Category Archives: Review

Review: Organics Studio Nitrogen

I was gifted a sample of this ink from a friend. I should have labeled the tube when it arrived but I thought I would be able to remember who sent it. I can’t remember which of my wonderful stationery friends sent this ink.

Organic Studio inks come in 55 ml bottle for $14. The inks are super saturated and several websites suggest that you can dilute the ink with distilled water 8 parts ink to 1 part water. The saturation leads to intense amounts of sheen. The base color of this ink is a warm shade of deep blue. It doesn’t lean purple. The sheen on this ink is red and intense. On the right paper the sheen shows up on nearly every line. It sheens on lesser paper.

Surprisingly, the ink is relatively well behaved even on most of the garbage paper I’ve used at work. Flow is great and the ink is lubricated. The nib skates across the page with this ink. If left uncapped and unused for any period of time it starts hard. Dry time is slow on good paper, roughly 10 or more seconds. On garbage paper dry time is slightly better at 10 seconds or less.

The ink is not even close to water resistant. In the droplet and wipe test the saturated ink smeared all over and lifted the ink that wasn’t dribbled on. The drip test revealed that all the ink had lifted and left behind a shadow of the initial lines. This ink would not survive a trip through the washer. It barely survives the drips. A large spill would leave your page blue and your writing gone.

I really like this color, the color is professional looking though the sheen might leave some folks scratching their heads and wondering if this is blue or red? It photocopies well enough. Price is low enough that it doesn’t seem silly to use this at work.

This ink was provided to me as a gift, free of charge, with no intent from the gift giver other than a hope that I would enjoy  the ink. Any links in the review are to vendors who sell this particular ink, they are not affiliate.

Review: Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite Cartridges

This ink is a great dark blue black that is a nice cool grey. It reminds me of Payne’s Grey watercolors, which for me is a very very good thing. Payne’s Grey is a favorite convenience color of mine.

I’ve had the opportunity to use this ink in several fountain pens and it has had a smooth even flow in every pen. The ink is well lubricated and feels great on good paper and garbage paper at work. In pens with greater flow it has a red sheen, which is lovely against the deep grey shade.

Dry time seems pretty standard for inks with good flow, just under 10 seconds on good paper and around 7 seconds on lesser paper.

In the drip test the ink lifts almost immediately and spreads out. In the dribble and wipe test (meant to mimic spilling and subsequent clean up) the ink smeared and made a mess. This is not an ink that will survive the washing machine. I doubt it would survive a hot tea or coffee spill.

Overall this is a perfectly professional blue black ink that performs well on most paper. Sadly it won’t survive spills, but if being considered as an ink for work, this matters little. It’s not the cheapest ink around, but it is a solid performer for a cartridge pen. It is also available ink bottles for folks who use a converter or piston filling pen.

Review: De Atramentis Deepwater Obsession Black

I picked up a bottle of this from Jetpens well over a year ago. The 30ml bottle cost $15. The price is neither the highest or lowest I’ve ever paid for a bottle of black ink.

The ink comes in a squat  cylindrical bottle with a flair at the base and the top. The lid reminds me of Diamine’s 50ml glass bottle lids. The label for the bottles is basic looking.

The black itself is nicely dark on all the paper I’ve tried. It doesn’t grey out when I write. There is no shading to speak of though I wouldn’t call this ink saturated. The flow is even and decently lubricated even on garbage paper. The ink is well behaved even on fibery absorbent paper. The ink photocopies incredibly well.

The ink responds well to drips and spills but isn’t waterproof. With a drip and wipe a few seconds later the ink smears but leaves behind legible lines. Even with a lengthier soak the lines are still visible though significantly blurred. I did not test with detergent or with a lengthy soak, but I would not expect this ink to survive the washing machine.

The combination of it being nicely dark, well lubricated, and well behaved on a variety of garbage paper makes it my go to ink. I load most of my pens up with this first then test with other inks later. It’s a great black ink.

Review: Akkerman Binnenof Blues

My new DayJob allows for blue or black ink* and I’m in search of inks that work well in my various pens, look good on nice as well as crap paper, and photocopies well. I’m looking for professional looking black and blue inks.

My RSVP Co-host, Lenore, sent me a package with a bunch of Akkerman ink samples and a few other inks. I’ve used a bunch of the inks for doodles and writing, but the Binnenof Blues was a color that I hadn’t touched, until now. I filled my CaliArt Ego with the sample. I used it during my first full week at the new job. While in training I used it on the unknown paper** the main office uses for photocopies, my Baron Fig Vanguard, and my pocket notebook. The ink performed well on all papers*** with minimal feathering and bleed through.

