Celebrity Letterhead

I just found this amazing Tumblr site called Letterheady.  The site features scans of a large collection of letterhead, all from famous actors, musicians, companies, etc.  They even have Gandhi’s letterhead from his attorney days in 1903!   It’s definitely worth checking out.

New Design?

I am debating changing the page design of La Plume Etoile and would like your opinion!

Please view the screenshots below and let me know which you like the best in the poll at the bottom of this post. I will take all of your opinions into consideration for my decision.  You can click on the thumbnails for larger photos.

Thank you!

Which Site Design Do You Like Best?
pollcode.com free polls 

Review: Daycraft Skinz Notebooks (Journals)

Today I bring you two very cool journals by Daycraft from the “Skinz” line.  Because the journals are almost the same, I am including both of them in this review and I will highlight the differences when necessary.  A cool thing about these journals is that they both come with a page of temporary tattoos (pictured below)!

Cover: The covers are made from “fine Italian PU.”  “PU” is polyurethane, which for this journal is like synthetic leather.  One journal has a cream colored base with some artwork featuring guns and the slogan “Make My Day.”  The other journal features the same slogan with a silver cover and artwork of a skull with roses.  I prefer the silver skull cover, as the silver has a metallic sheen making it actually silver and not grey.

Size: Both journals are the same size at 102mm x 146 mm (that’s about 4″ x 5.74″ for those of us that use the imperial system).

Paper: The paper in these journals is 100gsm, printed with 6.5mm spaced lines.  The “gun” journal has ivory paper and the “skull” journal has white paper.  Both are fountain pen friendly without feathering except when using the wettest inks.  Normal flow inks were fine and performed well.  There was also minimal show-through, allowing for writing on both sides of the pages.  I preferred the white paper because I found the inks to be a little drier on the ivory paper.  The white paper also really allowed the several inks I used to show their true color brightness, shading, and potential, whereas the ivory paper muted the colors a bit.  However, many people prefer ivory paper so that is a personal preference.  All the paper is printed with a tribal tattoo-type artwork at the top of each page.  The “guns” journal also had red edging on the paper and one sheet of red at the front and the back of the journal and inside the cover.  The “skull” journal had grey paper inside the cover and no edging on the white paper.

Other Considerations:  Both journals did a great job of staying open and lying flat when writing – a definite plus.  The only thing I would have added is a little ribbon strip to mark my current page.  Since these journals didn’t have an attached ribbon, I used the tattoo sheet to hold my place.

Overall: Because of the smaller size and 128 pages, I did fill up these journals faster than the larger sized journals I normally use.   However, I really liked them and would definitely use them again.  Visit Daycraft’s website at http://www.daycraft.com.hk to see more.  The journals run HK$ 149.00, which is just over $19 USD.

Review: Sula Jane and Earl Leather Writing Sheaf / Pen Wrap

Up for review today is a Sula Jane and Earl Leather Writing Sheaf / Pen Wrap.  I chose the fabulous color of “Cerise,” which is a lovely, subdued, hot pink color.  What I love about this color is that it is a rich, berry pink color — but it is not neon!

Here are some product details from sulajaneandearl.com:

HIGHLIGHTS:  A bold pen wrap for four writing instruments.
  • Lightly pebbled, all natural leather construction.
  • Hand drawn, cut and sewn.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Debossed “SJ&E” logo.
  • Four compartment interior pocket, 1.50″ w. per compartment
  • Approximately 6.25″ H X 10″ W, 12″ tuck-in strap.

The leather is very soft just like all the other SJ&E products I have reviewed.  The website shows a a high contrast between leather and stitching color, but the stitching is actually a similar color to the leather (just more neon), as shown in the photos below.  There are four slots for pens, and the pens fit snugly inside.  There is a little flap to protect the top portion of your pens.  Then you wrap it up and tie it by sliding the end of the strap through the loop you made when wrapping the strap around the whole sheaf.   I have found the best way to wrap the sheaf is in small sections — i.e. making a small section out of the side flap, then folding after each pen until it is fully wrapped.  Then to tie the wrap, you wrap the little strap around loosely, tuck the end of the strap through the loop, then pull to tighten.  If you make the strap too tight when you wrap it, you won’t be able to tuck it in the loop.

The wrap then stays together like a loose cylinder, which I suppose is best because then the pens still have their own space without being scrunched together.  This would be a great product for taking your pens along while traveling or even going to school.

The Sula Jane and Earl Leather Writing Sheaf / Pen Wrap retails on their website for $42.

I Am a Nibmeister!

