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Archive | January, 2012

Monday Morning Review Round-up

16 Jan

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Plannerisms: 2012 Moleskine Monthly Notebook

Pen/Pencil Reviews

Does This Pen Make Me Look Fat: The Little Gems – my little gold writing implements

Economy Pens: Schneider Slider Memo XB 1.4mm Ballpoint

Steven H.: TWSBI 540 Fountain Pen Review

Seize the Dave: Visconti Homo Sapiens

FPGeeks: Noodler’s Aerometric / Eyedropper Ebonite Fountain Pen

Pens, Paper, Inks, Whatever: Hakumin Koboku Shiage

Gourmet Pens: Pelikan M1005 Demonstrator Fountain Pen

No Pen Intended: Yoropen Standard Ballpoint Pen

** This list was curated on Friday (as Leah  is out of town till Tuesday the 17th), so it doesn’t reflect any of the weekend reviews. Those will be included in the next Monday Review Round-up.**


Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

13 Jan

1 –>  Daisy Yellow had a nice post about “Taking Stock” of 2011 with her post showing off every single journal, sketchbook, and scrap notebook pulled out. Check it out here. Also, Laurie over at Plannerisms did a Planner Tally, which we have to admit is impressive! Have you ever done something similar to taking stock of all your planners, notebooks, or journals? If we pulled out every finished and in-use notebook around the office here, it’d get pretty crowded around here!


2 –> Leigh Reyes has a couple interesting post this week: One with a nod to her art sensei, and another showcasing the Caran d’Ache Grafcube.


3 –> Colossal has become one of our new favorite art and design blogs. Check out this wonderful fictional landscape creation from Kyle Kirkpatrick we first saw on This is Colossal.


4 –> Matt  [A Guy's Moleskine Notebook] had a great post outlining the World Book Night 2012 that’s coming up on 4/23/12. It’s an annual celebration “designed to spread a love of reading and books.” If you’re interested in participating, check out his post for the full list of books.


5 –> For all you ultralights out there (ultralight backpackers, we mean) we came across a neat Rite in the Rain Notebook Hack post by Stick. Which then led us to an even cooler Fisher Space Pen Refill Hack on Brian’s Backpacking Blog. Even if you’re not an outdoorsy type, these hacks are neat to check out to get a sense of the incredibly broad range of what people do with pens, paper, and notebooks.


6 –> Misty [The Pen Thief] found these adorable Animails, which look eerily similar to one she posted to Limner not too long ago actually. Read all about the flying pig here.


7 –>  From Dana [Save Snail Mail] we found out about LWA’s Mail Art contest to celebrate their 2,000th member! See Dana’s post on it here, and LWA’s deets about it here.


8 –> Margana [Inkophile] did a poll last month asking what your favorite ink brand was and not surprisingly Noodler’s came in first! It was pretty heavily weighted toward Noodler, but check out her post to see who came in #2-9.


9 –> And, of course, we have to do a call-out to Rhodia Drive’s Official 2012 Journal Swap. Long story short, Rhodia Drive will choose 12 people to each receive a large dotgrid webnotebook that the participants will then create art or write on a specified number of pages; then it’s on to another person for another set of pages. This repeats until the book is complete and it’s sent back to the original author. It sounds like a ton of fun so be sure to head over to their blog and sign up!


10 –> And we’ll leave you for the weekend with a lovely ink&paper video, as first seen on Felt & Wire’s blog.



Penmanship & Calligraphy: Reader Spotlight! + Swashes & Flourishes

12 Jan

Hopefully, Library Hand was a bit of a challenge for you. (Read the 4th post in the series all about Library Hand here.) Sure, it looks simple, but it can be difficult to actually put the components of Library Hand into practice.

In this final installment, I’m going to share two reader submissions, make a few suggestions and introduce you to the wonderful world of swashes and flourishes.

The first sample comes to us from reader Stephanie and she did an excellent job. I only have one suggestion here and this is actually the most common tweak practitioners may need to make in their own writing: angle!

Click to enlarge.

Hopefully you can see my red lines; do you see the variation? We have straight up and down, leaning to the right and a few characters that lean to the left. Take note of the angle you are writing at and make sure it is consistent throughout.

