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My Rules


I have mentioned “I have a rule against” a few times while writing this site. This will be a summary of them.

  • Buying stuff: I’m a minimalist, and I do therefore try to minimise the amount of stuff I own and use. And therefore I try to only have notebooks, inks, pens etc that are useful for me. If I test out a notebook, I make sure that it is something I can use, even though I prefer other notebooks. For example the Rhodia Webnotebook, it isn’t my preference, but it is still close enough to what I usually use for me to use it from page 1 until the end
  • Notebooks: every notebook I review and test on this site, will be used to its fullest, and if my views on it change after my initiallreview I’ll write about it. I never stash stuff away before I have used it up.
  • Inks: I limit the amount of ink I have on my desk, because I feel very uncomfortable about the idea to have enough ink to last longer than a life time. I currently own two a little bit over half full bottles and one almost empty.
  • Pens: I want to have enough pens in rotation so that I can always refill my pen case with a full pen when needed. Most of them are cheap, and two of them are expensive.

Another Review of the J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre


I got this bottle of ink from Pen Chalet for the purpose of reviewing it, and I did, but I was never that happy about the review. I’m not sure why, probably because this ink is so far removed from what I usually use.

My typical ink in the beginning was black, I used the Lamy and Pilot cartridges for a very long time. And I loved them for the convenience. I would probably have used cartridges in my Vanishing Point if the Iroshizuku line was available on that form(you can have that idea for “free” Pilot, just send me a red Falcon with a soft broad nib in exchange). Then I moved over to bottles, first Noodelers Bernanke (which I loved), then I moved over to the Lamy black (which I hate) before I ordered my first Iroshizuku bottle (take-sumi) and I have gone through two full bottles and two half bottles of Iroshizuku ink since then.

They have some shading, in the of their inks, but no glimmer or crazy colours. This J’herbin ink is all kinds of crazy, the colour is fantastic, it is a reddish brown, with gold glimmer.

This is probably the first time I’ve used “fantastic” and “brown” in the same sentence.

I have now used the ink quite a lot. First I used it in a Noodlers Ahab for a few weeks, and now I have used it as my only ink in all of the pens I have in rotation. And I enjoy it a lot.

The dry time is a little bit longer than what I prefer. But I think it is a great ink.


'Diamine Tropical Glow


I received an ink sample of this ink from Tudos.no free of charge for the purpose of reviewing it.

Diamine have been on the top of my list of ink brands I was going to look more into after I have used up some of my the ink on my desk. I’m down to two opened bottles now.

My interest in shimmer and shading inks probably started with the Tsuki-yo for the shading part, and I got very interested in shimmer when I reviewed J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre.

The writing experience with this ink is very good. Nothing to complain about when it comes down to the lubrication of the ink. And the colour looks fantastic. It is a beautiful turquoise with silver shimmers. They are very subtle, and you only see them if you know to look for them.

I did initially think that the colour was a little bit too light, but I have come around on that. Even though I would have preferred a darker colour.

I’m probably not going to buy a whole bottle of this ink, at least not now. I might do it in the future. But I’m just a little bit fed up on green at the moment, But I like it a lot more than the green ink I previously used (shin-ryoku).

One final note. I have not tested this ink as thorough as I usually do. I have only tested it with my board vanishing point. In contrast to how I usually test ink, which usually entails me inking up every single pen I own to get an impression on how it works with finer and broader; stubs; wetter and dryer.

I would without doubt recommend it, if you are looking for a turquoise ink.


What I expect from an A5 notebook


This is just a short list of what a A5 notebook should be like in order to be the most useful to me

  • Lined or grid
  • I prefer lined for long form writing and dot grid for tasks.
  • Hardcover; because it is much more convenient when I write somewhere I don’t have a flat surface available.
  • At least two markers
  • I prefer three
  • The paper should be good; Leuchtturm1917 or Rhodia quality is the standard I expect.
  • And then I mean both paper quality and shorter dry time.

Something between the sample and a bottle.


When I want to test an ink, I have two options either I buy or trade a sample or I buy a full bottle. I would probably just get the bottle because it is not THAT expensive.

