Lately, I’ve been searching for more unusual ink colors. My collection is mostly blue, purple and red which gets boring. One of my new favorites is J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques. It comes closer than any other ink in capturing the summery coral color. The ink itself comes in a small 30ml bottle. It’s possible to suck up ink without using a syringe, but I’d recommend one anyways because the bottle is so small.
The color is a lovely pink with orange tones. My photo shows it as more orange than it is! The ink is smooth in my Faber-Castell Ambition with a medium nib. It isn’t watery like other J. Herbin inks sometimes are. In the M nib, the color is dark enough to be legible. It is harder to read in long passages. I wrote a ten page story using this ink and I had some trouble reading my text at first. However, my eyes got used to the light tone. I would use a larger nib with this ink.
Monteverde Coral, a similarly named ink, is much darker and oranger. I really didn’t like it so I don’t have any picture to show. So Corail is the best option for a coral-colored ink! It may be too light for some people’s eyes but I enjoy it overall as a summery ink.
Long time, no see! It’s been several months, but I’m finally back from the dead to blog once more. I always feel sad when I see people’s abandoned blogs floating in the vast internet but now that’s me! It takes SO MUCH work and dedication to keep a blog going, especially when social media is easier and gives instant validation. But blogs and reviews in particular are great for giving more information before purchasing expensive stationery. So, I’m back to my blog to give you quality reviews! Also I finally linked my own domain to the site, so links should redirect to notebookjoy.com instead of notebookjoy.wordpress.com hopefully!
If anybody is interested, the reason I’ve been away is that spring semester of college was really stressful. O_O Turns out I shouldn’t have had a campus job while taking five classes and trying to socialize and find internships. This summer I’m working more than I would prefer but at a much cooler job — at a used bookstore! I feel like I’m in an indie romcom movie sometimes, but with more annoying customers. I’m also learning to drive by myself without being terrified and cooking simple meals in preparation for my apartment next semester. So this summer has been productive even if I haven’t read or written too much. I also went to Portugal and found nice stationery there. Maybe I’ll post a quick review.
I also went to the D.C. Pen show, for my fourth year! Sadly I only went a few hours on Saturday but it was so much fun. I also RSVPed to join my local pen group for dinner! I focused on purchasing “unusual” inks, since I have most colors at this point. Interesting notebooks and leather products were also on my list. But I didn’t expect to come away with a Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 pen with a gorgeous lava resin! Walking by the F-C table, this pen instantly grabbed me. Normally, I ordered expensive pens online after much research, but I gave in and bought it for $180 with a speciality SIG medium nib. It felt good having a job to give me extra money. 🙂
The pictures don’t do it justice! The Pocket 66 glows iridescent under a light source, lit up with swirls of yellow and orange and red. It is the perfect size posted for my small hands. I got it as an eyedropper, my first one. I’ll be very careful with it, so no bringing it to class in case it explodes.
I also bought several notebooks, Life Stationery Spiral, Life Stationery Vermillion, Life Stationery Recent Memo, and Kyopodo Notebook, all from Vanness Pens. The Vanness table is always so friendly and has a great selection. I liked the lady at the Sailor USA table too, she helped me pick out a Bungubox to buy, Clown Tears. Sadly, Brad from the Pen Addict wasn’t at the show this year so I didn’t get to say hi. Neither was Anderson Pens. As for inks, I bought Robert Oster Rose Gilt Tint, Bungubox Clown Tears, Kobe Arima Amber, Akkerman Sapgroen, Pilot Iroshizuko Tsutsuji, Krishna Brown Pink, PenBBS 137 Wisteria, Vinta Sirena and Sailor Yodakai. I also got a beautiful three pen leather case from Galen Leather! I love the smell and how supple the brown leather is! I wanted to buy the Galen Writing Box so badly but resisted the temptation.
Even better than the show was going out to dinner with the D.C. Metro Pen Crew, my local pen group. We all compared purchases and tried out each others pens. I’ve never felt so included in a hobby before. Everyone understands what I’m talking about for once! Even though I was the youngest there, I had an easy time making friends and talking about our shared passions. My advice for any convention goers is to meet up with people after the con, whether it’s online friends or a local group or people you meet in the hotel bar! Even better than buying stationery are the friends you make along the way.
For my few readers, thanks for still being there! I appreciate it.
I finally got around to buying Baron Fig’s dream journal at the Baltimore Pen Show! You can tell how much I love BF in this post but this is my first review of their products. There’s just something about the clothbound cover, thick paper, and creativity that goes into each edition that draws me in. Baron Fig is best known for creating the Confidant notebook, but over time they have expanded to softcover Vanguards, pens, pencils and other stationery supplies.