This next submission comes from Sandra of Life Imitates Doodles. An excellent submission – see her original post here. The suggestion I have here is to slow down in the print form. Printing will likely take this user a little longer than cursive as I’m guessing that might come more natural to her.

If you still have something for me to look at, please just leave a comment with a link to your sample and I’ll take a look!

Now, on to the fun stuff. Swashes and flourishes!  (Click on any image to enlarge it; then you can use it for practice.)

Most use the terms interchangeably, but the main difference is that a swash is an embellishment on a letter (like an exaggerated serif) while a flourish can be totally separate from a letter or word.

Let’s take the letter N to start with. You’ll see I take it through the basic letterform, add a swash and then add a flourish. You can do the same!

The J got a flourish up top:

We are not limited to just letters. You can embellish shapes too and use them in your letter writing or journaling.

One of my most-used flourishes is extremely simple to learn. This is a great place to start.

You can tweak the ‘bubbles’ in the simple flourish to get this effect:

And then you can take this flourish and use it! I almost always turn it on its side and shimmy it up against my addresses on outgoing mail.

Another easy flourish comes from the curlique:

There are no rules in swashes or flourishes. There are more traditional designs, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more modern ones! Take a look at my ‘flourish girl’ and my ‘flourish fish.’

One quick note to help you get the most out of swashes and flourishes: use the right tools! A flex nib or calligraphy tip works wonders. In the samples above, I used a Kaweco Sport with a Medium nib (purple ink) and I used a Kaweco Calligraphy Sport with a 1.1 nib (blue ink). You can see subtle differences in the line work.

Finally, stay aware of the angle you hold your writing utensil at. Try changing it to create different effects.

Thanks to everyone for reading (and participating) in this 6 part series. I’ve really enjoyed writing it and I hope it’s been useful!


Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.


Editor’s Note: This is Article #6 in a series of 6 on the topic of penmanship & calligraphy by Cole Imperi. Read the others here:
Article #1 “Where to Start
Article  #2″Where it all Started & Where it is Today
Article #3 “A Look at Several Calligraphic Styles
Article #4 “
Library Hand + Call for Submissions
Article #5 “Tips & Resources



National Letter Writing Week 2012

11 Jan

Happy National Letter Writing Week! We’re jazzed that so many people choose to celebrate this “holiday” of sorts. Here’s a short round-up from the blogging community:

Dana on Save Snail Mail has a lovely post explaining a bit more about this week. See her post here.

Many bloggers have short posts mentioning this week, like Scribbling Glue, Pen Thief, and 365 Letters.

Create Write Now has a few letter writing prompts if you need them.

Honey and Cheese has a great round-up of letter writing posts of hers in her shout-out for the National Letter Writing Week.

And Lucas Writes looks like he’s rolling in it with letters and packages from other bloggers. Read his post here.


We love reading through all the blog posts and keeping up with the community, but to tell you the truth, we want more. We want to be a part of this amazing community instead of just looking in. And what better way than to write a few letters this week.

So if you’d like a letter from the European Paper Company, send an email with the subject line “NLWW 2012″ to leah[at]europeanpaper[dot]com and don’t forget to include your address. You can also send us a letter first at the address below and we’ll pop a response in the post as soon as we can.

European Paper Company
4775 Walnut Street Suite C
Boulder, CO 80301

We can’t guarantee they’ll be the most exquisite letters you’ll receive (or the neatest sometimes), but they’ll be real and in the spirit of the National Letter Writing Week for 2012. Cheers!


The Practically Perfect Planner: Determining the Right Planner(s) for You

10 Jan

For more years than I care to count, I had the messiest planner on the planet. (That achievement did not earn me a single award, however—unless you count ongoing confusion.) I had arrows and scratch outs, pieces of paper stuffed in every corner, schedules taped in the back and reminder notices clipped to pages. It was no wonder I really couldn’t find anything when I needed it or that I ended up missing appointments and other important deadlines.

