Callifolio Baikal Ink Review

One of the benefits of attending a pen show is seeing new products in person for the first time. I had never heard of Callifolio ink prior to seeing Lisa Vanness from Vanness Pens at the Atlanta show. She came up to me with two sheets of ink swabs and said "pick one!" I must have stared at those sheets for about 10 minutes - talk about an impossible task!

Callifolio ink comes from L'Artisan Pastellier and chemist Didier Boinnard, who specializes in using natural pigments in creating their lineup of products. And what a lineup it is.

When Lisa laid out the swab samples in front of me two things stood out: One, there were no eye-searing bright colors, and two, there were an enormous number of blues. Since blues are kind of my thing I went that route with the sample bottle that Lisa gave me. After much hemming and hawing, Baikal came home with me, and I must say it was an excellent choice.

Named, assumedly, for Lake Baikal in Russia, the blue in this ink is hard to pin a description on. I wanted to call it a dusty blue at first, but it's a little darker than what I consider dusty. Denim is likely a better term, but hints of purple peek through from time to time. What stuck with me the most is the mix ink I call Scabix (seen in this review), which is a 1:1 mix of Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Salix. Scabix is more purple, but the feel of the color is right, and very complimentary.

Mixing inks is worth mentioning here because Callifolio inks are able to be mixed at will. These non-toxic and non-corrosive inks are made to be tame and work with all types of pens. They aren't waterproof or permanent because of this, but that makes them easy to use and clean.

Callifolio is available to be purchase in either 40 ml triangular bottle (same as Diamine 150th) for $11 or in 50 ml pouches for $8 that you can use to refill your own ink bottle. And by your own ink bottle, I mean like the fancy Nock Co. logo bottle that Lisa made for me and Jeff, seen below. These prices make testing out Callifolio a no-brainer, and a worthwhile addition to your ink stash.

My thanks to Lisa and Vanness Pens for providing these goods at no charge for review purposes.

Posted on May 26, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Callifolio.

Letter of Recommendation: Uni-ball Signo UM-151

I had the pleasure of talking with Tom Vanderbilt for his latest piece in The New York Times Magazine, titled "Letter of Recommendation: Uni-ball Signo UM-151". The UM-151, or DX as it is often called, is one of the great gel ink pens, and unfortunately, is not available in the US outside of importers. Thanks Tom for allowing me to be part of this piece!

(P.S. If anyone has a physical copy of this let me know. I hear there is a sidebar of my Top 5 Pens and I'd love to see a scan of it.)

Posted on May 25, 2015 and filed under Signo DX, Uni-Ball.

Cult Pens

My thanks to Cult Pens for sponsoring The Pen Addict this week. Be sure to check out their latest in-house design, the cult pencil, and all of the wonderful stationery items they stock and ship around the world.

Posted on May 22, 2015 .

Kaweco Sketch Up Clutch Lead Holder Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

The Kaweco Sketch Up Lead Holder is a brass instrument for holding lead between 5.4 and 5.7mm thick. It comes with one 5.6mm 5B graphite lead, so you'll probably want to order refills (see below) along with your lead holder.

The Sketch is a solid instrument with an octagonal barrel. It is 10.3cm in length, 13.8cm in diameter, and weighs 1.5oz. It does not come with a clip, but you can add one if you like for $6.75.

The clutch mechanism looks like something out of Alien or Terminator. In other words, it's pretty cool. You press on the back push button to open the clutch and insert the lead. This is also how you advance or retract the lead.

The push button is removable, and integrated inside is a lead sharpener. This lead holder is like a James Bond gizmo‚Äďa removable push button with a secret sharpener, a clutch mechanism that could be used to crush someone's pinky while interrogating them, and a pencil, too!

The Sketch feels comfortable in the hand, and although it is heavy, the weight is balanced. I didn't feel any fatigue using it to sketch. However, JetPens also offers plastic versions if you think the brass might be too heavy (see below).

The lead itself is soft and malleable. You can draw fine lines when the lead is sharp and use the sides for softer, thicker lines. Because the lead is so soft, it smears easily, so keep a good, soft eraser handy.

My daughter is the real artist in the family. She used the Kaweco Sketch to draw this griffin. Pretty impressive, huh? (I'm a wee bit biased).

Here's a closeup of the lead on paper.

The sketchbook used for these drawings is the Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Premium Sketchbook for multimedia. It is an excellent 62-page sketchbook, with a hardback cover and archival 150gsm paper. The pages are sewn and the notebook lies flat if you bend back the binding. These are available at Dick Blick for $15.99.

You can order the Kaweco Sketch Up Clutch Lead Holder from JetPens for $36.00. A brass chrome version is also available as are three plastic versions (3.2mm in gray, black and mint) for $19.00 each. A variety of refills are available, including Kaweco graphite 3-pack ($6.50) and Kaweco colored lead 3 packs (in blue, red, yellow, green) ($6.50). E+M offers a pack of eight colored leads for $10.00.

Posted on May 22, 2015 and filed under Kaweco, Pencil Reviews.