Lihit Lab Smart Fit PuniLabo Zipper Pouch

Another fun item I received in my prize pack from Life Imitates Doodles was the super-cute Lihit Lab Smart Fit PuniLabo Zipper Pouch. Ever since adopting a crazy stray from the SPCA, I have a weakness for black cat items like my tape dispenser. He has occasionally made guest appearance on my blog like here and here. What I love about the cat on the case is that it looks like it is holding up its paw like a Japanese maneki-neko, the beckoning cat that is often seen in Japanese and Chinese restaurants for good luck. No one knows exactly when these figurines were first made or their definitive origins, but they go back to at least the 18th century. 

The Smart Fit PuniLabo Zipper Pouch is made by a Japanese company, Lihit Lab, based in Osaka. They design and manufacture all sorts of office supplies, but only the PuniLabo pencil cases are cutesy. The company was founded in 1948 during the era when Japan was focused on economic development after the Second World War.

The manufacturer calls it a zipper pouch because you could use it for all sorts of purposes but to me it will be that old school days standby, a pencil case. Since I no longer attend daily classes, the portability of my stationery supplies is no longer a top priority. However, I do find pencil cases handy for when I travel or just to keep my stationery supplies organized. Because it is made of silicone like my Midori pen case, it is easy to clean, which is just as well as it seems to attract lint.

The two-way pink nylon zipper appears sturdy but I haven’t used it enough to know how it will stand up over time. At 19 cm (7 ½ in) long, 11 cm (4.3 in) wide and 3.5 cm (1.4 inches) deep, it is quite spacious. The whole package of Zebra Zensations fountain pens I discussed last week easily fit inside with room to spare. I’m looking forward to packing up my zipper pouch with my favourite stationery items to take on holidays with me.

This zipper pouch would not be a person, it would be a cat that likes to be carried around and strangely doesn’t mind being washed.


Zebra Zensations Fountain Pens

At Christmas I received a purple Zebra Zensations fountain pen and have enjoyed writing with it for the past four months. So when, as part of a prize from Life Imitates Doodles, I got a full set of Zebra fountain pens I was very excited. I have discussed other Zebra products before, namely the retractable ballpoint Z-Grip. It’s a Japanese company but seems to do a lot of its manufacturing in China, where these fountain pens were made. Zebra has a whole line of Zensations products marketed under the slogan, “open your mind, and let the creativity flow”. I decided to take their slogan to heart and not just think of fountain pens for writing but to sketch with too. I quickly drew some flowers on a YouTangle card and used a bit of water on them to smudge the line. It worked alright but there are better tools to sketch with.

Where Zebra fountain pens excel are with handwriting. The pens are tipped with nice stainless-steel nibs but do not have a cartridge or method of refilling so when the ink runs out they will have to be discarded. I know there are people on the information super-highway that have come up with hacks to refill pens like these but I’m not sure it is worth the effort. The ink itself is a water-based dye ink and the full set includes black, blue, purple, red, green, teal, and pink. Most of the colours are very vibrant except for the red and black which are a bit dull in comparison. The ink dries quickly with no bleed through or feathering on any of the paper I tried them on.

Aside from the nib, all of the parts are plastic but have a sturdy feel, even the clip on the cap. They write very smoothly but the line is fairly uniform so lacks some character. The plastic packaging the pens came in have a fold over top so you can use it like a stand.

If a Zebra fountain pen was a person, they would be solidly built and, although thrifty, have an elegant dignity.

Poetry Month

The original poem and a selection of three generations of poetry books from my home.

In Canada and the United States, April is National Poetry Month and to celebrate it, the city I live in has a poetry festival. There were lots of poetry activities going on during the past week and one I went to at City Hall was called Poetry Central. In addition to listening to poets read their works, poet Stef Guilly offered short-order poetry. You could just give her a theme and she immediately got to work writing a poem with a sharpie on a post-it note. I requested an Ode to Stationery and this is the poem I received:

Paper in pieces
Or boxes or piles
Steals my heart
Starting to pulse
Slowly as I pull from my collection of pens.

Pen to paper
Like magic or a dance
Together we create
Over and over.

Erasers and pencils together a perfect pair.
I find my family in stationery.

Check out the even more wonderful poems she writes when she has a bit more time at her website

If you haven’t celebrated Poetry Month yet, you still have a couple of days left to pull out an old poetry book, look online for some of the bright new lights of the poetry world, or try your hand at writing some yourself.

On another note, the next couple of weeks I plan on featuring some stationery items I have recently won in a contest. In case you are wondering where you can win stationery, here are some sites that have contests going on right now:
Life Imitates Doodles to win a sketchbook, pens, and pencil case,
Notebook Stories to win Pebble Notebooks, and 
Just Add Water Silly has a variety of giveaways.

Good luck!

Easter Greetings Peeps!

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you have a very happy day and enjoy your chocolate!

I wrote this message on Arches text wove watercolour paper with a borrowed custom-made brass pen using water tinted with J. Herbin Vert Olive ink. Before the water dried, I added more colour by touching a Sanford Noblot Ink Pencil 705 to the letters in a few places and grating an ArtGraf graphite stick on top using a ginger grater. I like the serendipitous mottled effect.

Here’s a little more information on the supplies:

Arches is a French papermaking company that dates back to 1492. You have to be producing a quality product to stay in business for over 500 years. Their text wove paper is made in the traditional way with a mould out of 100% cotton creating a creamy, acid-free, slightly textured paper. It’s meant for water colour painting but calligraphers and book binders love it too.

The Sanford Noblot Ink Pencil 705 was an interesting discovery although unfortunately they are no longer being made. The slogan for this indelible copying pencil was “A Bottle of Ink in a Pencil”. The lead is a mixture of graphite, wax, and a dye that allows it to write on anything, even wet surfaces. So although it looks like a regular pencil, it produced a great effect when written on damp Arches paper.