Then, suddenly, I realized something. I played many roles in my life: wife, mother and daughter, full-time freelance writer and author, friend, and volunteer. Why in the world did I think that I could keep all of the details that went with each of these in the same planner? I needed separate planners! Since then, I have developed four that I use on a daily basis:

  • Family: This planner has large pages for the month as a whole, plus individual pages for the days of the month. I use separate columns for everyone in my family. I put their names at the top of each column and under them; I keep track of appointments, class and job schedules, and upcoming plans. I keep a schedule of current classes taped in back so I don’t forget which child needs to be in which class on which day and time. Other important papers go in folders as well, such as tickets, invitations, and appointment cards for upcoming dentist or doctor’s visits.
  • Work: My work planner is much different. I use it to keep track of upcoming deadlines on articles, steps involved in writing books, interviews that I am either giving or receiving and more. The days are broken down into individual hours so I can map out each portion of my work day. The back area is used for editors’ contact information,
  • Purse: I keep a small planner in my purse with the bare bones of info in it, such as emergency numbers and major activities coming up. This way, when I run into friends at the local thrift store and they say, “HEY! Let’s have coffee on Friday,” I can quickly check my planner to see if that day is free and if so, what time.
  • Me: I also have a personal ME planner that is designed to be more like a diary or journal than anything else. This is for concerns, questions, worries, reminders—and just thoughts I don’t want to lose.

Along with these planners, I also encourage each of my kids to use an academic planner to help keep track of their own assignments and plans.

Wait a minute. What did I just hear? Oh, that was you. Something muttered under your breath about, “Who has the time … ”  or “Four planners means four times more effort” … (You thought I couldn’t hear you, didn’t you?)

I completely understand your concerns, but what you will find, after a little period of trial and error, is that these planners will actually save you time, rather than take it. By keeping all of your relevant information in a central location, you don’t spent minutes scrambling to find papers, contact information, dates, times or other always-seems-hard-to-put-your-finger-on details. You don’t drive to the wrong place at the wrong time. You don’t miss an appointment and then have to find another open time period to reschedule it. Best of all, you simply won’t FORGET stuff—and that is one of the biggest time wasters of all.

What is the practically perfect planner for you? Consider the fact that it simply may be more than one.  Take a moment to write down what qualities you want in a planner and then start searching for the one that fits that list best. If you’re like me, you may find that multiple planners will keep you more organized than you ever thought possible!


 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.


Monday Morning Review Round-up

9 Jan

Ink Reviews

Peninkcillin: 2011 Ink of the Year

Peninkcillin: Noodler’s Year of the Golden Pig

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Does This Pen Write: Barnes & Noble 2012 Desk Diary

Penpalling-Dad: Rhodia Unlimited Pocket Notebook

Mom It Forward: Quo Vadis Planners Are Key to Organization

MsLogica: Daycraft Signature Gutenberg Notebook

Gourmet Pens: Piccadilly Essential Medium Notebook

Pocket Blonde: Millimeter Milligram Notebooks

Pen/Pencil Reviews

Peninkcillin: 2011 Fountain Pen of the Year

A Penchant for Paper: Pentel Fiesta 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

Does This Pen Write: Lego Star Wars Connect and Build Pens

FPGeeks: Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen

From the Pen Cup: Pilot Petit 1

Multi Pen Dimensions: Pilot Hi – Tec – C Slim Knock 0.4mm Gel Ink PenOhto NBP – 507R Promecha Ballpoint Pen

No Pen Intended: BIC Disposable Fountain PenKaweco Liliput Al Fountain Pen

Peaceable Writer: Tale of a Vandal Pen User: A Solitary Sailor

Penpalling-Dad: Rhodia Pencils

Gourmet Pens: Uni-ball Vision Needle Liquid Ink Roller Ball Pen & Pentel Oh! Gel Ink Pen

Recording Thoughts: Pencils – Mechanical vs. Wooden

Rhonda Eudaly: The Sharpie Pen RT and a New Grading System

Stationery Review: Lamy Safari – Medium Nib, Charcoal Body

Tiger Pens: Pentel Twist – Erase Mechanical PencilZebra Jimnie Antique Gel Pen & Stabilo Greenpoint Sign Pen


Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

6 Jan

1 –> Troy [Penpalling-Dad] takes an honest examination of where he’s at, planners over the years, and organization for 2012 in his post Getting Organized for 2012! Glad we could help with the spark.


