Tag Archives: ink

Review: J.Herbin Fountain Pen

I look at this pen as the partner to the J.Herbin refillable rollerball, which seems to have been around for awhile. There is a reason I see it as a partner and it’s hard not to compare the two, as the body and cap and even grip are nearly identical. They differ only in the writing point and the color of the J. Herbin logo on the cap. The fountain is silver gray and the rollerball sports red. Both take standard small international cartridges. An yeah, I tried to stuff a long cart in, no bueno.JHerbin Fountain

The plastic of the body and cap is not crystal clear but has a milky appearance. I suspect this is due to the type of plastic used, as the body and cap have a certain amount of flex. The grip section is a different kind of plastic which is crystal clear and hard with zero flexibility. The cap snaps on for capping with an audible and to me, satisfying, click. For posting, and you must post or the pen is too miniscule, even for my lady hands. It friction fits. I found that I had to jam it on there or it would work it’s way off.JHerbin FountainThe nib at first use/inking/ out of the display (no packaging or box) worked well. I was surprised at it’s smoothness, even with the dry J.Herbin cart I loaded up. I, of course, polished it up a bit, and frankly the nib is great for the price of $15. The nib looks to be a fine or medium, depending on what  you measure it against, I’d put it as right between the two. There are no other options, purely one size fits all on this baby.JHerbin Fountain

I’ve been using this for about a month and have just burned through my mixed cart of Noodler’s Nikita and J. Herbin Indien Orange. I’m pretty happy with the performance and expense. This pen was $15 to the rollerball’s $12 and I find this to be the better value of the two. The nib performs well for this price range and the flow is great, even with dry J.Herbin ink. All in all a good value for $15.JHerbin Fountain

This would be an excellent give for someone looking for a cheap pen to leave in the office, gift to a preteen, or teen. It would be a great beginner pen. This and a few packs of J. Herbin or Diamine inks carts and a journal would make a fantastic gift.JHerbin Fountain JHerbin Fountain

For my pen hacking readers, this is a pen that maybe up for eyedropper mod. With only 3 small, tiny, holes in the back end, this is a prime first seal-it-up pen hack. The little holes could easily be filled with a small dose of E6000 and the threads treated with silicone grease. It would hold a decent amount of ink, probably triple the amount of the little short carts. I might try this and report back.

Review: J.Herbin Refillable Rollerball Pen

A brief digression before I begin the actual review. This pen is a prime example of why I am so against what I term the beauty, drive-by, or first impression reviews. While I think there is a certain validity to a first impression, it must be balanced against longer term usage to give the reader a real idea of the true nature of the item being reviewed. That is to say my first impression of an item may be “Wow this is great.“ Which can change to, “Holy jeebus crisco, this is the worst thing I’ve ever used.” In the course of a month of use. A beauty review can tell us how something looks but nothing about its longer term performance and this pen is a prime example of how initial functionality loses out to performance over time.

This is a pretty good looking pen when compared to other pens in it’s price range. Like the J. Herbin cheap-o fountain pen, this has slightly milky clear plastic for the body, but has a crystal clear grip section, in this case, it houses a feed and a rollerball tip. The pen accepts short international standard carts. Sadly it will not accept long carts.JHerbin RollerballThe cap is made of the same milky yet clear plastic, that has just a small amount of give. It snaps on for capping the pen with a satisfying click. It posts easily, but I found initially could work it’s way loose as I wrote. However, after some use, the cap posted just fine. You will need to use this pen posted unless you have smaller dainty hands than my lady hands. I found it too short to use unposted. It stayed clipped to pockets, lapels, and notebooks without an issue. The clip is snappy and strong.JHerbin RollerballThe pen itself is very lightweight. It would be ideal for longer sessions of writing and maybe even note taking sessions.

So here is the issue, sticking point, or rub after a month of on and off use the tip is scratchy as hell. When I first purchased this pen, it was smooth and nice in my Field Notes and other notebooks I tested it in. Now it’s not smooth on everything. In my composition notebooks I feel like I’m writing with a sharpened  stick dipped in sand. The ink flow is just right and it keeps up even with the thirsty paper, but ewwwww it feels gross. It is still smooth in my Field Notes, Fabriano, and a few other papers, but I do the majority of my notes and longer form writing in composition notebooks, and this puppy is awful after a month’s use.JHerbin RollerballDepending on your paper, and intended use, this pen might not be for you. If you stick to smoother papers- Rhodia, Clairfontaine, etc you will likely enjoy this pen for many months. If you use rougher cheaper paper like Staples comp books, even those that are good with fountain pens, you will likely be highly disappointed with this pen, especially with it’s longevity. A month is not a long time for a pen that touts its ability to be refilled and reused to wear out. So, yes, I quite like this pen, but as I stated above, have a few qualms against recommending it.JHerbin RollerballFor my readers who hack or kludge, this pen could EASILY be converted to eyedropper with the use of silicone based glue like E6000  and a few dabs of silicone grease. There are 3 tiny holes in the back end which could be filled with ease. The threads are tight and would need just a dab or two of silicone grease to keep this thing ink tight. (I may attempt this hack and get back to you. A more lubricated ink may solve the scratchiness on cheaper paper. I’m thinking Noodler’s Heart of Darkness.)

