Category Archives: Paper

Fun Up Stairs and Surprises Down

I didn’t get way up stairs today, so I don’t know if there was a third pen show, but the two I visited were pretty good, mostly thanks to a surprise.

Today I visited the 8th Annual World Fountain Pen Exhibition at Maruzen Books down in Tokyo. Because it was a Friday, I wasn’t expecting much. As always, the things I most wanted to see were all huddled into a tiny space next to the exit at one end of the ground floor.

I was especially pleased to see Euro-Box on hand as it was fun to look over the large selection of vintage pens. A Nakaya staffer was there tuning and fixing pens as were staff from Ohashido and Eboya.

Eizo Fujii from Euro-Box (left) watches over four displays full of vintage pens. The pen maker from Ohashido consults with a client at the back, near the exit.

The pen master from Ohashido works on a client’s pen.

The pen mistress from Nakaya (I forgot her name and she usually keeps it secret anyway by hiding her name tag) checks the smoothness of a nib at the Nakaya tables. (Note: She doesn’t like pictures, so I’m only running this because you can’t see her face clearly.)

I drooled over a couple pens but managed to walk away with my finances intact. Mostly.

Some of the Ohasahido pens. That orange and black pen second from the left is calling me. My wallet is sending a different message. (I also like the three to the right.)

Although it wasn’t that busy, there was still a lot of energy on the ground floor. However, because there wasn’t much to see other than temptation and temporary joy followed by fits of remorse, I headed downstairs into the mausoleum where it was dark and silent.

However, as soon as I arrived in the mausoleum, I saw a large collection of store exclusive inks. I quickly bought one of each. This was a big surprise as 1) I expected any ink they had to have sold out the first day and 2) they were older versions in the old style bottles. I quickly bought one of each, gambling I’d be able to sell them.

Because of that find, I was in a much better mood in the mausoleum. I looked around at a few of the displays and talked to the LAMY rep about the cap on my LAMY 2000. (He says it’s fine; I says it’s barely fine.) I saw the anniversary edition LAMY 2000 black amber, which is neither black nor amber, but is cooler looking than I expected it be.

I also found my scribblings from last  year in a sample notebook in the darkest corner of the mausoleum. Something about that struck me as funny and I left in a good mood.

I was in such a good mood that I completely forgot to check out what events were happening on the third floor.

I still think it would be cool if they squeezed a nibmeister in next to the Nakaya or Ohashido tables. It would also be nice if they allowed pictures in the mausoleum.

But I left in a good mood, so none of that bothered me much this year.



Knives and Notebooks and Information

I went to Tokyo to look at knives, but ended up with notebooks. In other words, it was a typical trip to Tokyo for me.

The morning started with the Ginza Blade Show which is relatively small, but was crowded and hot. Fortunately for my pocketbook, there wasn’t anything there I couldn’t live without and after taking some video and a few pictures, I ran away.

The next stop was ItoYa which, to my mind, isn’t as cool as it used to be, but is always worth at least a short trip.

That was followed by the search for a pen shop I hadn’t been to before. I found it surprisingly quickly. Unfortunately, it decided to close today so all I could do was stare longingly at the locked door.

After that, I made an excursion to Maruzen to hunt for ink and pens. The pen was sold out, as were the flavors of ink I was looking for.

From there I went down to the Mitsukoshi main store to verify the dates for their annual fountain pen festival. (March 15-20th, if anyone happens to be in town.) The clerks were friendly and quickly gave me the information. The Mitsukoshi stationery section is small but in a nice location near Mitsukoshi’s famous atrium. It also has three different sets of modern pens available to try. I played the Platinum nibs and the Pilot nibs and convinced myself NOT to buy a Falcon nib for one of my pens. Before I changed my mind, I wandered over to the notebook section.

Unfortunately, although it is small, the stationery section had some notebooks I’ve been looking for. I now own them, which partly breaks one of my Pen and Stationery resolutions as I forgot to do push-ups in the store before I bought them.

After that, I came home. All in all, for trip to Tokyo, it wasn’t that hard on my wallet. I’ll be back down there in two weeks, though, for the Tokyo Folding Knife Show.

Field Notes Snowblind–End of Book Review

One of the joys of a Field Notes subscription is you get a variety of notebook styles as the designers unleash their madness and their visions on the notebooks.

One of the horrors of a Field Notes subscription is you get a variety of notebook styles as the designers unleash their madness and their visions on the notebooks.

In the case of the Snowblind, you have a cover gimmick in desperate need of better paper. It’s more of a toy than a notebook, but even as a toy it has its advantages.

