Review: Mitsu-Bishi 9000 2B

For my triumphant return to blogging after my thesis induced hiatus, I thought I’d start with a pencil that is equal parts magic and secret pencil processing, and that is the Mitsu-Bishi 9000 2B. It comes with the tagline “Made by Elaborate Process” stamped into its perfect, glossy green lacquer, so you know this is a special pencil. You might think that calling a pencil magic and elaborate in the same sentence is hyperbole, but I dare you to write with one of these pencils and try to tell me it’s not magic.

Let’s start off with how perfect this pencil looks, because the lacquer is thick, evenly applied and super glossy. The imprints are gold foil and also perfect.Near the non-business end there is a stripe of darker green with the grade of the pencil stamped, also in gold foil, also perfect. The grade is bracketed with asterisks. *2B* The bar code is stamped in white, close to the business end, so it is sharpened away more quickly. As all pencil makers should do it. The pencil is end dipped with one of those little plastic caps rather than paint, but this is also well done. Without a doubt this is a good looking pencil.

Gah, look at that green!
Gah, look at that green!

Inside the lacquer is fragrant cedar. Every Time I sharpen this pencil I’m reminded of dew covered forests with unicorns prancing about. Rainbow unicorn farts MUST smell like cedar. I’m telling you magic. That fragrant cedar is wrapped around a 2B core so smooth and dark on the page that writing with it is like writing with a stick of warm butter. It glides across any paper and even the lightest of pressure produces a mark that is deeply dark. Using this pencil on most any type of paper was quite nice. I experimented with Field Notes- Shelterwood’s smooth paper produced nice results as did the standard issue paper in the WBEZ edition. I also checked it out in a Staples composition notebook, and a Bob Slate Mt Tom. The pencil did well on all of the mentioned papers. The comp book seemed to wear it down faster than other papers, but that is to be expected- it’s toothy paper. MB90002B
The one area the MB9000 2B has any issues is with point retention. In the land of 2B pencil, the MB9000 performs admirably, but it does wear down quickly, like most 2B pencils. I found myself touching up after only a page of comp book or after 2 pages in my FN. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great.
MB90002BUsing this pencils was simply nice all around. From its good looks to performance on paper, these are amazingly nice pencils. They are well worth the $1.05 at Jetpens. CWPE only carries the HB, also for $1, but I have it on good authority that the HB performs almost as well but has better point retention.

Noodler’s Berning Red and the Last Straw

When I wrote the blog post below I had watched the Berning Red Video (BRV) on my phone, a tiny screen, and shut it off after about 15 minutes of partial attention. What caught my eye was the bouncing Bernie heads. I found them offensive and racist on first view and on a tiny screen. FWIW I still do and wonder if the creation was intentional or simply inartful. However, it had been pointed out to me that the head Bernie is superimposed over/combined with is Lenin and a few other Russian dictators. I went back and watched it at full screen size on my monitor. Full size it’s not as bad, not as overtly “made to look Asian.” Still gross. Mostly artless, heavy handed, and worse poorly articulated. I’ve often thought Tardiff an intelligent man and capable of much more.

So hey, I was wrong, on a number of level. It wasn’t yellow face and perhaps Tardiff isn’t capable of more.

I still don’t give a shit about what Tardiff has to say about politics/ Bernie (OMG guys he complimented him, that makes it all okay. It doesn’t). It is not so much that I disagree with Tardiff- and I do, his understanding of Massachusetts Tax and labor laws borders on delusional and at best is a simple misunderstanding.

When I buy a product I’m supporting that company with my hard earned dollars. What I don’t want to do is support someone who thinks it’s okay to make 35 minute offensive screeds while wagging his personal politics in my face and expecting me to swallow it all whole with a wink and a nod.

Even when my people I know in real life make offensive ignorant remarks, I call them out on it. Just as I’m not afraid to admit I was wrong in my initial reaction to the video, I feel it is my responsibility as an adult and a reviewer to comment when something is offensive, in poor taste, and largely ignorant.

Below this is my initial blog post, I stand behind much of what I had to “say” but I would change the racism to insensitive and heavy handed. I am still debating a warning label or removal of my reviews of his products.

I’ve been planning a post about the whole Noodler’s Berning Red racism fiasco since I first saw the Berning Red video (BRV), but I’ve been thesis-ing and too busy to do so. I’ve seen a number of reviews on the ink that outright ignore the brouhaha over the video and others that go so far as to point out that they couldn’t watch the entire 35 minute screed.