Review: Tattersall Pocket Notebook

I picked up a 2-pack of OrangeArt’s pocket sized tattersall letterpress printed notebooks at Black Ink in Harvard Square awhile back. The 2-pack was $8.50, so pretty pricey.TattersallEach notebook has a cover and pages that are letter press printed with a  tattersall pattern. Basically zigzag lines in a large grid pattern. The covers are printed in 2 colors while the interior is a nice shade of gray. The interior paper is nice, toothy enough for pencils and smooth enough for fountain pens. Fountain pens perform reasonably well on this paper, with a little show through and hardly any bleed through but for where I rested my pen a second too long. I used 3 inks in my testing, Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite, J. Herbin Lie de The, and Noodler’s Heart of Darkness.  All were in medium or fine nibbed pens that run wet. I had no feathering or widening of the lines. With the finest of pens the paper made them feel scratchy, but not bad enough to stop me from writing. Pencils performed admirably on this paper. I was able to use my soft dark Palomino Blackwing (“original”) as well as my harder lighter Mirado Black Warrior to good effect. The paper was toothy enough to pull off a decent amount of graphite but not so toothy it felt like I was writing on a cheese grater. Pretty much just right.TattersallTattersall TattersallThe book is held together with 2 standard staples. This works reasonably well. I did not subject this to a stress test as this book was my at-home journal and even there lived in a leather cover. The cover is letterpress printed in 2 colors on white. The cover paper is not much heavier than the interior pages and feels flimsy. It is the worst part of the whole book. While pretty, this cover simply isn’t going to hold up to much abuse or pulling in and out of a back pocket. This is a paper cover that necessitates a case for any use out and about.TattersallThe 40 pages take fountain pen and pencil well. This notebook has 8 less pages than other pocket notebooks that are cheaper. The ruling is also  odd. It is a gray version of the exterior printing but without the cool letterpress imprint*.  The ruling is super wide, about double the width of a Word notebook and most other ruling. It measures in at 13mm. Super wide. i was able to fit 2 lines of writing into one line. I find this annoying. the ruling is also thick about .5mm. even though it’s gray it shows up under all my writing and remains very noticeable. They are available without the ruling. If I were to buy these again I’d look for them with blank pages.Tattersall TattersallOverall these are very pretty pocket notebooks and wonderful if you use a case/cover for your books. If you use fountain pens you will be pleased with the interior paper, and likewise for pencil. They are higher priced than Field Notes or Word notebooks, but boast letterpress printed covers and interior pages. Worth it if you like letter pressed items and want something a little different from the standard fare.

Here you can see the Tattersall on top of a Field Notes Red Blooded, it's a tad smaller than the Field Notes.

Here you can see the Tattersall on top of a Field Notes Red Blooded, it’s a tad smaller than the Field Notes.

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Technique Today: Drawing and Sketching

No joke, I love to draw in my art journal. Sketches, doodles, all sorts of neat stuff can go in there. But what to sketch, how to sketch? Hopefully, these videos will help give some guidance.

If you have an issue watching the videos here on my blog you can click the title of the video (top left of each video) and it will open up in youtube for you.

 

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Another Cowboy

Another Cowboy

I thougth I'd show you another cowboy drawing. I started this guy the same as the last- with the Pilot Technica .04, quickly scratching out the basic lines. This image is about 5×7 inches just a little larger than the last few drawings I've loaded up.

Another Cowboy

After that I added the shades of gray, using layers to get darker shades of gray.

Another Cowboy

Finally I added black with the brush pen.

Obviolsly I'm totally digging these brush pens. I've found a figure drawing class and I think i'm going to go and draw with this pen combination. Additionally, I've used the Loew Cornell pens I reviewed here with this technique and it's pretty cool when they bleed into the gray ink. Also the pens are way more comfortable when used for drawing than when writing.

Review: FlexiSketch Sketchbook

I picked up this sketchbook on sale at Artist & Craftman. It was super affordable, more so than usual. It usually runs in the $10 to $15 range. The 8.5×11 inch sketchbook feels weighty in hand and looks nice. The green color is a soothing soft mossy green they call "Fern." I’m annoyed that the 25% more FREE stick is stuck to the cover and doesn’t peel off easily. I’ll be hacking at it with a knife to get it off. After opening up the package I notice it’s Smythe Sewn like a moleskine so it will open flat and flatter the more I use it. The binding is nice and flexible but the wrap around cover on the spine is less so.

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The paper is bright white, thick and sturdy feeling, 75lb/110gsm. There are 300 pages or 150 sheets. It has a soft texture and is nice with pencils. Wider nibbed pens glide over it’s surface but narrow nibs sink into it’s surface a little. The paper is absorbent with ink and watercolor. I didn’t notice any feathering with ink but most pens looked to be about a size larger than on other paper. I noticed some ink soaking through as I sketched and wrote. Nothing major since I didn’t plan on using both sides of the paper anyway. This isn’t a deal breaker if you use dry media like pencil or charcoal. The fact that the paper soaks ink up like a paper towel is annoying, and if I were using expensive ink, would annoy me.

