Category Archives: Review

Review: ScribbleSheets Orange Opal Edge Journal

ScribblSheets popped up in most of my social media feeds and I admit I was quite taken with the pretty edges. I reached out to the company and requested a copy for review, I’m really glad they said yes. Shipping was delayed due to the current state of the USPS, but wasn’t as bad as some of the other things I’ve ordered recently. The journal was packaged in a bubble mailer and within that a crisp cellophane wrapper.

At first glance the ScribblSheets Orange Opal Edge journal looks like a standard moleskine style journal, and in many ways it is. It measures 8.25×5.75 inches or 21x14cm also known as A5. It includes a sturdy elastic and a generously long narrow ribbon. The ribbon arrives heat sealed but I hit mine with a lighter just to get that seal a bit extra.

The covers are black vinyl or what everyone is calling vegan leather these days, and I won’t rant on the disingenuous nature of the idea of vegan leather. It’s plastic, and vinyl at that. It’s a nice vinyl and feels grippy and slightly squishy. On the lower back cover the ScribblSheets logo is debossed. It’s small and tastefully done.

The back cover sports an elastic loop for a pen, it’s large enough to accommodate a fountain pen, mine is currently holding my Wing Sung 3013. But It’ll hold a Preppy snuggly. It will not hold a pencil. I find that it’s a tad narrow and my pen flops around a bit, but in my Lihit Lab Bag in Bag it’s fine.

The inside back cover lacks a pocket, but I added a little slash pocket of my own. Inside there aren’t any markings at all. No logos, no square or lines to write your name or address. I used a ruler and added mine own in pencil then cleaned it up. Easy. There aren’t any page numbers either.

The grid is perfect. It’s the palest grey imaginable, so it completely disappears behind your writing no matter the color. I love it. At 5mm it’s a perfect distance for my writing. Each page has 40×28 dots per page. It’s a good number for a bullet journal- enough spots for a monthly log and more than enough for a day’s task list. My Peter Pauper ruler works perfectly with this grid size.

The paper is amazing with pencil, it’s got just the right amount of tooth for an HB like the Musgrave Harvest Pro or even the firm core of the Blackwing Eras. I also really like it with ballpoint and gel inks.

The paper does okay with finer nibs and well behaved fountain pen inks. You’ll be able to see in the images some long fibery feathering that reminds me of the old moleskine paper. But then it does fine with other inks and nibs. Generally, thus far I’ve been sticking to my Wing Sung 3013 loaded with Shaeffer Skrip Peacock Blue. It has been doing really well with this ink.

Now, let’s talk about the Orange Opal edge on this journal. It’s incredibly pretty. I’m not sure how they get the edge colored, I’m assuming that it is some sort of printing process, what ever it is it’s great. The colors are lovely and soften as the journal is opened. I really love the pattern and how it looks. It’s a nice touch on a nice journal.

Inside there are 160 pages stitched in using the Smythe (the same as the moleskine) style. They lay flat and the pages stay open. I had a few loose stitches in the start of my journal, but it didn’t impact my use. I had absolutely no glue creep between signatures or at the stitches. The block of the journal is affixed to the covers well. Like most journals the spine is stiff at first but then opens flat and is flexible.

Overall I really like the ScribblSheets Orange Opal Edge Journal. With 160 pages I’m not looking at more than 3 or 4 months use before I have to start a new journal, but I like starting a new journal. At $16.99 it’s not cheap but the pretty edge is a nice design element, and while the insides are sturdy and useful, that edge makes this journal stand out. It’s a pretty element that might seem a little frivolous at first, but it’s an understated design element that only the keen observer of your bullet journal will notice, but I notice every time I open up the journal. I like that.

This isn’t going to be your fountain pen journal, but the journal you use on the go with a pencil or gel pen, maybe even a Bic Cristal.

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Review: Wing Sung 3013 Vacuum Fountain Pen

The Wing Sung 3013 vacuum filling fountain pen is 100% copy of a TWSBI Vac 700. I won’t lie, I purchased the Wing Sung because the price of the Vac 700 is out of my reach right now  especially for a pen that I wasn’t sure I would like.