If I’m being honest here, and I am, I didn’t watch the whole video either. I watched until I saw several instances of the bouncing Bernie head overlaid with Mao’s face to realize that the BRV went way further than any of Tardiff’s previous videos. It was gross to watch and went further than any of his previous videos which you could brush off as “Oh look, Uncle Nate is going off about politics again,” in the same manner that you’d cringe when your racist tea party relative embarasses the whole family with ignorant rhetoric.

I was able to tolerate Tardiff pretty well until now. The outright racist cast of the BRV is the last straw. I will not buy another Noodler’s ink, all my reviews on Tardiff’s products are coming down*, and I won’t review another. This may seem kneejerk to some of you. I understand, but please go to Noodler’s website and watch the bouncing Bernie heads and tell me they aren’t gross. You don’t need to be a big Bernie fan to see that these images are gross and racist. I wouldn’t laugh if he’d overlaid Mao with Trump. Racism and racist behavior is gross and not something I can support either fiscally with my purchases or by providing advertising, in the way of reviews, for their products.

So, uh, that was my rant about Noodler’s, and this relates to my thoughts on my responsibilities as a blogger in this way- should I or should I not take a stand on this sort of thing? I’ve long thought that blogs are a reflection of their creator’s thoughts and feelings. I wouldn’t have started this blog if I didn’t have firm, if not passionate, feelings about the products I review. Also perhaps a little frustration at reading reviews which were so clearly wrong, or used the product for writing only one page before review, please see my screed on drive by or beauty reviews for more info on the matter. The fact is that without that passion this blog would not exist. Separating that passionate response to products from the reviews of them is a nonstarter. It can’t be done.

When I read a review in which the blogger states, “I can’t be bothered to look into the racist angle,” I react. Seriously? You can’t watch 2 to 3 minutes of a video to determine if it is racist or not? Most pen reviewers will fiddle with a fountain pen for HOURS trying to get it to work, before determining it is a dud. They’ll try ink in a dozen different pens before determining it is a dud. But yet this reviewer couldn’t be bothered to watch 2 to 3 minutes of a video to determine for himself that the BRV was racist. Chin up kid, your white privilege is showing.

Of course there is the flip side to that, completely ignoring the racist angle, as at least one other blogger did. At this point I believe that if you are a pen, ink, and pencil reviewer who is connected to the community, as I am and as I know this blogger is, there is no way you can’t know about Tardiff’s racism and political leaning. Also at this point the video is so in your face that I’m not sure you can ignore it.

My question arising from all of this is that now that I’m aware of Tardiff’s gross racism and dislike his politics, what are my responsibilities as a blogger when it comes to this knowledge? Should I delete my old posts about Noodler’s products? Should I edit them or add a header about this information? I’m not sure. The secondary question that  arises here, is how far do I take this? I’ve already unfollowed (removed from my feedly) a few blogs that reviewed the Berning Red ink without mention of Tardiff’s bigoted behavior, and another that pointed out the video and ignored the racist angle. where do I draw the line?

This isn’t the first time Noodler’s has been steeped in controversy. I’d say that since it’s introductions Noodler’s have been one controversy after another. It is almost like Tardiff enjoys the limelight of controversy perhaps he believes it helps sales. In this case, it’s detracting from his sales. i’m done with Noodler’s ink forever. (Those of you who have been reading for awhile know of my recommending his inks for drawing and sketching. No more.)

Continue reading Noodler’s Berning Red and the Last Straw

Finishing Thesis

I’ll be back to regular posting after the middle of April. I’m finishing my thesis and need to fully concentrate on that for the next few weeks. But I’ve got a few interesting tidbits planned for then. More reviews because HOLY COW do I have a backlog of pencils that I’ve got on my desk but also that have met my criteria for review ( I’ve used them for some writing) and are also awesome.

A photo posted by LC Harper (@originallcharper) on

A brief look at the new Blackwing Volumes 24 limited edition pencil.

I’m going to tell you right now that if you like the old Palomino HB in blue or orange, just go ahead and see if you can get a pack of the Volumes 24s. If you don’t want to spend the cash, just buy the Palomino HB. After a few days of using nothing but the two pencils I can tell you the following:

  • You will notice a difference if you are using smooth paper. In that case the PalHB is noticeably soft and smoother. The 24 holds it’s point longer.
  • If like me you use composition books with toothier paper, you may notice a difference, but it may not be by much. In fact, in use on rough copy paper and my comp books I could go either way with the 24s.
  • Blackout finish. My inner angsty 90s teen rejoices, but quietly, because angst.

