Inksmudge

Everything matters.

August 22, 2016

I think I first learned about this concept when I started playing guitar, everything has an impact on the sound. From the strings you use, to the picks and everything about how the guitar is made. The same goes for your pens and notebooks.

When you are trying to achieve something, everything that is a part of that something will have an impact. I always find it useful to write down a few sentences about what my goal is.

The most important thing for me is always short enough dry time without any bleed through, while others might think that no feathering is more important than the dry time. My perfect setup would be instant dry time, no bleed through and no feathering. But that is impossible. You could probably get it with a very thin nib, but I’m not a fan of nibs like that because they are way too scratchy for my taste; and I have thing for a thick line.

You need to start with your goal. Before you figure out what the options for getting there are. But you also need to look at where you are willing to compromise.

My personal experience is that you do get something from picking an ink with short dry time combined paper that are known for shorter dry time. But the key factor is the the pen. How broad and wet the nib is the most important factor.

Using a journal to keep track of habit forming.

August 17, 2016

I’m more interested in habits and how to get yourself to do what you want than the average human.

Let’s say you want to do something, for example read more books, buy more pens or go more to the gym. A typical solution to this a resolution; they usually come in the form of “Work out twice a week”. There are a number of problems with it though.

The problem with it is that you will fail many times, and the typical resolution don’t take this into consideration. A good goal should be achievable, not too hard, while at the same time pushing yourself. It should be hard to fail.

I have taken a different approach to it the last few years. I set a number. For example “I want to go to the gym 100 times this year”. The total number of times you go to the gym is more or less the same, but it takes into consideration that you will skip a week here and there, without breaking it. If you skip a week while on vacation or sick – then you’ll have to make it up by the end of the year.

This is a fantastic way to use that pile of Field Notes you haven’t started using yet. The way I do it is that I write what the goal is on the first page, the next two pages I use to keep track of how many times I have done it. Then I start writing dates; all the days I went to the gym. You can also write some notes about each entry if needed; this is what I do to keep track of all the books I read during a calendar year. I write the date I completed it followed by Author and Title.

Ink Review

August 15, 2016

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[This bottle of ink was sent to me by Pen Chalet, free of charge for the purpose of this review. This does not affect the review in any way. ](https://www.penchalet.com/ink_refills/fountain_pen_ink/j_herbine_1670_bottled_fountain_pen_ink.html)

The bottle is one of the most beautiful bottles I have seen. My only complaint about it is that the bottom of the bottle is flat, many bottles have a hole at the bottom to make sure that you can use as much of the ink as possible. Everything about this bottle is beautiful, but I do miss some information about the name of the ink on it, there isn’t any information at all on the bottle itself. Design is about beauty, usability and practicality, and it leans too much in the beauty direction.

I never do any dry time tests with any of my inks. There are probably some value to them, but I usually start by writing with the ink on the different notebooks I use. My problem with the standard dry time test is that there are so many other factors than the ink that will have an important role in the dry time like pen, nib and paper. The dry time with this ink is not super fast, but still fast enough to not be any issue at all for me. Left handed beginners might struggle a little, but everyone else will not have any issues.

This is not a ink I would have bought myself. But it have gotten me interested in J Herbin and a little bit more “exotic” inks. And it will be something I’m considering in the future.

I usually go for ink colours that are clearly a colour. For example, that is a blue and clearly a blue. This ink has a beautiful brown colour with some hints of red. I would call it a redish-brown. It also have some cool gold shimmer in it.

You can use this ink with, and without the shimmer, shake the bottle before you fill it up, if you want them. They do alter the colour a little bit, I don’t notice much difference. But I clearly see the gold, when I look the the page from an angle.

This is a highly saturated ink, so use it with some caution.

The conclusion is that I really like this ink. The colour is very nice, and it is something I can use both at home and at work without people fussing too much about it. For me, the key thing about any ink is the dry time. To be something I’m going to use, it has to be short enough for me to not notice it, this ink falls in that category. And it’s fun to look at the dried ink from an angle to see the gold.

Great ink. <a href="https://www.penchalet.com/ink_refills/fountain_pen_ink/j_herbine_1670_bottled_fountain_pen_ink.html">Check it out.</a>

My New Work Notebook.

August 11, 2016

I have spent a lot of time looking for a good notebook to use at work. My previous work place(I work as a Software Developer Consultant, so I work for as long as they need me, before I move over to the next gig) had a supply cabinet with not great but good enough notebooks, so I used them.