For $7.42, the 3013 is a steal. It feels well made when compared to some of my other knock off pens. The body is sturdy, threads well molded, and generally looks pretty nice. The cap continues the TWSBI knock off theme and looks startlingly similar to TWSBI’s caps. The clips is generic looking but sturdy. The finial is plain domed chrome. The cap is postable but throws the balance of the pen off.

The nib is the classic Wing Sung Pilot knock off, and mine is fine, and writes smoothly. The feed is clear plastic and also a Pilot copy. The grip section is round plastic and reminiscent of the TWSBI Diamond series.

The back end has a cap that unscrews. One must be careful to NOT unscrew the silver band just below the cap as that will allow you to removed the mechanism. Once the cap is unscrewed the piston slides in an out much like the plunger on a hypodermic needle.

The mechanism builds up a vacuum until the plunger reaches the bottom of the body of the pen, at which point the vacuum releases and sucks up ink. Getting a full fill takes some work and practice, but once done, this pen sucks up an enormous 2 ml of ink. To compare, most pens take up about 1 to 1.5 ml. A converter gets about .75ml, while a cartridge has around .5 to .75ml. 2ml is a huge amount of ink!

The only problem with it sucking up that huge amount of ink is that only only get to fill it once in a long while, and frankly, I really want to watch this thing suck up ink!

The nib is smooth and the grip is nice. I did fine that the body of the pen is a bit sharp, but this didn’t actually impact my use. The sharp area didn’t rest on my hand or under my fingers. I did use a sharp knife and patience to knock the sharp edge off the body of the pen. I know that the sharp edge was a complaint of some early Vac 700 users.

Overall, I really like this pen. At $7.50 it’s a steal. The combination of the fun filling mechanism, nice heft, and smooth nib makes this an everyday use kind of pen. That is to say, that since I received this pen and filled it I have not put it down. There is no getting around the fact that this pen is a direct rip off of the TWSBI Vac 700. After using this pen, I’m convinced I will like the Vac 700 and I’ll be using the Vac 700 as a carrot on a stick.

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Review: Peter Pauper Metal Stencil Bookmark for Bullet Journals

The name of this ruler is ridiculously long. It tells you everything you need to know about what this thing is in one giant mouth full.

I have been eyeballing this stainless steel ruler for a few years. It would go out of stock then jump up to $10 then drop down to $5 and go out of stock before I got home from work. Bonkers.Stencil bookmark for bullet journals

I finally say it was $4.95 again and IN STOCK! After ordering it arrived in a few days. The ruler/bookmark is wonderfully thin. If you ever used an eraser shield, it’s slightly thicker and sturdier. The ruler is laser cut into the metal and looks great with metric on one side and imperial on the other. Between the two are a variety of dashed and solid lines, rectangles and ovals, as well as an assortment of little icons sized for a standard 5 or 6mm dot grid bullet journal.

I purchased this for the bookmark and ruler aspect. I find a thin ruler like this incredibly useful when setting up my bullet journal pages in my Every Thing, Every Where Journal (ETEWJ.) Even better is that a slim ruler can live in the pocket of my ETEWJ and not make a giant bulge to write over.

The ovals and rectangles will be the shapes that I most use in the stencil part of the bookmark. I don’t use icons when I habit track but I did test them out. The stencils work pretty well when used with a fine liner or felt tip pen. It did not work well with any of my gel pens and in fact ruined the tip on an Energel Pro refill! Luckily it was almost dead anyway. I did not test this with a fountain pen, but I would image it would kill the tipping on a good pen.

The little icons did fit in the 5mm squares of my BaronFig journal and I did not think to test them in my work Leuchtturm 1917. While I don’t see myself using the icon stencils in the future, I know a lot of people who are less confident in their ability to draw an envelope than I am, this is for them.

Overall, I really like this as a ruler and as a bookmark. It’s sturdy and the laser etched markings mean than the ruler will last. For $5 this is a great add on to any journal purchase or gift.

The link is an affiliate link to the ‘zon. If you follow the link and make a purchase, Amazon tosses me a few pennies sometimes halves and quarters of pennies. I did purchase this with Ko-Fi funds.

