Diamine Shimmmering inks – 2017 Edition. An overview

…Shiny…Watch me dazzle like a diamond in the rough Strut my stuff; my stuff is so… Shiny

Well, well, well….Here it is – Shimmeristic ink 2017 edition from Diamine. To be absolutely honest, I was wondering 2-3 months ago if Diamine is going to release more glittery inks this year and obviously they did. This makes now 32 shimmering inks in total, which is a lot (please check my previous reviews here and here). Is it good? well, depending on point of view. Each batch released this year and last two years offer vast selection of colours mixed with either silver or gold particles suspended in the bas ink, so everyone could easily pick favourable colour. However, if you are new to shimmering inks such large collection may be overwhelming and cause a headache if you like to pick only one.

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Manuscript ML 1856 – Molten Lava – pen review

First time when I heard that Manuscript is working on  ‘luxury’ british-made fountain pens I was very intrigued, since I was always affiliating this company with relatively inexpensive calligraphy sets and other stationary related items you could buy here and there. Then, my curiosity raised up when I have seen first commercial pictures of the material and colours Manuscript is planning to use for these eye-candy creations. I must say – it looks very pretty.

ML 1856  is not officially released yet (May/June 2017). The retail price for fountain pen is planned to be around £ 125.0, which is not cheap but at the same time comparable with some competitor’s fountain pens in the market. There is already many discussions about this pen among fountain pen users and many of us is awaiting official release. Thanks to Manuscript I was lucky enough to put my hands on one of them before official release, test it hard and gather some ‘end user‘ thoughts.

Manuscript ML 1856 combines classic look and modern, contemporary material. ML1856 is designed for modern day-to-day penmanship. 

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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Prolog

Just before Easter, I received a small cool looking box full of goodies, kindly sent by Stewart from Pocket Notebooks which is a small British company who makes a great deal about portable good quality notebooks. The mission they have to bring back the power of hand written notes is very important and very close to my heart. The Pocket Notebooks slogan is:  Forget the App, there’s a Pocket Notebook for that … and I can’t agree more. This is actually why I am here dealing with inks and pens. This is why I returned to use fountain pens, which quickly became my passion three, or four years ago. I was using my tablet, phone and notebook as much, that one day I have realised  that I am missing something very important to me which I used to like a lot – a handwriting.

For heavy testing  purposes (which I did ! )  Stewart sent me a bunch of different notebooks he has in his store, made by different people and companies. Some of them are ‘big’ and ‘very small’ and here ‘small’ not necessarily means bad. Some of these notebooks are really good but also some are not that cool as they meant to be. But that is life, and I really appreciate the fact that I can compare them together side by side.

So, what I got? Well, I got seven notebooks total and I think they cover quite nicely a wide spectrum of different paper types, built and quality, which for me and as end user is one of the most important things. I got three Fieldnote size notebooks: ClaireFontaine Retro Nova, Story Supply  Co and Inky Fingers, then I got two completely different ones from Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork which have interesting size in between Fielnote and Midori passport. The last one is a fairly small but handy pocket notebook from Silvine. I will split this post into parts (likely 4) where I present some tests I did and what I honestly think about them.

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Taroko Design notebooks

Few weeks ago Mishka from BureauDirect, UK asked me if I would like to try and test very hard one of the A5 size notebooks (or A5 notebook insert) made by small Taiwanese company called Taroko Design (name after very beautiful Taroko Gorge in Taiwan).  I already had another two large Midori traveler’s size Taroko inserts, which I bought some time ago from BureauDirect at 2016 London Writing Instrument Show and I was about to review them too. I will call it as good coincidence .

What is very interesting about these Taroko notebooks/inserts is a paper they use to make them. Taroko uses incredibly light and at the same time satin smooth, famous among all fountain pen users (and not only)  Tomoe River paper. 

Taroko for their notebooks (at least for these I have) uses 68 gsm grade Tomoe River paper. Each notebook contains 64 pages ( 32 sheets) . The A5 notebook I received for review is made out of white paper. In fact, white paper has very subtle creamy hint which I really like. The two Midori size inserts I have are made of  white and truly creamy type of paper respectively. Because Tomoe River paper is available as blank sheets, Taroko is offering three types of press printed pattern they do themselves: graph (or squared), dotted and ruled. I must say Taroko did a vary good job and the patterns are very well printed and all lines and dots are visible but not overwhelming. They also offer blank notebooks too. Dots in A5 are evenly distributed and the way each sheet is cut makes all pages within notebook look very consistent. Interestingly, the line position in Midori size ruled notebook varies slightly from page to page. But this is very minor issue an possibly most people will not notice it to be absolutely honest. It may be also an older batch. 

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Handwriting – Can we improve? and HOW?

Recently I was asked many times about my still clumsy handwriting or penmanship if you like. I am really pleased that you enjoy to watch it. Thank you! Many people who contacted me or commented my posts  in here, Instagram, FB and other social media I share asked number of very interesting questions. Among them there were always the same questions regarding technique I have, other techniques, where to start, are there any resources which help, or do I have any hints, etc?

I am working on my handwriting  bit more seriously over last two – three year or so. Beforehand I use to write but my handwriting was rather choppy and chaotic and even if I thought that it looked cool from my current perspective it was awful. Obviously, this is a  natural and self critique (if stimulating) is a good thing.

When I joined Fountain Pen Network group on FB there were always many people who already show excellent handwriting skills. The person who really inspired me at the very beginning of my journey was Hector Padilla. His handwriting with fountain pens is mesmerising. The most striking thing I picked up watching him writing is the rhythm and dynamics he has. His down strokes are slower, more elaborative, whereas up strokes are much quicker and lighter at the same time.

Check Hector’s funny sounding youtube channel at (Crappy Calligraphy with an Idiot) and follow him (Inkluminati) on Twitter and Flickr where you can find loads of his handwriting examples.

The rhythm and dynamics are very important. They are as important as in music but also in drawing and painting. We humans love rhythm and  patterns and most things around as is built this way. Just look around. In penmanship dynamic and rhythm give a flavour to written words. Very closely related aspect to his is consistency. By consistency I mean couple of things like spacing between letters  but also within letters, the height and width of the letters and and the way you write them so the particular letters will not differ from each other (shape, slant height and so one).

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