2018: My Favourite Tools.

I’ve reviewed my 2018 planners and explained what I have lined up for 2019 in my recent posts and this got me thinking about all the tools I have used this year. 2018 feels like a year of consolidation. I’ve acquired less stationery and tried to focus on using what I have stored in my drawers and cupboards. Today’s post is reflective and about sharing my year in stationery.

My paper use.

I use a lot of paper and I always feel like I have too much paper on the go. I enjoy trying out new notebooks and paper stock but I also like what I like.


Baron Fig notebooks have become a staple in 2018. I use one Baron Fig Confidant as a journal, at the moment this happens to be the big Fig, or the Baron Fig Plus (small side note, I really wish Baron Fig had called this the big Fig). I also use one of the Confidants or the Vanguards for work because the paper works so well with pencils, ballpoint or rollerballs as well as fountain pens. I like that I don't have to consider my writing tools at work.


I thoroughly enjoy using the Travelers Company notebooks. Their paper is high quality and is perfect for pairing with fountain pens. I enjoy the cream paper, which is not to everyone's taste.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

I have used a lot of Field Notes notebooks this year but this is because I have a lot to get through and not because I am a super fan. My love of Field Notes has waned over recent years. I buy what I like, the Coastal edition was a favourite of mine this year, but I am no longer concerned with acquiring any notebook that they release.

Finally my exploration into sketchbooks has expanded my experience with paper. Finding what I like to sketch on, what paper works best with watercolour and coloured pencils has all been part of the journey. Currently I am using a pocket Baron Fig Confidant as I am mainly sketching with pencil and black pen and I was interested to see how I fared with a small sketchbook. I think as I go into 2019 I will only increase my knowledge in my sketching materials and really find what works well for me.


2018, the year of pencils?


My pencil use has increased a lot in recent months. I use these mostly with my pocket notebooks for daily note taking but there is also sketching use in there too. I tend to use one pencil for a while and then rotate when I fancy a change. Lately I have been really enjoying the Tombow Mono 100 2B. The softer graphite is not usually a pencil I am drawn to but this pencil is so smooth to write with.


I have loved using the Blackwing 54 in part because of the colour choices with this pencil and the hard graphite that makes it a great note taking pencil.


The Craft Design Technology pencil has been another favourite. The mint coloured barrel is just beautiful. And finally the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in H, I love this pencil for its simplicity and its ability to hold a point. It’s an old reliable.


Fountain Pens and Ink.

This is one category where I’m happy with what I’m using. Unusually, I don't feel a pull to acquire more pens or inks and find joy in using the pens I have.


The Lamy LX with Sailor Blue Black is my go to fountain pen. I have been using this combination for most of the year, it just works.

The Pelikan M400 and Sailor Wagu-Uguisu is a great match. The gold nib, and the softness when writing means I get a good view of the green Sailor ink and can appreciate the shading. It’s so much fun writing with this pen and I usually admire my scrawl once complete.

Finally the Kaweco ART Sport inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. I love this combination as the colours work so well together.

Drawing Pens.

The final category that I felt was worth a mention was drawing pens. In my effort to learn how to draw, drawing pens have been vital tool that I now use more than I ever have. They are so versatile and useful to have as part of any stationery nerds toolkit, but for drawing they are a dream. I have used fine tip drawing pens and brush pens to experiment. The Tombow brush pen has been a personal favourite and the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pen continues to be my preferred sketching pen. Recently I have tried a Pentel marker and the Pilot Finerliner to experiment with line width.


Overall thoughts.

My tools of choice have changed a bit this year which is down to a shift in the way I use my analogue tools. I used to be fully immersed in fountain pens and ink and couldn't get enough, but now I happily use other tools alongside my fountain pens. They all have a certain purpose. I’ve been most surprised by how much I have used pencils and that’s in part as I am sketching more now, but also because they’re so easy to use with a pocket notebook. It makes my daily carry easy.

2018 has been less about acquiring new things, although I have done a bit of that, but more about finding what I like and using it more and more. In 2019 I want to continue this and really hone down the tools I enjoy using.

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes and comments on my posts. I really enjoy sharing my thoughts on stationery and hope you enjoy the content. I'm looking forward to sharing even more in 2019!

Mid-Week Mini: My First Inktober Completed.

Today is the last day of Inktober and I have drawn everyday this month. I am really pleased with what I have produced, that I was able to stay focused and to complete a drawing each day.

