the creative one with the passion for all things Japanese which is much like me with all things German. Frank is the engineer and handles the behind the scenes aspects like the website, servers, photography etc. Tokyo Pen Shop also runs a YouTube channel where the focus is on Japanese pens, stationery and the like.

If you are a fountain pen user, like I am, they have a small selection of pens and a full selection of Pilot Iroshizuku inks. If you love pens and all things analog, then this is paradise in Iowa. This is the first store I have been in where they have a giant spinner full of Leuchtturm notebooks. After browsing the store, I found a little of everything and Kimberly is a wealth of knowledge as this is her passion.

And what happens when pen nerds meet? Time passes quickly. Frank, Kimberly and I spoke at some length and I learned a lot about Japanese based importing for the US based retailer and other pen related topics were covered. I loved my time at this store and I will most definitely be back for more stuff. Please come in and visit if you find yourself in Iowa and please visit their online store when you need to find the right pen or stationery for a great price all while supporting local businesses.

I do not represent the Tokyo Pen Shop nor am I being compensated in any way. This is based off of my experience with Tokyo Pen Shop and my opinion.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Platinum Classic Inks - All the Gall

Platinum recently released 6 new inks that are dubbed "Classic" which is referring to the old school style of ink known as Iron Gall. Iron Gall is permanent ink but there are some caveats. I did a post about Iron Gall called The Gall of That Ink which goes into detail of what it is all about but I will give a cliff note version here. Iron Gall is made up of Iron Ferrite and Gallic Acid and it oxidizes (rusts) into the page making it a permanent ink. It can also rust steel nibs.

With all of that said, Iron Gall inks are known to darken over time and will eventually turn to black which is where these names derive from. The samples above have been oxidizing for 1 week now and watching some of these inks is fascinating. Iron Gall inks tend to be under-saturated which is to be expected after its initial curing period of 24 hours.

Lavender Black is a decent purple. I tend to not be much of a purple ink type of guy but this grew on me. I think I enjoy KWZ Gummiberry a bit more here though. This ink is very similar to Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses without the shading as color goes.

Forest Black is a tad lighter than I like my greens. I can appreciate iron gall inks for what they do but the dullness here does this green no favors. As far as permanence goes, I would look to Noodler's Ink once again with Bad Green Gator. It has more saturation and is so less acidic.

Citrus Black is simply fascinating to me and this ink really shows off the darkening process as soon as it hits the page. This ink is a extremely bright lemon yellow when it first touches the page but then quickly changes to what you see above. I kept looking at this color however and knew I had seen it before.

Yup, there it is. De Atramentis Sahara Grey which is no grey. When compared, these 2 are very similar although the Sahara Grey tends to have more green than the Citrus Black does. What makes me sour here, is that I detest Sahara Black for some reason. I cannot explain it really but it takes the shine off of Citrus Black here. Now the Citrus Black is darker and it is fun to watch dry and I may get a bottle of it. My mind is odd, I know, but I do like permanent ink and perhaps that is influencing me.

Cassis Black is an interesting muted red. I like it but much like the Citrus Black above, it looked so familiar.

Faber Castell Garnet could be a ringer here. The picture makes the Garnet appear darker but in person, they are doppelgangers. Granted, I do enjoy Faber Castell inks but they are most definitely not permanent. Platinum is cheaper in this case too but lacks in the shading that exists in Faber Castell ink. What is your trade off?

Ok, I am going to look at Khaki Black and Sepia Black together as they are so dang similar. On the page you can see a difference when writing but these swabs are so similar.

As you can see, they are different on the page when written and here I like them but the swatches not so much. I have a lot of brown inks at my disposal and Khaki so resembles Montblanc Toffee Brown or Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz and I already have those. The Sepia Black is a lovely color too, when written but I am in love with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia which is permanent and is made with squid ink (which makes it more of an authentic sepia). If you do not have many brown colors, these two colors are quite nice if you accept the added precautions you need to use with Iron Gall inks.

Overall I like them for what they are. It is a throwback to the olden days of permanence and watching them dry is fascinating as they rust into the paper. Yeah, I don't get out much. Citrus Black, Khaki Black and the Sepia Black were my favorites followed by Cassis Black and Lavender Black. Forest Black was my least favorite but hey, everyone's opinions are different. Try them for yourself and experience Iron Gall personally.

This review was based off of my own persoanl experiences and opinions. I do not represent Platinum nor am I being compensated in any way.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Inkjournal Ink Flight #3

I am really enjoying this Ink Flight concept and I thank Inkjournal for coming up with the idea and making it happen. It is not a subscription service and there are only a set number of these at the start of every month. Let's take a peek at what came in the third installment.


As with all of the Ink Flight boxes, there are 6 samples of ink which are a surprise until you open the box. There is an option where you can receive 7 samples and a special item and for $25, I cannot refuse.

 Month 1 was a set of Noodler Inks, month 2 was Robert Oster and this month is KWZ of Poland. I already love the inks made by KWZ, most notably the infamous Honey color but I have several other colors from KWZ. This set I only had 1 of the 7 inks so I am quite excited.

The inks this month are:
  • KWZ Honey
  • KWZ Old Gold
  • KWZ Azure #3
  • KWZ Menthol Green
  • KWZ Brown Pink 
  • KWZ Gummiberry (Iron Gall)
  • KWZ Turquoise (Iron Gall) 

  For those of you who may not be familiar with what Iron Gall means, I wrote an earlier post all about it called  The Gall of that Ink.

I really enjoyed all of these colors and Brown Pink may be my favorite of the new colors as I already had Honey.

  Along with the ink came an Inkjournal sticker, which is whimsical and fun.

The big surprise was what I saw next. An A5 Clairefontaine My Essential Notebook. Clairefontaine makes wonderful paper and notebooks and with a paper weight of 90g/m2, excellent for fountain pen use.

What was also fun with this is the little paper with the woeful tale of Phillip and how he just cannot finish a journal. There is a link we can use to download a PDF with great ideas to fill your Clairefontaine journal with so you do not end up like Phillip. I loved that. 

Once again a wonderful Ink Flight and I really look forward to these. Thank you Inkjournal and please keep this up. They are super fun and full of pen lover goodness.

This post is based off of my personal experience and opinion. I do not represent Inkjournal nor am I being compensated in any way.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Baron Fig A5 Notebook Review

I recently was given an A5 sized Baron Fig notebook from a colleague and I was anxious to try it as I have heard mixed reviews with these books and fountain pens. My results were very interesting here and I was quite surprised.

The book itself has stitching running down the binding which allows the book to open and lie flat, if needed. The paper feels nice to the touch and seems to have some weight to it. I decided to attack the paper with a myriad of inks and nib widths.

The line on the paper is very interesting here. It seems to be impervious to ink and cuts right through any lettering that may pass through it. That is rather annoying and I am no paper expert so I am unsure why that is happening. I could overcome this phenomenon with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness but my other inks seemed to fall short.

Also, most inks seemed to feather badly as well as “explode” a bit into the paper. J. Herbin was especially subject to this whereas Japanese inks were more tolerant to the page with Pilot Iroshizuku and Sailor. This phenomenon was more based on the ink itself rather than compared to differences in nib width. This was quite fascinating to me. Montblanc and Private Reserve also performed well and KMZ seemed to be right in the middle.

I really like the size of this book and at 72 pages, it is nice and thin which helps with portability. The quality of the book is nice and if you choose to use this with fountain pen, be wary of your ink choice to maximize your experience, and the legibility of your writing.

This review is based on my experience and opinion. I do not represent Baron Fig nor am I being compensated in any way.