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!

Pelikan M400 Special Edition Brown Tortoiseshell fountain pen review.


The Pelikan M400 brown tortoiseshell has been a prized possession of mine for two years and for some reason I haven't reviewed it. In today’s post I will give you my thoughts on this fountain pen but also a little background into my buying experience.

My buying experience.

This fountain pen is the nicest fountain pen I own. I bought it at my first London Stationery Show in 2016. I went the show curious to see what a pen show would be like and what pens would be on offer. I was on the hunt for a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 which I didn't find. Instead I was lured in by the beautiful Pelikan fountain pens and took advantage of being able to test out the different pen sizes and nibs. This proved invaluable.

Initially I was looking at the 2016 limited edition M205 in Aquamarine but holding this it felt too small and more plasticity than I had expected. I was really disappointed because I’d loved the look of this online, but getting it in hand it didn’t feel special enough and I knew I wouldn’t be happy with this purchase long term. I quickly upgraded to the M400 enticed by the Pelikan Souveran in green. I had a budget in mind and this maxed it out but buying one high quality fountain pen was worth it.

My husband and then newborn actually joined me at this show. This isn’t something I would normally do because I like to concentrate on my stationery shopping trips but this was a unique time. We probably thoroughly irritated everyone pushing a huge pushchair around the show but it turns out having them with me proved really useful. (My then four month old son was also given his first fountain pen, now tucked away in a drawer for future use.) My husband was the person who upsold me to the brown tortoiseshell M400. I had seen this pen from Liz’s blog posts and had already thought how beautiful it looked. The colours are classic and simple but the design really made this fountain pen look stunning. But it was out of price range for me so I'd ignored it.

My husband convinced me (this part wasn’t very hard) that this was the better buy. There was only one left and it was a limited edition pen, I could buy the green any time. He sealed the deal by offering to buy the pen for me as a pushing present. (Small side note here because I am not sure if this is a common thing or a British weirdly phrased thing. So a pushing present is something you’re bought after giving birth. This can be in the form of an eternity ring or jewellery.) My eyes lit up immediately because for a stationery addict what better way to celebrate a huge life event than with stationery. This fountain pen was beautiful and would forever be associated with my son. So I bit his hand off and handed the seller my husbands card immediately.

Buying at the pen show was invaluable. I was able to touch, feel and use the fountain pens I was interested in which showed me that the M205 wasn’t the pen for me at that particular time. Testing out the different nibs, trying a gold nib and looking at the different widths all really helped me feel confidant in my purchase.


The Pen Specifics.

Now let’s get into the actual review itself and discuss the specific features of this fountain pen and the things I love.

Size of the M400.

The M400 is a small pen. I had no concept of the size progression on the Pelikan pens and honestly I would have assumed they were bigger. Comparing this to other fountain pens I own its far smaller than the Lamy Safari/AL Star/LX, smaller than the Sailor Sapporo but larger than the Kaweco Sports.


It fits almost perfectly in my hand and unposted the barrel is still a good length making it comfortable to write with.

Barrel design.

The barrel design on this brown tortoiseshell special edition is stunning. The tortoiseshell design has deep dark browns, golden tones and light almost pearly white sections.


On top of the special barrel design and the gorgeous colouring there are also the other typical Pelikan elements to this fountain pen. There is the Pelikan bill style clip which I have always thought looked really attractive and makes these pens so distinctive.


There is the Pelikan logo on the cap of the pen, again very subtle. Around the pen cap etched on the gold section is the name of the pen. The cap in general is really nicely designed and the graduated cap is really nice.


Filling mechanism.

The Pelikan M400 has a piston filling mechanism. It has a good ink capacity and is really simple to fill up. As its not a demonstrator pen it does make it a little tricky to see how much ink is left in the pen, but I hold it up to the light to give me an idea of how much ink I have left.


The brown tortoiseshell has gold furniture. I have a 14K gold extra-fine nib. The nib has the iconic Pelikan design and is a two-tone. As this is a German fountain pen the extra fine is actually not that fine. It’s a really nice width but feels a lot more like a Japanese medium nib.


The nib really is very different to anything I have ever used before. This is my first gold nib and my first Pelikan nib. I’ve really enjoyed the softness of the gold nib. It really changes the writing experience making it feel almost luxurious. The nib is wet too which means you get a good amount of ink on the page and if you pair this with a nice ink the results are magical. I have mine inked up with the Sailor Waga-Uguisu and its a match made in heaven.


Using the M400.

Buying an expensive pen comes with a lot of expectations. You want it to live up to the price and therefore the writing experience becomes more important than it would on entry level pens. The M400 is smooth and light in the hand. In the two years I’ve had this pen I have had it inked the whole time and use it regularly. It’s such an enjoyable pen to write with, especially for long form writing.


Overall thoughts.

It may seem obvious but I love this pen for all sorts of reasons. I love the design of the pen and its colour. I love using the nib and how it writes, it’s just so smooth. Being my only gold nun pen it makes the M400 stand out against any other I own. I love the size of this pen, it works perfectly for me, but I also love what this pen means and what it represents.