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  1. Introduction My father had only one fountain pen, which he retired when they switched to ballpoints at the office late in the 1960s. That became my first pen, too. Fast-forward to the 2020s and I have too many pens, quite a few inked, more resting and even more waiting to be repaired. Still, every now and then I become restless and look for something new. The latest acquisitions come from a very 21st century source, Etsy. Several handmade pens I’d seen there over the years had made an impression but I didn’t act on it until 2022, when I decided to explore what was on offer in continental Europe. In the US and the UK there’s more to be found but those sources have become less attractive since Brexit and the tightening of import controls that took place around the same time in the Netherlands. The import duty itself isn’t unreasonable or unjustified, unlike the additional processing fees, but my main peeve is the generally lengthy delay at customs. Thankfully, there are a few good penmakers active in the EU, who offer the kind of pens I prefer: large, with a stub nib (for flex I go vintage). Gondor by Shizet pens (Kevin Hill, Augsburg) The first Etsy-sourced pen to arrive in 2022 was a Gondor by Kevin Hill of Augsburg, Germany (https://www.etsy.com/shop/shizetpens). It is made out self-case polyurethane resin, mostly turquoise blue, with some shiny copper and a hint of magenta. It is a c/c filler with a Bock 250 1.1 steel nib. The clipless cap can be posted but this isn’t necessary for such a large pen. The pen is 147 mm long capped; 133 mm uncapped; 103 excluding the nib; and 191 mm posted. I quite like the tricolour scheme both aesthetically and practically: it allows me to match the pen to a range of ink colours (matching of the two isn’t an obsession but a useful mnemonic to someone with a lot of pens and inks). In this case, the initial choice was easy: Pelikan 4001 Turquoise, a favourite ink I hadn’t used for some time. Despite the known dryness of this ink, the pen dealt very well with it straight out of the box (or rather the nice soft sleeve it was shipped in). A minimal bit of time alignment was all it took to make the nib perfect for my writing habits. Having used the Gondor as my daily writer at home for several weeks, I’m perfectly happy with it in all respects. Flow is good, the pen starts immediately and sits comfortably in my hand for any length of time. I rather surprised Kevin with my request for some details of his penmaking but he obliged with some lines after putting the kids to bed: I have been making pens for about a year now. It started after getting really inspired by one of the Figboot on pens videos with Jonathan Brooks of Carolina Pen Company. I looked for the materials and tried epoxy thirst. That was a failure but I learned a lot using it. Then, after searching a lot for alumilite (which is what I use now, despite not being easy to find in Germany), I arrived at the perfect material for my pens. Everything I know was learned through trial and error, testing and just doing. I enjoy the most the creativity in pen making (I came from an art background - drawing and painting are my thing): you can use and try colours, shapes, nibs. Thats what I love about it, to create something from nothing. My plans and hopes are to try and use urushi and get even more creative. The challenges are always present, e.g. when you turn the pen and some breaks or chips occur, or when it is not working as planned but that is another thing I enjoy: solving problems and overcoming challenges. … to be continued In subsequent posts I’ll present the rest of my new, Etsy-sourced pens and conclude with a comparison.
  2. I've never heard of an "Educational Sample" other than demonstrator models. Was this a salesman sample given to schools for testing and try outs? Or something else altogether?
  3. I mentioned in my Hobonichi unboxing post that I had found a way to carry around my 2015 Hobonichi with me and still “use” it even though it hasn’t started yet. This is that way. YellowPaperHouse (which I shall henceforth abbreviate as YPH) is a mother/daughter team that creates inserts for Midori-style notebooks and Filofaxes and sell them through Etsy. Everything is designed and made by them, so you are getting a totally original product. I found out about them I think from Instagram. Anyway, no affiliation, just to get that out of the way early on. As of right now they offer 26 different styles of these notebooks, each one being available in 4 sizes (full size Midori, passport, cahier, and Field Notes/pocket) and many being customizable with a choice of 19 paper colors and 6 inside rulings. Whew! That is a lot of options for customization! As the title of this review implies, the style that I purchased was one modeled after the Hobonichi format with white paper inside. I chose the Field Notes size because it easily fits inside of my original Hobonichi cover. I’m sorry that all my photos are very blue - I think it’s because the paper is white and I was using early morning light. I would try to adjust it, but it winds up looking funky no matter what I do… Most of the page is dominated by a grid that, upon measuring just now, contains 3 mm squares. At the top of each page is a place where you can fill in the date by coloring in the bubbles that match the day, month, and day of the week, as well as indicating moon phase if you are into that and the weather. As you can see, I have been marking the date by coloring in the appropriate bubbles with a colored pencil. I’m not one of those people who gets all artsy with their journaling - I primarily use a planner for actually planning my day and then capturing little things that happen throughout the day. I’m not saying that “scrapbook journaling” is bad, but it’s certainly not for me. This is how my pages usually look: I’m also going to try out dividing the page vertically similar to the Hobonichi so that I have a place that’s divided up by the hour to write appointments and then a place to write little thoughts and musings. I’ll perhaps update on that later. In case you were wondering how I’m fitting this into my Hobonichi cover, I just slip the back cover of the notebook into the long back pocket of the cover (the one that has the little “Hobonichi 2015” tag on it). I also have the Hobonichi itself only inserted into the from cover right now, so I don’t stretch out that backside of it. Perhaps a picture will explain it better: Sometimes it can be tough to write on the side that opens onto the Hobonichi with this configuration, but in that case I just slide the notebook out and write and then