“And so I’m back / From outer space”

IMG_2744Hello, Pen-Friends, it’s good to be back from my regrettably long, unplanned hiatus! 2014 was a hard year, but 2015 is looking promising already. I’ve accepted a position as an administrative assistant in my department. What that means for this blog is that I’ll have even greater excuse need to invest in quality stationery products, pens, and other office supplies. Additionally, our tabletop gaming schedule is filling up, so I plan to include reviews of various products that prove invaluable to the success of our epic quests, including session sketches like I’ve done in the past.

Some products you can look forward to seeing reviewed on the Penventory in the coming months include the Delta Unica in Orange (limited to 100 pieces, exclusive to the Goulet Pen Co.), the now-discontinued TWSBI Micarta, the Hobonichi Techo planner for 2015, and the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter, among many others. There might even be a guest post or two and reviews of some relevant books! Additionally, I will continue to add items to my Tomoe River Paper Master Post, which continues to be a popular resource.

What are your resolutions for 2015? Did you get any awesome pens for Christmas? What are you looking forward to trying out this year? Is there anything you want more or less of from the Penventory? Hit me up in the comments!

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Tomoe River Paper Master Post

Tomoe River paper is my favorite fountain pen paper — at 52gsm it is feather-light, thin as onion skin, yet still impervious to feathering and bleeding, and it performs beautifully with many different kinds of ink. It is silky-smooth but not glassy and it is perfect for writing long letters, testing ink, writing lists, practicing calligraphy, and journalling upon. Yet owing to the difficulty in obtaining the raw material of the paper itself — which is sold exclusively by the Tomoegawa company in Japan — finding this wonder-paper in the perfect format can be difficult if not downright impossible.

Thus I have assembled this master list of Tomoe River paper resources as well as identified some specific stationery needs in the hopes that someone out there will finally create a cloth-cover A5 thread-bound journal with white TR paper printed with an unobtrusive 5- or 6mm dot grid! (Ahem.)

Disclaimers: I do not make any claims to comprehensiveness, but if you know of a format I haven’t listed, please let me know and I’ll add it. I do not list prices here, as they can fluctuate too frequently to keep track of; however, availability also fluctuates, links break, etc. Also, I haven’t personally used every product on this list (…yet), but I have tried to provide links to reviews when I can.

LETTER SHEETS

Tomoe River Paper Sample (x3 sheets, available at NanamiPaper and JetPens in white and cream)
Never tried Tomoe River paper before? Add a sample on to your next JetPens order and see what the fuss is about.
For a limited time, you can also get a sample for free from JustWrite with any order!

Top-bound “correspondence size” pad with glue binding
A5 White
(from PaperForFountainPens and NanamiPaper)
A5 Cream (from PaperForFountainPens and NanamiPaper)
Approximately A5-sized sheets, perfect for writing letters. I ordered mine from Paper For Fountain Pens and they arrived speedily and with a lovely hand-written note. No envelopes as of yet made out of Tomoe River paper, but NanamiPaper has envelopes that are the perfect size and a close match to the cream shade. Review here forthcoming!
A4 7mm Lined (from OwlStationers)
Same as above, but 8.5”x11”.

Loose Leaf Sheets in White
A5
(from JustWrite)
A4 (from JustWrite, JetPens, JetPens in CREAM)
A4, 7mm Lined (from OwlStationers)
In case you’d rather not bother with glue binding.

JOURNALS

The Seven Seas “Writer” (at the Nanami Paper Co)
Soft-back, 480 pages, 7mm lines, lay-flat, thread bound, super flexible, standard size so it can be used as a refill for lots of refillable journals. I sing its praises in a review here.

The Paper For Fountain Pens Blank Book
White

Cream
Hardbound, unlined, 320 pages, pages approx. 5”x8”. Nice review over at the Pen Habit.

Design.Y Handcrafted Leather-bound Journals
Located in Sendai City, Japan, the folks at Design.Y have several luxury journals available for purchase with Tomoe River paper: Model 216, Model 288, Model 336, and LP Record

JustWrite + Olive and the Volcano Letterpress Journals
Approx. A6, Blank, 120 pages
Approx. A5, Blank, 120 Pages
Covers are black letterpressed cardstock. I’m planning on getting a pair of these as soon as they’re back in stock, because you can literally never have too much Tomoe River paper. The Pentorium did a great review of these!

OTHER

The Hobonichi Planner – 2015
I read a blog post on this planner when I started my fountain pen journey. Yet it wasn’t until December 2014 that I ordered a copy for myself. The Hobonichi Planner has almost a cult following in Japan and there are many “extras” available for it, from covers to bookmark charms. You can read my review of the planner here. If you’re concerned about the usability of a planner whose pages ghost so much, please see this post of mine for images of writing on both sides of TR paper.