Maker: Writer Processes- Using Docs

A slightly different port today. If you’ve been reading for awhile you know that I write novels (4 years winning NaNoWriMo) and I’ve been using Google Docs for this since, well, what seems like forever. I adopted it early on as a way to work on the go and on my breaks at the DayJob, as well as for my thesis in graduate school. My work style has evolved as docs has evolved. Let me go over my current method then we’ll compare how other writers’ tools work in future posts.

Docs is primarily a place to churn out words, and it’s great for drafting large volumes of words especially if you are collaborating with others. Several self published authors I know use docs as their primary writing tool. In part because it’s free and available on all their devices. It also makes it easy to share with beta readers and editors.

Docs has offered an outlining tool that allows you to create an outline and add headings. The headings appear on an outline bar to the left of your work area. You can toggle this on and off as you are working. My current method is to outline in a doc as so: (I apologize for this not looking like the outline style in docs, it did not translate well to WordPress.)

  • Title of Piece
  • Chapter 1(This gets a description)
  • Scene 1 (one sentence description)
  • Scene 2
  • Chapter 2
  • Scene 1
  • Scene 2
  • And so on.
Outline

This is what it looks like in the writing area.

Outline on left bar.

This is what the outline looks like on the left bar of the page. It looks very much like a table of contents.

All of this appears in the sidebar as soon as I designate them with a heading style. This is easily accomplished with a quick highlight and select.

The side bar lets me navigate through my document quickly and easily. Say I want to work on scene 5 in chapter 10, well I can easily find that one the side bar and navigate to it. Or if I decide to change a character’s last name in chapter 3, and she’s not mentioned again until chapter 10 I can toggle to chapter 10 and leave myself a note, “Don’t forget Jane’s last name is now Dough not Doe.” I can highlight this or use a comment on the chapter title.

How has this worked in practice? Really well. It’s simple and brainless. While I didn’t plot my 2020 NaNoWriMo novel once I started and got an idea of the characters and setting, I plugged in chapter ideas and went back into the story and added in scenes and chapters as I needed them. It was very flexible. I wrote some of the scenes out of order and then cut and pasted them into the spaces where they needed to be. This was easily accomplished by toggling through the chapter and scene headings on the outline bar.

I use a similar method for the blog. I write a long list of the items I have for review, and turn each one into a heading:

  • AmazonBasics Mechanical Pencil
  • Wing Sung 601
  • Jinhao 51A

Super easy and this lets me quickly and easily toggle through my list of items and find them when it comes time to post them to the blog, then it’s a quick copy and paste.

I mentioned in a recent post that docs worked better than ever before for my NaNo win. In past wins I broke my novel up into 10 to 15K docs. After that loading took forever and it wouldn’t register as I typed, then an entire paragraph would slooooowwwwly load. It was enraging. I’d stop typing waiting for the doc to catch up with me. Loading the doc when I opened it would also take forever, the larger the doc the longer it would take. I remember waiting for one doc to load and it took a full five minutes! Not this year, even at 40k words the doc loaded quickly and kept up with my typing. It wasn’t until I hit 45k that I noted longer load times and any lag in what I had typed loading.

Some positives:

  • It’s free
  • Available anywhere I take my phone or have access to a computer with wifi.
  • Works well on all my devices, now that I have docs sideloaded onto my Kindle.
  • Outlining is fast and easy.
  • Load times and lag are better than ever before.
  • Many add ons to make it work better.
  • Super easy to just open up a doc and write.

Some Negatives:

  • Moving scenes and chapters is hard if you work out of order, cut and paste can leave you with missing work, create a copy before you cut and paste stuff!
  • Significant lag times at 50K or more words, even on high speed internet.
  • Add ons can slow the app way down.
  • No concentration/typewriter mode. (One of my favorite tools in JotterPad and Dabble.)
  • No dark mode.
  • Uses Google Drive storage and does not back up elsewhere, so if google deletes your account, well, you’re SOL.

Obviously this has worked for me thus far. When I mentioned the idea of “if it ain’t broke why try to fix it?” to a friend, she suggested that I might LIKE the ease of use of a few other apps and sites. That the ability to easily drag and drop a chapter like a file is worth learning a new process. I’ve requested review access to a few pieces of writing software and apps. Thus far the learning curve isn’t that high and they are easy to use. More on that in future reviews.

