On March 28, 2018, I wrote my first blog post! I’ve been on and off writing my blog since then, taking breaks to focus on schoolwork. I’m so fortunate to have bloggers like Pen Addict and Well-Appointed Desk feature me in their links! I also tried to increase my presence on Instagram with my account @notebook_joy.
My most popular post was my Hippo Noto review I wrote back in 2018 with almost 2,500 views. I’m glad that I helped so many people learn more about these notebooks! Some of the initial concerns I had about the notebook weren’t such a big deal in the end. However, the binding is still a little flimsy. I actually backed the A5/B6 Hippo Noto Kickstarter but I still haven’t received a notebook yet. This time I’m prepared for the long wait!
I also received a lot of views on my Stationery Shopping in Japan series when I visited in 2018. It was such a great time and those posts still get consistent views. Now it will be easier for people visiting after me to find these stores.
My favorite part of blogging is that I can help people to make informed decisions when purchasing stationery. I also love to post about my favorite notebooks and inks. In the future, I hope to post more, improve my photography skills, use my Instagram consistently, and hold giveaways! I should have more time to work on my blog now that I’m home for at least several months.
For whoever is still reading this, thank you for looking at my blog! I hope that I’ve spread some joy through my posts.
So I’m back from the Baltimore Pen Show! It’s my third year and the show is only getting better each time. This year I brought my friend who I’ve converted to fountain pen usage. 😀 It was her first convention ever so I hope I did a good job introducing her to this wonderful niche hobby.
I didn’t take too many photos but some of my favorite stops were at Vanness Pens, Schon Design, Nock Co. The pen maker tables were such eye candy! My biggest purchase was a Schon Design Pocket Six. There wasn’t any more of the Pink and Purple colorway, but I bought a beautiful blue swirled one that was only sold at the Baltimore convention!
I also got a photo with Brad from the Pen Addict! He was one of the first pen blogs I read and inspired me to start my own website. So thank you so much Brad!
Overall, I focused on acquiring new inks and pens. The Pocket Six pen is really cool because it’s tiny but capable! If you screw the cap onto the end, it turns into a much longer pen. It only fits cartridges but that’s a good excuse to buy more. I also bought a TWSBI Eco-T in the mint color! It has a juicy broad nib that is perfect for Vinta Maskara. The Kaweco Perkeo was on the wishlist for a long time and I got it with the medium nib.
As for colors, I bought Vinta Maskara, Organic Studios Emily Dickinson, Monteverde Cherry Danish, Diamine Velvet Blue, Colorverse Hayabusa Glistening and Franklin-Cristoph Urushi Red. Vinta Maskara is much more legible than Vinta Sirena. Somehow it looks purple with hints of blue and pink! I plan to make a review of it soon. Emily Dickinson is another favorite; it’s a bright magenta.
I bought a Nanami Crossfield with the new smaller crosses. I’ll try and make a comparison with the older version I have. I also bought a Clairefontaine with an Art Deco design, Kyupodo lined notebook, a laser-cut Drama Mama notebook, and a Schon Design x Write Notepads book. I also got a Nock Co. A5 Lanier Pouch which is perfect for transporting one notebook with a few pens and even a pocket notebook!
I had a great time at the show but it was even more fun showing my friend the fountain pen world and seeing my favorite pen people!
On Saturday, I’m going to the Baltimore Pen Show. This definitely isn’t my first show, but I thought I’d offer some tips for first-time visitors or anyone thinking of going in the future. First, what to bring:
Dip pen and notebook for ink testing
There’s usually an ink testing table with dozens of bottles and nibs, but I prefer to bring my own accoutrements. My glass dip pen is really light and easy to clean. The notebook is essential, I use it to compile all the inks I test and what inks are currently in my pens. Both make ink testing a lot easier.
Some of your favorite pens in a pen roll
You never know when you might want to show pens to other people! I still remember when a guy showed me his flex nib pen and let me write with it when I was talking to a vendor about wanting one. It was so nice of him! You could be that person for someone else. Also, pen shows are a chance to see unusual or expensive pens in person, instead of online. As long as you’re careful, bring that Pelikan with you!