I’m saying these are super good looking pencils that are great for quick sketches or for long writing sessions. If you want cool kid black pencils, get ’em, if you don’t want to spend the coin, get the old standard PalHB and some bottles of black fingernail polish and paint them up. 🙂

A photo posted by LC Harper (@originallcharper) on

Review: Caran d’Ache Grafwood

I’m going to declare the Grafwood the answer to all the problems people have with the Swisswood, which will be referred to as the Stinkwood.* What is so great about he Grafwood? First it looks great. The lacquer is thick, smooth, and glossy. It’s pearlized and each grade has a corresponding shade, so the HB is a light gray while the 9B is black, with every shade of gray in between. The imprint is silver foil, and it’s perfectly crisp and sharp. It’s not too deep to cause crinkles in the finish. The reverse side is adorned with the now standard bar code, black on the lighter colors and white on the darker.Grafwood

One may be inclined to disparage the bar code as a wart on an otherwise beautiful object, but consider the alternative- the barcode sticker which leaves behind a sticky mess of residue. I’d rather have a barcode that eventually sharpens away than  a sticky mess.

Inside the paint is cedar and a thick lush core. Each of the Grafwood pencils I”ve tried, B, 3B, and 7B have been delightfully smooth. They skate over the page. I find the HB and B to be a touch harder than most brands the 3B is perfectly dark and smooth and right on point for a 3B pencil. The 7B is also dark and smooth and perfect for sketching. The B is perfect for writing and keeping the point pointy for pages.Grafwood

There is a downside. For those of us who are aficionados of the long point our devotion will require something special with these pencils, you see they do not fit into the standard pocket carry sharpeners. Neither the Masterpiece, nor the KUM automatic, or even the KUM stenographer will satisfy the loing point craving No, the only thing that will bring these to a lovely long point while on the go is a knife. Further frustration is that they barely, and i do mean, just barely squeeze their way into the Carl A5. If there is a variation in your Carl A5/Classroom Friendly, well, these beauties won’t be fitting in.Grafwood

Continue reading Review: Caran d’Ache Grafwood

Review: TWSBI Precision 0.7 Mechanical Pencil

I’ve been seeing mentions of the TWSBI Precision for awhile now. When it first was introduced by TWSBI I drooled over it’s full metal body and retractable sleeve, all for $25. $25 is virtually unheard of when it comes to retractable tipped draughting pencils. Usually getting a retractable tipped pencil will cost $40 and up.

Initially, TWSBI was set to offer these in a range of colors, but it seems they are now set with just 2, silver and matte black.  I ordered a black 0.7 with retractable tip*. It is $25 everywhere I’ve looked. I purchased mine from Jetpens. I suggest ordering via a 3rd party vendor for a number of reasons, but the biggest being that I’ve had shipping issues when ordering directly from TWSBI.
TWSBI PRecision
The Precision arrives in a card sleeve over a plastic box, with a foam insert to hold everything in place. Inside the box you have your pencil, 3 spare erasers, and a box of HB leads that are not labeled. The leads feel like classic Pentel Polymer HB leads. They are smooth and appropriately dark, but if you are like me you’ll soon switch over to Uni NanoDia in B or 2B. The erasers are each 2 inches long and a nice firm sticky eraser that really works well. I’m more than pleased with the TWSBI erasers. It’s the first mechanical eraser I’ve used and been pleased with. Not only is the eraser good, it’s of a meaningful length.TWSBI PRecision TWSBI PRecision

The pencil itself sports a knurled grip that is quite unique. Most knurled pieces feature a series of cuts that create a pattern of pyramids. The Precision uses a series of grids to create a series of rounded over rectangles. It’s grippy but doesn’t feel like I’m holding an emory board.** The grip area is a touch narrower than the rest of the hexagonal body. While the pencil is weighty, it’s not overly so. I’ve certainly used heavier fountain pens. But the all brass body on this pencil is reassuring. Because it is heavy I was quite worried that this would be uncomfortable for longer writing sessions. Now that I’ve used it for some time I find that it’s quite comfortable. It’s well balanced so it sits well in my hand and feels good even as I write my session note drafts as well as when I jot down quick ideas.TWSBI PRecision

