Ink Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo.

Tsuki-yo is my third Iroshizuku ink, and it will without doubt not be my last.

The thing I love about Iroshizuku inks is how consistent they are. I know more or less how the dry time will be, how it is to write with them, and how they perform. This makes it much easier to find a new ink. I just need to find a colour I like.

Tsuki-yo is my first blue ink. The reason I have ignored blue inks for so long is that is my distaste for what I call “bic blue”. This is the colour that you get in most cheap ball point pens, or in the cartridge you get in the box when you buy a Pilot Metropolitan or Lamy Safari.

One of my goals this year was to explore more ink colour than what I have done in the past. And a natural step in this direction is to try more blues.

I have used Tsuki-yo with all of my pens. It delivers a darker, but still not muddy blue colour when I use it with a wetter pen, like my Lamy 2000. And it delivers a lighter but not washed out colour when I use it with one of my dryer pens.

My experience this far with the Iroshizuku line of inks is that how they behave with wet versus dry nibs are very consistent. Wet nib – darker colour without being muddy; dry nib – lighter colour without being washed out.

How I pick inks.

Inks are usually available both as a sample, and in either a small or large bottle; some brands are available in both; and others give you a collection of three different inks in a smaller bottle in a nice package.

I have never bought a sample or anything but the largest bottle available.

This is my process every single time I am going to buy a new bottle of ink. I have a text file with all the different inks I have seen, that I haven’t bought before, that I think looks interesting. When I’m going to order something I usually go for something I know I liked, and have used before, or I go for something new.

The first thing I do is to open my text file, and open every single link, and look around until I decide on a colour. Then I close everything except the inks that match that colour. And finally I eliminate one by one until I have two or three options left.

Then I move into the research stage. I start by looking at the writing samples at both Goulet and JetPens, before I read every single review I can find. What I am looking for is to get an overview of how the ink is to use, and how it looks with different pens. Because I use thin and wide nibs; wet and dry. Most inks will look different in the different scenarios.

My goal is to know as much as I can about it, before I order. It isn’t unusual for me to use at least an hour to figure out if I want to order a ink or not.

The result is that I have never bought a bottle of ink that I was unhappy with. I have owned a bottle of ink I wasn’t happy with, a bottle of black Lamy ink. The story behind that is that I got it for free when I bought my Lamy 2000, so it doesn’t count.

Load out: March 2016.

I’m going to change the focus of these monthly load out posts a little bit. They are about what I use, but I’m going to put a stronger emphasis on the details of how I use them as well.

I still use the same pens that I have been using lately:

  • Lamy 2000: medium nib
  • TWSBI Eco: 1.1 stub
  • TWSBI 580AL: medium nib
  • Pilot Metropolitan: medium nib.

All of them have been inked up with Lamy Black ink until a few days ago. I had a little bit left of a bottle, and decided to just use it up, before I used anything else. It’s too bad to throw away good ink, even though I don’t like that much. All of my pens are being inked up with my first blue ink – Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo – as they run out of ink. Both my Lamy 2000 and my TWSBI Eco have been inked up with it, and I love it.

I’m particular about almost everything, and ink colours is without doubt one of them. I have said this many times before, and I’m going to do it again: a ink need to have either excellent colours or excellent dry time. This is one of the reasons I don’t like the Lamy black ink. I can talk until the cows come home about my distaste for mediocre inks. This is about blue inks.

The reason I have kept away from blue inks for over three years is that I don’t like the typical blue ink you find in most regular pens, and the cartridge you get with most fountain pens. It looks way too light, and the first thing I think when I see it is: that is what you get from the pen at the office with your company logo on it.

I guess it all comes down to my preference for inks that are darker. Not just for blue inks, but almost any colour. But not too dark, it still need to look blue if it is blue or green if it is green; the exception is black inks, the blacker the better.

I’m going to do a proper review of the Tsuki-yo in a few weeks.

There are some pretty big changes this month. Not only have I extended my colour palette away from black and the occasional green to blue, but I have also made some drastic changes to my notebook setup. I don’t use Field Notes anymore.

Let me explain. I have been a big fan of them for a long time, and they have been something I carried everywhere from May 2013 until a few weeks ago. You can read more about me and Field Notes here.