For purposes of photos for the blog, I used the ink on a Baron Fig Strategist 3×5 card, Yoobi 3×5 card, and a Staples Stickies note. I’ve included an image from my Leachturm 1917. The dry time on good paper is slow but on copy paper, it was around 3 seconds, so not bad. I don’t do swatches but I did several layers of ink with a pen. It took 7 layers of scribbles for the ink to soak through. Though fibers lifted from the Strategist after 4 layers. On cheaper paper, it does have a tendency to bled through, though not badly. Thinner papers have some show through, but I didn’t have an issue in my L1917 or Confidant.

Performance of this ink is good on most papers. It photocopies well enough. I quite enjoyed this in my bullet journal and my work planner.

It isn’t waterproof though it does show some resistance. I did a droplet and wipe test. The wipe test showed some smearing but the lines are legible both after the wipes and droplets have dried. With the soak/droplets, the ink showed significant migration. I have no doubt that this ink would not survive the washing machine.

This isn’t a unique shade of blue. It’s been noted by many other and better reviewers that this is Diamine Saphire ink in a fancy bottle. It is a lovely shade of blue-ish purple that reminds me of most blue inks out there. If you want a sedate well behaved blue ink that doesn’t stand out- Akkerman Binnenof Blues is a great choice. Despite the fact that it is a shade of blue available in many forms- from ballpoint to gel to other brands of ink, I like it. There is something about blue-ish purple that I really enjoy. While it is obviously blue it is also warm-ish and in the right warm light could read as purple.

If you are looking for a nice, well behaved blue-purple ink this is a good choice. Maybe buy the Akkerman for the fancy bottle then refill it with Diamine?

Review: Wing Sung 3008 Fountain Pen

This is another eBay purchase. I found this pen for a mere $2.60USD. I ordered the blue anodized demonstrator version. It is available in many other colors. Prices on this pen flucuates, $2.60 is the lowest price I could find, with $15 or so at the highest. After ordering I waited about 3 weeks for it to arrive from China.

It arrived in a thin plastic envelope. INside it was swaddled with copious amounts of bubble wrap. A single cut to the packing tape and it unfurled. Inside the pen was safe.

Immediately I uncapped the pen and checked out the nib and feed. I washed the pen out with clear warm water. I then inked it with De Atrementis Deepwater Black. My intent was to use this pen at work for a week or so before posting my review. (Good news: I did.)

The piston mechanism clicks into place and clicks as you start to use the mechanism, then it slides smoothly down the barrel. The pen sucks up the ink with ease. It seems to hold 2ml of ink. I did not do any rigorous testing on this, just looking at the sample container I used to hold the ink as I filled.

The nib itself is silky smooth and feels great on all the paper I used it on. I did test this extensively at work. This means I’ve tested it on all the crappy paper at work as well as Story Supply Co Morning, HP LaserJet 24lb, Staples Sustainable Harvest, Staples 20lb office copy paper, and Baron Fig Confidant paper. The pen felt smooth and perfect on all paper. The only paper that it had any drag on was the colored paper we use for particular assessments. It’s made for Staples but it is rough even with gel pens. It is terrible paper. This pen performed as well as could be expected on such an awful paper.

The cap can be posted but sticks quite tightly to the silver ring that holds the piston in place. Pulling on the cap pulls on this ring, which also seems to remove the blind cap. Dangerous. The clip is well proportioned to the cap and very sturdy. It holds to my shirt with ease. I quite enjoy the elongated coffin shape of the clip.

I was shocked at the performance of this pen. I had very low expectations given that I ordered a $2.60 piston filling fountain pen. I’d read great reviews but didn’t know if they were realistic. They were.

This is a great pen, for $2.60 you can’t beat the performance and the look. The fact that with very little work- in screwing a few bits here and there, you can disassemble the pen to its parts means you can completely clean any ink stuck inside. This also means it is a good candidate for sketching.

This is another pen design that is clearly influenced by a couple of companies- the body and look by TWSBI Diamond AL series. The nib and feed by Lamy. The end reminds me of the Pilot Prera. It takes all the elements that I like about a lot of pens and mashes them together in something that doesn’t quite makes sense but does. Overall it works for me but it leaves me scratching my head.