Okay, well I would not put myself in the same category as some of the renowned nibmeisters and modifiers known throughout the fountain pen community.  However, today was a very exciting day for me.  I ground my own custom oblique nib!

I have a vintage Lady Sheaffer from the 1970s and the nib was never quite right.  It was a decent fine nib, but always a little scratchy.  I had used some fine grit emery paper on the nib before to smooth it out, but it was still never quite right.  I decided to take another shot at smoothing it out today, but had no intention of a full nib modification.  When using emery paper on a nib, one minor adjustment is actually huge.  If you change one little thing, it throws off the whole balance of the nib and you have to keep grinding it to get it back to a comfortable state.  After continually grinding the nib down for what must have been about an hour, I ended up with a slanted, oblique nib.  And now, the nib is actually smoother than it’s ever been and it’s oblique!

I don’t really have a tutorial on which way to grind the nib, I just kept grinding it and it sort of happened organically.  I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.  (The writing sample was made with J. Herbin’s Ambre de Birmaine.)

Review: Sula Jane and Earl Pen Sleeves

More goodies from Sula Jane and Earl!  The next products are the Single Pen Sleeve and Shorty Single Pen Sleeve.  Again, a wide variety of colors are available.  The leather is the same quality as the previously reviewed Calling Card Sleeve, so I won’t go into the same specifics.  The sleeve is cut and stitched well and seems like it will hold up to many uses.

The Single Sleeve measures Approximately 6.5″ H X 1.75″ W and mine is in “Scarlet,” a lovely deep red color. I couldn’t get the color right on the screen, as I think the photo made the color appear brighter than it in actuality.  The color is actually a little darker and not as bright as the photo.  For reference purposes, I photographed the sleeve with a full sized Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen, as I thought most people would be familiar with those pens and could get a good idea of the sleeve size in reference to the Varsity. I didn’t slide the pen all the way in for the photo, but a Varsity will actually slide all the way in and leave about 0.5” of room at the top.  The Single Sleeve is available for $24.


 The Shorty Sleeve is the same as the Single Sleeve, except shorter!  The Shorty measures approximately 5″ H X 1.50″ W, which is perfect for my demi and junior sized pens.  These smaller pens will fit fully inside the sleeve without sticking out of the top much or at all.  My Shorty is pictured below in Plum, and the Plum in my Shorty features a slightly different leather pattern/texture than the Single Sleeve.   The Shorty Sleeve is available for $21.


Review: Sula Jane and Earl Calling Card Sleeve

I recently had a very fun “un-birthday” when I received a package of goodies from Sula Jane and Earl.  Kelly at SJ&E was so kind to send me a few different things, so it felt like my birthday, even though it wasn’t! To give each product it’s proper attention, I will break up the reviews instead of putting all the SJ&E products into one long post.

Sula Jane & Earl is a family owned business that hand crafts high-quality leather goods for pens, journals, and iPhones.  According to SJ&E’s website, they owners believe that “to be modern, you need to be a little old fashioned.”  People after my own heart…

Here is the lovely bag it all came in with the company’s logo:

The first product out was the Leather Calling Card Sleeve.  I received mine in Carnation, a light, baby pink color.  Kelly read my mind because I was hoping for this color!  If you are not a pink person, don’t worry, as there are many enticing colors from which to choose.

I have been keeping the sleeve in my purse with a small group of business cards in it.  It not only keeps the cards together, but that little flash of pink makes me happy every time I open my purse!   As with all the products I received, the leather is extremely soft and buttery feeling.  As you can see, the leather is “raw” on the inside.  While some leathers like this will flake off, the leather of this Calling Card Sleeve did not flake off onto my business cards.  It is stitched very well and seems quite sturdy.  It is debossed with the “SJ&E” logo.  Normally, I prefer monogramed items instead of those with company initials or logos, but the SJ&E logo is unobtrusive and actually an enhancement to the visual appeal of the product.  While it does hold enough cards for a night out, I decided to insert fewer cards than the case actually might hold to avoid stretching the leather.  It’s also perfect for slipping into a pocket so that I don’t have to keep opening my purse to hand someone a card during a business event.  Overall, I am really enjoying this case!

The case measures approximately 2.5″ H X 4.5″ W and can be washed/conditioned.  One sleeve retails for $19 and you can save a little cash by purchasing two sleeves at $32.

Ink Review: J. Herbin’s Encres Acidulees Effet Scintillant (Pearlescent Inks)

Thanks to Karen at Exaclair, I recently had the opportunity to try some very fun and fancy inks.  J. Herbin’s Encres Acidulees Effet Scintillant  are Herbin’s group of Pearlescent Inks.  These inks are NOT for fountain pens, they are for dip nibs only.  There are several colors, all of which have a shiny/glittery/pearlescent sheen.  I discuss each ink in the group below.