Hobonichi Memo Books
Set of 3 memo notebooks with 3.7mm graph paper and perforated sheets designed to fit in the back pocket of the A6 Hobonichi planner. (Thanks to Chase for bringing this to my attention.)

Backpocket Journals
Curnow Book and Leather sells these Field-Notes-sized journals in a three-pack for $12.50. Link leads to the Facebook page. To order, message them with what you want and your shipping info.
Reviews at Fountain Pen Geeks and Modern Stationer.

OwlStationers Notebooks
Passport Size: set of three, approx 3.45” x 4.88”, 80 unlined cream pages
Travelers Size: set of two, 80 unlined cream pages, kraft paper cover
Pocket Notebook: set of three, 3.5”x5.5”, 80 unlined cream pages, kraft paper cover

Ramay Davinci Binder System
Personal/Bible Size
in black, brown, and wine leather
Pocket Size in black, brown, and wine leather
This binder system contains monthly and weekly calendars, lined pages, and checklists all printed on Tomoe River paper. Note that address pages are printed on Yupo synthetic paper so they are water- and stain-resistant (and probably incompatible with a lot of fountain pen inks). JetPens has a wide variety of refills available at prices from $2.90 to $4.60 per pack.

Stateside Co. Notebooks
Link to Kickstarter page. A totally customizable notebook with a cover made of French Paper Co. paper in lunch bag brown or dark grey, die-cut with the shape of whatever state (or country!) you choose. During the ordering process, you pick a color, a size, the state you want die-cut on the front, the kind of paper inside (blank, grid, dot-grid, or lined), and an inscription for the sleeve. A dream come true? Almost, were it not for the fact that apparently the backers’ rewards have been delayed due to a fire that destroyed all the TR paper. TRAGIC. Still, I’m definitely keeping an eye on these guys and I’ll update as soon as I hear more. (Thanks to the Modern Stationer for the tip.)

NEEDS

~ The biggest Tomoe River void to be filled is that of alternate rulings. Almost all available formats of the paper are blank, with the exception of a very few in a 7mm ruling. Many of us prefer a narrower line for our small handwriting – a 6mm or even 5.5mm would be amazing. (Imho, the only thing keeping the Seven Seas “Writer” from being the perfect journal is its wide rule.)

~ Similarly, TR paper in graph or dot-grid is apparently nonexistent. Personally, I’d leap tall buildings in a single bound and spend copious amounts of money on such a product. Currently you can find a few small pocket-notebooks on the Hobonichi website, if you must satisfy a craving for dot-grid TR paper!

~ More TR paper pocket notebooks! I adore my Field Notes, but anybody who makes a 6mm ruled, graph, or dot-grid TR pocket book is almost certainly going to unhorse good ol’ Field Notes from my NockCo Hightower. (Except the Colors editions. I am a die-hard subscriber.)

~ Different covers would be excellent. Currently, there are luxury leather bindings or the cheapest paper covers with very little in between. The Hobonichi planners, however, are insertable into a wide variety of beautiful covers made expressly for that purpose.

Thanks for reading. Let me know of any additions/corrections that need to be made!

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Adventures in the world of pens (and pen-induced penury)

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Just about everybody has a favorite writing tool, and for most of us, those tools tend to be cheap, “over the counter” dealies that we use and lose in couch cushions, the bottoms of bags, the backs of desk drawers. It doesn’t make us any less attached to them — I buy packages of Pilot Precise V5 extra-fine rolling ball pens and go through a pack every couple of months until I have to go on a Great Pen Hunt. (Thanks to my cats, I can usually find a treasure trove chased under and forgotten beneath the living room furniture on a regular basis.)

For the longest time I took my favorites for granted. I didn’t think much about what made them my favorites, except that I’d somehow stumbled into a solution that worked for me. All of that changed after I discovered the wonderful world of fountain pens through none other than the unassuming but mighty Kaweco Sport, which made its way instantly into my every day carry, indeed before I even knew what an EDC was.

The purpose of this blog, then, is to document observations on various writing implements with pens being a central focus, as the title of the blog would suggest, with frequent forays into accessories such as inks, cases, and other office supplies. And although I love higher-end brands and models of pens, I want to shower particular attention on “beginner’s pens”  at “entry-level” prices, for the simple reasons that a) these models don’t often get attention on pro pen blogs, b) there are a lot of awesome, exceedingly inexpensive pens out there worthy of review, and c) I am a poor grad student with little cash for discretionary spending to my name, and sadly, for the time being, pens are a discretionary expense!

These observations will frequently appear as normal reviews, but because my fondness for writing implements is second only to my passion for the actual written word, I will on occasion  post hand-written meanderings, sketches, and maybe the odd recipe card or two. In other words, my “penventory” might sometimes resemble a pen-themed commonplace blog — but I hope you’ll bear with me in any case!