I don’t know why the colour only ran on one side of the line.

I have discussed J. Herbin ink before, although this time I used Vert Olive, a different shade of green from my own Lierre Sauvage.

ArtGraf Soft Stick Graphite is made of a mix of graphite and binders so can be used wet or dry producing a lovely dark line. They are manufactured by a family-owned business, Viarco, in northern Portugal. Compared to Arches, they are a relatively new company going back to only 1907. Viarco was Portugal’s first pencil manufacturer and their products are widely available.

So a simple Easter greeting from Canada was brought to you through products made in France, USA, and Portugal.

Stalogy Editor’s Series 365 Days Notebook

New in package

I have been using a Stalogy Editor’s Series 365 Days Notebook for my daily journal since last August. I decided to wait to discuss it until I had a good sense of how it worked for me. Too often in my excitement in getting something new I haven’t fully tested it before I start blogging. After using this notebook for over eight months now, and taking it on a couple of trips, I know what I like and don’t like about it. 

After eight months of use

This Japanese-made notebook is the A5 size (21 x 14.8 cm or 5.7 x 8.3 inches) and has a minimalist aesthetic. The soft cardstock cover is wipeable and comes in different colours (black, blue, red, in addition to yellow). There are small gold words written on the front left-hand side by the spine, “Stationery – Standard & Technology – WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN, IS – Stalogy”. The words are a bit odd, both in orientation and content.

The pages are almost phone book thin with a very subtle 4 mm grid printed in light grey. Because the pages are so thin the grid appears a bit darker than it is as you can slightly see the grid of the next page underneath. This layering effect gives the appearance the grid is darker than it actually is. As the pages are thin, I was surprised there was not more ink bleed-through to the reverse of the page. I tried a variety of pens including V-7 Hi-Tecpoint, Crayola marker, fountain pen, uni-ball gel, Zebra ballpoint, and Sharpie. The Hi-Tecpoint was the only one that showed on the other side of the page and even that was very subtle. Usually I use a fountain pen in this journal as they write beautifully on the smooth paper.

Pen tests
Reverse side of page

For me, this notebook is a journal, not a planner, so I don’t really make use of the grid lines. Regular lined paper works just as well for my style of writing. Another feature I have not used at all are the teeny tiny lines at the top right of each page with the months, dates, and days of the week written on them that I suppose are meant to be circled or highlighted. In the same microscopic type are the hour numbers from 0 to 24 along the left margin. Both are as faint as the grid and in combination with their small size I don’t think anyone could actually see them without eye strain.

The notebook has a well-made thread and glue binding but I actually prefer a looser binding for my journal to allow for gluing ephemera in. Other than ink, the only thing I add to these pages are small stickers beside the day’s journal entry. Overall this is an attractive, light-weight, quality notebook that has held up well to daily use and travel. I expect to happily continue to use it for several more months.

If this Stalogy notebook was a person it would be an efficient editor, skilled at finding fault in the work of others without making the writer feel badly about it. This person is trim and compact, favouring bright colours with a cheery manner all the while being highly organized.

Higgins Sepia Ink

I realized I still haven’t discussed all the great presents I got at Christmas such as a bottle of Higgins Sepia Calligraphy ink. The company website says it is for use with a brush or dip pen but I found it was too thin to use with a dip pen however, it worked well in my Baoer and  Noodler’s Creaper fountain pens. It has become my regular daily journal ink.

True sepia is an ancient ink used by Romans and others in antiquity that was originally made from the ink sacs of cuttlefish or squid. The Higgins sepia ink is dye based so I am pretty sure no cuttlefish or squid were harmed in its making. However, it is not considered vegan according to the company Frequently Asked Questions page so something must have died in the process.

The origins of Higgins ink is hazy. There were two American men in the 1800s, Rufus and Charles Higgins, who may or may not be related, who both figure into the origin story of Higgins ink. Rufus was an entrepreneur during the Nevada gold rush who ran a series of businesses, including a stationery store where he sold his own ink in customized embossed glass bottles. Unfortunately, his business burned to the ground in 1875. He declared bankruptcy the next year and then disappeared from the historical record. Coincidentally a few years later in 1880, a Charles Higgins of Brooklyn, New York, patented Higgins American India ink. So far nobody has found evidence that the two are related but I wonder…

Getting back to the ink at hand, it is brown with a slight reddish tint and has an old-timey look. It is not waterproof and doesn’t have much of a sheen but the depth of tone varies a bit according to how fast I am writing. While the ink itself has a vintage charm, the packaging it comes in is very plain; just a plastic bottle in cardboard box. You are definitely not paying for fancy packaging here but the current company who manufactures the Higgins brand, Chartpak, say they will be bringing back glass bottles.

If Higgins sepia ink was a person they would be a stout senior that appears plain and no-nonsense but is full of interesting stories.

Happy 100 Margret Puts Pen to Paper Posts!

Today marks my 100th blog post. I started this blog at the beginning of 2017 and while I post less regularly than I did the first year, I still do at least two per month. Sometimes I wonder how many more topics I can come up with but then I’ll get a gift or prize, or I’ll look at something I already have and wonder if there is an interesting story behind it. I often feel a bind because I love trying out new things but I am reluctant to acquire more stationery supplies. In theory, I am trying to get rid of material possessions not get more. However, I do like paying attention to the things I use and discovering more about them.

The part of the blog I get the most comments on are when I personify my stationery supplies so I have some fun with that. I try not to pay too much attention to the number of likes, followers, comments, etc., I just hope people enjoy reading blog and learn along with me. If you haven’t been following from the start, please take a moment to check out the archives.

So Happy 100 Margret Puts Pen to Paper!