Review: Moleskine Ballpoint Click Pen

I picked up the Moleskine Ballpoint Click Pen (MBCP) at Staples off the clearance rack for a mere $6. Which compared to their original MSRP of $15.95 is a steal. Inside is a standard parker style ballpoint refill. Sadly Moleskine didn’t think to use all the same refills across all their products, so this one uses a Parker style refill, another pen uses their gel ink refills and so on. The ballpoint refill is pretty meh. It does the job but my wife described the experience of using it as scratchy. I don’t find it scratchy but it isn’t smooth, not at all. 

Outside of the meh refill the feel of the pen in use is weird. First let’s discuss that shape- a rounded over rectangle that is thicker than a carpenter pencil but also not as wide. It is, as my wife said, shaped funny. The flat shapes never seem to settle into a good place in my hand and I’m constantly wanting to rotate the edge away from my thumb, but then the narrow shape sits on my middle finger and feels off. The shape is just not comfortable for longer writing. It’s too weird. For quick notes it’s ok.

The pen is extremely light weight. It’s made of ABS plastic, similar to the Lamy Safari, but unlike the Safari, the MBCP feels thin and cheap. I am not sure exactly why I think it feels cheap but it feels insubstantial. The thin metal of the clip feel too pliable and easy to damage. The seam is visible and unsightly.

Though the clip is too thin, it is a genius design. It slides over the fore edge of your notebook/journal, keeping the pen flush with the book and at the ready. I’m in love with the clip and I really wish that the writing experience was up to par with the clip.

Moleskine is no longer producing these pens, so I’m late to the game but here is where I think that a company could have reached out to the large community of Moleskine and pen enthusiasts across the world. I’m pretty sure they’d have been told- the shape is too weird, the pen feels cheap, among other issues. Instead they got caught up with their own design and drank their own Kool Aid. Slap a Moleskine logo on it and it’s sure to sell. Sorry Moley, you put a cheap product on the shelf for $16 across the aisle from a whole assortment of pens people know will work well for less money, and most people are going to buy the 10 pack of InkJoy for $15 instead of the weird rectangle pen. Which is why we see so many of these on clearance racks at Target and Staples- they don’t sell worth a damn because they are overpriced and don’t perform. I get better performance from a Bic Cristal at a fraction of the price.

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Review: Nataraj Trikone Super Black Pencil

The Trikone sports a core of Nataraj’s Super Black graphite. I’ve reviewed other Super Black pencils before, and these are no different. The core is silky smooth, dark, and I love it. The point retention/durability isn’t the greatest, but nor is any 2B pencil, and that is exactly where the Super Black cores sit- in the 2B range of graphite. With that aside, all we’re looking at is the rest of the pencil.

The Trikone is a triangular pencil. It arrives in a nifty triangular box, mine was very battered in shipping, but thus far the pencils seem no worse off. Inside the top of the box is nestled a standard Nataraj 621 sharpener and a nifty triangular eraser. The sharpeners work well enough to be used, while the Trio eraser was good enough to warrant it’s own post and a glowing one at that.

The Trikone is a standardly sized triangular pencil with rounded side and rounded over points on the triangle. It’s got the jelutong inside like most Hindustan pencils. It sharpens well with anything I’ve thrown it into.. The exterior of this pencils is what I see as markedly different from other Hindustan pencils. The lacquer on these is thickly applied and glossy. Though there are some issues here in there in the finish, for the most part these are better finished than most of the Hindustan pencils. I cannot see the grain through the lacquer.

The imprint is gold and deeply set into the paint. The triangular logo is smart looking and I rather adore it. Honestly, I might order more of these just for that logo. The colors of these pencils deserves to be mentioned. I really like the color combinations Hindustan comes up with for it’s pencils. In this case we’ve got yellow and red, blue and yellow, green and blue, red and orange, and finally orange and green. These color combos are just awesome. The shades of each color are bright and vibrant. I love the contrasting end dip. Speaking of the end dip, it’s thickly applied as well, and almost looks as if it were individually dipped.

