Mam Tor featured

Mam Tor – the Shivering Mountain (sketch)

Mam Tor

Mam Tor is a hill in the beautiful Peak District of Derbyshire. It’s known as the Shivering Mountain because it’s made up of very unstable layers of shale, which frequently slip. In fact these landslips have created in lots of little baby hills below: Mam Tor means Mother Hill.

I started drawing this at the beginning of April and then I became ill. Although the trigger was a virus of some unidentifiable kind, I’d been trying to do too much for too long and it completely wiped me out. For five or six weeks I couldn’t do a thing and only recently have I been starting to get back to normal. There’s still a way to go but I’ve finally been able to finish this picture.

You may think you’re invincible and can do it all but take it from me: you can’t. It will catch up with you eventually and, really, it’s just arrogant to think it won’t. Good is coming from all this and I’ll be a much healthier and happier person at the end of it but learn from my mistakes! Look after yourself and be sensible about what you try to do. You owe it to yourself and to those who love you.

Story Supply Co notebook featured

Story Supply Co Pocket Staple Notebook Review

Story Supply Co notebook review

Story Supply is an American company with a wonderful ethic. In their own words, they partner “with organizations who provide free tutoring, writing, and arts instruction to kids in under-served communities” by setting aside a Supply Kit with every purchase:

Story Supply Kits will include notebooks and writing tools or other items that will directly support the creative learning endeavors of those students. Essentially, simple, useful tools for the creation of stories.

This is a fantastic cause. The notebooks themselves are pretty good too.

I received this item as payment for a site sponsorship. These are my own honest opinions.

Size: 3.5″ x 5.5″ (9cm x 14cm) (A6)
Price: $10 for three (US); £9 for three (UK)
Pages: 48
Cover: stiff card (100lb)
Paper: 70lb smooth white
Ruling: graph, lined or blank
Binding: three copper staples

As is my wont, my review of this notebook consisted of me using it until I got to the end. It spent a few weeks in my pocket, inside a cover, and it held up well despite being sat on by my not inconsiderable bulk very many times. There were only the smallest signs of fraying at the edges – in fact the thick card cover was in almost as good a condition at the end as at the start.

Story Supply Co notebook spine and pages

As you can see from the ink tests, the paper holds up well with fountain pens. Wetter pens did feather a little but not badly enough to put you off using them. It’s not quite as good as Calepino paper but much better than Field Notes.

Story Supply Co notebook ink test front and back cover

One of the things I used this notebook for was to help me memorise the kings and queens of England. (I have literally had far too much time on my hands.) In my enthusiasm, I wrote all over the reverse side of the ink test page. You can see, though, that fountain pen ink tended to show through a little but only the very wettest nibs caused any bleeding. Non-fountain pens were perfectly fine.

Story Supply Co notebook ink test back

The paper is quite thick, smooth but not glossy, and is a slightly muted white. It’s great for quick little sketches.

Story Supply Co notebook staples

If Story Supply Co. simply made these notebooks without also distributing their Story Supply Kits I think I would still be recommending their notebooks. They’re put together very well, are a reasonable price and have good paper. When you include the fact that you are also helping disadvantaged young people whenever you buy some, I think these are beginning to nudge into top stop for my favourite notebook.

Story Supply Co notebook inside cover

Pros

Great paper for sketching and writing
Robust construction
Supporting a good cause

Cons

Slight issues with very wet fountain pen ink

Twiss Green Lizard featured

Twiss Green Lizard Fountain Pen Review

Twiss Green Lizard resting

The Green Lizard is handmade by John Twiss here in the UK. It’s been made especially for United Inkdom and once we’ve all reviewed it we’ll be giving it away! This is a very special pen, for reasons that will soon become clear.

Twiss Green Lizard clip and cap

The pen comes with three JoWo steel nibs: fine, medium and 1.1mm stub. Obviously, I’ve been using it with the stub. It’s engraved with the Twiss logo. JoWo nibs are consistently good and this one is no exception. Smooth and with good flow, it’s a pleasure to write with.

Twiss Green Lizard nib

The Green Lizard uses standard cartridges or converters and comes with a Schmidt converter. It’s a screw in kind, which threw me for a moment or two.