Review: Midori Caliper

I have an inexpensive pair of Vernier Calipers they include a depth gauge. The pair I have are shiny chromed steel. They reflect a blinding glint of light. I find them pleasing on a number of levels.

They photograph poorly. All that reflective chrome just buggers up every photo I’ve taken with them. My camera’s sensor goes wild with it. When I saw the all black with white printing Midori Caliper on Notegeist, I hit ADD TO CART darn fast.

Can one have too many pairs of calipers? 

The Midori calipers will never compare to my chromed stainless steel set, but they aren’t meant to- they are for ease of photography when I start another nerdy post like the pencil points post.

They are made of lightweight glossy plastic and are well made. The slide is effortless but does not lock into place. I am going to tighten the slide to see if that helps hold it into place. 

Overall this inexpensive caliper does the job of measuring and does so well enough. It photographs well which was the whole point of purchase. Continue reading

Review: AmazonBasics Mechanical Drafting Pencil

You might ask yourself, “Less didn’t you learn your lesson from the AmazonBasics fountain pen?” I did, but I ordered these on the same day. The fountain pen was much easier to review since well, it was not great. The pencil on the other hand was more difficult. Why? Because it’s unusually good. No really.

Okay first off let’s talk about looks. It’s okay in the looks department. It’s plain silver with blue accent (red if you go with 0.7mm) and a simple rolled clip, with the Basics logo in right hand orientation. It’s minimalist in looks. And really, not bad. But it does have a feeling of being a knock off of another brand, and I do wonder who manufactured it for Amazon, because it’s made in Japan, and for other reasons that I’ll harp on in a moment.

Breaking it down, it’s mostly metal with a plastic sleeve inside. The entire body of the pencil is aluminum and steel. The bit of plastic inside is what holds the leads. Everything screws securely together. The cap covers a nugget of eraser that is useless in size. I’m disappointed that they didn’t include a lead clearing wire in the eraser end, but you can’t have it all.  The cap is nice enough with a rolled end that is open. If you lose the eraser you’ll end up dealing with your leads spilling out.

One of the reasons I want to know who made the pencil for Amazon are those leads. I’m not usually a fan of HB leads, usually they are trash and I replace them with NanoDia leads in B grade. Not these, oh now, sign me up for a tube of these AmazonBasics HB leads. Buttery smooth without that plasticy feeling of some leads. These are better than the NanoDia HB leads and look dark. They feel smooth too. So nice.

The pencil has a retracting pipe and a double nock. I won’t lie, I was very confused at first. I kept clicking the nock to see how much lead was deployed and kept retracting the nock. I only discovered the extremely gentle second nock for lead deployment when fidgeting with the pencil. The first click exposes the pipe and a small amount of lead. The next click pushes out about 1mm of lead, and every click after gives you another mm of lead. Perfect. To retract the pencil, you click the nock fully again while pushing the lead into the pipe. The tip then retracts. Easy.

I found the weight of this pencil to be perfect. The balance is slightly toward the front of the pencil, which I find to be very comfortable, it is a subtle shift in weight that I really appreciate.

I also really appreciate the packaging. Unlike the fountain pen this pencil is sent in the usual AmazonBasics cardboard box with clever slots to hold the item. The pencil is in a simple plastic sleeve in the box. With the exception of the plastic sleeve the rest of the packaging can go into cardboard recycling.

Overall I found this to be a perfectly enjoyable mechanical pencil with features not usually found on one so inexpensive. It’s surprisingly well built and the double nock and retractable pipe make this an excellent choice for someone looking for a gift for a kid or a pencil to toss into a bag for everyday use. At $9 bucks it’s money well spent. Now if they made it in matte black it’d be killer. Continue reading

Review: Notegeist Pencilog

I have a sheet that I developed to log and track all of my pencils. I have a small collection of over 300 unique pencils! I use my sheet to record each new pencil that comes into my hands. I buy pencils in 2s or 3s and always use one and store one. My collection fits into a couple of those plastic pencil cases you find for kids. I frequently forget to log a pencil.