I like bringing a small tote bag to carry all of my purchases. If you end up buying a lot of heavy inks, as I do, then you’ll be grateful for a sturdy bag. However, they are usually offered for free as you enter the convention.
It gets hot walking around a giant room. Remember to stay hydrated!
People often gather at the hotel bar after the pen show is over. You can meet some nice people that way!
Making plans in advance is also fun! For the DC Pen Show last summer, I went to dinner with the local DC Metro Pen Crew. It was a blast and I enjoyed seeing friends from previous meetups.
Go to the panels! They are usually free or have a minimal cost.
Don’t be afraid to talk to vendors! Everyone is really nice. Some of them remember me from previous years (Hi Lisa Vanness and Frank from Federalist Pens!). Also Brad from the Pen Addict is awesome and I love visiting him at Nock Co. 🙂
Those are my tips! I hope you enjoyed reading and you’ll have the chance to go to a pen show one day if you haven’t already. I’ve been to anime and comic conventions before but the fountain pen community is truly the kindest group I’ve been part of. I love that I share this niche hobby with so many other passionate people. I’ll write a follow up about how my day at the show went soon!
One reason I love living near DC is the surprising abundance of stationery. Not only can I visit great stores like Jenni Bick and Fahrney’s Pens and go to local meetups like the DC Metro Pen Crew, but there are two major pen shows nearby! Those two are the DC Pen Show and the smaller Baltimore Washington Pen Show. I went to BWPS last year and was delighted by the small, cozy atmosphere. This year I went with my parents and college friend Klaudia!
There isn’t the largest selection of inks, pens and notebooks, but it’s much easier to talk to store owners and pen sellers! And that’s why smaller conventions are my favorite. It’s not just about buying every pen in sight, but talking to people from all over the world. The DC Pen Show is great but can be overwhelming. Baltimore doesn’t have the huge crowds and narrow aisles you have to squeeze through.
It’s always amazing talking to my favorite creators, bloggers, sellers and artists! Shout out to Brad Dowdy, who is legit the nicest person ever. His blog, Pen Addict, is the first fountain pen blog I ever read. I also love the Vanness Pens table, Drama Mama Bookshop (the creator, Alisa, is so talented and nice! Check out her laser cut notebooks), Bertram’s Inkwell, DC Metro Pen Crew and the Yafa table. Thank you Niv for being so kind and helping my mom pick out a rollerball pen! 🙂
I didn’t buy a lot this year which was a good thing! The Taccia inks drew my eye so I bought Momo, a beautiful eye-searing pink, and Ugisu, an olive green. I was so tempted to get the Taccia pen show special but decided against it… As for notebooks, I got the Baron Fig dream journal, a Drama Mama laser-cut journal and a Curnow Bookbinding Tomoe River paper notebook. Some other items include the Nock Co. Sinclair Case, Pen Addict Fire on Fire ink (Thank you Brad), Monteverde Coral (Also thank you Niv), Monteverde Rose Noir, J. Herbin Rouge Grenat, J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques, some assorted stickers and a pen and ink samples for my friend I’m trying to convert to fountain pens. 🙂
I had a great time today. The fountain pen community is such an amazing community! I love seeing people of all ages and backgrounds united by their love of pens.
Decided to use all-black pocket notebooks for the next few months. The first three from the left are for writing down story ideas, while the last two are for random lists and doodles.
Field Notes Lunacy is my favorite FN edition by far. I was lucky to grab a pack right before they sold out everywhere. I love that it has gray paper with reticles and it’s even fountain pen friendly! There are facts about the moon on the inside pages. The set contains a full-moon, half-moon and quarter-moon cutout on the cover.
Field Notes Three Missions is another favorite because of its space mission-themed covers and light gray grid. However, it’s not fountain pen friendly so I use gel pens on the paper.
Story Supply Co. has amazing paper suitable for fountain pens. This edition, Morning, is based on misty autumn days. It has a lovely faded logo that blends in with the misty cover. I want to review this one on the blog soon.
The two on the right are for lists only. I have an Elemental pocket notebook which actually isn’t too bad except for the very dark dot grid. I don’t mind the dots for quick checklists. Then there’s the Field Notes Pitch Black, which I love but know it’s always available so I might as well use my limited edition ones for writing my story ideas.