slide it back in. It adds barely any bulk to the cover, so I’m really enjoying the setup this way. Well, we are now at that stage where I have given some background, so now I can talk about what I like and dislike. Things I like Having this available in an undated format is wonderful. I’ve gone through and filled in all the dates, but it could be particularly useful for someone who wants to log things that don’t happen on a daily basis.It’s a little thing, but I like that the header on top is mirrored across two pages. I also like the weather option and I keep thinking I should use the blank space next to that to jot down the high and low tempsThe corners are rounded. Another small thing, but so importantThe paper strikes the perfect balance between being fountain pen friendly (at least for F and not-too-wet M nibs) while still having fast dry times. I don’t think I’ve noticed any bleeding with either my pens or my highlightersThere are so many options, so you can pretty much get exactly what you want and we all know how hard that is nowadaysOther than the band that comes around it, there is no branding. I think this makes for a very clean looking notebookIt’s an original product, and I really like that. I dated a graphic design major in undergrad and I know how much work they put into their designs so I try to honor that as much as I can Things I dislike The cover is a bit flimsy. This isn’t really a big issue for me since I’m using it inside another cover and I know it’s designed to be that way, but it would definitely get worn fast if used just by itselfI wish the grid ruling for this particular design was a bit bigger. I think if it was 4 mm then I could do one line per box (I think the Hobonichi is 3.7 mm but Tomoe River paper makes writing look finer too), whereas now I kind of have to take up two boxes in height per line of writing And now something that falls into both categories for me: the price. The price changes depending on which size you get, so for the two notebooks I got it was $12. To me this was totally worth it because after paying a decent chunk of cash for the Hobonichi itself, what’s another $12 so I can start using it right now? And it was going to be a one-time purchase for me, at least for the foreseeable future. From that standpoint, the price was pretty good because it solved a problem quickly and neatly. However, if you are a Midori style notebook user and you are going through a lot of notebooks, this is probably not the most efficient way to do it. Each of these books contains 38 days (there is no printing on the very front and very back pages, so 40 pages = 38 days), so if you wanted to use these for an entire year that would be 10 notebooks and run you $60, plus shipping. Whether it’s a good deal then is entirely up to you. Overall, I think these are high quality, uniquely designed notebooks that are worth checking out if you use any of those four sizes of notebooks I mentioned earlier. While I don’t have plans to buy any more (because I’ll be starting my Hobonichi when these run out, eek!), I will definitely keep an eye on this shop and return to it in the future if I have a need they can fill. I purchased this product with my own money and I am not being compensated in any way for this review. All opinions above are my own and you are free to disagree with them if you like.
  4. I bought this wrap from Inthreadible on Etsy a couple of months ago. At the time, I felt I wanted something that held more than my five-pen Saki Collection wrap from Japan. Now I've been using it for a while, I discover that while I might *want* more choice in the day than five pens gives me, I don't actually *use* all nine daily - and keeping nine pens inked at once is not practical for me - but this wrap is so beautiful that I'm keeping on using it anyway. Here it is furled... And unfurled. A few of these pens are vest-sized ringtops, so I stuff the bottom of the compartments in the wrap with acid-free tissue paper so they don't get lost in the bottom. Pens unleashed (because I know you're going to ask about them): Left to right, that's a TWSBI Diamond Mini, a Binderised F Raden VP, a nameless Paul W Johnson from Greg Minuskin, a Waterman 52 1/2 V, a sterling silver Mabie Todd Swan ringtop, a nameless 1930s Eagle Pens school pen, a Mabie Todd Blackbird, a Parker Challenger with a really lovely Greg Minuskin custom 1.3mm stub, and a Mabie Todd Swan 1500. Realistically, this is too many. The only ones I use daily are the VP, the little silver ringtop (my favourite pen), the Blackbird, the Eagle and the Challenger. It's probably time to go back to the old wrap. (I've only owned the 1500 for a couple of hours: it just dropped through the letterbox this morning. There's a perfunctory review here - it's gorgeous to use, and may also end up in my EDC when I've had a bit more time to get used to it.) And bonus pussycat. Mr Raffles has a sixth sense for when I'm taking a photo of something. I really love this wrap. It's nicely padded, so if dropped, the pens are safe. It fits in my handbag, and it's so pretty that it always attracts comments when it comes out. The fabric's beautiful, the construction's very nicely done, the ribbon and bead closure is lovely - I just wish I hadn't bought such a big one! I can highly recommend Kathryn at Inthreadible; she often has some superb Japanese fabrics to make her pen wraps from, and her prices are very reasonable.
  5. Hey FPN'ers, I just completed my new A6 journal covers yesterday and listed them on my etsy store. I have included a couple of photos so you can take a look a them. These covers are designed to hold three journals/cahiers. The open cover does not have a pen loop in it, but it is an option for the cases. I just found with this small case it is just easier to clip it over the spine on the closure. Let me know what you think. Cheers, Phil
  6. Hello FPN. I just started up a etsy shop that makes hand made fountain pen cases. The current ones I have will fit larger pens like the Vac700 and the M800, but I want to make sure what I create caters to the fountain pen community at large. With that in mind I have decided to take a page out of TWSBI's book and take a look and see what kind of needs are out there in the community. I am thinking of making a smaller case to fit the TWSBI Mini and the Kaweco Sport, and woudl like to know if the need is there. Here is a link to my shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/quillquivers Take a look and let me know what kind of items you would like to see in future, or suggestions to improve what is already there. Cheers, Phil





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