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The cover is thick cardstock with a glossy finish. It scuffs easily, but I don’t mind that. If you are the sort who would like to decorate your art journal you’ll need to sand the surface to get gesso to stick. I managed to pop the glue that holds the back cover to the block off. Rather annoying but it also let me see the spine and that it’s glued sturdily and will survive a lot of abuse. This also makes me think I could cover this journal with little work

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Overall my verdict on this is that this sketchbook is a great value. The paper isn’t optimum for ink but it’s thick and sturdy enough to withstand pretty much anything an art journaler can throw at it. The paper has a nice surface for a variety of media. While pen does soak through in some spots it looks fantastic on this paper. I’d buy it again.

 

Review: Jinhao 602 Fountain Pen

Every now and then I get a surprise in the mail. Today I got a Jinhao 602 fountain pen, a gift from Christie. She suggest I review it, so I'm being dutiful and doing so.

Pulling the pen out of the envelope I found it in a black flocked case. It felt rather heavy for it's size. The black paint is smooth, the gold colored trim is nice, even if it's gold (I prefer silver.) the grip section is oddly trimmed in brushed steel. It doesn't match the rest of the pen, even if it is comfortable. The pen is very slim measuring about 3/8th of an inch in diameter. It looks good.

 

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The nib is steel but colored gold. It is hooded so only part of it can be seen. The nib is stiff, with no flex or bounce. It produces an even fine to medium line with good ink flow. It would be great for sketching. The nib offers a little feedback but it's not scratchy

 

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The downside is that the cap does not post well, as this is a small pen it would be more comfortable if it were posted.

Overall this would be a very good pen for sketching, priced a little more than $5 you won't be heartbroken if it dies or you lose it. I was surprised at how well the pen wrote, it was remarkably smooth for $5. (Not as smooth as the Serwex Special I reviewed earlier.) Not a bad deal, head over to eB@y and search for one.

Unposted length: 4.5 inches

Posted: 6 inches Capped 5.5 inches 

Less than 1/2 inch in diameter.

Cost: About $5.50 shipping included on eBay.

A good value for the money if you like thin pens with fine nibs.

Unlike the Serwex Special I reviewed a few weeks back, this is not a candidate for abusing with India inks. The hooded nib means getting the feed out of the grip for cleaning is nearly impossible. India ink will gunk up this pen and render it unusable in short order. 

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Some Observations: On Paper and Frisket

Iv'e been working on a variety of papers, settling on Canson's XL Watercolor paper, for a variety of reasons- it works well with the watercolors I'm using, it's cost is nice and it has a relatively smooth surface that my pens rather like. It's also got 2 sides, a right and a wrong, ot a front and a back; which ever way you prefer to call it, but I like the judgemental aspect of right and wrong… In this case. Any how.

One side has a little more tooth an grab to it than the other, this is the right side. The reverse side AKA WRONG is smoother. It also has less sizing… This affects a number of things- how ink and paint react with the surface. Less size means it's more absorbent.

This is good and bad.

It's bad when you use a mask. I applied a liquid frisket rather heavily to the surface of one of my paintings and the frisket grabbed to the paper so strongly it ripped when I removed it. Quite badly. It was crazy frustrating.

I went ahead with the mixed media piece anyway, knowing my paint would adhere the ripped pieces down and it would be okay, but I had to change my plans for color and other ideas for the image, and I know that the torn piece could come back to haunt me.

Additionally in my frisket/mask adventure I've found that the frisket REALLY doesn't like the spray inks. If the frisket is too thin the spray ink "leaks" through it. A total pain in the ass. So I've learned to put on one thin coat and then a heavier coat to seal it all up.

Weekly Round Up: Videos

This week's videos are late because I had an Art Adventure on a super warm winter day! Cappuccino, breakfast sandwiches, walking around the city of Salem, and of course sketching. (Also planning for a new secret project or two destined to hit awesomeness this coming summer.)

So here you go this week's videos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technique Tuesday: Ink Wash

Ink Wash is an incredibly old skool technique that I learned in High School. It was taught to us in Art 1 as a way to learn about value and tone, as well as their relationship. We used film canisters (retro) and India ink, which is waterproof once dried. The idea behind it is that you start with 3 to 5 levels of light to dark watered down ink. You apply it with a brush to capture the value of the image you are trying to capture. You add additional layers of watered down ink to achieve your dark darks. At the end you'd use a crow quill pen to add in details, or if you were "that good" you'd get a liner brush and use a light hand to add those final details.

In college I had a friend who did the most amazing ink washes in blue higgens waterproof ink. Amazing stuff. Since then I've sketched in black, red, blue, blue-black and a variety of other colors. Traditional is with black so that's what I've shown in my video.

I use Noodler's Black ink for this, but you can use any ink brand you want.  The vials I use are from GouletPens.com. I used my syringe that I referenced in my last post about fountain pens to measure the ink.

Anyway, watch the video, try ink wash, it's an easy and fun technique.