Twiss Green Lizard in pieces

The cap screws on. It takes a little over four turns, which is… a lot. It posts securely but not deeply, making the pen very long. Although it’s possible, I wouldn’t recommend posting. The clip is simple but functional.

Twiss Green Lizard posted

The barrel’s fairly slim but a good length, even unposted. It’s very light in the hand and so would, I’m sure, suit most people. The ebonite section is ever so slightly shaped and feels very comfortable. It’s comfortable pen in the hand.

Twiss Green Lizard in my hand

The Green Lizard is all about the cap and barrel of course. It looks like a reptile all dressed up for a night out at a 70s themed nightclub. All sparkly. It’s different looking and shimmers in the light. The pattern spirals around the pen and you can see the joins.

Twiss Green Lizard acrylic join

I always enjoy signs that a pen’s been made, as long as those signs don’t suggest a lack of care or poor finishing. For me, then, these joins add to the appeal of the pen. If you’re blessed with an active imagination, you might even think of this as evidence that the barrel was made from strips of that poor lizard’s sparkly skin. Or jacket, if you would prefer a less gruesome provenance.

The truth, though, is even more exciting. The Green Lizard is made from a vintage cellulose acetate from the 1930s-40s that was discovered in a château in Le Mans. Isn’t that just wonderful?!

Twiss Green Lizard capped

The barrel’s subtly stamped with the Twiss logo and month of manufacturer.

Twiss Green Lizard logo

It’s no secret that I think John Twiss makes wonderful pens. I’ve interviewed him, visited him and reviewed two of his pens before. I’m the proud owner of two Twiss pens and have an order in for a third. The Green Lizard continues his fine track record of making high quality pens that look a little different and write beautifully.

As I mentioned at the top we’ll be giving this pen away on United Inkdom, so check back soon for further details!

Twiss Green Lizard handwritten review

Evening Stroll After the Rain featured

Evening Stroll After the Rain (Sketch)

Evening Stroll After the Rain

This is a lane in Wellow, Nottinghamshire. Julia and I had just had a lovely meal at the Old Red Lion pub, which I highly recommend, and were taking an easy stroll back to our AirBnB.

Winsor and Newton Black Indian ink, Winsor and Newton watercolours

Stabilo Worker featured

Stabilo Worker Rollerball Review

Stabilo Worker capped

Rollerball ink isn’t the most practical, tending not to be waterproof and prone to feathering. However I find them very enjoyable to write with and if I’m not using a fountain pen it’s more than likely it will be a rollerball of some kind that I pick up instead.

I received this item as part payment for a site sponsorship. These are my own honest opinions.

Price: £2.40 (UK) $3.60 (USA)
Tip size options: 0.5mm only
Barrel options: soft rubberised plastic, colour matches ink
Ink type: liquid ink (red, black, blue or green)
Size: 1.2cm diameter, 14.3cm long
Weight: 14g

The Stabilo Worker has been around a while but this is a newer version named, but incorrectly spelled, the “Colorful”. Whereas the classic Worker sports an orange barrel, whatever the colour of the ink (with the colour picked out by the accents on the pen), this version has a barrel that matches the ink: either red, black, green or, in this case, blue.

Stabilo Worker unposted

The barrel is a softish non-slip plastic that’s comfortable to hold. There’s a gentle contour at the business end, adding to the comfort of the pen being held by your fingers. It’s a light pen and a good length. There’s a small bump halfway down the barrel that will try to stop the pen rolling away and will sometimes be successful if the pen is rolling incredibly slowly on a perfectly flat surface.

Stabilo Worker posted

The cap pushes on to close, with a reassuring little click, and pushes on to post, without the click but nevertheless securely. The wide clip is strong and clippy.

Stabilo Worker cap and clip

The tip writes a 0.5mm line with a good flow that doesn’t skip or gloop. It’s moves smoothly across the paper. The ink is a fairly pleasant shade of blue.

Stabilo Worker tip

This is a lovely pen. It’s comfortable in the hand and puts down a good line.

Pros

Comfortable in the hand
Good consistent flow and line

Cons

Limited range of colours

Stabilo Worker handwritten review