I tend to be pretty meh on the whole triangular pencil front. They seem to be an odd shape to me, but these are pretty comfortable and feel more like around pencil than one with a mere 3 sides. I love the look and the feel. A handful have entered into my regular use pencil cup and like many of the Super Black pencils are in regular rotation. They aren’t a bad deal either, at $4.99 shipped they come in at a mere 42 cents if you include the “free” sharpener and eraser as items. Even if you don’t that is 49 cents a pencil.

I’m linking to the item I bought from the vendor I bought them from. However, I didn’t order the Trikone, I ordered the Trio 621.  So roll the dice?
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Review: Apsara Non Dust Eraser

These tiny erasers arrive bundled with Apsara pencils along with a sharpener. The NDE measures 35X12x18mm*. It is just small enough that it can disappear in my pocket but is just barely big enough that it’s easily found, so long as my pocket isn’t full of junk. It is white with a blue, green and white sleeve for protection. The sleeve does wear in through use, but it gets a nice patina that I pretty much love. 

The NDE is, as the name implies, a sticky eraser in that it doesn’t make crumbs and what it does make sticks to the eraser. It does exactly what the name implies- no dust and it sticks. As sticky erasers go this is quite firm, quite a bit more firm than the Sakura Foam or the Matumaru I reviewed previously. It does a decent job on smooth paper but on rough paper it does not clean as well, because the firmness prevents the eraser from getting deep into the fibers. That said, as far as sticky erasers go, if you are erasing on writing paper this will do the job well enough. No need to spring for a more expensive eraser to protect the paper in a Field Notes. This will more than do the job and keep eraser crumbs from messing your desk.

This is a great eraser for pocket carry. It works great as a fidget and also as an everyday eraser. Like most of the Apsara or Nataraj erasers you can find packs of 20 for sale on Amazon, but the prices fluctuate from $7 up to $50. The good thing is that if you order a pack of Apsara pencils, there is almost always an eraser and sharpener in the bundle, which makes them a good deal. Continue reading

Review: Shinola Small Notebook Soft Linen Ruled

I feel like I’ve written this review before but a search of all my posts reveals that I’ve written about their Write-esque pocket notebooks but not the small notebook. Now that I’ve used it for months I’m ready to tell you about the good and bad aspects of this pretty little notebook.

Shinola isn’t breaking any new ground with their Soft Covered Small Notebook (SCSN from here on out.) The SCSN ticks off all the typical pocket notebook necessities: elastic- check, back pocket- check, satin ribbon- check, smythe-sewn signatures- check, opens flat and folds over- check, rounded corners- check. All of these typical things are done really well. The black satin ribbon is extra long and sealed to prevent fraying. The elastic is tight even after nearly a year of use, and the ends are secured very deeply inside the back cover. The corners are trimmed perfectly. The only thing I don’t like, and it’s really a personal issue is that the pocket is adhered too far from the fore edge of the back cover which makes the pocket too small. This results in what I see as a useless pocket.

The flexible cover is stiff card adhered to linen bookcloth. I purchased the “praline” color which looks less like pralines to me and more like dark oatmeal to me. The interior pages are off white and ruled with gray ink. The ruling is pretty dark and stands out well. It does not disappear behind my writing at all. The paper is nice with pencil, ball point, some gel inks, and some rollerball. It’s the pits for fountain pen and any liquid inks. I’ve had gel ink soak and bleed through.

I’ve gotta say, I’m not a huge fan of this notebook at this price. It’s pretty and feels great but the paper inside is the pits for anything but pencil and ballpoint. For a $12 pocket notebook the paper should be better, and it’s just not good enough for me to justify the cash for paper of this low quality, even if it is made in the good ole’ USA. Continue reading

Review: Matumaru-Kun Gold Plastic Eraser

I picked up the Matumaru-Kun Gold on rec from my RSVP co-host Dee over at The Weekly Pencil.

It measures 1 3/4 x 1/2 x 1″ or 45X15X25mm.  This is a great size for pocket carry. It isn’t small enough to disappear (looking at you pebble) but it’s also not large enough to make an unsightly pocket bulge. And hey, it will even fit into the pockets of lady pants. The paper cover wears quickly. The gold on mine wore off in days of use, though I really like the worn look.

