Minimal Sketchkit

Minimal sketchkit

Here’s what I carry with me in my pockets wherever I go, so I can take any opportunity there is to draw.

Minimal sketchkit open

It’s a Calepino notebook in a Davis Leatherworks cover, with a Kaweco Liliput (filled with Pilot Iroshizuku Kiri-Same) and a Kaweco Brass Sketch Up clutch pencil.

The notebook suits me because it handles both pencil and fountain pen beautifully. There’s a little bit of texture to the paper but not too much; just enough to give some character. The paper will even take a little light watercolour in a pinch.

The Liliput is just a gorgeous little pen and small enough to forget about when I don’t need it. It’s fun to use to draw, using an extra-fine nib and Kiri-Same, an ink that shades beautifully and is a lovely gentle grey.

Finally, the Sketch Up is great for when I want to do something a little different. The built in lead pointer is useful and the thick lead means I can’t get too obsessed with detail.

Quick sketch

J Herbin Vert Pre ink review

J. Herbin Vert Pre Ink Review

J Herbin Vert Pre ink review

J. Herbin Vert Pre (grass green) is an incredibly joyful and pretty ink. It’s quick to dry and, unusually for J. Herbin, very wet flowing. It’s got some lovely shading going on, too.

Here I am doodling the Inkling.

This is a beautiful ink.

J Herbin Vert Pre Inkling doodle

Platinum President trim

Platinum President Fountain Pen Review

Platinum President review

The Platinum President is a cartridge/converter fountain pen available with nibs from extra fine to broad. The one I’m reviewing has a medium nib. It costs about $220 in the USA or £140 in the UK. It’s available with different barrel colour and trim options for more of your money.

Platinum President closed

The President is quite a large pen. The picture below shows how it compares to the Platinum #3776 Sai. The size is comfortable, particularly as the pen is light and very well balanced, and lends some presence to the pen.

Platinum President next to 3776 Sai

I received this pen from Massdrop for review purposes and I wouldn’t have chosen a black and gold pen in a million years. I do think the rhodium version looks better (but not so much better it’s worth the extra $100 being asked for it). However, if you like this style of pen I think you’ll be pleased with the quality of the finish. It’s even won me over a little. There are little Art Deco touches on the nib and clip which I love. Anything Art Deco is off to a good start with me. The overall effect is very classy. This is a pen that is makes a statement: it’s called the President, after all.

Platinum President trim

The nib is beautiful. 18K gold with rhodium accents.

Platinum President nib

It writes wonderfully, too. It’s firm – you are not going to get any flex from it – but when you write with it it feels incredibly smooth. Ink flows well; about in the middle of the dry-to-wet scale. It’s quite possibly the best nib I own.

Platinum President feed

Platinum use proprietary cartridges and converters. My pen came with a gold finished converter which works well enough.

Platinum President converter

The cap screws closed and pushes on to post securely. The clip is fairly firm and does what it’s supposed to do.

Platinum President posted

In many respects there’s nothing spectacular about this pen. It’s a classic shape, it’s cartridge/converter and it’s black and gold. However each part has something extra to add. The barrel is a little larger; the trim has stylish little touches; the nib is, actually, exceptional. This is not a pen I would have picked to buy myself but I’m glad to have it in my collection.

Platinum President deconstructed

Many thanks to Massdrop for sending me this pen. If you haven’t heard of Massdrop then go and check them out. Although not every deal they offer is a total bargain, many are, and there are always new products to tempt you each time you visit. It’s a members only site but it’s free to join and if you do you get to have a say in the products they offer in the future.

(The links to Massdrop enable them to know you’ve come from here but don’t do anything else. I’ve been very clear to Massdrop that I’ll be completely honest, as always, with my reviews. As I’ve said, this isn’t a pen I would have chosen myself but it is a very good pen, one that I’m enjoying using very much, and this review reflects my honest opinions.)

Platinum President handwritten review

Furrow Book lined guideline insert

Furrow Book Notebook Review

Furrow Book review

The Furrow Book is made by the Zeller Writing Co. and available direct from them. It’s available in two sizes – roughly A5 and A6 (Field Notes size) and two colours: “Great Plains” (white) and “Founding Supporter” (blackish). The A5/large size is available in a two-pack for $11.99 and the pocket size is available in a three-pack for $9.99.

Furrow Book open

I’m reviewing the Great Plains version here. The photos are of the larger A5 but the smaller notebooks are pretty much identical in every way but size. I picked up mine as part of the Kickstarter campaign. The exact specifications for the larger notebook are: 5.5″ by 8.25″, 96 pages of 60lb (90gsm – good and thick) recycled paper, held together with three staples. The smaller notebook is 3.5″ by 5.5″ with 48 pages of the same paper and three staples.

Furrow Book staples

The cover is a nice thick card and a creamy/ivory colour. If you are so inclined this lends itself to decoration. If you’re not so inclined, it lends itself to getting a bit grubby. Obviously the Founding Support edition wouldn’t have this problem.

Furrow Book cover

The branding is restricted to a small section at the bottom of the back cover.

Furrow Book branding

The paper is plain and this is your only option. However each Furrow Book comes with a cardboard insert with grid markings on one side and lined markings on the other.

Furrow Book grid guideline insert

These make the notebook very versatile. While it’s perfectly possible to make your own I like that these are included and it does mean you have all options available to you as well as some extra support if you’re resting the notebook on your lap.

Furrow Book lined guideline insert

I’ve been using this notebook to record the pens and inks I’ve been using. There is very little feathering – only the very wettest pens and inks have any difficulties at all. The paper shows inks off well.

Furrow Book ink test front

Ink does show through the page, though, and there is a lot of bleed-through too. I can’t use fountain pens on both sides of the paper. This won’t be a problem at all if you use other kinds of pen or use pencils.

Furrow Book ink test back

These are perfectly reasonable notebooks. They cost about the same as other notebooks and perform as well as most which is to say, fine with anything but fountain pen. They definitely have appeal if you want to spend time decorating the covers with doodles or art. The guide inserts are a nice addition. Otherwise, there’s little to separate them from others, which is neither good nor bad.