Random Draw: General’s Pacific 365 #2

I have too many pencils which I don’t take the time to use. Inspired by this episode of the Pen Addict podcast I decided to literally do a random draw: I randomly drew a pencil from the pile, and then I randomly drew something with it. Today’s pencil: the General’s Pacific 365 #2.

It’s a classic looking #2 (or HB) pencil, with for some reason three or four fonts on the barrel, depending how you count the numerals. It’s made in the USA, out of California incense cedar, and has a little red thing on the top that looks like an eraser, but trust me, I wouldn’t try to use it as one.

Why so many fonts?

The green foil imprint quality is not great, with the “Pacific” imprint chipping the pencil’s coating. The coating itself is pretty thinly layered, but the core is perfectly centred and sharpens like a charm.

You can see the available shades that the General’s Pacific is capable of producing in the closeup of the sea turtle above. If you’re looking for a #2 writing pencil that could do for a quick sketch in a pinch, the Pacific ought to do the job. It doesn’t smudge and holds a point very well.

I erased a word between the “S” and the “LATIONSHIPS” on the left side of the closeup above. It erased out pretty well, even though the writing was dark and done with some pressure.

The phone above shows you the maximum darkness I was able to produce with the General’s Pacific. It’s not bad, considering that this is clearly not a pencil made for drawing, but one made primarily for writing.

If you’re buying from CW Pencils and are looking to add a workhorse cedar pencil with a fondness for fonts to your order, the General’s Pacific is a pretty good choice.

May we all be more turtle.

 

 

Roderick on the Line podcast episodes referenced:

Episode 325: “Covered in Science”

Episode 333: “The Turtle Just Goes”

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Random Draw: General’s Pacific 365 #2

The Lord of the Rings Moleskine Limited Edition Box Review

Say hello to the limited edition, numbered Lord of the Rings Moleskine box:

Bold and beautiful, right? This box is new to the 2019 edition of the LotR limited edition Moleksines (reviewed here and here), not to be confused with the more muted LotR limited edition notebooks that Moleskine published back in 2012.

This limited edition box is numbered, like all limited edition Moleskine boxes, and there are 9999 boxes available worldwide. For me this edition is all about the typography and the homage to Tolkien’s illustrations. Notice the fonts used on the front and back of the box, and the fact that the notebook’s details are printed in English, French and Tengwar, an Elven alphabet that Tolkien invented.

You open the box, and are met with this:

The contrast is impressive, and the combination of red, black and gold is striking.

The box itself is a well made cardboard box that can be used to store the notebook, or appropriated to store pens, pencils, pocket notebooks, etc. There’s a black satin ribbon attached so that you can easily pull the notebook out. Very elegant.

Now comes the notebook, the main event. It’s a large ruled Molkesine, with the famous “One ring to rule them all” poem embossed in gold all around the margins, and Tolkien’s illustration of all the rings embossed in gold in the centre.

On the back the inscription on the One Ring appears, embossed in gold:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Again, a dramatic edition that is still elegant and understated.

Inside is where all the fun is. The front endpaper shows a Tolkien illustration of Sauron presumably reaching over the Mountains of Shadow, ready to take over Middle Earth. It looks like this illustration inspired the red and black colour theme of this edition.

 

On the back is Tolkien’s illustration of the rings over Mount Doom with Barad-dûr in the background, and again the “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,/One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them” inscription.

The illustration is aligned with the back pocket, and runs into the pocket itself.

The add-on is the Cirth alphabet, as it is for all the notebooks in this series:

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Which brings us to the one minor thing I don’t like about this edition: the colour of the ribbon bookmark. It’s a light yellow that glitters in the light because of the material its made of, and it’s clearly meant to evoke the One Ring. That’s a lovely idea, but I think that it fails on execution. The bookmark looks pale and vapid compared to everything else about the notebook, almost disappearing into the page. A red bookmark would have probably been better, since a gold one would probably come out tacky.

The 2019 Lord of the Ring Moleskine limited edition notebooks are very well designed. They pay beautiful homage to Tolkien’s illustration and work, and the limited edition box is no different. These are much better than their 2012 counterparts, and make great gifts for the LotR fan in your life.

As usual, these are well made, robust notebooks that can handle a beating with aplomb, but they aren’t, nor are they meant to be, fountain pen friendly. I use gel ink pens or ballpoints in mine, and recommend that you do too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord of the Rings Moleskine Limited Edition Box Review

PenBBS 309 Hawaii Fountain Pen Review

I’ve been on a fountain pen purchasing hiatus for a while, as I’ve been trying to use what I have rather than buying more pens that will see little or no use. Also, money is a thing, and this hobby can get really expensive really quickly.