Because it’s a draughting pencil I had to take it apart and look at it’s guts. These are all metal all the way through. The guts are chromed and feel as sturdy as the body of the pen. I’m not sure what the inner bits are made of, but the body is brass. The tip and body threads are machined so well that I need to use a rubber band to gain enough grip to remove the tip from the body.TWSBI PRecision TWSBI PRecision

The nock mechanism is tight and sounds springy. By this I mean that I can hear the spring moving around as I depress the nock. Which has been described as metallic. It is a sharp noise. The nock itself is instantly engaged as soon as I depress it. This is in opposition to my KuruToga which has a spongy and less responsive nock mechanism. The Precision is louder than my Rotring 600, but not by much. I have to wonder if this is due to the metal body conducting sounds more directly than the plastic material in the Rotring 600.TWSBI PRecision TWSBI PRecision TWSBI PRecision

I keep reaching for this pencil over and over again, over my Rotring 600 which is also new to my stable of mechanical pencils. Because of the retractable tip I’m able to slide this into my NockCo Fodderstack XL and take it with me without fear of damaging the tip or having the needle like tip stab me.TWSBI PRecision

In short, I think if you enjoy mechanical pencils the TWSBI Precision is a must have. It’s really well made, feels great in the hand, and performs wonderfully. Thought TWSBI’s shipping is bunk, their customer service is wonderful. Should you have an issue, TWSBI will stand behind their products.

Continue reading Review: TWSBI Precision 0.7 Mechanical Pencil

Review: Viarco Fine & Candy “Smoke”

The Viarco Fine & Candy “Smoke” pencil was the January Pencil of the Month (PotM) via CW Pencil Enterprise.


The pencil is made of cedar and sharpens up as most incense cedar pencils do- very well. When sharpened this pencils smells fantastic. When I turn it in the sharpener there is a burst of strong cedar fragrance, it’s great. The core sharpens pretty well too, well sometimes. On many occasions a piece of grit catches on the sharpener’s blade and causes the core to snap off. smoke

Those bits of grit turned an otherwise pretty decent writing experience into annoyance. My pencil was plagued by these bits of grit. Barring the grit the pencil is dark and mostly smooth for what I assume is an HB core. It’s not overly smudgy and it had ok point retention. I tested it out in a couple of Field Notes as well as with taking notes in class and while reading. It did quite well in these tasks. I spent quite a  lot of time with it doing some character driven writing prompts*. It was quite nice for these prompts. I was able to write 2 to 3 pages in my Field Notes before needing to touch up my point.smoke smoke

It must also be noted that this is a very very pretty pencil. The neutral gray is fantastic against the grainy silver end dip. Contrasting the grainy end dip is a smooth foil imprint of the Viarco and Fine & Candy logos. Simply well done. A really great pencil for a gray winter day. I ground this one down to a nubbin and it resides in my pencil nubbin jar.smoke

For me this is one of those one is enough pencils. While I liked it well enough and found it very pretty, I don’t find myself wanting another. The grittiness is enough to keep me from purchasing another. The grit irritated me, and in a $2 pencil shouldn’t be there. Why spend $2 on this pencil when I can pick up an equally pretty Palomino Pearl for less? Or a stunning Nataraj Pop for pennies and have it out perform the Viarco? If you are looking for a stunning pencil to look at, go no further.smoke Continue reading Review: Viarco Fine & Candy “Smoke”

Review: Highlighter Pencil Round Up

Consider this a mass review, or comparison, or whatever. My favorite highlighter will always be an eye droppered Platinum preppy with a 50/50 mix of Noodler’s Electric Eel and Year of the Dragon inks. It’s the best highlighter ever. I had to test out some highlighter pencils, simply to satiate my own curiosity. It also makes sense for when I’m reading books printed on cheap pulpy paper and my Preppy soaks through the cheap paper like it’s TP.pencil highlighters

I looked at 4 factors that make a good highlighter pencil:

  1. Price- These things get used, and used pretty quickly when I’m reading a lot of text for school. Cheaper is better.
  2. Texture- This can get broken into 2 subcategories: smooth and crumble. Smooth refers to how the pencil applies to the page- does it glide or catch? When highlighting I want glide. Crumble has to do with how the pencil responds to pressure and application to the page. Does it crumble and make a mess or is it strong and clean?
  3. Transparency- Can I easily see through the color or do I need to underline with the highlighter? If I can’t see through it then what is the point?
  4. Sharpening- How well, or badly, does the pencil sharpen? Am I wasting a ton of core in each sharpening of the pencil?

