Jake Parker created Inktober in 2009 “as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.”

Perfect for us pen-friends, yeah? The above sketch is Rohrer und Klingner’s Scabiosa in a Speedball dip-nib.

There are only four rules for Inktober:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2) Post it on your blog (or tumblr, instagram, twitter, facebook, flickr, Pinterest or just pin it on your wall.)

3) Hashtag it with #inktober

4) Repeat

Check out JP’s site for more information, including photos and details about his top 8 pens for Inktober!

Quick cameraphone shot of some of the inking tools I’ll be busting out this month:


Inktober blog on Tumblr

Follow Inktober on Twitter


Love At First Write: Tomoe River Correspondence Paper

IMG_2664Although I’ve already written quite a bit about Tomoe River paper (or its various forms) before — both in my post on the Seven Seas Writer journal and my Tomoe River master post — I really haven’t gone into the format that I use on an almost daily basis: the humble correspondence pad from Paper For Fountain Pens.

IMG_2662This pad contains 100 sheets of A5-size paper. PFFP sells them in bundles of three for about $20, and is it ever worth it. I have the white version. The sheets are sandwiched between a stiff cardboard back (stamped with the PFFP URL) and a sheet of heavier forest-green paper front. The whole bundle is bound with glue at the top.The sheets are very easy to tear out; I’ve only ever had one corner rip. Once you get toward the bottom of the pad, the cover is likely to fall off. You won’t be toting this pad around with you, unless you don’t mind getting the edges banged up, scuffed, or crumpled.

The paper itself: This is, hands down, the best paper I’ve ever used in my life. It’s extremely thin, translucent even, clocking in at only 52gsm. I’ve described it as feather-light and thin as onion-skin. But despite its apparent fragility, it handles every ink I’ve thrown at it with boundless grace and fortitude.

IMG_2663You can see the delicate golden sheen in the example of the Iroshizuku Momiji ink above. I like Clairefontaine well enough for ink reviews and note-taking, but while its plush surface increases dry time, Tomoe River paper does not. And the only way I’ve ever gotten it to bleed is by pressing too hard with a flex pen.

IMG_2667There is quite a lot of ghosting with TR paper. However, if you’re using letter sheets, it shouldn’t be a problem at all (as one is supposed to write on only one side of a letter sheet). If you’re journaling on it, see my post about ghosting. (Tl;dr: I think that ghosting becomes a non-issue once you write over it.)

Over the past few months, Tomoe River paper has become the ONLY stationery I use for my correspondence. I even carved my own letterhead stamp for it. Because it’s so lightweight, it allows you to write lengthy letters without having to worry about extra postage. It ENCOURAGES you to write lengthy letters, because it’s such a pleasure to write on.

IMG_2665Bottom line: if you use fountain pens, grab yourself some Tomoe River paper. You won’t regret it.

Porcelain and Cobalt: Noodler’s Ottoman Azure


Noodler’s Ottoman Azure
+ Kaweco AL Sport, M nib

“Ottoman Azure” refers to the cobalt blue paint that characterized ceramic wares manufactured throughout the Middle Ages in what is now modern-day Turkey. It’s a perfectly apt name, and on a delicate white paper, even plain script written in this ink reminds me exactly of elaborate blue figures painted on porcelain tiles.

Continue reading

UPDATE: Seven Seas “Writers” Notebook

Update to my review of the Seven Seas “Writer’s” Notebook:

1. First, put some Fray-Check on the ends of those ribbons first thing when you get it out of the box. Mine frayed pretty badly before I caught it.

2. Most of the reviews I see advocate only writing on one side of Tomoe River paper. But I’ve found that the heavy ghosting becomes a complete non-issue, at least for me, when I write over it.

Writing on page 2 visible through blank page 1.

Writing on page 2 visible through blank page 1.


A couple pages’ worth of ghosting are visible here (follow the criss-crossing slanted lines).


But notice that where there is text (in Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses), the ghosting isn’t a distraction.


3. This paper can handle a lot of ink. Below is an image of some text I did with a dip-pen calligraphy nib that was giving me problems with flow. The ink (De Atramentis’ Myrrh, fyi) flowed so much that it pooled and dried with a darker ring around the edges of each stroke, almost so that it resembled sheen — but it didn’t bleed through. Heavy ghosting, yes, but no bleed. And, miraculously, it dried fast. These lines were written just four or five from the bottom of the page; by the time I used my blotter sheet, it had already dried.


I don’t know what devil’s deal those Tomoe River people took, but this paper is the golden fiddle of stationery.

Noodler’s + Paleography Sample

IMG_20140805_092640Guess who has two thumbs and scored a bottle of the original version of Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses? THIS GUY.

As some of you know, one of Nathan’s suppliers changed the makeup of an ingredient that was a vital component to this highly-sought-after ink, resulting in a color shift from a rich burgundy with rose undertones to a truer purple tone. Brian Goulet talks about it in detail here.

I managed to score a vial of the old stuff via Passion4Pens on Last I checked, they had a few bottles left. Caveat emptor: they don’t specify that it is the old version, so take my advice with a grain of salt! I was on tenterhooks while waiting for the bottle to arrive and I was so delighted to find out that it was, as I suspected, leftover old stock. I’m looking forward to inking up my Konrad Flex and experimenting a bit.

The above sample was written with a D. Leonardt round 3.5 nib. The script is a slightly modified Offenbacher Schrift, which reads:

Heidi Frederika Mai Griffin
vielleicht die schönste
Tinte, die ich je benützt habe
ich möchte viele Briefe mit dieser
Tinte schreiben.