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!

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil: Week 6 Review

This week I have been using the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in F grade. Before starting this week I held this pencil in high regard starting to think that it could actually be my favourite pencil to use. Every time I used this pencil I realised how much I liked it, therefore it was a perfect candidate for this mini series.

The good points

This week I have really appreciated using the Mars Lumograph in terms of portability and generally how easy it is to use. Pencils are so light and slim making them really easy to use on the go and they’re perfect for jotting down simple notes and to dos. I have enjoyed using a pencil this week but I think that is because of the pencil I am using.

The Mars Lumograph also looks pretty sweet. The blue lacquer on this pencil is dreamy and I love the white stripe and black cap on the end. It finishes off the pencil really well and highlights the beautiful blue. My Mars Lumograph has worn really nicely. The barcode has disappeared and the branding is fading, showing a lovely worn look. I only own this one F grade pencil, but I think I will be buying a dozen of these pencils so I can have them in multiple places and also give a few to friends and family to try out.

The worn pencil barrel

The worn pencil barrel

I think what I am working towards is that I may well be in love with the Mars Lumograph. I love how it looks, I love the price, I love how it writes. The graphite in the F grade is perfect for me. It holds its point really well making it a perfect writing partner. The graphite is light, but not too much just right at the sweet spot for me.

This weeks irritation

The one constant bug bear I have with pencils is the need to sharpen the pencil a lot to retain a sharp point. I love my classroom friendly sharpener and pretty much use this exclusively. This works fine when I am writing at home but when out I have to deal with a blunt pencil as I don’t have anything portable that’s as good as the classroom friendly sharpener. Now I could solve this with the KUM Masterpiece, or by taking multiple pencils. But I have had neither of those this week, so I am being a little grumpy about it. You don’t get this problem with a fountain pen.

Overall thoughts

It is quite possible that the Staedtler Mars Lumograph is the perfect pencil for me. I always enjoy the excitement around trying new pencils and new pencil releases such as the Blackwing volumes. But the despite this every time I use the Mars Lumograph I enjoy it, it feels nice to write with and comfortable. If you were to force me to choose only one pencil to write wth for the rest of my days I think it would be this one. I haven’t been able to say that about any other week during this series.

The final week - week 7

For the final week of this exercise I will be using the Tactile Turn Gist with a fine nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink. I am finishing up with this fountain pen and ink combination for a number of reasons. First up the Tactile Turn Gist is a fountain pen that I have not used for a solid period of time. I feel like I should really like this fountain pen but there are some reservations. Therefore by using this for a full week I think I may be able to organise my thoughts more coherently. The fine nib on this pen is a European fine and therefore has a good line width which should work perfectly with one of my favourite inks, the Iroshizuku Shin-Kai. I have sometimes thought this ink would be the one I would choose above all others if I were forced, this week could test that theory.

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil Mini Series

My writing implements of choice

My writing implements of choice

Lately I have been wondering how I would feel if I could only using one writing implement for a prolonged period of time, say a week. Would I like them as much as I think I do if I could only use them exclusively? I have numerous fountain pens inked up at a given time and what I have found is that I don’t use any of them enough. I rotate through the different pens and inks but don’t fully appreciate what I am using because it doesn’t get used enough. Similarly with the pencils that I have to hand, they rarely get a proper look in as the fountain pen usually wins.

With this in mind I have decided to spend dedicated time with one writing implement. I will use one pen or pencil for a week. This should give me enough time to use the pen or pencil in different notebooks and scenarios allowing me figure out how much I really like them and how practical they are.

I have chosen a selection of writing implements that I believe I enjoy using from a range of fountain pens, pencils and gel ink pens.

The final list includes:

  • Kaweco AL Sport F nib with J. Herbin Bleu Nuit
  • Staedtler Mars Lumograph F grade pencil
  • Lamy Safari EF nib with Lamy Dark Lilac ink
  • Karas Customs Retrakt with Pilot G2 refill in black
  • TWSBI 580RB B nib with KWZ Honey ink
  • Blackwing 24 pencil
  • Tactile Turn Gist F nib with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink

Each week after I have finished using the writing implement I will share my thoughts here on the blog. I will generally be looking at how I have found using that one writing implement for the week and what I have liked and disliked about it. Using one writing tool for a week long period will I’m sure throw up lots of issues and honestly I don’t think I am a one pen kinda girl.

This mini experiment will help me to decide how I feel about each of the different writing tools selected. But overall this experiment is supposed to be a little bit of fun.

So first up…the Kaweco AL Sport with a fine nib and J. Herbin’s Bleu Nuit.

Staedtler Wopex Pencil Review

The Staedtler Wopex is a unique pencil that divides opinions and won't be to everyones tastes, however there is something appealing about the Wopex pencil.  

My 2 Wopex's - 2B and HB

My 2 Wopex's - 2B and HB

The Wopex has a strange thick waxy coating on it's barrel that is not like the traditional lacquer paint you would find on other pencils. The Wopex is made of a dense combination of woods and plastics that result in a weighty pencil. The wood used to create the Wopex is from 'PEFC-certified sustainably managed forests' which makes this an environmentally friendly pencil. You can find out more about the make up of the Wopex and it's materials here in this helpful link. 

PEFC branding on the pencil barrel

PEFC branding on the pencil barrel

It is perhaps due to the combination of materials and the resulting design of the Wopex pencil that could deter people from using it. It's a different pencil and for some traditional pencil users these differences could be a barrier to using and enjoying the Wopex. In my opinion there are some positive elements that I think makes it a joy to use. 

The Mars Lumograph next to the Wopex

The Mars Lumograph next to the Wopex

The Wopex writes really well. It's smooth on the page and I love the lighter tone of the graphite. I have a HB and 2B pencil that are lighter than other Staedtler pencils of the same grade. I have compared the HB Wopex to the HB Mars Lumograph, which you can see in my handwritten review, and there is a distinct tone difference. The Wopex site actually describes the graphite as 'velvet soft' and 'smooth gliding lead' (yes it said lead!). I agree with this, there is something sort of velvety about the graphite in the Wopex which I don't think it present in other Staedtler pencils and it definitely writes smoothly on the page. It also states that the graphite in the Wopex is more resilient and less likely to shatter. I have noticed that you can apply quite a bit of pressure when writing without without the graphite snapping. The Wopex is all round sturdy! 

Wopex handwritten review in a Word Notebook

Wopex handwritten review in a Word Notebook

One small downside with the Wopex is it cannot be used with my Classroom Friendly Sharpener. Due to the materials of the pencil the sharpener churns right through and the auto-stop feature does not work. My 2B Wopex has fallen fowl to this problem. 

In the UK the Wopex is well distributed. I have seen these in the traditional stores such as WH Smith, Staples and even on Ocado's online shopping. For such an unusual pencil the depth of availability is a little surprising, but there must be a level of demand and people must be buying this pencil otherwise the retailers would not stock it. 

Overall I enjoy using the Wopex pencils and would happily buy more of them. They're not my most used pencil and they do have a very different feel to the traditional woodcase pencil but sometimes different is good and I really enjoy writing and doodling with the Wopex.