Using this criteria I looked at a selection of highlighter pencils and tested them out. The best is listed first and the worst last, however none are truly horrible, just when compared to the others, not as good.

These are listed in the order of best to worst.

Koh-I-Noor Highlighter/ Dry Marker Pencil

These are reliably good highlighters. Transparent and smooth with minimal crumbling. They sharpen well unless they have been abused. They come in a 6-pack and are reasonably priced. My package was roughly $6 at Artist and Craftsman but they are a little more on Amazon.

Kutsuwa Highlighter Pencil

I picked this up at Jetpens for $3, which is it’s only downfall. It would be the best of the best if it weren’t $3 a pencil. It does come packaged with an extender and sharpener in one.These are perfectly smooth and transparently. They sharpen perfectly each and every time. If you don’t use your highlighters often this might be the highlighter pencil for you.

Stubby Pencil Studio, Eco Highlighter

I scored this jumbo pencil in a swap but they are available on Amazon. They are sold in sets of 4 of one color, 12 of one color, or rainbow packages. They average about $4 each. They are the largest of any of the pencils in length, with a thick core that sharpens well. If you like raw wood pencils, these will make you happy. That being said, the core does crumble in use, not as bad as the worst of the lot but enough to make note of the crumble. The core is nicely transparent so there is that. At $4 each, they are a little pricey for me, especially since the core is crumbly.pencil highlighters

Yoobi, Highlighter Pencil Set of 5

Available from Target and Yoobi for $3.49 a set or $11 on Amazon. I’m not sure why Yoobi has decided to price their products so expensive on the ‘zom but they have. Anway way, these are also a jumbo pencil, in lightly finished wood. They look great with a nice black imprint of the yoobi name on one side. There are 4 colors in a pack, with 2 yellow pencils. These sharpen well and are mostly transparent but I think a tad too dark over black text. The core itself crumbles and leaves a mess all over the page. I find myself sharpening the pencil all the time because the tip has crumbled off. If you are looking for a cheap alternative with a good cause, these are it, but they aren’t going to convince anyone to give up a marker style highlighter.

Koh-I-Noor Magic colored pencil  in red, orange, and yellow*

This is a jumbo colored pencil and not really intended as a highlighter but the blend of colors works well for editing and underlining. It is fairly opaque, which is why it does well for editing and underlining. It sharpens well and has a fun marbled paint job. Due to it’s multicolored core it can be a bit crumbly but it does okay. At $1.50 a pencil these aren’t a bad price for editing, but as a highlighter, meh.
Over all, I find myself reaching for the Koh-i noor Dry Marker over and over. They are regular pencil sized and I can get a nice broad tip going, then sharpen up in any sharpener. They work well and are priced right, when they can be found. The Kutsuwa is the better highlighter over all, but just so darn expensive. Also I chewed through one in a week of use. It was a heavy reading week, but still, gone. If you are looking for a highlighter, you’ve got some choices.

Continue reading Review: Highlighter Pencil Round Up

Review: Shinola Small Notebook Paperback, Ruled

During my last visit to Artist & Craftsman I purchased a few Shinola notebooks on a whim. The small paperback notebooks are available in a variety of colors and are displayed in a neat spinning display made of dark stained wood and plexiglass. For the paperback books I snagged the orange color but they also have a nice pink, tan, navy, teal and black. They were out of the teal or I’d have gotten that*. Orange is a great color for a notebook because it can easily be found in a bag and in among crap laid out on a desk.Shinola Papercover

The notebooks are covered in a stiff cardstock that is sturdy, and the one I’m using has survived some seriously rough use. Yes, it has achieved and nice wabi sabi worn in look, which will offend some of new “brand new look” purists but, I love me the worn in look, and this is starting to get a good patina. The cover also has some nice embossing and debossing details. The name plate has a nice rounded rectangle embossed around it as well as a series of double lines at the top and bottom, which I think it could do without, but look okay. There is an embossing around the edges of the front cover. The back cover is adorned with simply, “Shinola Detroit.”Shinola Papercover

