Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Easter Egg

The Orthodox Easter just passed a few days ago. And I found out that the best Easter Eggs are made of chocolate. True story.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

This is what it takes to be a big fan of pencils


An Australian couple chose to saround the house with a fence colored pencils fence. What a colorfull idea.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

My watch - fountain pen combo

 
This is my setup, a very nice Faber Castell Loom fountain pen with F nib, all grey metallic version along with a Casio AE 1200 HD (the Bond watch or Casio Royale).
It is a simple setup, that I really enjoy and ware a lot. The Casio is a very nice design, that is standing out from the crowd, with a retro twist to it, and a great world time function. I think this is the cheapest and coolest GMT watch you can get (I mean coolest for low priced watches). The watch has an analog style clock that always shows your local time, the main dial shows local time or a different time zone. You get a very nice feature, a world map where the time zone you are in is highlighted. Also, you get an LED light that is a nice amber color plus features that are common for digital watches, like alarms, chime, timer and a countdown timer. The Casio is 100 meter water resistant.

Not as good when it comes to water resistance is the Faber Castell Loom metallic fountain pen. But I love it the way it is. It is an all metal body that doesn't show fingerprints. It has a grey color. The cap is the make it or break it part of this fountain pen. Many are put off by it, as it is different from almost everything on the market. The rest are put off by the weight of the fountain pen. The rest just love it.
The cap is made out of plastic and can come in many strong colors. I chose the grey one, or better said, it chose me as it was the only option available with an F nib in my local shop at that time, and any other color I had to order it and wait for it.


I am curious to see your set up or ideas of a watch - fountain pen combo that would look nice together.





Friday, March 22, 2019

Pencil highlighter



I saw on the internet that Kaweco has a 5.6 mm highlighter lead, and I think it is just awesome. I like the idea of using a pencil highlighter, you do not get smudges, no bleed, and the pencil will not fade with time. But it is pretty hard to get the 5.6 mm leads, as they don't seem to be very popular. From the searches made almost the only place you can buy them is jetpens.com
They come either mixed, a yellow, a red and a green or a pack of 3 with the same color inside. At the moment of writing this post, the pack of 3 is $ 6.5 and a free shipping in USA for orders above $ 25
They look cool and vibrant but why not use a regular color lead instead of the "highlighter" ones?

I made a short test with the Koh I Noor 2 mm lead 6 color pack. All the colored leads are very good as a highlighter, as they are vibrant enough to be seen but not too intense that they obscure the writing beneath. The downside is the small diameter, and the fact the leads are not extra soft. Because of this, you will need a shading move of the pencil to highlight the row. So maybe a little extra work. I wonder how the 5.6 colored Koh I Noor leads work for this kind of stuff.
Bellow is the Kaweco highlighter (picture from jetpens.com) and to the right is the Koh I Noor regular color lead.

picture from jetpens.com

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Stabilo HB and 2B lead review


Today I tested a not very popular lead brand, Stabilo. The brand is best known for its highlighters and I would say not so much for pencils and leads.
The price of the lead was pretty good. 1.63 $ or 1.32 Eur for 3 pack of 12 leads. Two of them HB and one 2B. It is cheaper than big brand names in some cases even by half. The lead comes in a classic barrel, that is clear with a little quirk to it and a nice red cap. I like the simple and clean look.
The first thing you notice is the length of 75 mm instead of the standard 60 mm. So not only you have a better price than bigger names you get more lead for your money, 25% more.

I tested the 0.5 mm HB and the 2B. To have a base point I compared the results produced by the Stabilo to Rotring.
The lead writes well, the HB feels a bit hard and a bit scratchy. I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.
The line is a bit light. It feels a bit harder compared to other HB leads. Compared to the Rotring it feels very hard, but the pro is the ease of erasing it.

After doing the writing test for the HB I used about 0.5 mm of lead.
The good thing is the lead will last a long time, and you will not need to click the advance mechanism so often.
If I compare it to the Rotring HB, Stabilo HB is scratchy, hard, light but it will last longer. Rotring HB is smoother and almost as dark as the Stabilo 2B. At smoothness, Rotring gets a 5 out of 5. But the darkness and the smoothness comes at a cost. To do the same writing test the Rotring used a little over 1 mm of lead. That is more than double if you compare it with Stabilo

The Stabilo 2B is very soft and smooth. It leaves behind a black dark line but wears up quite fast. The same writing test used 4.5 mm of lead. A very significant increase. You will have dark lines on the paper but you will be clicking a lot. The erasing of the lead was very good, no residue was left behind.
But the Rotring 2B did better overall. It was a hint darker but nothing significant or worth worrying about. The smoothness was similar in both brands. But Stabilo needed 4.5 mm to do the same test while Rotring needed only 3 mm.
The Stabilo 2B seems too soft, and this does not translate into extra dark lines. So I would not recommend it, as you will have to do a lot of clicking to write.
There is a definitive gap between Stabilo HB and 2B. HB being a bit too hard and the 2B a bit too soft. If you are not put off by the hardness and scratchiness of the HB, Stabilo offers a very good deal. 75 mm of lead, 12 leads/pack at just 0.44 Eur or 0.54 $.




Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Magic pencil Koh I Noor


This has been my view this last few days, during my ride home from work. To better understand some explanations are due. I live in a city that is surrounded by hills, and close to it, approx 30km there are small mountains. I would say it is a pretty nice place. But during winter it gets very depressing. Mostly because the day is short and it gets dark early. And second, when it is not dark outside everything is gray. The sky is covered by gray mushy clouds, the light is very flat, and the snow in the city gets gray fast. Not to mention the buildings that look like this all year round. It is unusual to see a beautiful clear sky, especially when you are trapped in an office all day long. But spring is coming and the day is growing in length.
Now when I go home from work I get to enjoy this type of scenery (somewhere in the black bottom part of the image is where I live).
And each time my brain connects it with the Koh - I - Noor Jumbo Special Coloured Magic Pencil. If I could paint or draw, this would definitely be my weapon of choice for such stunning scenery.
    jumbo special coloured MAGIC pencil 3405 fire
jumbo special coloured MAGIC pencil 3405 TROPICAL

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Match the watch to the fountain pen.

It starts to become a trend, Rolex plus a fountain pen are the best matches. Previously I showed a possibility to match the Montegrappa Rainbow fountain pen with your watch, a Rolex Rainbow. This would give a very interesting vibe I guess, matching the belt with the shoes seems very outdated. :)
Another Rolex and another cool fountain pen. The TWSBI Diamond red-blue (Pepsi) would go really well with the Rolex Explorer GMT Pepsi bezel. I would choose the white dial version of the Rolex for a better match.
I could have gone with any of the beautiful watches available with pepsi bezel like the Seiko, Orient, Tudor, or other. But I think when you think pepsi bezel you immediately imagine a Rolex.

 
Rolex Explorer II GMT Pepsi bezel
 
TWSBI Diamond Red Blue (Pepsi)

I think you could use as well a Koh-I-Noor red-blue pencil or another brand that you like, to complete the look of your EDC.

Friday, February 8, 2019

KOH-I-NOOR 5340 5,6 mm lead holder

koh_i_noor leadholder 5340So here it is, the Koh-I-Noor lead holder 5340 5,6 mm in gold. My initial impression was this thing is a lot bigger than I was expecting. I thought that it would be shorter. It kind of feels like holding a weapon. Big, bulky, all metal.
The design is simple and elegant, the mechanism inside is made out of brass, the outside is made out of aluminum and the barrel is painted goldish, while the rest of the parts are polished bare metal. The barrel is an octagon, and on a side, it is written in black KOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH. I guess this is not a subtle pencil so why would the writing on it bee any different.
Inside the mechanism's button, there is a sharpener for the lead. Also because of the thickness of the lead, you can use a regular pencil sharpener.
When you remove the cap, you have access to the lead inside, meaning you can fill or empty the pencil from the back, if the lead is not clamped in the clutch jaws.
The pencil was delivered with a lead, 2HB I think. It is plenty dark and smooth, so the writing experience is nice.
One of the bumps in the road is the consistency of the lead thickness. Some of the leads I bought along with the pencil are a bit too thick and they do not go in or out without persuasion. I have to pull on them or shake the pencil to force them out. And I can see little crumbles of graphite from the friction with the clutch.
After playing with the pencil for a few days I found it's role in my life. I think the designer of the pencil had artists in mind, but I do not draw. Or because of it's intimidating size it could be used for manly things. I read on a blog some time ago you can design a shed with it, and I think the one who did the review was pretty close to its purpose.
My use for it is "Visual Note Taking and Markings".

koh_i_noor leadholder 5340
There is a good variety of leads to use for this pencil. You can use regular lead. I do not know if you can get HB, but the softer lead is just fine. Also, you can use chalk, coal, metallic colors, sepia. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fountain pen nib work, my story