In this post I have included each drawing I completed, the good, the bad and the ugly.

My Inktober drawings.

Things I have learnt from Inktober.

I have enjoyed drawing with a Tombow brush pen. I like the line width variation from using one pen. It’s handy to just have one pen to use, rather than several drawing pens with different nib sizes. I had never considered using a brush pen to draw with but it works really well.

I restricted myself to using pen and pencil only. I didn’t want to distract myself with anything else. This has made me start venturing into line work but I really have no idea what I am doing. I have looked at a lot of other sketchers trying to see where and how they use their line work to guide my own drawings.

During this challenge I have found that I have no imagination and need to copy or follow something. Finding the time to sketch is tricky and means I am mostly drawing in the evenings. I have found Instagram and Pinterest the best tools and I have been drawing things that I find interesting. I make a note of where the drawing has come from and found this really helpful in developing my skills. Getting my perspectives right is still a major challenge and I just can't seem to wrap my head around this.


Overall thoughts.

I am really pleased to have taken part in Inktober. I have found drawing extremely calming and a good way to keep myself occupied especially at times where I normally waste time. In some instances my daily drawings have linked back to my day and my Inktober sketchbook has almost become a mini journal. I didn't plan that but I have drawn about things I have on my mind and things I have done. As always the test now is whether I can continue to draw regularly. Every day may be tricky, but finding a balance and routine is where I need to be.

Plus I already have my next sketchbook lined up, so I need to make sure I carry it with my and sketch whenever I can.

My Experiences Holiday Sketching.


A holiday is the perfect opportunity for sketching. Pretty scenery, plenty of time on your hands, (despite small people) and good intentions.

I have never been that great at sketching while on holiday. I’m conscious of people I am traveling with and wasting their time, plus there is the issue of confidence. However on a recent trip I decided to really try and dedicate some time to sketching elements of my holiday.


For this trip I have been using a Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook. I really like the hard back cover of this notebook and the size works really well too.

In addition to coloured pencils and my watercolour palette I brought along my aquwash brush pens, a few Faber-Castell PITT Artist pens and some graphite pencils. These are all thrown in my Superior Labor pen roll.

Alongside these main tools I have a brass bullet sharpener, a Faber-Castell eraser and a penco big clip.

Sketching in action.

For the first time, I have carved out moments during my holiday to pull out my sketchbook and draw. I have been putting the base down in pencil and then inking and painting later on. The idea was the capture as much as I could with pencil and give myself a base to then spend time on later in the day adding the colour.

I’ve used my watercolours a lot during this trip. The Pentel Aquwash brushpens have really made it easy to paint and not worry too much about my tools although my painting still leaves a lot to be desired.

Watercolours and ink.  

Watercolours and ink.  

I have struggled with using my coloured pencils with the Moleskine paper. The texture of the paper means you don’t get complete coverage on the page which has been a little frustrating and has meant I haven’t used them too much. I think coloured pencils could be my thing so I will try a different sketchbook and really test out this medium.

Coloured pencils on the left, the rest are watercolours  

Coloured pencils on the left, the rest are watercolours  

I’ve managed to sketch something everyday which I’m really pleased about. It’s made me look at a place I visit each year in more detail than I think I have before.


Sketching exactly when I wanted to wasn’t always possible therefore I took photos to work from when I had time. It was less about capturing exactly what I saw, more about finding a way to reflect and remember things from our holiday.

Inking before adding any watercolour.  

Inking before adding any watercolour.  

Final thoughts.

I’ve really enjoyed sketching on this trip. I honestly didn’t think I would do as much as I have, I’ve almost completed half a sketch book. I have found it a little tiring at times with evenings spent inking and painting but overall it’s been great fun. I have caught the sketching bug and plan to sketch regularly and not just be lured in by the exotic holiday scenery, but sketch the local, everyday things I see and pass.

Oh and here’s me sketching the view.  

Oh and here’s me sketching the view.  

Experimenting with Brush Lettering

All the brush pens

All the brush pens

This year one of my stationery resolutions was to learn brush lettering. I really like the style of brush lettered pages, journals and greetings cards and decided I would try and emulate this myself.

To get started I bought a few different brush pens online. I went for brands I knew but didn’t really consider everything aspect in depth. I kind of just bought on a whim which meant I made some errors.

Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush pen

Despite the (lengthy) name of this pen I didn’t realise that this pen would have a real brush tip. I know ridiculous as it says it right there in the name and on the pen. Anyway after giving the pen a try I was put me off. Before venturing into brush pens I had attempted to brush letter using a paintbrush and found it really hard to control the brush. This pen just reminded me of that, which could be a good thing, but for a beginner with my preferences it put me off.

Zig Clean Color Brush tip

Zig Clean Color Brush tip

The Zig Clean Color holds a water based ink. This was another research error on my part as it meant that it wouldn’t be suitable to letter envelopes if I wanted to post to actually arrive at its destination. Ideally I would have liked a waterproof ink so that I could use this for any purpose. Being water based this slightly limits to way I can use this pen.

There are a couple of small downsides with the actual pen itself. I would like the ink to be a darker black. The ink isn’t a pure deep black and thats a bit of a shame for me. As this is a real brush tip I have to be careful with the pressure I apply when writing with it. My heavy hand could really damage the brush tip and ruin the pen completely.

Despite these few initial set backs, most of which are all completely down to my lack of research, it turns out I am enjoying this brush pen. After trying out a few different pens it has the one I have reached for the most because of the great brush tip it has. I just needed to practice with this pen a little to get used to it.

Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pen

The second pen I chose was from Sakura. Again this is a water based ink, another error. The tip on this pen is what I had been expecting from a brush pen. It’s a bit firmer than an actual paint brush and means that I am able to apply a little more pressure with use.

Sakura Koi Brush pen tip

Sakura Koi Brush pen tip

The black colour ink in this pen is really nice, its quite dark and looks really nice on crisp white paper. So far I have found it hard to get good line variation with this pen, but that is probably down to a lack of practice on my part. I am sure with time I should be able to improve my brush lettering skills using this pen.

Bimoji brush pen and packaging 

Bimoji brush pen and packaging 

Bimoji Brush Pen

This may not be the official name of this pen but it’s the only one I can make out from the packaging. I found this brush pen on a recent visit to JP Books. This was a second phase brush lettering purchase after my initial haul. I really liked the traditional style of this pen, it just screams Japanese culture to me.

The pen comes with a moulded grip section adding comfort when you use this pen. I really like this feature. It suggests that lettering should be a task you take time over, not rush. It’s looking to provide you with comfort when using it.

Moulded grip section and clear cap

Moulded grip section and clear cap

There is a small loop on the end of the pen which I can only presume is to secure the pen to something when not in use.

Fab Japanese branding and loop

Fab Japanese branding and loop

The clear cap makes it easy to make sure you’re capping and uncapping the pen without damaging the brush tip, very useful!

Zig Cocoiro Brush Pen

I have had this pen for quite some time and had cast it aside feeling that it wasn’t really a true brush pen. The tip is really quite fine and you have to work hard at getting line width variation. I think it could be useful if I need to do smaller, more detailed lettering.

The Zig Cocoiro is the only coloured ink I have gone for when testing out brush pens. It’s not a firm favourite of mine, but I could see this being more useful the more I experiment with brush lettering, so I am not writing it off just yet.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen in B

Ok so I bought the wrong pen. Somehow when they turned up this wasn’t the brush tip I was expecting, but rather the Pitt Artist pen’s bold. The one happy accident of this purchase is this pen is waterproof.

Faber-Castell B pen. The tip is quite brush like

Faber-Castell B pen. The tip is quite brush like

Despite buying the wrong tip I still played around a little with it and because of the tip you can get some line width variation when writing. It’s not a real brush pen, but you can get it to mimic brush lettering with some effort. I have actually been using this more in my sketchbook to date the pages and add a header in here and there. I actually really like the Pitt Artist pens so at some point I will rectify my mistake and buy the brush tip I was actually looking for.

Writing samples from each of then pens 

Writing samples from each of then pens 

Initial thoughts on my brush pens

My brush pen resolution is just getting started. So far I am only playing around with these pens and trying to get used to holding them the right way and playing with the line variation when writing. Normally I have such a heavy hand when writing so using these brush pens is taking some time to adjust.

With InCoWriMo coming up I am planning on lettering envelopes and trying to be a bit more creative with what I send out to people. I am also using the brush pens in my personal journal and in my Hobonichi Techo to letter certain events. I am pleased with how I have started with this resolution and hopefully as the year goes on my brush lettering technique will improve and my knowledge on these pens will grow.