I’ve made my way through 3/4ths of the book and the spine is surviving well. The spine is not stitched rather it is perfect bound with embedded cords. While this is a sturdy sort of perfect binding, it won’t last forever. Eventually the rubbery glue they have used on the spine will give out, it might take 10 or 20 years, so if you use these for notes you want for posterity, because you know your thoughts are really THAT important, these might not be for you. So yes, perfect binding is generally the devil’s tool, but this is a good one, and has survived my rough use thus far. Also, for even more of a party foul, it won’t ever lay flat, nope don’t bother I tried. A final weirdness, these measure 5.5Hx3.75 inches, so you have to wedge them into your covers and they do NOT fit into a Fodderstack XL, again don’t bother I TRIED.Shinola Papercover

The paper is a delightful cream color with light grey lines. I love the color of the paper and the lines. the paper is smooth and lacks any sort of toothines that I like for graphite. I find the pages are prone to smudging when I use my usual B or 2B pencils on them. this is a great paper for HB or even *GASP* Wopex! Oh yes, this paper is DELIGHTFUL for the odd wopex pencil you have in your kit.Shinola Papercover

Anyway, you can ge a 2-pack of these 72 page lined notebooks for about $6.75 at Artist & Craftsman in Saugus, MA or you can go to the Shinola website, or a number of other sites.Shinola Papercover Shinola Papercover


  • Paperbacked
  • Perfect bound, NOT stitched
  • 72 lined cream colored pages
  • 60lb/90gsm acid free
  • 5.5×3.75 inches

Continue reading Review: Shinola Small Notebook Paperback, Ruled

Review: Ohto Horizon “Needle” Point Pen

My feelings on this pen are really really mixed. I’ll do my usual start with the good then tell you about the bad.

I’m required to use black ink for the clinical notes at my internship. as far as pen use for reviews go, it’s an ideal location. I write, a lot, every day that I’m there. The location is mostly paper based, and most of my notes are done on good old paper forms. My supervisor required black ink, which she states is a legal thing, but is really a matter of preference and professionalism.* I’m not suggesting I’d like to write in teal sparkly ink** but merely pointing out that I go through a ton of black ink. I blew through the included OHTO cart as if it never existed. I’ve since worked on hacking the pen and all the photos include the hacked carts and NOT the original “needle” point refill.Ohto Horizon

The Ohto 0.5mm cart was decent, but hardly a needle point. It is called a needle point not because it’s super thin, but because of how it’s shaped, slightly deceptive. It writes well enough, but it is a typical oil based roller ball ink. Pretty standard.

The pen itself is solid metal that is lightweight but not too light. It is actually pretty comfortable to use for longer form writing. It is metal and paint, so if you sweat as you write you might find it slippery, if like me you have dry hands, it’s fine. It looks as though it is made of brass, which is then enameled with really nice metallic colors. It is pretty. all the colors I looked at were nice. I picked up the dark teal because I’m a fan of teal. The nock, clip, and tip are all chromed. The nock and tip are made of machined brass which is then chrome coated. The knock is satisfying and makes a nice clicking noise when depressed. The point is retracted by pressing a small side button near the logo. Over all it’s not bad, in theory.20160131_145714

Onto the bad now. The nock makes an awful grinding metal on metal noise if it’s twisted around. Think nails on a chalk board. Yeesh. Awful. If you use replacement Ohto refills the tip of the refill rattles around in the tip as you write and is annoying. The clip is a piece of shite. Initially the clip is too tight to clip to anything, even the lapel and pocket of a thin dress shirt. Eventually, it stretches out to clip to anything, and then the pen fall off your lapel and into the sink as you wash your hands.*** I suspect that the clip will soon break off the pen and be more useless than it is now. Another point of frustration, the tip unscrews as I walk and use it. I find myself needing to tighten it repeatedly over the course of a day. This is ridiculous. I’ve tightened the tip with a rubber band to get extra grip, and even a pair of pliers. No go, the threads are just not machined well.

You can see the hacked Dr Grip refill here.
You can see the hacked Dr Grip refill here.