There are a number of good videos from competent people that show you how to do that.
After watching and reading I did my own thing, of course. But we make mistakes and sometimes we learn from them.
First I did a little work on my Preppy. It was scratchy in one direction so I thought I should address it. Aligning the tongues on the nib was the first step. After very many tries I failed and gave up the strategy.
My second step was to "polish", more like grind the nib using ceramic. The back of a cup which was smooth enough for the task. I tried sandpaper 1200 but I only made it worse.
So back to the cup. After a lot of figures 8, circles in both direction and rocking the nib left to right, right to left, up and down, I came to an acceptable finish.
I also spread the tongues a little bit to make it wetter (this made it broader also). The last step was the polishing. I used a glass and done figure 8. The glass is smoother than the ceramic so it made it a little more paper friendly.
But after these experiments, I am pleased with the fountain pen. It does not scratch in any direction, it writes well with no feed problem, the ink keeps up with the nib regardless of speed or direction.
Of course, I did not stop here.
I had to tweak my other fountain pen the Faber Castell Loom.
There was a lot of voices in my head saying don't do it, for God sake DO NOT DO IT, but being the person I am I could not help myself.
I noticed a problem after I took it apart and reassemble it for the first time.
It wasn't writing as I remembered it. It was drier. If I was moving my hand quick to underline something or sign a paper the ink would not keep up with the nib.
I could not leave it like this knowing that is something wrong with it and the pen could write a lot better.
At a later time, I figured it out, how I managed to ruin the nice feel of it. The nib was not set properly from the factory and it had a slight wobble. Being my first serious pen I did not know I could just push it inside a bit more and I was constantly realigning the nib to the feed by pressing the tip of the nib to the paper I was using. This made the tongues to get closer and closer at the tip. I did this so I would not get ink on my fingers.
Anyway...

So I tried to make it wetter. I applied light pressure on the nib to spread it apart. But it didn't work very well. I fell the nib after a short time just takes its initial form. So I brought out the big guns.
The first problem, I do not have a magnifier glass
The second problem, I do not have a brass shim

But where is a way there is a solution.
First I took the nib out of the fountain pen and used the bathroom fluorescent light to see if the spread between the tongues is consistent. It shows very well, just put the nib in front of the light.
It has to be a fluorescent because is a source of light that does not blind you.
The tip of the nib was really close. So without a shim, I improvised. I picked up an old style razor blade and used it as a shim.
One important note. Be gentle! when prying the nib, I put a little too much pressure and I slightly bent one of the tongues (very slightly) to the left. Because of this, the nib would scratch a little bit as it grabbed the paper. To fix this I used something I do not recommend. Cover your eyes and ears, I used a plier and extra light touches as I couldn't straighten it by hand.
To check how I need to align it I did vertical up-down lines and horizontal left to right and vice versa, and finally a 45 degree angle. This way you can determine if one of the tongues is misaligned. Another method to check it out is using the camera on the phone plus a flashlight as you need a lot of light to focus well and see any imperfections, or just buy a cheap magnifier. I did finally buy a magnifier but after I went through all the trouble. It is much more fun this way.
Because the Faber Castell Loom has such a great nib I did not try polishing it in any way. I just checked the alignment after I made it wetter.
I am happy the pen writes very well now, and the feel of it in the hand is great. Also, I am glad I did not ruin it.

And before you get into nib work, make sure you have cleaned it. Also, consider that the nib will feel different on different papers and when using different inks. Some inks are more fluid than others.
Plus, never use Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Red, there is nothing brilliant about that :)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Moleskine digital pen

I do not always have to run through the airport to get in time for the flight, so I had the time to visit a Moleskine store.
The first thing that caught my eye was the Moleskine digital pen and notebook.
Moleskine digital set
The set costs 229 EUR and you get the pen and a notebook. The digital pen works only together with this notebooks so you can't write on anything and get the thing digitalized (or at least this was the claim of the seller). It has a replaceable cartridge, that can be easily swapped when it runs out of ink. It connects through Bluetooth to send the digital version of your writing to the app. The pen has a tip that tries to mimic a fountain pen. Its shape makes it pretty comfortable in hand. Beneath the writing tip, there is a small infrared camera that is responsible for digitizing your writing.
The pen I tested in the shop required a little pressure to record in a digital version what you write. If you just make a fine line on the paper there is a chance that it will not be recorded integrally. Another negative is, like with every digital part of your life, it requires juice.
As cool as this thing is I do not think this is the future of the pen. Somehow for me, it seems a bit outdated. A few years ago this was the coolest new thing, taking notes and having them digitalized instantly.
But now I think there are better options. As a student, you could use a tablet to take all the notes, which is small and compact. Or you could still use the classic pen and paper and then scan the notes or even better, use the phone to "scan" the documents and digitalize everything.
Phones are getting so much better, and cameras on them are more than enough for this type of thing. For a long time now I stopped scanning documents. I just take a picture of it. And there are a ton of apps, free and paid to straighten the paper, crop the excess, OCR the writing and so on.
Plus you can scan this way any kind of paper.
pokemon, harry potter, moleskine, notebook
Pokemon and Harry Potter Moleskine notebooks
Of course, this is what I think, and I could be totally wrong about it. I would be really curious to see the impressions of people who own and use digital pens.