Ink Swatches

A problem constantly faced by stationery lovers is owning an abundance of something stationery related. Though these objects of endearment inspire creativity and joy, they can also be sources of worry– am I hoarding?  At the beginning of this year, I finally read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While parts of the book can give most 21st-century dwellers a wake-up call, thanks to consumerism and relative stable and prosperous societies we live in, I see truism in Kondo’s angle and approach. An integral part to Kondo’s method is to handle each piece of object that you own and ask the question, “does this thing inspire joy?”  To put this in practice, I decide to swatch all full-size ink bottles I have. It has been a project that looms in the back of my head, but now it can serve several purposes:

  • My first step in tidying up
  • Inventory colors I have
  • Good tool for future ink comparison

For the paper, I have considered using Maruman Mnemosyne Word Book as the swatch paper, not only the product has been discontinued, but I also want to use something I already have for this project. Using  Canson XL Mix Media paper (98lb/160gsm) that is heavy enough to withstand light layers of wash, I trimmed out cards that are 2.5 x 3 inches in size. Instead of using cotton swabs, I used two size 6 round watercolor brushes. In the earlier years, I have used cotton swabs to make swatches but I have found them unsatisfactory. Even though swabs are absorbent, the amount of ink laid on paper is disproportional. Waterbrush, in contrast, can load up lots of ink (as it is designed to do!) and thus capable of showing color gradation better than swabs.  However, the downside of brushes is the possibility of contamination– ink residue lingers on brush fiber, so careful and thorough rinsing is pertinent.

I have been happy with the swatching results. The brightness of the paper reflects colors accurately. Because of the initial dipping usually carries a lot of ink, sheen and nuances are magnified, along with shading property. The downside of it is that the paper began to buckle slightly, but by in large, each swatch stays flat.  These swatches will come in handy for future ink reviews, as now I can place the color side by side for more subtle comparison. More importantly,  handing each ink bottle in a tangible way invokes memories I have associated with each color (i.e. how I came to purchase the ink, where I bought the ink, recalling of experience while using it). They do bring joy to my life!




In case you are interested in the ink collection, here is what I have:

Caran d’Ache

De Atramentis

J. Herbin


  • KWZ Honey


Mont Blanc


Rohrer and Klingner



  • Black

Happy New Year!

Happy belated New Year and Handwriting Day!

Even though this blog has been quiet, the pens in my rotation are ever increasing.  Toward the end of the year, I took advantage of various promotions and purchased some fountain pen ink I have longed for.  As you may have guessed, too many pens are inked!  I have since then cleaned out several pens, but still have 7 of them in rotation.

currently inked
Written on Maruman B5 Report pad

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Unboxing Hobonichi 2017

To me, the unboxing of a highly anticipated package can be exhilarating with a hint of magic.  The downside to the heightened anticipation is checking that tracking number chronically.  After about two weeks of waiting (I ordered mine on August 31, Pacific Standard Time), the signature yellow package from Hobonichi finally reached my door.

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Hobonichi 2017

It is never too early/late to plan.  My incessant debate over which planner to use for the following year begins as early as June, almost around the same time as when Hobonichi rolls out various announcements on its exciting offers for the coming year.

Check out the 2017 line up here.  The webstore will open September 1, 2016 at 11AM Japan time (August 31 at 3PM UTC).  Use this converter to calculate the release time in your time zone.

To see in-person photos of the 2017 planners, visit Hobonichi’s Facebook page.

Which one has caught your eyes?

Galen Leather Tool Roll

Truth be told, I do not have a dedicated fountain pen carrying case.  The one I have been using is a leather pen pouch that I have since I was in third grade.  Perhaps this pen pouch has been formative in my pen case experience, I have wanted to look for something similar but with a bit more protection for my everyday carry.  After using Nomad Easy Classification Pencil Case and roll pen case by Saki Collection for about 6 months each, the thought of “maybe there is a more suitable product” continuously surfaces.  Alas, the quest of searching for a pen case continues.

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