What I want is something bigger than a sample, but smaller than a 50ml bottle. 10 or 15 ml would be perfect. Because a small sample is never enough for me to do a proper test. I like to test it in many different pens in order to get the full picture of how a ink behaves. But the problem with the full bottle, is of course to get rid of it, if you don’t like it or don’t see yourself using it all.

The reason I try to always test a ink with as many pens as possible is because to use a ink with a finer nib versus a broader one or a dry pen vs wet pen is very different. The colours are different. And the dry time is different.

Some inks look better with a fine line, while others look much better with a big wet one. And some inks are just unusable with a wet nib because you have to take a nap while you wait for a page to dry


'Review


I received the [Code & Quill Origin](Code & Quill Origin Grey Dotted + Linjert A5 Hardcover Notatbok – Tudos) free of charge from Tudos for the purpose of reviewing it.

This is a A5-ish notebook with dot grid on the left side and lined on the right side – what I usually call dual layout. The paper is okay, but it bleeds through a little bit more than I’m used to. It’s not that bad, but a little bit worse than for example Leuchtturm1917.

The design of this notebook is not ugly, but it isn’t anything I like either. The only way to describe it is how iOS apps used to look before everything went “flat”. There are probably some people that love how it looks. But it isn’t my kind of thing.

My three big complaints of this notebook is:

  • The paper quality makes something to be desired. Close, but no cigar.
  • The lack of felt page markers is really annoying.
  • The format of the book is similar to A5, but a little bit shorter. This drives me nuts. Why wouldn’t you follow an established standard? This is the kind of thing where I mumble “fucking Americans”, we have the metric system and various other systems for a reason.

I have used dual layout notebooks before, mainly the Field Notes special edition from about three years ago, or something. And it never clicked with me. My opinion have been that people should get a Travelers Notebook and fill it with different refills if they just want multiple page layouts in their notebook.

The way I usually use notebooks are either long form writing or writing down lists. And to use a dual layout for something like that is either confusing or plain wasteful. So what I had to do in order to test out this notebook was find something I could use it for where it made sense to have one layout here and another one over there.

I decided to use it for creating “mockups” for app and web development stuff I do at work and for fun. This means I need to carry another notebook, and that was exactly what I needed…

The dual layout is good for some stuff. And my mock up notes are less messy and easier to understand when I use the grid for the mockups (crappy drawings) and the lined part for describing what it is.

Now. I’m not 100% sure if the improvement is big enough for me to justify carrying another notebook. I guess time will show.


How do they hold up?


In this post I’m going to take a look how various notebooks I have used hold up in use. How does they look when they are new versus after I’m done with them.

Field Notes

I think Field Notes are the gold standard for notebooks that look fantastic both new and even better when they show some wear and tear. While I think their design new look good, they are in no way my favourite.

As said, they look fantastic after being used. The only problem with them is that it isn’t that they don’t hold up that well if you have them in your pack pocket for months, instead of weeks.

Leuchtturm1917 (hardcover, A5)

This notebook looks okay or fine but not fantastic when you start using it. It isn’t ugly or anything, but it is just “utilitarian” and does the job. I don’t think anyone buys a Leuchtturm1917 for its aesthetics, but rather their fantastic paper and features.

The notebook does not look good after a few months of wear and tear, but I have never experienced that any of them are falling apart, even after carrying them in by bag for months.

Nock.co Pocket sized notebook.

This is based on the Blue limited edition one, but I expect it is similar on previous limited editions and their regular black one.

It looks amazing out of the pack. I greatly prefer it to Field Notes. And I think it has a Field Notes thing going for it where it looks cool as the colour are worn off after being in my back pocket for a few weeks.

I’m not 100% sure, but it seems like the material the cover is made of holds up better than Field Notes when it comes down to not falling apart.

Rhoda Webnotebook

Not unlinke the Leuchtturm1917, the orange Rhodia Webnotebook doesn’t look that great after using it for a while. It looks a little bit "dirty" and some posts of ink etc. The black one might not show it as well as the orange one.