The paper in the Snowblind is 60#T paper that looks great with its light gray grid. However, it bleeds almost every ink that touches it. This doesn’t bother me as much as it probably bothers other fountain pen users, but it is noticeable. The paper feels excellent with ballpoint pens and gel pens, though.

The main gimmick of the Snowblind is the cover. It is a white cover treated with photocromatic blue ink. Once the notebook is exposed to sunlight it quickly turns blue. After you step back indoors, it quickly turns white again.

The Snowblind inside.

The Snowblind in sunlight. You can see some scuff marks near the spine.

It’s even possible to make patterns by putting items on the cover and removing them in sunlight. The effect, for a few seconds, is like one of Man Ray’s photograms.

Part of the annoyance of the Snowblind, though, is the effects of the change fade too quickly. It’s like pointing a flashlight at your little sister’s eyes to see her pupils get really small. (Oh, like you didn’t.) The effect lasts only as long as the flashlight is pointed at her eyes.

The gimmick is cool, or at least serves as a conversation starter, because nothing attracts people more than forcing them to stand in the sun whilst you hold your fingers over your notebook and say “Look now! Look now, quick!”.

That said, even in its white form, the cover looks good. I especially like the white staples holding it together. Also, the cover is durable.

It’s a good looking edition that I think people would be a good introduction to the Field Notes world for those who’ve yet to discover it. This is especially true if they like ballpoint pens.

In fact, the Snowblind is the kind of Field Notes edition you hand out as gifts as you probably never intend to finish them. It looks great and is kind of a fun toy, a few seconds at a time.

This may have been part of the diabolical plan: create a limited edition that subscribers will be in a hurry to give away.

Field Notes Lunacy–End of Book Review

For some reason, this song seems appropriate:

The Fall 2016 Field Notes Limited Edition looked really cool, then I started using it and things changed slightly. I liked the paper, but the gimmick is annoying, at least on the one I used.

The Lunacy, released about the time of the harvest moon, is a moon themed edition. The unique feature is covers cut in ways to reveal different phases of the moon. The three-packs available to the public contain the full moon, last quarter, and crescent moon. Subscribers received a fourth, uncut version representing the “new moon”.

Bad, so to speak, moons rising? #fieldnotes #notebooks #penaddict @fieldnotesbrand

A photo posted by DL (@d.e.lively) on

The covers look great, and have an interesting texture, but I found that with the full moon, as I flipped through the pages, my finger slipped through where I usually press. Or, it would flip at first but then the cover would bend and it would slap closed. It’s not a big deal, but it disrupts what should be simple process. I also don’t like the glossy end pages, even though they are necessary to pull off the gimmick and provide lots of interesting information. I’d rather have more pages I can use.

Detail of the cover showing the nice texture and the hole for the moon. (Also a Pen Addict Edition Retro 51 Rollerball.)

Some of the information. I would be 14.85 kg (32.73 lbs) on the moon and would rather have extra page.

I  like the embossed dark side of the moon on the back and would rather have seen the full, half and crescent moon done that way on the front.

I used it as my mini-planner for a couple months. The 60# paper was excellent and handled every pen well and almost every ink. (Wancher Matcha is the heart breaker. It breaks hearts.) I liked the gray reticle dot pattern, even though I generally prefer blank pages. The paper has a gray wash to it that I was worried about at first, but it didn’t cause any problems except to my eyes when they tried to adjust to what they were seeing.

I wouldn’t mind getting more copies, but I’d probably give away the full moon version and since my favorite, the new moon, isn’t available, I’m not sure getting only two notebooks for the price would be worth it.

Hobonichi Techo–Making the Book My Own

It’s not bad; in fact I’m liking it a lot more than I thought I would. It just needed some extra lines. And then a couple more. Then a couple fewer.

To understand how finicky I am about calendars and planners you have to understand that every year I make my own monthly wall calendars and that for a couple years I was making my own Bible-sized inserts for my Filofax binder. (More on that in a future post.)

This year meets next year. #hobonichi #planner #planneraddict #hobonichitecho #penaddict

A photo posted by DL (@d.e.lively) on

After I decided to carry around the Hobonichi Techo as my planner, I immediately started modifying it. First, I decided to use a version of Mike Rhode’s Daily Planner Bar system, and that meant I had to add a couple lines to each page. I also added a line on the right which created space for comments and extra notes on what I had done (or not done). I used Fountain Pen Hospital’s exclusive Noodler’s Old Manhattan Bulletproof black ink to create lines that, in theory, wouldn’t smear (except during the creation process. Long story.)

The two months per page section became my general work overview and the month on two pages section become my blog outline (Sort of. Needs work. Long story.)

By the eighth day, though, I’d added a bar across the top to create a space for a short alert/to do list.