When Gary sent me over the Pencilog I was taken by it’s cute cover and the simple multi color print. I like both but the cyan and magenta toned one really strikes my fancy. At first glance it looks like any other 2-pack of pocket notebooks but with cuter covers; complete with a nice little belly band. Inside things are different. Inside each cover are interesting tidbits and then an index. Then the guts have a place to record the pencil. Some of the info is based on facts- brand, type, grade. Other information is subjective.

You could use this to record your notes on a collection, it’s a great way to log each pencil quickly and easily. All the info is there at hand.

I’m using it to log my in use pencils. I have to write about my pencil cup but I’m currently using a small rotation of pencils and replacing as I use them up. This is a great way to keep note of which pencils I’m using and replacing.

It should be noted that the paper inside these notebooks is great- it’s got enough tooth to be nice with pencil but not so toothy it chews them up. It feels smooth too. It is a great paper.

I like these and have found a use for them, though not quite the same as the intended use, it works for me.

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Review: Amazon Basics Fountain Pen

This popped up into my suggested items based on my searches and I had a good chuckle. Then I did a search for other reviews and found that they were all over the map in terms of experience, so I had to get one.

Like many Amazon items this fluctuates in price from the base of $9.99 up to $15. I snagged mine at $12. Not bad, not great.

It arrives in a bubble mailer and a very sturdy cardboard box that is sealed with packing tape. Inside the box is an extremely nice and well made gift box in forest green. It snaps open and stays open. Inside is a die cut foam piece, instructions, and some satin covering of the rest of the foam. It is a stellar presentation of a pen.

The pen itself is pretty small and glossy black with silver trim. The clip is adorned with the AmazonBasics logo in left handed format. Odd choice but I’m here for it. The cap snaps on and off with some force and posts well. It does not feel as if it will work loose easily. There are fingers inside the cap that could be adjusted with a wooden skewer if needed.

The solid metal construction of this pen is done well, it feels pretty good in hand. It weighs less than I expected given what I read in other other reviews. It is lighter than the Pilot Metropolitan but weighs more than my Wing Sung 601. Though it posts I will not be using this pen posted, the balance is wonky once posted, leaning very heavily to the back of the pen. I have small hands so this might be a more balanced feeling for someone with larger hands.

Initially, in use the pen had nice ink flow but the nib wasn’t amazing. Eventually in the midst of writing a letter it just dried out completely. Later during a journal entry it also dried out. The nib didn’t dry because I wasn’t writing, it dried out of ink completely and took a few minutes for ink to flow back into the feed and nib, weird. It took a bit of work to get the nib to feel good. The tip was just a smidge scratchy but also only in one place, it smoothed out easily. Other reviewers had a smooth experience with their pens. The grip was a good size for my hands, though the step from body to grip section sits exactly where my thumb holds the pen. It’s rounded and not sharp so it’s not painful, just annoying.

My thoughts on this pen are mixed. It’s okay. It has a very classic pen look- glossy black lacquer on a brass body and nicely done silver trim. The unadorned silver nib has only the M on it to designated the size of the nib. I think it’s a better pen experience for me than the Metropolitan, but the nib is not as nice. For $12 I think most folx would be better off buying a couple of WingSung 3008/9 etc. The AmazonBasics logo is a wart on this pen. The gift box is unadorned and could easily be repurposed to hold another pen for gifting. It’s a solid meh on this pen.

This pen was, sadly, purchased with ko-fi fund. I feel as though I have wasted your money. Though I have assisted you in avoiding this purchase. If you like this sort of review, feel free to buy me a coffee via my ko-fi button on the sidebar.

Review: Baronfig Letters to the Future

For those of us who straddle the cultural divide between the 80s and 90s the move from 2020 to 2021 stationery fashions has been very very kind to us. We have the TWSBI rainbow plated eco/diamond, the emergence of teal as a fashionable color, and hot damn Baronfig has brought us all the Holofoil of our dreams. Well, mine anyway.

I am here for it all it’s garish beauty, the holofoil isn’t garish though, the book itself is tastefully done as are the envelopes, but that insert, man, I just want to stare at it and let the rainbows glint off it into my eyes. RAD.