Conclusion

If I would pick one of each category, one A5 and one pocket sized notebook based on how they look after being used for a while, I think Field Notes and Leuchtturm1917 is the obvious picks. Field Notes looks the best when they are worn down. And Leuchtturm1917 takes it a little bit better than the Webbie. It doesn’t look good on either; but it is much more visible on the webbie; and neither is made in a way where it looks good.

But this is of course not the way I pick notebooks. My prefence at the moment is Nock.co notebooks for my pocket sized needs, and Leuchtturm1917 for everything else.


Tomoe River Paper


This is probably the most impressive kind of paper on the planet. It is super thin, or can take more or less any ink you throw at it; I think I was pouring ink at it at some point. It is the paper used in the Hobonichi Planner. But the
other side of the impressive capacity to deal with ink without bleeding through or feathering is that the dry time is very long.

I get why some people love it, and it is the kind of paper everyone should try. But I consider it completely unusable for regular use, because it takes too long for the ink to dry.

Fantastic paper, but not for me, my kind of pens and inks I use.


Some thoughts on cleaning fountain pens.


How much and how often you clean your pens are up to you, but I think it is a good idea to do it now and then.

I try to do it myself not every time I refill my pens but every other to every third time. And I only do a full “flush water in and out until its 100% clean” when I change inks. I just flush clean water through the pen a few times before I refill it. Takes less than a minute per pen.

If you are using a cartridge converter type pen, then there is no damage to cleaning it every time you have the opportunity. But the more often you clean a piston filler, the shorter time it is between each time you have to grease the piston.

Like with everything else, there is something that is too much and something that is too little; the trick is to find a place in the middle.

You probably know why, but I am going to explain it anyways. The reason you want to flush water through your fountain pen from time to time is to make sure nothing dries up in the feed of your pen; and that is bad because it blocks the ink from flowing through your pen and onto the page.

If you use a piston or a converter, just suck water in and out a few times, and use a bulb syringe if you use cartridges.

But the most important thing is to do a thorough cleaning when you are switching inks. The first reason should be obvious to everyone, but it is to make sure that you see the proper colour of your new ink and not some weird mix between the old and new. But even more important is to make sure that your pen are completely clean when you start using your new ink, because some inks don’t mix that well. Everything from combinations that actually can damage your pen to combinations that clog up your feed.


When is bad paper a good idea?


Just a short one on bad paper.

They come in two forms, both of them bleed like crazy. That’s what make them bad. But they come in many different thicknesses. Bad thin paper is just horrible; think Moleskine; because you get bleed through on multiple pages at a time.

But. Bad think paper isn’t the worst thing in the world in some ways. Because bad thick paper have the shortest dry time possible. This is because instead of letting the ink dry on top of the paper like you see in the most extreme with Tomoe River, and in lesser degrees on Rhodia and Leuchtturm1917, the ink are just absorbed by the page.

I think it is a good idea when you are learning how to write with a fountain pen; especially if you are a lefty. And if you are in a meeting where you don’t want to stand out as the weirdo with arcane writing instruments and ink all over his fingers.


Lamy 2000 vs the Pilot Vanishing Point


The Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Vanishing Point are probably the two most common “first expensive” fountain pen for many. They are two very different pens, and what makes each of them great is also very different.

What makes both of them great are the fantastic nibs and you get a lot for your money. But there are some good and some bad about both of them.

The Lamy 2000 has a hooded nib, I love it, but it isn’t a good fit for everyone. Some people can never get a hold of how to angle it. And it can be a little bit big for some users. But you get one of the best designed fountain pens, if not the best and a lot of ink in each filling.

The Vanishing Point on the other hand is a cartridge converter pen instead of a piston filler; this means that the ink capacity is much lower. And this pen is also much more right handed friendly than left handed. This is because of the profile and position of the clip. I’m not bothered by it, but a lot of people are.

Both of these pens are something you either have to risk or need to try before you know if it is something for you. It isn’t the biggest risk, because both of them would be fairly easy to sell used without too much of a loss.

You probably want both.

What I love about the Vanishing Point is how quick it is to unretract, write something down and retract the nib again; compared to taking the nib of a regular pen, write and then putting it on again. The thing that drive me nuts about it is how poor the ink capacity is.