It is super soft and sticky- so no dusty eraser crumbs everywhere. It works really quite well at picking graphite off smooth and rough paper. Rough paper eats this eraser up though, so be aware that things can get pricy. It does not shine up coated papers or watercolor paper, so that is really nice. It sticks to itself well and leaves no mess.

The eraser performs similarly to a Sakura Foam at about the same price point. The big difference is that the Sakura Foam is offered in more size options. I’ll likely toss  a Hindowashi eraser into my cart every time I order from CWPE. The price and performance is close enough to Sakura Foam to be virtually indistinguishable.

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Review: Baron Fig Metamorphosis Confidant

 

The Metamorphosis is a really well done journal. It sports a nice hard cover that is covered with a nicely textured linen (or similar) bookcloth in very light salmon aka Millennial Pink, the end sheets are bright blue. It feels awesome. The spine is flat and opens relatively flat. It’s Smythe sewn like most journals of this style and this gives the journal quite a lot of flexibility and strength. I have not found any loose stitching in my Metamorphosis. It sports a bright blue wide cotton poly blend ribbon that is heat sealed to prevent fraying. It’s a tad too short for my preference, I’d like a full 2 inches protruding from the bottom of my book, but this has less than an inch. This makes it hard to use as a place marker and for opening the notebook. Unlike other journals of this style there is no elastic or pocket in the back. More on that later.

The paper inside is cream colored with grey dot grid or ruling if you chose that option. The dots are quite large but spaced 5mm apart. The gray of the dots is light and they fade into the background of my writing no matter what tool I’m using. BF doesn’t disclose the weight of the paper but it’s a decent thickness without being cardstock heavy. Most of my fountain pens performed relatively well on the paper with a minimum of bleed and soak through. There wasn’t a great deal of show through either. You can comfortably write on both sides of the page and have no problems reading it all. That last 12 leaves/ 24 pages (an entire signature) are perforated so you can tear them out. It does take quite a lot of effort to tear them out so no worries on them working their way loose. The paper is smooth but has enough tooth that it is wonderful with pencil. I actually prefer it with pencil over pen- even fountain pen.

The linen cover, like any linen cover, attracts dust and a bit of dirt. It shows up especially on this pale salmon shade. That said, I like the look as it wears in with use. As I’ve used the journal and bent back the spine repeatedly, it now sits flat on a desk but doesn’t close as well as it once did. I have giant rubber bands I use to hold it closed, but that’s not totally needed. I adore the paper and the color of the dot grid, I do wish that the dots were a tad smaller.

Overall I really like this journal and I know it won’t be my last Confidant, I’ll definitely be back for more. I do not miss the inclusion of the back pocket- a addition I rarely use in journal in which I write. However in an art journal I would miss the pocket. Once the book has been opened a few times the cover has difficulty staying closed, hence the large ass rubber band you see in my pics. It holds my Metamorphosis closed. It’s ugly crepe rubber but I love it. I bought a giant box of them and use them all the time. I as looking for some that were FN “bands of rubber” size, but ordered the huge version. I like them anyway. I digress. I love my Confidant. Perhaps Baron Fig can add a nice braided or woven elastic pen/cil holder to their stable of accessories? 

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Review: Nataraj Trio Eraser

This eraser arrived bundled with a package of Nataraj Trikone pencils along with a pencil sharpener. It arrives wrapped in plastic inside the box of triangular pencils.

The eraser measures roughly 35mm L x20mm W x15mm H, or 1.25 in x 0.625 in X 0.75in. Mine is traditional eraser pink but they are available in an assortment of colors. The eraser is an equilateral triangle with rounded corners, much like their Trikone pencil. This is a dust free or sticky eraser. It is soft, squishy, and has a sticky texture that is off putting when first used. The sticky feeling tones down through use.