So when reviews of the PenBBS pens started coming out I largely ignored them, even though they were generally very positive. That changed when I saw the PenBBS Hawaii: here was a chance to get a pen with a Kanilea Pen Company kind of vibe, but at a price that I can afford. To be honest, despite the reviews, at this price point ($39) I thought that I’d get a cheap, plasticky feeling pen that wouldn’t really be a piston filler.

I was wrong.

This is what arrived in the mail:

Then I took this out of the sleeve:

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I don’t usually care much about packaging, but this is worth noting. Even if the packing would have just been a sturdy cardboard box inside a sleeve it would have been mind-blowing for this price. But it’s so much more than that.

That black box is designed like the boxes high end Pelikans come in (including a cushioned interior). It’s designed. There’s texture to it, a logo and the edges are rounded up so you can see the red colour underneath. The box even comes with magnetic closure. It’s well-made enough and good-looking enough to be used as a display box.

But that’s not enough for PenBBS. You paid $39 remember? You’re going to get so much more than your money’s worth. The pen comes in a beautifully made sleeve. Somebody bothered to make a sleeve (a lined and sewn sleeve, not a cheap felt glued one, mind you), and then took the time and effort to make it a display piece: something that you’d proudly carry around with you.

But the pen is the thing, right? As amazing as the packaging is, we’re here for the writing experience, not the unboxing one. So here it is, the PenBBS 309 Hawaii:

Isn’t it pretty? The pen is semi-translucent, with a lot of depth and chatoyance. It’s also pearlescent in places, as you can see in the tip or near the section. I filled it with Sailor Bungubox June Bride Something Blue ink and you can see some of the colour coming through the body (and a slight smear of ink in the cap, where I didn’t clean it properly after filling before capping it).

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The only thing that I don’t quite like about the pen design is the super wide metal band on the cap. It has “PenBBS” and “309” engraved on it, but it cheapens the pen because of its width, not because of the branding.

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The nib looks great, with some thoughtful scrolling engraved on it, as well as the nib width (fine. It only comes in fine). The pen is quite standard in its width and weight, and very comfortable to use in long writing sessions. The section looks sleek, but is much less so than the Lamy Studio, and the lip on the edge prevent your fingers from accidentally hitting the nib and getting inky.

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The fine steel nib offers a tiny bit of line variation as you tilt in (not the flex kind of line variation that appears as you apply pressure on the nib). It’s smooth but does provide feedback, and depending on how you hold it, you may feel more or less of that slight feedback as you write. I enjoyed writing with it, and because it’s a light acrylic pen, its comfortable for really long writing sessions.

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Because its a fine nibbed pen I thought that I’d try it on my current journalling Moleskine. To my surprise this pen and ink combo worked fine on that paper. There are a few dots of show through here and there, but nothing that bothers me. Again, YMMV, and this LotR Moria Moleskine isn’t advertised as having fountain pen friendly paper, but I’ve been enjoying journaling with my PenBBS on it.

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The PenBBS 309 is a piston filler, which for this price is unconscionable, especially considering that the piston mechanism works smoothly (and without squeaking) out of the box. The Pelikan piston fillers do feel better than the PenBBS one, but they come at a much higher price.

Whether you’re just starting with fountain pens or you have a sizeable collection already, the PenBBS 309 is well worth purchasing and trying out. I look forward to trying other PenBBS pens after this one, and I love that companies like PenBBS allow people to have a great fountain pen experience at such an affordable price.

 

PenBBS 309 Hawaii Fountain Pen Review

Ti Arto EDC Review

While the original Ti Arto is my favourite machined pen, the newer Ti Arto EDC comes in at a close second. Like its older BIGiDESIGN brother, the Ti Arto EDC is a machined titanium pen which can accept hundreds of different refills with no need for hacks or spacers and with no tip wiggle. Unlike the Ti Arto it comes in three different finishes, accepts many more refills, and can be adjusted in length.

The Ti Arto EDC looks a lot like a slightly slimmer version of the Ti Arto, with a bigger step down in the end section, and almost no gap between the section and the body.

