My Favorite Back to School Supplies

As a student, the stationery I use is essential to me! I like incorporating my favorite hobby into school while having pretty lecture notes. Although some students at my university use laptops, plenty of us still use paper and pens. Actually, writing notes by hand helps students to retain information better. So I wrote up a list of my favorite notebooks, pens, and pencils, among other items, that I use in my daily life.

Some factors that influenced my choices were price and accessibility. A student’s budget is much different than an adult’s when it comes to stationery. You can find notebooks for cheap, but they may not have the best paper. But other fountain pen friendly notebooks, like Tomoe River, are unsuited for taking quick notes. I like to splurge on stationery so my recommendations may be more money than some people are willing to pay for. For current students, check out your college bookstore. They stock Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebooks at mine! Here’s my daily carries:

Quo Vadis Scholar Weekly Planner, $16

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I found this planner at my college bookstore. They have a huge collection of Quo Vadis planners, from A6 size to 6 x 9 inches and with pretty covers. This is my third one, after using one each year! The Scholar has thick, bright white Clairefontaine 90g paper. It comes in a weekly format with plenty of space for each page, which is much more useful to me as a student than a page-a-day planner. Monthly spreads are helpful for writing down exam dates and paper due dates. A review of the Scholar is coming soon!

Kokuyo B5 Soft Ring, $11.75 at JetPens

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I love these notebooks because they have soft plastic rings that don’t bite into my hand as I write (yes I’m a leftie). They have silky, thick ivory paper with light 7mm lines, perfect for fountain pens. The paper doesn’t take too long to dry either. Mine have 80 sheets/160 pages, enough for my copious note taking.

Clairefontaine A4 Spiral Bound, $7 at Goulet Pens

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For Latin class, I need a giant notebook for me to stuff all my notes and tears into. The Clairefontaine A4 does the job. It has enough space for writing down all the declensions and conjugations my heart desires. It’s also super sturdy and lasts the entire semester in my bag. It has 50 sheets/100 pages.

Pilot Metropolitan and Kakuno, Lamy Safari

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The Pilot Metropolitan and Kakuno are often considered the best beginner fountain pens. They’ve been part of my collection since the beginning. I don’t feel too bad about losing them so they are carried around the most. I love their smooth M nibs that show off shading and sheen. The Lamy Safari is light but balanced in my hand. I love its slightly pebbly texture. It has a juicy M nib.

Blackwing pencils

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This is certainly the more expensive choice of pencils, but I have no self control when it comes to limited editions. I love how smooth these pencils are. They put down lovely dark lines. The limited edition pencils are gorgeous. My favorite is the Blackwing 54, which I reviewed here. It has a Surrealism art theme. I use them for Latin and math classes, where I can erase my mistakes easily.

Papermate Flair

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If I don’t use a fountain pen, I use a Papermate Flair. They’re cheap, come in numerous colors, and take only a few seconds to dry. I like color coding notes in Latin with them, or with their cousin, the Papermate Inkjoys.

Nock Co. Holdout, $25 

IMG_0646The Holdout is a sturdy case that can hold three fountain pens. I don’t need to carry my entire collection around (but sometimes I still do lol). I love Nock Co. cases because they are made of flexible canvas instead of leather. I don’t worry about tossing it into my backpack.

Other Supplies:

  • Mini stapler
  • earbuds
  • sticky notes/tabs
  • Blank index cards for Latin and Art History
  • Anker battery charger

Self explanatory. My mini stapler has saved me when a paper is due but there’s no stapler in the vicinity! Earbuds are essential on campus when you’re studying in the library, walking to class, sitting on the grass chilling out, etc. I also carry around flashcards in a plastic case because Latin and Art History classes use up SO MANY of them. Another essential is a battery charger. My phone loses battery so quickly that I carry one around in case. I bought an Anker one on Amazon for around $25.

I hope you enjoyed my daily carry post! It was fun to write.

Notebook Shopping at CVS

I continued my quest for back to school composition books, but I didn’t see much at my local CVS. There was one CVS brand set of notebooks out. Here’s a quick review:

CVS Brand Composition Book

  • 100 sheets
  • A few dollars?