The Wander Dream Journal is a guided edition, meaning that it has templates printed on the page. BF doesn’t just want you to write your dreams down haphazardly but organize and analyze them. That sets it apart from other journals I’ve seen before.
The journal is a beautiful night sky blue, embossed with silver stars and a crescent moon. I love running my hand across the cloth cover. It is textured and sturdy but prone to staining if you’re not careful. Even better are two important additions: a longer bookmark and an elastic band! These satisfy the few quibbles I had with Baron Fig notebooks in the past. The bookmark is a sky blue color while the elastic is a gray. I wish this notebook was available as a normal lined or dotted edition. I’d buy a stack of them!
The box itself is amazing too, decorated with beautiful surreal art that mimics a dream scape. BF definitely knows how to design a beautiful package.
Inside, there is lovely, psychedelic endpaper with a space to put your name. The pages are numbered, which is helpful for reference. There are enough pages to write down 92 dreams! The first spread introduces the various symbols you can check mark to further categorize your dream.
Emotion: your mood during the dream
Sleep Quality: did you sleep well or not?
Time: Did the dream take place in past, present or future?
Color: Did you dream in color or monochrome?
Viewpoint: 1st or 3rd person perspective
Type: Is this dream Recurring, Lucid, Mundane, Fantasy or Nightmare?
These symbols made me think more about the significance of my dream and how it happened. This is important when you wake up and rapidly start forgetting a dream! BF did a great job designing these categories.
On the pages themselves are spaces for recalling, drawing and interpreting the dreams. At the top is a space to write the date and day of week. Recalling the dream took up the whole left page, while the right page was split between room for drawing and interpreting. The ruling was lined. I wish that there was more room for interpretations because I’m not a great artist and didn’t use up much of that space.
The paper is good for fountain pens and any other writing instruments. However, the paper feels lighter weight and the pages almost curl up on their own. Usually, they are very thick and lay flat. Maybe BF changed their supplier? I will do more research and buy a regular Confidant to test at some point. I used a Pelikan F nib with Bungubox June Bride ink to write down my dream. There was shading, but it does look a bit flat compared to Tomoe River, my paper of choice. To be honest, everything looks dull compared to TR! There was no feathering nor bleed through. There was some show through. Ink dries very fast on the uncoated paper. I didn’t smear any of my text with my left hand, as I usually do.
Here’s my dream, if you have the patience to read it! And the showthrough is in the third picture.
I’m quite stressed out with midterms so this was probably a nightmare looking back on it. I used to have dreams about zombies breaking into a house I was hiding in (I watched too much Walking Dead as a 12 year old) but now most dreams have me wandering in a labyrinth where I can’t escape, whether it’s in an airport, school, or mall setting??? What do you dream about?
This is an incredibly cool journal! I keep it by my bedside so I wake up and start writing in it immediately. Baron Fig is coming up with such innovative ideas lately. They also sell a recipe and guided planner book if you’re interested. The Wander Dream Journal is a good motivator to write down your dreams, before they disappear forever.
I bought this notebook with my own funds. I was not paid for this review.
This weekend, I finally received my $20 rewards for backing the Pay it Forward Kickstarter! For those who don’t know, Pay it Forward is a group of fountain pen enthusiasts who want to make the community a more welcoming and inclusive place for newcomers. You can send your unused notebooks, pens and ink samples for them to hand out. Since 2017, they have travelled to many pen shows and offered a table with free pen kits for newcomers to the hobby and children. They also have a table for donated new notebooks! Last DC Pen Show, I dropped off all my extra Field Notes, limited editions and other goodies that were previously sitting in a shelf. It felt very good to give away paper for others to use! For myself, I picked out a little pen bag and found inside an amazing demonstrator Jin Hao pen and sample vial of ink.
I wish this group was around when I first started my obsession in 2016. I figured out what pens and ink and paper I liked through trial and error. The pen community was still a bit intimidating to me at the time so I didn’t participate online. Pay It Forward both recycles stationery and creates a welcoming atmosphere.
PIF created a kickstarter last year to raise more money for tables at pen conventions and to spread the word. I donated $20 for a pack of Story Supply Co x Pay It Forward dot grid notebooks and a bottle of “Heart of Gold” ink, made by Papier Plume.
The notebooks are a reddish-orange and yellow. On the cover is the PIF logo, three hands holding stationery items. Inside is a place to write your name, date, and location. On the back cover is the mission of PIF. I liked that the cover was not a uniform red, but had yellow undertones. The paper is moderately fountain pen friendly like other SSC notebooks. The dot grid is a bit dark for me, but is much lighter than the Elemental notebook grid.