I’m finally back from the dead! I apologize for the long absence. This semester was really difficult for me. Between dealing with my student job, annoying roommate, and dreaded homework, it was hard to keep up with my blog. I focused mostly on new extracurriculars and keeping my grades up. Unfortunately, all my creative outlets fell by the wayside, including writing this blog. 😦 However, I did find a fun new hobby: art!!!!
I always liked drawing characters from the stories I wrote. But when I got older, I was intimidated by my amazing artist friends and stopped drawing. I never really improved past stick figures. But this year, I took an intro art class and drew five pages in a sketchbook every week! I was drawing much more than ever before. One of my aforementioned artist friends also encouraged my art. This time, I didn’t let insecurity stop me but kept on trying. In six months, I definitely improved! But I still have a long way to go. Maybe later I’ll show an album of my progress. Here’s one drawing I made recently:
With the paycheck from my job, I also bought Copic markers!!! For those who don’t know, they are alcohol markers that can be blended together to make watercolor-like drawings. They are amazing but so expensive. I wish I got a whole set in Japan, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough room in my suitcase. 😦 So in December I picked out 45 individual markers for around $260. Yes expensive I know. But I already had other markers I collected over the years. My collection is now around 75 markers. I’ve wanted them for years now so I think that was a paycheck well spent.
In other news, here are some of my currently inked pens:
My current favorite ink is the Kingdom Note Thysanostoma thysanuran ink, aka the scientific name for jellyfish!!!! It’s a vibrant purple that leans more pink than blue. In my broad Sailor Nib, it shows lots of shading. It even has a hint of black sheen on Tomoe River paper! I’m going to treasure this ink because I don’t know if I’ll ever get it again.
I wrote some stories, but mostly for my creative writing classes. However, I hit the 250 page midpoint of my Hippo Noto! Despite my initial concerns, the spine did hold up. Some of the sections felt loose but didn’t fall out. As time went on, it became harder to keep the pages flat. I’m ready to move on to the next notebook but I still have 250 more pages to go. My other journals were 200-215 pages so this sure is a change. Besides the Hippo Noto are my two Field Notes I use to jot down lists and ideas.
Here are the notebooks I filled with school notes! For the first half of the semester, I wrote with fine tip gel pens, then switched to fountain pens. On the left are two 80 page Kokuyo Soft Ring notebooks and on the right are two Kokuyo Campus notebooks. I still need to write a review on the former. I obtained mine on my Japan trip but I didn’t get enough. Turns out the ones I have aren’t available online to ship to the US at all. 😦
I have tons of new blog ideas that I hope to bring to you soon. Look out for a review of a local stationery store and my thoughts on the Stalogy365, Taroko Enigma, Story Supply Co Morning, Studio C and other notebooks!
My first stop of the day was at Kingdom Note! I’ve heard so much about this place. It’s a store that stocks pens, inks and notebooks. It has an exclusive line of inks that are inspired by animals and plants. Kingdom Note also collaborates with the Sailor company to make veggie themed pens! These store-exclusive products are not available in the U.S. I’ve seen them on Ebay for exorbitant amounts of money but I’d rather not pay those prices.
The store is on the 6th floor of a building in Shinjuku and is hard to see from the street. You will see a sign for KN and a camera shop. Luckily, its 5 minutes from my hotel!
The store was smaller than I thought it would be. Only a few people work there. The attendant helping me was really nice and he knew enough English for us to communicate. The store was filled with a wide variety of fountain pens, many of them European. The small selection of Nakayas dazzled me. There was a rack of notebooks, but nothing very special. My eyes were immediately drawn to the vegetable themed pens and the giant wall of ink. I bought a “green pepper” fountain pen in a broad nib but there was also a pumpkin themed one. You could buy matching 20ml inks for it. I certainly did! There were also demonstrators in bright colors but I already spent all my money for the day. 😛
I also tested a variety of inks. There’s a whole wall of them, both European and Japanese! I was given a binder full of ink sample cards then I chose which one to try. The attendant let me test them with a glass pen. I bought three inks, two of them in 50 ml bottles and the other in a tiny 20ml one. I bought the Mycena pura, a dusty pink color based on mushrooms. I first heard about it from a post on Reddit, but I thought I would never buy it! I also got Thysanostoma thysanura, a pinkish purple like a jellyfish. And I bought the matching green pepper ink to go with my pen. When I get back from Japan, I hope to have ink reviews up for them.