Review: Nock Co X One Star Leather Fodderstack XL

The leather version of the Fodderstack XL (LFXL) has all of the great attributes of the nylon version- it carries 1 or 2 pocket notebooks safely along with one or two pens. It can slide effortlessly into a back pocket or into a jacket pocket.

The form factor is a tad different than the nylon version. LEather after all is a different material that requires different handling. The LFXL is slightly wider than the original which means that it requires slightly wider pants. It also means that it won’t fit into smaller pockets, like those found in women’s pants. Le sigh. It does fit in  most of my shirt pockets. Not that I carry the LFXL in a shirt pocket, but if I did it is possible.

If you’ve used any of One Star LEather Goods products before you know that the leather they use is high quality and patinas to a deep dark caramel color. It is stunning. It’s gotten softer with use. The clips of my pens, pencils and the texture of denim has scarred up the exterior. The scars stay there too, even after I’ve polished and cleaned the leather. I like the look, it marks the LFXL as mine and only mine.

Overall the LFXL is a divine piece of leather work, perfect if you want to have a case that gets better with use and keeps your pocket notebook and PDC pen safe in your pocket. I love mine and use it daily.

Review: Uniball Signo 207 Multicolor 8-pack

The Uniball Signo 207 is a staple pen. You can pick one up at any office, box, drug, or grocery store in the US. The multicolored sets are available at office supply stores across the US. A standard multicolor pack includes red, blue, and black. There are a total of 8 colors. 5 of those colors are only available in the 0.7 or medium point. The colors are identical across their range of gel inks, so if you want to sketch with a SIgno 207 then switch over to a Signo DX you can. This is great news if you want to sketch with these pens.

Uniball reports that the Signo 207 RT “forms an indelible bond in paper” and reports them to be “fade- & water-resistant, acid-free ink.” If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time you know what I think about acid free claims.* Fade and water resistance are much more important for those of us who use these pens for sketching. So a few things to note about these pens. The black is a solid everyday pen- great for writing, making notes, bullet journaling, and sketching. I’ve recomended it over and over and over again. It’s a great pen. Additionally so are many of the other colors. However, when you use these pens on good paper the ink doesn’t bond well with the fibers of the paper. So when you add water, or highlighter, it lifts and smears. I have found that this is much much worse with the colors, any of them. The black adheres the best of the lot, but every other colors I’ve tested with a variety of highlighters, smears. Adding water causes lifting and bleed of the ink.

Sketchbook paper with less sizing does well. My Leuchtturm1917 didn’t fare well. The ink smeared and I had to use a blotting sheet to keep the ink on one page. The colors are great for bullet journaling but not in a Leuchtturm1917.

Overall, I find the colors great for sketching and writing. I can use the bright red or orange for calling out a note or coloring a box. Further, the writing experience remains smooth and enjoyable from first to the last click. The ink is great on crappy paper, it bonds well but doesn’t drain out of the pen. I also enjoy these for sketching but the water-resistance of the colors is less than that of the black ink. Use the variety of colors combined with water with caution. Test first.

Review: Pentalic Traveler

Let’s just cut to the chase, the Pentalic Traveler is a fabulous sketchbook or journal. Let me tell you why.

The cover is made of soft touch vinyl. It feels really nice for vinyl. I purchased a softcover version. The covers are held shut when in transit by a sturdy elastic the same color as the vinyl. Mine is red, bright cherry red. Inside there is a lengthy satin red ribbon, in the same shade as the rest. I heat sealed mine.

The end sheets are cream. In the back there is a pocket for assorted loose bits and bobs you might add to your sketchbook as you are traveling. THe pocket is roomy. The soft cover allows you to stuff even more into the pocket than a hardcover.

The book block is smythe sewn, sturdy and flexible. The paper itself is fabulous. It’s smooth but with enough tooth that pencils fair very well. Fountain pens and dip nibs glide across the pages. Surprisingly the 74 lb recycled sketch paper accepts watercolor washes with ease. The paper cockles a bit but in the end looks better than most sketchbooks in this price range.

Overall I was very surprised at the performance of this sketchbook. Every media I used performed well and looked great on the cool white page. At $7.49 and 160 pages it’s not a bad price for a pocket sketchbook. It’s sturdy and full of great paper.

Review: Sharpie Clear view Highlighter

I’ve been wanting to review a highlighter with a view window tip for ages. I picked up a 2 pack of the Sharpie version during the BTSS clearance for super cheap.