Those looks are a little deceiving, because this the Ti Arto EDC has a completely different build. The end of the pen can be extended or retracted, unlike the Ti Arto, where it is static. In the Ti Arto EDC the end of the pen is also what you unscrew to change refills, unlike the Ti Arto, where the grip unscrews. If you assume that they’re the same, as on a cursory glance it looks like the Ti Arto EDC’s grip section unscrews (and it really, really doesn’t).

The body of the Ti Arto EDC is slightly slimmer, and the entire pen is slightly lighter than the Ti Arto. It comes in a machined raw finish (like the Ti Arto), in a stonewashed finish (which you can see in the pictures) and in a midnight black finish (which you can see on my Ti Click EDC). Of the three, the stonewashed finish has the best grip and feel, and it also shows wear and tear the best.

The trick with the extendable end section is where the cleverness of this pen lies, and that’s what allows you to use more refill types in this pen, and to extend or compress this pen’s length (to the limits of the refill size). The two o-rings make the end section action super smooth, and the same dual thread design allows you to cap and post this pen super securely. Nothing on this pen is going anywhere without your permission.

The Ti logo, elegant and understated, is the only branding on this pen. You can see how substantial the clip is and how the pen wear in the photo above. It’s like an old pair of jeans, so the stonewashed name for this finish is totally appropriate.

Fully extended, the Ti Arto EDC is the same length of the Ti Arto. However, depending on the refill you use, this pen can get pretty tiny.

I use the Uni-ball UMR-85N refill in this pen, and this is as far as it will contract. If you use a Parker or Schmidt refill the end section can be screwed in almost all the way. However, even partially extended the Ti Arto EDC is a more pocketable pen than its predecessor.

So why do I prefer the Ti Arto more? For longer writing sessions the Ti Arto’s wider girth makes it more comfortable to use than the Ti Arto EDC, although the difference is minor. The Ti Arto is also slightly less ungainly than the Ti Arto EDC, having a more streamlined design, with no step down. I don’t mind the Ti Arto’s gap between the grip and the pen body, and I don’t need a pen that accepts more refills than the Ti Arto. As you may have noticed by now, the choice between the Arto and the Arto EDC is likely going be one of personal taste and preference. Either pen is an excellent choice for a machined pen, an EDC pen, or a titanium pen.

Ti Arto EDC Review

Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbook Review

Leuchtturm1917 entered the busy sketchbook market about a year or two ago, with a lineup of A6, A5 and A4 sketchbooks with white 180 gsm paper.

The covers of the Leuchtturm1917 sketchbooks come in a wide variety of colours, which is a rarity in this market. Usually you find sketchbooks in black, or maybe one or two other colours, but Leuchtturm has decided to offer these in all the colour options available in their regular lineup.

The sketchbook contains 96 pages of acid free 180 gsm paper, and it opens flat. There’s a note in the back packaging that says that the paper is colourfast, and shows a sketch made with a fineliner and markers. More on that later.

There’s a place to write your name and address on the front cover. I recommend writing your name and email address instead. It’s more practical, and more secure.

There is a back pocket. I don’t really think that it’s necessary in a sketchbook, but it’s nice to have.

Leuchtturm offers two unique things with its sketchbook. One is the offer to personalize it with an embossing of your choice. During last year’s Urban Sketchers they personalized the sketchbooks that they gave away as part of the symposium’s package, and the result is very nice.

Now for the heart of the notebook, it’s paper. The pages lie flat with a bit of coaxing, and are thick and substantial. You have to really layer down markers for them to bleed through, and there’s no show through, meaning you can use each page on both sides.

So how does the paper behave? It depends on the medium. This sketchbook excels at dry media (pencils, couloured pencils, conte crayons, etc).

It’s pretty horrible with wet media, including fountain pen ink, watercolour washes, and ink washes. The paper buckles, shows off colour poorly, turns into a grainy mess, and and the ink feathers and spreads. I wouldn’t recommend it even for the lightest washes. All the vibrancy of my schminke watercolours turned into a muddy mess here (the sketch was done with a medium nibbed fountain pen and R&K Emma SketchINK):

Even with fineliners you’re going to have spread. If you like sharp lines, find a different sketchbook.

Again, even from a bit of a distance you can see the spread. That’s just a shame, because if the paper was a little less absorbent then this would be an excellent sketchbook.

This brings me to my frustration with the picture on the back end of the paper band, the one showing a tiny marker and fineliner drawing. This is my experience using markers and fineliners on this notebook:

There’s no option to layer or blend the markers, but that’s OK. This isn’t marker specific paper after all. But even for casual use, or just for use with fineliners/brush pens this paper isn’t great.