What I love about the Lamy 2000 is that the ink almost lasts forever, and the nib is my absolute favourite. And there are nothing I dislike about it, but it is just much faster to use the Vanishing Point.

I would get both again without having to think that much about it, but the Lamy 2000 is without doubt the one I think is the better out of the two. But one of the reasons it is the better, is that the Vanishing Point is a pen design with a lot of constraints that are needed to give it the one killer feature that is the reason we buy it: the only good retractable fountain pen in existence.


My notebook system


My notebook system or set up (the set of notebooks I use and carry every single day) consists of a Travelers Notebook, two A5 hardcover notebooks and a pocket sized one.

The Travelers Notebook always have two lined refills in it, and I use it for my daily journaling, or long form writing when I carry as few things with me as possible. The only accessory I own for it is their excellent pen holder. But I only use it when the Travelers Notebook is the only stationary thing I carry.

My pocket sized notebook is currently a blue Nock.co notebook, and historically I have been a Field Notes user. But I finally got fed up with their paper quality. I use it for shopping lists, keeping track of hours I work etc. The basic rule for what I write in it is stuff I need to reference when I’m out, or stuff I felt like I had to remember when I was out.

My two A5 notebooks are usually Leuchtturm1917; lined and the bullet journal version. But I’m currently using a dot grid Rhodia Webnotebook instead of the Bullet Journal because I tested the Webbie out, and I have a rule against having notebooks I just tested a few pages in laying around in my home office.

The lined on are used for long form writing, like this article for example. And the dot grid are using to manage tasks. Think of it like the bastard child of bullet journal and the dash plus system.


What is the deal with Pilot and Cartridges?


One of the things I think is very weird is how many of their pens that I’m interested come as a cartridge / converter pen instead of for example a piston filler. While they at the same time use a converter that don’t use the room available in the pen that well and have a boring line of cartridges.

If I get a Pilot pen, let’s say a Vanishing Point or a Falcon. Then I’ll use the standard cartridge, which I would have to use a syringe in order to fill it up properly, and I would still only get a fraction of the ink of a TWSBI Eco or a Lamy 2000.

Second, their ink line up. Pilot have some amazing ink, many if not all of them from the Iroshizuku line. Why aren’t they available as cartridges?

I don’t get it…


The clear TWSBI ECO.


Two of my all time favourite pens are the Pilot Metropolitan and the TWSBI Eco. I think an Eco is the best TWSBI pen you can buy, and probably the best bang for your buck in any pen.

I loved everything about it, except for the black / white parts. TWSBI finally fixed that by releasing an clear version. And the result is an pen that looks almost as good as a 580. It looks cheaper, but not by much.

I love the Eco, while I’m not that fund of most of the other TWSBI pens because they are a little bit too expensive to make sense for me. Why buy that when a little bit more can get you a Vanishing Point or Lamy 2000?

Anyways. I’m loving my clear Eco.


'Pen Addicts Norway


Karl, the owner to Tudos the only Norwegian web shop that carries the kind of stuff we all love have recently started a Facebook group for Norwegian Pen Addicts.

This is kind of weird for me, because before the Pen Addict Slack I thought it was just me, because of the lack of stores that carried fountain pen products in Norway. Then after the Pen Addict Slack I thought we were maybe two people? Now we have a real webshop, and there are aperantly as many as over twenty people that care enough to join a Facebook Group.

Amazing.


New pages


I have added some new pages recently: Use and Top 3.

Use is a page I’m going to keep up to date, it’s a summary of the various items I’m currently using. And Top 3 is my version of Brad and Myke’s Top 5 picks; my all time top 3 pens, inks and notebooks.


How I use the three markers in my Bullet Journal


My current favourite new discovery is the three markers in the Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal. I think that just having one is barley more useful than having none, because I usually want to mark and keep track of more than one thing; I do for example use one to keep track of the next free page and another one to show how long I have come in transcribing used pages in my long form writing notebook.

The way I use the three markers is in my journal. The first one is used to mark the first page with un competed tasks,. The second is used to show the page I was working on last time I closed the book. And the third is used to show the first unused page.