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The cover is made of a thick cardstock with a purple cosmic pattern. The twee words, “Make Today Magical”, are printed in silver letters. I like the white tape that binds the notebook. The design is pretty terrible. It feels like it was trying to be hip like the Target designs but also as low-budget as possible.

The paper itself is slightly rough. It has light blue lines for once! Ink performs okay. There is no feathering but no shading or sheen either. Ink went down smooth and dried very quickly.

Looking at the back, there is moderate show through but no bleeding. It doesn’t look as bad as the picture!

 

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend. The design is really ugly compared to some of the lovely Target designs and the paper isn’t that good. I want to hit Staples soon and also review some notebooks from my school bookstore! Also look out for an overview of all my fountain pen inks.

Notebook Shopping at Target

I loved back to school shopping as a child! It was the one time where I was allowed to pick out a giant stack of notebooks, pens, pencils and other stationery. I stalked the aisles, grabbing enough supplies to last the whole year and then some. Some of my favorite notebooks had floral designs, T.V. show characters, or glittery covers. There were fun trends too, like the year everyone bought Japanese erasers and bendy rulers! As much as I love fountain pen friendly stationery, the designs are often muted and boring in comparison. So I decided to look for that childhood wonder at my local Target. The mission was to find cute, but fountain pen friendly composition notebooks. Yes, I was inspired by Les from Comfortable Shoes Studio and her reviews of back to school notebooks. 🙂 I tested paper using an EF Blackwing, Sharpie Pen, Papermate Flair and Papermate Inkjoy, along with my currently inked pens.

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My go to used to be Studio C, which always had pretty covers but also had paper that showed off shading and sheen! Unfortunately, they went out of business and don’t show up on shelves anymore. 😦 My stockpile won’t last me forever, so I was looking for a replacement. Here are the specs for one of mine:

Studio C College Ruled Composition Book

  • 100 sheets
  • $3.49

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The one I tested was from the Silver Linings collection. I love the silver tape and motivational quote, “Live Your Dreams” on the front cover. The inside is just as lovely as the inside. The lines are college ruled and a pale blue. The paper skews cooler than the other notebooks I tested. It is wonderful for fountain pens, showing shading and sheen! The notebook is durable. The cover is made of thick cardstock that doesn’t bend easily.

Mead College Ruled Comp Book

  • 70 sheets
  • 99 cents

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The hot pink cover and tape lured me in, despite the ugly page of coupons attached. The plastic cover is sturdy enough despite not being cardstock. It also has a plastic page sandwiched in between the cover and pages which is nice. However, the paper inside was disappointing. It was rough under my pen. In my drying test, the ink was absorbed in under three seconds. The lines are a dark blue and don’t blend in. Nibs were a size larger on this paper. There was no shading, only a flat color. I saw feathering too. There was show through and bleeding too. I don’t recommend this paper! Even my Blackwing felt unpleasant.

Mead Five Star College Ruled Composition Book

  • 100 sheets
  • $2.49

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I was really hoping this could live up to the Studio C, but sadly it doesn’t. It has has 100 sheets but is a lower price. The cover has white tape and a pretty image of swirling paint.  The plastic cover sticks to the front and back pages so I have to pull them apart every time I open the notebook. My writing size stayed close to normal instead of increasing in width. There was also shading. But there was feathering in my larger nibs. My blue inks, like PenBBS #44 and Bungubox June Bride seemed to bleed through to the back more than Kobe Arima Amber. I could still use this with smaller nibs and red colors apparently. Show through is okay except for blue and green inks which bled more!

More than Magic Wide Ruled Composition Book

  • 80 sheets
  • $1.99

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This was the best notebook of all! I only wish it came in college ruled and had more pages. More Than Magic is a Target brand that sells sparkly, holographic, cosmic- themed school supplies. I was attracted to their “stand” instantly, guess I’m still a child at heart. 😀 The notebook has holographic tape and writing that says “Find your light” behind a purple space background. Inside is another quote, “You are amazing”. The lines are wide ruled and not too dark for me. This was the best paper yet! All my pens behaved well, with shading and a bit of sheen. No feathering either. It took longer to dry fully, 15 seconds, but that means ink had time to pool and create shading. There was a negligible amount of show through on the back.