We all know that Baronfig’s paper is great with everything I’ve ever thrown at it, LttF is no exception- great paper, great binding, lovely cover, and a ribbon that could be about an inch longer for it to be useful. No elastic. In the holofoil highlighted box, we have the journal, that lovely holofoiled card and 12 envelopes.

I’m also here for the concept of LttF. One of the most interesting things I did in grad school was write a letter to myself. It was written about a week before graduation and we were instructed to write a letter to ourselves that would be sent to us one year from that date. It’s been several years since I wrote and then read that letter. It’s tucked into a journal somewhere and I don’t remember it’s contents, but I do remember the feeling of reading that letter, it was good. It was a touch sad, but mostly it was helpful and dare I say even useful?

It was nice to see where I was a year post graduation, unlike many of Baronfig’s other offerings this one ships with little in the way of instructions. 12 envelopes could lead you to writing a letter to yourself every month for the next year. Or a letter to be read at a specific time in the year. OR a letter a year for 12 years (whoa that is a commitment.)  Or some other combination. But it is an interesting journaling and motivational tool to explore. When would you want to read the letters? When do you want to leave them to yourself?

Overall I’m in love with the concept, though I’ll likely only use a few of the pages for the intended 12 letters and the rest for letters I’m sending out to friends. 

As an aside, the book I just finished, Harrow the 9th, featured letters written to the self in code. The reasoning for these letters are multifold and sad, and at the end of the book revealed to be totally unnecessary. 

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Review: Wing Sung 601 Vacuumatic

The 601 is a classic knock off pen- it’s a direct rip off of the Parker 51 with a vacummatic filler from the 40s. This doesn’t make it bad, it simply is. Since it is a direct translation it’s not a bad look at all.

We have discussed at length my love and adoration of demonstrator pens. I love to see the ink sloshing about and the inner workings of the pen. I managed to snag a clear version  of this pen. It has a brushed stainless steel cap which has a little pearlized finial cap. The cap has that classic arrow clip, which is cool but also too small for this sized cap. It seems dainty and weak. That said my clip is plenty sturdy and has survived sliding in and out of the outer pocket of my Guardian pro for a month without any signs of fatigue. The cap slides on and off with some oomph but the fingers inside can be adjusted with a skewer. (Others have explained this far more easily than I can.)

The vacuum portion of the pen works really well, you depress the spring loaded plunger a few times and it sucks up a whopping 1.5 ml of ink. This baby is an ink tank. My mechanism worked flawlessly with each of the 3 fills I’ve done thus far. The blind cap screws on and off with ease, and with another model of this pen, you could barely detect that the cap was there. You can use a little hex tool to remove the plunger for a full and complete cleaning.

This nib on mine was perfect right out of the box. It’s a smooth and decent writer that is just right in terms of ink flow. Mine did take a little adjustment to get the nib to line up perfectly with the hooded grip section. That was easily adjusted before I inked the pen.

This pen posts deeply and tightly enough that the cap does not work itself loose as I write. There are lots of things to love and hate about this pen. Sure it’s a cheap knock off of a classic Parker pen, but that is also a selling point. For $15 I can snag a fun new pen with an interesting filling mechanism. It is also a great writer. I’ve yet to have a Wing Sung pen with a bad nib (just jinxed it didn’t I?)  this one was great out of the box. Add to that it holds a LOT of ink. 1.5ml is basically 3 large cartridges of ink. That’s a LOT of writing. Page after page even on the crappy absorbent paper I get at work. If you load this up with a nice black ink, you have a tremendous pen for sketching, and getting in some nice tight line work, because the nib is nice and fine.

No at just south of $16 this isn’t the best historical knock off deal out there, the Jinhao 51A is, but this might be the most fun Wing Sung in existence.

 

(20201125 Edited for accuracy: Thanks to eagle eye reader Jerry Y who spotted that this is a Wing Sung not a Jinhao. I have a Jinhao on order and in shipping still. Honestly though. I own too many Wing Sung pens to have made that mistake. I mean, duh, the box alone. Sigh I need more coffee.)

This pen was purchased with Ko-fi funds. If you enjoy this kind of review, feel free to hit that button on the sidebar and send me some coffee.