Having three instead of one makes it possible to navigate it so much faster than what I would have been able to if I only had one marker. I’m not sure if having three instead of two is that different, but two instead of one is a game changer.


Three excellent notebooks


Finding a good notebook to use with your fountain pen can be difficult.

You can of course go for notebook with thick really observant paper. And I recommend that if you just starting out. But it doesn’t look that good. Here are my three favourites; they all handle fountain pens really well, and have relatively short dry time.

Travlelers notebook refill(the none tome river variant), Leuchtturm1917 and Rhodia. All of them are excellent. Which one you pick depends on your needs.

I use at least two of them at a daily basis. My journal is a Travelers Notebook, and I use two Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, one for tasks and one for long form writing.

The Travelers Notebook is great for a number of reasons, it is really compact and you can customise it after your needs. For example by combining blank and lined paper. And the narrow format makes it very easy to deal with slow drying inks(when you are left handed), it also makes it much easier to fit the notebook in a coat pocket or something than a regular A5 one.

Leuchtturm1917 has my favourite paper. It dries very fast, and almost never bleed through. And they also provide some nice details, like always at least two bookmarks and make a few special editions. Think of them as Moleskine with good paper.

Rhodia. I love their Webnotebooks. The book binding is the best feeling thing I have ever felt. I’m pretty sure it isn’t leather, but it feels like it, if not better. And the soft give of it gives it a very luxurious feeling. The dry time is a little bit longer than Leuchtturm1917, but not by far.

My personal go to is Leuchtturm1917 because of their multiple bookmarks. But I will from time to time get a Webbie for long form writing because they are so cool. And I would probably switch if they started to provide multiple markers.


The size of ink bottles.


Ink is probably the cheapest part of this fountain pen hobby for most of us.

Comparing prices is difficult and a subject of itself(nicer and more expensive bottles, and huge differences in bottle sizes). But a cheap ink is around $5 and I haven’t found a single bottle priced much higher than $40 (I checked Goulet and JetPens).

You will spend a lot more on the notebooks you need to fill in order to use the ink, than on the ink itself.

If you are the kind of person that only uses one colour, and order another identical bottle when you run out, then larger bottles are probably a good thing. But it might not be if you are like me.

I’m usually sick of a colour, with a very few exceptions, after I have used somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of a 50ml bottle. If you have read this site for a while, you probably get that I’m a minimalist. I don’t like having a lot of stuff collecting dust. I complete a notebook before I start the next, and I don’t keep a lot of spares. Because I don’t like it.

What I want is smaller ink bottles. Because I don’t care if a bottle cost me 5, 10 or 30 dollars; and I don’t care if they are 15ml or 50ml, because I’ll spend a hell of a lot more on notebooks than ink. My desire for using different inks are a lot larger than my need for getting as much ink as possible for my money.

I write a lot, and I think I can complete somewhere between two and three bottles a year, probably closer to two. Which means I have to put some serious limitations on how much ink I order to avoid being in the “I have more ink than I can use before I die” situation. But I could buy a hell of a lot more, and try a hell of a lot more inks, if the bottle sizes were like a third of what they are today.

I assume that the reason there is so much ink in each bottle has to do with the fact that the amount of ink isn’t what makes it expensive. I assume they feel like they want to give as much value as possible to their customers. And that’s good, I just want the option to also get it in a smaller bottle.


A beginners combo.


Where do you start?

This is intended as a starting point after you have played around with a Pilot Metropolitan or a Pilot Pretty or some other kind of cheap fountain pen.

I suggest the following combo:

  • TWSBI Eco
  • Leuchtturm1917 notebook
  • Noodlers Bernanke

Start with either a medium or fine nib. You can always move into broader or finer nibs later.

This combo will give you a very good starting point. The reason I recommend this combination is that you get a lot for your money, enough pen and ink to last you for around a year, and a combo that is easy to start with. A medium TWISBI nib combined with Leuchtturm1917 and Noodlers Bernanke is something I know has a short dry time.

Dry time isn’t that important. But I think it is good when you start, because it makes easier to learn how to deal with fountain pens. Especially important if you are a lefty.

The ECO is without doubt one one my favourite pens, it is one of the three pens in my daily carry, and the other two is both priced at around $150(Lamy 2000 and Pilot Vanishing point).