Make sure to get the tax refund taken care of! Foreigners have to pay an 8% tax rate for some purchases, but you can get it refunded in kiosks and at the airport. I got a slip of paper with my purchase that I can turn in later.
The people working there were really kind and I felt welcomed inside the store. I’m glad I got the opportunity to go to a small boutique style store.
Tomorrow I’m going to Mt. Fuji on a tour but hopefully I’ll get to Itoya Ginza and Maruzen Nihombashi soon. I also added the Tools art supply store and Smiths to my list. It’s in the Lumine Est department store underneath the Shinjuku train station. I’m going to get Copic markers there. I will post more about the pen stores I visit!
Taroko Enigma (not currently available, new edition should arrive by end of July)
Trip to Japan (!!!)
D.C. Pen Show
Currently, I’m using a Hippo Noto, a Rhodia Webbie and a Write Notepads Lawn pocket notebook, as my daily carries.
Onto the topic of meet ups. I first heard of a pen meet up in the D.C. area when I was browsing Facebook. At first, I was nervous to go. Pen shows had been my only outlet for my hobby but I was more interested in purchasing than talking to others. But when I went to the May meeting, everyone was so welcoming!
It’s so strange talking to people that understand your obsession of pens and paper! They know all about the latest inks and trends. I don’t have many people to talk to about my hobby, though I found one fellow fountain pen addict at my college.
Everyone brought inks to sample and let me handle their expensive pens. It was a great way to try out pens in person and see if I liked them. I dodged a bullet with some, now I know the Pilot Vanishing Point and Pelikan M805 Ocean Swirl isn’t for me! Ages ranged from mid 20’s onwards. I was the only college-aged student so I felt awkward at first, but it quickly faded away.
I finally was able to go to a second meeting, this time at Fahrney’s Pens in D.C. This is a great store for buying high-end pens and some stationery. They were kind enough to host our group and even offered Montblanc and Sailor nibs to test. We got little gift bags too! I definitely will visit Fahrney’s more often. There was a table for ink testing and I tried some fun new colors.
Everyone should go to a pen meet up if they can! I had so much fun talking to fellow fans. The fountain pen “fandom” is the nicest community I’ve been in and I can’t wait to meet more people at the D.C. Pen Show.
Hey, I just returned from my study abroad trip to Rome! It was such an amazing experience. I geeked out over all the Roman ruins and museums I saw. My favorite places included Ostia Antica, an ancient port town outside of Rome, the Forum, the Baths of Caracalla, and the Capitoline Museum. There was also a set of tenement apartments from the 100-400s C.E. that had cool fresco paintings and was underneath a medieval church. As an anthropology and art history double major, I was so happy to see the objects I studied in class. Stationery-wise, I didn’t see many high-quality notebooks. I found two nice ones in gift shops but I forgot to take pictures of them. I’ll try to upload them this weekend and do a quick review.
I saw some notebooks in the local pharmacy but I didn’t buy them. The paper seemed thin and floppy.
Here are some of my favorite pictures I took in Rome!
I’m going on a study abroad trip to Rome! Of course, my favorite part of packing is deciding what notebooks I will bring with me! Since this is a short overseas trip I don’t want to risk flying with fountain pens. So here’s my list:
Rhodia webbie notebook for journaling about my trip
Baron Fig vanguard just in case I have any time to write stories
Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Journal for writing down lists and random story ideas
Papermate ink joy pens
Roll of washi tape to paste in memorabilia
Regular spiral bound notebook for schoolwork
And that’s it! I’m not staying for too long otherwise I would bring more. I’ll try to look out for any cool notebooks in Italy!
In other news, I’m going to be super busy after this trip. After my return flight, I’m working on an archaeological dig for six weeks. I probably won’t be posting that much. I hope my few readers understand this hiatus! I should be back to more regular posting by July 10. Have a great summer!