The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode 191 - Tahitian Black Lip Oyster

While Myke was off being sick, I was joined by by Azizah Asgarali from Gourmet Pens for her first Pen Addict podcast appearance. It was a wonderful conversation, ranging from her start in blogging, her crazy flex nib skills, and the downside of putting yourself out there on the internet. And yes, we talked about ink tasting!

Show Notes & Download Links

This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

Squarespace: Build it beautiful. Use code ‘INK’ for 10% off.

Pen Chalet: use the code PENADDICT to save 10% on your order or click the ‘podcast’ link at the top of the website and enter the password ‘penaddict’ for even more savings, as well as your 10% off.

Harry's: An exceptional shave at a fraction of the price. Use code PENADDICT for $5 off your first purchase.

Posted on February 6, 2016 and filed under Podcast.

Uni Kuru Toga Disney Mechanical Pencil

Japanese stationery manufacturers are the best in the world at product tie-ins, and no one does it better than Uni-ball. Their latest collaboration features one of the best mechanical pencils in the world - the Uni Kuru Toga - and one of the world's favorite entertainment companies in Disney.

This latest Kuru Toga drop features three character pencils - Mickey, Minnie, and Donald - plus three mouse ear pattern barrels in black, blue, and pink. There are even matching spare lead holders in black, white, and pink.

I went with a one of each approach, grabbing the Mickey Glove pencil, Blue Mouse Ear pencil, and Disney White lead holder. While they are all wonderfully designed - I expect no less from Uni and Disney - the character pencils are the real standout.

For example, the Mickey Glove pencil features a two tone black and red barrel with white accents to match Mickeys famous look. The black section contains a single image of Mickey's white glove, and the red section a single yellow shoe. It is a simple, clean design that doesn't scream DISNEY PENCIL!!! But is classic and cool. The Minnie and Donald pencils are designed in the same fashion.

The Mouse Ear patterned pencils are excellent in their own right, with small ears and polka dots in a repeating pattern up and down the barrel. The pink and blue barrels have a little extra shine as well. The lead holders are done in a similar fashion with a couple of additional colors mixed in.

The one downside with this - and most - branded merchandise is that you are going to pay a premium. Two dollars more than the standard Kuru Toga (more if you can find basic black at an office supply store), and an equal amount for the lead holders. But Disney fans and stationery fans alike are happy to pay the price to see their favorite characters on one of their favorite writing instruments. I know I was excited to get my hands on these and my kids are excited as well, knowing they get them as soon as this review is done.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on February 5, 2016 and filed under Uni, Kuru Toga, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination Notebook Review

(This is a guest post by Nick Folz. You can find more of Nick and his work on his blog, Smallberry Drive, Twitter, and Instagram.)

Hello everyone, my name is Nick and I have a paper problem.

I guess it started in kindergarten. Up until that point in my life I had been doodling on stacks of ragged, ripped out blue lined notebook paper, without a care in the world. What a fool I was. One fateful day my teacher passed out thick stacks of colored construction paper, and my world was turned asunder. "There are other types of paper!?!" My mind whirled. Other children we busy cutting the sheets up with their safety scissors, all making a pleasurable "SKRRRRIIT" sound as they cut, but not me. I was shoving every available piece into my Captain Caveman backpack. I knew that I must save those for later. That was just the beginning.

In high school I experimented, everything from spiral bound sketchbooks with crisp white pages to hard backed notebooks that looked more like novels than journals. It was a phase I would not grow out of.

Things only worsened in college, now I knew where to get the stuff I had only heard about: Stacks of A4 linen, 80 lb Bristol by the pile, Cardstock as far as I could see and Vellum in every tone imaginable. The Art Store was my enabler. It was just too much.

I bottomed out one day when my friends found me facedown in a pile of thick toothed, cold pressed Cresent board with two bulk rolls of newsprint stock paper tubes stuck over on my arms.

These days I try to keep it under control. Sure, I still stock up on Bristol board during holiday sales. It is a nice heavy stock with a good rough tooth, makes me feel safe to have it around.

Temptation still rears its head, though. Just the other day I received a Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination Notebook, A4, blank pages. Someone had done their homework, someone was trying to pull me back in. Then the first bit of doubt creeped in, the paper was light and smooth and I like my paper thick and toothy. Scoffing, I cracked it opened and took at it with a pencil and, well, wow. The paper is so damned SMOOTH, plus it took the graphite very well. That is usually my problem with smooth papers, the lead lays atop the paper like a stiff breeze might blow it away. My pencil glided over the page like an ice skater, leaving smooth black trails.