The Colors (listed in the same order as the sample photo)

Pink:  A lovely bubblegum pink color.  When the ink is thinning on the nib, it can be sheer.  Frequent dipping to have a lot of ink on your quill/nib is best.

Peach (Peach):  A lighter, less pink color with more orange to it.  Same properties as the pink.

Blue:   A dark royal blue color.  It was really nice and quite a surprise as I expected a sky blue color since the rest in the group are more pastel.  As you can see, it doesn’t show up well on the darker paper.  I suspect it would do fabulously on a lighter paper.

Yellow:  Bright!  Despite it’s brightness, the hue is more of a softer yellow rather than obviously neon.

Green:  Also quite bright.   Maybe a prime creamy avocado?

Consistency/On Paper:  This ink takes a little trial and error to get it right.  I had to try a few nibs, but then found it worked well with some of the very small Brause nibs (again from Karen and distributed through Exaclair) because the smaller nibs held the ink and allowed it to flow onto the paper best.  The bigger nibs didn’t let the ink flow down well enough to complete a line.  Even with the small nibs, I had to dip often to keep enough ink on the nib so that the ink stayed thick and didn’t thin out like you can see in part of the writing sample.  I also had to take care in my pressure on the nib to avoid the ink transferring too quickly to the paper and creating blobs, as is a concern with wet ink.  However, I found working with care and patience avoided this problem.  This is definitely an ink to play with when you have some relaxing time to devote your attention without rushing.

Paper choice was also an issue.  I’ll save you some time — you can avoid reaching for the cheap paper.  This ink needs sturdy, thicker, high quality paper to support the thickness and composition of these inks.  The brown paper in the photo is a sample of G.Lalo (again, distributed by Exaclair  – this paper is great and a review is forthcoming).   The inks were very happy to be paired with G. Lalo paper and you shouldn’t have a problem if you use G. Lalo or a similar high quality paper.

An additional note is to take care in handling your writing even after the ink has dried.  As you can see in the photo, the pearlescence tends to smear a bit.

Overall:   There have been some other blogs in the pen and ink world that have given these inks poor reviews.  However, I really enjoyed testing these inks and plan to use them for special occasion items such as when writing someone a special card.  I already used the yellow color to make an artistic name card for someone special (on grey G. Lalo paper in case you are interested – it was a lively combination!).  I will be using these in the future.  If you are interested in them , I would recommend giving them a chance and playing with the right nib and paper combinations.  I have not tried other calligraphy inks that may be similar to these, so I cannot compare them to other brands.  I also just learned there are a few colors (like coral red!) that I did not get to try.  I must have that coral red!

Purchasing and Pricing: A pack of 5 assorted 10ml will run you around $20, depending on the retailer.

2013 Pen Resolutions!

First, I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year.  Thank you for reading La Plume Etoile and sharing your comments and experiences with me.  I hope 2013 is a great year for you!

Now, onto today’s post topic:   I’ve been thinking about making changes to my pen maintenance routine for a while now, but didn’t necessarily think it was a post topic.  However, when I saw the Inkophile’s post about her 2013 pen resolutions, I decided to post my own as well.  (I didn’t think she would mind that I used her post as inspiration.)   Besides, announcing one’s resolutions makes one more accountable to follow through with them, right?

1.  Like the Inkophile, I resolve to be better about keeping my pens clean.  I went through a MAJOR overhaul of my pens recently and took weeks flushing and draining and soaking and draining them.  I followed that with more flushing and draining and soaking and draining.  I had groups of pens in about 10 plastic cups stuffed with tissues at one time all strewn on my counter.    Some cups even had more than one pen in them.  It thought this process would last forever, but eventually most pens were clean enough to refill or store.  Rather than go through that ordeal again, I will be more regular in cleaning them.

2.  Resolution #2 is to only fill the pens I am currently using.  I had a habit of keeping ALL pens in my rotation inked at all times.  I did this because all pens and inks were ready to use at my whim.  However, I found this to be less than ideal because ink dried inside the nib.  I couldn’t see it, but the extended flushing procedure told me it was there.  To avoid this in the future, I am going to only ink the pens I regularly use.  I will ink other pens as the mood strikes me, but will have to use that pen until all the ink is used before I fill another.  I will allow myself 2-3 “extra” inked pens outside of the few every day staples.

3.  Lately, I have been defaulting to some of the cheap plastic fountain pens on a regular basis.  So I will continue to make an effort to use the pretty pens more often.

What are your 2013 Pen/Ink/Paper Resolutions?