Category Archives: Reviews

Diamine Poppy Red

Diamine Poppy Red is a solid true red. This colour really pops and looks great on all shades of paper. Despite it’s vibrant colour I would have no problem using this ink in a variety of applications.


Diamine Poppy Red

Diamine Poppy Red

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Private Reserve lake Placid Blue


PR Lake Placid Blue

Private Reserve lake Placid Blue

Lake Placid is the second PR ink I have tried and I must say that it was a much nicer experience than the first. Naples blue is a ink that flow and performs well. It is nicely saturated and has a reasonable dry time. Despite the way the swab turned out this ink writes a nice dark blue.

This ink acts well and looks nice enough but the colour just doesn’t grab me, nothing against it, it is a good ink but not to me liking colour wise. If you do like the colour I would say go for it as it is a nice performing ink.

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Noodler’s Heart of Darkness

Noodler’s Heart of Darkness is one of those inks that almost everyone recommends. Heart of Darkness (or HoD) is praised for is deep, dark colour and bulletproof qualities. I have wanted to try this one for a while but couldn’t justify buying a second bottle of black ink, luckily a fellow fountain pen addict gave me a lovely sample at our monthly meetup. The ink performs very well, flows well, lays a nice line and dries in a very reasonable amount of time. Due to it’s dark colour there is some show through but I was VERY impressed by how little bleed there was. The only time this ink feathered was on moleskine paper. HoD did smear a bit when wet on Rhodia paper but on printer paper it held up perfectly under running water. This is an excellent ink that I will not hesitate to purchase after this sample runs out.


Noodler's Heart of Darkness

Noodler's Heart of Darkness

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Am I a Pencil Guy?


pencils

Pencil Sketch

Early in the new year I was contacted by Andy from Pencils.com and he asked if I would give their products a try. Soon there after I received a lovely little sample pack giving me a good over view of the variety of pencils they offer. The pack included:

  • A Palomino Blackwing, which is a high-quality graphite pencils. A tribute to the famous Eberhardt-Faber Blackwing 602. This is their top of the line pencil.
  • A Palomino HB. This is the flagship pencil.
  • A triangular Golden Bear HB. Their consumer level pencil
  • A Prospector HB. Their economical but still high quality model.
  • A Forest Choice HB. An Eco-Friendly option.
  • A Spangle Mini Jumbo. An entry level pencil geared to grade schoolers.

Pencil.com Sampler Pack

Pencils.com Sampler Pack

So keeping in mind that I have not used a pencil in years, with the exception of jotting a few notes or a quick correction of my son’s homework, I headed out into the land of the wood cased pencil with an open mind and some fresh paper. I did recruit the help of my wife Terri, who is a school teacher and my seven year old son to test some of these as they are more regular pencil users.

First up I tried the Spangle Mini Jumbo. I didn’t enjoy this pencil but I am not the target audience. My son liked it and my wife did appreciated an early learner pencil that was not a full jumbo and that had an eraser, apparently a lot of primary pencils do not have erasers. I have since ordered a dozen Spangle Mini Jumbo triangular pencils so they were a winner.

Next up is the Forest Choice. I appreciate the Eco-friendly aspect and the natural look of this pencil but I didn’t like the feel. This was the only one that felt like an average pencil.

The Prospector is California Republic’s economy pencil. This pencil was a real surprise, I wasn’t expecting much and what I got was a pencil that I was most likely to buy (and now have). I has a great fee and writes quite similarly to the more expensive Palomino.

The Golden Bear is the mid-range pencil and I was left wondering why it was more expensive than the Prospector that seemed to perform much better in my opinion. One thing I did really like about the Golden Bear that was included was its triangular shape. The Triangular body feel much better in that hand that the standard pencil shape.

The Palomino is the one that started it for this company. You can tell this pencil is a cut above the previously reviewed models. From the lacquer finish to the trim to the feel of the lead this pencil stands out. The only con I can assign to it is that it is good but not necessarily good enough for the extra cost. This is still a great pencil.

The Palomino Blackwing is the cream of the crop. This pencil stands out mostly because of its distinctive large rectangular eraser but once you hold it and use it, it becomes apparent that this is a premium pencil. The matte black lacquer finish feels very nice but the Blackwings crowning achievement is the smooth dark line that the lead leaves on the paper with little to no effort. This is a pencil that you could write page after page with and never grow tired of it. All this goodness comes at a price but I think the Blackwing is well worth the premium cost.


Palomino Blackwing

Palomino Blackwing

When all was said and done Terri and I sat down and ordered the pencils as to as preferences and here are the results.

Terri:

  1. Palomino Blackwing
  2. Prospector
  3. Forest
  4. Palomino
  5. Golden Bear
  6. Spangle Mini Jumbo

Halden:

  1. Palomino Blackwing
  2. Palomino
  3. Prospector
  4. Golden Bear
  5. Forest Choice
  6. Spangle

Here are some tests:


Pencil.com Sample Pack

Sample Pack Tests

So clearly the Palomino Blackwing is the clear cut winner and it is not hard to understand why, this is a really unique pencil. Despite my preference for the Palomino I ended up buying two dozen triangular Prospectors instead because of the price and the Palominos are not available in triangular bodies.

Overall I would say that pencil.com and California Republic are putting out some very nice pencils that are definitely worth checking out.

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Zebra V-301

When I first read about the Zebra V-301 I figured it might be a decent, inexpensive pen that could compete with the Pilot Vpen but I think it falls short in too many ways. One of the major points of differentiation between the V-301 and the Vpen is that the V-301 is refillable. Unfortunately, it can only be refilled with proprietary cartridges.

This pen was disappointing right out of the box. Despite being made out of stainless steel it felt flimsy. The pen body is satisfactory but the section is cheap plastic and the cap does not fit well nor does it post properly. The pen also fails in the most basic and critical aspect of a pen in that it doesn’t write, well at least not properly. Once loaded with the cartridge the pen took quite some time to start and would skip badly and not restart after a break of any length of time.

I appreciate the fact that Zebra was trying to put a fountain pen out to market that was inexpensive and not disposable but this pen just misses on too many points. This pen was released in Canada in January and should be available in the US in the spring. When I found these at Staples here I also bought one for Chris over at Pens N Paper who also shares his thoughts.

The bottom line is I would buy a Vpen if you need a fountain pen for under 5$

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Rhodia No 38 Dot Pad (AKA The Monolith)

The first time I saw a No 38 Pad I was struck with an inexplicable need to touch it, draw on it, write on it and own it. It was much like the monkeys seeing the Monolith in 2001. I didn’t understand it but I wanted it.

This Pad is enormous and wonderful. It is great for testing inks, practicing handwriting, sketching floor plans… This Pad sits on my writing desk at all times. It provides a great working surface and a great big piece of jotting/note taking paper. Not to mention the simple WOW factor of a hug slab of paper.


Rhodia No 38

Rhodia No 38

This is the first Graph pad I have used and enjoyed, on this large a piece of paper I don’t find the graph too distracting but I still look forward to trying the Dot Pad version.

Here is what this beast looks like next to a No 16 pad and some pens.


Rhodia No 38

Rhodia No 38 Next to a No 16

I recommend anyone that like to doodle, sketch and scribble get one of these.

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Diamine Amber

Diamine Amber is a nice performing colour with incredible shading. Amber is a little too yellow for my personal tastes but it is an interesting ink. I had some issues with its readability on anything but pure white paper, the few times I have written with it in my Moleskine the ink fades into the paper.

A good ink and a decent colour but it probably won’t make my regular rotation.


Diamine Amber

Diamine Amber

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