As for the ink, it’s a dark orange, with some nice shading. It reminds me of a sunset. The flow is nice and wet in my Sailor 1911S Medium nib. Compared to other inks I have, Sailor Apricot is lighter and has a silver sheen. Monteverde Ruby is much redder, like tomato soup.
I love PIF’s mission of creating a welcoming community. I’m happy to support their kickstarter and hope to see more PIF tables in the future.
I bought these products with my own funds. I was not paid for this review.
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 always am on the lookout for new places to buy quality notebooks and pens. D.C. doesn’t have as many stationery stores as NYC, but it does have the homegrown Jenni Bick. I visited it a year ago, and finally had the chance to go again with a friend. The store is located only a few minutes walk from the Dupont Circle metro, if you take the 19th Street exit. There is also a Krispy Kreme nearby, if you hunger for fresh donuts and paper. 🙂
The store is easy to see, with a giant selection of notebooks displayed proudly in the window. Once inside, a rainbow of Leuchtturm1917s greet you, stretching across the wall to your left! Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the 1917, this display makes me smile.
You’ll find many types of notebooks here, both the usual Moleskines and Paper Blanks, to Japanese brands like Midori or Stalogy, to more obscure companies. The selection has only gotten larger since last year, to my delight. The Leuchtturms take up much of the front. There is a section for Nuuna notebooks, which I had never seen in person before! There is also a clearance table, a Moleskine display, some fountain pens behind clear glass and fountain pen ink from Lamy, Faber-Castell and J. Herbin. Jenni Bick also has a selection of store-made leather journals. They are beautiful but extremely expensive. If you need a memorable scrapbook or journal, this section is for you.
There also is some art supplies in the back! There is a table with notebooks for people to try out and write in. This is a great idea because often I am enthralled by a notebook’s cover but disappointed when the paper ends up being terrible.
The employees are so nice and helpful here! They are knowledgable about every type of paper. Honestly, I’d love to work at Jenni Bick so I could be around stationery all day. I was heading to the Phillips Collection afterwards, so I couldn’t buy anything too big or bulky. So I settled for a blue inkpad, a Stalogy365, a discounted Semikolon notebook and some elastic bands for my Traveller Notebook.
If you’re in Dupont Circle, I recommend stopping by. There are other great stores and museums nearby. Second Story Books is a treasure for anyone who loves used books for cheap!
Sorry about not updating! I’ve been busy settling into school and getting used to my course work. Here are my thoughts about a new notebook I found: The Oasis Notebook.
I first discovered the Oasis Notebook when I received it as a gift at the July D.C. Pen Meetup. It was elegant, sturdy and lay flat too! I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find it again. Luckily for me, they were available at the D.C. Pen Show, right next to the Sailor table.
Profolio is a new brand from Japan, made by the famous Itoya stationery company. All of their products feature a hybrid graph ruling, using both grids and lines. They can be used for taking notes, making diagrams or tables, or writing lists. There’s a space at the top to write a date. I bought the regular A5 Oasis in a “stealthy” black and a limited edition A5 with white paper.
The Oasis lays perfectly flat, perfect for long term writing. The paper is a nice cream color. There’s shading but no sheen unfortunately. I didn’t see feathering or bleed through but there is some show through because of the thin paper. It’s very smooth and pleasant to write with. The limited edition is the same except it uses bright white paper. It’s staple bound, so doesn’t lay flat. The cover springs up once I opened it up. I prefer the bright white paper but the ruling does look harsher on it. The lighting is kind of off but I tried my best to show the contrast in paper color.
Front of page
Back of Page
Comparing cream to white paper
I enjoy these notebooks and can’t wait to see more from Profolio! They are available online at Amazon and Anderson Pens. The Oasis comes in black, green and red covers. I haven’t seen the limited edition for sale online.
I bought these notebooks with my own funds. I was not paid for this review.
For the second time, I’ve been burned by Kickstarter. The first time was with the Hippo Noto’s long wait time and questionable sturdiness. At least the Elemental Notebooks delivered fast. Also, the chemistry-themed design is spectacular, living up to every picture released. It reminds me of another cloth-covered favorite, Baron Fig notebooks. I bought the Nitrogen and Hydrogen, and a set of Unobtanium pocket notebooks. (I forgot Oxygen had the blue cover, this is why I hated Chemistry lol) But the paper is more important than anything else for me, so the Elemental Notebooks were a massive letdown.