A Rhodia re-visit.


It only took me a little bit over four years, but I’ve given Rhodia another shot. I tested them out back when I was too shy to bring fountain pens with me outside my flat. So my “outside” pen was my first Retro 51. And I thought the dry time with that pen on the Rhodia pads was horrible. It felt like I could take a cigarette break between each page.

But in retrospect, it wasn’t that bad compared to something like for example tomoe river. So, I ordered a dot grid orange Rhodia Webnotebook from JetPens. This got to be the coolest notebook I have ever owned. The material of the cover feels almost like a leather bound book; soft and a little bit of friction.

The paper in this one is the 90g version. I have nothing bad to say about it. It is more bleed resistant than my Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, but also a little bit longer dry time. But I don’t think you will notice much of a difference, unless you are really sensitive to dry time. Switching to a finer nib or a faster drying ink would probably do more for your dry time.

This notebook is so cool, that I might consider using them as my “writing” notebook, instead of a Leuchtturm1917, but there is one major stopping point: I have grown to really love having multiple markers.

I would most defininently go for “webbies” if you the combination of great paper and the best looking and best feeling cover.


Three inks for a very long time.


I have probably used Iroshizuku tsuki-yo in all of my pens that are in regular rotation for a little bit over a month by the time this goes live. I have used three inks except for some minor reviewing here and there since February 2016.

First I got the tsuki-yo, and I used that for about a month, before I switched to shin-ryoku, and used that until January 2016, when I got a bottle of fuyu-gaki and I used it until I ran out in the end of April, then I used the rest of the shin-ryoku bottle before I got back to my tsuki-yo.

I’m not that into switching inks all the time. The reason is that doing a proper clean is a pain in the ass to do that often. So I usually end up using at least half a bottle before I move on to the next thing.

Three excellent inks, but the only one of the three that I know for certain that I will re-purchase is the tsuki-yo. The shading is much more interesting, and it is kind of like black, as in that you never get bored by it.


Piston fillers versus Cartridge converter


It all boils down to one simple question: what is more important of large ink capacity or ease of cleaning?

If you are the kind of person that has a lot of different inks, and like to change them on a frequent basis, then having room for a lot of ink might not be the most important. Because cleaning a cartridge converter pen is quick, you can just flush it out with a bulb syringe and flush the converter and you’re set for a new ink. While doing the same with a piston filler takes longer time because you need to fill and empty the pen until it is clean.

On the other side, if you are like me, and often use the same ink for months, if not until the bottle is empty, then you probably prefer having room for a lot of ink. A Piston filler is made to have room for as much ink as possible. While a converter is often designed to fit in a large number of different pens. And the result is often far smaller ink capacity.

I have pens with both. But I always prefer room for more ink because all of my pens (except for my Noodlers Ahab) is filled with the same ink. And I use a pen until it runs out, then I move over to the next pen, refill the empty one and rotate through all of my pens.

And I try to clean them every second to third refill or so. For me it doens’t really matter how easy it is to clean them for a new ink because it don’t do it that often.


Pilot CON-40


It should not be a huge surprise to everyone that I’m not the biggest fan of the Pilot CON-50 converter. It looks kind of dated. Not that the design of a converter is the most important thing in the world, but it still looks like something out of the 80s or 90s. But my biggest problem is the ink capacity that leaves a lot to be desired.

To be fair, they have a lot of pens to accommodate, which probably makes it very hard to make something that have a lot of ink, is reasonably easy and cheap to produce and so on.

The new model is the CON-40. It looks more modern, and is slightly smaller. But I don’t notice much of a difference, if you just do a regular fill. But I found it much more difficult to push all the air out and fill it all the way up, than in its predecessor. My personal opinion is that is isn’t really worth it. It is faster, less messy and easier to just refill the pen more often.

Pilot are doing the opposite of what I want with the CON-40, they are accommodating more pen, by replacing the CON-50 and the squeeze converter with one. I get why; one less product to produce, ship and keep in stock everywhere. But I still wish they made a separate converter for the Vanishing Point to make it more “on pair” with the Lamy 2000.