This is a part of a lager project I have going on, where I am trying to move everything I can over to my beloved Midori Travelers Notebook. I have six refills in it. Five lined, and one blank. I have two for journaling(one of them are full), one for tasks, and I use the blank one for sketching(when I like to pretend that I know how to draw, or making UI mockups at work) and testing inks.

Why did I do this?

  • I’m trying to carry and use fewer notebooks, because I prefer to carry one less thing if I can without loosing something essential. And this brings me down to two: MTN & Hobonichi Planner.
  • The MTN refills are a little bit larger, which makes it easier to combine small projects on a single page, and map out larger projects on a single one.
  • The paper works much better with fountain pens. The dry time is a little bit slower, but still pretty good.

My favourite benefit of doing this is that it takes much less time to browse through the notebook to get an overview. There are advantages to the smaller size, but it all depends on if they provide you something on the other side.

What does this mean for the Hobonichi Planner? Well, it doesn’t mean anything before the end of the year. But I will, as I usually do, evaluate then, what I’m going to use for the next year. It would be nice to also have my calendar in my Travelers Notebook. But I have two concerns, about the MTN calendar refills:

  • I have some very specific needs when it comes to layout: a full page per day, and a page for monthly goals between each month.
  • All of the refills I have seen are generic, and I prefer those who are made for a specific year. It isn’t a deal breaker, I just prefer to not have to deal with filling in all of the dates myself.

This is the biggest change, since I started using fountain pens. I think MTN is a must buy for almost everyone, because it is so easy to put together a combination of refills and accessories that fits what you need. You could do the same thing with different notebooks, but having it all in one package makes it much more convenient; it is so easy to forget one of them if you carry multiple notebooks. Everything I need, including a pen, is in one thing, and that makes the MTN worth every single penny.

Links of the Week.

I have gone back and forth, on if I should continue to link as I have been doing it, or move over to a single post with a list of links. There are pro and cons with both. There are two reasons I’m switching: First of all, it takes much less time to write a list than individual posts. And secondly, I can link to more stuff and be more free to only add commentary when I feel like it. The format also gives me an opportunity to comment on larger trends in any given week.

  • Gourmet Pens: Review: Diplomat Excellence A Evergreen GT Fountain. Gold isn’t really my thing. But there is a few pens with gold colouring that peeks my interest from time to time. This is one of them. It have to be done in a classy way, without being to “bling” or too “grandad”.
  • The Gentleman Stationer: Pen Review: TWSBI Eco. Another great review of one of my favourite pens. Everyone should have at least one of them.
  • The Well-Appointed Desk: Review of Leuhtturm 1917 Sketchbook. I’m a huge fan of Leuhtturm. They are very good at walking the line between minimal bleed through while maintaining short dry time. And they are also very good at giving people a good option to the core of Moleskine’s offering. This notebook looks like a very good option for anyone that either are sketching, want thicker paper or want a better option to their Moleskine Sketchbook.

On notebooks.

People buy different notebooks for many different reasons, but most of it can be boiled down to the following: use case, paper properties, how it looks and the format.

How a notebook looks is very important for some people, while others think it is less important. I personally prefer to either use a cover like the Midori Travelers Notebook or to go for a classic design like Leuchtturm1917 or Field Notes. While others go for something with something fancy with a lot of colour or even a themed notebook. Some people even put stickers on them. It can be, like everything else, a way to express to people who you are.

The pens and inks you are going to use with the notebook is a very important factor when it comes to what kind of paper you want. It is both a question of aesthetics and practicality. It looks horrible when the ink bleeds through from the two previous pages and your writing feathers like crazy. The kind of dry time you can tolerate is also an vary important factor.

The format is probably the most important part of a notebook. It is both the size and dimensions of it; but also how the pages are designed. You have the three classic layouts: grids, lines and blank; I know there are many different kinds of grids: boxes, dots etc, which you prefer is up to you; but they are more or less the same thing. This is closely related to the use case.