The eraser works the best of all the dust free options from Hindustan. It is super soft and squishy so it really scrubs graphite out of the fibers of paper. Because it is so soft and squishy it does wear away quickly. It does not harm the paper as it’s being used. I was able to use it in my Paper-oh! Ondulo and it didn’t shine up the coating of the paper as would harder erasers. This is important if you are making art or are using paper with a delicate coating like Paper-oh! It also seemed to do well on rougher paper, like my 3×5 cheapie cards. Rough paper does eat the eraser up, but it does a great job.

If I were going to adopt an eraser for everyday use as well as art making, this would be it. First they are cheap- bundled with Nataraj triangular pencils but you can buy a box of 20 of them for about $8 via Amazon. Which brings them to about 40 cents per eraser. It doesn’t get cheaper than that for an eraser that works this well. The Hindowashi Gold is  $1.75 at CWPE. A Sakura Foam in a similar size is $1.65 via Jetpens.

If you can’t tell from this review, I like this eraser, a lot. It’s a great value and it really erases well while preserving the surface of the paper. I may have a box of 20 sitting in my Amazon cart… Continue reading

Review: Paper-oh Ondulo Black A5 Journal

A few weeks back I visited my local book store (how excited am I that I can say that my city has a bookstore!?!) and while browsing found a good selection of Moleskine, Rhodia, and other brands of notebooks. On a whim I picked up a lined Ondulo Black Paper-oh Journal for $12.99. 

The Ondulo is 148x210mm or 6×8 inches aka A5. The outer cover is corrugated black paper. The front cover sports a small oval cut out near the spine. It’s nonsensical but does allow for a firm grip when pulling the notebook in and out of a back or slot. There is a magnetized flap that holds the whole thing shut. The magnets aren’t particularly strong but they do stay shut for the most part. I like the cover material. It does show wear and tear relatively quickly, but I like that look. The other cover materials offered likely would not show wear as quickly. Inside the cover are 112 pages of smooth cream colored paper. The weight and brand of the paper isn’t reported. It feels like a pretty standard weight text paper to me. The pages are stitched and glued in a standard smythe sewing. The ruling is very pale gray in color and it recedes to the background with every pencil and pen I’ve used. I like the ruling, though it is a very wide 8mm and doesn’t extend to the edge of the page. Rollerball, ballpoint, gel ink, and pencils are really nice on this paper. There is enough tooth that even harder pencils like the USA Gold or the Caran d’ Ache Stinkwood perform well. Softer smoother pencils tend to smear and smudge.

This paper is garbage with all the fountain pen and ink combinations I’ve tested. All the inks in the narrowest of pens soaks, spreads, and bleeds through. Even the finest of nibs is a broad on this paper. The feathering is intolerable and awful. It’s too bad because pens feel nice on this smooth paper and the color of the page is nice with my teal and blue inks. 

Included as a bonus type item is a unique book mark. You can use it one or two ways. I opted to use the stick and flap style versus the typical bookmark style. See the pic for a better description.

There is a lot that is nice about this notebook. They look spectacular and work well with pencils. They aren’t so great if you write or journal primarily with fountain pens. I’ve been using mine as part of my media intake journal (needs it’s own post) for a few weeks now, and I do like it for that purpose and with pencils. For $12.99 it’s not a great value but it would be a good gift for a stationery nerd.

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Review: Story Supply Co X CW Pencil Enterprise Pencil Pusher Pocket Staple Notebook

The name of these is such a mouthful. We’ll just call them the PPN for the rest of this post.

The PPN is a lovely collaboration of design aesthetics by Story Supply Company and CW Pencil Enterprise. I’ve reviewed the regular SSC notebook as well as their lovely Number 2 Pencils in the past. CWPE is a great store for buying pencils and notebooks. The combined their greatness into a set of 3 pocket notebooks.

One of the great things about all the SSC notebooks is that they always have nice sturdy covers. Still flexible but when combined with the nicely weighted paper inside, they are great for writing in hand while out and about. They look great in a cover but don’t need one to be useful tools. The same goes for the PPN. Each PPN cover is a lovely shade of pale blue, tomato red, and mustard yellow on white heavy cover stock. The pattern is of a hexagonal pencil that races all over the front and back covers. The eraser and point of the pencil meeting on the top right corner of the notebook. The back cover sporting the CWPE and SSC logos. I love the colors I love the patterns and I love how the logos are integrated into the overall design. The edges are cut perfectly and the corners on all of mine are perfectly trimmed. Bravo, quality control is spot on. The inner covers have info about pencil grades and the back cover has places to test your pencils. More on that later.