So do I recommend this sketchbook? It depends. If the way it looks makes you want to use it, then yes, it’s a notebook for you. I’ve been using this sketchbook for my journal comics mainly to test it out. Will I continue using it? Only because I already have a body of work in it. Otherwise, there are better options out there, ones that aren’t only pencil great, but also work with pen, ink and light watercolour washes (the Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbooks come to mind).

Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbook Review

Moleskine Lord of the Rings Mount Doom Limited Edition Review

“Frodo gave a cry, and there was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm’s edge. But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle.
“Precious, precious, precious!” Gollum cried. “My Precious! O my Precious!” And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail precious, and he was gone.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

The Mount Doom Moleskine limited edition is the most dramatic of the Lord of the Rings themed notebooks to come out this year, and justifiably so. The red and black provide eye catching high contrast that are in complete opposition to the grey on grey Moria notebook.

This notebook will pop out the moment you see it on the store shelf.

Sauron’s eye gazes upon you. Notice the use of the LotR typeface, and Elven script, on the paper band.

The front cover shows Mount Doom in all its Tolkien illustrated glory, with Frodo and Samwise as little golden dots against its grey and red horror.

The design continues on the spine, with Tolkien’s sign on embossed in red at the top.

The back cover, with the edge of mount doom and Sauron’s all seeing eye in red.

The choice of red elastic closure and a black cover is perfect for this notebook, and the gold embossing of the date, the scene and Frodo and Samwise really pops.

The front end page with Tolkien’s pencil drawings of an aerial view of Mordor. The drawing is very nice, but it does make the “In case of loss” pretty obscure. You can either go extra bold here, or try to blend in and hope that someone will notice.

The aerial map of Mordor continues on the back end page. As usual, but still worth noting, the map is completely aligned with the back pocket.

The extra with this edition is the Cirith alphabet booklet.

The red and black theme continues here.

A closeup on the back pocket, with its red sides and the map that continues into the back pocket.

This is a ruled notebook, and it comes with a red ribbon bookmark. Unless you use inks like Noodler’s bulletproof black, it isn’t fountain pen friendly. Then again, it isn’t marketed as such (Moleskine has other notebooks for that).

The B-side of the paper band details Frodo and Sam’s journey.

I love these Lord of the Rings limited editions (I’m using the Moria one as my daily journal). The mount Doom edition is befitting of the dramatic climax of The Lord of Rings trilogy. If you’re a LotR fan this is definitely a must buy, and probably the best designed notebook of this edition.

Moleskine Lord of the Rings Mount Doom Limited Edition Review

Uni Do! Posca Paint Marker White Extra Fine Review

I am on a quest in search for a white, waterproof pen that reliably lays down a thin, opaque line. You’d think that this wouldn’t be so hard to find, but this combination (opaque-and-thin-and-waterproof-and-reliable) has so far proven to be elusive. The closest so far has been the Uni-ball Signo Broad UMR-153 white gel ink pen, but it tends to dry out and blob, so it is far from perfect.

The Uni Do! Posca paint marker in white, extra fine (0.7) is a welcome addition to the white pen field. It’s waterproof, water-based (so not smelly like other paint markers), lightfast, and can be used on a multitude of surfaces. I’m going to focus its use on paper, but if you’re looking for a way to label a dark coloured object, this may be the pen for you.

The Do! Posca’s design is pretty well designed. The pen is narrow enough in diameter for you to comfortably use it like a regular pen, and the square cap keeps the pen from rolling off the table, and looks great. The pen body is much too busy for my liking, but that’s a minor quibble.

There’s a tiny metal ball inside the pen, and you need to shake it well before use to get the paint ink flowing. When you use the Do! Posca for the first time you need to prime it by shaking the pen thoroughly and then pressing the plastic tip in several times until the white paint flows. I had no problem getting the pen to start up after a good shake, but I’d recommend keeping it horizontally and cap it immediately after use.

The Uni Do! Posca doesn’t blob, and it’s excellent for small details. I wouldn’t use it to fill in large expanses of white, as it offers pretty poor coverage and doesn’t layer well. If you’re looking to use it for highlights, correction or detail work, this is the pen for you.

I drew this journal comic on a Clairefontaine Paint On Naturel A5 pad.

The Uni Do! Posca extra fine paint marker in white was available for a time at Jetpens, but now you can find it easily enough on eBay. If you’re looking for an opaque, extra fine, waterproof white pen, I highly recommend it.

Uni Do! Posca Paint Marker White Extra Fine Review