Craft Design Technology A5 Notepad Review

It’s a rare day when I miss a cool Japanese stationery product, but the Craft Design Technology A5 Notepad escaped my field of view until Caroline Weaver of C.W. Pencil Enterprises mentioned it to Myke and I on Episode 252 of The Pen Addict Podcast.

I’ve reviewed other Craft Design Technology (CDT for short) products in the past, and I refer to them as a design firm in the stationery business. They don’t manufacture their own goods, but partner with existing brands to reimagine products with the CDT aesthetic. Most of that aesthetic involves mint green.

For this notepad, CDT partnered with Life Notebooks. It is a desk pad with top-perforated sheets in an A5 size. The paper is Life’s standard cream colored offering with a mint green grid - aka the CDT touch.

The quality of this notepad - as expected - is top notch. The construction is solid, and the paper performance with nearly any pen and pencil is perfect. The grid pattern is even printed on both sides, which is not something you always see when a plain border is used around the edge of the page.

What surprised me the most about the paper was how it handled pencil. With a cream colored background I thought graphite would blend in and be hard to see, but the opposite took place. It practically jumps off the page with HB and 2B grades and looks great. I see why Caroline likes this pad so much.

If you are waiting for the hammer to drop on this product, here it is. It’s $12 for a 50 page notepad. This is Craft Design’s modus operandi. They collaborate with other brands and put the CDT twist on existing products. That comes at a cost. A simple example is the Camel HB pencil. The standard model from Camel is $1.50. The CDT Camel HB is $2.00. The internals are the same, only the color and stamping on the pencil are different.

A 50 cent increase on a pencil isn’t a large sum of money, but you see where this is headed as you climb the ladder. I’m not opposed to this business model by any stretch - I own several CDT products that I enjoy. I just want you to be aware that you are paying for minty freshness, not added performance. But sometimes all it takes is a fresh coat of paint for me to open my wallet.

(I paid full price for these goods with my own money.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on August 14, 2017 and filed under Craft Design Technology, Notebook Reviews.

Monteverde Canyon Rust Ink: A 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.)

Canyon Rust is one of the many new inks Monteverde is producing. It is a rich red/brown that definitely reminds me of canyons—Caprock Canyons in particular.

Photo by Susan Pigott

Photo by Susan Pigott

I compared Canyon Rust with a few other browns in my ink collection. I expected it to be a close match to Diamine Ancient Copper, but the Diamine is much darker. Iroshizuku Tsukushi is more of a cool red/brown, Montblanc Toffee is a dark brown, and Kyo-Iro Moonlight, but is much lighter than Canyon Rust.

I tested the ink with my Pelikan M600 Grand Place which has a medium italic nib. The ink flowed well and is quite wet on Maruman Septcouleur paper. In the medium italic, it showed some good shading, but no sheen (but see below). It is not waterproof.

The chromatography shows that the ink contains pink, light orange, dark orange, and brown shades.

I also tested the ink with my Handwritmic Pen. Boy, does a wide nib show off the shading and dark green/brown sheen of this ink.

Monteverde’s inks claim to have lubricating properties (see more on that here). I’ve certainly not had any problems with their inks in my pens. If you’ve had trouble with Diamine Ancient Copper gooping up your nibs, you might give Monteverde Canyon Rust a try.

You can get Monteverde Canyon Rust from JetPens, $8.00 for a 30ml bottle.

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


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on August 11, 2017 and filed under Monteverde, Ink Reviews.

Kuretake ZIG Clean Color FB Brush Pen Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

When I was a kid, my mom always had a lot of brush pens. She was studying Japanese, so they were a useful tool. Occasionally, my brother and I would find them and have a blast. The Kuretake ZIG Clean Color FB take me back to that play, only without the time-out that usually followed.

Brush pens have certainly improved since then--I remember them drying out and fraying quickly, though that may have been due to my childish coloring techniques. But these pens were very smooth on both Rhodia and watercolor papers and didn't dry out on me during use. I expected to feel some feedback or even see bits of tipping or paper on the watercolor swatches, but they were perfectly well behaved.

The ink is a water-based dye ink. It is most likely not lightfast. It can be blended with water for a paint-like effect, though not all of the colors are equally successful with this. Some spread easily and completely, while others barely moved at all, and many still showed the original marker lines underneath. The ink is odorless, xylene-free, and AP-certified nontoxic. So they're great for leaving them out where your kids can find them and foster and early love for stationery.

The colors are very vivid, even when diluted with water. The Pure set includes carmine red (022), cornflower blue (037), gray (090), green (040), May green (047), mustard (067), oatmeal (064), orange (070), pink (025), platinum brown (903), violet (080), and yellow (050).

The felt brush tip is not super flexible (it may loosen up after some more use), but using the side angles of the brush can create some great line variation. The tip is not replaceable and the ink is not refillable.

The body is a sturdy grey plastic and the snap cap is clear, with a nice wide clip. I suppose the clear cap might help to identify the color, but many colors look fairly indistinct through the plastic. In order to identify the color you'll have to check the bottom disc of the pen, or navigate the novel of text on the pen body looking for the color name. This drove me bananas when I was using these. If you have them in a pen cup or stored in sleeves, you're better off just memorizing the color numbers, because all that info will be hidden. Unless you store them upside-down, which may be a perfectly good option with these. This brand's other lines of brush pens have a colored plastic section, making color identification quick and easy. I'm not sure why they didn't go that route with these.

As far as price goes, at just under $2 per pen, these are right in the middle of the road. I did notice that there is almost no cost advantage to buying the sets. A set of twelve costs only 2 cents less than buying 12 open-stock pens. One the one hand, I think that's a bit of a bummer, but on the other hand that means you can just pick whatever colors you want without feeling like you're not getting the best deal.

I don't think these pens are great tools for artists, but they're a lot of fun for more casual use. I'm looking forward to trying them in coloring books and leaving them out where my kids can find them.

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


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on August 10, 2017 and filed under Kuretake, Brush Pen, Pen Reviews.