Once again, I’m late to the show. Check out Mountain of Ink’s review here. In the next paragraphs, I review the Nitrogen notebook and the Unobtanium add-ons.
100 gsm cream dot grid paper
A5 size, or 3.5 by 5.5 inches for Unobtanium
$20 per notebook, pocket Unobtaniums were add-ons for $12
two ribbon bookmarks
no table of contents or numbered pages
I was impressed by the Elemental notebooks as soon as I got them. The packaging is gorgeous! The notebooks come in black slipcases that explain the element the notebook is named after. The cover is made of a slightly rough cloth, with no decorations on the front. It reminds me of an old library book, especially with the indent near the spine. The dark green of Nitrogen is beautiful. The endpapers are well thought out. There’s a space in the shape of the periodic table to put your name in. The bottom of the spine is imprinted with gold foil showing the periodic element. It’s a nice touch. The edges of the book are tinted black with tiny colorful stripes meant to emulate the emissions spectrum of Nitrogen.
The Unobtanium notebooks have the element stamped in green foil on the lower right side. It’s made of a soft pleather material. They are the size of Field Notes, but have stitched bindings like Baron Fig Vanguards.
But the paper is where it all goes downhill… I opened up my Nitrogen to see large, dark, dots. I hate when the ruling is too dark. It distracts me from my writing and looks generally unpleasant. But then I used my new Sailor Kingdom Note fountain pen to write the header and was instantly disappointed.
Feathering everywhere! No shading, only a flat color. Something I’ve noticed with bad paper is that “splotches” appear, instead of shading. I experienced that here. There was more show through than I’d like, but it’s not terrible. The paper itself was an off-white color, with some tooth to it, like Baron Fig. This paper is really bad. It’s usable with gel pens, ballpoints and pencils, but the dots are still too dark for me. So I don’t know what to use these for? The Unobtanium has the same paper. At least I use those for taking quick notes and the dot grid doesn’t matter as much.
Comparing the dot grid on the Confidant, on top, with the bottom Elemental notebook
Honestly, I feel misled. The creators of Elemental notebooks specifically said the paper was good for fountain pens. They even posed the Oxygen with a blue TWSBI Eco-T in a promotional picture! They also said the dark dots were part of the prototype and would be lighter in the final production. I wouldn’t have spent $47 on these notebooks if I knew they weren’t fountain pen friendly.
Comparison to Baron Fig:
The Elemental Notebook just begs comparison with the Baron Fig! I’m a huge fan of the BF Confidant, so this newcomer had a lot to live up to. I’d say BF won, for pure stylishness and usable paper. My Nitrogen is a typical A5 size, while the Confidant is more compact. The ribbons on Nitrogen are longer, and there’s two of them. See how they lay flat and are easy to pull on? That’s what BF needs. The stubby bookmark isn’t enough for me.
The Nitrogen is more like a library book, complete with the crease near the spine and rough linen cover. The Confidant is like a luxury product, with softer covers and a modern style.
The Confidant wins the paper battle, by far. First of all, its dot grid is large but a soft gray. The Nitrogen has the problem of both dark and large dots, which makes writing very distracting.
The Confidant doesn’t have the luxurious Tomoe River feeling, but I actually like the slight tooth while using my fountain pens. Nib sizes tend to spread a bit, but don’t feather. The colors are vibrant and accurate. Honestly, I’ve only used the limited edition Confidants, and other reviews have made me question the paper quality. I want to do my own test on the regular Confidant. But the Nitrogen feathers and spreads everywhere. Instead of shading, I get weird splotchiness.
front of Baron Fig paper
back of Baron Fig Paper
Overall, if you want a cloth-cover A5 notebook with dot grid, get the Baron Fig. It’s cheaper at $18 and has better paper.
I think I’ve learned my lesson about not funding kickstarters. Both times, I’ve been disappointed. The nature of a kickstarter is itself fickle. It’s easy to run out of money, find problems in production, or deliver months late. I don’t blame the creators for running into problems, but I’m done accepting them. From now on, I’m ordering notebooks that are in regular production.
I bought these notebooks with my own funds. I was not paid for this review.
Note: This is part of a series. Read my other posts here, here, and here. 🙂
I’m sad to say that I’m back home now. Japan was a wonderful experience and two weeks didn’t feel like enough time. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to Osaka so I didn’t see Nagasawa. 😦 I did check out the Traveler’s Factory and Muji in Narita airport though.
I was excited to see this Muji-to-go after seeing all the great stationery stocked in convinence stores. But the selection was small and not very exciting.