A use case is the thing that combines the three previous parts together. How a notebook looks might be important depending on where you are going to use it. A classic Leuchtturm1917 is probably a better fit in an office than some crazy porn themed Moleskine copy. What you are going to use it for is very important when you try to decide what kind of layout and format you want. Something you only use at your desk will probably be very different from something you carry around everywhere. For example, I mostly use A4 notepads at work, while my Midori Travelers Notebook is the notebook I bring everywhere.

How the page looks is important for a number of reasons. You probably want something very specific if you are going to use it as a planner; or anything else that is tied to a specific use case. While other times you want something more generic. Some people prefer a blank page because then they feel like they can do what ever they want with the page; and others prefer it because it looks better. Others prefer a lined page; like myself; it is more convenient when you only write, and it wastes much less space than a blank page. Grids is a very interesting layout, most people I know, that prefer them, do so because they get the flexibility of a blank page, with the infrastructure of a lined page.

What is it that makes a notebook useful or not? There are two factors that play a very important role for me. It have to either be portable(pocket sized, Midori Traveler Notebook sized or A5 sized) or A4 if it is something I’m just going to leave at my desk. And then you have the most important thing. How long does it take any of the inks I have in rotation to dry? The last thing I want to think about when I either take notes or write is to wait for the completed page to dry before I turn the page.

This makes some of the more popular notebook brands more or less useless for me in a day to day context. Both as a lefty, and as a person who don’t enjoy to wait 30 seconds for a page to dry. It should be dry within a few seconds, I can stretch as long as five.

I’m going to do a proper test of some of the more popular stationary geek notebooks as soon as I have the time. My goal there is to look at how useful they are. Rhodia make great notebooks, and they are especially useful for testing inks. But they are not usable for me because it takes way too long to dry, even with a non fountain pen.

The Finer Point: How I use my notebooks – the February 2016 edition

The Finer Point:

How I use my notebooks is something I think about a lot. In July 2015 I wrote a post on my notebook set-up exploring what notebooks I used and more importantly how I used them. However since July quite a bit has changed therefore I wanted to post a February 2016 update running through my notebook usage.

I love reading about how people use their notebooks, this post both gave me some ideas about how to use my notebooks, and also some changes to my monthly load out post. : What’s In My Bag: March 2016

Until Christmas of last year I never had a bag that I really liked. That all changed when I read a review of the Tom Bihn Co-Pilot by Jon Bemis on the Pen Addict blog. My particular need is to be able to carry my writing supplies to and from work so that I can journal and or write letters during my lunch break.

Fantastic post. It also gave me some ideas on what I could do with my monthly load out post.

Penucopia: Geeks Are Geeks

Thomas R. Hall:

The word geek has traditionally had more of a negative connotation, but has been used more recently to mean someone who is passionate about a subject. Indeed, I can definitely say that I “geek out” about fountain pens and stationery. I “geek out” about mechanical keyboards too. But there are a wide array of topics that I also geek out about. To me, it’s about caring about something deeply. I want to ensure that when I get something, it’s the best product that I can get that meets my needs.

Fantastic post. The funny thing about being a geek is that almost everyone are geeks about at least a few things. Being a geek is to care much more about a certain thing than most people do. And the interesting thing about being a geek is that the combination of areas where you are a geek is very personal.

The Pencilcase Blog: Review of the Montblanc M.


With the M (by Marc Newson), Montblanc brought a radically different product to the fountain pen market. Compared to the ever-so popular Meisterstück 146, with its conservative looks, the M appears to come straight from the future, which is kind of what Montblanc aimed at…

I’m not a fan of Montblanc for a number of reasons. The three most important ones are: they refuse to sell online; their aesthetics is a little bit too conservative or a little bit too “grandpa” for my personal taste; their prices are beyond stupid.

The M is one of the few, if not the only Montblanc pen I have ever considered. It looks fantastic. There are many pens that look better. But it has something unique to it that made me put it on the list. I also hope that this might be the first step for Montblanc to join the 21st century.


Seaweed Kisses:

The Journal Diaries is a blog segment where we get a sneak peek into the journals, notebooks, organizers, and diaries from creative souls all over the world. My special guest today is Kim based in California, USA.

That’s one good looking bullet journal. And Bullet journal is a fantastic system for anyone that wants a task management system for pen and paper with a lot of structure. I personally prefer something much simpler.