I have been using MYN refills since I started at my current gig, but I don’t think they are the right thing to use at work.

<strong>What Do I need?</strong>

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  Short dry time

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  Be able to rip out pages

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<li>

  A notebook that stays flat, so I can read pages and take notes without having to fiddle with the notebooks.

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I considered everything from the Baron Fig stuff to LT1917, Rhodia and so on.

I landed on a notebook that I have been curious about for a very long time: The Field Notes Steno Pad. The paper isn’t the best, but I know it after filling over 50 of the pocket sized Field Notes; they are not the best for fountain pens but work pretty well, everything considered. The dry time is short. It is more or less the perfect notebook for me to use at work.

The format is superior to the “book” format in this context, but I prefer a more book like format if it is a notebook I have to carry in my bag all the time, because they are more durable. But it is perfect for something that just lays around on a desk.

I also think the steno page layout is great for task management; you can use the full width, when needed; but the half width is surprisingly useful while dealing with projects with a lot of simple tasks.

Review Field Notes Wooden Archival Box

August 10, 2016

I ordered the archival box a while back. This is one of the products I have considered so many times that I don’t know how many times I have almost pulled the trigger. And it have been on my wish list for about two years, probably closer to two and half.

The funny thing is that I have almost filled it up with used notebooks within minutes of getting it.

You get a simple, well designed, but not fancy wooden box. They included some dividers, but I don’t use them. It is a very good solution, if you are looking for a practical way to store your Field Notes, without wasting a lot of space, while still having easy access to the notebooks.

All my previous attempts have been far from effective and straight out annoying and a pain in the ass. They either require ridiculous amounts of space, or makes it very hard to get access to the notebooks.

It is a little bit expensive, but the fact that it works so much better than the other options makes up for it. You have just enough space for the height of the Field Notes, and it it just tall enough for the dividers to fit. The fact that it doesn’t waste any space at all is the thing I appreciate the most about it.

Is it worth the money? Yes!

I’ll probably order another one in a while; but that one will hopefully last me at least two years.

Where to spend your money.

August 09, 2016

One of the ever lasting, and truly frustrating things about fountain pens is to figure out where to spend your money. It is very tempting to buy something new every single time you have enough in your budget.

I don’t think it is the smartest thing to do so.

The interesting thing about fountain pens is that the value you get isn’t promotional to the price. There are some pens where you get a lot of value for your buck. For example: Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari and TWSBI Eco are pens where you get a ridiculous amount of value for your money.

The TWSBI 580AL is a “better” pen compared to the Eco; at least in some aspects, but not all. While the Lamy Al Star isn’t even a better version of the Lamy Safari, it’s just a heavier version, that in my opinion is less durable, and is more expensive.

It is very easy to spend enough money in cheap fountain pens, where the total amount adds up to what you could have paid for a Lamy 2000.

Where to spend your money? Spend some money, get a few nice pens in the $15 – $30 range. You get a lot of pen for your money, especially if you go for one of the pens I mention above. It is hard to find anything that beats the TWSBI Eco or the Pilot Metropolitan when it comes to what you get for your money.

There are a lot of good pens between $30 and $150, but I would not spend much if any money there if I were you. Save a little bit longer and go for a Lamy 2000 (it’s around $150). And I have heard a lot of fantastic things about the Pilot Custom Heritage 92 (between $130 and $225; I don’t get why the prices are so different at Goulet and JetPens on this particular pen).

When you go beyond the $250 mark, that is the moment where you shop after different criteria than value. There are many very cool pens that cost a lot more than $250, but it is more about getting something very cool, instead of how much you get for your money. Are they better than a $150 Lamy 2000? Probably. That much better? I doubt it.

There are some exception to what I am talking about here, and that is custom or special nibs. For example pens with flex nibs can be very expensive. But for most pens above $250, is about a very unique design, high quality products without that much focus on what you get for your money.

I Missed a couple of posts.

August 08, 2016

I try to keep a reliable schedule here at The Ink Smudge. My goal is to always have a post out every Monday and Wednesday. I tried to do three posts a week for a while, but that became too much, and the result was a short break.

Well, I missed two posts in a row, because I wasn’t feeling that well last week. I’m all better now, but I didn’t get the time to get everything ready for this afternoon. But I’m going to publish the post I planned on posting last Wednesday, and today plus the regular Wednesday post this week.

