Sakura Ballsign Knock Gel Ink Pen Review

When I think Sakura, I think of only one pen: The Sakura Pigma Micron. This art/drawing/sketch pen is ubiquitous, appearing in creators pen stashes all over the world. Sakura makes other pens too, like the Grosso that I was a fan of back in the day, with the Sakura Ballsign Knock Gel the most recent to land on my desk.

The Ballsign is your basic entry level micro tip gel ink pen. Simple plastic construction, lightweight, knock retractable mechanism, 0.4 mm conical tip - pretty much how you would draw it up. One addition on the Ballsign is the presence of an elastomer grip, which is essentailly a grippy overlay that works surprisingly well. I actually didn't notice it at first. I thought it was just the standard plastic barrel continued through the grip, but I realized soon my fingers weren't slipping at all and the elastomer grip was why.

When writing, the Ballsign feels a lot like its competition. The lines are solid and sharp, although oddly enough I felt the orange lines were cleaner than the blue black. The colors look spot on too, at least on the two of the 15 colors I tried out. Another interesting takeaway is that the Ballsign refills match the shape and design of the Uni-ball RT1, so it could fit in those barrels that use RT, 207, and Jetstream refills if you are so inclined.

The Ballsign is not a world beater, but it is a solid option in the world of micro gel ink pens. For me, they rank lower than the Uni-ball Signo DX, RT1, and 207, as well as the Zebra Sarasa Clip and Pilot Juice. It falls in the Pentel Slicci/Muji Gel range, which is a good spot to be. Give them a shot, especially if you want to try some of the more interesting colors like brown black, red orange, and cherry pink.

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

Posted on July 2, 2015 and filed under Gel, Pen Reviews, Sakura.

Kuretake Handmade Envelope Template (Western Version) Review

I never seem to have the right sized envelope when I need one. I ought to buy stationery sets with paper and matching envelopes, but I've gotten spoiled writing on Tomoe River Paper. There may be Tomoe Stationery sets, but I don't have one. And a cheap office envelope just seems wrong.

Enter the Kuretake Handmade Envelope Template (Western Version). I found this on JetPens and decided to buy one so that I could make envelopes any time I needed them. I also bought the Nichiban Tenori Adhesive Stamp to glue my envelopes.

The envelope template is simple. It's constructed out of thick plastic, with cut-outs for four different envelope sizes, from small gift-card-sized envelopes to large card-sized envelopes: 2.6" x 4.1" (65mm x 105mm), 3.9" x 5.8" (98mm x 148mm), 4.5" x 6.4" (114mm x 162mm), and 4.7" x 6.7 " (120mm x 170mm). Note that none of these is a business-sized envelope. I made my first group of envelopes out of a grocery bag (yay recycling!).

All you have to do is place the template on your paper, draw the outline of the envelope in the size you desire, and cut the envelope out. Then it's just a matter of folding the two sides and bottom portions and gluing them in place.

The Tenori was a disaster, I'm afraid. I don't know what I did wrong, but after using it once or twice the tape got tangled, and the more I tried to fix it, the more mangled it got. I'm just going to use good ol' Elmer's from now on.

With scrapbooking paper, you can make envelopes in any pattern or color you like.

The design can be on the outside of the envelope (you'll need to make an address label unless the design is light or plain).

Or you can put the design on the inside.

The template is very handy. As long as you have paper, a pencil, and scissors, you can make an envelope. Be careful about the weight of the paper, just in case you need to add extra postage.

You can buy the Kuretake Handmade Envelope Template at JetPens for $13.50. If you want to take a chance on the Nichiban Tenori Adhesive Stamp, it is $6.50 at JetPens.

Posted on July 1, 2015 and filed under Kuretake, Envelopes.

The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode 161 - No Micarta For You

Myke and I were joined by the Gentleman Stationer himself, Mr. Joe Crace, on this weeks podcast. We discussed his excellent blog, pen show travels, vintage pens, and lamented the loss of our favorite orange ink. We also talked about my Mental Floss appearance and several new pens such as the Retro 51 Lift Off and the TWSBI ECO.

Show Notes & Download Links

This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

Squarespace: Build it Beautiful. Use code INK for 10% off.

Karas Kustoms: Get 15% off anything in their store by using the code "PENADDICT" before you checkout.

Posted on June 30, 2015 and filed under Podcast.

June Stationery Carry

My daily carry of stationery has been interesting this past month. For some reason, my turnover in products I am actively using has been lower than what I am used to. Why? I think busyness is the main factor. If I haven't been working my day job or my plethora of night jobs, I have been getting away on the weekends with the family. The weekends seem to be the time when the shuffling of goods happens, and there just hasn't been time.

I've found, over the past several weeks, that this means one important thing: I'm very satisfied with the pens and paper I have been carrying on a daily basis. What I have been taking to the office in my work bag easily makes the jump into my weekend bag with zero changes. That's the sign of a good kit, and contentment with the products I am using. Here is a look at what I am currently carrying:


-- Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe

-- Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta

-- Pilot Vanishing Point Black Faceted

-- Karas Kustoms Ink

-- Pilot Elabo (Falcon)

-- Nakaya Piccolo

-- Lamy Safari


-- Midori Travelers Notebook

-- Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebook

-- Nock Co. DotDash Spiral Pad


-- Nock Co. Brasstown

It’s funny how the perfect carry makes itself sometimes. I moved pens in and out of my Brasstown a lot over the past month or two, and then all of a sudden it stopped. The pens I am carrying are a good match for how I like to write, and cover me for almost all situations.

I want at least one bright ink, and the Sailor Jentle Apricot in the broad-nibbed Pro Gear is pefection. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I want an extra fine nib with black ink for tiny notes and drawings. Stub or cursive italic nibs are a must, which the Franklin-Christoph, Karas Kustoms, and Pilot VP handle nicely, and I want new goods in there too, which the Lamy Safari and inks such as Dromgooles Blue Steel and Kobe #7 Kaikyo Blue do for me.

The lone outlier in the pen department is the Pilot Falcon. The way I use this pen is similar to other EF pens, meaning I just use it to write with. Both the Nakaya and Safari are in the same realm, so I can see the Falcon being the first pen I swap out into someting new.

As far as paper goes, I’ve really narrowed down what I am using regularly. I’ve carried the Midori Travelers Notebook (regular size) with me for months just waiting to bond with it and I think I’ve finally turned that corner. I’ve been using it for planning and general writing, like the newsletter draft I wrote in the picture above. I really like the format and layout of the MTN and see it as a continuous partner.

I also love the two most recent Nock Co. paper products, the black DotDash Pocket Notebook and the DotDash Spiral Pad (Spoiler alert: I own the company.) The Pocket Notebook is the perfect portable companion for short notes and sketches, and the Spiral Pad is great on the desk at home, office, or remote work space.

Between these three notebooks all of my bases are covered. I was carrying two other A5 sized books and two other pocket notebooks along side these three up until a few weeks ago, but found this setup to work best for what I need.

The pen case is the no-brainer of the bunch. The Brasstown offers six individual pen slots, plus a pocket to add a few more if needed. That’s where the Safari rides, for example. When I start carrying the Brasstown plus one or two more filled pen cases with me is when I start to get in trouble. I do that more than I like because I frequently carry new products for testing, and have to be sure not to overwhelm myself with choices, especially redundant ones.

I learned a lot about my likes, dislikes, and needs over the past month. While to most people this seems to be an insane amount of goods to carry at once, to me it is a simplification and refinement of what I had been carrying. We will see how this translate over the coming months as more new (and old) products are shuffled in and out.

Posted on June 29, 2015 and filed under Stationery Carry.