The lines and the pen they are added with. It contains Noodler’s Old Manhattan Bulletproof ink.

An example of how I was using it.

I add the lines every Saturday when I sit down in the evening to do my weekly review. After scribbling out everything I need to do on a notebook, I draw the lines with a ruler and my TWSBI Diamond 580 and then set about filling in the non-flexible part of the schedule. I then follow that with the elective part of the schedule.

However, as of today, I’ve modified it again. The extra lines at the top have been eliminated to give me more alert/to do list room.

The new look. It will last until the next look.

I like the size and portability of the TECHO which is why I opted to not get a cover for it. (Note: they sell at local stores as part of a TECHO plus cover set.) I supplement it with a calendar app that syncs across all my devices. Although I like having access to all my plans via the magic of the interwebs, I prefer writing details in the TECHO mostly because I find entering data in the online calendars to be annoying.

I also like the current system, at least this week. The current system will last until I decide to do something else. This will probably happen fairly soon because my system leaves a lot of unused space at the bottom of the page.

2017 Pen and Stationery Resolutions

Along with my recent confessions, I thought it might be fun to include some pen and stationery resolutions for the coming year.

One–Refine the collection. Focus more on quality rather than rapid and random acquisition. Get rid of what doesn’t set your soul on fire.

Two–To help accomplish One, stay the hell away from the nightly Kingdom Note pen sales. (For example.)

Three–Actually use your so-called “work horse” pens at work.

Four–Sell the pens that have been in storage for a long time.

One–Sell the large stockpile of Kingdom Note inks once the weather warms, and/or find pen addicts who live in the tropics.

Two–Limit the ink rotation. Use up the inks you like, sell off the rest. Match pens with ink and make a system out of them.

Three–No more new inks (after you’ve acquired a couple you have your eye on.)

Four–Formalize the ink business or run away.

One–Stop collecting scraps to bundle into notebooks.  Remember that you can’t spell “scrap” without “crap”. (“It’s crap” said quickly and repeatedly eventually sounds like “Scrap”. I think “scrap” actually derives from the Elizabethan English pronunciation “S’crap.” Look it up, forsooth.)

Two–Do one push up on the floor in the store for each 100 yen of price before buying a new notebook you suddenly can’t live without. (Don’t forget to wash hands after doing this.) Also, consider doing this for pen and ink purchases: Cheapest Montblanc Hemingway = 1,763 push ups (followed by spending the pen money on hospital bills and physical therapy.)

Three–Scan, scan, and scan old notebooks and then retire the moldering hard copies.

Four–Retire the last of the handmade writing tablets. Keep only the ones currently in use at work.

Five–Use up as many notebooks as you can before you get better at push-ups.

One–Take pictures of stuff.

Two–Review stuff.

Three–Just say “NO” to Massdrop and Kickstarter.

Four–Listen to the Pen Addict podcast, but do not check out the show notes. If you do check out the show notes, do NOT click on any interesting links.




Pen and Stationery Confessions

In a recent episode of the Pen Addict podcast, the great Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley confessed their stationery related sins. I thought it might be fun to do the same.

(Note: Yes, there really is a podcast about pens and stationery.)

Confession the First: I believe that refilling a fountain pen with the same ink counts as cleaning the pen as long as  you draw ink through the nib.

Confession the Second: I’m not liking my Nakaya as much as I hoped I would.

Confession the Third: I think LAMY Safari fountain pens, in all their variations, are ugly and I will never own one.

Confession the Fourth: Despite all the fountain pens I own, my “going out” pocket pen (meaning I’m not carrying a bag) is a County Comm Embassy Pen, not a fountain pen.

Confession the Fifth: Despite all the fountain pens I own, my everyday work pen is a ballpoint pen, not a fountain pen.

Confession the Sixth: I think modern Palomino Blackwing Pencils are an expensive con and I regret buying a couple. (I like the eraser, though.)

Confession the Seventh: I think the large format Traveler’s Notebooks are overrated and I hate that tall, narrow shape.

Confession the Eighth: I still like using large Moleskine notebooks and think the hatred against them is “I’m so cool” virtue signalling.

Confession the Ninth: Despite Confession the Second, I’d like to acquire another Nakaya.

Confession the Tenth: I think the adult coloring “movement” is silly.

That’s all for now. Eventually I’ll publish some pen and stationery resolutions. Until then, thanks for reading this far.


Breaking the Log But Maybe Not the Habit

It was a good idea, I suspect, at the time, but now, I suspect, it’s not and have decided to stop.