The highlighter is classic neon yellow, my least favorite of the highlighter colors, but a classic shade. The ink lays down wet and even. I hate it when they squish out a blob of oozy wet ink then dry out as I lay down a line. The chisel tip is just the right size to get a line of text in an average textbook or in my pocket notebook.. the tip can be flipped to achieve a narrow line. The tip does not mush down even with a heavy hand. To test this I gave one of the highlighters to my wife and she used it as she read cases for work. Usually, I don’t like to use a highlighter after shes touched one for more than an hour. Hers was perfectly usable after several days of use.

Which brings me to another point, despite its diminutive size these things have a decent amount of longevity. My wife often burns through a highlighter or two PER week. This one lasted a week.  So there is a decent amount of ink.

The shape is flat and prevents rolling. They remind me of the Stabilo Boss highlighters in shape and size. It isn’t my favorite but it does the job well enough.

The cap is flaired and acts as a convenient pen stand so the pen doesn’t dry out in use. The pen is dry out resistant. I left it uncapped for about an hour and it was fine. This also means that if you lose the cap or toss it into your bag uncapped it’s going to make a huge mess.

The tip does allow me to see what I’m highlighting and I really do like it, though these are kinda silly. The see-through tip feels like a gimmick to me and unnecessary.  But the tip does hold up much better than other highlighter tips. It doesn’t mash or bend, and I like how usable the tip remained even after heavy use. That the tip is made of mostly plastic with a firm but smooth tip seems to make a great deal of difference of the longevity of the highlighter. Overall, I love these, but not for the see-through nature of the tip, rather for the longevity of the tip, which is a byproduct of the see-through plastic.

Review: Zebra Mildliners

If you follow bullet journaling on any social media you are likely familiar with Zebra Mildliners. I admit my FOMO was so strong on these that when I saw a set at Target priced well above my budget I almost put everything in my cart back to spend $20 on a handful of not-highlighters.

I’ll be blunt, the Mildliner is a dual-tipped marker. It’s a really nice one, but at the end of the day, it is a marker. The ink is translucent enough that you can see any writing you are highlighting.

The core point of the Mildliner is that they aren’t highlighter bright. The colors are muted and mild on the page. The shades do pop off the page but function as almost any marker might. I picked up 3 Mildliners in the loose stock at Michael’s. At $1.99 each or more in a set these are pretty pricey little markers. Loose with a coupon at Michael’s brings these into an affordable price range.

In terms of performance, I find both tips suitably sturdy. I’ve only used mine for a few days but they haven’t crushed or deformed in my use. I don’t generally have a problem with mushing chisel tips but I do with bullet tips. But the bullet tips have stayed at a nice fine point. I have found that I quite enjoy the bullet tip for making a few notes or underlining notes in my pocket notebook. The size of these is nice too, it is close enough to a regular pen that it will fit into a regular pencil case, so you don’t need to find an extra long case, I’m looking at YOU Tombow Dual Tip Brush Markers!

I’m biased, but I picked up 3 colors I knew I would like and use, so I like the colors and they work well for how I use highlighters. Which is to say, that I use highlighters for minor emphasis in my notes- underlining some of my text or by circling notes. I also use them in my bullet journal to denote weekends and other important events. I need to figure out how I’m going to use mine in my “side-hustle bullet journal” (SHBJ) and what I’m going to denote with them.

In use, they smear with the same inks, pencils, and pens as any other highlighter. So expect that if you use waterbased inks or fountain pens that you’ll get smearing. IF you want to use pencil stick to HB or F grades for less smear, those 2b and Blackwings are going to get graphite all over the place.

Overall I think that the Mildliner performs wonderfully and the colors are great. They are just different enough that finding these shades in another brand of marker is going to be a pain in the rear. Frankly, any chisel tip or bullet tip marker will perform similarly, but finding a chisel tip marker that is in a compact package with these colors is going to be difficult. The closest you’ll get to these shades is the Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pen. But that has a brush tip which many will find hard to control, though is great for the same purposes as the Mildliner.

I like these, but I also guaranteed my like by purchasing only the 3 colors I knew I’d use in my bullet journal or in my lifelong learning quest. The best place to purchase these is at Jetpens.  Their prices are the best online and their sets are at the best price I’ve seen. You can also get them at Michael’s from the singles display at the register. Which is the best price I’ve seen in person. I’ve seen the 15-color set at Target during BTS but not since.