Thank you to The Journal Shop for sponsoring Pens! Paper! Pencils!
What can we say about The Traveler’s Notebook that hasn’t been said before! The legendary system of leather cover and refills allows you to fully customise your journal to suit your lifestyle.
The simplicity and understated beauty of the leather cover, available in regular size and passport size, is matched by the large selection of refills made from quality Japanese paper. The range is rounded out by useful and thoughtful accessories.
Try one for yourself and see what the hype is about!
A little while ago a reader, Jennifer (who makes rather wonderful art) asked if I’d tried water-soluble graphite pencils. I’d been meaning to but hadn’t got around to it. Then, by a strange coincidence, I picked up a couple of new (to me) Caran d’Ache pencils at a local art supplies shop. One of these pencils was the Technalo and it turned out that this is water-soluble, even though I hadn’t realised this when I picked it up. Clearly, this was something I was meant to try.
The Technalo is a good pencil in its own right. It sharpens nicely and keeps a point fairly well. The lead is, grade for grade, a little softer than your normal pencil but you’re not really comparing like with like. They’re available in HB, B and 3B. As you’ll soon see, the 3B becomes very dark when combined with water.
It’s possible to sketch with these pencils in the way you would with a normal graphite pencil but something like a Tombow Mono 100 is much better suited for this: they are a wider range of grades, keep a better point and are much cheaper. I’ve tended to combine the two kinds of pencil in my drawings.
The whole point (no pun intended) of these pencils is of course to combine them with water. You can see in the pictures below how water darkens and blends the lines.
This gives a really beautiful effect and it’s one I absolutely love. Tomorrow’s picture uses them but if you follow my Instagram feed you’ll have seen that despite my intention to spend this year trying out lots of different techniques they keep pulling me back.
Clearly you either have a use for a water-soluble pencil or you don’t. If you do, then these certainly do the job beautifully.
Reviewing the Allegory The Bard fountain pen last week and the Retro-Essential pen this week really brought it home to me that some pens are made to be admired from afar, some are made to be admired in use and not so many pens manage both.
The Bard and the Retro-Essential both look absolutely amazing but not quite so much thought has been put into how they are to actually use. The Bard is good enough to have become a pen I very much enjoy but the Retro-Essential doesn’t quite make it over the hump. An even more severe example of this is the A. G. Spalding Maple Wood pen. I really liked this pen when I reviewed it but that was partly through lack of experience. I now rarely ink it up because it’s not comfortable to use.
What these pens, and many others, have in common is that they don’t seem to have been designed with an outstanding writing experience as the top priority. Sometimes they get away with it, sometimes they don’t.
Conversely, many other pens are great to write with but don’t look that special. I’d put most TWSBIs into that category. They don’t look particularly special but they are lovely to use. More controversially perhaps, the Pilot Custom 74, whilst absolutely stunning to use, isn’t the prettiest of pens.
It’s a rare pen that manages to be beautiful in both use and in looks but some manufacturers are more successful than others: Kaweco with their metal pens (and the Dia 2); the Platinum #3776 range; Franklin-Christoph across pretty much their entire line; Faber-Castell (although the e-Motion perhaps tips into the looks over function category). The Karas Kustoms Ink also falls into this category.
It’s no surprise my favourite pens tend to be made by these companies. The fact that the Custom 74 is one of my favourite pens despite it’s fairly average looks tells you all you need to know about how great it is to write with.
There must be plenty of other pens that are great writers and great lookers – what would you suggest?
Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake (Sunset) is a lovely orange ink with decent dry times, a good flow and some shading. Not as bright and cheery as Sailor Jentle Apricot but a nice happy colour nevertheless. It definitely needs a good wide nib to get the best out of it.
Here I am doodling the Inkling.
You can find some more reviews of Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake on Pennaquod.