The PPN sports a pair of silver staples along the spine. These have held the notebook secure enough in my usem but still I prefer three staples. That’s just me. I prefer an odd number of staples on my spines. Inside the covers are 48 pages, 24 leave, or 12 sheets of lined paper.  If you like the 70lb cream colored Cougar in the original Pocket Staple notebook, you are in luck, this is the same paper but in bright white. The paper is nicely smooth with pencils and fountain pens. That said it is quite absorbent and you’ll notice FP lines are a hair or two larger than on less absorbent paper. That said, it does quite well with FP and I had little trouble with bleed or show through due to the heaviness of the page. I didn’t get any lovely sheen on this paper but then again this paper performs amazingly well with pencils. The paper isn’t rough and it’s not like glass. It’s just right for getting great mileage out of your pencil with a minimum of sharpening. I’ve tested everything from the Cd’A Stinkwood to Nataraj Metallic to Neon Casemates to Wopex and I’ve yet to have a pencil perform poorly on this paper.

My big critique of these notebooks is that the lines feel a tad too narrow for my liking. They are ruled at 5mm which is not a bad distance, and one that I thought that I liked. Apparently I prefer a 6 or 7mm width for my lines. My writing is cramped on this ruling size. The ruling is a nice subtle shade of gray, as if the lines were made with a nice H grades pencil. The ruling fades to the background as you write making it easy to read everything you’ve written without distraction.

More on that previously mentioned test page on the inside back cover. I think it’s a wonderful idea and a really good thing in general. I like to test my notebooks on the last page of every notebook. So I find the test page on the inside back cover less useful because it’s not on the actual paper I’m using in the notebook.I think it’s a good idea to get into the practice and I love the hexagonal rating system for how much you like the pencil. The set up is very useful and usable, but in my mind in the wrong spot.

Overall I’m very pleased with my PPN , it’s sturdy, has survived my abuse, and I really  like the paper. It is nice to have a bright white choice when compared to the regular cream pages of the SSC notebooks.
Get ‘em for $12 a pack here for 40% off. You can also pick them up at CWPE.

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Review: Nataraj Jumbo Plasto Eraser

Nataraj (and Apsara) includes a block eraser and sharpener in every pack of 10 pencils you buy. The eraser measures 3.5*1.7*10mm, is made of firm white plastic, and sports red printing on one side. The red printing has the brand name Nataraj in a red stripe and the words Jumbo Plasto. On both my erasers the printing is slightly different and the color of the red differs ever so slightly. In use the printing blurs under my fingers, but leaves no marks upon paper or my hand.The firm white plastic reminds me very much of the Staedtler Mars Plastic and performs as well, if not better. It is not dust gathering. I’ve tested it across No Brand Notebooks, Field Notes, Yoobi Composition Notebooks, cheap 3×5 cards, Story Supply Company notebooks, and the cheap recycled paper at work. Overall it performs really quite well removing most of the graphite from most of the papers. Here and there it would leave a  ghost of an image but if one is writing over the space, it isn’t noticeable.

The size is perfect for pocket carry. It’s small so it disappears in a pocket but isn’t so small (think of the KiN pebble) that it is lost when you reach for it. The edges are rounded and comfortable to use. The Nataraj eraser is naked while the Apsara is sleeved in a little card stock sleeve. Somewhere in  my piles of stationery shit, I have a sleeved Apsara, one might think I could find it for this review, but no, it remains hidden. I’ve been carting this eraser around in my pocket and it has provided not only useful for erasing but has also served as a very pleasing worry stone.

I have to say, that though this is a “freebie” it certainly adds to the appeal of the bonus items in the Nataraj boxes. Some bundled erasers are truly horrible, but these are darn nice.