brush lettering

My 2017 Stationery Resolutions Reviewed

At the beginning of this year I decided to make some stationery related resolutions. I am never normally a fan of new years resolutions because I always break them, and I don’t think a new year is the only time to make resolutions. But I did assume stationery resolutions would be easier to keep. So in today’s post, the final day of 2017, I will look at how I fared under each one.

Resolution 1: Learn Brush Lettering.

This one I think I have done pretty well. The goal here was simply to try brush lettering, find and improve on my style and do it as much as I possibly could. During this venture I have tested out several different tools some of which I reviewed in this post. I think my preferred brush pen at the moment is the Tombow Fudenosuke pens, both the firm and soft tips. These pens are really nice to handle and give some great line variation. I am in no way a master brush letterer but I think I can tick this resolution off as achieved.

Resolution: Achieved.

Practicing brush lettering styles for a New Baby card.

Practicing brush lettering styles for a New Baby card.

Resolution 2: Sketch.

This is an easy fail. I have intermittently drawn throughout the year, I have watched thousands of urban sketchers on YouTube but I have never found a way to be consistent with my own sketching and I am disappointed with not meeting this resolution. I have tested and bought a number of tools to help me to sketch but I’ve been very bad at the doing part. Going into 2018 I really want to make this a habit, sketching daily and borrowing from master urban sketcher Liz Steel sketching an everyday item each and every day. I just have to settle on the right object.

Resolution: Fail.

A sketch from August, which has numerous flaws, the biggest being poor watercolour technique. 

A sketch from August, which has numerous flaws, the biggest being poor watercolour technique. 

Resolution 3: Consume more.

I have made a conscious effort to consume more of the items I have. I have fought the urge to buy the new limited edition items, mainly pocket notebooks, working my way through the stash I have on hand.

The majority of this years used pocket notebooks in a very hand gift box  

The majority of this years used pocket notebooks in a very hand gift box  

Looking at other stationery items I have been rotating pens and using more pencils. For my [first NaNoWriMo challenge][0] this year I wrote everything out by hand to consume some of the notebooks and ink I had.

As always I think I could have done more to consume the stationery I have, but I am an addict and I always end up being lured in by something pretty.

Resolution: Partial achievement.

Resolution 4: Use a bottle of fountain pen ink.

This was almost a joke resolution and does sit within the resolution to consume more. I took the idea from Brad on [The Pen Addict podcast][1]. I have failed miserably at this task during the year but as I have been consuming more in general I have noticed my ink levels in various bottles has gone down. Full bottles are almost half empty. I haven’t changed inks in my fountain pens as regularly but rather refilled and refilled time and time again.

Resolution: Partial achievement.

Ink levels are going down

Ink levels are going down

What does 2018 hold?

Probably much of the same. I want to continue consuming more of the stationery I own. This has been a good 2017 resolution. Most of the stationery I bought because its something I like and therefore it makes sense to use more of it. Maybe this year I’ll actually finish off one of these ink bottles, or maybe that is just one of those resolutions that can never be achieved.

2018 will be the year that I actually start sketching. For this to be achievable I have to make this a daily habit, not a pipe dream that I am scared of attempting. Fear shouldn’t stop me from sketching.

Does anyone else have any resolutions for 2018? Will these be set in stone? Will you be committing to them?

This year I am going simpler, below are my 2018 resolutions written with a Baron Fig School Set Archer pencil in an Ambition edition Field Notes.

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InCoWriMo - The Aftermath

February has been and gone which means InCoWriMo has come to an end. This has been my first year taking part and it has been enjoyable spending time sending letters, cards and postcards to people.

A note and a small gift

A note and a small gift

I didn't complete the task of sending one letter per day. I managed to send 20 pieces of correspondence this month. There were days I just couldn’t find the time and other days where I wrote multiple letters. I may have not fulfilled the InCoWriMo challenge but by participating I have written 20 letters more than a usual month. Today I will share some highlights and learnings with you from my first InCoWriMo experience.

The planning process

I didn’t really have a plan. I had a small list of people I wanted to send letters to, I checked February birthdays and included them in the challenge. I kept track of who I had sent something too in my Hobonichi Techo using the monthly calendar. I also included the type of correspondence I had sent. This worked really well for me because it was easy to keep on top of and easy to reference.

My InCoWriMo tracking tool

My InCoWriMo tracking tool

What I sent

To add to the fun I decided to make my own cards during this month. I spent a little bit of time thinking about different designs and then sketched them out in a notebook before drawing anything up on the card stock.

Doodles in my notebook

Doodles in my notebook

I referenced Pinterest a lot looking at how to guides and images that I could copy. I actually really enjoyed doing this. I got to play with lots of my stationery and it was a simple creative outlet. Some of my drawings and designs are questionable but others came out better than I expected.

I was pleased with some of my card efforts

I was pleased with some of my card efforts

I got to play with watercolours and drawing pens

I got to play with watercolours and drawing pens

InCoWriMo was also the perfect opportunity for me to practice brush lettering. The recipients names were lettered on envelopes using the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen as this is waterproof and can survive the elements. In most cases I decorated the envelopes with stamps or washi to jazz them up.

Washi tape made the envelopes look that little bit nicer than normal

Washi tape made the envelopes look that little bit nicer than normal

Receiving letters

I received a few letters myself this year. Not too many but it's really nice to get post that isn't a bill or that I wasn’t expecting. I enjoy the surprise and reading something that someone's actually spent time writing, no matter how short therefore I hoped my letters did the same for other people.

I will definitely take part in InCoWriMo again next year, but I won’t just wait until February, I plan on writing letters and creating more cards soon. I've had a lot of fun and I've found another way to use and enjoy my stationery supplies.

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.

2017 Stationery Resolutions

A selection of some of the stationery items on my desk

A selection of some of the stationery items on my desk

I have come across a few blog posts over the past few weeks looking at 2017 stationery related resolutions. The Pen Addict covered this in their most recent episode, Priya from The London Parchment shared her resolutions for 2017 so I thought it would be fun to make my own list. I have shared here my planner plans for 2017, but stationery resolutions are something quite different.

My 2017 Stationery Resolutions

  1. Learn brush lettering - I have a few brush pens which I have been playing around with for a little while but this year I want to really hone in on this and practice my lettering. I am always in awe of well lettered envelopes and cards therefore 2017 will be the year I implement this myself.
  2. Sketch - this is something I had started in 2016 and I have enjoyed it. I have taken a sketch book with my on a few short trips away and on the odd occasion drawn something memorable from the trip. Copying Liz Steele I would then date the sketch and add a small bit of information about it. This year I really want to make this a real practice. Looking back on the simple sketches I have done I really like the way the sketch book tells a story. The sketches within them are really not great, the scales are all off, my watercolour skills are dire but despite this I like looking back through the sketches I have done.
  3. Consume more - I have a lot of stationery, so with this in mind this year I want to actually use what I own, rather than just buy more.
  4. Use a bottle of fountain pen ink - I liked this idea from Brad on the most recent Pen Addict episode therefore I thought I would take this one on myself. I don’t have a specific bottle of ink in mind any bottle will do.
Waddesdon Manor sketch  

Waddesdon Manor sketch  

These resolutions are purely made for fun, but I will review them at the end of the year and see if I achieved any of them. I’d love to hear any stationery resolutions you may have made this year, please share them in the comments below.