Impressed, but still not completely sold on this new stranger, I broke out my brushes. No way this thin stock could hold straight ink. I gave it my all. The full business. Ink wash and everything. The notebook continued to surprise as the brush slid across the pages, okay, okay. I was gaining respect for this notebook, but knew that would all fall away once I flipped the page to see the inky mess underneath from the bleed through. I flipped the page, and gave a gasp, the next page was pristine. I still can't believe it.

I had to take stock of the other features, now that paper quality had been put to the test, and passed. Dual rings bind the notebook together, adding strength to the overall appearance. A black plastic cover with minimal text and a matte texture covers the front, a thick woodpulp backing finishes the book. Each page has a micro perforation, along with a light grey area for "Title" and "Date/No." along the top. It is sleek and clean.

And that's not all! They offer it in a variety! I mean, over at JetPens you can get them ruled, graphed, and plain in everything from steno style to weekly calendars. Listen, if you just loan me a little bit I could just order a few, just two or three and I will be good. Just this once, I mean I'm good for it you know, I , I just... Okay... Breathe... Just breathe...

Whew. I'm good. I, I just got caught up. I still have many more black sheets waiting for me in my Mnemosyne, I'm good for now. I just have to remember the mantra: "I don't NEED more paper, I just WANT more paper, and that is okay."

Thanks for letting me share, now I've got some doodling to do.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on February 4, 2016 and filed under Maruman, Notebook Reviews.

Clairefontaine Basics Life Unplugged Clothbound Notebook Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Clairefontaine has been a favorite paper of mine for a long time, so when JetPens started carrying the Basics Life Unplugged notebooks recently, I jumped on them. Previously, I reviewed a similar notebook by Clairefontaine — the 1951 Collection notebook — that I also loved, but the Basics notebook has a more "traditional" layout that's similar to a Leuchtturm or Moleskine notebook. Fancy elastic band or not, it's a great notebook worthy of your consideration.

Design and aesthetics

The Basics Life Unplugged Clothbound Notebook, apart from having an annoyingly long name, is a fantastic design. The covers are a soft card stock material that is strong, but flexible. It's the kind of material that would hold up reasonably well in a bag that was well-maintained and packed with care, but would quickly show wear and tear in a more reckless environment. I fit into the former group, so my book has no signs of wear thus far. The version I have is tan, but you can also get red, green, blue, or black covers.

The elastic band closure that goes around the book is a bit weak, in my opinion. It holds the book shut, but it moves around too much and is too easy to slide off. This might be different for each book depending on the quality control processes they are put through, but it's a minor quirk. Interestingly, the strap is held in place on the back cover with a couple of metal tabs on the inside of the book. This is interesting and gives the book a unique look as opposed to the hidden, glued straps you find in Leuchtturm and Moleskine.

The binding of the book is fantastic. It's clothbound on the outside, and is extremely well-done. In my use, the binding is stiff when new, but quickly breaks in to allow flat use in no time. When a page is being resistive, some medium pressure for a few seconds fixes it quickly. I'm not an expert on the book-binding process, but this seems like a high quality job. Plus, the cloth binding interacts well with the covers of the book. In my case, the tan looks great with the black cloth.

The size of the book is 6" x 8.25" — a fairly standard journal size, which is possibly my favorite size. There are 96 sheets of 90gsm paper that features a light blue lining spaced at 8mm. Personally, I really enjoy a lined notebook, but (like all Clairefontaine offerings) really wish there were some other options outside of the standard lined.

Paper quality

The main reason that Clairefontaine is one my favorite paper and notebook brands is because of the paper quality and characteristics. They make fantastic paper, and it's a real pleasure to write on.

At 90gsm, this paper can take almost anything you can throw at it. Fountain pens, brush pens, and all manner of gel, liquid, ballpoint, and hybrid pens will have no problems. Despite being a fairly thick paper, dry time is superb.

The paper has a slight tooth, but is hard to notice on smooth nibs. It's the perfect amount of feedback for my use, as slippery smooth papers can sometimes cause me accuracy issues when writing.

Show-through is minimal and bleed is non-existent, making this an ideal paper for fountain pen users.

I really adore this paper, and strongly encourage you to try it out if you've never had a Clairefontaine notebook.


The Clairefontaine Basics Life Unplugged notebook is my new favorite notebook. The simple design and wonderful paper, along with the great price of just $9, make this notebook an irresistible tool in my arsenal. If you don't mind being locked in to a lined-only paper, you owe it to yourself to give Clairefontaine a shot. Who knows — it might be your new favorite paper.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on February 3, 2016 and filed under Clairefontaine, Notebook Reviews.