2 –> Leigh Reyes shared some lovely fountain pen images from her blog for enthusiasts to use as wallpaper. Check out her post, Fountain Pen Wallpaper for 2012, for the downloads.


3 –>  Both the Missive Maven and the Misty [Pen Thief] had great blog posts about how they log all their incoming and outgoing mail. Both are definitely posts to read if you’re looking to increase the amount of mail you send & receive in 2012, not to mention if one of your resolutions had “organization” in it! –> Missive Maven’s post 2011: A Year in Mail, and The Pen Thief’s post Mail Log 2012.


4 –>  Julie O [Pen, Paper ... Whatever] crafted a wonderful blog post called Welcome to 2012 filled with pen, paper, and ink community references. Check it out for a list of forums, blogrolls, pen clubs, and more.


5 –> The boys over at showed off a neat Moleskine hack for those more interested in a pen case. Here’s the main image (on the left), but click over to their site to see more. If you’ve never heard of, read this post first to get properly introduced to their style: BLACK Noodler’s Ahab Prototype Found in Local Bar.


6 –>  It looks like Margana [Inkophile] is putting the Moleskine Pocket Weekly Planner + Notes she won in one of our past giveaways to good use. Hop on over to her post – A Moleskine Planner Is Reporting For Duty - and join the conversation.


7 –> Since this is our first Friday Blogger Tuck-ins post in the new year, we’ve got to include some resolution posts! Millie [Ms. Logica] recaps how she did with her 2011 resolutions in her post My 2011 Resolutions Review. Rhodia Drive asked what were your Favorite Rhodia Products of 2011. Scribbling Glue jots down 7 Projects to Tackle in 2012. And Stephanie [Biffy Beans / Rhodia Drive] describes her Manifestation List for 2012 (instead of a ‘resolution list’).


As we mentioned in our last Friday Blogger Tuck-ins post of 2011, we’re moving the pen, ink, and notebook review links to another day as there are so many of them! Be on the lookout for them either Monday or Wednesday of next week … we haven’t decided which yet. Let us know what day you prefer in the comments! Happy New Year to everyone!

Brand Feature: Jan Petr Obr

5 Jan

Shop all Jan Petr Obr Stationery on

 On, we truly have an international selection of paper products appealing to paper lovers across the board. We love introducing new brands to our website, keeping up the stock of known (and well-loved) brands, and seeking out the best of the best for our audience. In 2012, we will tell you the stories behind each brand and why we carry them on our website; hopefully you will love them all as much as we do.

Let’s Get Started with JPO

Jan Petr Obr is a distinguished Czech paper mill located in Prague. Their extensive and exquisite collection of handmade stationery is designed and produced in the classical European tradition – processes dating back to the 16th century. The stationery has a characteristic natural edge and felted surface. Each piece of paper is an individual work of art. Every box of stationery gives a personal nod to the skilled artist that impressively engraved or hand-printed the stationery. If you enjoy beautiful things, you can look forward to marveling at this amazing collection.

We’re still swooning over Jan Petr Obr’s exquisite stationery collection coined Bohemian Correspondence. The extensive collection is designed and produced in the classical European tradition, and pulls from their extensive library of engravings, antique maps, and art nouveau designs. Hailing from the Czech Republic, all Bohemian Correspondence Papers are engraved and hand-printed in Prague. From start to finish each sheet passes through the hands of the papermaker 10 times. Selected with pure joy in our hearts, we know you’ll fall in love with this timeless collection as we did. Here’s just a sample:

Jan Petr Obr Red Bicycle Boxed Flat Note Cards on EPC

Jan Petr Obr Red Bicycle Boxed Flat Note Cards 

Jan Petr Obr’s Red Bicycle Boxed Flat Notecards belong to an extensive and exquisite collection of stationery called Bohemian Correspondence Paper. This set of 10 note cards is engraved & hand-printed in Prague, by the artist L. Vojtova and engraver Nadezda Baubinova. Each of these quaint A6 flat note cards are adorned with a red bicycle at the top center and are accompanied by matching, elegant tissue lined envelopes. Charming and skillfully crafted, you’ll want to see them for yourself!