They are more or less ready to go, and will appear tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.

Enjoy!

The difference between bad and different.

August 01, 2016

Let’s take a look at a random ink.

Why are people buying it? I’m not that “artistic”, and I don’t own any crazy flex nib pens or anything like that, so I often just look until I find a ink that has a colour I like combined with ink properties I think is important.

It all comes down to the most important thing: what is the most important? For me it is a balance between great colour and short dry time. While others might not care at all about dry time, they just want a ink with all kinds of crazy colour shading voodoo going on when they use a flex nib or even a paint brush. And some care more than anything else about the ink being permanent.

I have some very strong opinions about what makes a good ink, but they are limited to how I use pens and ink and the properties I think is important.

This doesn’t mean that inks that don’t match up with mine or your use cases and priorities are bad, it just means that they aren’t for you.

Does this mean that there are no bad inks? No, of course. not. When you use something, and don’t like it, you either think it is just bad, or you conclude that it isn’t for you. For example Rhodia products and the Lamy Safari. I think both of them are excellent products, while I at the same time know that they aren’t for me. The same goes for the Moleskine.

The difference comes down to when you see the reason for what you don’t like. For example, the reason I don’t like Rhodia is that the ink takes forever to dry, but I understand why it is like that. I call something bad when I don’t see a positive gain from something I don’t like. For example the Lamy black ink, the colour isn’t great, and the dry time is just as bad. That is just bad.

Packaging.

July 27, 2016

I spent some time this weekend going through my desk, and getting rid of some stuff. Most of it was some kind of packaging for stuff I have bought during the last twelve months. Most of it was from stationary products, but not everything.

This isn’t about the environment, even though it can be a nice bonus.

My typical flow when it comes to product packaging if it is small enough is to unpack it, stuff the box away and then at some later point just throw it away. My two favourites at the moment are Apple’s iPhone packaging and the box my Travelers Notebook came in. Both of them are nice, but the iPhone is the nicest from a pure design perspective. It is a nice card board box, while the Travelers Notebook just came in a folded piece of cardboard.

The thing I don’t like is the obsessive need for sending everything in a “nice” plastic box, that you will look at once, start using it and then ignore until you have to get rid of it.

Both have the same end goal, keep what you bought save until you get it. You make it easy to throw out when something is made out of cardboard. It isn’t a practical thing, it’s just a mental thing: this is cardboard, let’s just throw it out with the rest. While I always for some strange reason keep the damn thing if it is made out of plastic. I’m not sure why, but I expect it is something going on in the back of my mind, like “this is nice, maybe I need it for something some day”.

It would have been really nice if everyone got their act together and stopped kidding themselves and us: make the damn thing out of cardboard, we are going to get rid of it anyways.

This doesn’t mean you have to use something ugly. Apple are really good at it. Making boxes that you can just throw out and recycle without giving us the guilt with a fancy piece of plastic that no single person will use for anything but taking up space.

Review

July 25, 2016

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The Pilot Metropolitan has a spacial place in my heart, it was my first fountain pen, and have been the pen I more often than not bring everywhere. It is cheap, has a nice nib, can take a beating, and I have never experienced any kind of ink leaking with it.

I ordered a new one a few weeks ago because my old one, while it still works, have seen its better days. The clip broke off a year ago, the nib is a little bit bent and the finish is far from pristine.

The thing that amazes me about it, is how much you get for your money when you put down around $20 for it, plus the good Pilot converter. A lot have happened to the Metropolitan since I got mine three years ago. The packaging is much nicer, you have twice as many nibs to chose from and many more colours. I went for a medium nib, this time, as the last time, and the plain black.

The colour doesn’t look exactly the same as my old pen, it is less shiny and looks a little bit closer to grey than my old pen. The nib feels a little bit firmer and the line a little bit thinner. I expect this is because my old nib is a little bit bent.

It is well worth the money, and I think you get more for the money than with most pens. It is great, it is inexpensive. But I have two minor complaints, which is more or less the same as always: I wish there was more nib options, because I think a broad would have been perfect for me, and the ink capacity is a little bit too low for me; to be fair: this is more of a Pilot converter problem than a metropolitan problem; and the solution is to get two of them. Which is what I plan to do until my old one breaks down.