Two years ago, in a fit of something-or-other (a technical term) I decided to keep daily log in which I tracked, at various points during the day, where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling. I drew pictures of key events as if I was looking over my own shoulder and also tracked the weather and, eventually, my meals by drawing pictures of them. It was an excuse to use up notebooks and ink and test pens.

The first year, I carried the log around with me which, quite frankly, is exactly the point of the log. Stopping to record what I was doing was fun, but it was a lot of dead weight. The second year I changed notebooks but left it at home, turning it into more of a diary.

The second year, I would fill out the morning weather and offer a summary of how I was feeling in the morning. When I got home after my day job I would summarize the day at that point and then record my lunch and the weather. Later, reasonably close to bed, I would summarize the evening and the day and, as I had in the first year, draw a few key events as if I was looking over my own shoulder.

After a couple weeks, I started adding color to the events and, a few days later, to the food and started keeping track of what I was wearing. Sort of.

The first color picture in the log.

A couple weeks later, I wore my Kansas State University sweatshirt and was still adding color to the events. Note: those are beans flying at my head, not bullets. Also, those are costume ogre horns, not my natural, undisguised appearance.

Although I kept up the daily habit of keeping up the log, I missed the immediacy of having it with me. I also felt as if my entire system had a lot of moving parts, even if one of those parts stayed on my desk. By the end of the year, the log felt more like the annoying paperwork in a job than a fun activity.

As such, I’ve started carrying a different kind of planner and, knowing me, will probably turn it into a portable mini-log. I did find it was interesting to see what I was wearing from day to day, especially on work days. A friend of mine used to plan out his entire wardrobe for the semester based on the theory that students change their opinion of you if they see you wearing the same outfit.

I’ll also probably keep track of the weather and maybe my wardrobe, but I’m more interested in recording what I accomplish during the day versus what I planned.

This will probably be ugly, though. Interesting, but ugly (more on all this in a future post).

Hobonichi Techo Cousin Planner–End of Book Review

The size of the Hobonichi Techo Cousin didn’t put me off as I only intended to use it as a desktop item but the color did. Unfortunately, for reasons involving expensive covers that are sold separately, the Hobonichi Cousin comes only in Caucasian flesh tone beige.

The Cousin is an A5 sized planner with 544 pages of Tomoe River paper. The pages include daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planners with several black pages at the end for notes. Each day has a quote (in Japanese, though) that is supposed to serve as a source of wisdom, inspiration, contemplation.

The Cousin filled the role of my daily log and it was nice to replace the average paper of the MUJI notebook I’d used before, with the terrific and fountain pen friendly Tomoe River paper in the Cousin. I ended up using the monthly planner to keep track of days I actually wrote and the daily pages to write my log entries. I also used the blank pages as a scrapbook for random stickers and labels.

The paper was terrific, with only a few pens and inks bleeding through. My Noodler’s Ahab flex nib scored the paper and caused lots of bleedthrough and Noodler’s Apache Sunset ink is oily enough that it tends to soak through. Wancher Matcha, as good as it looks, laughs at pages made of any paper and makes them cry.

Noodler’s Apache Sunset bleed through.

Noodler’s Apache Sunset from the above bleed through staining a third page.

Wancher Matcha laughs at Tomoe River, even from a smooth M nib.

My biggest problems with the Cousin was that it simply was trying to do too much. Out of the 544 pages, I left about 100 pages unused. This isn’t so much the fault of the planner as much as it is a testament to the way I used it. However, I don’t see why it needs monthly, weekly and daily planners under one cover.

As for the cover, despite being on my desk, it showed a surprising amount of wear and tear. It is glossy card stock, but a year of being pulled in and out of a slot next to my PC wore both sides of the cover, including the side that wasn’t against the metal. A fellow Cousin user has dubbed this as “Hobonichi Cousin patina”.

The “patina” (aka scuff marks) on the Caucasian flesh tone beige cover.

I also noticed that the end tape started to peel and that the cover that was against the warm computer began to separate from its backing paper.

Another example of the “patina” spots and of the peeling end tape.

It is a good planner though, and most of my problems with it are a matter of personal preference. It has a lot of space for recording events and even writing follow up, which is nice. I find the daily quotes to be useless, though. After a while, I didn’t even notice them, except when I wished they weren’t taking up so much writing space.

I would recommend the Cousin, especially if you’re willing to splurge for a cover, or just make one yourself from some construction paper. (Alas, gone are the days of making book covers from paper grocery bags.) Even if you’re ballpoint pen user, you’ll like the paper.

However, as I’ve written before, sort of, this year I’ve decided to pare down some of what I’m using by combining my planner with my log. I’m also not going to keep the log in the same way. (But that’s fodder for a future post.)