However, The Traveler’s Factory sold Traveler’s Notebooks and its accessories. For those who don’t know, TN’s are leather covers that can hold small notebooks, or “inserts”. This allows you to carry around several notebooks in a portable package. I bought inserts with special covers exclusive to this store. I also bought vintage-style Pan Am stickers. My dad bought a brass bullet pencil and ballpoint. He was actually interested by the shop! My plan to convert my family is working. 😉
I also bought some stationery from convenience stores. The most common ones were Family Mart and 7/11. Yes, the latter is apparently very popular in Japan. These small stores actually have good selections of name-brand stationery like Kokuyo and Muji. Some 7/11’s had their own branded notebooks too! The items here were cheap yet high-quality.
I’m still surprised that such nice stationery is widely available and cheap. I’m used to the terrible paper sold in U.S. stores. I spotted nice pens used for signing stuff a few times. I guess Tombow pencils and Uni Sign pens are the equivalents of Ticonderoga’s and Sharpies in Japan!
Found at the Edo-Tokyo Museum
Found at the Meiji Shrine
I hope you enjoyed my blog series! I’ll try to post more reviews but college is starting up for me and I need time to settle in. For those who are interested, here are some non-stationery related pictures of my vacation:
Note: Read my other posts about stationery shops here and here.
So I went to Itoya Ginza and its related shop, K. Itoya, during my last day in Tokyo. Itoya is in the center of the Ginza shopping district, surrounded by luxury stores. Just look for the giant red paper clip jutting out from the building!
Itoya presented the stationery beautifully. It must have taken a long time to arrange all the stationery so perfectly. There were endless rows of letter paper, washi tape and pens. There were 12 floors, so a lot to choose from! Not all the floors catered to stationery lovers. I spotted travel and home good sections. There’s also a nice restaurant!
Wax seals and stamps
Expensive glass dip pens
But most of it didn’t really speak to me. The items was either too expensive or not my style. The service was also quite slow. Compared to Sekeido, Itoya was too upscale and curated for me. The notebook selection was lackluster in the main store. There wasn’t enough variety and everything was full price. I liked the K. Itoya better. It was less sterile, and had a good notebook section. There were also cute school supplies. My favorite part was the table devoted to astronomy-themed stationery!
A notebook making section. I was going to order one, but nobody was at the counter
Love Kokuyo Soft Rings
Life paper is great
Astronomy themed supplies
I did buy a Pilot Custom Heritage 91 in Yama Budo color, a pen I’ve coveted since the beginning of my pen obsession. And I grabbed Pilot Iroshizuko Momiji for 1500 yen!
I had a much better time when I went to Kyoto. There I visited Loft and Tag Stationery. They were two very different stores. Loft was a Target-style store, with many different floors devoted to fashion, travel, home goods, gifts, etc. Tag Stationery was a smaller, specialized shop.
Loft was in a busy part of Kyoto, near my hotel. It had several floors, but it wasn’t all devoted to stationery. The third floor had all the journals, pens, art supplies and planners. There was a rainbow of notebooks in even more colors and types then I’d seen before! This had the best notebook section out of all the stores I visited so far. The Copic marker aisle was small and not as good as Tools. The fountain pen and ink counter was also small. But there were Loft exclusive Pilot Kakunos with magenta, pink or purple pen bodies. I got the purple pen. 🙂 There was even a cute Traveler’s Notebook set up. I even convinced my mom and sister to visit Loft. They both enjoyed it! My sister even bought a Traveler’s Notebook in passport size and some inserts to go with it. So proud of her. 😀
In comparison, Tag Stationery was a small niche store. Apparently that’s where the Tag inks came from. It was in a bustling shopping area. A small temple was next to it. I loved that about Kyoto, finding little shrines and temples everywhere!
I already had Kyo-no-oto Adzuki-iro but I bought Kyo-iro No. 2 Ohara’s Morning Snow and Kyo-no-oto Hisoku. Besides, the store-made inks, I also purchased a pinkish red Sailor demonstrator. There was an exclusive pink Pilot Prera but I didn’t get it. Tag also had a wonderful collection of letter writing paper and envelopes. I bought a nice set with flower patterns printed into the surface. I was surprised by the array of notebooks for young children. It seemed like the type of notebooks you’d buy for kindergarten. It had an unusual ruling, a large grid made up of four squares. They had pop culture references on the cover like Disney and Peanuts and Moomin. I always like finding new rulings!
Although, I didn’t enjoy Itoya as much, the other two stores more than made up for it! Next, I’ll post about the Traveler’s Factory store in Narita airport and other assorted places where I got my stationery.