To solve the problem of the oddly priced refills I immediately tried to see what refills I can stuff into this baby. I found that with a minimal amount of work, including using a file to grind out the tip to accommodate the thicker refill, cutting 5mm off the spring, and chopping a piece off the refill that I can use a Pilot Dr. Grip gel ink refill. This is far too much work for a pen that is going to fall apart pretty quickly. Sure it’s pretty, but it’s not great.Ohto Horizon

This pen suffers from what I describe as Ohto’s half assing everything. Ohto has some seriously pretty products but they ridiculously half ass their products. This could be  a great pen and sell for a few bucks more if they machined the threads for the tip better, machined the tip itself better, used a better nock, and didn’t put on a cheap BIC clic clip. I get compliments on this pen all the time, people like it. I was drawn to how it looked and then realized it was an Ohto and almost put it back. Except it’s soooo pretty, that color and the hexagonal to round body. It is all so nice, except they just execute it badly. This isn’t the only time I’ve been burned by a REALLY  pretty Ohto product- remember that pretty pretty lead holder that looked like a #2 fat pencil? Again loose manufacturing tolerances with lot’s of slop lead to rattling that drives me nuts.Ohto Horizon

I picked up this pen at a Japanese gift shop in Cambridge, MA for $9.99.

Addendum: I’ve been using this pen consistently at my internship now for quite a few weeks. It’s comfortable and does the job. Hacked with e DR Grip refill, it writes quite nicely. The Clip has loosened to the point that I no longer clip it to my lapel or into my pocket. The knock has also gotten sloppier as I’ve used it. Some point in the near future the clip will fall off, there is no if but only when. Additionally, the nock also feels as though it is near failure. The small button used to retract the tip becomes crooked in use, and there is no reason for  it to do so. I suspect that the nock will seize.

Continue reading Review: Ohto Horizon “Needle” Point Pen

Using the Stockpile of Materials

As a response to my series of posts related to the Erasable group discussion I wondered how do we get people to actually use their stockpiled materials. I alluded to teaching art in my previous post and how one tool is to get students testing out their various pencils, pens, and brushes. Once acquainted with how they feel, students tend to favor one over another and begin to experiment. This enjoyment of experimentation is one of the tools I use to motivate myself into using my acquired stockpile of tools. It is also what gave birth to my reviews as well as my review philosophy.

I think that people would be happier and the world would be a better place if everyone owned a copy of these two books:

How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith (HtbaEotW)
The Creative LIcense by Danny Gregory

(Yes, those are affiliate links to the ‘zon.*)

Why these two books? First, you might know Smith’s name from her rather well know, and  lesser book, “Wreck This Journal.” Don’t get me wrong. WTJ is a great tool, but HtbaEotW is superior. On page 5 it gives a list of 13 ways a person can be an explorer of the world, this list is amazingly compact and delicious when used to direct journaling and experiences. Number 8 on this list, DOCUMENT your findings (field notes) in a variety of ways is key for anyone starting out in journaling. What I especially like about this book is that it treats self exploration and exploration of your surroundings in the same way- just another thing to look at and consider. Basically, HtbaEotW is a guide for mindful journaling, it strips away the self conscious aspect of self exploration and makes the reader consider it as if their life and thoughts are scientific discovery. For my friends/readers who are therapist- this it the idiot’s guide to arts based research, but minus the self important grandiosity that I associate with some of our “leaders.”

Also, it seems as if it is aimed at children, but ignore that, get yourself a copy, if only for page 5. Heck print off page 5 from this NPR interview and keep it in your journal.

Why Gregory’s book? It’s an inspirational how to for visual journaling. I find Gregory’s anti-pencil/pro-pen stance a little… meh. But the rest of his information is inspirational and interesting as well as useful to get people using their tools. It’s both visual but writing inspiration. He gives a fantastic list of reasons to journal.

Both of the examples I give are inspirational for journaling. I’m biased toward journaling as a use for my tools because it is how I use most of mine (that and school)  and think it is a wonderful way to begin journaling. Also, it is probably important for me to define what I call “journaling.” Journaling is the use of a notebook (or sketchbook) to record anything of interest. Those things of interest can include simple to do lists, entries about your day, gratitude journaling, storytelling, fiction writing, recording of life, receipts, and other assorted items- either writing or art based.

In this definition, writing prompts can also be useful. I found a number of sites that had useful and interesting writing prompts. I’m not big on using prompts but I’ve found a few that are useful. The more interesting sites that I found are as follows:

I’d also include the book  How to Make a Journal of Your Life by Dan Price, but it is out of print and a little hard to find**. It’s also one of those love it or hate it books. Price is better known as the Hobo Artist and the man behind Moonlight Chronicles (sadly, now defunct) and this slim volume details the process he used to create his journals which became the Moonlight Chronicles. The advice is solid and combines both visual and creative writing. The ideas are sound for a variety of people. I love it but I have read reviews where people despise the book and Price* himself.

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