See the other boxed note card sets HERE.

Jan Petr Obr A7 Folded Card & Envelope Set 3 x 4.25 on EPC

Jan Petr Obr A7 Folded Card & Envelope Set

Jan Petr Obr’s A7 Folded Card & Envelope Set belongs to an extensive and exquisite collection of handmade stationery called Bohemian Correspondence Paper. With its characteristic natural edge and felted surface, each piece of paper is an individual work of art. Charming and skillfully crafted, this is a classy and sophisticated way to “Repondez s’il vous plait” (RSVP) and a luxurious way to announce jubilant events. Discover unmatched quality with this set of 25 sized A7 folded cards and 25 corresponding sized C7 envelopes.

Check out Jan Petr Obr’s other card & envelope sets HERE.


10 Fun and Quirky Upcycling Ideas for Last Year’s Planner

3 Jan

Most people stick their old planner on a shelf, wait a couple of years, and then toss it out. If that works for you, go for it! But if you want to try something different with last year’s planner, consider one of these 10 suggestions – all with minimal DIY know-how required.

  1. File it. Okay, so some people do need to file their old planners. Before you do, though, make it useful. Label the spine with the year. Mark pages that had important events or critical phone numbers. Make it navigable before you stick it on that shelf, and it’s more likely you’ll actually reference it in 2012.
  2. Make a secret box.Love the pretty cover of your 2011 planner? Use it! Flip open the front cover. With a straightedge and a pen, measure out a square on the first page of your 2011 planner leaving at least a half-inch margin the whole way around. Use a razor or X-Acto knife to cut out the square (through all the pages).
    Planner party decor.

    #3: Planner party decor.

    You now have a secret trinket box that will look pretty on your desk or nightstand.

  3. Planner party decor. Coat the pages with colorful or glittery paint. Once dry, shred and use as confetti.
  4. Gaze at your year as a decorative paper wreath. Follow this simple Book Page Wreath Tutorial with your planner pages to create chic decor out of 2011.
  5. Day planner to art journal conversion.Without having to rip, cut, or shred the pages, your planner can be the base for a fabulous art journal. Create works of art on each page using images from magazines, stamps, paint, decoupage, or whatever your preferred medium.

    The easiest DIY project ever: Turn your 2011 planner into a coloring book.

    The easiest DIY project ever: Turn your 2011 planner into a coloring book.

  6. The easiest DIY project ever: Turn your 2011 planner into a coloring book. Hand it to a young child along with a box of markers, chalk, or Crayons. They’ll know what to do.
  7. Hardcover hack. Convert a hardcover into a PDA/eReader cover. You’ll need a knife, scrap fabric, a few inches of elastic, and glue. Remove the pages with a knife, but don’t damage the spine. Cut an old t-shirt or scrap of fabric to the fit the inside cover. Set your device on top of one piece of fabric. Stretch a piece of elastic over the device’s corner to the back of the fabric. Secure the elastic in place with hot glue, a couple of stitches, or even a staple. Repeat for all four corners. Adhere the fabric to the planner cover, and you’re done! Just make sure everything is totally dry before you insert your device.
  8. Shred the pages of your 2011 planner and use them as package stuffing.
  9. Great year? Turn your planner into a “Yay, me!” file. Mark all the highlights from your year with colorful sticky tabs. Landed a huge account? Tab the day you scored the client. Received a promotion? Flag that day. When you hit a rough spot in 2012, flip through your tabbed planner and remember all your wins from the previous year.
  10. Bad year? Build an effigy to a horrible 2011. Tear out the pages and toss them into a bonfire or fireplace. Say goodbye to each bad day so you can face 2012 with a clean slate!

I maintain an organized shelf of past planners, all labeled and flagged. Yet, as I compiled this list, I realized that I rarely (never?) reference them. In January, I’m going to create a paper wreath with my 2011 planner, and I converted my 2010 into an art journal. Now that I have this list, I will start finding fun uses for all my past planners that have been collecting dust.


 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at


Happy New Year!

2 Jan

We can't WAIT to share the New Year with you all! Best wishes that it starts out strong for everyone!