West Emory Composition Book

  • 50 sheets
  • Forgot the price

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I know this wasn’t a real composition book despite being labeled one. But I couldn’t resist the holographic cover. This notebook had light gray lines and space at the top for headings. Sadly, the paper also was absorbant, so ink took only five seconds to dry. My lines increased in width. There was splotching where ink usually pools. Show through wasn’t bad except for the PenBBS #44, which is a very pigmented ink.

Overall, if you’re looking for cute, colorful composition books I’d check out More than Magic, Mead Five Star if you experiment with inks that work, or Studio C if you find any remaining stock!

Surrealism is Awesome: Palomino Blackwing 54 Review

I first tried the esteemed Blackwing 602 pencil ($22 for a box of twelve, yes they’re pricy) at the CW Pencil Shop last year. It’s much talked about in the pencil fandom (you thought I only liked fountain pens???) so I was excited. It met my expectations, and so much more. The “firm” lead is smooth and creamy on paper. I was turned off from pencils after years of using ones that were scratchy and had broken lead.  I stopped using pencils during middle school, and never went back. Until now.

For the spring semester, I found a use for my new pencils. I used my Baron Archer #2’s for math problems and my Blackwing 602 for creative writing class, where I had to erase often. I’ve even used my pencil for sketching! So I was excited to see the new Blackwing Volumes release. Okay, at first I was disappointed by the color. But the pictures online don’t show how it actually looks. It’s gorgeous!

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This picture shows the color off best.

The theme is inspired by Surrealism, one of my favorite art movements. Surrealism is when artists take inspiration from their unconscious and dreams to create a bizarre, off-putting work. It followed the work of Freud, often showing what lurked in the hidden parts of your mind. Though most think of Salvador Dali or Rene Magritte, there were many women and people of color working in that style. Surrealism was a diverse movement that gained popularity in the Caribbean and Latin America. I’m happy that Blackwing mentioned artists on the box that weren’t just white men. (Nothing wrong with that demographic but it’s nice to see underrepresented artists.) Some other female surrealists include Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, and Remedios Varos. Wilfredo Lam, mentioned on the box, was a famous Chinese-Cuban artist, who drew inspiration from his Afro-Cuban heritage for his paintings.

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They’re beautiful!

The shiny lacquer is a strange color, shifting like the color palette of Surrealists. It looked bubblegum pink in some pictures, magenta in others. Seeing it in person, the color is orchid, with just a hint of purple. The teal imprint and blue eraser add to the oddity of this pencil. It’s unusual, which I like.

I had a weird scratch on one of the ferrules, which annoyed me. I’m paying $25 for a box of 12 pencils, it better be perfect!

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Weird scratch on ferrule

The “extra firm” lead wasn’t as mind-blowing as the 602’s was. But it has better point retention and is slightly harder, making it better for precise writing. Some bloggers theorized that the “extra firm” was the same as the Palomino HB. I tested that out, along with my other Blackwing pencils I have.

“Extra firm” is definitely a different lead. Palomino is even darker than the EF. Its line isn’t as dark as the 54’s. It has even better point retention and just had an overall different feel on the paper. I’d suggest both as good pencils, but they aren’t replicas. I also compared my “soft” and “firm” leads. The “soft” was the darkest, but smudged the most and lost its point quickly.

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Pencil test done on Baron Fig paper

I really enjoyed the 54 and its cool theme! They’re out of stock in many places, but there’s still some floating around if you look. Below are some of the works of the Surrealists mentioned on the box!

Also I found a list of awesome female Surrealists!

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Max Ernst, Europe After the Rain (1940-42)
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Meret Oppenheimer, Object (1936)
self-portrait-along-the-boarder-line-between-mexico-and-the-united-states
Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Between the Borderline of Mexico and the United States (1932)
lam the jungle
Wilfredo Lam, The Jungle (1943)

Sources: